It was a bright and cheery morning in Meri Acres. The birds were in the orchards, signing merrily as if it were their last. The sun heated the land pleasantly, baking the farm road into a golden brown. Dew sparkled like spun gold and clung to thin tufts of grass that dotted the side of the road.
Eiher walked proudly on the main road with his chest jutted out like an Eyrie. Of course, he would never want to be an Eyrie. He was perfectly happy being a Uni and just received his first assignment as a Squire of Meridell. He patrolled down the road, enjoying the warmth of the sun on his back and the way it played with the highlights of his mane. His eyes sparkled as he swept his gaze from side to side, searching for anything amiss.
A Wocky spoke up from beside Eiher. "Keep that up and you'll be an eyesore, pal."
Eiher's ear twitched with mild annoyance. "We're on patrol, Naseer! You can't blame me for wanting to make this the best first mission ever."
Naseer chuckled and shook his head. "Even if it will give your eyes some sores?"
Eiher leaned into Naseer and shoved the Wocky off balance. "Oh, be quiet," he replied. "You're one to talk. Haven't you had that same lazy eye since we first started out?"
Naseer staggered to regain his balance. He wasn't overweight but Naseer was not as quick as his four-hoofed friend. The Wocky sported a light outfit: simple chainmail with tunic on top with the Meridell emblem embroidered onto his chest, lobster-plated armor pants, steel plated boots, and leather gloves. A short sword dangled from his hip and would strike against Naseer's side as he walked. Naseer looked at his friend with scorn; the eye in question was a faded blue. "What's that to you?" he asked haughtily. "I can still take you on you oversized equine."
Eiher started to laugh. He raised his head higher and stared down at his friend in arms. "Oh?" he asked tauntingly. "You sure about that?"
Naseer blinked, looked at his friend, tried to reply, and then sighed happily. "Ach," he muttered cheerily, "it's doubtful. You always were better than me when we were beginning training. Though, you must admit, I'm better with the sword than you."
Eiher tossed his mane and saw the sunlight reflect onto the path from his horn. "I don't need a sword," he declared. "My horn works just as well." He smiled fondly at his friend and pushed his shoulder against Naseer happily. "I heard that Lady Meredith has taken a liking to you. Is it true?"
Naseer shrugged dismissively. "I get her Doglefox out of a tree once and that girl has followed my every step." He blinked and looked up at the bright blue sky. "She's not exactly the most graceful noblewoman I've ever seen, she smells like cabbage-"
A deep but familiar voice cut Naseer off. The source was a burly Skeith garbed in farmer's overalls and a red T-shirt. His double chin wobbled as he laughed at the two young squires. "Har har har! I'd say the girl is mighty fine fer ye, short-stuff. She probably smells ten times better than you! Har har har!"
Naseer growled and started for the Skeith. He was stopped by Eiher's strong hoof. "Let me at him, Eiher," he growled. "I won't stand to be insulted."
Eiher shook his head. "Don't," he stated. "That guy is nothing more than a bully; probably a farm-less slob who can't hold a job. He isn't worth your time." He nudged Naseer with his velvet muzzle and encouraged his friend to keep walking.
As the young squires continued their way down the path, the Skeith called out challengingly. "Yeah, youse better run! I could tie ye inna knots and show ye just how pathetic youse are! Har har har!"
The day passed on without any more incidents. Naseer and Eiher returned to Meridell castle and immediately were grateful for the cool atmosphere inside the gray walls. They stepped into the corridor most knights used to enter and leave the castle, trudging in dust from the road. Naseer shook and beat the dust away from his clothing. Eiher had it easier. He only had a long blue and red jerkin on today and was easily freed from dust. Nonetheless, the pair was dirtier than most. Eiher could feel the hot stickiness of his sweat clinging to his jerkin and mane. Naseer was no better off with his fur plastered to his frame with sweat.
A Draik Guard approached the two squires with a disapproving click of his tongue. "Get yourselves clean, lads," he said, "No one is goin' to want to smell that during dinner." The Draik turned on his heel and strode down the hall to disappear into the barracks.
Naseer looked at Eiher and blinked. "I wouldn't want to smell this either while I ate. C'mon, pal, let's clean up and join the merriment in the dining hall." With a happy chortle, the Wocky walked down the hall and followed the Draik Guard into the barracks.
Eiher shook his head and followed more slowly. He didn't mind the smell as much but that might be due to his origins. After all, he had lived in Meri Acres for some time before ascending into squirehood. The farmlands had an earthy smell that was rather pleasant to his nose. Of course, nothing could take Eiher from his brooding mind. The way that Skeith talked to both him and Naseer was completely disrespectful and annoying. He shouldered his way into the barracks and approached a washing basin. Eiher plucked a rag from nearby and dipped the cloth in to soak in the water. He wiggled out of his soiled clothes and found the fresh tunic and stockings for when he was done washing himself. The water soaked rag felt cool on his lips as he brushed the cloth across his body. Already, he was feeling a little more presentable to the rest of the castle as the sweat from today's patrol left him. He was clean, donned a fresh tunic and stockings, and had a healthy appetite. Time to indulge in the castle's fare.
Dinner was tasty and gave fresh energy to Eiher. The Uni felt almost completely rejuvenated after eating two hearty portions of spring onion soup with sliced juppie. He returned to the barracks with a full stomach and a desire for sleep.
Days passed by like a race between turtles. The Skeith constantly berated Eiher as he continued on his patrol route. The Uni's mood worsened and darkened as there seemed to be no respite from this annoying creature. Finally, on one day of sunshine with a few clouds, Eiher decided to teach the Skeith a lesson.
"Har har har!" laughed the Skeith as Eiher passed by today, "Out to search for the Darkest Faerie, eh? Perhaps chasing Mutant Meepits? Ye should really be searchin' fer enemies of Meridell!"
Eiher tossed his mane and stared at the Skeith coldly. His voice was like chipped ice, sharp and unforgiving, "You should really watch yourself, sir!" His hoof stomped on the ground. "You waste your days away like a slug, useless and slow moving," he continued. "What I should really do is throw you in shackles for being such a lump. You do nothing to help others, only chastise those who work to do so. That is just criminal."
The Skeith gaped like a landed fish. His second chin wobbled as he found his voice. "Grrrr! I'll show ye useless whelp!" He jumped off the fence with a great thud that mildly shook the ground for a second. Slimy saliva oozed from the sides of his mouth as he jeered, "Ye thinks ye be so 'igh and mighty," he challenged, "C'mon, whelp! I think I'll enjoy this greatly." His knuckles crackled audibly as he limbered up.
Eiher noted the posture of his opponent. The Skeith was overconfident and looked to be extremely oblivious to defensive postures. The fellow would never see the surprise Eiher had in mind.
The Skeith walked closer and circled Eiher with a sneering grin. "Why don't you turn your back and run off like a good little Uni? I'm sure your nanny is missing you terribly."
Eiher shifted in place, keeping the Skeith within eyesight. "No," he said. Eiher tossed his mane defiantly and reared onto his hind legs. The Skeith hadn't expected such a move and received a good lump on the head for his trouble.
"Ooooh! Owwww! Yeeeooow! Ye hit me!" The Skeith rubbed his head tenderly.
Eiher lowered his head and pranced around behind the Skeith. He charged and caught his opponent in the backside. The Skeith fell over like a dead tree trunk, crashing to the ground audibly.
The Skeith's shoulders went slack as his eyes watered. His lips began to quiver as an uncontrollable tantrum overcame him. Like a lumbering child, the Skeith ran off howling for his mother.
Eiher snickered as he watched the Skeith disappear down the farm road. "Heh heh, that's that! He won't be coming around here again without a more humble attitude."