Innumerable days and nights of fighting, piles of dead bodies, and it had all come down to this. Margaret stood facing Horatio, a battalion of fairies, trolls, dragons, unicorns, and who knew what else behind her, a battalion of human soldiers behind him. A smattering of humans stood beside her, glancing furtively sideways and then back at the heavily armed soldiers behind Horatio, clearly unsure as to whether they had chosen the right side.
‘It doesn’t have to be this way, Horatio. Please, we can live in peace.’ Margaret knew any pleas were futile, but that didn’t stop her trying.
‘We can’t live in peace whilst these beasts,’ he gestured to the creatures standing behind Margaret, ‘insist on trampling our land.’
At the claim over the island, the trolls growled, prompting a roar from one of the dragons that sent a fireball into the sky.
‘It’s not your land Horatio. It’s no-one’s land.’
Horatio smirked. ‘You’re just too weak, Maggie. Too weak to take what’s rightfully yours.’ He put his hand to the hilt of his sword. ‘And that, sister, is what will be your downfall.’ He raised his sword and the human battalion charged forwards. Swords clashed with axes and clubs. Half the soldiers were cooked within their armour.
It only took a few moments before the fighting was over, and the soldiers – the ones who could still stand – retreated. Most of them lay dead or dying; the few who were lucky enough to only be injured sat howling in pain.
The dragons were sitting on their back legs, licking the scratches that the swords had covered their bodies with. The fairies who weren’t injured flitted around, helping the wounded on both sides. The humans had all run, from both sides, leaving only those who could not move on the battlefield.
‘It didn’t have to be this way.’ Margaret was crying now, tears forming rivers through the mud and dirt caked on to her face as she took in the sight off all the bodies. ‘We can live together peacefully.’
Horatio had somehow survived, and other than a gash along the side of his torso which had already stopped bleeding, was unharmed. He sat up, clearly incredulous.
‘Do your eyes not work? Can you not see what these monsters did? How can we co-exist with such violent, dangerous creatures?’ His voice rose to a squeak with the last question as he gestured to the creatures, who were, for the most part, unharmed.
‘You provoked them.’
‘I did no such thing! I only tried to take land that is rightfully mine.’
‘We only arrived here ten moons ago, and you think we have the right to all land on this island? These creatures have existed here peacefully for so long…’
‘These creatures are not as intelligent as us. They don’t deserve the treatment we give them, let alone what you are suggesting.’
Horatio hoisted himself up to standing and climbed on top of his horse. ‘I’m going to protect us, sister. Make sure you’re on the right side of those barriers. There’s still a chance for our stories to remember you fondly.’ The hope in Horatio’s voice was pitiable. His mouth stayed fixed in a frown, but it trembled slightly, like a toddler on the brink of a tantrum.
Margaret had lived with Horatio for so long that she had no hesitation as she said, ‘Don’t worry, brother. I will,’ turned away from him, and walked into the line of the trees.
I’m currently doing CampNaNoWriMo and this serves as a sort of short story precursor to the main body of the novel, and something surprising came out of just starting with an idea in the world and letting myself write! I would recommend it to anyone suffering from writers’ block to move past it and potentially take things in a direction you might not have previously considered! Also Camp NaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo itself is great motivation for getting that novel that you’re so desperate to write down on the page or screen – and that, so I have been told many a time, is the first and most crucial step in any writing project.
© Alyx Hurst 2017