Ignoble Alliance

WPS 4-14-18 Malta

Image of Mdina, Malta from Google maps; altered from original by Steven Tilly

Clashing swords and screams echoed against the city’s stones.  Varak and his retainers skidded to a stop, blocked by foreign intruders.

“You idiots!  I am Karna Varak.”  The expected recognition failed to materialize.  “I support Zivko.  I financed this coup!”

Varak ignored his guards’ shocked glances.

The foreigner snarled.  “You karnas are all scum.  You’d say anything.”  He attacked.

Varak ducked behind his guards.  They were outnumbered.  They wouldn’t last.  He ran.

Zivko would be attacking the azidaja now, stealing his throne.  Double traitor, then, abandoning his secret council allies. Varak threw off his noble robes, a rudimentary disguise.

The street was empty.  He might yet reach the gate.  He dashed around the corner, into his enemies’ arms.

Varak threw up his hands, simpering.  “Spare me!  I am nobody!  Nothing!”

The sun glittered off his rings.

The foreigner grinned as he skewered the karna.  “And now you are even less.”

Word count: 150.  Written in response to this week’s What Pegman Saw challenge.  Click the link to see the other stories written about this or nearby Google Map images of Mdina, or to write your own story.

I hope today’s story stands on its own.  But in case you’re wondering, it’s based on a much longer story I’m revising this weekend.  In that story, the traitor general Zivko defeats the azidaja (like an emperor, who’s also considered the son of their god), with the help of the city-state’s long-time enemies (the foreigners mentioned here), and usurps the throne.  Varak is not part of that story; I made him up for this one, and once I thought of him and what he’d done, I was more than happy to kill him off.


37 thoughts on “Ignoble Alliance

    • I looked it up to be sure, and Wikipedia says that cheap pulp magazines “gave rise to the term pulp fiction in reference to run-of-the-mill, low-quality literature.” To salvage my pride & give you the benefit of the doubt, I’m assuming you mean some other definition, LOL! Although hey, if you liked it, I’m not complaining either way. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sorry about that. To be fair, some of the best fiction I’ve ever read was pulp fiction, and I was thinking of Robert E. Howard’s “Conan” character, who at one point in his “career,” kills a King and usurps his throne. No pejorative intended and I apologize for the misunderstanding, Joy. Totally my fault.

        Liked by 1 person

      • No offense taken at all, I promise — I figured you meant it in a positive way. 🙂 A lot of people have warm feelings about those old “pulp fiction” magazines, and many great authors got their start there.


    • Thanks Karen! (It is Karen, right, or am I remembering wrong?) Once I thought of that last line, I liked it so much I had to veer the story in a different direction to get it to end there. 😉 Technically the image doesn’t quite fit — the city this story happens in doesn’t have a climate like Malta, but meh, artistic license.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Some of the Google map views are harder to squeeze into Eneana than others. But then, I run into the same problem with the other flash fiction photo challenges I participate in. Since I can usually only manage one per week these days anyway, it works out fine — helps me narrow down which one to do. 🙂


    • Funny how for me, this was a story about traitors, betrayal, cowardice, and reaping the rewards of bad karma — but several of the commenters saw it as a combat/action scene. Always interesting when readers focus on something unexpected. Glad it worked for you!


    • Yes indeed. He was willing to sell out his rightful leader to the usurper, and what do you know, turns out the traitor was willing to betray him as well. The longer version of the story made him out to be even worse. After he abandoned his guards to the hopeless defense (in that version he wielded his own sword, but would rather run than use it), he got to a corner where he could either head home — and possibly rescue his wife and children — or head out of the city, a more likely immediate escape. After thinking about what he views as his simpering, dull wife and his blank-faced annoying children, he tells himself the manor guards probably have everything under control back home anyway, and heads in the other direction to save his own skin.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, first he gets skewered by one of the foreigners who are taking over his city on HIS dime. And then… well, maybe it takes him a while to die from the skewering. Additional skewering may even be needed. Perhaps offensive insults and other humiliations are involved in the meantime.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That works. It takes a long time to die from a belly wound (self-poisoning from toxins in the bowel). I understand this is incredibly painful. I’d recommend stuffing salt in the wound too. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I, too, like that last line. Or rather, the last three. It somewhat reminds me of an incident in medieval English history when the Earl of Norfolk complained of the king confiscating part of his land. ‘How can I live in the proper manner for an earl?’ he asked. And was promptly demoted. And I do like your use of ‘skewer’. Kebabbed Karna. It suits the locale.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Crispina; I always like to hear which lines made the most impact. And skewered sounded deeper and deadlier than stabbed, and I really wanted to (ahem) stick it to this guy! Great anecdote about the Earl getting his reward for complaining — I love a good comeuppance tale.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Dale, I’m glad to hear it on both counts! There’s not that much in the way of more chapters though, since it’s just a short story. However, there is a scene I love about how utterly nasty this Zivko fellow is. Zivko doesn’t die in the story, at least not “on-stage” (although one later refers back in time to him being eventually defeated). Now I’m itching to write that scene, to see him get his just desserts!


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