A warrior questions his cause, and in fighting learns the truth. A regular sword fest.
|Bound, forever, that is what I am. The single, most deadly swords man known to man and I am chained to this woman. Five years of training at the Hall of Blades, one year fighting a new man each day, three days of fasting and one of the last rites known to our world…wasted. I was disgusted.
I am a Blade, a warrior trained in the Hall of Blades. We are taken as children, raised by warrior fathers and given swords in our youths. After our testing we are then given great tasks of glory. Leaders of men, bounty hunters, treasure seekers and assassins we have become all. But for one man there is a special glory, the glory of the binding.
First, this man must prove himself better than all other Blades. He must do so by feats of strength, skill and wisdom. Each day, for 365 days, he is given a battle. One loss is to allow another to step in your place and to remove yourself from the glory. For the warrior so blessed with skill that none other can be proven his match, he is given the ancient rite.
On that sacred night, all the Blades gather and watch as he stands atop the Rock of Creation in the center of the Hall of Blades. There he calls out and ask that his great task be carved out and written in stone by the hand of god. It is a miracle to behold, for magic is gone from us. The only magic we have left are those spells cast before the reckoning, and very few of those magics still exists.
And there I stood, seven days ago. Tallest, strongest and best Blade amongst many, I begged for my glory. Instead the rock spit out my curse. “Protect the woman Alana”. There is no honor in this. Where is it? A woman, protect her? From what? A spider, a little mouse, spilt milk. Unbelievable right there, under “CONQUOR THE DARK TOWER OF CORIA”, under “BRING THE HEAD OF THE PURPLE DRAGON” and under “LEAD THE ARMIES OF THE NORTH” was my “glory”…PROTECT THE WOMAN ALAINA. I was disturbed.
She was not hard to find, after all, she was the King’s first daughter. Red headed and fair, she was easy to look upon but no man would call her breathless without a large cup of ale first. She took my task with a graveness that made me feel foolish. But as I asked and prodded, I came to learn that she had no idea why my protection was needed.
But on the seventh day they came for her.
We were in the market, in the candle makers shop. A faint scrapping at the door was all the warning I had. The door fell to the floor, shattering and casting broken pieces all over the wooden floor. The first one in held a double headed axe. He was a brute of a man, short but wide and his shoulders were broad as trees. He rolled his axe in his palms as the others followed him in, four swords men by my count, none of them seemed above average in competency. I stood slowly to my full height and drew my sword very slowly.
Placing my back to Alana, I flicked an eye at the swordsman on the right, leaned toward him and as the opposite swordsman rushed in, I spun and put my sword through the rushers’ left eye. Flicking my eyes back to the man on my right, I grinned, and grinned again at the fear and doubt that came across his face.
The axe came in at this point, directly at my face, but not near quick enough. I pivoted and as the axe splits the floorboard in front of me, I sent my boot in the brutes face. He stumbled back, taking his axe with him, nose spewing blood. Another sword coming in from the right, I parry and let the sword slide along my sword until it pointed at another swordsman. A turn, a whistle and my sword removes his arm.
Three swords left, I pull my dagger from my belt and face them. They try to attack together but it’s a senseless effort. They are coordinated but they are not well trained. The floor is very wet with blood when I am done.
“Out” I said to Alana “Now”.
Walking outside was not the best move I had ever made. The brute with the axe had gone out and gotten reinforcements. I started counting. Twelve. Eight swords, two axes and a couple of guys who were wielding what appeared to be maces.
I could best seven of them easy, ten maybe but against twelve…against twelve in open combat I had very little chance.
But I was sworn, bound to this duty, even if I know not the reason for it. Here was my glory come knocking and I was not to deny it. I was a Blade and we did not give. We did not lose. We did not back down. I was the best of best.
I attacked. I rushed at them flinging blades from my belt as I strode. Two died quick, a dagger in an eye. The third died on my sword as he foolishly rushed me alone. I used him as a shield from the fourth man, and took two swings to parry the fifth and sixth as they charged in. It was about this time that an axe grazed my shoulder. Not deeply but enough to hurt. I returned that favor by taking off the offender’s right foot. Eight left.
By this time, I had three swordsmen surrounding me. They all charged at once. I used my arm to block one sword, nice deep gash there. I ignored the pain and dodged the second sword. I then rammed the third man in the face with my forehead. He slumped and feel back, which is when I put my sword in his gut. Seven left.
Another axe, another gash, and somehow I missed his foot. The world was slowing down for me…too much blood…to fast. I spun and felt the impact of flesh on my sword. An axe screamed by my face and as the wrist passed me, I lunged with my sword. Hand fell from body. Five left.
I rolled and came up with the axe in one hand and sent it spinning into a face. It went straight through and followed up by sticking out the chest of the first mace wielder. He went down without a sound. A swordsman moves in. My sword spins through a series of parries that end with his sword on the ground and his face cut almost in two from his eye to his mouth. Two left.
My legs are weary, my arm aches and I can’t seem to catch my breath.
The mace comes down on me and I hear my collarbone crunch. I grin through the pain and head butt him. The crunch of cartridge sounds as his eyes cross and he falls over. One left. But I can’t see him!
Then there is the wrenching feeling in my gut and I am lifted a foot in the air. I look down to see shining steel coming out my stomach. As I fall, I manage a straight up and down swing starting between his eyes and ending at his naval. He dies before I can.
As I lay there, world slowly turning dark, I see her face. Alana’s mouth is moving as she tries to make me hear her. But my mind is slowly stopping. I love the way her red hair hangs over me, creating a small cave between our two faces, shielding us from the world. And then she breathes, such a simple thing, gently blown air coming from her full pink lips. As it flows from her mouth it takes on a green shine. Like a living thing, this shining green cloud of air caresses my face, flows over my skin and then down into my mouth.
As it moves through me, it takes all my pain, all my hurts, all my wounds and all of my tiredness. It just takes them and it leaves an understanding of my task.
I know now who she is. She is our last mage, the only one able to create magic in our world.
And I am the only protection she has.