Saturday, August 08, 2009

"Sword Gods," The Mounted Lady, pt. 1, 395 words

The smith knelt on the grassy knoll. The afternoon sun filtered through the leaves of the tree above, dappling him with shadow and light. In his hands he held a sheathed blade, long and light and well-balanced, holding the basket-guarded hilt up to the figure before him, a tall woman mounted on a horse.

The woman was fair and as lightly-built as the blade, but held her war-trained horse with a firm hand. The animal cropped the grass with the same placidity of a farmer's plough-horse, yet occasionally rolled an angry eye at the smith if he edged too close, or even looked crosswise at the horse's rider. A heavy coat of leather armor and a sleeveless mail hauberk hugged her frame, impossibly, like a fine silk dress.

The woman had long, curly black hair that fell down her back in thick waves and served well to set off her skin, pale like alabaster. Rosy lips curved up in an ironical smile as she gazed down upon the smith, and her eyes twinkled with the light of stars. Literally, as the irises were a solid black specked with glittering points of light. They caught the golden sun and reflected nothing.

The smith went to his knees before a sword-goddess, and awaited her judgment.

Another man stood amongst them, off to the side. Like the woman, he was tall. Unlike the woman, he had broad shoulders and a veteran's build, shrouded in heavy plates of blackened steel. His long black hair, straight and fine, framed a long face that was handsome in a cold, brooding way. A knight, he looked as if he never smiled. He took his duties seriously, for there was no honor higher than attending to a god of the sword. He held his helm in the crook of one arm, and his other arm hung freely at his side. Ready to snatch his sword free in an instant if the smith proved too impertinent. Like asking for payment.

The sword-goddess leaned down in her saddle and pulled the proffered sword free in one smooth motion; the leather sheath went slack in the smith's hands, and he rocked back on his heels. Fear and expectation warred over his features, as he knew not whether he should run or prostrate himself before the goddess in case she desired a clean blow to his neck.

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