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The Story Around the Fire

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Short story I wrote for my Advanced English class in high school, probably needs editing and what not but I was quite proud of it.


The day was cold, and dark clouds rumbled their fury. Rain pounded the roof, and lightning danced through the sky. It didn't disrupt the joyous singing and dancing commencing within the great hall of Herot. I sat lazily upon my throne, encrusted with jewels that shone in dazzling arrays of colors when the fire reflected off them. I scratched a callused hand through my scraggly beard before returning it to it's greedy touch on the gold encrusted goblet. The goblet's surface was smooth and textured, hinting at the soft almost airy touch of the craftsman's fingers as he worked on his masterpiece.

I lifted the goblet to my mouth and the hungry throat that awaited it there. Almost seeming to demand it's thirst to be fed by the heavy, syrupy drink. It fell down my throat, tingling the sensitive passageway on it's way down. I shivered despite the heavy fur cloak that rested upon my shoulders; but, not from the cold seeping through the tiny cracks ,hidden in the mason's masterwork, only to be forced back out by the fires scorning flames. No, I shivered from the warm, heated filling that the mead awoke on it's passage. I replaced the goblet beside my plate on the smooth, masterful carved piece of wood that served as my table, and belched contentedly. I turned to the other throne placed adjacently beside mine. There I saw the comforting, loving eyes of my love. My wife, Welthow. I smiled, and cupped my callused hand, worn with the swordsman's grip, over her smooth, soft hand. She returned my warming smile, and placed her hand comfortingly in mine and squeezed gently.

I arose quietly and dignified from my throne, gifted with the love of God. I raised a hand in a signal for quiet. The loud, joyous conversations around each comforting fire began to dim slowly. The fires of my people danced before the flickering flames, as I gazed throughout my great hall. Herot, the pride of my people and my rule. "Hail, Hrothgar!" It started as a single voice among hundreds, but grew in volume as each voice added it's to the chorus. The chanting, full of love and respect, reverberated throughout the hall.

"Quiet my people, allow your gracious and humble king a chance to speak before you all." My voice coming through my cracked lips, seemed less commanding than in the vibrant days of my youth. As if my great sails, once so proudly blowing in the wind, have slowed and begun to tear. The chanting began to slowly quiet, somewhere it must've started again. I stirred restlessly within my fur cloak, which seemed to hot all of a sudden. I fiddled with the gold collar about my neck, the gold was warm to the touch but not scornful. The sign of my rule, and my power as a king. "Thank you for coming to this feast, every last one of you. That includes you troublemakers, as well. (There was some snickering at that.) We, my people, have gathered in this great hall today to celebrate another victory. (Loud cheers erupted, but quieted at the look hinting there was more for me to say.) Today we won, through our courage and spirit. Many warriors we lost today, but none will be forgotten in our hearts. Continue with your feasts, but remember. Without friend's sacrifices, the world isn't worth living in." I raised my goblet, and rose it in a cheer. Drowning the addicting liquid like a cow chews cud. The warm liquid tasted like heaven to my throat, parched from the long speech.

Speaking, once so easy that the words flowed from my lips like a river through it's bed or a talented musician plucks the strings of his instrument from memory and practice. But, now the words dam at the tip of my tongue and lay there out of my reach. Hour passed by, with the happy conversations beginning to die down as men settled down within their blankets near the cozy, sleepy flames of the fires. I retired with my beautiful Welthow to our chambers, and the warm blankets of sleep that awaited my tired eyes. But, as we lay nestled together beneath the warm, thick, fur blankets warm and content I couldn't sleep. I reached out, and rested a toned, muscled arm over her. I listened awhile to the slow and rhythmic breathing of her as she nested among the warmth of sleep. I turned my tired eyes, and gazed at the roof. Though I was looking at the ceiling, I saw through to the stars almost as if the ceiling were made of transparent glass.

The storm had long ago during the festivities and joyous partying. I chuckled quietly within my mind at the thought of the angry storm blackening the sky and raging it's fury over the ocean where none were aware of it. The stars formed constellations of gods, and other holy entities. Some of them, long since forgotten from the days of Earth when she was young. A lazy cloud straggled by, a smudge upon the midnight canvas. The wind whistled a tune of it's creation, and something else. Almost like a slow, steady moan. As if something were in eternal pain with no cure. I was lost among the stars, and paid no heed.

I heard not, the sound of the crunching as the silent creature walked slowly and with a purpose through the marsh. It's head ringing with the sounds of laughter and singing. It's body ugly, and covered in slime. Cursed forever to be alone, and unable to understand why. It hated, and hated. It cared nothing for any other emotion. The men and their laughter, it brings me pain. They must pay, and learn. Echoed through it's mind like an old record with no switch for 'off'.

I heard not the sound of the door, as it was torn from it's hinges. Like a small stick, though it must've weighed hundreds of pounds. I heard not the sound of it's slimy feet, as they squished across the floor and trailed slime. I smelt not the ugly stench of the marshes, and the deeper scent of hatred. I saw not, the faces of my men, my loyal followers as they were torn to shreds by the monster's claws. I saw nor smelt not the sight of blood smeared upon the wall or the smell of blood as it rushed from incurable wounds. I knew nothing of it, until morning arose. What a beautiful morning as well, full of the smell of spring and pollen. I stretched, eager to begin the day. Unaware of the quiet, of the hush of the great hall. I walked into a hall of silence, not of laughter. When I saw the look of my people, and the blood smeared on the wall. The empty blankets, where once great warriors slept. I broke down, and cried.

I stared around the fire, at the faces of the young. Their was a mixture of feelings among them. Some had anger flaring in their eyes. Others were afraid and hid their tears of fright. I smiled behind my snowy beard, long and thinning with age. I began to stand to leave. "What about the monster?" I smiled, and patted the child's head. Sighing, and with a mischievous smile I simply replied. "That my child, is a story for another time."

Edited by Emotional Outlet

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