He stands at the window, a dim reflection in the glass. He gazed through the floor to ceiling panes, drinking in the bustling City below, Teralis, the capital of an expanding empire. Even at this unholy hour he could see a flood of people moving in the harsh neon glare of the many-hued lights.
An architectural mess, it would be deemed hideous by many of his people. Now, gazing over it, he realized its true appeal. Its life. Its vitality. By comparison his people seemed to dwell in gaudily decorated tombs.
He let out a deep Sigh, letting his head fall against the glass. Music swelled in the apartment behind him, the bass vibrating the windows, thrumming through his naked body. The yellow glow of the dimmed lamps raised a faint Shimmer from his golden hair, lending colour to his pale skin. A body stirred behind him on the bed, pulling itself free of the sheets. The woman so revealed swung her legs to the floor, pushing herself up. Caelris turned as she padded over to him. Her hands slid over his body, tracing the many scars that marred his flesh. Although tall for a human, she barely reached his chest and, looking down at her, he realised she loved him, or thought she did. Something Kyrel once said came back to him. "Women like bad boys and you, my friend, are a fucking bastard". He kissed her lips, then bent and swept her into his arms.
He may not be able to give her love but he'd give her the rest of the night.
Jak crouched on the deck, miserable, as wind and waves battered the ship. Sailors struggled about their duties, attempting to save the ship from the storm. He could hear the captains voice in faint snatches through the roar of the wind.
''Cursed... drown us all..."
The thud of booted feet sounded nearby and he glanced up to see Caelris striding the length of the ship, a determined glare on his angular features. Sensing that the strange warrior had something in mind, he pulled himself to his feet, staggering along in the elf's wake.
Caelris made his way to the prow, his steps steady, seemingly impervious to the fury of the weather. Planting himself before the mast he thrust his sword into the deck, bracing himself against the hilt.
"Aleanas!" he roared, "Hear meGoddess!"
The wind increased in fury as if seeking to blow him from the deck, his words carried away as they left his lips.
"you may sink this ship, Aleanas, and drown every soul on board but I am not so easily slain. I shall find my way to land and not one of your worshippers will escape my vengeance. Each one will die, their blood shed far from even the smallest of puddles!"
The storm seemed to hold its breath, sudden calm enveloping them. Strained ropes fell slack, airborne water cascading down. Before Caelris, a figure appeared, female in shape yet seemingly formed of water. Her hair swirled like breaking waves and her voice carried the soft sussuration of the surf.
"You dare?" she hissed.
Caelris returned her glare, his eyes blazing fury.
"Set yourself against me, goddess, and I will see you destroyed."
"I have no choice!" she cried, her voice the roar of thunder, wind whipping around her. Jak dropped to the deck, clinging desperately to the planks, the gale pulling at his body. Caelris pulled his sword free, the blade sweeping at the goddess' throat even as the wind sought to sweep him away. The blow was weak, skittering away from chain links. Aleanas flinched away, the wind dying as she sank to the deck. Caelris strode forward , his hand gripping the chain as he dragged her to her feet.
"You are chained, goddess?" his voice low.
"His followers have grown powerful," she whispered, "they dare much that would have beenunthinkable before."
With an expressionof disgust, he releasedthe chain, throwingthe goddess to the deck.
"This is why you oppose me?"
Aleanas' head dipped in a brief nod.
The great curved blade swept into the air, arcing down towards the prone goddess. The whistleas it cleaved the air causedher to flinch, cowering on the deck. A loud crack sounded as it struck, a release of power pressingJak against the boards to which he clung. When he raised his head, he saw the goddess standing once more, fury twisting her features.
"You cut me!" She screamed, her voice the howling fury of a gale.
Caelris nodded, a wry smile on his features.
"A small price to pay for freedom."
The goddess stared at him for a time before looking away.
"your sword earns another title,Deathless one. The breaker of chains. I will hinder you no more."
Aleanas disappeared, a fall of water splashing to the deck. After a few moments the skies began to clear, the wind falling to a gentle breeze. Caelristurned on his heel, striding the length of the ship. Jak scrambled to catch up with him, a thousand questions crowding his mind.
"Deathless one?" he called, "what did she mean by that?"
"Nothing that matters to you," the elf answered sharply.
His words trailed off as the elf turned to glare at him.
"your sword has titles?" he asked, trying a different tack.
"What are they?"
"In full? This blade is known as Kal-Taesha; slayer of innocents, reaper of souls, bane of daemons, breaker of chains."
he paused at the door leading below decks.
"Leave me." He said.
Then he was through, the door swinging closed behind him.
The sun bakes the desert and heat haze shimmers from the flat black top
of the road. She wipes the tables lazily, wilting in the oppressive
heat, the faulty air conditioning sending the occasional breeze of cool
air in her direction. The roar of a motorcycle interrupts the
background murmur of the radio, and she looks out through the long
glass windows. The rider pulls up on the forecourt, the engine idling
as he removes a black crash helmet, a red wolf intricately stencilled
on the side. Flowing blonde hair falls to his shoulders, ruffled from
it's confinement, the black gloved hand run through it only messing it
He dismounts gracefully, heavy black boots crunch on the asphalt, his
long black coat flares as he moves and she wonders how he isn't dead
from the heat. Gently he pats the bike, as if comforting a horse,
before turning towards the diner. As he strides to the door she scoots
quickly behind the counter, the dirty cloth thrown hastily aside.
The plate glass door swings open and a furnace blast of heat makes her briefly thankful for the air conditioning.
He moves to the long counter, slipping easily onto a stool, his smile
comforting. She smiles back automatically, captivated by his beauty.
Soemthing seems strange, although she can;t say what, her eyes roaming
his face until she notices the ears, their delicate points thrusting
through the golden mass of his hair. She gasps, flinching back, and he
reaches out, his hand light on her arm, reassuring, letting her know
that she can move away if she still wants.
She moves back to him, reassured but still nervous.
"I..err, that is, we don't have..any...I mean serve..."
He smiles again, faint creases visible at the corners of his mouth, almost at odds with his youthful appearance.
"It's fine, I just want some food. A burger if you can. I'm used to fast food by now, I've lived among humans for long enough."
For a moment she thinks she hears a note of sadness in the words, until
she looks into his eyes, cold hard blue of them making his smile seem
almost a lie.
She smiles nervously again, walking slowly away to prepare the food.
"Don't get many folks out this way, not this tahme o' year." she says,
her lazy drawl marking her as a local. "Mus' be something mahghty
urgent to make you come this way."
Long minutes pass, the silence broken only by the hiss of the burger
cooking on the grill. She toys with her hair, unwittingly greasing the
pale brown strands as she twines them round her fingers, She opens her
mouth to speak again when he answers and she fancies she hears that odd
"Sometimes," he says, the almost musical quality of his voice making
her heart flutter slightly, "there are things you have to do."
She flips the burger into a bun, reluctant to speak further, yet
intrigued by so strange a visitor. Her eyes follow him as eh picks up
the burger, lifting it almost daintily to his mouth, eating as if it's
the finest cuisine, rather than a cheap burger in a diner miles from
He smiles at her as he finishes and she blushes, ashamed to be caught
staring so openly. He gives a short bitter laugh, his hand disappearing
inside his coat for a moment before laying some money on the counter.
"Keep the change," he says quietly, the furnace heat marking his exit through the door.
She returns to wiping the tables as the motorcycle roars into the distance.
sat to dinner, ranks of candelabra bathing them with a pale yellow
glow. Servants stood in the shadows, waiting to provide food and wine
as required. Vesica sat to his fathers left, his sister opposite him,
resplendent in a cream gown. Her hair fell in golden ringlets to her
shoulders, her make up artfully applied to accentuate her high
cheekbones. Her deep blue eyes fixed on him with a directness he found
almost unsettling after the meekness of the women he'd encountered in
Esgaldin. He felt shabby by comparison, his heraldic surcoat worn over
simple garments, finely tailored but of plain cloth. His father was
finely attired in gold embroidered silks, the badge of his ancestry
worn proudly over his heart. His
father seemed far quieter than Vesica remembered, a troubled air
surrounded him and he signalled the servants with an almost distracted
air. His sister on the other hand was vibrant and commanding, her air
more that of the lord of the keep, rather than the lady she became upon
their mothers unfortunate demise. Vesica dipped his head in a brief
prayer at the thought, commending her to Ifael, the creator of all, in
whose arms she now slept eternal. He wondered how many suitors had
called upon his sister in his absence. It was rare for so nobly born a
lady to be unwed beyond seventeen yet his father had spoken no word of
betrothal. Perhaps they were simply considering the most favourable
match. "Father." His sisters' voice interrupted his private musings, her peremptory tone startling him. "Father. You still have not told Vesica of how the God has blessed us." "What?
What's that daughter?" His fathers tone seemed bewildered, as if he
returned from his internal distraction only by some great effort. "The Gods' Blessing father." She said impatiently. "Ah yes." A new light came into the older mans eyes a focus Vesica had seen in the eyes of the older members of the order. "It
seems we are favoured more than most families, my son. Whilst you were
earning Ifaels blessing, the God has given your sister gifts of her
own." "What gifts?" He asked stupidly, somewhat taken aback. "All in good time, my brother," she replied coyly. "Now, however, dessert!" She cried. The servants scurried into motion.
door swung open onto an empty hallway, his hand pausing in the act of
reaching for the light switch. The sound of the television issued from
further within the building, its artificial chatter cutting through the
silence. Frowning, he reached beneath his jacket, gently easing the
large revolver from its holster. Silently, he padded down the hall, his
ears straining to catch any sound above the drone of the television. As
he reached the lounge door, faint coloured lights from the set
flickered through the open door, casting strange patterns on the
opposite wall. He surged through the door in a burst of motion,
levelling the gun at the figure in the arm chair, his finger tightening
on the trigger. "Fuck sake, Caelris," he swore, "I could have shot you. What the fuck are you doing, sitting in my living room in the dark?" The elf looked up from where he reclined in front of the television, his knee length boots rested upon a coffee table. "You'd better not shoot me, I'd be upset," Came the dry response. "Seriously, you have an unhealthy fixation with the dark." "Have you not heard the phrase, 'know thine enemy' Kyrel?" Kyrel re-holstered his gun before replying, shrugging out of his long black jacket and throwing it over the sofa. "You're saying the dark is your enemy?" "In a manner of speaking, it is, as I have explained to you before." "It didn't make any sense then, why should it now?" "It
makes no sense because you have fallen into the trap of many
mercenaries. You think no further than the target before you, so as not
to be distracted by the causes involved." "I've seen you kill. You're going to lecture me on the nobility of causes?" "What I do is neither noble nor heroic, it is simply necessary." "Necessary?" Kyrel exclaimed. "More than you know," he said quietly, rising to his feet, the leather of his trousers creaking softly. "Put your jacket back on." "Why?" "Because, child, we're going on a little adventure." "The last adventure we went on nearly got me killed."
"Then we shall have to do better this time," Caelris retorted, striding from the room.
you possibly say that in a way which doesn't imply that I'm going to
die?" he said, switching off the T.V. on the way out.
He dismounted in the courtyard, his boots ringing loudly on the
cobblestones. With a contented sigh he gazed upon his childhood home,
affectionately patting his horse on the shoulder as a stable boy led
the stallion away. A broad smile spread across his face as his sister
appeared in the door of the keep, rushing towards him in a swirl of
silks. He scooped her up in his arms whirling her in a circle before
setting her back on her feet. "I've missed you big brother," she said, hugging him tightly. "And I you, little one, I trust father is well?" "It is good to see you again, My Son," came his fathers voice from the direction of the keep. Disengaging
himself from his sisters embrace, Vesica strode across the courtyard,
dropping to his knees and bowing his head before his father. "I return to you a knight of the kingdom, My Lord," he said solemnly. The older man laid his hand atop his sons fiery hair in benediction. "You have made me proud my son. Come within and tell us all that has befallen you since you left us." Vesica rose, linked arms with his sister and followed his father into the keep.
It was a fine summers’ day, the suns golden
light blazing across the fields. Small white clouds drifted slowly across a
clear blue sky and a gentle breeze sighed through acres of corn.
Vesica rode his horse along a dusty, well
worn road, the huge stallions stride eating away at the miles. His burnished
armour shone even through a thin layer of dust and a worn cloak hung from his
shoulders. A sword and three stars were embroidered in gold on the back of the
faded garment, the sigil of his House.
Brushing back auburn hair from his eyes, he
revealed pale skin already peeling from sunburn. A tired grin brightened his
features as he spotted the town in the distance, an imposing fortress rising on
a hill behind it. After twelve years away, he was more than glad to be home,
and the castle was the first he’d ever known. He knew his father would be proud
of him, knighted by the council of Esgaldin. For over three hundred years the
Noble sons of Nalia had been trained as knights in neighbouring Esgaldin, a
fact that had done much to keep the peace between the two countries. The finely
crafted sword sheathed at his back and the finely crafted plate armour, which
caused him to sweat so heavily in the summer’s heat, had both been won through
his bravery and skill at arms. The seven swords engraved over his left breast
marked him as one of the few gifted enough to attain the knighthood.
Encouraging his tired steed to a last measure of speed, the distance to the
town melted rapidly away.
As he entered the town, many of those he
passed paused to stare. A few, recognising his noble features and paying more
attention to his heraldry than to the shining armour, bowed with the respect
due his station. The rest simply gaped in wonder. Acknowledging the bows with a
gracious nod, Vesica rode steadily through the town, keeping his mount to a
walk, the metallic ring of horseshoes loud in the bubble of silence which
followed him through the streets. As he approached the road to his fathers’
keep he spotted a distant figure sprinting through the gates, no doubt rushing
to inform his family of his return. A broad grin spread across his handsome
features as he anticipated the welcome in store.
A steady fall of drizzling rain turned everything to shades of grey,
washing colour from the battlefield. A score of elves stood in a ring,
their shields faced inwards, an impenetrable wall broken only by the
cruel points of their spears. At the centre of the ring stood another
elf, his bearing proud, his chin lifted high with defiance. His left
arm hung limply at his side, a narrow longsword held looslely in the
hand of his right, the bloodstains rinsed away by the ever falling
rain. His golden hair was plastered tightly to his skull by blood and
rain, his clear blue eyes carrying the challenge of a wolf at bay.
Silently, he dared them to attack. The ring of elves stood firm,
until, at some silent signal, their ranks parted briefly, admitting two
warriors, their armour resplendent despite the rain.The foremost elf
carried no weapon, his companion bearing an ornate greatsword, it's
hilt presented so as to be within easy reach. They halted before the
Blonde elf, just out of reach of his sword. "Does Latherias himself come to challenge me, the King daring to fight the man his subjects are too cowardly to face?" The sarcastic bite of the words was not lost upon the watching soldiers, who bridled at the insult to their lord. Latherias
raised a hand for peace, the soldeirs subsiding at his unspoken
command. A look of sorrow marred his features as he regarded the elf
before him. "Why do you not surrender Lord Ayrenne? You are the last Warrior of the North left under arms." "My
honour and the honour of my family bars me from such cowardly action.
Besides, there are others." heated anger and defiance made his voice
ring in the damp, grey air. Soldiers gripped their spears tightly. The King sighed deeply "'While
I have breath to fight'," he quoted, a note of resignation in his
voice. "Very well, if you will not surrender, will you not join to me
instead? Swear your blade into my service?" "My oath is to the Warlord, to oppose the usurpers of the south." "The warlord is dead, trampled by his horse as he fled the field. Your cause is lost." Lord Ayrenne's face twisted into a sneer. "Our cause is never lost while brave elves fight to defend it." Anger shaded the kings replay. "You don't have enough brave elfs left to defend a privy!" Silence answered him. "I don't ask you to surrender, I ask you to join me in a greater cause." "What greater cause than our freedom?" "Humans." "Humans?" "They spread across the lands to the west, multiplying in their thousands. Already they outnumber us." "They are barely more than savages," contempt twisted his tone, "their weapons are forged of bronze." "Yet a hundred bronze spears are more than equal to one of steel, no matter the skill of the wielder." "So what do you wish of me?" "A campaign, to cull the humans, reduce their numbers, make them understand their true masters." "You ask for no surrender?" Latherias shook his head. "Only
your oath of fealty, each of your men who swears with you will be
released to fight with you and the army I present to you. The armies of
all elven kind, united against the human threat." He paused a
moment, considering, his blue eyes narrowing in thought. With a
suddeness that caused the surrounding soldiers to step forward, he
flipped his sword into the air, catching it by the blade, his blood
running free to mix with the rain. Dropping to one knee, he presented
the hilt to Latherias. taking the sword from him, the king reversed it
once more, handing it back to it's owner. As he did so he ran his palm
over the edge, the blood of lord and retainer mingling on the blade, as
was the custom in the north. Lord Ayrenne nodded in approval, his bloodied hand gripping the sword once more. "Lord
Caelris Ayrenne, I pronounce you Commander of the armies, Warlord of
the North, High general of the south. Men, escort your commander to his
quarters and see to his wounds."
As the elves hurried away, many of the soldiers grumbling at the turn of events, the Kings' companion moved closer to him. "Better you had killed him when you had the chance." "Do
not be a fool, had I slain him, he would have become a martyr to his
people, now he will be a hero to all, allowing us to unite the realms.
Besides you assuem I would have slain him." "He was wounded my leige, he couldn;t even lift his arm!" "Tell me Bathiel, when did you first lift a sword?" "At
the age of thirty my lord, five years before I passed into adulthood."
Pride was evident in his voice, thirty being young indeed for the long
lived elves. "I first held a blade when I was a young lad of twenty-eight..." "My lord has always been a gifted swordsman." "...Yet
Caelris will have had a knife pressed into his hand as soon as he could
walk, training with weapons every day from then until now." "Barbarians!" The King shook his head. "Warriors. First, last and always. He was exhausted, wounded, yet he could probably have killed us both had we tried." "Yet you gave him command of the armies." "Yes,
for he is more than a warrior, he is a weapon, finely honed. Such a
weapon needs a target. Now he has one, one which is not Elven. Besides,
accidents happen in battle, better his blood be on human hands than
that it sully ours." "My lord is most wise." "Indeed, be sure you never forget that Bathiel."
He sat in a corner by the bar, a glass of whiskey in his hand. He
didn;t swirl it, for that showed nerves, something he never displayed.
A cigarette burnt it's way slowly down to the filter, flaring to red as
he took a drag. The place was full, but it was a busy kind of full,
there wass no laughing, nor the angry shouting of drunks, just a low
hum of conversation from the people at the tables. Across teh room a
large man sat at a table facing him, the three others at the table
seeming to crowd as far from him as possible and yet remain at the
table. He could understand that, Bohr didn't smell particularly
fragrant under the best of circumstances. The large man was gesturing
expansively, muscles flexing under his shirt as he raised his arms, a
large grin across his battered features.
"So, Gen'lemen," Bohr said, leaning forward across the table, "'Ow many was you askin' for?"
The man in the middle, seeming almost imprisoned y his smart black suit
and crisply starched shirt swallowed nervously before answering.
"Two, " said Bohr, nodding sagely and tapping a stubby finger twice
against his square, somewhat uneven jaw, "In'resting, very in'resting."
He grinned again, revealing a startling array of broken yellow teeth.
"'Ow much was you willin' ter pay?"
The suits across from him discussed breifly, their apparently leader
fumblign with his collar for a moment before responding tentatively.
"We were thinking somewhere in the region of twenty six thousand. Each."
"Well," said Bohr, "that's a nice offer, 'Ow about we have a drink while I fink about it. Can I get you gen'lemen anyfing?"
The shook their heads in unison, the one on the left nervously fiddling with a glass of water.
Bohr flagged down a passing barmaid, sprinkling some coins on her tray.
"A pint of the most expensive lager you got on tap, love. None of that foreign muck mind."
The bar maid gave him an icy smile before retreating in the direction
of the bar. Bohr smiled disarmingly at his customers, causing the one
on the left to almost drop his glass in alarm. As teh barmaid started
back, she paused brielfy at the mans table. He asked her for another
drink, counting the coins on her her tray before adding a couple more.
She smiled sweetly at him before returning to Bohr with his drink.
"Cheers Darlin'," he said, counting the coins on her tray, before throwing a note onto it, "why don't you get one fer yourself?"
He gave her another smile, turning his attention back to the suits in front of him.
"I'm afraid it's gonna cost you firty six fahsand fellers."
The leader of the small group looked as if he was about to explode.
"But that is ridiculous!"
Borh looked them consideringly.
"Do you 'appen to know just who it is I work for?"
"No, we were told that if we came to you you could get it sorted for
us. That you could provide us with a service better than anyone else."
"Dat is true," he nodded consideringly, "but in this business you should always know who you're dealing with."
"You're not the one who'll carry out...the work?"
"Nah, not my sort of fing", he flexed meaty hands making a fist the
size of the other mans head, too delicate fer the likes o' me."
"Them shoes, o'w much did you pay fer 'em?"
"Three hundred, but I don;t see..."
Bohr cut him off
"Free hunnerd, fer a pair of shoes?"
"Their maker is very good. The best in his field."
"Is he so good, that uvver shoe makers won't even say his name?"
"Of course not, no ones that good."
Bohr gave them a conspiratorial wink, the scars on his face twisting in an alarming manner as he did so.
"Not," he said, "at making shoes they ain't."
He pulled a card from his pocket, sliding it across the table.
"This, gen'lemen, is who I work fer."
"But that's just a playing card." one exclaimed.
"Wait," Said the one on the left said thoughtfully, "I've heard soem rumours, a guy in the office..."
A look of horror spread across his face and his head snapped round nervously.
"See," said Bohr, nodding in his direction, "he knows."
The one on the left whispered frasnticly in the leaders ear.
"ok," said the leader, "but how do we know you're telling the truth?
Anyone can sit there and push a playing card across a table."
"Not round here they can't, not if they want to live to make it out the door."
The man on the left seemed to be trying to slide under the table, the other two looke da little sick.
"So, has we got a deal?"
The leader nodded reluctantly.
"I'll take ten now," Bohr said, "the rest on completion."
"Where will we meet?"
"Don't worry," he said, "we'll find you."
The man on the left fainted.
He watched Bohr leave the bar. The man was carrying a sizeable sum of
money. There weren't many around here who'd try to mug him though. Not
willingly at any rate. The other two men got up to leave the bar,
carrying their friend. He stood and followed them out.
Old, broken furniture filled the room, a thick layer of dust covering
it all. A shaft of sunlight peirced the shattered window, dust motes
dancing madly in it's path. The kid huddled in the corner, his bleached
blonde hair in disarray, a look of terror in his eyes. The old man
stared at him from across the room, his expression blank, fury blazing
in his green eyes. "You talked didn't you?" he asked, his voice barely kept from shouting, "you told somebody and they knew where to find us!" "My sister," the kid whimpered, "I thought I could trust her. I've never done anything this big before, I was scared." The old man turned his back in disgust, running his hands through his iron grey hair, pushing it back from his eyes. "What about you? If you're so good, how did they follow us?" "I'm old," he replied, "old men make mistakes. Like trusting punk kids." He stood there for several moments, listening to the kids panicked breathing, then turned and headed to the door. "Where are you going?" He winced at the note of fear. How could he have been so blind to the kids nature? "Outside," he replied, his voice calm again. "They'll kill you!" "Then I'll die like a man." The door squealed as he pulled it open, sunlight blazing in his face. He stepped through, slamming the door behind him.
strode purposefully across the open, dusty ground in front of the
shack, the noon sun blazing down on his head. He squinted slightly as
his eyes readjusted to the light, the creases around his eyes
deepening. His black shirt, open at the throat, was tucked loosely into
the top of his faded black jeans, giving him clear access to the
semi-automatics holstered at his hips. A pair of heavy revolvers sat at
the back of his belt, hidden from the men gathered before him. He
halted when he was around thirty yards away, his boots kicking up small
clouds of dust. A short man stood opposite him, his blonde hair
streaked with grey, but the gaze of his tilted dark eyes as hard as
ever. In his left hand he held a sheathed sword, its hilt worn with use. "You won't come quietly?" he asked, his clipped tones cutting through the hot air. The old man shook his head. "I'll see you get a fair trial." "We both know the things I've done. There's only one way a trial will end. I wont hang like a common criminal." "These
are young men," he said, gesturing to the dozen soldiers gathered
behind him, various small arms pointed casually in the old mans
direction. "Some of them have families." "Then I hope their affairs are in order." the old man replied, his fingers flexing slowly, working out their stiffness. The blonde man sighed mournfully. "Shoot him." The
soldiers opened fire, the roar of their weapons blazing through the
still air. The old man was already moving, the bullets hitting nothing
but air. Pulling his guns from their holsters he opened fire, snapping
off a couple of shots from each gun. Three soldiers measured their
length on the hard flat ground. The old man rolled as the soldiers
fired again, their bullets kicking up dust. He fired again as he rose,
two more soldiers falling to his fire, the rest of his shots missing
wildy as a bullet tore into his shoulder. The gun flew from his left
hand, spinning wildly through the air. The ace of spades on the grip
glinted briefly in the sun before the weapon fell harmlessly to the
floor. The old man gritted his teeth, focusing his will. The lucky
soldier fell to the dirt, red blooms blossoming across his chest. The
pistol clicked empty and he threw it to the side, rolling again,
screaming in agony as his shoulder hit the ground. A second shot
peirced his leg as he staggered to his feet. He tore the right revolver
from it's holster, firing from the hip. The sixth soldier staggered,
clutching at his stomach, tears rolling down his cheeks. The remaining
half dozen avenged him, bullets ripping into the old mans torso,
spinning him around as he fell to the ground. The revolver fell limply
from his hand. He lay there prone on the dirt, his breath coming in
wheezing liquid gasps. When he forced his eyes open, the blonde man
stood over him, a sad look in his dark eyes.
Warily the soldiers
advanced with the Wraith, their guns trained on the dying man. One of
them, a blood red hole in the arm of his uniform, readied a head shot,
his eyes filled with hate. The Wraith raised his hand, forestalling the execution. "But sir..." The wraith turned on him, his eyes dark fire. "Search the house, all of you. bring the other one to me. Alive." Reluctanly
the soldiers tropped off, leaving him alone with the old man. He stood
in silence, listening for the final, gasping breath. When it came he
bent down, lifting the revolver from it's place in the dirt. The sun
glinted dully on the dirty barrel. He polished it with his sleeve,
wiping away the dust to reveal a word etched into the steel.