Monday, October 12, 2015

Jorthan - Short Story

(**I have no plans to write this in full. It's simply an idea I wrote out this afternoon in one shot. **)

I remember the first time I killed him.

I was only eleven at the time. We were training with light swords – weaving around each other and striking with wild force. We had nicked one another several times – quick scratches and small slices – but nothing that was a winning blow.  Nothing that kept us from fighting.

This was one of our fiercer fights. I was sure I could find a way to disarm him.  Master Kaff was over twice my size and in his late twenties, but I was faster than he was. It was my Talent. He had been training me for about six month, since he first found me. He still kept me at bay most days.

At one point he stopped our sparring with the flick of his hand. I paused respectfully and lowered my weapon.

“You are holding back, Jorthan.” Kaff folded his arms and glared at me. “You almost had me, but you didn't strike with enough force.”

I felt my shoulders droop.  “I didn't want to cause you harm, Master.”

He simply looked at me for a long moment before he raised his weapon. “Again.”

I hated his disappointment; the way his eyes had taken me in and dismissed me. Everyone around me looked at me with awe. Kaff looked at me with acceptance – someday we would be equals on the field... That day, I saw a flicker of scorn.

My attack was vicious. I sprung at him and fought him with all I knew. He had taught me everything I knew about weapons, but I had also taught myself how to maximize my speed. I was a blur as our blades crossed, and our feet slid in the sand.

And then... 

He stopped fighting me. He had rolled to the ground, and I plunged my weapon towards his chest. We had practiced this move over and over. He had taught me how to deflect, and get back up until I was sore all over. But this time he didn't move or try to block me. The blade went through him and straight into his chest. 

We both screamed. His was a death cry that echoed off the stone walls. Mine was a cry of sheer terror. His eyes went wide, rolled back, and he was gone. 

I stumbled back, yanking my sword with me. Blood welled from the wound and I dropped the weapon. 

He was dead. I had killed him.

I flung myself to my knees. My hands went uselessly to his chest, trying to stop the blood. My body shook and my stomach heaved. “Master! Master!”

I only remember bits after that. There were two of Master Kaff's trusted servants stationed in front of the door so we wouldn't be disturbed. I remember both men bursting in. Ven grabbed me from behind in a bear-hug and moved me from the body as I screamed. Ballis touched Master Kaff's neck lightly before saying, “He's dead.” He scooped up the body and nodded to Ven as I struggled. “Take him to his room. I'll take Kaff upstairs.”

Ven put me in my room and locked the door behind me. I curled on the floor and shook. Then I screamed. Then I raged about my room, throwing anything I could up against the walls.

He was dead. I had killed him. 

Somehow I made it to the next morning. I cried myself to sleep in gut-wrenching sobs that tore at my insides. Twice I threw up before falling into an exhausted sleep full of terrible nightmares.

When I awoke early the next morning, I stumbled down to the practice yard in a daze. It didn't even register that my door was unlocked, or that yesterday was real. It was a nightmare... As I reached for the door, I saw blood on my hands.

I yelled and stumbled back. Someone grabbed me from behind and shoved me through the door into the practice room. 

I landed in a roll, spinning around to land in a crouch with a dagger raised. Bloody sand clung to my hair and bare arms. I almost dropped my dagger as I saw my attacker.

It was Master Kaff. 

He was wearing the same bloodstained clothes from the day before. He pulled his own dagger out and lunged at me with a yell.

He was dead. Alive. Some sort of ghost. I was certain he was there to kill me. I fought for my life – slicing at him and bellowing at the top of my young voice. Many times I bloodied him with deep gashes. He cursed and only came at me harder.

It seemed like ages, but eventually he pinned me. His blade rested in the hollow of my neck, and his full weight pinned my shoulders painfully. My breath came in and out in shallow gasps. My vision went gray around the edges.

“Always fight like your life depends on it. Always fight to win. Fight to kill.” He stood up, then grabbed me by the arm and hauled me to my feet. “Go get your sword. We're going to fight again.”

That was the first time I killed him. The next time I killed him by my own skill... The time after that, he killed me.

My Master is a Visen. So am I. Only head wounds truly kill us. We are one of the last few Masters and apprentices – we will become unstoppable. 

~Ophelia - Marie Flowers

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Zeal Aspiring