They That Live By The Sword…

 

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I am not a praying man. But standing on this deserted battlefield I say a silent prayer. To whom, I don’t know. In my travels I’ve come across enough deities to make me uncertain as to which deity listened to what. There was a god of love, or goddess – I can’t tell, who listened to prayers concerning the heart. But the situation I was in didn’t call for that. I was facing Death, six different versions of him. For indeed in front of me, stood six men. All with the intention of ending my life. My sword was in my hand, but for the first time in my life, I was not sure. I doubted if I’d come out of this alive. Maybe today Fortune would stop smiling on me. But never was it heard that a man from my kingdom fell on a battlefield without a fight.

When the first man struck I was ready. He thrust his spear forward to pierce me, which I easily side-stepped. That’s the thing with spears. After every thrust, you had to pull it back to thrust again. Anticipating this, my hand shot out and caught the stem of the spear. Holding on firmly I pulled. His second mistake was that he didn’t let go of the spear immediately I caught it. As I pulled, he involuntarily shot forward too, his hand fumbling for the short sword that was hanging from his side. his hand clasped the hilt, but that was all he could do, for at that same moment the tip of my sword found his throat.

It’s a sad thing to watch a man with a slit throat die. He literally drowned in his own blood. Like the hundreds of men I had slain before, confusion and anger fleeted across his face. No one expected to die facing me. And why should they? I didn’t have the look of a warrior. No, with my stout stature and pudgy stomach, one would immediately place me under the category of trader or any other occupation that did not involve bloodshed. Which really was fine by me. Many of the men I had seen that looked like true warriors had died today, by the hand of other ‘warriors’ who wanted only to kill the ‘real’ warriors and not fat traders like me.

That’s why I’m still alive. Though not for long, by the looks on the faces of these five men, as they stare in horror at their dead comrade on the floor. One snarls something nasty in a tongue I cannot understand. In the background I can hear the vultures and crows feasting on my brothers. Those I came to this field with last night. Those I had fought alongside all through the morning. Those I now mourn.

The second attack saw two people coming. One of them was rash, the other wary. I focused more on the other one, and I was right for doing so. For as the rash warrior lunged at me with his sword, the wary one slipped his hand into a pouch and brought out a small throwing knife. It glistened with poison. The sword of the rash one bounced off mine harmlessly, and it seemed my prayers to an unknown deity were being answered, for he lunged again even though I was too close. I dropped my sword and deftly held his wrist, wrapping myself around him and turning just in time for the knife, which I had seen being flung from the corner of my eye, to sink deep into his back. He didn’t die immediately. He pushed me off him, and picked up my sword. Now, it seemed, Fortune had deserted me. A weapon is the thin line that separates life and death on the battlefield.

It was over for me. This was the end.

Then I heard her voice. The woman who had caused all this. Who had contributed to the happening of this game of war I was now playing. She was shouting my name, and even though I knew turning my back on my enemy would guarantee my death, I couldn’t ignore that powerful voice.

“YES MOTHER!!” I shouted, pausing the video game.

Dishes really need to learn how to wash themselves.

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