A fantastic short story from a new writer, Silver, about a retired war veteran living in an elven settlement at the edge of a forest.
Hello! This is Silver and I am kinda new to writing.
English is not my native tongue so if you find any grammar or spelling mistakes, don’t hesitate to tell me.
Any suggestions, criticisms or advice are welcomed, feel free to comment!
As long as I can remember, Mr. Alboise has been living in our settlement in his little cottage at the edge of the forest.
He was old for a human, especially to me as a fourteen-year-old elven boy. Wrinkles were visible on his scarred face, his hair was mostly grey, and he kept a big bushy beard and mustache that most elvish men don’t have and can’t grow.
Yet despite his age, he was still a huge and strong person, almost a head taller than my father. I often saw him either jogging around the settlement’s outskirts in the morning, chopping up logs for firewood, or working on his little farm.
And sometimes I saw him sitting at his front door, with a pipe in his mouth, huffing and puffing smoke, waving at passing neighbors or curious children (including me) that were lurking around his cottage.
I once asked my father about Mr. Alboise, why would an old human live in an elvish settlement, instead of in the city with his kind? Then, father told me this:
“Mr Alboise was once a warrior in the human army. During the last demonic incursion, he saved Lord Lorail from a host of cyclops, so as gratitude, Lord Lorail offered Mr. Alboise to live here after his retirement, which he accepted.”
This made me more curious about him, so one day, I mustered all my courage (and my friends), and visited him. He might have looked scary at first but was a surprisingly friendly person.
Mr Alboise quickly became more and more popular amongst us children, though none of us knew how to properly pronounce his full name, we just called him “Big Al” or “Old Al”. His elvish was mediocre, to say the least, but it was good enough to fascinate us with adventures and war stories of his own: the last demon incursion, the confederate civil wars, the war against the Midland elves, and skirmishes against the Sidisian giants.
“I once threw a bomb, killed two orcs with it, then it exploded”;
“You know, your old Alboise was very popular amongst the ladies. Once there was a dark elf lady, who……oh, wait, I should save this story for when you little ones are older.”;
“That giant was quick but I was quicker, with nothing but a stone I bashed him right in the head…”
“Last time you said it was a stick Mr. Alboise!”
“Did I? You must have misheard, I’ve always said it was a big rock.”;
“Have I ever told you, children, I once killed a Minotaur with my bare hands and teeth? That’s right, a 10-foot-tall Minotaur! With my teeth!”
Then he showed us his golden tooth that replaced one of his natural ones, which he claimed broke when he ripped out the Minotaur’s throat.
My friends and I enjoyed the stories, and of course, the little snacks and gifts he gave us every time we visited.
Though I personally didn’t quite believe it was all true. Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Alboise must have been a great warrior, or “soldier” according to the human tongue. After all, he did save Lord Lorail, but half of these stories seemed so ridiculously exaggerated.
Then, the day came when I was proven wrong.
It was midnight when it happened. I was woken up by my mother. She had a concerned look on her face and said something was “wrong.”
I quickly put on my shoes and cloak and began to hear shouting and noises that seemed like fighting outside. My mother grabbed her bow and quiver, telling me in a low voice to follow her closely.
As she opened the door, unnatural orange light pierced through the threshold. It was no moonlight, but a large fire, trees, and houses in flames.
Now that I peaked over the ledge of our treehouse’s hanging gangway, I could see what was causing the commotion.
Goblins, Orcs, and Demonic Beastlings were rampaging through the streets and houses.
Most of our garrison, including my father, was out for goblin purging miles away and it would take some time for them to return. Afterward, I was told this was a trick of the enemy, to attract our strongest warriors away to weaken our defenses. Then, under the cover of goblin shaman dark magic, the army snuck in.
Though most of us elves know how to fight, even as “civilians”, due to our mandatory combat training since childhood, the attack was too subtle for us to organize any proper defense. It was everyone for themselves, fighting at the doorsteps or shooting from the rooftops, hoping to stem the rampaging horde and buy time for the warriors to return.
Mother held my hands and we began moving towards the garrison fortress, which had the highest chance of any kind of organized defense and most likely the safest place in the whole settlement.
On our way, we were joined by a few of our neighbors and had to fight through the few small packs of spider-riding goblins that got in our way, but most of them were dealt with swiftly. The majority of the invaders must have been distracted by the more populated market center.
But once we hit the main road, the situation became worse, many besides us having the same idea of seeking refuge in the fortress. The larger column drew more attention and more enemy came rushing our way. Our progress then became slower and slower as we had to turn back and fight the pursuing wave of orcs, beastlings, and goblins.
The situation was getting desperate, more and more people were wounded and even killed during the fighting. Mother then suffered a deep cut to her left arm, rendering her unable to use a bow anymore. The worst came when a Minotaur smashed through a building from our right, cutting right into the crowd, which caused our orderly fighting withdrawal to degrade into a panicked retreat. Then my hand was separated from mother’s, and I was thrown into the ground by the shockwave of an exploding fireball cast by a goblin shaman.
When I regained consciousness, my head was spinning and my vision was blurry. It took an effort to push myself up. My ears rang, and the chaos around me became muffled background.
Mother was laying a few feet away from me, completely still, I stumbled towards her, and dread began to creed up my chest.
I called out for mother and shook her, but she was not responding, I shook again, shouting “mother” louder this time, and tears began to uncontrollably run down my face as I felt utterly helpless and frustrated.
Suddenly, a shadow loomed over me, I turned and saw the most horrific sight in my life, an orc, armored in crude but thick metal plates, armed with a bloody axe, and saliva dripping between his tusk. It laughed and slowly raised its axe as if it was savoring this moment. My legs became unresponsive with fear, even if my mind was screaming “run, get up and run!”.
The axe raised to the highest point, and the orc’s muscular arm bulged as he prepared for the swing.
Then its head exploded in a mist of red and dark skin followed by a loud bang as a thunderclap during a storm.
A big figure approached from the corner of my tearing eyes and knelt beside me. It was Mr. Alboise, holding a “boom stick.”
He had donned an outfit I’d never seen before: a white jacket with a blue collar and long sleeves, shoulders decorated with red epaulets. A big bearskin hat sat on top of his head. Every brass button or decorative plate on his uniform was polished to a shiny glim.
“Are you alright little one?” He said.
Relief sets in and my tears erupted into a bawl. Unable to formulate a coherent response, all I could mutter out between my sobs was “mother”.
Mr. Albiose checked on mother, pulling his finger in front of her nose and her neck, and let out a sigh of relief.
“She’s alive, little one, but in bad shape. Let’s get her to somewhere safe where someone can treat her, ey?”
With a grunt, He lifted mother up with one arm.
I nodded, trying my best to stop the sobbing, and wiped away the tears from my face. Then I helped Mr. Alboise shoulder some of the weight.
Our progress wasn’t easy, often times I had to carry mother on my back as Mr. Alboise turned to fight the approaching enemies.
He fought with a sense of efficiency and experience, working the bolt on his “boom stick”, or as he told me, the “Chatillon rifle”, in a fluid motion: pull, insert a paper cartridge from his pouch, push, aim, then a large bang.
With every shot, either a head exploded or limbs were torn off.
When Mr. Alboise did not have time to reload, he used the short spike attached to the end of his rifle, or the thick wooden stock, parrying every blow precisely as if he was one of those spear masters. He then retaliated with a perfect thrust or skull-crushing smash with the stock.
Mr. Alboise also fought with a bad mouth. Though I’ve picked up some “naughty words”, I’ve never heard a man swear so much and with such toxicity, sometimes in his wonky elvish, sometimes in human tongue. His curses mostly involved genitals, sexual intercourse, feces, and a fixation on one’s mother.
“Your mother’s a whore and she stinks like elderberries!”
Eventually, we could see the fortress itself, but we were too late. The guards were urging the last remaining people in and the drawbridge was about to be lifted as the main horde was about to arrive any second now.
“Excuse me,” said Mr. Alboise, and before I could ask “what for?”, he strapped his rifle on his back, then lifted me on his left shoulder, while mother was on his right.
Then he sprinted… Actually, no.
He ran faster than any horse I’ve seen, He must have covered at least a hundred yards within 20 seconds.
“Wait!” He shouted, at the top of his lungs.
A few guards heard and turned around, but the draw bridge was already lifting, some called to the gatehouse to stop, but I was sure they were not going to risk it for us, especially since the horde was right behind us.
Mr. Alboise knew this as well, but he didn’t stop.
He kept his pace and shouted again louder this time as he was about to reach the fortress’s moat.
“CATCH THEM!” Before I could process what he meant, I was propelled into the air and arched over the drawbridge, followed by my mother. We were both caught and cushioned by the guards. I recovered and immediately and crawled up the already half-lifted draw bridge, ignoring the guard’s word for me to come back. Mr. Alboise was still out there!
I reached the edge and called out for him, extending my hand as if he could jump all the way over the moat, but he was exhausted and panting, with hands on his knees. He heard my voice and looked up, waved at me, and smiled as if he was just sitting on his rocking chair outside his doorway, during a casual afternoon.
I turned back to the guards behind me, “We can’t just leave him out there! Help him! Throw him a rope, or anything!”
They all showed a bitter expression, shaking their heads.
The drawbridge was heavily inclined, I clung to the edge, reluctant to let go, and started crying again.
“It’s okay, little one!” Mr. Alboise shouted as if to comfort me. “It’s alright! Don’t worry about me!” But the horde was now very close, just a couple hundred yards beyond the moat, and moving in slowly in formation.
“Here, take this!” He ripped something off his collar and then threw it at me. I caught it with one hand, but my other lost grip and I sled down the almost shut drawbridge. “Keep it safe for me!”, his shouting voice came beyond the gate. I looked down, it was a piece of gold decorated metal plate, shaped like a five-cornered star, the sword symbol of the Jatamar Republic embossed in the center.
I shrugged off the hands of a guard and ran up to the walls, I had to see what was going on beyond the gates.
I squeezed past the armed men and made it onto the ramparts. Mr. Alboise stood there, right in front of our gates, his back towards us, rifle resting next to his hip, the sharp spike raised slightly and pointed toward the enemy.
The horde of demonic creatures all stopped, right outside our arrow range, but they did not fear our archers. Something was commanding them to halt: a minotaur. An almost 10-foot-tall monstrous creature with horns so big and muscles so thick he could probably tear open our stone walls with his bare hands. The minotaur was holding a mighty sword that radiated a hellish aura. It then roared, as if to initiate a combat challenge.
Mr. Alboise replied with a voice that matched the minotaur’s roar.
“I am Alboise de Pontoise of the Jatamar Old Guard! And you shall not pass this gate as long as I draw breath!”
He then pointed his rifle like a spear with one hand toward the hulking beast. “I’ve been killing your kind since I was 16, and I will gladly shove you back to the hellhole that shat you out!”
Both sides roared almost simultaneously and charged, the Minotaur with his blade, and Mr. Alboise with his bayonet rifle.
The minotaur was indeed powerful, his strength and speed were enhanced by the Demon lord’s dark sorcery, and every swing and smash could have cleaved through a war chariot with one blow. Although Mr. Alboise could not compete in raw strength, he matched the minotaur with skill, experience, and agility. Every strike was either dodged or parried with such precision that the massive blade could not touch the grizzled veteran.
With every chance he had, Mr. Alboise countered, stabbing at the sword arm, armor joints, or legs. Sometimes the minotaur was able to block or step away, but eventually, the man drew first blood, wounding the beast’s sword hand and forcing him to drop the blade.
At first most of the elves on the ramparts thought Mr. Alboise was going to die, chopped to pieces in a few seconds, and then more of us began to cheer him on.
“BIG AL! BIG AL! BIG AL!” I shouted the loudest, hoping that he could hear me and that it could help him win the fight.
But I almost forgot he was already tired, his stamina drained from the continued fighting, not to mention his age. I could start to see the fatigue setting in, his deflecting parries becoming less precise, the dodges coming slower, and he began to bleed as well.
A strong low swiping strike came, and this time Mr. Alboise couldn’t jump out of the way. He was forced to block it. The great claw cracked his rifle and sent him flying to the side.
He rolled a few times on the ground and stopped. Struggling to recover from the blow, his shaky arms and legs had trouble lifting himself up. The cheering died, and many gasped or clenched their fist, thinking, “This is it, Old Alboise is no more”.
But I refused to believe that, I gathered my breath and shouted at the top of my lungs.
He must have heard it, and as if he had drank a strength potion, he lifted himself up from the floor with a great cry.
The minotaur let out a sound similar to a laugh and charged at full speed again, claws forming into a fist.
Mr. Alboise ducked and weaved, dodging the hail of punches and swings, then drew his short sword. As one strike barely missed and caught the edge of his head, he jumped in between the beast’s arms, and leaped, plunging the blade up the minotaur’s unarmored throat.
The sharp blade penetrated deep and sank into its throat. The minotaur then gave a frantic swing and swept Mr. Alboise off itself. Mr. Alboise was thrown off the side again, but this time he got up quickly, without his short sword, unfortunately. The sword must have slipped due to the impact.
He looked around, picked up a piece of rock, and limped toward the minotaur, now choking with its own blood and half kneeling on the ground, attempting to stop the bleeding with its big claws to no effect.
The minotaur saw Mr. Alboise coming and swung one of its arms to keep him away, while the other instinctively remained on its wound. Mr. Alboise ducked under it and leaped forward, smashing the rock directly on the minotaur’s face with a bone-shattering sound. It was thrown on its back, and Mr. Alboise climbed on top of it, then began smashing down with both hands.
With each strike, he shouted.
The rock broke into two in his hands, and he looked at it with disappointment, as the minotaur was still alive, though barely. Its claws still weakly pushed against Mr. Alboise.
Then I saw with my own eyes that the tales were all true.
In the most savage way possible, Mr. Alboise opened his mouth and bit deep into the minotaur’s throat, its sharp claws clawed at Mr. Alboise’s back with its last attempt to fight back. Then with a swing of his head, Mr. Alboise ripped the throat of the minotaur out, blood splattering on this white and blue uniform. He spat the chunk of flesh out, and now the minotaur’s arms were completely still, motionless.
Mr. Alboise got off the corpse and turned towards the horde of monsters, mouth and hand still covered in minotaur blood.
“Who’s next!” he shouted, and the enemy lines backed up a little.
He shouted again, “WHO’S NEXT!”.
With this, the hordes of demonic creatures slowly wavered, then turned around, and started to retreat.
The ramparts erupted in cheers and praises, all shouting his name. Once the guards confirmed the enemies were truly gone, the drawbridge was lowered and I was first to run out toward Mr. Alboise, now laying on the ground.
I knelt down beside him, worried that he would succumb to his wounds, “Mr. Alboise?” I asked.
He opened his eyes. and looked toward me. “Arh hello there, little one.”
He was utterly exhausted. He also had a new addition to his collection of facial scars: half of his right ear was missing. The once beautiful uniform was ripped in many places and now soaked in blood, either of the minotaur or of his own.
“I’m too old for this shit,” he said, then smiled.
The golden tooth was missing.
Republished with permission from the author, Reddit user Silver. Image created using Stable Diffusion.