the stuttering knight

The sun sets across the Inysian Sea in fragmented colors of pink and orange.  The hull of the ship crashes into the waves as it speeds towards the mainland; a cold ocean spray blankets the front of the ship.  Samaille lets the mist strike his stubble covered face and leans against the salt stained railing of the mercenary ship Yelena’s Dream.

A sailor shouts from the crows nest, Samaille reflexively reaches to his shoulder for his sword, startled and finds nothing but the wind.

Your swords below deck fool”, he remembers, “The salt of the sea rusts the steel and warps the leather of the sheath.  He feels uneasy without his sword but he cares more for the steel then he does his nerves.

“Samai,” a voice calls from behind him.

Samaille turns towards the voice to see Lyonelle of Kelhall striding towards him.  The old knight is tall and strong; with shoulder length grey hair and a matching mustache.  A long sword hangs off his thick leather belt; on its pommel rests a grinning obsidian skull.  Lyonelle smiles and claps Samaille on the back as he reaches him.

“The captain says we’ll be to port within the hour.  I’ve told Lady Innesse and she seems all too anxious to be off this ship, can’t say I blame her.”

A month at sea with nothing to eat but salt fish and stagnant water to wash it down with will do that,” Samaille thinks. 

He nods and turns to walk below deck leaving Lyonelle to gaze out to sea.

Samaille is tall, almost a head taller than Lyonelle, his shoulders are broad and strong, his stomach hard as iron.  Raven black hair cascades almost halfway down his back.  His eyes are deep black pools as dark as the night, cold and unyielding.

A sailor moves to get out of his way as he ducks into the entrance to the ships living quarters.  These consist of ten cramped cabins; all of them reeking of fish and piss.  He was too tall by a foot to sleep on the cot inside his room so Samaille preferred to take his sleep on deck with the other men.  Only when it rained did he grudgingly cram onto the bed to catch a few hours of rest before resigning and heading into the sailors’ small hall to play cards and roll dice.

He enters his small bunk and reaches under the cot to remove a sword wrapped in oil cloth.  The sword is long, what would be called a bastard sword.  Its handle is a hand and a half long wrapped in plain, worn black leather.  The pommel of the sword is an obsidian hammer head with the word VENGEANCE, etched in silver into both of its broad sides.

Samaille sits down onto the cot and slides the sword into a plain black leather scabbard and fixes the weapon onto his back, the handle sticking out over his left shoulder.  He does this awkwardly and with a grunt of frustration, the small chamber was certainly made for a smaller breed of man.

Samaille, the man who has become The Stuttering Knight takes one last look around the dank chamber that has been one of his many homes over the years and then ducks out of the room.

“I hate this bloody ship.”

For a man of Samaille’s stature the ship’s sub deck hallways are worse than the sleeping chambers.  They aren’t quite broad enough for him to walk abreast and the ceilings are lower still.  The result is for him to walk in a painfully uncomfortable sideways lurching gate, which draws chuckles and jeers from both Lyonelle and the sailors alike.

A sheet of his black hair falls into his face blinding him momentarily.  As if the ship senses this timely display of vulnerability it suddenly lurches starboard, causing Samaille to stumble and crack his head on a low lying ceiling beam.

“D-d-d-d-damnit,” Samaille cries.

Laughter is heard from an open door and Samaille turns towards the voices furious with pain and humiliation.  They heard him stutter.  His face reddens from that fact.

“You okay, mate?” A toothless sailor chuckles, “Don’t mind Yelena’s jumpin’.  She don’t like it when we take her to port.”

“Bugger off fool.”

Samaille stares at the man darkly and then storms down the narrow corridor.

His back aches from crouching through the small short hallways as he begins to climb onto the deck of the ship.  As his head breaches into the salty sea air, Lyonelle’s shaggy grey head appears before him, grinning like wolf.

“Be a good boy and get the Lady,” Lyonelle commands conversationally, “I’d like to make a quick exit off this power be damned ship.”

Without waiting for a response the old once soldier, once Counselor to the King, turns on his heals and ambles across the deck.

Couldn’t tell me before I went below deck the first time, could you?  You old bastard.”

With a grunt of frustration, he tosses his satchel onto the deck, and climbs back down the steep stairs.

The Lady Innesse was staying in the captain’s cabin as a favor, or rather in recompense of a debt, to Lyonelle.  The cabin was not much larger than the regular cabin’s, but the bed was a tad bit larger and the room smelled slightly less dank.

Samaille approached the door as if it were an enemy, armed to the teeth and sword barred.  He knocked on the door a little harder than he had intended and it rattled on its hinges.

There is a small crash and muffled curse.

“Who the bloody hell is it?”

For a moment Samaille’s eyes soften, they turn from iron to bronze and back again just as quickly.

“Her voice is the voice of the changing seasons.  Beautiful and yet scary in its power.”

He shakes his head as if waking up.

“Stop that you fool.  It’s a good thing you never speak or people are like to think you a queer rather than Samaille the Powerful yet Stuttering Knight.”

He chuckles to himself but his internal monologue is violently interrupted by the door of the captain’s cabin crashing open.

“When I ask who is at the bloody door I expect a bloody answer!” screams Innesse.  She takes one look at Samaille and her face reddens slightly. “Oh, it’s you...well come in then.”

Samaille grunts acknowledgment and follows her into the cabin.



a fool and his sword

Kevin stood in the ankle deep mud of the road and cursed.

"Son of a bitch, I hate the mud."

Kevin lifted his head and squinted into the rain; surveying the slate grey sky.  He ran a hand over his short cropped hair and turned on his heels to face a tall wirey youth.

"Ah, but the mud doesn't bother you much does it?," said Kevin to the youth, walking over to stare up at the young man, "Nor, does the rain, or the cold, or a lovely girl toying with your manhood.  A proper machine you are Rhodri."

Kevin looks Rhodri up and down, as if analyzing the angles of a door frame.  If Rhodri was in fact a door frame his dimensions would have been perfect.  Standing at 6 foot 6 inches tall, with the shoulders of a blacksmith and the waist of a school girl (as Kevin tended to put it), and corded with enough lean muscle and sinew to make a horse jealous, Rhodri was a specimen of physical prowess.  Yet the eyes staring down upon Kevin were empty of even the slightest bit of natural human intelligence.  Rhodri's eyes stared out on the world with the utter indifference of an idiot savant.

Kevin smiled and slapped Rhodri on the back.

"Aye, a proper machine."  Kevin tightens his travel stained cloak about his shoulders and adjusts the straps of his pack.  "Now, let's make some money."

With a dramtic flourishing of his limbs and a spray of water and mud, Kevin turned upon his heels once again and walked with a purpose down the muddy road.


The large stone archway of Dun Harbor stood before Kevin and Rhodri.  The mud of the common traveling road stopped abruptly before the archway and was replaced by a cobblestone street, worn flat from age and use, which lead into the city.  The way was blocked by four of the flaboyantly dressed Harbor Guard.  

Kevin chuckled as he approached the men and muttered to himself, "Silly jumped up swashbucklers."

The men glanced briefly at Kevin, but when their eyes fell upon Rhodri they took notice and moved to intercept.

"'Old it there you two," said a guardsmen with a prominently pointed chin beard and a meticulously groomed mustache, "what pray tell is your business 'ere abouts."

Kevin moved to the forefront and bowed lavishly, "Hello hello gentlemen, may the sun shine upon you...when all of this clears up of course," Kevin motioned towards the sky and the gloomy weather.  "Our buisiness is of the crooked sort I am afraid, we come at the call of Gorgeous Jack, perhaps you know the name."

The man's previous confidence seemed to dim at the mention of Jack's honorific.  "That's not a name you want to be dropping 'ere mate, using that name without proper cause..."

"Invites certain brutal, yet artisticically tasteful death," Kevin interupts as he quickly reaches into his inner-jacket pocket and reveals a large coin with the faded impression of a laughing skull upon its face.

The guard glances quickly and squiemishly at the coin and the moves aside, motioning Kevin and Rhodri past.