Adventure Fiction Fantasy

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

“How did you get those bruises?” Danielle asked her adopted daughter Nettle.

            “Practice,” said Nettle, avoiding eye contact.

            “Were you the target?” The knight asked the girl.

            “No. I’m fine.” The girl had a black eye and bruises on her arms.

            “I can tell whoever did that to you to stop.”

            “No, Dan, I’m fine. Really.” The preadolescent gave Danielle a hard stare. Worried as she was, the warrior let it go.

Every free day Sir Danielle Longbow taught the people of Crann to fight with their swords or their bows. Everyone learned to fight. They had to, the empire to the north had almost exterminated them once. Cranners weren’t going to give them the chance again.

            “LINE UP,” she yelled. “Chins up. Chests out. Shoulders back. MARCH.”

            A sea of pine green tabards over armour marched behind her.

            “FORM A LINE. DRAW YOUR SWORDS.” She watched the swords emerge from the scabbards. “TOO SLOW. SHEATH THEM.” She drew her sword, spun it, and slid it back into its sheath, thankful for not screwing it up. “DRAW YOUR SWORDS.”

            Silver metal glinted in the twilight as a thousand swords emerged.

            “Much better.”

After marching drills, they practiced with wooden swords. She corrected their stances. Across the city other trainers were doing the same. The crackle of gunfire in the distance was the gunners practicing with their new weapons.

            Everyone had a training sword. Everyone had a real sword and shield. Everyone had a bow and arrows. Everyone had armour and anyone old enough had a tabard.

            “You’re covered in bruises,” Sir Longbow pulled up Nettle’s sleaves when she returned from practice. “I’m not leaving this alone. Tell me who did this to you.”

            “I’m dealing with it, Danielle. Stop bugging me about it.” The girl grabbed a heel of bread, turned around and went straight back out the door.

            “Someone’s picking on her,” Sir Longbow said.

            “Follow her then,” said Lupita. “She’ll be angry with you though.”

            “I don’t care if she’s angry with me as long as she doesn’t get beaten to death in practice. She should have stayed in my drill group. I’ll see you later.” Danielle gave Lupita a rushed kiss on the forehead and ran from the room, sword in her belt.

            Nettle could have gone in any direction but there were always people in the street, and they all knew Danielle.

            “Nettle just ran off; did you see which way she went?” Asked the knight.

            “That way, right little storm tonight. You hit her?” Asked the shrivelled old woman sitting on a stool in the alley.

            “No. But if I find out who did I’m going to hit them. Thank you, Jenny.”

            “Good luck,” said the grandmother, waiting for her own rascals.

Asking as she went, Danielle followed Nettle out of the walls of Old Leonor. Over the chasm of the mine between it and New Town, she realised Nettle was heading back to her practice ground.

            Jogging, she saw Nettle and a group of boys and girls her own age. All of them had practice swords. Staying out of sight, the knight watched.

            “Back for another thrashing,” asked one boy. He was taller than the rest but had a youthful face that suggested to Danielle that he was destined to be a giant of a man.

            “I just needed food, Tam. I’m ready to kick your arse now.” Nettle’s voice was cold metal. Her face was stone, bruised and bloody.

            Sir Longbow wanted to wade in and tell all of the children to go home but knew Nettle would sulk about it for days, if not weeks. She watched and waited for her daughter’s moment of need.

            “Come on then Nettle Soup,” said the brown eyed boy. His matching hair was slicked to his head with sweat from the day’s training.

            “Shut up.” Gripping her training sword in both hands, Nettle started to circle with the boy. “I’m going to break your nose today, Tam. I’ll watch you piss yourself in front of all your friends.”

            Nettle wore rags despite the money available to Danielle and Lupita. She didn’t like to be seen as special among the other children of the city. She’d grown up in the dirt and still needed the respect of those who’d never left it.

            The boy with a smith’s shoulders lunged and slashed downwards with his sword. Nettle parried it aside.

            “Good girl Nettle,” Danielle whispered to herself.

            As the boy continued off course to her side, the bruised girl caught him across the shoulder with her sword. An audible crack testified to how hard she’d hit the wood against his bone. He yelped.

            “I’m gonna kill you for that.” Tam growled. He rubbed and rolled his shoulder.

            “No. You’re going to surrender or I’m going to knock you out.” Nettle charged at him with her sword aimed straight at his gut.

            Tam let the sword stab the air beneath his elbow. He caught his opponent in the face with a left hook that knocked her over. Blood from a burst lip hit the dirt of the parade ground. Nettle rolled away from him so that he couldn’t kick her while she was down.

            Blood ran down her chin.

            “Wait.” Danielle told herself. “Just wait.”

            The bloody girl paced towards the boy with forearms of knotted muscle. He swung horizontally from his left. She ducked beneath the slash and hit his shin with a hard blow. Nettle hit his sword hand as he raised his sword for another strike. The wood fell from his hand. His nose burst in a shower of blood as she kicked him in the face with the sole of her boot.

            Danielle’s eyebrows went up.

            “Get her,” said Tam. His friends ran towards Nettle with their swords in their hands. A girl with rust coloured hair in a ponytail tried to stab Nettle in the chest. Hitting the incoming sword aside Danielle’s daughter countered by hitting her attacker in the forehead. The girl fell, dazed, to the ground.

            Another boy tried to attack the bloody girl from behind. He received a foot in the groin for his troubles.

            When Nettle disarmed a boy with a single blow to the hand and smashed him to the dirt with the handle of her sword, Danielle realised that it wasn’t her daughter who needed help.

            “Nettle!” She yelled. “There you are. What are you doing?”

            “Teaching,” said the girl. “Like you.”

            “I don’t humiliate my students, Nettle. Apologise to them and come home right now.”

            Her daughter turned to look at her with sheer disbelief in her eyes and blood that wasn’t all her own on her clothes.


            “Apologise. NOW.”

            “I’m sorry I kicked your arses.”

            “Good enough.” Sir Longbow looked at the other children. “No more training outside proper times. Understand?” They were groaning more than listening to her. “DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?”

            “Yes sir,” said most of them.

            “Nettle. Home. Now.”

Wiping her practice sword on her sleeve, Nettle stomped back through the city behind Danielle.

            “You should have come to me if they were bullying you.”

            “I handled it,” said the girl.

            “And then some. You took your revenge too far.”

            “They deserved it.”

            “That’s not the point. Do you want to be a knight?”

            “You know I do.”

            “Then you have to act like one.”

            “Yes, SIR.”

            “Fuck me.” Danielle sighed. “What did I do to be surrounded by sarcastic fuckers?”

            “Your just lucky I guess.” The girl smirked. Sir Longbow turned away so that her daughter didn’t see that she was smiling as well.

May 20, 2022 14:15

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Lesedi Ntuli
15:59 May 25, 2022

I like the protag, she's cool


Graham Kinross
21:14 May 25, 2022

Thanks Lesedi.


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Nicole Of 2022
18:22 May 21, 2022

Great story!! The only thing really is, that you wrote conversations more than details. I loved it!! <33333333


Graham Kinross
14:18 May 22, 2022

I rushed the writing a bit and I like dialogue so I guess that shows. Thanks for reading it. 📖 This one is the closest I have to horror: https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/xf4m4w/ This one is my most comedic story. https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/00pr5k/


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13:44 Dec 10, 2022

There is a lot of talking in this. Its good that Nettle is getting some story again. Shes good but i worried for her like Danirlle was.


Graham Kinross
01:40 Dec 11, 2022

Nettle felt a bit neglected as a character so I wanted to go back to her. She lives with Danielle and Lupita so I wanted to show that she’s trying to live up to that. She sees them as an example to live by but their reputations are also a weight she has to bear.


13:16 Dec 12, 2022

Theyre tough characters.


Graham Kinross
22:37 Dec 12, 2022

I’m their world they have to be.


09:57 Dec 14, 2022



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Graham Kinross
23:12 May 30, 2022

Thanks for reading. If you want to read the next story you can use the link below. https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/2qlhqn/


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