Thursday, July 2, 2009

Intro to Quonos

Today's piece is not a short story per say. It's a character development piece I did for a character I made for a group created story. I wrote this about seven years ago. I'd like to think I've improved my writing since then. You be the judge.

"We're in position."

Fitch Willam received the report from his lieutenant with a nod then turned back to observe his victim again. The man's camp was situated in a small clearing at the top of one of the many rolling hills that overlooked the town of Rallingford. At the present, the man, apparently a monk of some sort, was seated in a lotus position facing the rising sun, hands resting lightly on his knees. He had been seated that way for the past half-hour, meditating quietly.

He was of average height, very slim - Fitch guessed about 25 years of age. He was dressed in loose-fitting gray trousers and a simple beige shirt that hung to just past his waist. His feet were bare, ankle high black shoes sitting off to one side. The man's head was also bare; the head completely shaved save for a small square section near the nape of his neck. The hair from this spot was a dark brown and had been formed into a braid that hung all the way down the man's back. His face was all angles, even his eyes angled up. The man's head, hands and feet were very tan, indicating that he spent a great deal of time outside, though Fitch doubted he had traveled too far. He had no visible weapons and his other possessions seemed limited to a bedroll and a small knapsack, but Fitch knew that such impoverished appearances were often intentional to discourage just the sort of thing that he and his small band of cutthroats intended. Indeed, Fitch had seen the monk place a very expensive-looking carved jade box into that knapsack just before the man began his meditations. Where there was one treasure there was often more.

Fitch went over the plan once more in his mind. He and his lieutenant, Groyce, were on this side of the hill. Harper and Abrans were on the other. Krauss was positioned between the two groups. There were no attackers on the fourth side of the hill, as it would have been difficult to position someone in the direction the man was facing without alerting him to their presence.

The plan was simple. When the signal was given, Krauss would rise up from his concealment and take the man down with a well-placed shot from his crossbow. Should that fail - and Fitch doubted that very much given Krauss' expertise with the deadly missile weapon - Fitch, Groyce, Harper and Abrans would overwhelm the man in armed combat.

"With the man unarmed, this should be a walk in the park," Fitch thought.

He nodded to Groyce to give the signal. Groyce gave a subtle whistle that sounded like a chickadee.

Krauss popped up from his cover. He swung up his crossbow, sighted and fired in one smooth action.

There was a blurred motion and their quarry was standing on his feet, crossbow bolt clutched in his right hand. Fitch's mouth hit the ground. How in the seven hells...?

He had no more time to think about it as his band rushed the unarmed monk. Harper reached him first, slashing across with his broadsword. The man ducked the attack and came up, placing a side kick square into Harper's abdomen. Harper was thrown back, clutching his stomach and gasping as his lungs gave up their supply of air.

Abrans' twin short swords struck out at the monk as he finished the maneuver, one slashing low at the man's legs, the other stabbing straight across. The monk leapt gracefully over the slashing attack, placing him directly in the path of the thrust, but Abrans' sword was deflected by the captured quarrel as the man swept it across the sword's path. As the monk's feet touched the ground he spun into a roundhouse kick that caught Abrans full on the side of the head and sent him tumbling to the side. The monk tossed the now broken quarrel to the ground and settled into a practiced fighting stance as Fitch and Groyce reached him from the other side.

Groyce came at him quickly with a wicked serrated dagger. He slashed and thrust repeatedly, but the monk simply slapped aside the attacks as if they were of no consequence. Fitch circled around behind and added his own attacks with his rapier. The monk took it in stride, deflecting the blows from each of them with a minimum of effort, his hands in exactly the right place, sometimes, it seemed, before the attacks were even launched. If they could just hold him off until Abrans and Harper came back in, they would have him.

Fitch feinted then stabbed in low as Groyce slashed down from above. The monk's hand caught Groyce's wrist in a lock hold as he twisted away from Fitch's lunge. The twist turned into a spinning heel kick that caught an approaching Abrans full on the jaw. An audible crack was heard and Abrans hit the ground, unconscious.

The spinning movement had wrenched Groyce's wrist into a painful position. He was forced to drop his dagger. The monk released Groyce and plucked the knife out of the air just as Fitch noticed a movement out of the corner of his eye.

Krauss pulled the trigger of his reloaded crossbow. His aim was true, but his target was no longer there. It seemed to Fitch that the monk was there one instant, and in the next he was five feet to the right. There was no blur of movement; he just simply transferred to a different space.

The bolt slammed into Groyce, tearing a fist size hole through the man's neck. He went down in a heap, eyes registering in shock that he was dead. The monk drew back his arm and unfurled it toward Krauss, a smooth motion like the cracking of a whip. Groyce's dagger hurtled through the air and embedded itself into Krauss' chest. The crossbow tumbled from the archer's numbing fingers and he crumpled to the earth.

The monk settled back into a fighting stance, his braid coiling around him like a snake.

"Why do you attack me?" he asked simply. "I have done you no harm."

Fitch was torn. This man clearly outclassed him, even without a weapon. He knew that he had no hope of defeating him on his own. And yet Fitch's own sense of loyalty to his band demanded that the monk pay for killing Groyce and Krauss. For all he knew, Abrans was dead, too. He then saw Harper get to his feet behind the man, having recovered his wind. He crept up silently on the monk from behind. If Fitch could keep the guy talking then maybe they would have a chance.

"You have something I want. I intend to take it from your dead body."

Harper was only twenty-five feet away.

"You did not ask. Whatever I have that interests you I would share freely. There is no need for bloodshed."

Twenty feet.

"Yeah right. When you're gone I'll take that jade box and whatever else it is you've got in that sack of yours."


"It is yours."


"I know."

Fitch charged the monk just as Harper attacked him from behind. The man turned as he finally heard Harper's approach. He shouldn't have been able to avoid the blow - there was simply not enough time between when the monk noticed the attack and when it should have struck for him to move away - and yet he did.

The monk spun to the side, Harper's sword missing him by no more than a hairs' breadth. Fitch was forced to halt his charge to avoid hitting his now off-balance comrade.

The monk twirled away, his braid spinning in a graceful arc across his path. He stood simply, hands at his sides.

"I give you one more chance," he said plainly. "Take your unconscious friend there and leave peacefully. Even now I hold nothing against you. Attack me again, however, and I will be forced to destroy you."

There was no menace in the monk's words, but Fitch felt the threat they implied. He swallowed hard. He didn't want to die today.

Harper, apparently, had other thoughts.

"For Groyce and Krauss!" he cried, and launched himself at the monk.

Fitch watched in awe as the monk became a blur of movement. He struck Harper six times in the space of two seconds. A spinning kick knocked Harper's blade out wide, then the monk stepped in and delivered five lightning punches. Two struck Harper in the solar plexus, two on either side of his neck. The last strike sent the heel of the monk's hand up into Harper's nose, shattering his face and sending shards of bone into the man's brain. The force of the blow lifted Harper two feet off the ground and sent him flying backward where his lifeless body thudded on top of Groyce. The monk turned and regarded Fitch with a questioning expression.

Fitch dropped his rapier and took a step back.

"I want no part of that," he said hastily. "Just let me take my man and I'll leave."

The monk nodded.

Fitch moved quickly over to Abrans, keeping one eye on the monk. Abrans' jawbone had shattered, but he had lost no blood and his breathing was steady. He was going to make it.

Fitch left Abrans' swords on the ground where they had fallen and hoisted his friend's body up onto his shoulders. He then left as quickly as he could without giving clearing a backward glance.

Maybe his Mother had been right. Maybe it was time to take up farming.

The monk named Quonos watched as the bandits left the clearing. He then surveyed the results of his defense. He sighed.

"Why must men insist on violence to get what they want? This is something that I will never understand, no matter how much time I am away from the temple."

Quonos retrieved a charcoal stick from his pack and traced a sigil on the forehead of each of his dead attackers.

"Your journey through time has ended," he said. "May your stay in the next dimension of life be more fruitful."

Having performed his order's last rites, Quonos silently buried each of the fallen outlaws, using their weapons as headstones. He then gathered together his belongings and moved on.

No comments: