Elan, the main character of this short, will be one of the main characters in this new series, which is still untitled. Enjoy!
A Matter of Honor
By: TR Goodman
Elan sank to his knees at the crest of the dune. His vision blurred. The exhaustion, not to mention two days without water, left him unable to recognize the approaching figure as anything more than a dark blob against the sand. Even that blob was further distorted by the waves of heat radiating off the desert floor. The only thing that he knew for certain was that the blob was getting bigger.
Soon it filled almost his entire field of vision. “Now you will think another time before touching a man’s woman, eh?”
There was no time to respond before the figure kicked him with enough force to send him over the edge, tumbling down the leeward side of the dune. When he finally came to a stop, it was within a small patch of merciful shade at the base of the dune. He coughed and tried to spit out a mouthful of sand, but was far too dehydrated to get it all.
The pain in his gut sent enough of a shock through his system to help clear his vision. When his eyes focused, the first thing he saw was the glint of sunlight against a brass object hanging from his assailant’s belt. He recognized the double barrels, runic engravings, and realwood grip as belonging to the very same pistol the brute stole from him before leaving him to die in this Valos-cursed strip of desert.
The massive figure slid halfway down the dune, then stalked forward with measured steps. His tail lashed back and forth behind him as he drew nearer. “Perhaps that we are now without others, this matter of honor can be made settled.”
Elan coughed once more and sank down to lie flat on the ground. He would only get one chance to defend himself before the beast killed him, and this time there would be no chieftain to stand in the way. If there was to be any hope of success, he needed every ounce of strength he could muster.
“The girl came on to me, Re’shan. Hardly seemed polite to turn her away.”
Reshan’s bared his teeth, and his ears flattened as his tail lashed behind him like a whip. “She was not your woman to accept, human. She will carry your stink for all days, and my tent will not be cursed with your hairless smell.”
The pistol did not appear to be damaged, but even a working pistol did Elan no good when it was out of reach. It may as well be on the other side of the bled. Sand scorch that girl for putting him in this position, and sand scorch himself for letting her.
He sucked on his tongue to coax a bit more spittle to form, then rolled his tongue to gather as much sand as possible before spitting again. He just needed to draw the homicidal kharren a bit closer, and then he could grab for the pistol. Of course, that would also put him well within slashing range, and Re’shan’s claws were already beginning to protrude from his massive paws.
Deep breaths now. “You know, Re’shan…she never told me exactly why she came to me that night, but I reckon she had to be unsatisfied at home if she was going to sneak on over to pay me a visit. I thought a big, strong warrior like yourself’d be more than a sweet little kitten like her’d be able to handle.”
It was working. The fur at the back of Re’shan’s neck rows and his lips curled, revealing still more needle-sharp teeth. He growled low in his throat and slid closer. With each step, his center of gravity dropped as he prepared to pounce.
“I will warn you, human. Honor says you die, but honor does not say that torture cannot be first. You can be a long hours before I give you to the dark, and you can feel much pain.”
So close now. Just a few more steps. This close, Elan could read the engravings on the pistol. It looked like someone fiddled with the firing configuration. He could not tell what exactly would happen when he fired, but just about anything was better than being disemboweled by an angry kharren with marital issues. He just needed Re’shan to take a few more steps.
“Now me, I’m not the sort to help myself to what’s not mine…” He was. “…and I’m certainly not the type to spend the night with a woman I barely know…” He definitely was. “…so before you start coming after the neighbors, you might want to make sure your own house is in order. ”
Of course, the fact that he had indeed spent the night with her was tangential to the problem at hand. When she showed up at his tent, she was beaten, bruised, and crying, so, being a gentleman, he wasn’t about to turn her away. In a moment of either weakness or chivalry, he offered to steal her away from the tribe, but she refused. He didn’t understand, but that didn’t matter much now, either.
Re’shan hissed and sprang toward him. His claws stretched out, thirsty for blood as they sliced through the air. Elan wasted no time. He threw himself at Re’shan’s chest, hugging himself close to the massive kharren to avoid those claws as he fumbled for the pistol.
They toppled over and over each other once they hit the sand. Elan’s fingers curled around the pistol grip, and he pulled it free as he pushed himself away. Then they came to a stop, the muzzle of the pistol was bare inches away from Re’shan’s left eye and humming with energy begging for release.
Elan coughed and spit up another wad of sand. “Now then, how about you be a sport and pass on that waterskin, and we’ll discuss this like gentlemen.”
So, what did you think of your first taste of this new world? This world has been gestating in my brain for a few months now, so I have lots of different characters and ideas, that will be fleshed out as the book progresses. Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and if you have any suggestions for future Flash Fiction Friday entries, let me know.
Thanks for reading!