I’ve been writing bits of a story called KnightWorX for a little while now, so I thought I’d start posting bits of the unedited story instead of all the words just sitting around in folders getting bored.

Here is the first bit –

KinghtWorX (To Hell and back with a dishonourable discharge) 

Daisy rammed her knuckles into her mouth and bit down, willing herself not to cry. If she cried they would find her, even here with the bones and mold and damp.

‘There have always been wars.’ Jed had told her when the tanks had first rolled into the village, screeching like stricken Banshees. ‘Big wars, small wars and everything in-between. The big ones sweep across the world leaving everything covered in grief and ash.’

Daisy knew this was one of the big ones, so big it had gotten in everywhere, destroyed everything, made people different. Though Jed had stayed the same. Jed had taken care of her, exactly like Mama had told him.

Up above in the moonlight people shouted, screamed, cried. Daisy leaned forward a little, listening out for Jed’s voice, but it was too hard to make out who belonged to what noise as the soldiers ploughed through the graveyard near the church, kicking over headstones and firing off their guns as they went.

Jed had said that these soldiers had no respect for anyone or anything – not the cat, not the cows about to calf, not Mama, not Uncle Vanya: nothing and no one living or dead.

Daisy shivered and pushed herself back into the corner of the crypt, her knuckles growing raw. The large letters carved into the damp stone pressed through her dress and into her back.

Jed had left her there, alone, down among the dead in their cold tomb beds covered in the odd writing no one could read.

‘There ain’t nothing to be scared of down here, Daisy,’ Jed had told her. ‘Ain’t no ghosts or ghouls gonna get you.’

She had begged to go with him anyway, said she’d be no bother, said she’d be quiet and wouldn’t complain about anything ever again.

Jed had been stern, like he was sometimes in that big brother way, when he’d had enough of her carrying on about being hungry. ‘No. You gotta stay here, Daisy, just like I taught you. You gotta stay quiet as an old she-cat stalking a bird and I’ll be back before sun up.’

Then he’d kissed her on the forehead, like Uncle Vanya had always done, and was gone.

Uncle Vanya had disappeared the same day they had taken Marli – the old lady who lived in the cottage by the river. Marli had had the same brown skin and blue eyes as Daisy, though Marli’s eyes had been more white than blue on account of her being so old and more than a little blind.

The soldiers had said old Marli was a half-cast witch who didn’t deserve to live among decent pure-blood folk like them.

Uncle Vanya had tried to reason with them, tried to tell them that Marli was just a blind old lady who knew a thing or two about herbs. But they hadn’t listened. They never listened. They’d just shoved old Marli into a truck and slaughtered the goats she had kept for milk.

Daisy missed old Marli, though Jed had said it was the milk he missed more.

Then, the iron gate at the top of the stairs clanged and clamoured as someone shook it hard.

Then someone shouted. ‘Get this thing open.’

Daisy covered her ears and began to cry as shouts ricocheted around the crypt. If they found her they would take her away, like old Marli and Uncle Vanya and Mama.

It was then that a man strode through the wall—clean through like it was no fuss at all.

The man was even taller than Uncle Vanya—who was the tallest man the village had ever known—and he wore strange, old-fashioned clothes, like the knights Daisy had only ever seen in paintings by someone called Old Masters or something. The man had a sword strapped to his back, and his broad mischievous face held an even broader more mischievous smile.

Daisy felt the scream gather in her throat, ready to burst out, but the man held one enormous finger to his lips to keep her quiet, which seemed odd as the next thing he did was take the sword from his back and slam the pommel onto the top of the tomb Daisy was hiding behind.

‘Awaken you coward,’ the man roared, slamming the pommel of his sword down so hard against the dark marble sparks flew. ‘You offer this child your protection or I’ll lug your lazy bones down to hell this very night – you brazen fool with naught but folly and soot for a heart.’

The gate rattled angrily, followed by more shouting. ‘Just shoot the damn lock off.’

‘Lady George,’ the large man yelled as bullets blasted the lock to pieces. ‘I say awake at once or I’ll …’

‘You’ll chip the marble my parents paid a fortune for, sir knight.’

Daisy gasped as the large man whirled around to find a woman leaning casually against the wall at the bottom of the stairs. This woman didn’t look like a knight at all, rather, she looked as if he had just come home from a very grand ball. The lace bow on her dress was loose, her pointed red shoes were ever so slightly scuffed and her slick dark hair fell over her eyes in an impish sort of way.

‘Why you laggard, George, I should wring your pretty neck …’

Lady George grinned at Daisy. ‘In front of our guest, that would never do, would it gentlemen?’

Daisy squealed and scrambled backwards, even though there was no further back to go. At the top of the stairs stood two soldiers, their guns pointed straight at Lady George.

‘Lovely evening, gentlemen,’ said Lady George, sweeping the hair out of her eyes and tucking it under a pearl band as the soldiers stepped down and down again. ‘Is there anything we can do for you?’

The shots came quickly, twelve in all, one after the other, pinning Lady George to the wall.

Daisy screamed as Lady George slid down the wall, dead. She screamed as they pointed their guns at the large man with the sword. She screamed for Mama. She screamed for Uncle Vanya. She screamed for Jed.

In a blink the large man was by her side, crouching beside her, stroking her cheek. ‘Take heart little one,’ he said. ‘All will be well.’

One of the soldiers moved down into the crypt. While he kept his gun pointed at the large man, he kicked Lady George hard to make sure she was dead.

‘Stand up,’ he said, edging forward.

The large man stood and turned to face him.

‘Now drop your weapon,’ the soldier barked.

‘Good idea,’ said a voice behind him. ‘Drop your weapon.’

‘I just said that,’ snapped the soldier, not taking his eyes off the large man.

To Daisy’s astonishment the large man laughed heartily. ‘I do not believe he understands your little jape, Lady George.’

‘Apparently not.’

An elegant gloved hand tapped the soldier on the shoulder. Tap. Tap. Tap.

The soldier turned his head slightly, and found the woman he had just killed standing behind him holding a handful of bullets.

‘Yours, I believe,’ said Lady George.

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