Well, here's the last one . . . yeah. Enjoy? It's a bit short but . . . eh, it's not my favourite I guess.
9. The Brown Bull of Cooley
Logan and Carlos had been married for about five years now. But not happily married. Granted, in the beginning the two had seemed right for each other; two children madly in love. But some time after they got married, things began to change. Nobody could be very sure as to what it was. Some suspected it might have been due to their different views when it came to ruling the kingdom. Others though that deep down, they really were two very different people and that it was their clashing personalities that seemed to destroy their marriage.
Either way, their relationship was crumbling. It seemed that now, all they could do was argue with each other and compete over each other's wealth and power. They both had massive chambers piled high with gold and jewels, and often they would go and count it, simply because they were so desperate to have something more than what the other had. They both had large property with fields full of livestock and grain, constantly boasting if they happened to have anything more than the other did. It happened day in, day out. It was a wonder that neither of them had been driven demented by it yet.
"Just face it!" Logan snarled at his huband and supposed beloved. "You'll never match up to me!"
"I have two chambers piled high with riches that you can never compete with!" Carlos snapped back.
"I have just as much as you do," Logan scoffed, head held high. "And I have over three thousand cattle in my livestock, which you don't have!"
"Oh, but you know what I do have? I have the strongest bull in all of Connacht in my fields, and you have none!" Carlos smirked. "But thanks for trying."
Of course, upon hearing this, Logan was furious. He was determined not to let Carlos defeat him at anything. So he went and asked a number of his nobles if they knew of any other bull in the country as strong as the white bull. And finally, he received his answer. "There is a brown bull in Cooley," one man told him. "Up in Ulster. I suppose you could try and take that, if they give you permission."
Immediately, Logan decided that whether or not they gave permission, he would have that bull. He sent a messenger up to Ulster to find the man who owned the bull. The messenger asked the farmer if Logan could have the bull for just one year. However, he also added, "Even if you refuse, he'll take it by force."
And this was what made the man refuse. The messenger returned to tell Logan the news, and he immediately started making plans to invade Ulster.
Unfortunately, at this time, most of Logan's army were under a strange enchantment and could not fight. They had been for several months now. The only man spared from this also happened to be his strongest warrier; James Diamond, who hadn't been in Connacht at the time of the curse. "How do you plan to invade Ulster with one man?" Logan's nobles demanded. He ignored them and set off to Ulster, with a worried and doubtful James in tow.
The army of Ulster had already gathered to keep him away. But Logan went to meet with their leader and he made a deal. Each of Ulster's men would fight James one by one rather than all at one. If he was defeated, Logan would leave Ulster and he wouldn't return even when his army's curse was lifted. Truthfully, he intended to try and take the bull no matter what the outcome, but he convinced Ulster's general to agree. And so, the battling commenced.
One by one, Ulster's warriors were brought out to fight with James. Naturally, the general sent forward the weakest first and saved the strongest for later, when he hoped James would be weaker. James was strong and fast, and had killed at least twenty men within less than an hour, hardly breaking a sweat. He found this easy for the most part, but he also felt a slight twinge of guilt when he saw fear in the young men's eyes.
James defeated man after man of Ulster's army over the course of the next few days, until there were only a handful left. At this point, the general was beginning to regret his deal with Logan, but knew that if he went back on it, Logan would invade Ulster at a later stage whether he was defeated or not. So he stayed silent and watched his men fall with a heavy heart.
In his final act of desperation, the general finally brought forward his best soldier. His name was Kendall Knight, and he was stronger and braver than any other warrior in the area. Or at least, stronger and braver than they had been. His eyes widened when he saw James. And when James saw Kendall, he felt like his whole world was crashing down.
James and Kendall had met when they were younger. And fell in love almost instantly. But unfortunately, their families disapproved strongly of their relationship. James's parents were determined for him to join the army and fight for their province. Kendall's family wanted the same for him. Only a mere few months after they had met, when they were planning to get married, James's parents came and forced him to return to Connacht, where he was immediately enrolled in the army. Kendall was left alone, and soon enough his parents convinced him to join the army too. And because he felt he had nothing else to live for, he did as they asked.
Now here they stood, just staring at each other with wide and fearful eyes. "I missed you," was all Kendall could say softly, gazing at the taller man with pure longing in his eyes.
"I missed you more," James replied weakly.
"Don't just stand there!" Logan ordered James. "Kill him! I need that bull!"
James turned to stare at the king, horrified. Then he turned back to Kendall. Kendall gave a soft, sad smile and drew his sword. "I understand what you have to do," he said quietly. "By you know I have to fight back."
James nodded, holding his own sword up. "I know." Their swords clashed together, and they began to fight. Logan went to sit in his tent and wait for the battle to end as rain began to fall. The air turned cold and the wind harsh as the two lovers' battle wore on.
James and Kendall's fight lasted more than a day. They were both skilled and strong warriors and by sunset neither of them had been defeated. During the night, they were permitted to suspend their battle, and the moment this was granted, they both dropped their weapons and hurried into each other's arms. They went and sat together on the outskirts of the tents, keeping each other warm.
James sat there with his arms secured tightly around Kendall. "I'm so sorry we have to do this," he said softly, kissing Kendall's lips gently. "So, so sorry."
"It's not your fault," Kendall whispered back, holding his hand and playing with his fingers. "You're just doing what you have to. Like I am."
"It's not fair," James said sadly. "That we have to fight like this just for a bloody bull that King Logan just has to have!" He could feel himself growing more frustrated as he spoke.
"Shh." Kendall leaned up and gently kissed his cheek. "I know you're angry, but there's nothing we can do."
They held each other all through the night. It was cold and wet but James wouldn't go near the tents. Kendall didn't want to go there either. They just stayed under the trees, drying each other's tears and kissing each other gently until they both managed to fall asleep at last.
Kendall and James fought for three days, each night returning to each other's arms and holding each other as they talked before falling asleep for a couple of restless hours.
On the final morning, both of them were weakened and tired, and fed up with this ordeal they had to go through. As they fought, their blows were slow and messy. Kendall's entire stance was weakened and James was almost the same.
Then suddenly James struck at Kendall with his sword, expecting the blonde to block it like he had been every time. But Kendall vaguely waved his sword in the direction of the blow and didn't make it far enough. James's sword slashed across his chest and he screamed in pain, falling to the ground.
"NO!" James collapsed next to him, ripping his shirt off before taking the blonde in his arms and trying to stop the blood flowing frm his gaping wound. But it did no good. He began to cry as he eyed Kendall's whitening face, his trembling body. "I'm so sorry," he sobbed, kissing Kendall's forehead, running his thumb over Kendall's slightly blue lips. "I didn't mean to, I'm sorry—"
"It's okay," Kendall choked, one hand trying to grip James's like a lifeline. "I love you. Just stay until I'm sleeping . . ."
Logan watched the whole scene, some cold feeling stabbing at his chest. He wasn't yet sure what exactly it was, but he didn't think he wanted to feel it again. Whatever this nagging feeling was.
James held Kendall until his chest fell completely still, his eyes blank and dark. With his two fingers he gently closed his eyelids, kissed him on the forehead and laid him on the ground. He continued to cry, shaking as he lay over Kendall's body to protect him from any further harm. Not that it would make much difference now.
"James," Logan said slowly, taking a step closer to him. "Come on, we need to go . . ."
James turned and stared up at him, blood all over his bare chest, tears streaming down his cheeks. He glared up at Logan, almost snarling. "You disgust me," he choked. "Don't come near me."
"What?!" For a second Logan was just horrified that one of his soldiers would dare talk to him that way.
Then James reached a hand down and withdrew a long knife from his belt, holding it up and gazing at the glinting silver blade.
"J-James . . .?"
James glanced up at him again before holding the knife high. And Logan suddenly realised what he planned to do. "JAMES, NO—"
Then there was a flash of the blade and James had stabbed himself in the chest. With a gasp of pain, he fell next to Kendall, using what little strength he had left to wrap an arm around his dead lover as he died with him, in only a few seconds.
Logan stared at them in horror, trembling as he gazed at the fallen lovers. There was blood everywhere . . . they were still holding each other. Even in death.
And then he knew what that feeling was. It was just pure guilt. Because he'd caused this to happen. It was his fault, all his fault. It hurt like nothing he'd ever felt before. He felt tears in his eyes for these two poor people, one he hadn't even known, the other he'd had little interest in before today.
"It seems we've been defeated," the general of Ulster's said sullenly, standing next to him. The farmer stood with him, looking forlorn. "You can take the bull."
Logan glanced at them briefly before saying, "Forget it."
"I said forget it. I'm going home." Logan took off his cloak and gently draped it over the two bodies by his feet, hiding their ugly wounds and bloody clothes from view. "On one condition. I want these two to be buried, together. Will you do that for me?"
The man didn't need to do anything Logan said, and Logan knew this. But the man still nodded and replied, "I will."
"I'll be back soon to see. Maybe in a few weeks, I don't know. I've got some things to sort out at home."
Logan left Ulster and went back to Connacht with a heavy heart, guilt and the weight of what he'd caused on his mind. But underneath that, there was determination. He'd seen those two people, madly in love but driven apart, driven apart by whatever had driven himself and Carlos apart. He could remember a time where people had once probably looked at him and Carlos together and seen what he saw between Kendall and James. He wanted that back. He realised now, that what they were both doing wasn't going to get them anywhere. And it probably wasn't doing their kingdom any good either.
When Logan arrived back at the castle, he found Carlos in the gardens. "I want to talk to you," he said bravely.
Carlos nodded nonchalantly and Logan sat next to him, twiddling his thumbs nervously. "When you told me about the white bull, I got jealous and angry. I found out about a brown bull in Ulster, so I went to get it."
Carlos scoffed, rolling his eyes. "Let's just put them together and see which—"
"No, listen. I didn't bring it back with me." Logan bit his lip. "I wanted to. I went to a lot of trouble for it. But then I realised . . . what are we doing here?"
"What do you mean?"
"There were two men there, one was ours and one was Ulster's. And it was my determination just to beat you at something that destroyed them both. I don't want that to happen to us. I remember when we used to be in love, and I know we can probably bring that back. This competitive thing isn't doing anyone any good, I don't even remember how it got stared."
Carlos looked thoughtful. He couldn't help smirking. "There must be something in the water up in Ulster. It's like you're a totally different person."
Logan smiled. "I am. Because I want things to change. Do you think they can?"
"I suppose we could try."
Within the next week or two, Logan and Carlos did their best to rid themselves of the contest. Most of the livestock they'd gathered to outdo the other was given to the common people on their farms, and many of the riches they didn't need were spread out amongst the people. Their kingdom began to rebuild, and the subjects' love and admiration for the kings slowly began to return. Logan and Carlos found themselves becoming warmer towards each other as they went about to help the people together, working as a team for the first time in so long.
And a week or two after everything had been sorted out, Logan took Carlos up to Ulster to show him where the general of Ulster had buried Kendall and James. There was a wooden cross standing in a patch of flowers that the man had planted shortly after their burial. He told Logan that the two had been buried together, as he'd asked. And Carlos finally understood why Logan had changed. And he was happy that he'd changed along with him.
So anyway, in the original story, of course, it's different. The queen's warrior is fighting his best friend rather than a lover, but they come to the same ending. I'm pretty sure the guy kills himself, anyway. Something like that. The main difference is that in the original the queen just took the bull anyway and left, the bitch. Then the two bulls killed each other. Yup.
Anyway, that's the end of this series :) thanks so much for reading!