Lord of a Dry and Weary Land
This is a story within 1000 words (Short story). It was written by Martin Hamilton.
Herlikk was a capable young man in his teens. He was humble and kind, and was unconfident in his own abilities. However, when given a challenge he would accept it gladly.
The Day of Coming was such a challenge. Herlikk lived in Somnolent, the main village amongst the land of the Monotonous. A person known as the Catrach was the defender of the land. However, the earlier Catrach, Lethargic the Gloomy, had died of making over 5 actions in one day. Now, a new Catrach had to be chosen, so all the young men of the country were given 3 quests. The champion who completed them all received the grand title.
Four other adolescents ran for the job. However, all of them failed, so it was now down to Herlikk. Rumour was that the enemy of the land, the Evil Lord Vigorous and his minions the Scorpion Vivacious and the Dragon Effervescent had killed them.
Herlikk's quest was as he had expected. He had to win a fight against Vivacious.
Herlikk went home and retrieved his sword.
The wasteland of Arid was about as comfortable as Somnolent was lively. Massive sandstorms circled the plant-ridden land, destroying all life in their path. But Herlikk was not there to survey the weather. As soon as he spotted Vivacious' cave, he slipped down into it.
Almost the moment his feet touched the ground, a crackling sound echoed from within the depths. Herlikk retreated further into the dark, drawing his blade as he did so.
Suddenly the monster attacked. Pouncing forward, it pushed Herlikk back, deeper in the chamber of crumbling rock. The rock was old and had withstood a lot of erosion, but was delicate and could fall should the slightest movement disturb it. Disturb it? This gave Herlikk an idea.
Meanwhile, the creature came at him again with its vicious claws. Herlikk parried, and stabbed at its belly. The sword scraped along the crusty skin without penetrating. The beast tried to bite Herlikk, but that was a bad move. Herlikk jumped on its back and before flinging himself out of the cavern to safety, he thrust his sword into one of the giant scorpion's eyes.
The great monster reared up and stuck wildly in its blindness. As it hit the ceiling of the cave, centuries of crumbled rock came cascading down. As each boulder struck the beast, streams of blood came pouring out. After only a minute or so, the creature lay on the ground, not moving.
His next mission was to conquer the dragon Effervescent. He was found on the top of the Mountain Burgeoning, from which River Ecstasy flowed. His sword buried in Vivacious' eye, Herlikk took along his crossbow, readily loaded.
As he rose over the crest of the hilltop, a surge of fire came to meet him. He threw himself into the river, dodging the flames, and continued on. The sender of the blaze was not far behind its conflagration. It snapped at Herlikk, who ducked, and then clawed at him, this time finding thin air where his target had been seconds before. A bolt came whizzing over its head, and it turned in time to see another following in quick succession.
Herlikk reloaded but before he could fire, Effervescent directed another inferno his way. Herlikk held up his weapon to shield himself, and instead of him, his crossbow caught fire. Its tip burnt away, slowly but painfully destroying the pointed end of the bolt.
The great man-slayer dragon launched itself five feet into the air before opening its strong jaws to release yet another jet of flames. Herlikk took the chance. Holding up the bow and the remains of the bolt, he aimed at the where the incoming attack would come from. Moments ahead of the blaze being ejected, he let go of the sinewy string that held the arrow in place.
The burning shaft sped towards its target. It struck the ball of fire in the dragon's throat, causing it to cough and gag. Meanwhile the wooden missile, still burning, stuck in Effervescent's throat. He spluttered loudly, trying his best to free himself of the shard. The fire spread inside his stomach, inside his throat until he erupted in conflagration.
Herlikk left, satisfied of his work.
His final mission was to confront the Evil Lord Vigorous. Herlikk had his own opinions of Vigorous, but a challenge was a challenge, and he could not bring himself to refuse it.
He set off, this time taking only himself, a staff, and some lunch from the village with him. He traveled north, between the wasteland and the mountain. When he finally came to the stronghold were his target dwelled, the door was wide open. Vigorous was seated at a table inside, and was jumping and wiggling himself vigorously. Herlikk stared.
The Lord energetically motioned for Herlikk to take a seat. He did, pulling his lunch from his bag as he did so. He set it out on the table, and both the young man and the old ate from it. When they had finished, Herlikk noticed that Vigorous had calmed down significantly. Herlikk asked him about it.
Vigorous sighed. "You have found my weak point. I have to accept any gift that it given to me. So far I have lived of food that I have sown. I have been lively and bouncy until now, when you have given me food from your somnolent village. It has made me slow and lazy. I used to hate your village for its sleepiness, but never again will I be active."
There was little rejoicing as Herlikk was made Catrach. The great Lord was accepted into society. And all lived lazily ever after.
Look up the names of the places and names in the story - they all have a meaning (usually a funny one).
Thank you for reading and have a great day!