by Danny Walker
The age of strength; the age of brutality read the inscription etched on the plaque of the door, now encroached upon by bracken, which stood below him. A fading sun shrank beneath the skyline as he pummelled the knocker. The eagles’ halting cry in the still air lingered for a moment, and then evaporated completely. Even one giant leap for serf kind would not cover one of the short strides he had taken to the hut; extending one trembling limb would result in it being crushed by his saucepan hands. Born to rule, some said. A name spoken with whispers even by those within the shelter of their homes. The Übermensch.
Attendants scurried about in the periphery of his vision, as though they were matadors keeping a tree-trunk limb’s breadth away. They were nothing: only he, and the decrepit dwelling before him mattered. No one arrived to answer the call. The silence clung to the air. A servant glanced in his direction for a flickering moment, eyes averted immediately from his steely gaze, anticipating. The giant of a man turned slowly from left to right, daring any to object to challenge his decision. There were no objections.
One sweep of his thick, callus-encrusted hand: that was all that was required to bat the useless piece of wood aside. Standing eleven feet tall, he now engulfed the room, robbing it of any precious light it had clutched at, albeit if this light was merely to expose the frail walls seemingly about to cave in.
Yet in this pitiful ‘house’, if it could be described as such, the great one was a hunched, gawky figure, though which he could dismantle with his bare hands.
No one was to be seen. The chairs splayed their legs awkwardly. Scattered on the ale-splattered table, a few crumbs, remnants of last – or long past – meals, were elevated on the rough gradient of the table. He sniffed the air. A long sniff, necessitated by the arduous passage of the air through his cavernous nostrils. At last, the nose evicted it. He exhaled, recoiling from the power of the hut’s wood smoke. No subtle odours, concoctions of rhododendron or worse, were present.
And so the great feet lumbered, wearily carrying their tireless master to the fireside mantle, or at least a long way above it. Still neither he nor his henchmen, hovering on the darkening cottage path, had uttered a word. The mantle proffered to him a solitary wooden bowl. It was constructed from a tawdry timber prevalent in all utensils this side of the border – not fit to serve any of his party. However, found himself staring down at the object. The same as the room. The house. What puzzled him about its fine gradient, its eon-old lines?
Behind him, a thickset six-foot dwarf, his second-in-command, had entered the hut, satisfied that his commander had cleared the room of danger. There was a flicker of light as his shadow crossed the doorway. A temporary distraction and – for a moment – the dark countenance of his sworn enemy glared at him. A spasm of rage and fear rippled through him. Unflinchingly, his arm extended and the truncheon at its end spread out. Splinters and fragments of the bowl covered the table.
He passed a hand jarringly over his arched forehead. His mind had begun to work in mysterious ways this evening. This eternal conflict seemed to be running him ragged; staring into the circular depths of the bowl his head span. Perhaps, perhaps his rule could incorporate peace after all. Surely his feeble opponents would see the error of the ways, and conform to the authority of which he was the zenith?
Nevertheless, it was irrelevant here. Just food on the table and avoiding as best possible the local aristocrat; these were the simple aims of these peasants. There was nothing to stop them running. As his mind postulated, the emerald eagle eyes glanced at the hint of light gleaming on the fiercely polished mantle; the comfortably squashed armchair in the corner with the fewest cobwebs. Meanwhile, the bowl pouted upwards, empty.
The calls of his compatriots outside began to cloud his aurora of thinking. He’d set out to garner the glory, for both himself and these blissfully ignorant people. What had he accomplished?
- A number of talented Huntington School year 10 students took part in a one-day writing workshop – and YorkMix is delighted to be the first to publish their work
- To find out more about the creative writing workshop, and to read the other students’ work, click here