As the brut approached, he took a moment to glance at the sword hanging off the youth’s hip. Its long handle came up past the naval, and it was wrapped in a black cotton thread. Before this swordsman holding his clothes, the boxer stood mute, his eye fixed on this unnamed stranger. Slapping his pants, he began wiping his bloody knuckles dry.
“You use that thing?” he asked, reaching for his shirt.
Without a movement or change the man in black seemed to answer, his relaxed, expressionless face, as if a cold gust of air, said all it needed. Silence was the counter response, as the brawler invested his arms, dampened with sweat, into his white sleeves, covering his scarred back.
Working from his collar, joining the opening of his shirt, he added, “We’re looking for,” he paused, pushing the last part of his garment under his belt, “talented individuals.” Reaching for his tie, he began threading it around his neck, artfully completing a complex knot. After a few final adjustments of his lace, he took hold of his jacket.
“What do they call you?” he said, meeting the youth’s disinvested stare.
“A lot of things,” he answered.
Running his hand through his hair, setting a few displaced bangs into position, the brawler continued, “This cape might as well be an island, of late a prison for some, most. Unless you came by boat, there’s one path through those mountains.” He pointed towards the peaks just barely rising over the salty mists. “And I know that way is well guarded by the same which have encircled these ports.” Relaxing his arm, he stared right at the swordsman, “So how came you here, and armed?”
Saying this, as if in demonstration, the youth stepped back, and turning, began weaving around the patrons of that market, integrating into the throng of buyers shouting, “Bad, bad.” His path was subtle, like a ghost’s, disturbing none as he passed, and yet following in his wake was much shoving and elbowing, the brawler coming after.
Then it was, a crowing, like the blackbird’s caws, thrice sounded, and an answer echoed thrice, three caws returned. The change was immediate. Vomiting from the only exit, the crowds took up their goods, and like gnats discovered, dispersed in various ways, the whole market like smoke blown away in the wind. And so it was that the youth and the brawler were at that time alone.
CHECK OUT THE OTHER PARTS:
By The Sword
Part 1: How it Began
Part 2: Questions
Part 3: The Blackness of the Sea
Part 4: Locks
Part 5: Out of Time
Part 6: Ariesland
Part 7: Shadow of the Sisyphus
Part 8: Swords
Part 9: The Eagle and the Lamb
Part 10: Confession
Part 11: Compiler’s Note
Part 12: Sermon on a Mount
Part 13: The Pier
Part 14: Mist