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Hunting Garland the Green: Part II

Garland

READ PART ONE

I bite into the charred flesh of a mudcrab.

It tastes like roasted shit. Not in the figurative sense. If I’d cooked my own crap over a few embers—shivering against the wet and the damp of the morning—I don’t think I’d have been any less satisfied. Breakfast of champions.

But I take what I can get.

Three days in the damn marsh tracking Garland the Green. All I’ve gotten from it is enough bug bites to kill me twice over, a more-or-less constant case of the shits from drinking swamp water, and a burning desire to put that old fuck into the ground in the most painful way possible.

If I could turn this bastard into a tree, too, I would.

Still, it feels good to track something again. Just me, him, and the bare-bones trail he’s left through the stinking marsh. I’d have preferred a hunt in the primeval forests of Valenwood, where I’d have the smell of pine trees instead of sulfur and mud.

But, again, I’ll take what I can get.

He’s been running me in circles—thinking I don’t know. Thinking he can just wear me down to a nub of exhaustion and then pounce when I don’t even have enough energy to lift the rusty steel dagger in my palm.

A good plan, if I was a moron.

The circles he’s dragging me in are getting smaller. I can’t say for sure what’s in the center—probably a trap he’s got set or a place he can use some of the terrain to his advantage. Whatever. It doesn’t matter because we’re never going to reach the center. It’s time to take control.

A take a few more bites of the terrible mudcrab. No matter how bad it tastes, fighting a man like that on an empty stomach is suicide.

Then I sniff the wind. Garland’s trail leads off to the north. Faint, but steady. That means he’s started curving round to the west—probably two or three miles off that way, if he’s turning the same as he did yesterday.

I take one more deep breath in through my nose, just to be sure I’m right, and then I grab a fistful of crab gut and smear it in my hair. And my armpits, and down each side of my soaking wet legs.

That old fucker isn’t going to smell me coming for him.

Then I take off running. South west. I’ve been saving my energy for the past day, and I’m used to navigating the shoddy marsh footing by now. Gods I can move fast. Burning ground before the sound of my footsteps can even reach my ears.

When I’m within a mile of him I cast invisibility and muffle on myself, but I don’t slow down.

If I slow down I’m lost.

My vision is blurred and my hands are shaking when I spot him. A shaggy, dark shape humping along in the distance.

Right where I thought he’d be.

I unsheathe my dagger and bull forward—ready to cut his fucking throat out when I hit him. Twenty feet. Ten. Five.

Damn that old bastard is fast.

His smells me when I’m three feet away and plunging toward him—a silent bundle of death, but reeking of mudcrab. Somehow, against all odds and fates and whatever the hell as you want to throw into the pot, he gets his sword halfway out of the sheath and manages to parry my dagger.

Metal crushes against metal. A foreign noise in this fecund, primal place.

My blade scrapes away along with my invisibility, and I only manage a laughably minor cut across his left shoulder.

I hit the ground at a roll and twist around—dagger up and ready.

The bastard has a massive grin on his face. Like he’s some kind of court jester and I’m the Jarl of Fucking Solitude.

“You impress me yet again, Lady Narova,” Garland says. “I did not see that coming.”

I suck in a few fast breaths and then spit.

“How do move like that?” I ask, because I don’t know what else to do.

He shrugs. The moss and roots that are weaved into his hair tremble a little. “I can show you, if you’d like.”

“Think I’m that stupid?”

“You never know.”

I move to the left and he mirrors my steps—keeping the distance between us the same. I’m thinking hard for a way out of this. Running is a pretty attractive option. I’ve blown the surprise and he can outreach me by a solid three feet with that strange looking sword of his. It’s either run away or get that sword out of his hands.

“Don’t you want to know who wants you dead?” I ask, taking a step forward and switching my dagger out of the reverse grip.

“I know who,” he says, face darkening. “Do you?”

Of course not. I don’t know a fucking thing.

Screw it. I grit my teeth and run at him. He feigns low and strikes high. Right at my neck like I thought he would. Trying to end it quick. I focus all my energy on covering my neck with ebonyflesh—turning my skin into dark, hardened scales of armor.

I feel his blade strike me—the shock of it radiates through my neck and my jaw. Makes my bones vibrate.

But it doesn’t kill me.

I jam my dagger into his right wrist and then yank the sword out of his hands. Kick him in the chest so he falls backwards. The sword feels good in my hands—light as a dagger but still perfectly balanced.

Garland is smiling up at me. His glowing eyes freak me out a little, but I raise his sword up high with every intention of cutting his head off.

“Go ahead,” he says, closing his eyes. “I’m ready.”

And that makes me stop.

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5 comments on “Hunting Garland the Green: Part II

  1. Pingback: Hunting Garland the Green « Bus Ride Fantasy

  2. Pingback: Hunting Garland the Green: Part III « Bus Ride Fantasy

  3. Elspeth Aurilie
    February 18, 2013

    I love how she’s becoming a little unspooled here. First, “I ask, because I don’t know what else to do,” and then she stops. She’s so fascinating.

  4. Carlos Murrain
    March 7, 2013

    This is the best work of literature I’ve read in a long time, keep up the great work!

    • Fargoth
      March 7, 2013

      Thanks so much for the kind words! Always more stories on the horizon.

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This entry was posted on February 2, 2013 by in Skyrim Fiction, Tales of Narova Black Hair and tagged , .
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