Twitch Stream Story: The Heart Echoes

Prompt: two self-conscious ogres argue with a knight over who is superior

Sir Ridget was only bringing a favor to his fiance that day. He rode through the forest on his loyal steed: a beautiful white horse by the name of Jerry. It was a bit of a silly name, but his fiance’s niece had asked for the pleasure of christening the creature, and Sir Ridget was a man of his word.

Flowers fell around him, from the high blooming trees of the woods, blending in with the white fluttering moths. It was such a beautiful day. Sir Ridget had left his helmet behind and wore only a light coat of chain-mail. His sword was at his side, bouncing peacefully against Jerry’s flank. The sound of the horse’s hooves changed as they crossed over a small stone bridge with a creek running underneath.

Ridget looked down at the favor he had plucked himself from the beautiful heart of the forest: a bouquet of fine flowers, ringed in a single delicate vine. They say fairies used to live in that grove, and that their magic kept the flowers alive and strong far far longer than god intended. He lifted them and took a deep whiff. Honeysuckle, rose, tulip… all the scents mingled, even those of flowers that weren’t in the bouquet. She would love it. They would be wed in one month’s time and he would take his place in her lord’s hierarchy. His sword would once again bring him honor; there would be no need for it to threaten peasants out of their bread and berries.

Halfway across the bridge, his bearded face still buried in the flowers, he heard a splash. Jerry shuffled to the left and whinnied. The knight reined the animal in and looked to the side. His mouth dropped open. There was a face with worry written across it, but that was barely discernible given its other features: pale purplish skin, a coat of warts filled with fluids of diverging color, ears like those a pig covered in swellings and bruises, and powerful tusked under-bite. Its eyes were small and bright, like what little sun could be seen from the bottom of a well.

The creature held itself up on the side of the bridge with its meaty elbows. Somewhere below, the knight heard its fat toes splashing in the water. He reached for his sword. He knew such things. Ogres. He’d slayed more than one of its ilk and its cousins. His blade was only a third from its sheath when he heard another splash. Something struck him on the head from behind, and everything went black.

Guh! He swallowed air and tried to focus his eyes. Sir Ridget could barely move. At first he had no idea why. He was not chained down in that cramped cavern. He didn’t feel the crawl of poison or snake venom in his veins. That was a common tactic of the ogres; they would train snakes to wrap around their prey and hold them tight, mostly because the dumb brutes couldn’t handle knots with their rotten sausage fingers.

Something came into focus, something red. He saw white spots underneath the wet color, where the object had been licked clean. The knight gasped. Jerry. Jerry minus his skin, his flesh, his eyes, his mind…  The ogres had already picked the steed clean, chewed the flesh and organs away. He heard them belching off to the sides. Sir Ridget gritted his teeth. He couldn’t craft much, he was a warrior at heart, but he knew the formula for vengeance: one part blessed steel, one part righteous fury, and ten thousand parts spilled ogre blood.

The knight reached for his sword, it was just sitting there next to one of the seated monsters’ thighs, but he had nothing to reach with. That was why he couldn’t move. They’d sawed his arms off and stopped up the wounds with mud and leech spit. He didn’t have much blood left, so he was spared a good deal of the pain, but he still had to watch as they fought over the remaining fingers on one of his hands.

We’re taking turns,” one of the ogres scolded the other. “You had the pinky and now I get the ring. You get the middle and then I get the pointer.”

The thumb!” the other exclaimed, wiggling the pale digit. Ridget heard his own bones crack from ten feet away. “There’s five! Not even. No turns. You’ll get the lucky one and be a knight and I’ll be stuck here as me.”

Two hands!” the other one argued back. Even in his hazy rage and sorrow, Ridget noticed differences between the two. The one who knew how to count to ten had, oddly enough, a smaller head, and some sort of heavy iron jewelry piercing his navel. The other was broader in the shoulders and had nostrils so large they hung down like curtains drenched by sudden rain.

What… what are you monsters doing?” Ridget croaked. His tongue was dryer than an entombed crust of bread. “Unhand… my hand… you…”

He’s awake!” the smaller head said. “I told you he’d wake up if we didn’t eat the middle. Hello Mr. Knight. My name is Flay. Him over there? He’s Bash.” Bash waved at the knight with the man’s own severed hand. He nibbled on a fingernail. “We hoped you could…” Flay twiddled his three fat fingers, “settle a bit of an argument.”

I’ll do no such…”

Which part of you has the valor in it? We want to know. We’re tired of being looked down at, even though we’re so big. People always looking high at you knights. We need your valor in our stomachs so we can get some respect.”

So where is it?” Bash growled. “Here?” He poked Ridget in the nose. “Here?” the navel. “Here?” he went lower, but Ridget writhed and managed to land on his knees. “Only problem is, only one of us can eat it. I think I deserve it. He says he’ll take care of me if he gets it, but I don’t believe him. He’s an ogre! What do you think Mr. Knight?”

My horse…”

No valor in there,” Flay insisted. “He was just meat. We needed a little something to calm our nerves. You understand. Now about the location of that valor…”

You can’t be knights!” Sir Ridget roared. He rose to his feet, barely keeping balance. His fiance would still have him; he knew that. It wasn’t the arms. It wasn’t the favors. He had turned himself from thief to honorable man, and he hadn’t kept that honor in either bicep. “You cannot be transformed into good by eating the innocent! I can satisfy your curiosity. Here is your lesson. All valor is kept in the heart!”

Ridget roared again, but he was no longer the loudest thing in the cave. That honor belonged to the knight’s heartbeat. It pounded like a drum and grew louder with every passing second. The ogres rose to their feet and brandished Jerry’s leg bones as clubs. The sound of his heart, his valorous drum, bounced off the walls and assailed them.

Flay and Bash broke their clubs against the stone, trying to kill the sounds. Ridget stood perfectly still. The ogres had their tricks, their snakes and the poisons grown in their warts, but so did knights. They would feel his righteous wrath. They’d brought him into an echo chamber, and he would take full advantage.

The beating grew louder. They could not stop the drums of righteousness. The ogres, in their panic, ran into each other and fell over. The drums. The drums. Their own hearts, small and soft, could not compete. The echos of Ridget’s valor drowned them out, suffocated their spirits, and left the terrified ogres dead upon the cave floor.

Ridget followed the cool air back out into the sunlight. He could no longer carry his lady’s favor, but she would hear him coming from miles away. She would hear his drum and know his intentions were pure as ever.

  Author’s Note:  This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by ScreamingEcho during a livestream.  I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog.  If you would like your own story, stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!

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