John MacAndew and the Reivers

John MacAndew and the Reivers

A Story by J.M. Anders

Just a story to gauge my skills. After killing a chieftain in battle, Iain and his wife must escape raiders sent to seek revenge for the death of their chieftain.


John MacAndrew bent to the ground, picking up the last piece of wood, he placed it with the others.  John's wife sent him out to the woods to find firewood for the night.

On his way back to the farm, John noticed three men in the woods, traveling down an animal made path.  John was expecting them.  Reivers who were sent out to find John and kill him.  Reivers were raiders along the Scottish/English border consisting of both nationalities.  John had earlier joined forces with the Ross clan who where pursuing a group of reivers who had stolen the cattle of the Ross Clan.  John was one archer of supreme skill and made a name for himself killing reivers with his bow.  At the end of the pursuit, John pulled out his bow and struck the Chief reiver in the eye.

As the men walked down the path they noticed a young man carrying a bundle of wood.  The young man was not a tall one, actually he was rather short in stature, and seemed to have trouble carrying the wood as he stumbled and dropped one piece after another.
"You there boy," the reiver said.  "Do you know a John MacAndrew?"
"I know him," John said.  "I'm the servant."
"I need you to show us where he lives."
"Not sure if I can do that, he doesn't like visitors."
What a surprise, thought the reivers.  John MacAndrew was known for his run-ins with border raiders and was constantly in danger from one seeking a vendetta.
"Tell you what," one of the reivers said.  "I will give you two shillings if you bring us to MacAndrew."
"Two shillings? I guess I could take you to his house."
They followed the boy up the path to a small farm and up to the farm house.  The house was not much to look at, at most it looked like it held two rooms.  Outside the house was an old oak tree, it looked as if it been there for centuries.

Claire MacAndrew placed the last log into the fireplace.  She sat at the large table at the center of the room, the table itself almost took up the entire room, leaving little space to walk.  Where is he?  John should be home by now, thought Claire.  It was a cold night and the fire would not last much longer.  There was a knock on the door.  Claire got up from her seat and opened the small wooden door.  Standing outside was her husband and three large men.  John took off his hat and held it with both hands.
"Excuse me Ms,"  John said.  "Is your husband around?"
"He ran off about an hour ago, but he should be around here somewhere."
Claire and her husband had many encounters with reivers.  She knew all about the dangers that seemed to follow John wherever he went.  Once again she would have to help John escape his troubles.  Where would he be without me?  Dead, perhaps, thought Claire.
"Would you like to come in?"
"Do you have food?" said one of the reivers.
"We always have food for guests, please sit down."
The reivers one by one walk in and sat down at the table.  John also walked it with his hat still in hand as he stood patently by the door.
"Samuel,"  Claire turned to John.  "Go fetch the master,  I think he went to check on the cows."
"Yes Ms."
With a smile John put his hat back on and ran out the door, closing the door behind him.

Once outside, John made his way to the barn located behind the house.  The barn was where the MacAndrew's kept farm equipment and newly slaughtered animals.  Inside there was a newly killed cow.  John placed the cow on his shoulder and carried it back to the house.  Placing the cow against the door, with the flesh side up, made it more of a challenge to open the door from the inside.  John turned around to face the old oak tree.  My favorite tree, thought John as he started to climb.  About six meters up, John reached into a hollow crevice within the tree.  He pulled out a bow and a quiver with a supply of arrows.

Placing three cups on the table, Claire poured water for each of the three men at the table.
"I thought you had food."
"I'm bringing you food, I thought you would want some water first."
At the far end of the house Claire opened the pantry where she stored a small provision of food.  She gathered a arm full of small whole wheel size of cheese.
"I hope you all like cheese."
"Cheese?" said one man.  "She has cheese!"
"A whole wheel of cheese." Claire said.  She made her way over to the men, still seated, eagerly awaiting the first meal in half a day of travel.  While walking to the reivers she slipped and fell onto the newly swept dirt floor.  The balls of cheese bounced and rolled away from her in every direction.  The three men all in a hurry flew from their seats and dived for the cheese, fighting each other for the food.  As if they where rodents, desperate for food, crammed the food into their own mouths as if there was no time to chew.  Suddenly the room was filled with the cry of the young man.
"MacAndrew is coming!"  the boy yelled.  "John MacAndrew is on his way!"
The men struggled to get to their feet.  One choked as he tried to spit a large piece of cheese from his mouth.  They rushed for the door, but there was something pressing against the small wooden door, slowing their escape.

John watched as if someone was struggling to open the door.  The fresh cow carcass was doing what he wished.  John pulled out an arrow from his quiver.  Pulled back on his bow, aimed at the door and waited.  The door slowly by little budged open more and more.  A large jut finally flew the door open as the carcass fell in front of the door with the skinned side facing upwards.  The first of the reivers rushed out.  He slipped on the skinned carcass and landed on his back.  John released his first arrow.  The arrow struck the man in the neck entering from the lower part of the neck and traveled upwards towards the skull.  Reiver number two emerged from the farm house, sword in hand.  He looked around, as if he was scanning his surroundings.  John released his second arrow.  The reiver looked upwards towards the oak tree.  The arrow struck the man in the head, killing him instantly.  The third and final reiver staggered out, still choking on his piece of cheese roll, sword in hand.  The third arrow left John MacAndrew's bow.  Striking the man in the spleen.  The man fell as he screamed in agony.  John released a fourth arrow.  Hitting the man in the stomach, followed by a fifth arrow to the chest.

John placed his quiver of arrows and bow back into the crevice of the old oak tree.  As the climbed back down his wife came out to see what had happened.
"You know they will send more men to find you."
"Let them come,"  John said.  "They are not the first, and they will not be the last raiders I kill."
"Don't you think it would be wise to move north?"  Claire said.  "I mean--away from the border, away from the cattle raiders?"
"Why?  John asked.  "This is our home.  If they want to steal my cattle and my way of living they will have to get past me first.  I'm not going to be chased away from my home."
"I'm just not sure how many times I can get you out of trouble John."
"Don't worry, I'm the best archer this place has ever seen.  I'm not going anywhere soon."

© 2013 J.M. Anders

My Review

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Hi there,
While there are a couple of grammatical and spelling errors, I commend you for a story that kept me reading until the very end, and satisfied. As you know, it can be difficult to keep a reader's attention (unfortunately, I can cite by experience).
All in all a good plot with hardy characters. My only gripe-- if you could even call it that-- would be the lack of description when it came to what they looked like. We know that John is short in stature, and from the way he talks, I'm guessing he is young. But what does his wife look like? Is she beautiful? And what of the reivers? I imagined they fit the stereotypes of the usual crony (one fat, one skinny, one buff). Does their attacking the food say something about the world that the story takes place in (with food being difficult to come by, perhaps explaining them wanting to steal his cattle)?
I know this is only to gauge your skill, but if you built on this, it could turn into a pretty amazing piece. Hope to see more of your work in the future.

Posted 9 Years Ago

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1 Review
Added on May 12, 2013
Last Updated on May 22, 2013
Tags: historical, fiction, medieval, middle, ages, raiders


J.M. Anders
J.M. Anders

Toronto, Ontario, Canada