By the Sword: Rough Draft | Part 16

The five soldiers approached, raising their swords over their heads. The glint of their steel paled as they stepped out of the fading daylight and into the stretching shadows of the alley wall. Dave’s head bowed, his long bangs falling over his face. He let his arms drop to his sides, his trembling fists unclenching.

“Do it, then,” he said, “end me.” The bastard gazed up into the clouded heaven where some blue had broken through.

An agonized cry broke David from his wistful musing, and his eyes returned to the scene. The man in black had stepped out of his shadows, his curved blade bloodied as it passed through the bowls of a soldier. The man fell into his comrade, and the line of soldiers turned from the bastard to the stranger.

“It’s him,” one of them shouted. The four remaining swordsmen broke rank, weaving around each other as they all confusedly pursued different interests. The one closest to Dave found the madman’s fingers about his throat. The bastard’s reddened face, flushed with rage, filled the soldier’s vision as his sword arm uselessly tried to wrestle itself free from his attacker’s grip. The one holding the expiring body of his late brother thought to retreat, but retreated into the advance of another soldier. The last of the men found himself deflecting a few quick swipes of the unnamed hero’s sword.

With a wary eye, the soldier watched his attacker. The stranger’s arms, wrapped in the same black material of his shirt, disappeared against his chest. He seemed formless, as if the sword were the only real thing about him. With a yell, the soldier leapt forward, thrusting at the center of this wiry darkness. As if stabbing at nothing more than a shadow, he passed straight through, his lunge carrying him forward and breaking his sword against the wall.

The stranger’s curved steal fell, cleaving the soldier’s forearm in two. Grabbing at his own bloody stump, the man shouted in pain, his vision slowly blurring as he collapsed onto the blood-soaked cobblestone.

The two previously entangled soldiers were both fleeing now, the one covered in the blood of his disemboweled comrade, weaving around their fallen brothers, retreating to the mouth of the alley. David held the limp form of a strangled soldier by its neck, his hands both clasped in an unrelenting grip. The dead soldier had dropped his sword, his arms dangling lifelessly at his sides. They were jostled as David shook the body, muttering foul curses at the corpse. Suddenly throwing the body to the ground, the bastard began stomping on the face of his victim, his curses growing louder.

The nameless hero stood in the shadow of the alley studying the trail of dead men. Sighing, he flicked his sword in a short arc, flinging the hot blood from his blade. Sheathing his weapon, he glanced over his shoulder, his attention wandering toward Dave and the stream of profanity spewing from him. He watched the bastard mutilate the body, his brow knitting in concern.

“Who are these people?” he asked.

David stopped shouting, planting his bloody boot down upon the faceless head. Panting breathlessly, he stared at the nameless hero.


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
Part 15: A Job

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