Only days ago, I awoke on an abandoned battlefield with no memory of anything before that moment. The only clue to my identity was the tattoo on the back of my hand of a snake
Only days ago, I awoke on an abandoned battlefield with no memory of anything before that moment. The only clue to my identity was the tattoo on the back of my hand of a snake wrapped around a sword surrounded by a ring of fire. Because of it, some have tried to help me, others have tried to kill me, but none have told me what it means.
You can read what’s gone before Here, and the ongoing tale below.
Jannus grabbed me and pulled me closer. I reached out a hand to push his face away, but he caught my arm. Even in his dying moments he was too strong for me to overpower. We each took a deep breath, then flames poured from his mouth.
The heat was intense, though not as blinding as the dragon’s fire had been. Though the fire engulfed me, the pain stayed in the back of my hand. The tattoo there glowed like live coals, but my skin didn’t burn.
Jannus’s grip on me loosened, then the torrent of fire ended and he slumped over, dead.
I’m sorry, brother.
The girl shrieked and collapsed. Evidently, whatever Jannus had done to keep her dancing and silent had passed with him.
I rushed over doused the flames which still threatened to consume her. The smell of charred flesh filled the air around her. Sections of her clothing had burned away revealing seared skin beneath.
She looked up at me with a weak smile. “I knew he was wrong.”
“Don’t speak, save your strength. I’ll get you help.”
“No.” She grabbed my arm. “I’ve seen my death in your eyes every night for seven years. Let me deliver the message so I don’t have to live through this anymore.”
“Message, from whom?”
“All I know is that I say these words before I die: go not to Senovitch, where the spark is consumed in the pyre, in Deminor the faithful dwell and hope may yet be kindled.” With her message delivered, her eyes rolled back, and she was at peace.
“My lord is everything—” Nolveck took in the scene from entrance to the tent.
Jannus lay in a pool of his own blood, the knife still protruding from his chest. The cushion where I’d been sitting was now aflame, and I knelt over the charred girl in scorched clothes.
Sorry about this. “The girl you brought attacked us.” I rose and stomped over to him with all the indignation I could muster. “She killed my brother, your commander. I should have your head for your part in this tragedy.”
Nolveck held his ground. “If the Lord Jannus was slain by this wench, then why do you bear all the marks of battle?” He glanced from me to the cushion before catching himself. “My lord.”
What had Jannus been saying right before…. “It’s because of the nature of the gift my father has given me.” Ugh, that’s not how he said it. I tried to exude the kind of unquestionable confidence that Jannus had wielded, but the look in the captain’s eyes warned me that he was unconvinced.
“Apologies, lord, but I have never seen this power. Could you demonstrate it?”
“Of course, look here.” I raised my right hand away from us, as though fire might burst from it at any moment.
Then I struck him in the face with my left.
He staggered back a step, drawing a long knife from his belt. “Murderer!” The word thundered in the space. “I’ll kill you for what you’ve done.” He made a few quick slashes and I jumped away to avoid them.
I needed something to even the odds. Or tip them in my favor.
Nolveck drove me back toward the fire in the center of the tent. His blade moved like a striking viper.
I circled back to the flaming cushion, and the spot I’d set my sword. A few more steps and I would have it.
Seeing his advantage slipping away, Nolveck lunged.
I dodged to the left, avoiding his blade, and instinctively reached out and caught his extended arm by the wrist.
He cursed at me, and his knife twitched violently as he attempted to bring the edge to bear. With his free hand he lashed out against me, but I twisted and used his own body to shield me from most of the attacks.
Keeping a firm grip on his wrist, I backed around him, forcing him to turn with me or lose his arm. Between blocking his attacks, I alternated strikes at his ribs and arm, trying to break his hold on the knife.
We made two quick turns, trading minor hits and vying for control of his arm, before he managed to switch the knife to his left hand. The act tore his attention away from me for a moment, but if I didn’t make good use of the opening, the fight would be over in a flash.
Releasing his arm, I kicked him away from me as hard as I could. The force of it drove us both back and to the ground, but while I landed on the hard earth, Nolveck fell into the fire.
He screamed in rage and pain as the flames ignited his clothes.
It would only buy me a few moments, but that was all I needed. I jumped to my feet and retrieved my sword.
Nolveck dragged himself out of the fire and ripped the burning garments from his body. His skin was red and blistered where the flames had reached it, but he came at me again relentlessly.
But now I too was armed, and with a greater reach. I parried his attacks and countered with careful thrusts. My blade was not as fast as his, but its length proved sufficient to keep him at bay.
Still, stalemate might work to his advantage. His cry must have been heard elsewhere in the camp, and if others came to investigate the commotion I had no reason to assume they would take my side over his.
I pressed the attack; taking advantage of his weakened condition to drive him back until I had an opening. His blade nicked my left arm, sending rivers of pain coursing through me, but my sword pierced his heart.
“My lord?” The sound of weapons being drawn came from the men behind me.
I breathed heavily. The fight had taken its toll, and I wasn’t sure how many more men I could take before fatigue crippled me. But neither could I summon up the energy for more lies.
I turned and slew the man who’d spoken in a stroke. His companion raised his axe, but fell with an arrow in his throat.
Halvan stood at the flap of the tent, another arrow notched and aimed at me.
To Be Continued….