Flash Fiction Friday
“Palladio” by Escala
In the distance stands a castle. Walls of stone encase the sea-surrounded city. A single bridge offers entrance.
Wind rushes through the tall, golden grass. It tugs at the man on the hill, who overlooks the city. The breeze begs him not to go. It tries to remind him of how treacherous a feat it would be to storm the castle and risk his life. Yet, his heart fights against it. His love waits inside. He must save her.
Down the hillside he walks. Across the bridge he strides. Through the open gates he steps and the guards swarm him. More and more they appear. Blades clash, ringing in the early morning air. The steel lets loose a jarring clang, casting civilians aside from the brawl, from the way the man fights tooth and nail against his enemy. His heart races. It surges with the memory of his lost love and what he must do to save her.
Through the fray he stumbles. One by one the guards slip to the ground, their arms too heavy to wield a sword. Their bodies too battered to lift themselves. In the reprieve he races. Down alleys and side streets he runs, his lungs heaving from the anticipation of finding her once more, but she’s nowhere to be found. Not a single dwelling gives sign of her presence.
From the balcony a man traipses, a wicked sneer on his face as his eyes meet that of the love-struck man. He passes a taunt. A brutal laugh rips through the air, hardening the fighter’s resolve as her captor reaches the courtyard, a sword swinging at his hip.
A cry for help. Up behind the railing stands his love, her eyes filled with fear. She calls to him. She yearns for him and he knows what he must do.
Drawing his blade he stands before the man. His enemy’s eyes gleam with amusement at the sight of the younger man barring a sword, brandishing it towards the elder fighter. He parries. Sparks flash from the blade’s strike. Again and again the two meet, filling the courtyard with the ring of metal as the two fight for the lady. Neither one gives way. Equally matched the two seem when the younger man slips.
The sneering man takes the advantage, his blade striking towards the challenger’s throat. The younger slips his sword between himself and the attack. The force ripples through his arms, shaking them violently, draining his strength. The elder’s sword creeps closer. The cool metal of his own blade licks his throat, threatening to slice into it and end his life. Sweat drips from his brow. His slick palms lose their hold on his sword when the aggressor eases and slides to the ground heavily.
In his wake stands the girl, a victorious look in her eyes.