This is the story I had thought lost. Apparently I had posted it on facebook. All hail the great facebook. There were still like three other chapters that were more personal, but very well told. Wish I could recover them. I am aware there are some typos in this. I haven’t actually edited it yet.
Petrius approached the field. He had short, brown hair and a large beard. He wore a vest which bore his hairy, barrel chest. Strong, tree trunk legs were covered in cargo pants, a dozen pockets holding a dozen unknown goods. A satchel swung about his side, and on his back he wore a glaive. Ahead of him was a field, and beyond that field was a great army, and beyond that army was a great castle, and beyond that castle was a great princess. In Petrius’ satchel was a letter from that princess, as he’d sent her many and she’d sent him many, but this particular letter told him they’d grow old together.
There were many obstacles to his love, but he knew he had to endure them. He knew he had to plunge forward, for he had given too much of himself to the princess, and there was but one way to reclaim what she had taken, and likely what he had taken from her: to grow old together. The princess was special to Petrius. She was not an unusually beautiful creature, though Petrius found her attractive. She was not particularly well spoken, but Petrius found what she said to hold immense worth. She was not particularly good at any one thing, but nor was Petrius, and she was perfect in her personality at the very least. Perhaps not perfect, Petrius thought, but she was amazing and there was no other woman worthy.
The wind was light over the fields, though the grass still created waves. The army rattled shield and sword, shouting out for the man’s blood. Petrius smiled, however, as he was ever optimistic. God was on his side, and if God were on his side, who could be against him? He licked his thumb and held it out as if measuring the size of the castle and the direction of the wind, “This will be a glorious day. I shall marry that princess in your castle. Just you wait.”
He plunged forward, his glaive whirling and twirling. He cut in half doubt, insecurity, hatred, distance, and even age. Time itself bent to him in those moments. In the end, the army was but chaff. With any other princess, any princess truly unworthy, he may have seen the army and digressed, finding the battle not worth the effort, but this princess was different. Before long, the army was face down upon the dirt and mud, and the castle gates awaited him.
When Petrius approached, he saw gate guards upon the walls. They called down to him, “What is it you want?”
Seeing that there was no immediate threat, Petrius placed his glaive around his back, “I only want the princess. I love her, and she loves me, and I wish to live out the rest of my days with her, no matter how long or short they come to be. There seem to be many obstacles, and some of them I’d prefer to take amicably.”
“What is your name?” They eyed him suspiciously, their weapons at the ready.
“Petrius, bard of the eastern lands and bringer of entertainment and joy. Currently, Petrius, lover of the fair princess.”
Suspicion did not magically end there, but the guards opened the gate, “She has spoken highly of you. We shall escort you to her, but don’t expect trust nor an easy path.”
“If I thought I’d find an easy path, I’d have never come here. I’ll give my everything to be with her.”
“Then pay for your passage.” The guards were on the ground, by Petrius, a man and a woman.
“If money is all it takes, you can have it all.” He pulled a pouch out of his satchel and tossed it to them.
“How do we know that is all?”
Petrius dumped it upside down and shook. Letter upon letter fell out of the bag. A small book fell out of the bag. They were love notes, and as he continued to empty it, tears formed in the corners of his eyes, tears which hadn’t appeared in some time. However, in that bag, though it was not physically present, the guards could see there was no money, but there was Petrius’ heart. They spoke again, “We believe you. Let’s go.”
The village within the castle was massive. The guards followed Petrius, and as time went, more and more gathered. When they reached the city center, however, there was a man waiting. His hair was red, as if on fire, and he had a beard similar to Petrius. He was a handsome man, and muscular. The guards stood back, for this man was marked as favored by the princess. “Petrius,” he called out, “I am here to end your journey. The princess shall be mine.”
There were times for peace and times for war, and the man in front of him was a man of war. Petrius approached, “Child of the Righteous Flame, I’ve been here some time and see your sudden arrival as a little lackluster. How about we call it a day and go our separate ways: you traveling towards the plains, never to return, and me traveling to the princess so I can marry her. From what I’ve heard, you have your own maiden.”
The Righteous Flame cracked his neck, palming his two handed sword, “I don’t think so. This is a far fairer princess than any I’ve laid mine eyes upon. I believe you should be put down, Petrius.” Words were no longer spilt as they lunged towards each other, the glaive and claymore creating sparks as they ground upon each other and were deflected into the cobblestone. The guards remained in the distance, cheering for neither side, expecting the correct outcome would occur.
Finally blood splashed upon the ground as Petrius plunged his glaive deep into Righteous Flame’s thigh. The men glared at each other, one from his knees, the other with the sun behind him, “I love her more than you could imagine, but to finish you off is to disgrace myself in her presence. Know that she is mine, and I will give my everything for her. Now flee.” Righteous Flame limped off into a nearby building. Though Petrius knew that Righteous Flame would try to win over the princess again and again, it was obvious who had won.
The guards formed back on Petrius as he made his way out of the village and to the keep. He arrived at the keep and shouted, “I am Petrius. I have come for the princess. I love her more than my own life and am willing to do what it takes to be with her.” He watched the wooden gate, hoping it would be lifted. He knew he could break through if he had to.
However, the princess had withdrawn. She had asked the gate remain closed. The guards relayed her orders, “We apologize, Petrius. She loves you, but she also know fear, and fear keeps her from lifting this gate. Know that she uses only wood, and this is a kindness in itself.”
Petrius nodded, “I shall thank her personally. I’m going to start breaking this gate down, then. Will you stop me?”
“We have no such orders. You must be slowed, though.” Petrius started to hack at the gate as the guards watched. He worked hard, chipping piece by piece, and hours later, he had made enough of a hole to walk through. Once on the other side, there was a small army awaiting him. Their weapons were sharp, and they were still fresh. Petrius was becoming tired, but even this army was no match for his convictions. With a few flashes of his glaive’s blade, the opposition fell in their own blood. Behind them, there was the final gate to the castle’s keep, to the princess. She would be there, and he could take her away. They could build their own castle and kingdom. So he approached the lofty, metal grated gate.
Atop the gate were two guards. “Petrius, your journey ends here,” they bellowed down from the ramparts. “The king and queen have stated you are not to pass.”
Petrius gripped his glaive, “I don’t want to have to do this. Looks like a mighty nice gate there. I know I can break it down, even with you shooting at me from above.”
“We won’t shoot down on you, Petrius. It’s a waste of time. However, we have another gate for the likes of you.” As they said this, one guard chuckled and pushed a button. A large, steel slab slammed down upon the stone, in front of the grated gate. The steel upon the ground was such a harsh action that Petrius stumbled. “Anyway, we should really get going. Doubt you’ll get through that; might as well go home yourself.” The guards left, shouting to each other the impossibility of the task.
It would take a great deal to dissuade Petrius from achieving his goal, and this slab of steal seemed little more than a trite annoyance. With glaive in hand, he struck at the gate, and the wood staff snapped in half, the steel of the blade cracking and chipping slightly. The blade made a fine short sword, and he struck at the gate with the improvised weapon. However, the blade was nothing compared to the gate, and shattered. Shrapnel showered Petrius, and though he lifted his arm to protect himself from the majority of the debris, his arm and chest were struck deeply, releasing his life blood from his body in slow rivers. He cringed and took a knee from the pain, staring at the metal gate.
Not even this would stop him from his quest, however. He walked up to the gate and started to punch it over and over again. His hands turned red, throbbing with the rawness of his rubbed off flesh. Then blood started to stain the steal. Soon the skin upon his knuckles had been pealed back, but he continued to punch, blood splattering the gate and himself, his hands little more than a crimson pulp. His head struck the gate, and bled as well, and though he slowed down, and the power of his strikes were greatly diminished, he did not quite his impossible task.
The sun set, and the moon rose high above the castle. Petrius was upon his knees, his forehead against the gate at the end of a blood smear. His hands continued slamming the gate half heartedly. Rivulets of salt and water trickled down the gate, cutting through blood on his cheeks and upon the gate. His mind went in and out of consciousness as he struggled to win the impossible battle when the outcome had seemed so sure. On that night, a woman approached him. She held him against her clean garments, “Petrius, stop. This won’t get you anywhere. Let me wrap your wounds.” Soft skin touched him and he winced. Bandages were wrapped around his hands and head and a soothing balm helped to ease the pain. When Petrius looked up, it was the princess. She spoke to him, kneeling beside him, “I’m fighting from the inside. Trust me. You don’t need to do it all on your own.” She kissed his forehead and smiled. “I love you.”
Petrius smiled up at her, half in a daze, “I love you, too.” Then the world went dark and he passed out on the street. The princess kissed his forehead and ran back to the castle, crying.
The sun replaced the moon and a dull ache in Petrius’ hands woke him. He stood up, grunting, and placed a hand on the gate to brace himself. “How do I get through?” His mind raced, but it seemed to come up just short of any ideas worth using. Then there was a bellowing voice from above and a shadow came over him. Standing above him, grinning, was the Child of the Righteous Flame.
In the sun’s glow it looked almost as if his red hair were lit on fire, waving with a golden blaze. His eyes were dark pits due to the shadows created by his head. A great sword was in one hand, and the other rested upon his hip. “Petrius, you should just go home. The king and queen have welcomed me into their hallowed halls, and the princess shall be mine. You’ve no chance here. Even if you get through the gate, your strength will be spent and I will impale you upon my sword. Though the idea gives me pleasure, it almost hurts to see such a piteous creature reach so far beyond his ability.”
“I think I’ll be fine. Any other day, I might have had doubt. I might have thought she replaced me. But not today.” He looked down at his hands, opened, palm up. The blood had already soaked through the bandages, but his hands were still usable. “I know she loves me, Righteous Flame. That won’t change, no matter what gates are between us.” He looked up and smiled a content smile.
“You’ll still never have her. This door won’t open for the likes of you,” and he walked away, scowling.
It may have been true that Petrius was quite convinced that the princess did not love Righteous Flame, but that mattered little. Righteous Flame was in there with her, and Petrius was not. The world turned a shade of red, as if a mist had covered Petrius’ eyes. There was a buzzing in his ears and his strength returned. He unleashed one punch against the gate and struck it with such force the steal shattered into the keep, killing the army which stood there to oppose him. This punch had a drawback, however. When his hand hit, it hit so forcefully that his knuckles and fingers shattered, the ripple went up his hand, shattering all the way up to his wrist, and his forearm and upper arm both suffered massive fractures. Useless and limp, his arm rested at his side as he ambled into the presence of the onlookers in the keep.
Righteous Flame awaited him in the center of the keep. The large sword had deflected the debris, and now waited to taste Petrius’ blood. Righteous Flame boasted, “You’ve come, I see. Your arm is worthless and you’ve no weapon. How will you beat me?” With a smirk, Righteous Flame quickly closed the distance. The red haze which had consumed Petrius had receded and the aches and pains had rippled through his body anew. The flat of the blade came across Petrius’ skull, and sent him flying, bright stars flashing in his sight as he stumbled to his feet. The people watched in hushed silence, though no one was surprised as to where the fight would lead.
Then, as Petrius cleared his head and Righteous Flame approached him for a final attack, there was a whisper from the crowd, “Persevere.” The single word had been a mantra for so long, and yet in this moment it had seemed Petrius forgot about it. In that moment, he stood, proudly. The stars cleared. As the sword came down to cleave in two, Petrius gave one powerful kick, snapping the sword in half. In another moment he kicked the detached blade into Righteous Flame’s leg.
Petrius grinned, looking down on his foe. “Stay down this time. She loves me. I am here. I will persevere.” He limped over to the king and queen, his body a bloody mess. Kneeling before them, the crowd split. No one dared speak. “M’lord, M’lady, I am here to prove my worth to you. Give me any task and it shall be completed hastily, for I love your daughter, and I’d sacrifice heavily to be with her. Just tell me what I must do.”
By her parents, the princess wept. The king and queen gave him his tasks and he set out to complete them.
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