Army of One: Garrett The Amazing

Army of One: Garrett The Amazing

This entry into the Army of One contest was written by Simon Matthews. He can also be found on twitter under @symatt.
Story
The warm yellow firelight reflected golden off the weak beer up onto Garrett’s neck. The soles of his damp boots steamed gently as they face the open fire. Smoke from countless pipes meandered about the shadow laden room. Maidens with dirty aprons and dirty hands negotiated bags, boots and reaching hands as they went about their business serving warm beer and pale meats. A mix of Local farmers, out of town traders, quiet solitary types and loud half naked warriors with weapons placed at their feet, yet always ready for a fight if the opportunity arose.  The stale taste of sweat and dirt is only just covered by garlic and smoke. The cacophony of voices is broken from time to time with a burst of laughter or cheer from some other table or corner.
Being a Halfling didn’t stop Garrett from mixing with every race and creed, he managed it so well. His clothes, of Noble make, well kept but showed their age, his boots had holes that had been repaired so many times that there wasn’t an original piece left. His hair was unkempt, dark and hung in his eyes but he thought it gave him a mysterious look. A sword, well he says it’s a sword, no more than a long dagger really lay in the side grove of the high back chair he managed to acquire when an aged local left to relieve himself. Leaning against the back of that chair was a shield, way to big for one so small but it seemed to attract light like a candle attracts moths. A pattern of wind tossed leaves carved into the metal gave the feeling of motion where there was none.
“There I was, standing alone on the south end side of the bridge of Vakcher”  Raising his voice one more level. “The entire city of Tyndall was behind me” garrett took a breath. “Women, children and the old stood trembling in fear, only I stood between them and certain death”  The halfling leaned forward to give more drama to his tail. Spilling beer on his leg which he failed to notice or just didn’t want others to notice. “The hordes of VAK stood before me with teeth gnashing and weapons bashing” He demonstrated this by bringing his small hand hard down onto the arm of the wooden chair and bearing his teeth. An audience of three had gathered about him now with a couple more peering over their shoulders. “what did you do, what did you do? A young adventurer of no more than twenty summers questioned, he sat against the hearth, an untouched drink in hand, questioning him again and again at every scene Garrett described. “Shut up will you I’m coming to that bit” the flash in Garrett’s eyes faded momentarily as the creative juices had been broken.  “Well as I said, I was standing……” garrett stopped looked at the lads goblet and looked back at the lad. “Are you drinking that?” Pointing a grubby finger with a broken nail at the young mans drink. “Er..no..you can have it if you want” he passed it to Garrett, who then poured it into his own flagon.
The wood upon the fire crackled sending a delicate cinder spark drifting into the haze of smoke to then come to rest in Garrett’s drink with a soft fizzle. Garrett took several loud gulps of beer and then continued his Story. “The first wave of Vak charged, I held my ground. They clambered and clawed over each other on mass to get at me”.  He looked about, now more had leaned in to listen to his Amazing story. A hidden smile crossed his face. Once again the young fighter interrupted. “What’s a VAK?” Several of the Audience agreed and looked puzzled. “Well when you have travelled the many lands and worlds as I have then you may come across the vicious and deadly VAK, but I’d hope for your sakes you never do”. Garrett scanned the ever increasing crowd.  “Who will fill my cup so I can continue and maybe a little meat too”?
His cup and plate filled Garrett yet again started to retell his amazing adventure. “There I was, my trusty sword in one hand and my life protecting shield in the other”. “The Vak, reached me within several heartbeats and all I could do was keep my two horse span width of the bridge. They slammed into my shield skidding me backwards. I dug my heals in harder until I came to a stop.” Garrett took a bite of his remaining meat, chewing with mouth open and spitting pieces of food as he became more animated in his telling.

“I stabbed and slashed with my sword, Vak were dying with every stroke of my blade. My arms ached with the force of my blows and the strain it was taking to hold these evil monsters back from the innocent I was protecting”. Garrett’s breathing became faster as though he was living the moment again or was it the first time?
The tale continued, drawing more and more people about him, all enthralled in the heroics of this small but mighty Halfling. Garrett carried the story and his spectators farther into the spectacle that must have taken place upon that bridge so far from this small travellers inn.  “The Vak bodies lay about me” Garrett continued. “My feet, ankle deep in their green fetid blood. Took me days to clear the stench from the soles” he pointed at his boots, everyone looked at them and as if in a choir, Oooooed and aaahhhed in unison. “What about the Vak, surely there was to greater number for you alone”? A voice from the back shouted across the tables. A human of many years and by the looks of him many a battle. Clambered onto a table and again repeated what he had said, now to the whole room which lay in silence, looking at Garrett for an answer. Garret looked about him. Stumbled for words a couple of times then spoke clearly as if recalling a memory. “You are right to ask my friend for there was a horde of Vak. Even though I had killed more than I have fingers and toes there was still more beyond.” Garrett’s eyes wondered across the faces of the crowed. Sweat trickled down his brow like hot oil running from the skin of a roasting chicken. Had he faltered, had he been discovered? “yes I had to think fast.”  Now standing upon his chair and holding his hands outstretched, holding the attention of his audience. “I jumped backwards and landed a full ladders length away from the drooling Vak” Garrett touched his lower lip in thought. “I looked about and studied the bridge in total detail. It took but a thoughts moment and then I saw how to beat the Vak.” The whole crowd seemed to move to the edge of their seats even if they were not seated.  “There was a crack, only slight, but it ran the whole width of the marble white bridge.” Garrett waited, giving the tension time to increase. “The Vak charged again, I paused, I had to surprise them with my plan. The sound of so many Vak in one location was the sound of the underdark come alive upon this land. Hell itself was bearing down upon me. I drew my sword high above my head”. Garrett demonstrated by raising his sword from the chair and with a great leap. As great as this halfling could manage, landed hard on the inn floor striking the hearth. “My sword penetrated the marble bridge, like a mole beneath the dirt, moved from the point of my sword to the left and right of me, the crack crumbled and broke before the Vak, their side of the bridge became hidden in a cloud of dust and in their charge they could not stop and like a waterfall of evil flesh they tumbled and fell to their doom one after another until all was gone, down screaming to their end”.
The crowd cheered with excitement and clapped, several bought Garrett fresh drinks and coins clattered like heavy rain against the wooden floor. once again the hubbub in the Inn returned as patrons resumed their own stories and life tale. Not as dramatic and not as world shaking.
Garrett slumped back into his chair exhausted from the sheer drama of the whole evening. Wiped the sweat from his face with a maidens apron as she delivered a tray laden with drinks.
“Is that True?” The young warrior made his final question. Some hidden disappointment lay upon his face. “Is that True”?  Garrett leaned forward close to the young lads face, with a voice close to a whisper. “What do you think?” “For I am ….” And as if on cue the two together still in a whisper spoke with a smile upon their bright faces. “……..Garrett the Amazing”
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