Crossing Swords

Innder can taste the metallic flavor of blood in his mouth, he snarls at his opponent. “I won’t surrender!”

“I don’t expect you to surrender! I am going to defeat you!”

The adversary swings in a wide arch.

Innder bends back, the blade glides mere inches from his nose.

He swings his sword high and catches the aggressor off guard.

At the last second, his opponent parries sending the would-be deathblow into the empty air.

His opponent raised his blade, and Innder saw his opening.

Innder lunges with his sword.

The opponent jumped back.

As he lunges past, Innder cringes as his back ignites in pain, the weight of the sword bears down on him. The dirt’s rough grasp welcome Innder into the dark.

“Innder!” Hearing a familiar voice, he tries to turn over, but the pain from his mid back prevents him.

“Easy…. easy… Are you okay? Do you know who I am or what day it is?” The individual says, as they sit down next to him, and begins digging in thier bag.

“Bring me some water,” Kia nods and heads to the creek.


“Yeah, it’s me. How does your back feel? Kia got you pretty good, didn’t he?”

He winces in pain, “Yeah, I thought I had him, he left his chest wide open.”

“You would have ordinarily, but it was a ploy to drop your defense,” Odin said, opening a bottle, and applying some green ointment to several strips of cloth.

Some time later, Kia emerges from the forest’s darkness, into the cyan glow emanating from the torch, with waterskins in hand.

Kneeling next to his brother, he hands Odin a waterskin. “Are you okay, Innder? How’s your back? I didn’t mean to swing down that hard.”

“I’ll be fine,” Innder winces, “my back just really hurts.”

He lets out a sudden sigh of relief, as Odin lays the bandages on to Innder’s mid back and he feels cooling tendril extinguishing the pain.

“Luckily, nothing is broken, but you are going to have one heck of a bruise in the morning,” Odin says, as he lays another strip onto Innder’s back. “You both have terrific forms, both of those moves would be extremely difficult for any beginner. But you two did it as if you were dueling your entire lives!”

“Though Innder that was extremely reckless, and if this was a real fight you would have been really hurt or worse, killed.” Odin says as he applies the last of the bandages. “Do you think you can sit up Innder? Kia and I need to wrap you, for the ointment’s bandages won’t fall off.”

“Yeah, I can. What is this stuff? I feel great… well… not great, but a lot better!”

“It’s an extract from a pepper that grows in the southern part of Crimea, it was wicked expensive when I was in school, but here I could buy ten bushels for the price of a vial of ointment.”

They sit there in silence, as Odin and Kia bandages Innder. “Even with the ointment, this is going to leave a nasty bruise on you,” Odin says as he weaves the last of the bandage onto Innder. A big smile grows across Innder’s face, “Halros is going to kill you, Kia.”

“Oh heck, how are we going to explain this to him?” Kia says as he helps his brother up off the ground.

Odin repacking his bag, “Well, we probably shouldn’t tell him, he’ll have all our heads.” Kia and Innder silently shake their heads in agreement.

“Hey Odin, how much longer do you think we have till we are ready for a real fight?” Kia says as he is collecting the sheath-locked swords off the ground.

“There isn’t such a thing as a real fight, there is only ones you walk away from or the one you don’t. Are you capable of defending yourself? Yes. This isn’t a game, one mistake and your dead.” Odin stands there and examines both of them, for a moment, smiles then turns around, “but you should be soon.”

“Great, all the ladies love a knight in shining armor!” Innder says, with a small wince, as he throws his arms up into the air.

Odin laughs, “If only! My friend and I joined the dueling club, just to try to get girls, and the most it got was maybe one dinner!”

Innder’s smile fades a little, “Still I want to be somebody’s knight in shining armor someday!”

Kia and Odin both shake their heads and smile, “We bet you will someday.”




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