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Rated: E · Short Story · Children's · #2152892
For Tori, be ever bold.....
She was ten years old. Most would consider her a little young for a quest, but it was time. Tori looked around the room. She hoped one of the older warriors would step forward and volunteer to take her place. None did, they all knew this quest had been chosen for her. She was small for her age, mousy colored hair that touched just below her shoulders and eyes of brown. Her hands shook slightly as she answered in a hushed voice "I'll do it."

The warriors that were gathered in the room exhaled as one. They spoke with one another.They regaled each other with stories of their own quests and adventures. The wine flowed, and the hall grew noisy. Tori glanced around, feeling very out of place.

Chiron the centaur cantered up to her. "Child it will be extremely dangerous, we must pack for your trip as you leave at dawn."
He led Tori to the armory. Inside she saw scythes with blades longer then she was tall. Maces she would have struggled to lift,as well as swords of all lengths were held by large wooden racks.

The centaur stepped back to watch. He told her she would find a weapon that would feel like an extension of her hand. Tori rooted amongst the arms and armor. She selected a small blade the length of her arm that glowed silver. "Good" said Chiron, "that blade has a legend attached to it. The old stories say this was the very sword Perseus used to slay the Gorgon."

Tori sheathed the blade with a smile, and attached it to her belt. She selected a small metal buckler for a shield that fit her left hand well. She noticed a row of helmets along the far wall and approached. She slipped a metal helmet with a full face shield on and laughed as it settled to her shoulders. It was far to big. Her hand moved to a smaller leather helm and she marveled at its light weight. The helmet was strong and fit her well.

Chiron approached and clapped her on the back. "You have chosen well, and are properly armed for your journey" he explained to her the quest. "The nearby village has reported there is a rogue cyclops stealing sheep and murdering shepherds in the fields. You will need to track this beast to its lair and put an end to its marauding ways."

She awoke the next morning. Her horse had been saddled with the needed provisions. She glanced over her shoulder once as she rode out the western gate of the stronghold. She was reminded of her childhood as she watched the young ones play. She laughed, they did not seem much younger then she. There was a determined grimace on her face as she left the fort behind.

Tori rode hard for four days. She stopped only to allow the horse to graze and to take small amounts of rest for herself. She spoke to the shepherds that she met along the way. They told her the monster would attack at night, stealing their flock and killing anyone who ran off into the darkness to investigate. She assured the shepherds she would kill the beast or drive it away. The shepherds rolled their eyes and gazed at her with furrowed brows and she felt unsure of herself.

It was on the fifth day she discovered the forgotten meadow. She noticed the green grass of the meadow was dotted with the white of countless sheep. She staked her horse in a small clearing, and proceeded to move closer on foot. As she listened she could hear the bleating of the sheep and a deep voice that sang to his flock.

The shepherd was a large man, about twice the size of her father. He wore a rough and dirty loincloth at his waist and had a woolen cloak draped over his shoulders. His back faced her. Tori watched as he stirred a large iron pot that sat over a fire. The shepherd continued his song as the steam rose. .

Tori shrank into the concealment the shrubbery offered and watched intently. The shepherd glanced over his shoulder once in her direction Tori inhaled quietly when she saw the one blood shot eye on his face. It was centered directly above his nose and about the size of the plates they ate off at the fort. The giant's gaze returned to the pot and his flock.

A short time later he moved the pot from the fire and ladled some soup into a bowl. Tori could see the meat in the soup from the short distance away. She was certain it was not mutton, and shuddered with revulsion at what he was about to consume. She watched as the Cyclops drank greedily from his bowl and then refilled it once more.

The temperature rose as the sun climbed further in the sky. The shepherd reclined and leaned his head back on his hands. Deep snores soon rumbled across the distance. Tori stole closer, her blade and buckler in her hand. As she approached, her foot snapped a small branch. The giant stirred for a moment and rolled on his side to face the fire. Tori exhaled slightly and continued to creep closer.

As she rounded the fire a thought occurred to her. She poked her blade among the glowing embers. In moments the sword began to glow in the blaze. Soon, the metal threatened to sear her hand on the handle, and she removed the weapon from the coals. She approached the giant quietly. Tori chuckled to herself as she remembered words from her childhood, "let sleeping giants lie."

She stabbed the sleeping giant's closed eye with all her might. She heard the hiss as the metal seared it' flesh. She continued to press and twist her blade forward. The beast bellowed in agony and slapped at her with his hand, knocking her from her feet. She crumpled to the ground landing on her back several feet from the monster. She sat up slowly and groaned under her breath. Her sword was lost to her. She looked up and saw it buried to its hilt in the head of the Cyclops.

The monster shrieked as it pulled the blade from its eye. She watched as its life essence poured from the wound. The giant howled once, pitched forward, and crashed to the ground. Tori shakily rose and slowly limped to the beast. She retrieved her fallen sword and noticed it was not stained from the blood. Instead it shimmered with a faint silver light.

The shepherds welcomed her to their fire when she rode in to rejoin them. They fed and tended to her wounds as she detailed the fight. She bade them go retrieve their flocks as she began the trek home. The journey home took her seven days to complete. Her body ached as she entered the stronghold. She glanced at the children who played and knew that part of her was forever gone.


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