Caladog and the Hare (A short story)

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Twang! “Beautiful shot father! ” Shouted Caladog, standing over the plump, lifeless body of the four pound hare that lay limp on the ground.

“I thought the wind was going to take it.” Said High King Aeril as he sauntered over to his quarry.

“Fifty paces father! It must’ve been there about.”

King Aeril knelt down to inspect the animal. The arrow shaft stuck out just beneath the hare’s second vertebrae. “Clean, quick, perfect. I bet he didn’t even feel a thing.”

“Didn’t feel a thing?! Bah! What kind of death is that?! Give me a nice hard glorious death - I want to know when I’m dying and revel in it!”


King Aeril gave Caladog a weary smile. “When you live as long as I have son, you come to know that there is no such thing as a glorious death. Death is just death. Look at this creature: alone, lifeless, growing colder by the moment. When you look at it, does it matter how it died? What it was doing before it died? Whether you die on a battle field surrounded by your men or by yourself on a cold bed of leaves - you die alone. Cold and alone.”

As King Aeril looked back towards the hare beneath him, Caladog’s face grew dark and his mouth twisted in such a subtle way as to be almost imperceptible. “Father, you speak as someone who fears death - you sound like an old Imperial whose arms are as wide as their ankles! Maybe that’s why we must settle for the scraps that the Empire throws us instead of taking what’s ours by rights!”

“Ours by rights!?”
Aeril rose to meet Caladog’s gaze. “And what is ours by rights? The Druimmor Forest? The Tryn River? Lycaron? The whole of Calradia? The only thing anyone has a right to in this world is what they can take by force or through cunning. We Battanians have never been completely conquered by the Imperials because we have always known what we can take and what we can manage. Over step, take on more than we are able and we will collapse. The truth, son, is that we cannot hope to stand against the Empire alone. It isn’t…”

Caladog interrupted Aeril with a hearty laugh. “Is that so?! So we cower in the forest and shutter at the sound of passing cataphracts because we know what we can take and what we can manage? Father, do you believe the tripe you speak?” Caladog paused, carefully considering his words. “We are not alone father... My King. We are not the only ones who want to see the Empire fall. The Sturgians, the Vlandi…”

“Vlandia is pledged not to attack the Empire just as we are, and the Sturgians dislike us almost as much as they hate the Empire, they cannot be trusted…”

“They can be trusted to vanquish the Empire… And I believe the Vlandians can be convinced to see things our way. If we...”

“You forget yourself Caladog! I have made a truce with the Empire sealed by oaths! I am no craven, but neither am I a liar who so easily casts away his word like drift wood. You are my son, not by blood rights, but because I deem it so! Such talk makes me think that I erred in my choosing.”
King Aeril turned back toward the dead hare that lay on the ground and stooped over to pick it up. “Enough of this Caladog. We shan’t speak of this folly any longer.”

With disgust, disappointment and sadness in his voice Caladog whispered: “The only folly here is the weakness of our king.”

As King Aeril’s hand closed around the hare’s lifeless legs he suddenly felt a cold, piercing pain at the base of his neck. The world around him plunged into darkness and with that, King Aeril lay on a bed of leaves… Cold and alone.

Sometime later, about an hour before sunset, Caladog returned to the hunting camp where he was greeted mightily by Melidir of fen Uvain. “Caladog!” Exclaimed Melidir with wide arms. “Look at my bounty!” Melidir gestured toward the seven hares and three geese that were piled on a table next to him. “Ha! And all you and Aeril got was one tiny little hare?! You two were gone all day and that’s your haul?! Haha! Rather pitiful.” Said Melidir with a playful demeanor.

Caladog just stood unmoved, expressionless, with hare in hand staring at the table piled with dead animals. Melidir found it peculiar that the usually jovial and boisterous Caladog wasn’t saying anything. Then he realized that Caladog had returned alone, without King Aeril. “Caladog… Where’s High King Aeril?”

Caladog remained in place staring at the table. It seemed to Melidir as if Caladog did not hear him. “Caladog! Where’s your father?”

Caladog raised his gaze from the table to Melidir’s eyes and said: “Father saw a deer and ran after it. It was heading north. He told me to make it back to camp and prepare for a great feast.”

In that instant, Melidir’s face became very hot and his hands suddenly felt cold and clammy. “A deer?” He asked.

“Yes!” Exclaimed Caladog seeming to break out of whatever trance had held him. “An enormous buck with a giant rack. Those antlers will make a great trophy! He should be back soon.”

Melidir furrowed his brow and stared directly into Caladog’s dark, piercing eyes: “There are no deer in these woods.”

Caladog’s eyes did not move and did not blink. And with the coldest smile Melidir had ever seen, Caladog quietly said: “There aren’t? Well then, it looks like we’ll be waiting for father longer than I thought.” Caladog then tossed the hare on the table where Melidir had piled his catch and calmly walked over to a nearby tree stump and began cleaning a seax that he pulled out from his belt.

Melidir, struck by the exchange, remained standing trying to contemplate what just happened when lord Ergeon of fen Derngil came up behind him, clasped him on his shoulder and asked: “Where’s the King?”

Melidir calmly said: “The King is dead.” He then looked toward the stump where Caladog was sitting and softly mumbled: “Long live the King.”
 
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Piconi

Fashionista
Section Moderator
M&BWBWF&SNWVC
I enjoyed reading this, thank you! Wouldn't mind reading this from an NPC conversation in game either.
 

dannazgu

Sergeant
Nice, loved that.. I wished we could upload files inside the forums so people could download.. I wrote a few things myself too during my game play
 
I enjoyed reading this, thank you! Wouldn't mind reading this from an NPC conversation in game either.
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You're a treasure bro. I enjoyed the reading.
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I expect more content from you. Can you do a Khuzait and Empire version too?
Definitely doable.
Nice, loved that..
Thank you!
I wished we could upload files inside the forums so people could download.. I wrote a few things myself too during my game play
Agreed. You should post what you wrote in the Minstrel's Corner, I for one, would definitely read it!
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