The old warrior, p.1
The Old Warrior, p.1Dale Broda, Jr
The Old Warrior
Dale Broda Jr
This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places and events are from the author’s mind. Any resemblance to any actual person, location or event is coincidental.
Copyright © 2009, Dale Broda Jr
Cover illustration © 2010 Christine
This eBook is licensed for your enjoyment. This eBook may not be re-sold. If you would like to share this book with another person, please do so while pointing them to the author.
About this Edition.
I actually wrote this while I was in the middle of writing The Black Knight. Not sure why it came to me like it did but here it is. Came out all at once and in one go so that’s how it’s written and as far as any ‘breaks’ go, none were in my head when I wrote it. It’s just one quick journey.
It was the girl that made him stop moving. Of all the things he had passed by. Of all the horrors he had walked slowly around. It was the girl that stopped him. Amid all the blood and smoke and hell’s own mayhem, it was the girl. She glowed like something from a dream. Porcelain white spotted dark red. Her golden hair smoked dark. A fragile, pale hand holding the arm of a blood soaked toy.
Standing among the dead and dying her bare feet buried in the organs and sloppy remains of those she had called family and friends. Her wide, sky blue eyes stared at nothing. And everything. Her pale, exposed flesh was coated in smoky death. Spotted wetly here and there with blood and gore. Little pale lips quivering under their dusting from the battle.
Innocence lost had never shown so brightly to him. Had never been so clear. It was this vision that caught him. This that held him on his feet.
A beautiful nightmare.
It was her that stopped him. Stopped his fall. Held him to his feet as surely as if he had been nailed to the ground with metal stakes. Stopped the inevitable.
And so too was it her that made him move again.
Behind her three dark shapes appeared. Rabid wolves dressed as men. They came at her as one.
All seeming to scent the same prey at once. Two thoughts clearly on their minds. A use for their swords. Both those of metal and flesh. The thoughts were clear as day in their watery, dark eyes. They would have had their prey too. On any other day.
The old warrior would not allow that. He moved. Moved into the blades of the pretend men and passed the beautiful nightmare.
Her hair alone moved in his passing. On his way by he glanced. He saw those eyes that were staring at nothing, yet had already seen too much. The pretend men froze as he appeared. Their heated eyes lifting from their intended prey to meet his own. They blinked.
From predator to prey, he saw the transformation take hold of them.
Where they had seen easy meat before, they now faced an incoming mountain of death. They saw a tiger where before had only been a lamb. A tiger with lethal steel and cold death in his eyes. Old and grizzled and wounded he may be, still, the common man knew you never back a wounded tiger into a corner.
These pretend men, for all their youth and stamina and fancy moves, would be no match. The middle took one look into the old warrior’s granite eyes and turned on his heel to flee. On his way, he knocked one of his fellows off balance.
The old warrior struck. One quick, deft blow to the exposed throat and that was the end of the pretend man. Blood arced out in a crimson wave. The old warrior had not missed his target. The pretend man stumbled away clutching the gaping wound. He’d be down soon. Very soon. The last man was able to clumsily strike at the old warrior, having chosen fight over flight.
The blow was easily parried and a fist as hard and uncaring as old mountain stone drove into his liver.
The pretend man folded. It would have been enough there for most. The old warrior struck down at the back of the pretend man’s neck, taking the head clean off in one crunching, spurting strike.
The old warrior stood over his latest conquest, one of inconsequence in the greater plan for all. Yet so meaningful here, at this time, in this place. Of great consequence to a lost little one. Like so many countless other victories, it left the old warrior a moment with his feelings. Feeling nothing and everything all at once. It was part of his training. So many many decades ago.
To feel all that at once and to not feel it at all. Joy that he had lived. Joy that he had dominated. Joy at the choice he had taken between life and death. Also, the luck of it. If one had not chosen to flee and had not sent another into a stumble, it would have been three on one.
Which even to an old warrior like himself, that was never a sure fight. Feeling all this and none of this at once, the old warrior looked about him in the smoky, chaotic dawn. Just another day come under the signs of war to him. Another among so many others.
Though maybe the old warrior should breath this in? Maybe the old warrior should enjoy the sights and sounds and yes, even the smells. For today would be his last such day. After today, he’d never again see these sights. He’d never again taste this kind of all encompassing feeling of everything and nothing.
It was a sobering thought.
He took in the sights and sounds as best he could before sharpening his focus on the now and forgetting about the past that had been and future that was not to be. He had a nightmare to take care of. Once that was done then he could finally rest.
Only once that was done.
No one was within his sight. No one that was alive. He could hear battle ebbing and flowing around him. Like a giant, living organism moving about, devouring those it ran into. Now was his time, while nothing was in sight. The old warrior turned to his nightmare. Those sky blue eyes locked onto hard granite. A question he could see there that couldn’t be answered.
A bloody little hand reached out to him.
He stood there. Hesitating. His breathing slow and deep. What to say? There were no words. Moving as fast as his old bones allowed he took her outstretched hand, replacing the blood soaked arm of her long time companion and hauled her after him. He had much distance to go with so very little time.
She floated along behind him. Not a word from her. The old warrior moved deftly through the smoky landscape. His footing sure. His ears and eyes keeping them away from the tides of battle. He couldn’t afford to fight with the nightmare in hand. But if needs must, the old warrior would do as needed.
Damned his luck, two appeared. He let go of the nightmare and charged into them. One was ready, backing away a step and bringing his sword and hook to bear. The other was not so fast.
The old warrior had his sword buried in that one’s gullet before the man even knew he was in danger. Drawing the sword out, he quickly hacked at the other man. This man knew how to fight. He caught the old warrior’s fast blow in the x he formed with his sword and hook which worked out well for the old warrior who was following the warrior’s code of win at all costs on the field of battle. So even as his blow was blocked, the old warrior brought his heavily mailed knee up into the man’s unprotected scrotum.
He felt a pulping sensation through his armor and heard a wet pop. The man’s face went purple. The pain had to be immense. Not for long. As the man dropped his guard, the old warrior hammered him in the face with one thickly mailed fist and stepped forward quickly to pin the man to the ground with one heavy plunge of his sword.
He heard a crunch of boots on gravel behind him as well as a loud gasp. He didn’t even look, he simply jerked his sword free, dodged, ducked and jumped aside. Coming out of a roll, he bounced to his feet and faced the attacker.
It was a woman.
Normally, a woman was unheard of in the battlefield. Times were, only men and boys fought while the women stayed safe and secure, ready to give birth to the victors’ offspring. How times changed. Now they not only fought in battles, some had become commanders. He hated to admit it, that some lead better than many men he had known, but that was a simple truth and fact, no matter what he wanted to admit or his thought of it.
Times. How they changed. As he pondered that, she had no such thoughts aside from the only thought any warrior should have on a battlefield. Staying alive.
Thoughts ruined one’s mind in battle. Thinking slowed one down. Attacking and winning as quickly and efficiently as possible to conserve strength. That was a warrior’s purpose. So attack she did.
What an attack it was. They would have been a very fatal series of blows to most opponents. Even knowing the ploy instinctively, not to mention having used it himself countless times, he was still left hoping he would live through it. Easy enough at the beginning, last night, when he had been fresh, now at the end a very different story altogether.
She struck at his head with all her might. A feint. One that almost always worked. While the attack
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