Story for Stew
Happy Birthday Stew
Awake again, I can feel the air cooling in the early morning as autumn nears. It must be Mid August. The days are hotter still and remind of my time as a young lad. Today is a day to remember. An adventure awaits and my anticipation builds as you will be at my side. I grab my boots and strap them on, one by one, only just tight enough for the adventure ahead.
As I clothe myself in my remaining gear, I place my fist on my heart and I say a blessing;
"I ask for a part of my brothers to keep,
pieces for me in my time of need...
Brothers, if you hear my cry, I ask for your aid.
Grant me Wisdom of the Wolf as seen by his eyes,
Courage of the Lion as displayed by his roar,
Rage of the Bull in his time of fury,
Speed of the Snake delivered in his strike,
Protection of the Dragon proven by his armor,
and Cunning of the Panther shown by his stealth.
Grant me the power of Beast."
With a fresh mindset and a blessing in my heart, I grab my sword and dagger then leave my habitation. A secret place that only a few know of. As I prepare to face what lies ahead, I stop to take in the very beginning of the sunrise. An ocean view from within the trees atop a cliff. The beautiful light rises slowly and starts to tickle the mountain peak behind me. Soon it will be capped in the white of winters love.
I start down the trail towards the north. Today will be the day a legend is reborn. This is the day I take on the most difficult foe. The blade-masters of Tranquil Grove. A place not to be deceived by, a place of true challenge, a place a extraordinary death. It once was a grand and peaceful place, where spirit warriors were trained. It is now a place of darkness, corruption, and misery.
I refuse to call it by what others now call it, for that would be excepting its demise rather that understanding the truth of what it will once again become. I must embrace the truth in order to restore it's value. I can only hope to prevail and trust that my message reached you well.
A couple of fast traveled hours, I am but a moment away from this trial. Once I act, all will be alert to my presence. Such is the magic that veils this ancient grove. I choose my first action carefully. Strategy is my only hope.
As I approach the forests edge, I realize that stealth has done me no favors this day, as they all await my presence in the clearing. There is no turning back. I have committed to the task at hand.
With my hand on the hilt of my sword, I step into the open. All eyes are upon me. Each figure as black as death in their shrouds and waiting calmly as if commanded to fight with honor. I can feel the hate and anger seething from their pitiless eyes, deep within, where a soul once took residence.
I call to them, so they know my intention, so there is no mistake in my presence. "Foul creatures of the grove! Prepare to be extinguished! You reside here no more! I will watch the fire leave your eyes this day!"
A deep gurthy laugh slowly taunts me from within the circle of abominations. Now I know where my target is hidden. After a moment of calculation and planning, I have made my choice. I start running for the crowd with wrath in my mind. The rage is nearly its own flavor in my mouth.
As my sword leaves its scabbard the horde erupts in answer to my call. A battle cry like no other. The sound of a thousand tortured souls being ripped apart at the seams. As I lop off limbs and fight my way through, they sprout new arms and legs and continue the fight unfazed.
The fight grows more and more intense and I find myself overwhelmed by my challenge. I'm not ready to accept failure, but their number feels as if it has grown since I first entered the battle. I didn't anticipate their throats or heads being so well guarded.
I continue to push on, harder and faster as my attackers start to consume me in the circle. And the terrible laugh taunts me again...
As the deep troubling laughter stars to overwhelm my senses, I feel a presence. An energy that I had been hoping to feel. Suddenly an arrow erupts through the throat of the creature taunting me. Other limbs and a few heads start to fly by. There is a renewed energy as the brave soul entering battle stands by my side. His movements, fluid, almost as if to a fast drum beat. There he was, like life dancing with death, the man I had been hoping would join me. Sir Stewart of Mills. I could hardly contain my emotions. "Stewart! Brother! You answered my call! Just in time for main event! I was almost worried you might not come!"
"And miss this epic battle? I think not, man!" Stewart stated loudly.
With Stewart by my side, we fought our way through the chaos, but I could see their numbers growing... More and more were coming out of the trees... We were pitched in a seemingly unending battled, locked in a dance with death. We continued to dodge attacks and reduce their numbers, only to have them grow again...
As the enemy closed in around us and we fought relentlessly on, we locked eyes and knew that we would continue, regardless of the outcome. We either restored good to the land or die a warriors death in the process. Back to back we fought on, using every ounce of energy and calling on each others energy for aid.
These demons have a way of crushing your soul, but hearing the battle cries of Stewart have a way of keeping you inspired. So we fought harder and harder...
As we dodged, slashed, hacked, and lay waist, hope started to seem lost. We were losing ground and the enemy was nearly on top of us. Our energy declined little by little.
Suddenly I could feel my energy grow and Stewart was feeding off of it too. Trying to listen past all of the noise. We could hear something off in the distance... a rumbling in the background approached. Soon accompanied by screams of valor! We soon realized that we may stand a chance after all... and even if we didn't, we would go down together in this fight against evil.
A few dozen bodies suddenly rush into the clearing, bulldozing enemies in their path! It was them! The Extraordinary Knights of McCaffrey! At their lead were a few ladies and men I recognized followed by reinforcements! As they broke in through circle Stewart and I realized we were truly unstoppable... All of the Extraordinary Knights of McCafrrey were here!
All true warriors tearing through the threat like an unstoppable ocean storm of vengeance and fury!
Each Knight, feeding us the energy and parts of their strength while we returned the favor. In this moment, we were like a giant collective of Beasts, and of one mind.
Before we knew it a full fledged war had broken out, and even though we were outnumbered 50 to 1, those were good odds for any Extraordinary Knight of McCaffrey! We cleaved through the threat like an unstoppable force! Fire spells and lightning spells were cast in hissing spirals, vaporizing dozens of demons! Our Knights made of multiple threats! From war axes and claymores, to katanas and sorcery, no method was spared in releasing this foul essence from the ancient grove.
As each of us looked around while our chests heaved with furry and our eyes pierced the surrounding area... we were drenched in sweat, dirt, and the black corruption that spilled from our foe. We realized that we succeeded in vanquishing our foe. As the last bit of corruption was extinguished, the curse lifted from Tranquil Grove, as did the black corruption spread all over the knights during the battle. The recently decayed grove had been restored to it's rightful place.
Sir Stewart of Mills connections to all the Knights and his love for this world are what called in the reinforcements. It's what inspired and drove the good to overcome and vanquish the evil. Today, Sir Stewart of Mills celebrates two victories with those he loved. His birth, both as a person and a legend, and his victory in bringing out the best in everyone.
Inspiration for the story
This is a story I wrote for one of my best friends on his birthday, the year after he passed away. Ultimately, it served as another way for me to process his absence and do something positive and fun for him. I used to "tell" a lot of stories or write small individual stories on birthdays for friends, including Stew during his life as a way to make them smile and do something personal. I couldn't always afford to make a purchase but I could create something of myself for them to enjoy. Stew enjoyed my ramblings both in person and on MySpace and Facebook.
A little more about Stew
Stewart was a brilliant young man with large aspirations. His energy was unparalleled and he inspired many people with his kindness and love for others. His energy and love helped many people through hard times, because of that, he had many best friends. Stewart Mills passed away in 2015. When he did, it changed the lives of many. He will always be remembered by his wonderful family and friends. His smile and personality were infectious and wonderful. There is so much to say but instead, I will leave it up to your imagination. If you ever read any of the Sword of Truth Series by Terry Goodkind, think Richard Raul (Cypher).
Thank you Mills family for all of your love, care, and thoughtfulness toward myself and many others. Thank you for Stewart. You brought a wonderful son, brother, cousin, and friend into this world and his legacy will continue to inspire others to do good. I post this story in honor of him. I know he would have enjoyed it. We both had a love for each others creations. He is one of the many responsible for pushing me to write my stories and cheering me on through my progress. My hope is that others enjoy the story as well!
This story could technically serve as a connection and inspiration to The Wolf: Part 1 and Part 2 aside from the fact that it doesn't really connect directly... Yet. Stew was my inspiration for the main character in The Wolf.
Happy Day of Birth Stewart - This is for you! Love you Brother! Know that when any of us think of you, even in our sadness, it is because we see your smile and remember what an amazing person you were. Thank you for your inspiration. Thank you for never giving up on us.