Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Sword Gods," A Test, pt. 5, 391 words

Light flashed on suddenly, brighter and more glaring than the noon sun. The smith recoiled, trying to shield his eyes with his free hand. He heard a sinister, hissing laugh before he could see anything, and his blood chilled at the sound.

A gray blur resolved into the source of that laughter: a towering, nightmarish figure shrouded in dirty ashen robes, its face hidden in the shadows of its hood but for two glowing eyes, while the open bony beak of some unearthly huge carrion eater framed the opening. The effect was profoundly disturbing, and the smith felt something deep in his gut curdle and twist at the sight. He knew, in an absent and distant way, that the figure should not have been quite so frightening, but something about it felt distressingly familiar, as if something seen in a dream – and coupled with that sense of familiarity came hair-raising terror, as a rabbit must regard a wolf.

“The Blood God,” he whispered. He couldn't help it, the words slipped out before he could think.

The Blood God, or so he was called by the old veterans back home – and there weren't many old veterans. Wielded by Calland against Ordal and other nations in battle after battle, the sword-god wrought devastating losses amongst the common soldiery. Held back, occasionally, by Ordal's own goddess of the sword, when she wasn't engaged elsewhere. He laughed as he slaughtered, and only stopped the butchery when his blade finally broke. Sometimes it worked against against Calland, when the opposing forces had all fallen and the Blood God turned on their own men. And sometimes he fought so savagely the sword broke in spare minutes, but that meant little to the men hacked apart on the field.

The god laughed. “Are they still calling me that?”

“My lord,” the knight said, and nodded to the sword. With an ungentle shove, he sent the smith staggering forward to present the sword. Repulsed and terrified, the smith did his best to make himself small even as he held the sword up to the god. The god didn't even pause to inspect it.

In one swift motion, the Blood God snatched the sword out of the smith's hands and swung it about the room. “It is time for battle, then?” the god inquired.

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