And so it began…
I stared in to the eyes of a man who hated me and wanted nothing more then to see the end of me. To feel his blade crack my ribs as it slide through my flesh puncturing the most important of organs was his greatest desire. I didn’t stand in front of him defenceless, I had my own sword drawn, my fingers curled around the hilt waiting and ready. When I looked into my enemies eyes I always found something new with in myself. This time as I looked in to cold steel blue eyes of my enemy I felt peace. My mind was calm and clear of thought. Even the sounds that echoed around us on the battlefield sounded distant, like it would be days before the battle was at my feet.
He took a step and started to approach me, his breath could be seen in the cool spring air. I counted his breaths. One breath…two…three. He was breathing quickly. My own pulse started to race, blood from past slayed enemies slowly dripped from the tip of my sword. Their lives stolen by me on orders from a King that I had never met and was not anywhere near the battle. The young die so the old may live. My father use to say until I killed him. Oh…I’m sorry you thought you were riding along with the hero of the story. No, that man stood across from me, walking towards me, wanting to take my life.
I had been exposed to death from an early age. The first time I saw it was with my pet dog. It had peed on the house floor and my father had beat it until it died. The second was my father cutting down a curious man who had peaked inside the door of the lodge. Looking some place he should not have. My father killed out of blind rage, I turned to the family business in to one that pays.
The first attack came, a thrust forward that I quickly parried out of the way. Side stepping in the opposite direction that I deflected my enemies sword. Bringing my blade around for my answer to his attack. He recovered nicely deflected my blade but missed my fist that made good contact with his jaw. His head snapped back, he lost his balance, and for a brief moment I thought it would end here. With him falling to the ground and me running my blade through his neck so he could drown and choke on his own blood.
Turned out he was tougher than that and stood his ground. Recovered in time to deflect a two handed blow that would have surely cut his head from his shoulders. Each attack followed a perfectly time block. Our dance continued, my own breath filling the air in front of me with a quick fog, only to disappear with in seconds to be made hole with another breath.
There was the sound of a horn, not from my side. The horn was pure, clean, had a rather pleasing sound to it. But it caught my enemies attention for a brief moment. His sword lowered for just a second. Instead of striking with my blade I had pulled a dagger out from under my cloak, which remained hidden from him. With a quick thrust my triangular shaped dagger cut into him deeply. I felt it scrap over bone before sinking deeper in to his side.
My enemies eyes went wide, with a twist I pulled it out and kicked him in the stomach, knocking him on to his back. I stood over him looking down, his sword fallen from his hand. Blood bubbling up from the wound. My eyes not leaving his as I watched the life drain out of him.
I looked forward and saw men running, they were retreating. I smiled and watched as men and women fighting on my side ran after them. Wanting to not leave a single one of them standing. I couldn’t help but think to myself as I watched the hordes retreat that it was a sad day for the free men and women of this world. Sure, kings fall, some good, some bad. No different then the one that pays me well to fight. But I had this odd feeling that this time the weak would be come slaves, the capable would become servants , and people like me would find a different kind of freedom waiting for them in this new world.