Two moons over, p.38
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       Two Moons Over, p.38

           Levi Shipley
resistance instead of immediate tearing. He felt dismay but didn’t allow the aemon to see it on his face. Then came a silence in which neither of them moved. It would’ve been a perfect moment for a tumbleweed to roll between them but, of course, there was nothing but darkness.

  The aemon bared his teeth and made a roar that sounded like gurgling. He ran forward, much faster than Cecil had suspected him to be. It would seem age was just a number, but it would not be one to hold Dahzir back. As the king’s feet met footing, no sounds rang back to announce his steps. It was as if the noise passed through the floor and into the endless abyss beyond, never to return.

  Cecil trained himself to wield a sword, but he always owed his skill in hand-to-hand combat to his strength. And without a weapon in his hand, he was at a great disadvantage.

  Cecil had never been formally taught to fight, and so he was not aware that thinking was not something he could take time for. He was still missing the weapon when the first strike hit his face. Still wondering where his strength had gone when the air was forced from his lungs by a knee. It wasn’t until the second fist met his face that he was in the moment. Cecil managed to block a third strike, but not the fourth. He already was at a loss that Dahzir would not let him recover from.

  “Punching bag!” From heavy, fast breathing came Dahzir’s words. And they were barbed. “You haven’t changed a bit.” And a fifth and sixth blow came from his gnarled but strong hands to Cecil’s face.

  Cecil’s blood ran from his broken nose. His left eye now filling with the crimson liquid that just a while ago was still in his veins. But now it flowed, and it flowed down his face and beaded on the stubble of his chin. And more strikes came. The number was lost and a numbness came over Cecil. His brain was taking trauma, and soon things would be black, blacker that is. And then it would be over, and he would fail.

  But Dahzir twisted Cecil’s left arm and broke it at the forearm. And he bent it until the bone jutted out of Cecil’s skin. Dahzir struck the human one more time in the jaw, breaking it in three places and loosing three of Cecil’s front teeth.

  The boy, or perhaps he was a man now, went sprawling on his back. The numbness was replaced by grinding, pulsing pain. His stomach turned, but there was nothing in his gut to vomit up. He watched as Dahzir approached him, ready to finish him. Cecil would’ve cried, but he refused to give the aemon that kind of satisfaction. Old man or not, the king had centuries of training and over a millennia of scheming under his belt. But Cecil would not give him the right to be arrogant.

  But the aemon slowed down. Time slowed. And Cecil felt a hand push his face to the left. The bone sticking out of his arm was white where it wasn’t red. He could see the hollow that wasn’t truly hollow, and the sight was sickening.

  I’ve bought you time. While he’s fighting, he loses his grip on me. Hodge’s voice was calm, and it came from inside Cecil’s mind. But the reality was that they were inside Hodge’s mind. But I can’t give you any more. And the voice faded.

  As the voice faded, time transitioned back to its normal speed. But before it regained its gusto, Cecil saw it. The bone was crude, but it was also sharp. Not as sharp as Bane Edge, and he wouldn’t have the same thrusting power. But it might be enough. It would have to be enough.

  The aemon, now moving normally, jumped on top of Cecil. He meant to strangle the boy. But as his face lined up with Cecil’s, the young man ripped his left forearm from the strip of skin and tendons keeping it attached. The pain Cecil felt was beyond unbearable and made him dry heave for a moment. Blood gushed out and sprayed the aemon’s face. In the immeasurably small time that the king’s eyes were closed from the spray, Cecil pushed his detached bone into Dahzir’s throat. The grip Cecil had on his mutilated limb with the other was just short tearing his still working tendons.

  The bone did not sink deep, but it sank some. The king removed the man’s forearm from the center of his neck and felt it with his hands. There was a hole welling over with blood. He rolled off of Cecil, choking and in disbelief. He tried to curse at Cecil, but his words would not escape the onrush of his tainted blood. He laid there, bitter and full of rage. But rage and hatred, fury and malice, greed and contempt, not one of these could keep him alive. In his last breath, he thought of Cecil’s head on a pike and the naked bodies of the three females outside laid at his feet in the palace. Beyond this he saw the multitudes bowing at his feet, at his supremacy. And the bastard died with a smile on his face.

  As for Cecil, he was still alive. But blood trickled from just below his elbow without restraint. The blood ran through the floor and into the abyss where the sound went. He had lost too much blood, and he was losing more. He grabbed the detached part of his left arm and tried to put it back into place, just for the sake of it. When it refused to mend, he dropped it and this time it fell through the floor. But he accomplished what he needed to, and he knew the world would better (if only just a little bit) because of what he did. There would be bliss and there would be celebration. Sorrows would live on, but for a time they would be muted. He saw this and watched his family, both on Earth and those from The Order, cry for victory. He saw justice form and the righteous prevail. And the hero of this tale, Cecil Fauden from the line of Siegfried, died with a smile on his face.

  Battle’s End


  Cecil’s hands came free from the crystal at the same time Hodge’s did. The crystals on the pedestal and floor lost their light and dulled to the color of a bruise. It was also the same time that the other four regained their strength. Nelrene ran to her husband, who was already relearning how to control his own body. Marianna and Arthur embraced one another. Salina ran to Cecil, but he wasn’t there.

  The heir of Siegfried stood as dead. Then great blue flames engulfed his body. The fire was brilliant, beautiful, and cold. It ate away at his body in a way unfamiliar to all in the room but Hodge. It did not char his flesh. Instead it seemed to erase him. In only a few seconds, their rescuer vanished leaving behind only his clothes and Bane Edge.

  And then his voice rose up in the room. It came from nowhere, and yet was all around them. He spoke not in sadness, but with joy. “‘For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?’ I have lost my life, but you shall keep your souls.” The disembodied voice drifted away through the walls.

  There would be time to mourn his loss later. He was a hero, and he was a martyr. His effigy would be raised in memory. For now though, Salina picked up his sword and sheath. There was much work to be done.

  The End

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