The World Bell

Gui shivered in the dawn’s first light, taking in the sights of the mountain range. He scouted not for beauty, but for movement. All looked clear.

Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath, allowing his senses to sharpen. He felt the early morning dew set on his face, experienced the slightest changes in the wind and found the scent of ancient stone. Not reaching him was sound, however. Gui could not hear.

He turned around, laying his eyes upon the great creation he guarded. The World Bell was the size of a hundred grown men, made of thick brass and inlaid with scriptures that held all the land’s wisdom. It hadn’t been sounded in a hundred years. Doing so was strictly forbidden, except for in a moment of dire threat. Then its warning would reach the far corners of the empire, and the people would be prepared.

Guarding the Bell was the greatest honor imaginable, one that made Gui glad he had been born without hearing. Only his kind could perform the duties necessary.

He turned his gaze to the men below, warriors clad in thick green robes. On every back hung two short blades that, when drawn, would flash in a combat style called ‘The Dance’. Only the best warriors learned this art, and watching them perform it was a sight to behold. The Dawn Dancers were only found here, and it was known to them that they would face combat only once. In the midst of it the Bell would ring out, its incredible sound killing all in its vicinity. All except for Gui and his master.

Gui’s eyes changed focus once more, settling on the old man standing at the other edge of the tower. Unlike the Dancers, he wore robes of a deep red, adorned with gold linings. The master stood upright, his arms folded together, his head turned down. Gui knew the man was focused, feeling for every threat imaginable, ready to rush to the bell at a moment’s notice.

His head flicked up. Gui felt it as well. The slightest change in the wind. The arrow struck, straight in the heart. Gui saw the gasp, then the tumbling, then the empty space as his master fell.

The wind changed once more. Instinctively, he ducked and rolled, a second arrow missing him by a hair’s length. He saw a flash of what unfolded at the tower’s base. A vast horde of grey men. Dancers with blades drawn. Arrows raining down.

More than anything else, Gui felt his heart. Its beat was fast, so strong it hurt. He rolled once more, caught a flash of grey men, they broke through, entered the tower. A Dancer looked up, shouted. Gui picked the words from his lips. Bell. Fast.

His heart’s pace slowed time. He was on his feet. He ran. Arrows deflected off the bell. One grazed his arm. A head appeared from the staircase. Gui leapt, flung his hands around the heavy rope, swung with all his might, saw metal hit metal.

He was flying. He was everywhere. He heard.

The sound reached farms, towns, cities, fortresses. Gui saw it all. He saw the people look up, wonderment and fear written on their faces. He saw soldiers running for their barracks, rulers sending for their messengers, even saw the emperor, calm and calculating.

Then he was back, still hanging on the rope. His lungs burned. His breath came in heavy surges. But he was alive, his duty accomplished.

At his feet a few grey men lay dead, blood flowing out of their ears. He walked to the edge and looked down at a massacre. The first of war’s many victims lay still. Tears appeared in Gui’s eyes. He had never seen death before. But he forced them away. Now was not the time for grief.

His eyes traveled towards the horizon, where he first saw the grey fleck appear. Even from a distance of many miles he could see the army was vast.

Gui headed for the staircase. He was terrified of the journey ahead of him, one he had to undertake.

His people had been warned, but of the threat they were up against, they had no idea.

About Martin Hooijmans

Martin Hooijmans is a writer, a traveler and the founding editor of Story Shack. He has a profound love for storytelling and a mind overflowing with ideas. Currently, he’s based in Munich and working as a SEO and front-end developer. Also check out his new project: relgrowth

>> Martin Hooijmans's author page

More Fantasy stories

Discover our random name generators

Gnome Name Generator Italian Name Generator Horse Name Generator Fish Name Generator Stage Name Generator Hacker Name Generator Old English Name Generator Website Name Generator Record Label Name Generator Brazilian Name Generator Japanese Name Generator Cafe Name Generator Pet Name Generator God Name Generator Country Name Generator Catchy Name Generator Villain Name Generator Movie Title Generator Native American Name Generator Monster Name Generator Fairy Name Generator Harry Potter Name Generator Orc Name Generator Dark Elf Name Generator Hobbit Name Generator Drug Name Generator Craft Shop Name Generator Hippie Name Generator Tavern Name Generator Dog Name Generator Writing Prompt Generator Old German Name Generator Band Name Generator House Name Generator Dragon Name Generator Cat Name Generator Wolf Name Generator Gamertag Generator Nickname Generator Spell Name Generator

Would you like to see more? Then check out our full list of random name generators.

The Story Shack offers a wide range of flash fiction, writing tools and random name generators. Enjoy reading stories, get help writing them or generate names for anything you need, be it huge Triple A Games or awesome Indie ones, D&D roleplaying adventures, science fiction movies or perhaps even a newborn child. Whatever you're here for, thanks for stopping by and please enjoy your stay!