Word of the Day #1: Off to Battle Again (312 words)

After the wedding, Brand’s life turned suddenly calm.

At first, it was refreshing and sweet, like the taste of the clear, galvanized air after a lightning storm. His life had been turbulent before: his town had been swallowed in the borders of the war and he’d been forced to leave. He’d joined the army and been forced to leave (an unfortunate incident involving the commander’s mustache and favorite horse). He’d been kidnapped by ogres and been forced to leave (to keep him from rescuing the beautiful princess). He’d come back for the princess, fought a dozen battles, nearly lost both arms, rescued the princess, fought two dozen more battles, and met his father-in-law. It was good to kick up his heels and eat food that hadn’t been stolen or salvaged from a burned out camp. It was good to speak with his wife, to lose himself in the precious gold-trimmed brown of her eyes without having to constantly break away to watch for danger.

Then the calm turned stifling, and the stifling turned stagnant. Brand crawled through the banal, banausic days of a prince. He attended the meetings, the formal dinners, the balls and the hunts. His senses grew taut. The next storm was coming. The next storm was needed. Lunches. Court. Introductions in the gardens. Diplomatic tours. Merchant exchanges. Meetings. Dinners.

“My liege!” A man burst into the throne room, screaming. The king looked affronted. The queen and princess looked stunned.

The man looked like he couldn’t get his words in order and he said the most important first: “Dragon!”

Brand stood immediately. “Oh, thank God.” He stripped out of his ermine cloak and dropped it to the floor. He strapped on his sword, kissed the princess the way a man ought to when he is leaving the love of his life to face flaming death, and ran for the door.

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