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Prix Laurence 2018

Weiland Julien - The Final Stand of Redfist





Prologue

Good two decades before the happenings described on the following pages, a proud and powerful nation called the Falkic Highlands its home. The glorious kingdom of Falkgarde, ruled by a mighty warrior-king had its seat of power in Falkhall, a fortress believed to be impenetrable.

They believed in a lie…

As the madness of a devastating war descended upon the entirety of the known world, Falkgarde found itself isolated and surrounded by countless enemies. As the last king of Falkgarde, Harlaus lll. Fudreim found himself betrayed and murdered by his own coward of a son, it meant the end of the highlands as they were.

The so called “traitor nation of Falkgarde” emerged from the ashes of the once glorious kingdom and surrendered to the sheer masses of enemies they faced. Honest men and women no longer had a place in the former kingdom, now infested with intrigues and corruption. The few that managed to flee found a refuge in the far away south, as another kingdom did not forget the honourable deeds of the late king Harlaus lll. Fudreim.

The Gordrath family, once noble knights of the highlands, found itself in exactly that situation and fled their homeland.

It took two decades after the fall of Falkgarde, for Sir Tythos Gordrath to receive a vision, a vision of a restored Falkhall and a new kingdom of Falkgarde. The stubborn knight, unwilling to let his homeland rot for any longer, formed a strong military order known as “Redemption of Falk” and led his army north.

It was a short war which followed but the man’s expedition was a success. Falkhall was once more keeping a vigilant watch over the highlands. With jealous eyes all around them…

 

Approaching Storm
 

The neigh of horses and the treads of heavily armoured feet were dominating this – usually calm – morning of the Falkic Highlands. A towering man in incredible heavy plates was riding at the head of a modest retinue, an elder man on his side, a grim countenance on both faces. It was the falkic field marshal Harren, called “Redfist” and no other person than the lord-regent of the new Falkgarde himself, Lietpold Montewar next to him. The retinue was formed of well geared knights on horses, footmen wielding pikes or sword and shield, archers carrying either long- or crossbows and even a small squad of hardened scouts flanking the warband.

Crossing the road from Falkhall to the Thornlands – neighbouring region of the highlands - their destination was unknown and their goal a mystery which only the two men at the front could know but one fact was obvious: those men did not intend to let themselves be stopped, by no force in this world.

An unusual sight was to be witnessed merely a stone’s throw away from the travelling falkic retinue: On the large highland’s green was located a camp. Over a dozen tents were set up around a considerable large one. Horses, weapons and supplies seemed to be stored all over the place.
The candle light in his tent was extinguished, not that it would matter as the first rays of sunshine were finding their way through the cloth. He didn’t sleep that night, he never did before a battle. It was his way of preparing, his way of dealing with the silence before the storm and his methods seemed to speak for themselves. In all those years of warmongering, he never lost a battle.

With a silent motion of his right hand the man ordered his servants out of the tent, his armour was ready on his body, his two rich blades resting in their scabbards hanging from his left and right. He hardly ever smiled but one could tell that he was content with the current situation.
The man was the notorious Duke Gerold von Creek, self-proclaimed nobleman, falkic war criminal and now returned to his homeland. Gerold von Creek was lost in deep thoughts as he left the cosiness of his enormous leader’s tent, “So Falkhall has been claimed back? Not without inviting myself to the party…”
As von Creek heard of Sir Tythos Gordrath’s heroic reconquest of Falkhall he had to see it with his own, sceptical eyes. As he heard of Lord-Regent Lietpold Montewar’s self-proclamation he couldn’t resist the temptation any longer… He had to sully his blade once again.

An approaching sergeant forced the counterfeit duke out of his thoughts and back to the reality of the current situation: “Milord, our scouting party was able to locate a large warband leaving Falkhall this early morning, they’re estimated to be half the way to the Thornlands by now. Their Lord-Regent is confirmed to ride among them.”
Those were too good news to be upset about this sudden interruption of his train of thoughts. Gerold was nodding shortly in approval. “Rejoice as long as you’re able to, Montewar. I’ll have your old, festering head on a pike soon enough!”

At the retinue’s head current Falkgarde’s two most powerful men were caught up in a heated discussion, their soldiers didn’t dare to listen even though Harren’s voice like stone breaking could probably be heard all over the highlands. “Montewar, do you really think that one damn whippersnapper is worth all of this effort?” The lordregent was speaking in his usual calm and yet threatening voice, its authority intimidating everyone but Redfist: “Careful there, field marshal. I do respect your worth to Falkgarde but be careful. Do you truly dare to question my methods?” The battered field marshal was grunting some indefinable sounds into his helmet which was shaped in the unusual form of a muzzle, he knew too well that there was no arguing with this man… Montewar would always triumph.
“And besides, we proceeded too far already to back of now, have we not? I do highly advise you to keep any further complaints to that muzzle of yours and this endeavour will be a success in no time.” The lord-regent was nodding proudly, his firm gaze resting on the road ahead, the ancient passage which connected Thorn- and Highlands since as long as any living human could remember was already in sight.

Lietpold Montewar was no warrior, no man that would ever chose a direct confrontation as first option. He was a politician, this was his game and he was about to settle a decisive score. His hegemony over all of Falkgarde was soon to be unrivalled and yet there was no place to relish in his position, for he never chose any of this. The unexpected death of Sir Tythos Gordrath - grandmaster of the Redemption of Falk - by the hand of his own, treacherous knight-captain forced the entire order into unknown and dangerous terrain.
And so Falkgarde’s bravest entered the Thornlands. Nothing seemed to stop them now…

As the retinue left the ancient passage they were already waiting for them. A huge warband, good twice their forces’ size. A man all clad in black steel, with crimson highlights on it was riding ahead of them. The hair was fleeing from his scalp and a long black goatee covered his hastate chin. Redfist recognized this face but could it be?

Harren muttered into his muzzle, “that bastard von Creek…” But it was Montewar to break the awkward silence: “Who is it that dares to stand in the way of Falkgarde’s lord-regent? Explain yourself or face falkic judgement.” The lord-regent was a brave man and so his voice had a sharp and strict tone. He was staring the stranger down, awaiting an answer.

An answer he got as the man opposing them rowelled his steed and approached them by exactly four horse steps. “Ah, Montewar. So, we finally meet. My name is Gerold von Creek, duke to be precise. But enough of those petty courtesies. I’ve come to claim your head.” The duke spoke in an arrogant, nearly mocking voice. It was obvious that he didn’t respect Montewar or his army even the slightest.

As far as one was able to recall, there wasn’t a single moment in the politician’s life where one could have called him “speechless” but this encounter troubled the old man. He may not have shown it but yet it did. Everything has been so certain just mere moments ago, who was that stranger and what was the meaning of this?
Luckily for Montewar it was the field marshal who took over the talking from here, before anyone could notice the lord-regent’s struggles: “Von bloody Creek, I do not give two flying pig-shits about your motives. Never did. If it’s this head you want than you’ll only get it over my beaten corpse.” Redfist mounted from his horse and heaved the cruel poleaxe from his back, he has never been a friend of mounted combat. The mountain of a man jammed the gigantic weapon into the ground to his feet and continued in his thundery voice: “I got used to the old bastard. Burning pigeons! I even ended up respecting him. As long as this man lives and breathes Falkgarde won’t fall again and if my death today is my final service to Falkgarde then so be it. Lord-regent, ride back to Falkhall. Do it right now! Things here are about to get damn ugly.”

Lietpold wasn’t a man to flee light-hearted but in the face of the current situation it seemed the smartest decision, he could not afford to die on this day. So, he turned his white steed, looking into each and every soldier’s face while passing them, a confident look on his own. He was encouraging them to give their very last.
Gerold von Creek had a wide smirk on his face, he was pretending amusement, while in truth it was honest concern. The militaristic career of the field marshal was impressive to say the least, even far beyond his own. The man was a legend, a demon in the shape of a ridiculously huge man. One could only assume their conflicts in the past but it was certain that Redfist was the one-man Gerold feared… He couldn’t allow himself to show that of course and so he spoke: “Redfist, you truly are an old fool, the way you’re known for. Ready to throw your live away, the lives of your warband… For one dotard? Very well then.” Gerold was grabbing the hilts of his swords.

Harren grabbed his poleaxe with his right hand and an arm thick as a small tree. “Very well then.” He grunted into the muzzle. His soldiers knew their commander, they had their weapons ready. Redfist’s warband may have been outnumbered but surely not outwilled.


The duke’s warband was waiting for a signal, they upheld a straight posture. Extremely disciplined. Von Creek unsheathed his dual blades with a loud chink, good hundred blades being drawn behind him. “Let’s get this over with.” He added, briefly.

Redfist entered his usual combat stance and spat out before adjusting his helmet, his gaze piercing through von Creek while a soldier was carefully dragging the field marshal’s horse out of the danger zone. “It already is.” Was the tall man’s final comment before utter chaos descended upon the Thornlands.
As Lietpold entered the darkness of the ancient passage he could hear the clashing of steel behind him, jangling and screaming. He knew, their mission had failed.
 

 

Aftermath

The sun of a new day was rising over the Thornlands. As the darkness started to fade a dreadful scenery was offered: The road from the ancient passage to Thalmund - a proud city in the heart of the Thornlands - was a sea of blood. Shields, weapons and corpses of both men and horses swimming in it. The singing of the morning birds was drowned out by the screams of the injured and of the dying alike.

In all of this havoc two men were facing each other, Redfist and von Creek. Both were heavily exhausted, they were fighting for several hours. Not a single soldier was left standing, the battle just became a duel.

The duke was bleeding from a wound on his head, his voice lost any brassiness, pure rage was all that was left: “Why won’t you just die!?” The field marshal knew nothing but combat for the last five decades of his life and yet he was about to hit his limit. The man wasn’t the youngest after all and he just successfully defied way superior forces. He didn’t speak a word, only puffing left the muzzle.

It was a duel between Falkgarde’s arguably most skilled fighters. Redfist didn’t seem able to hit von Creek and the duke’s blades didn’t seem able to damage the field marshal to any notable extent. Whenever the intimidating poleaxe came crushing down, Gerold knew to dodge and whenever one of his magnificently crafted swords hit the old man’s armour a loud clank was all the reaction von Creek got.

The situation seemed a dead-end as a vicious smirk skewed the corners of the duke’s mouth. Harren knew that his cunning opponent must have spotted something but with his enemy facing him he had no way of turning around. “What is it, dog!? Common, show me some guts!” Redfist’s trembling bellow was more of a shivering scold now, his stamina met a hot spot.

As Redfist raised his poleaxe to deal yet another devastating blow, von Creek reacted blazing fast. The duke managed to dodge through the field marshal’s attack and land behind him in a matter of seconds but instead of thrusting his steel into the man’s unguarded back, he kept running. Harren turned around, expecting a fleeing enemy but what he saw was a confident von Creek standing next to the banner of his homeland, Falkgarde’s crest was a deep-orange boar on a background, green as the endless grass-planes of the Falkic Highlands.

It was supposed to be a convenient sight for Harren to see the rigid boar of his nation but in this scenario, he didn’t feel at ease. A certain disgust was all he felt to see this enemy of Falkgarde that close to its banner, defiling it in every way possible. “Will you get your filthy hands of our banner, honourless louse! I swear I’ll_” Everything happened in a mere blink, with a nearly inhuman speed von Creek pulled the banner out of the ground and whirled it around in his grasp, pointing the lowly end of the shaft at Redfist. He jumped up with an agility one would not expect from an armoured man and – before the field marshal even got a possibility to finish his sentence – brutally rammed the heavy stem into Harren’s breastplate.

The upsurge of his leap granted Gerold’s attack an incredibly strong impact. The banner’s shaft broke the plates it hit in a loud crash and gruesomely forced its way through Harren’s thorax. A terrible blend of flowing blood and breaking bones made a painful grunt flee out of the field marshal’s throat as the banner of his cause impaled him on the spot.

The duke met his limit as well, his last attack forced the man on his knees. As he dared a look at his opponent, it froze the blood in his veins. Redfist was still standing there, staring him down with wide, mad eyes. His pranks clasped the banner that was jutting out of his chest. Stricken with pain, the field marshal spoke very slowly: “Who is the fool now? You just threw away your entire warband, “duke”. For the death of an old war-hound. Montewar is far beyond your reach. Falkgarde. Is. Safe!” With those words Harren started to pull the shaft. He pulled the banner out of his body, the pain he felt must have been unbearable but he continued undeterred.

As Harren was holding the banner in his left hand, he jammed it into the ground next to him as he did countless times before with his poleaxe. It served him as a form of strut. He was a dying man and yet his posture remained stoical, Falkgarde’s colours waving in his grasp. “For the glory of… Falk…” Were Redfist’s final words, as he left this harsh world for good. His corpse was still upholding the same stoical posture, seemingly breasting the laws of nature.

Gerold von Creek burst out in heavy laughter, he had prevailed! There seemed to be no foe in this world strong enough to defeat him now… “He remains the fool… As if I would have brought my entire warband to this petty skirmish… A nice little ambush was waiting for Falkgarde’s dearest lord-regent at the other end of this passage…”

The duke sheathed his blades as he wrinkled his nose, heading back to his camp. There was nothing left for him here. “Redfist was a worthy foe, I’ll give him that. I never stood this close to defeat. With this extortion the field marshal would be dealt with at last. I’m coming to claim my price, Falkhall…

On the road back to Falkhall, Lord-Regent Lietpold Montewar cleared his throat. A few sparks were emerging from his left palm, his right hand behind his back. Next to him were lying five steaming burned corpses and a dead white steed, gored by a lance. Lietpold was dryly chuckling to himself, yet keeping his renowned strict countenance up. Those five foolish soldiers did dare to approach the lord-regent, ill-mannered and weapons in their hands. Whether von Creek forgot to mention that their target was an advanced sorcerer or those men simply underestimated his skills was probably going to stay unknown forever.

Not that the lord-regent would care, new preparations were at hand.

 




ageschéckt den: 23:47 Wed, 7 March 2018 vum: Weiland Julien

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Kleng Lecture, déi Iech vläicht weiderbréngt:


HELMUT BÖTTIGER

-  Wir sagen uns Dunkles
Die Liebesgeschichte zwischen
Ingeborg Bachmann und Paul Celan
DVA, 2017


LIZE SPIT

-  Und es schmilzt
Roman, S. Fischer, 2017


JÜRGEN BECKER

-  Graugänse über Toronto
Journalgedicht, Suhrkamp, 2017


LILY BRETT

-  Wenn wir bleiben könnten
Ausgewählte Gedichte, englisch & deutsch
insel verlag, 2014


CHARLES SIMIC

-  Picknick in der Nacht
Gedichte, Hanser, 2016


SERHIJ ZHADAN

-  Warum ich nicht im Netz bin
Gedichte und Prosa aus dem Krieg
Suhrkamp, 2016


HAIKU ANTHOLOGIE

-  Hrsgb. H. J. Balmes
Fischer TaschenBibliothek, 2016


KATE TEMPEST

-  Brand New Ancients
Gedichte, Suhrkamp, 2017

-  Hold Your Own
Gedichte, Suhrkamp, 2016

-  Worauf du dich verlassen kannst
Roman, Rowohlt, 2016

LUC SPADA

-  Fass mich an
Beats, Punchlines, Bitchmoves
éd. g. binsfeld, 2017


ISABEL SPIGARELLI

-  Nichts zu danken
Roman, éd. Saint-Paul, 2016


NICO HELMINGER

-  Autopsie
Roman (op lëtz.), Ultimomondo, 2014

-  Abrasch
Poesie, éd. phi, 2013

GEORGES HAUSEMER

-  Fuchs im Aufzug
Erzählungen, capybarabooks, 2017

KREMART

-  Déi 20 kleng Bicher am "Schuber"
aus der Collectioun smart
Erzielungen, éd. Kremart, 2017
 


Auteuren 2018

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Erageschéckt: 23:46 Mon, 19 March 2018


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Erageschéckt: 23:19 Mon, 19 March 2018


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Erageschéckt: 23:04 Mon, 19 March 2018


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