Friday Flash Fiction: Territory

As long as I’ve been doing the Friday Flash G has been asking me to write a specific type of story. On weeks where I find myself clawing for ideas the answer from her is often: do that one I want you to do…or words to that effect. And so finally I have.

This week’s story was written for G – belatedly – for the occasion of her birthday.

Feel free to provide feedback in the comments.

Territory
By Neil Beynon

You, my subjects, ask where I have been in your simple tongue, bewildered by my glorious reappearance and my newly acquired battle scars. You look fearful at what creature was bold enough to leave such welts on your master. Are you safe? You think. Should you run? But the glint in my eye and the sharpness of my tongue silences such worries even as it casts my mind back over the darkness I’ve just walked across.

#

As soon as the great fire lord dove below the horizon I was up and about. The cool dark my preferred time, there was no moon it being the silver one’s time of rest. A dark night, good for secrets, good for trysts and made for hunting.

And hunt I did. Over fields, fences, rivers of stone and water to the woods. All across my realm I roamed. I fought and killed a burrowing beast in the woods; it had a tail twice as long as itself and tried to run but there is no escape from my swift blades. The blood was warm and sweet.

My next prey was a winged beast that rested on the stone river but I did not fare so well in that for the creature was huge and unwilling to go quietly. See the cut upon my shoulder from the fell beast’s talons but know that it carries far worse from my swift work though escaped it did.

Near the brick temple I met Lady Tora. She seduced me with a flash of her bright green eyes, the cheeky almost insolent tilt of her hips and her sleek, crow black, coat. The lady is a witch. Our union rang out across the darkness attracting the attention of feral primates who cast water at us in their insolence. As my lady left, bored of our dance and unwilling to risk the cloying fluid that destroys balance, I resolved to attack. To make the wild apes mine. The cunning monkeys had locked the doors against me and I was too exhausted from my lady’s appetites to gain entry.

I slept for a while in the cool and the dark.

My energy returned, I patrolled my borders, as is my want as the darkness draws to a close, checking I had marked them properly. There were rumours of an intruder, another nightwalker hunting my kingdom. At first I thought it was a joke: Another? After last time?

Surely not.

Then as another long tailed beast fell beneath me, further information extracted with a minimum of fuss – the creature hardly bled at all, I smelt him. On the gentle breeze a musky scent that is not my own, it is more pungent, wilder and marked with the length of his journey. It wafts from the near by fence. He is near.

I dropped into the caged field with ease and there was my quarry. Frozen, eyes on me, shoulders hunched and ready to pounce as I moved slowly closer. There is no talk between us; this is no accident. This is a challenge. Bold, daring and insolent.

It is he who makes the first move, leaping at me with skill and poise. Yet I have not kept my kingdom through idle banter and I answer every blow. I add a few of my own with the precision that is my trademark for I dislike waste.

Through the remainder of the night we fought: two ancient warriors in an epic struggle. Across the land we wrestled for superiority, all the creatures of the kingdom watch us – even the winged ones. As the fire lord returned, my victory was complete, my opponent limping across the stone river to the west, the one that marks the end of my lands.

#

And so my servants I return. You may bring me some more of your excellent wine – the creamy white one that tastes nearly as sweet as blood. And I dare say I could manage some of that metal fruit’s meaty filling, if you have any.

Quickly now. I don’t have all day.

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