This is a story that I entered into a 250-word-max contest, and did not win. I have little problem getting my work published, when I manage to ignore the internet long enough to bang out a story, but have yet to place in a contest.
*EDIT* After a suggestion from circlesunderstreetlights in the comments, I have removed what used to be the last line.
This is fantasy, dark and gritty. The way I like it.
Unseen, Even in the Lightning
Kaledon saw the knights at the top of the hill, suddenly visible in the brilliance of wild lightning. They seemed still as mere statues, only the billowing of the horses’ manes in the midnight storm gave truth to the illusion. In the wake of inevitable thunder, Kaledon felt his heart begin to race. He had never really expected all of the knights to return, but his breath caught as he counted only seven.
Four days previous, the villagers had sent forth the bravest knights to make a final assault against the enemy and Kaledon watched in unfettered admiration as the fifteen knights rode off to make war. Victory or death. They had fought the savages for years, driving them back a mile, and another mile. Never fully defeating them.
He stirred from his thoughts now and sent his brother running from their hideout, back to the village to bring news of the brave heroes’ return. He watched as he flew with haste and hope towards the village lights, barely visible in the flowing curtains of dark rain. As the knights drew closer Kaledon stepped out.
“Hope and valor, good knight,” he said, exited to be the first to greet them.
Only one turned towards him.
A flash of fresh lightning and Kaledon saw the knight’s face clearly. Jaundiced eyes rested deep in a dented helmet, streaked with blood and umber, and burned back at him with an unflinching intensity. Kaledon watched frozen in place as the knight slowly raised his weapon.