Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Sword Gods," A Test, pt. 6, 539 words

“No, my lord,” the knight answered. A small, curious smile crossed his face. “But it is time for blood to flow.” Involuntarily, he flicked his eyes upwards to the ceiling, presumably at the throne room or the king of Calland's chambers.

“Excellent,” the god purred, and jammed the blade point-first into the smith's right breast. The hot steel slid in as casually as it might have passed through lard, slipping between ribs to come out his back. With the same ease with which he had thrust the blade through the smith's body, the god slid it out and twitched the blade aside, flicking blood off in a light spray.

The ceiling forced its way to the forefront of the smith's vision, clouded by a black fog that ate away at the edges of everything. A cracking, breaking pain billowed out from the back of his head, and his breath suddenly came with difficulty. His whole body grew chill except for a bright, searing slice of pain that cut straight through him. Something hot and wet spread over his chest and under his back, and if he recognized what it was, that recognition came only distantly. His thoughts were paralyzed with shock and surprise, consumed with pain.

The cowled figure of the Blood God knelt over him. Proximity did nothing to counter the shadows that obscured the god's face, but his eyes took on more definition than a blurred glow. From so close, the smith thought he could see a slightly darker slit down the middle of the eye, like the pupil of a cat. The god's eyes narrowed in malicious amusement as it stared down at him.

“If you are who you seem to be,” the god whispered to the smith, “this will be the second time I'll have killed you. And by a blade of your own manufacture, no less. I don't suppose you can appreciate the irony of that, but we're... well, we're not supposed to be able to be slain by our own blades. So either you're not who we think you are, or you just haven't awakened to your true nature yet.

“Either way... it works for me.”

The smith managed a shallow breath, just enough to wheeze out, “True... nature?” Was the Blood God really saying what he thought he was?

The god laughed. “She never told you. She really never told you. I'm almost surprised. She forced the compact on the rest of us for you, you know.”

“Why...?”

“The compact? Because the others wouldn't let her get away with killing me. She decided the next best thing would be to fetter me – and all of us, really, given who we are.”

The smith summoned all his strength, barely enough, and managed to shake his head just a little. “No,” he breathed, “why... kill me?”

The god straightened up, looking down upon the smith. He couldn't tell if the god was amused at the question or not. But finally, the god said, “You won't believe me. None of the others ever did. But I'll tell you anyway: it was self-defense. So, I suppose, was this as well. Proactive self-defense.”

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