The Hero

The Hero

A Chapter by Gregory Hill
"

A Story Scott and I wrote. This is his first chapter.

"

     Fate is that thing that decides whether a man will be a carpenter or a gizzard skinner. It is that thing that decides who’s going to win the battle, who’s going to get assassinated, and who’s going to pee in which bush.
      Fate decided to be particulary spiteful when he guided the Emperor of Biast to put his finger down on a little pipsqueak of a land and say ‘That one will do.’
gfwaphwat
      The seven Great Forthcoming Warriors of Archipelago, Prospective Heroes of the World and All That, otherwise known as
GFWAPHWATs, tensed for the Chancellor’s word. Fate tensed too. A bird tweeted from across the meadow.
      The Chancellor cleared his throat. “This, great warriors, is yon first test; you shall each scale a castle wall and rescue a fair maiden!”
      They nodded, almost syncopated.
      The Chancellor raised his sword. “Ready—and—Go!”
      Sprinting across an acre of swampy ground, the seven heroes reached the castle walls—conveniently outfitted with hanging nets—and fairly flew up.
      The Academy Council nodded, and pointed out the most potential of them to each other. The Chancellor picked his skeptical spectacled nose. You’ve seen one rescued maiden, you’ve seen them all. And when the heroes realized that they weren’t actually—
      “Excuse me!”
      The Chancellor shaded his eyes. Standing on top of the battlements, the sixth of the heroes was holding a ‘princess’ by the scruff of the neck.
      “Yes, what is it?” the Chancellor leaned against his sword.
      “These aren’t, ahem, fair maidens, sir. They’re men, sir. There's a  bit of a difference, sir.”
      “They’ve got wigs on! It’s no difference anyway.”
      The hero cleared his throat. “Well, sir, it…it is after the rescuing is done and a bit of fun is to be had. Sir.”
      The Chancellor waved the sword at him. “Oh, shut up and get back over here.”
      The hero sighed, slung the  crossdresser in supreme distress over his shoulder and began climbing back down the wall.
      The Chancellor leaned close to the Dean of Dazzling Swordplay’s ear. “Which one is that, Mr. Dean?”
      “That is Mallan, your Chancellorship,” the Dean said through his thick mustache. “Not exactly the brightest blade in the forge, but a dependable, independent sort of lad.”
      “Hmmm.” The Chancellor sat back and stroked his beard. In a moment he rose and addressed the heroes waiting. “Alright, that is tolerable, my good students. But a warrior is to be strong with a blade if he is to fight dangerous foes and antagonists. Bring out the Weapon Golems!”
      Golems are, generally, made of clay, obsidian, or in certain primitive areas chickens. This makes them nearly harmless, unless they are not fond of someone and decide that smashing him into the ground would be better than not. The Academy for Aspiring Great Heroes, however, made golems out of sharp weaponry. It was better for tests.
      Seven eight-foot-tall monsters walked out onto the field. Some had maces for heads and axes for feet—some had spears for hands and mauls for breasts. One had a large pike sticking out of it’s rear. They all bristled with weaponry.
      “Alright,” the Chancellor grinned. “Begin!”
      Fate bent to it’s ledger.

      “Alright, Mr. Bardinel, here is your diploma,” the Chancellor sighed, as if begrudging the token of triumph to Mallan. “It states that you are, hereby, a graduate of the Academy of Aspiring Great Heroes, and heretofore are allowed and encouraged by the monarch and kingdom of Archipelago blah blah blah, to take your place in whatsoever Tale of Fantasy you so choose, and, heretofore, bring honor and glory to your native land of Archipelago, and heretofore shall never say ‘heretofore’ once more in your sorry life. All right?”
      Mallan nodded in several speedy chopping motions. “Heretofore this is no problem, Chancellor!”
      The Chancellor raised an eyebrow. “Are you mocking me heretofore?”
      “No, sir.”
      “Good! Now—off to your room, gather up your kit and caboodle, polish up your sword and get down to the mess for your last meal here at AAGH. That is all!”
      Mallan nodded, smiling just a bit. The Chancellor frowned him away.
      The young warrior walked off, looking at the familiar stone walls of the Academy, probably for the last time. As he tripped on the first step of the stairs, he wondered if that would be the last time he tripped on the first step of the stairs—because it wasn’t the first.
      He remembered how, hundreds of years ago it seemed, he had come here and tripped on the first step of the stairs. The kids here at the time had made fun of him for it. They were almost all gone, now—off to create fantasies of their own.
      Mallan strode into the room where he had spent his last four years. He took his gleaming hero sword off the mantle and held it in his hands. He was, of course, made for such a blade—all the Aspiring Heroes were. It had been given him by his father, who’s father had given it to him and all that rot. It was actually one of the few swords in the academy that had no incantations placed upon it. This made it a novelty—but it also made it much more dependable.
      Mallan packed up his kit and prepared his caboodle to go. With one last sheath of his sword at his side, he strode down the stairs and into the mess.
      Warriors, heroes, Chosen Ones of all kinds gloried in this great mess hall. There were barbarians with axes as large as their jaws and berserkers who got up their blood by screaming and cutting themselves before digging into their fried chicken with a vengeance. There were farmboys, who looked hicksome and bucktoothed but actually had the inner power to do magic and fly dragons. There were elves—tall and lithe and, in fact, dumb as a willow wand. They tried not to let on, however.
      There were even a few females. This was a co-ed academy, after all. This academy trained the best heroines in the Great South Seas because of that fact. If a lady can learn to fend for herself for four years when surrounded by a lot of smelly men, she is ready for anything.
      Mallan sat down and took out his knife, cutting into his fried chicken. He saw more than the usual amount of eyes on him. Keeping his eyes stolidly on his chicken, he determined to draw as little attention to himself as possible. Then he swallowed a chicken bone.
      He hurked and sat up, pounding his stomach. All eyes were on him now.
      “Congratulations, Mallan!” came a whisper from above him.
      He felt a coarse, large hand on his shoulder. It was Laryn X, chief of the berserkers, who, after screaming so much, had lost his voice for the better part of a year.
      Mallan grinned and winced, the bone still stuck in his throat.
      “Congratulations, Mallan!” an elf cried.
      Soon there were cries of ‘Congrats, Mally!’ and ‘Hurrah for Mally!’ all around the room. Mallan acknowledge them all with a pained smile, his hand still on his throat.
      Then—curse those elves!—one of the elvish party called ‘Speech!’ Soon the whole mess hall was taken up in the call.
      “Speech! Speech! Speech! Speech!”
      Laryn pushed Mallan to his feet, where the new warrior stood, facing the audience, holding his throat.
      “I…” Mallan began, tears coming to his eyes from the pain of the bone.
      The audience took this as affection for their academy. A series of ‘awww, look at him’ and ‘he loves us too much!’ went around.
      “I—I—I—“ Mallan choked.
      “C’mon, Mally,” Sandira the elfin princess had come up beside him. “What are you going to tell them?”
      “I…I—I…” Mally rubbed his chest. His eyes bugged.
      “Spit it out, man!” Sandira slapped him on the back and the bone flew out, clattering across the floor. The mess hall’s eyes turned to the bone. Then they all grinned and cheered.
      Mallan sat back down. He knew they would be talking about this for longer than a while.

      Mallan looked up once more at the sandy butte that held the Academy for Aspiring Great Heroes. It stood on an outcrop of rock looking out upon the Westernmost End of the Great South Seas. Pebbles crunched under his feet as he turned, striding towards the edge of the island.
      The Kingdom of Archipelago was one of the smallest in the South Seas. There were seven islands that were on average little more than a mile across. Dotting the coast and rivers there were hundreds of little twenty-foot-long islands where men often corralled their pigs.
      Mallan had learned his history—Archipelago had long ago found that its fishing industry would be dwarfed by that of Creed and Northspar, the larger island countries to the north and west. Trying their hand at the swine industry did not work either, as the Dreaded Unwholesome Pirate Lye developed an unprecedented penchant for pork the summer that the first traders came. Thus, King Emery the Forty-First had decreed that he would work towards exporting the only thing Archipelago had that its neighbors didn’t—good, old-fashioned stock characters.
      And while they didn’t bring in steady income, they did conveniently ship themselves and they often sent home money to the folks. This had proved to save Archipelago, for when Creed and Northspar had fallen to Biast, their trade had been completely communized.
      Mallan wasn’t really thinking about all this, it simply passed through his mind in roughly ten point five seconds. What he was really thinking about was bathing in the nice, cool ocean.
      He hadn’t had a good bath in over a week, and the calmly rolling water looked so inviting that he was loath to walk on under the hot sun. So he unbuckled his studded swordbelt, ripped off his sleeveless tunic, kicked off his tall boots and waded in.
      And the water had not promised him in vain! It washed over his body like a sweet wind, refreshing him after the grueling morning he had been through. Mallan let his feet wander over the pebbly ground under the water, rolling like a buoy with the tide.
      Then he heard movement behind him. Turning, he yelled in indignation.
      “Hey! Stop, those are my clothes!”
      There was a hopelessly old man, a bent, crazy-haired, half-ape humanoid, with Mallan’s clothes tucked under one arm and his swordbelt dragging in the other. Mallan stumbled forward through the water and leapt out of the surf, pumping his legs after him and shouting “Oooch!” when he felt the breeze on his naked buttocks.
      The little man was skip-hopping from one foot to the other, and dropping articles of clothing right and left to try and slow his pursuer.
      Mallan bent and grabbed his underwear as they rolled by, and made a slight detour to grab his tunic that was being carried away by the wind. Finally he leapt on the old man from behind.
      “How dare you take my clothes, you miserable old man!”
      Mallan pinned the man to the ground with one arm and wrested the swordbelt from him with the other. The codger kicked out suddenly with spiderlike legs and sent Mallan sprawling on the ground. Mallan leapt up, squaring his shoulders unless the old man tried anything. However, the codger had sat down the sand, holding his chin on one hand.
      Mallan proceeded to pull himself into his clothes. When this was finished, he buckled into his swordbelt and stood before the man. The codger was huddled on the ground, rubbing the sand in front of him.
      “Old man, I could have you arrested. Stealing a man’s clothes is one of the highest acts of grand larceny in Archipelago.”
      “Yes, I know, and stealing the King’s clothes is an abhorrence unto the sea, the sky and everything in between. You don’t need to quote the Annals of the Law to me, young grub.”
      Mallan frowned. “Where do you live?”
      “On a lollipop, in a constellation of sweet tarts.” The man was smelling his index finger.
      The warrior made an exclamation of disgust—which, in Archipelagean culture, is something like ‘Aed Yuck!’—and turned away. “You are a senile old man. I could expect nothing more.”
      “And you are a foolish young warrior. You go off, now, to leave your country behind in peril.”
      Mallan had started to walk off, but now he turned. “What do you say, old man?”
      The man was still smelling his finger. “You are blind, young grub!”
      “What do you mean?”
      The old man laughed, shoving his finger up his left nostril. “The Ships from O’er Yonder come! They bear sails with a ‘B,’ and nothing but a ‘B.’ They are unstoppable in their might, their legions stretch from Sun to Moon!”
      Mallan tried to dismiss this as mad ramblings, but morbid curiosity stirred in him. “A ‘B?’ Do you mean the Empire of Biast?”
      The man removed his finger from his nose and waved it about like some doomsday book, dripping with mucus. Mallan stepped away.
      “They have stretched their mighty armies across all of the Southern Islands!” the old man howled, dancing some sort of ritualistic hokey-pokey. “All but one!”
      “One?”
      “Yes, naturally. They haven’t come here yet.” The man broke out of chant for a moment, then started back in again, now doing something more like the disco. “There is nothing that can stop them, nothing! Nothing!”
      “Nothing? Are you sure?”
      “Nothing—“ the man shoved his face in Mallan’s, raising a slightly green finger in proclamation, “—nothing, that is, but when the time comes that the Mighty…Unite-y!”
      Mallan raised an eyebrow. “The Mighty…Unite-y?”
      The man nodded his head. “Yes, that’s right.”
      “And…what is that supposed to mean?”
      “The great Moribund has spoken!” the old man yelled.
      “Oh, I see. So you’re one of those prophets who appears out of nowhere and then disappears suddenly, almost before our very eyes?”
      Moribund nodded. “Ye-e-es!”
      “Right. So how are you going to disappear?”
      The man frowned. “Well, I—oh look over there!” He gestured toward the sea.
      “What, I don’t see…hey!” When Mallan looked back, all he saw was a drop of mucus on the sand, and all he heard was one mischievous chuckle echoing about the seaside rocks.
      With a grunt, Mallan continued strolling down the beach, his mind preoccupied with what Moribund had said. So preoccupied, in fact, that he didn’t see the dark shapes until they were much nearer than they ought to have been.
      Mallan stopped, gazing at them. They were ships, he conceived, and there were five—no, six, seven, eight of them. And another in the distance! He had never seen nine ships of this size and girth before.
      Mallan ran to the nearest butte and gazed out at them. They were huge compared to the cogs that sat in the harbors of Medvelin, the main city of Archipelago.
      Then Mallan’s mouth dropped, and his knees shook, his shoulderblades ground against his spine, and his teeth shivered, and his toes leapt, and his buns quivered.
      For there, on the nearest one’s sail, was engraved plainly but forcefully, a lone, black ‘B.’



© 2009 Gregory Hill


Author's Note

Gregory Hill
This is Scott's piece, you can either review on his copy or just review here and he will check. He wants to know about the first five paragraphs, do they fit? Too wordy? Etc. See his review

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Featured Review

LOL!

"One had a large pike sticking out of it's rear. "

" This academy trained the best heroines in the Great South Seas because of that fact. If a lady can learn to fend for herself for four years when surrounded by a lot of smelly men, she is ready for anything. "

this chapter is easier to read and much funnier too... it is definately a different style from the previous. maybe if both of you wrote together instead of one chapter each it would turn out much more interesting?
just a thought

Posted 11 Years Ago


3 of 3 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Thanks, all reviewers! I'm really glad you liked this chapter.
Just to ask a question of all reviewers; what do you think of the beginning? Too wordy? Too crazy? Too boring? Or just fine.
Thanks!

~The Writer of This Chapter

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Apart from utterly deleting entirely the first five pointless parallel universes paragraphs, I can find no flaw in this. I agree with the other reviewer, who suggested that the story might benefit by your collaboration, rather than your juxtaposition. I'm trying to imagine future scenarios already, involving betrayals by Viknuth, trickings of the naive Mallan, romances involving Adam and Sandira (unlikely, if not impractical, to say the least!), and breathlessly awaiting the next Chapter(s). Characters believeably and logically introduced. Good work! Bring us more!

Posted 11 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

LOL!

"One had a large pike sticking out of it's rear. "

" This academy trained the best heroines in the Great South Seas because of that fact. If a lady can learn to fend for herself for four years when surrounded by a lot of smelly men, she is ready for anything. "

this chapter is easier to read and much funnier too... it is definately a different style from the previous. maybe if both of you wrote together instead of one chapter each it would turn out much more interesting?
just a thought

Posted 11 Years Ago


3 of 3 people found this review constructive.

I'm not sure if I'm supposed to review this here or on Scott's page . . .

I really liked this chapter. I was wondering if the two characters are going to meet up later in the book or if they are totally separate. But maybe we're not supposed to know. ???

Posted 11 Years Ago


2 of 3 people found this review constructive.


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Gregory Hill
Gregory Hill

Fallbrook, CA



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Hi all I dont like writing about myself so I will be brief. I am 16 and I live in Fallbrook Ca. How much more brief can you get? I have some songs I like on here: more..

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