Monday, August 24, 2009

"Sword Gods," A Test, pt. 4, 388 words

“Very well,” the knight said, and turned to the open doorway. That, and an open window high on the wall, were the only concessions to ventilation in the place. “Bring it.”

Carefully, the smith took up the sword with his gloved hands, looking around for some kind of sheath or scabbard. None presented itself, and he certainly hadn't had time to get one made. With a tired sigh he carried it carefully at his side, trying to keep the tip from striking stone while not touching the hot blade.

The knight led them down several floors and through a series of ill-lit halls. After a few turns, the smith felt very thoroughly lost. No guards presented themselves this deep in the castle, and he began to wonder if this wasn't some sick joke being played at a peasant's expense. Was he being stuck down here to rot, with nothing but the sword as an escape? Wagers made as to how long it would take him to commit suicide with the product of his labors?

They stopped at a door much like any of the others down there. A single torch on the wall opposite lit the hallway, poorly. The door had, the smith noticed, a simple latch, no bar nor lock to keep an occupant prisoner. The knight put his shoulder to the door, then turned the latch as he shoved against the heavy oak. After a few grunts and forceful heaves, the door rattled open.

The smith's stomach turned at the almost palpable stench that billowed out of the room. He turned his head to his shoulder and coughed hard as his throat tried to close up against the reek.

“Go in,” the knight said.

With a look into the stinking dark and a quick, doubtful glance at the knight, the smith stepped in. He tried to breathe as shallowly as possible, but the horrid stench clawed at him from every direction. It sunk into his clothes and hair and flesh with vile insistence, refusing to be ignored. The smith wanted to retch and, as he stepped in, the squelching of slime under his boots only made it worse. Between his nervousness and nausea, he nearly vomited right then and there when the knight closed the door after them, plunging the room into darkness.

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