One

One

A Chapter by Eddie Davis
"

Sir Gevin, weary and feeling alone, prepares to quest for the legendary Nihility Gate to end his suffering.

"

 The Nihility Gate

© 2020

Eddie Davis

 

 

1.

‘All things are full of weariness, a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.’

-- Ecclesiastes 1: 8-9

 

Sir Gevin, b*****d son of the legendary Black Duke, sat mindlessly fiddling with a silver Yesh medallion, alone at a small table in one corner of the royal dining hall at Whiteberry.    It was the beginning of summer and the full wild festivities were underway, following the accolade ceremony earlier in the day.   

Five hours of feasting and drinking had sent even the few remaining dignified nobles of the court into wanton and crude merry-making.   Drunken ladies of the court were being fondled and groped openly in the hall, several small fights had broken out over senseless reasons and King Corston VI (the great, great grandson of the royal half-brother of the Black Duke) was neck-deep in debauchery as usual.

It was just another year in an endless chain of years, and Gevin had watched it all from this same seat for 110 years.    They were all polite and more than slightly fearful of him, for though he was only half-Elven (his mother being a spoil of war), he was ageless as well as the ‘greatest knight of all time’.   Never defeated in joust and serving five kings in numerous wars, he was the sort of established icon that men both abhorred and revered. 

It was a far different, much more carnal and selfish world than it was when he first came to court twelve years after his father died leading Corston I’s army against the southern alliance.   Elves had been very rare even then, but occasionally one would come to court.    Now it seemed as if they were all gone, disappearing slowly into the deep forest to the west and gradually fading from memory.

Yet he remained, seeming almost as young as the group of new knights across the hall from him that acted so immaturely now after weeks of preparing for what used to be a reverent knighting ceremony.   His eyes betrayed his actual 134 years, for there was the weary sadness in them that only the very long lived could possess.

Oh, the glorious and terrible things he had seen during his ‘reign’ as knight champion.   Women were coarser and much freer to indulge their lusts.   Men were as scheming and ruthless as ever, but did not try to conceal it in shame as they had during his early years.   There were still wars, uprisings, tournaments, festivals and holidays, but those at the royal court seemed much more callous and wicked.   Purity was scoffed at and mocked; gratification and jealousy were everyday norms.    Adultery and betrayal were almost games among the noble elite.    Backstabbing, double-talk and the endless pursuit of power, status and wealth were learned early and embraced almost religiously by nearly everyone from the highborn to the chambermaids.

Chivalry was dead, virtuous courtly romance was non-existent.    Few noble maidens stayed that way for long and several abortionists remained well-paid and busy to ‘erase mistakes’ as it was casually referred to by those who found it necessary and perfectly acceptable.

Things were so different, and Gevin was a relic of that past, an amusing reminder of a long abandoned time when some degree of morality was practiced or at least mimicked.

God, how he hated it here now.   He closed his eyes and took a deep breath - it was high time that he proceeded with his plans.   Putting it off any longer would just make everything more difficult later.  Besides, he’d already set his affairs in order and was just waiting for the resolve to go through with it.

A roar of laughter and drunken shrieks drew his attention to a table a short distance from the King.   One of the new knights had set an Earl’s daughter on the table and was struggling to push her flowing dress up in front of everyone present.   The girl was eagerly encouraging him, spreading her legs apart to better facilitate him, to the great delight of those around them.

Gevin stood up, turned from the scene of carnality and with firm determination, walked out of the banqueting hall, resolved never to enter again.   None paid him any attention as he left, their pig-like eyes twinkling as they watched wantonness on display in front of them.

The double doors of the great keep at Whiteberry closed behind him with a deep resounding boom that bespoke of the closing of an era and nobody noticed or even cared.

 

***

 


There was a great lightening of his heart as the mildly cool evening air caressed his face while he walked purposely to the stable.   He’d loaded everything he intended to take onto a harness on his saddle, for once he reached the great forest, he would send his faithful warhorse back here.   The horse knew the route and was certain to return, for he was one of the finest mounts that Gevin had ever owned.    He hated the thought of some other knight taking possession of him, but the narrow path into the great forest was no place for any horse and he planned to walk with a pack on his back.

Since he had no intention of returning, it would be cruel to force a fine stallion in the prime of his life to share his self-imposed fate.    It was as the old saying went, ‘You can’t take it with you.’

That was especially true when you were planning to walk through the void known chillingly to all as ‘The Nihility Gate’.    It was never a fate willfully chosen by those thrust into the blackness of the portal, but Gevin intended to become the first, for he had grown weary of the world.

Whether it was sacrilegious suicide or a leap of faith to leave the wickedness of a world where he felt more and more isolated and alone was something he had wrestled with for many months.   But he’d had enough; the time was right for him to act.    The feasting would continue for several more days, then, after a day of recovery, new squires would be assigned to each royal knight.    So tonight, he could leave unencumbered with the responsibilities of training a young nobleman the virtues of knighthood.

Not that any of them truly embraced these virtues anymore.    It was pointless to begin the same process again for four years, only to witness the young man’s descent into carnality as soon as the king’s sword lifted from the top of the new knight’s head. 

He had no family; his mother had cast herself off the parapet of the Black Duke’s tower with her infant son in her arms as soon as she’d been informed of the death in battle of the cruel, vile man who had sexually abused her and kept her as his personal slave for his lusts.

She’d smashed her brains out in the rocks below the seaside castle, but in some terrible twist of luck, Gevin had survived uninjured.    They’d plucked him from his dead mother’s arms a few hours later, as a jet black raven stood on a bloody rock pecking at his dead Elven mother’s face.

Horribly, he’d received the nickname ‘The raven of red rock’ from the incident, yet he’d grimly taken it as his knightly arms so he would never forget the harsh reality of his beginnings.

Aside from the descendants of King Corston I, he had no known Consanguineal relations and in each generation, the blood kinship to Corston’s kin diminished.   None would acknowledge him as even a distant member of their family, though the memory of his father, the Black Duke, (who was born with the name Geuston, though nobody called him that), was wrapped in glory and greatness, ignoring his savage cruelty and intense lust.

Were it not for his own skill at arms and loyalty to the royal family, which, he had been informed, perfectly mirrored the best traits of his brutish father, he would have long ago been cast out of the presence of the royal court.   

He’d lived in the gloomy, ghost-ridden shadows of the Black Duke for over a century.  It was high time he exorcised his paternal demon and freed himself of the taint, even if that meant an uncertain fate in whatever dwelled on the other side of the Nihility Gate.

Disturbingly, the thought of this did not fill him with dread but instead a hopeful lightness from impending release.  For the first time in many years, Gevin softly whistled a long forgotten court tune from half a century before as he headed for the stables under his quarters in the castle.

 

The muffled sounds of a new uproar from the rude royal party in the banqueting hall drifted across the still air as he slowly swung open the doors to his stable.    Four fine mounts were housed in comfortable splendor here as they were in each of the private stables of each knight.   King and knights alike all held their horses in the highest regard and frequently treated them with more tender care than they did their wives, mistresses, children or b******s.

The door creaked slightly as he pushed it open, his thoughts already consumed by the night ride that he would soon be taking.   He was surprised to find one of the lanterns lit and the sound of someone humming coming from one of the stalls.   As he approached, a pitchfork full of hay was tossed from a pile in one corner, through his warhorse’s open stall door.

“Hello?” a feminine voice called out upon sensing his approach.   A moment later the fiery red head of Applemint Pondertort peeked timidly from out of the stall.    Her big green eyes widened in surprise upon seeing him.

“Sir Gevin!  My Lord, what in the world are you doing here at this hour?”  The Halfling girl dropped the pitchfork and hurried to stand respectfully in front of him, curtseying properly with a nod of her head.

“Apple; what are you doing here?  I didn’t figure either one of your brothers would be here this late.   Why are you doing their work?”

Applemint bowed her head and looked at her bare feet, which, like all Halflings, were lightly covered with hair, “Please, My Lord, don’t be mad!   I know how to clean out the stables!”

Gevin smiled at the lovely Halfling girl - she was the youngest of Mangle Pondertort’s children, but was rapidly entering into young adulthood.   She had her paternal grandmother Tori’s beauty and form and in spite of her youthfulness, was turning the heads of not just the young Halfling males, much to her father’s uneasiness.

Gevin only slightly squatted to better talk to her.    Tales told by Mangle claimed that the Pondertort family was of the Taphelo sub-race that had in ancient times lived amongst a tall Elven race that had taken them as slaves.    Yet in short time, they had endeared themselves to the Elves and soon there had been interbreeding amongst them.   The result was ‘The Taphelo’, considered by most as just an extremely tall species of Halfling, but by other wise men as a smaller race of Elf.   Applemint (who Gevin always called ‘Apple’ for short), like her grandmother, had the rare ‘royal’ traits of descendants of the noblest of families of the Taphelo.  

She was very fair with a graceful but shapely form, slightly pointed Elven ears, green eyes and red hair of the race of Elves that had contributed their blood to this sub-race.   More notably, she was extremely tall for an average Halfling woman even at her young age,  and like all the women in the Pondertort family she was probably six inches over four feet in height.    Among the Taphelo families, these traits were considered a manifestation of the old ‘royal Taphelo’ blood and Apple looked to be on the verge of becoming one of the loveliest of them all, greatly resembling her grandmother Tori, who had been famed for her beauty in her youth.

“Apple, I’m not upset and I know you can do their jobs.   I’m just wondering why you are doing them this late.”

Applemint frowned, her hands on her hips, “That was Devin’s fault, Lord.    He got wind of the belly dancers that His Majesty had commanded to perform this evening for the new knights.   He told Cal and he had to find out what the dancers looked like.    You know how Devin and Cal are, Lord!    Cal came back and told Devin that several of them were buxom and that was all it took.    They ordered me to fill in for them while they sneaked up to the balcony area to watch them wiggle their stuff.    I started the same time that they usually do, but there’s only one of me and so it took longer, sir!  I promise I did everything properly.”

Gevin struggled not to laugh at the girl’s frustration, “So they slipped into the banquet?”

“Yes, Lord; please don’t be mad!   You know how excitable they are!   They act so stupid, all because of b***s!”  She amplified her words with juvenile dramatics by thrusting her own chest out to emphasis the almost legendary obsession of multiple generations of Pondertort men to round breasts.   Tamfeld Pondertort had ballads still sung about his determined (but extremely comical) courtship of Tori Finklecruix, who was almost universally considered to have been the most beautiful (and buxom) Halfling of all time. 

Applemint shared her grandmother Tori’s gorgeous red hair and seemed posed to very soon match and most likely surpass her granny in looks and buxomness.   Gevin knew both Tori and Tamfeld, as the Pondertort family had served him for three generations and were extremely long-lived.  Applemint’s grandparents lived on a small holding of land owned by Sir Gevin, twenty five miles east of Whiteberry, retired now, surrounded by their many children and grandchildren.

“Yes, Apple, I know all about your brothers’ fascination with…um…anyhow,  I’m not upset, though I think they should stick with ogling women of their own size, don’t you?”

“I’ve told them that, Lord, but they think that any woman with big b***s is fair game.   Mom tells me that my father was like that before he met her.    It’s sort of a family curse, don’t you think?”

Gevin snickered, “I suppose so.   I’ll tell you what; don’t worry about the rest of the stable; I’m going to take Thallow out tonight.”

“Tonight, sir?”

“Yes, Apple, and tell your brothers to watch for him to return -without me- tomorrow morning.    I plan on sending him back once I get there.”

“Where, Lord?”

“I’ve got business…west of here.”

“And you’re going to send Thallow back without you?” The girl asked, puzzled at his cryptic answers.

“Right, so have them watch for him, okay?”

“Okay…Sir Gevin, are you planning on walking back here once you complete your business?”

“No,” He replied, hoping she’d accept simply that, but very confident she’d only grow more curious.

“Then…you’re coming back some other way than horse?”  She persisted, unafraid of poking her dainty nose into his business.

“That doesn’t concern you, Apple,” he replied gently and the redheaded girl blushed at the reprimand. 

“I’m sorry, Lord; my mother says I don’t know my place.   But if my brothers hear that I spoke to you and didn’t find out where you were going and how long you’ll be gone, they’ll be mad at me for months!”

Gevin smiled, “So don’t tell them that you saw me.”

Applemint’s eyes were as wide as saucers at the intrigue, her mouth opened to say something, but she stopped herself and blushed again, demurely ducking her head.

Gevin sighed; the Pondertorts had long been worthy servants and if anyone deserved an explanation, it was them.

“Apple, things are going to change very soon for your family, but I don’t want you to worry.   I will tell you something that you will see confirmed tomorrow - I’m turning Oakfield estate over to your parents, effective tomorrow morning.    They will receive the message and all the legal documents.    It isn’t very grand by noble standards, but your family has labored faithfully there on my behalf for seventy-five years and I am giving it to them in thanks for your family’s hard work.   It will be your family’s estate and aside from paying taxes to the King, you’ll be free to do with it as you want.   Tell your parents to keep it in your family.   The land is fertile and should provide for the Pondertorts, Nottworths, Hoggets and all your kin.”

“Sir Gevin, why would you give Oakfield away?”  She asked in almost a whisper.

“I don’t need it anymore, Apple.”

She stared at him for a long moment, then suddenly gasped, “Yesh preserve me, you’re leaving the Kingdom of Greidour, aren’t you?!  For good!”

Surprised by her remarkable intuition, he smiled again and merely nodded.

“Oh, no, sir!  Dear Yesh, have mercy!” She reached out and tightly grabbed his hand, tears welling up in her pretty green eyes, “Sir Gevin, why?”

“Apple, I don’t fit in here anymore.   I’ve lived as a half-breed here for over a hundred and thirty years.    I don’t fit in with the humans and all of the Elves have vanished it would seem.    I’ve grown old, Apple, and I’m very weary.”

“You’re not old, sir; look at yourself, you are young, fit and handsome!”

Gevin touched his temple, “I’m old inside, Apple; it is a curse of someone of Elven blood living among humans.    Your body stays young but your mind ages with the burden of years and memories.    I live in a past that has long disappeared, Apple, and it is something I cannot do anymore.”

Overcome with emotion, the Halfling girl flung her arms around him, clutching him with a surprisingly strong grip as she wept like a terrified little girl.

“Oh please, sir, don’t leave us!   What will we do without you?”  She cried pitifully.

“Apple, you have a large and very resourceful family; the Pondertorts are a proud and respected clan; with Oakfield as your possession, you’ll all do just fine and probably be the envy of every Halfling clan in this kingdom and neighboring kingdoms.”

His words did little to comfort her and she wept against his shoulder, her fiery mane hiding her face as she cried.

“We’ll miss you!” she said through her tears and her sincerity tore at his heart.

“I’ll miss you too,” he replied honestly.

Applemint’s head suddenly snapped backwards, “I know!   We could all go with you!”

“Apple, you don’t even know where I’m going.”

“It doesn’t matter!   You’re our Lord, we’ll follow you anywhere!” A gleam of hope twinkled in her tear stained eyes.   Gevin was genuinely surprised but touched by the Halfling girl’s reaction, but it was the typical passion of youth, where any emotion is felt in extreme measure, good or bad.

He gazed benignly at her, marveling at how angelic and sweet she looked; probably the last unspoiled thing in all of Greidour.  

“Apple, where I am going I can’t take anyone with me.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m not sure where exactly I’m going.”

“You don’t know where you’re going?  But surely…OH MY GOD!!!  You’re talking about the Nihility Gate!!   You’re going to go through it!   Its west of here, I know that it is!   Through the Great Forest!  Sir Gevin, no, you can’t do that!   It’s not a real portal, sir, its death and annihilation!”

“No one knows what’s on the other side, Apple, you don’t know any more than I do.” He was more than a little unnerved at her ability to put things quickly together.   She almost seemed able to read his mind.

“Lord, no one ever comes back from the gate!  You know that!  Please don’t kill yourself!”  She clung tightly to him, her body trembling as she thought of the dreaded black portal.

He didn’t really know what to say to her, so he let her calm down enough so she loosened her death grip on him and patted her hand, “Now that you’ve calmed down some, I really must get going.”

His words only energized her panic and she fiercely clutched his hands, “No, Sir Gevin, please wait - just a few days!   I’ll contact my father; you can talk to him and he’ll convince you to see things differently!   He’s very persuasive.   I’m sure if you just talked to him - or somebody else-  you would change your mind!”

Gevin knew the girl would not easily be convinced to abandon her pleading, but he had given many long hours to reaching his decision and was as resolved as she was, so he decided he’d have to fool her in order to get away.

He sighed wearily, “You come from a very stubborn family, Applemint Pondertort.”

“Yes, sir, I do.   Then you’ll talk to my father?”  She asked hopefully.

“You’re leaving me few alternatives,” he answered with a slow shake of his head and her shoulders relaxed slightly.

“Thank God, sir!   Things will seem better in the morning; I’m certain of it.”

“Let’s hope so.   I’ve been so focused on my plans tonight; I haven’t eaten anything all day.”  It wasn’t a lie, but still part of his scheme.

“Would you like me to go get something for you, Lord?   I could run to the kitchen - Sunny is working tonight; she can get you anything you want!   I don’t mind at all.”

Gevin gave her a sad smile, “You are a spark of joy in a dark world, Apple.   You’ll make someone a fine wife someday soon.    A jowl of mutton sounds really good to me right now.”

Applemint jumped to her feet at once, eager to please him, “I’ll go get you one!   Wait right here, sir; I’ll be back quickly!”

As soon as she ran out of the stable, he stood up and began strapping his saddle on Thallow.   The mutton had been served an hour ago and he knew it would take half of an hour to prepare more, so before she rushed back to keep him updated, he led his warhorse out of the stable, quickly mounted and rode off at a quick pace.  

“Sorry, Applemint,” he said softly as he rode by the western end of the royal kitchen building toward the western gate before it was shut for the night.

 




© 2020 Eddie Davis


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I'm sorry it has taken me so long to get to this! I'll start by saying that I have a feeling I shall quite like this story. I can certainly relate to Sir Gevin, even if I am not quite as old as he is... I look forward to seeing how things unfold!

Now, for a few things I noticed:

The first sentence feels a little choppy and may benefit from a split into two sentences. ?

I like how you've set the stage. We can see the depravity that the world has fallen to and can sense the loathing and dissatisfaction that Gevin has for the state of things. [the great, great grandson of the royal half-brother of the Black Duke] One thing that may help the flow is to put this bit of information in its own sentence.

They were all polite and more than slightly fearful of him, for though he was only half-Elven (his mother being a spoil of war), he was ageless as well as the ‘greatest knight of all time’. -- This bit may need a little re-working to help with flow and clarity.

"His eyes betrayed his actual 134 years..." -- Perhaps "His eyes betrayed his actual age of one hundred thirty-four years..." Also, I think it might be clearer to use a hyphen; "long-lived"

"Chivalry was dead, virtuous courtly romance was non-existent." Maybe adjust punctuation: Chivalry was dead and virtuous, courtly romance...

"Gevin stood up, turned from the scene of carnality and with firm determination, walked out of the banqueting hall, resolved never to enter again." This bit may benefit from a little rewording, or even splitting into two sentences.

"There was a great lightening of his heart as the mildly cool evening air caressed his face while he walked purposely to the stable." -- This sentence might benefit from a small division. There are a lot of details packed into one sentence.

‘You can’t take it with you.’ / ‘The Nihility Gate’. Be careful to keep your quotation marks consistent. In American English, quotation marks always go on the outside of any punctuation. In British English, quotation marks only go on the outside of punctuation when it is actual dialogue.

The feasting would continue for several more days, then, after a day of recovery, new squires would be assigned to each royal knight. -- This is another sentence that would benefit from being split in two.

"He had no family; his mother had cast herself off the parapet of the Black Duke’s tower with her infant son in her arms as soon as she’d been informed of the death in battle of the cruel, vile man who had sexually abused her and kept her as his personal slave for his lusts." -- This is a run-on, and could be split into two or three sentences.

"She’d smashed her brains out in the rocks..." I believe you meant "on the rocks". Also, you can probably leave out "Elven", as we've already been told that his mother was elvish.

"...as he slowly swung open the doors to his stable." Perhaps, instead, "as he slowly swung his stable doors open" ?

"...through his worhorse’s open stall door." - A minor typo here -- warhorse's

"She had her paternal grandmother Tori’s beauty and form and in spite of her youthfulness, was turning the heads of not just the young Halfling males, much to her father’s uneasiness." This sentence is a little wordy. Perhaps, break into two different sentences. Also, I believe you meant "unease".

"Gevin only slightly squatted to better talk to her. Tales told by Mangle claimed that the Pondertort family was of the Taphelo sub-race that had in ancient times lived amongst a tall Elven race that had taken them as slaves. Yet in short time, they had endeared themselves to the Elves and soon there had been interbreeding amongst them. The result was ‘The Taphelo’, considered by most as just an extremely tall species of Halfling, but by other wise men as a smaller race of Elf. Applemint (who Gevin always called ‘Apple’ for short), like her grandmother, had the rare ‘royal’ traits of descendants of the noblest of families of the Taphelo." -- I think this may need to be divided into three separate paragraphs. At first, we see Gevin stooping only slightly. Next we dive into the history of the Taphelo Halflings. Then, we go back to a description of Applemint.

"...hoping she’d accept simply that..." -- Maybe, "hoping she would simply accept it", or something along those lines. ?

"Gevin touched his temple," -- Because this is followed by dialogue, the comma should be a period. A comma should only be used if you're using a description of how the person (or half-elf, in this case) is speaking. Also, shortly below this one, where you write: Applemint’s head suddenly snapped backwards, “I know!

"A gleam of hope twinkled in her tear stained" -- Maybe, instead, "in her tear-filled..."

"...at her ability to put things quickly together." Perhaps a little rearranging of the order, for smoothness.

"He didn’t really know what to say to her, so he let her calm down enough so she loosened her death grip on him and patted her hand, 'Now that you’ve calmed down some, I really must get going.'” -- This is a rather long sentence. It would be good to break it up a little for clarity. Also, the comma before the dialogue should be a period.

"The mutton had been served an hour ago and he knew it would take half of an hour to prepare more, so before she rushed back to keep him updated, he led his warhorse out of the stable, quickly mounted and rode off at a quick pace." -- This is another run-on that would benefit from a little re-working.

"...rode by the western end of the royal kitchen building toward the western gate..." -- The double-use of western is a bit redundant. Perhaps some slight re-wording.

Posted 10 Months Ago


Elina

10 Months Ago

It is my pleasure to help where I can. I actually felt a bit bad after I had posted the comment beca.. read more
Eddie Davis

10 Months Ago

I might take you up on that; I need a proof-reader who has mastered English grammar. As I said, I .. read more
Elina

10 Months Ago

Oh, wow! That is rather funny/disconcerting. I had a similar experience when creating an account. Ho.. read more

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Added on November 10, 2020
Last Updated on November 21, 2020
Tags: Nihility_Gate, Synomenia, magic, sword_and_sorcery, elf, fantasy, Drow, Halflings, knights


Author

Eddie Davis
Eddie Davis

Springfield, MO



About
I'm a fantasy and science-fiction writer that enjoys sharing my tales with everyone. Three trilogies are offered here, all taking place in the same fantasy world of Synomenia. Other books and stor.. more..

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