Thursday, February 04, 2010

Father Paolo, pt. 3, 576 words

One fight caught his eye. A pirate, better trained than the others, and the watch officer, over near the warning bell. The pirate fought with a saber in his right hand, a parrying dagger in the left. He moved fast, an easy match for the watch officer, though he defended better than he attacked. His motions with the dagger were swift and sure, while his blows with the saber were clumsy and often overextended. His easy facility with the dagger saved his life more than a few times as the pirate and the officer traded blows. Finally, though, the pirate caught the officer's own blade and knocked it aside, and ran the poor man through. He turned to look for a new fight, and caught the priest standing there, alone.

Indecision struck. It would be a small thing to use his Gift to blast the pirate where he stood... But that's why Father Paolo held back. Because it would be a small thing. Had been a small thing, before, entirely too often. He had not always been a priest.

Before he could make up his mind, the pirate came close and held his blade up. He grinned, showing a few missing teeth, and said, "Hoy there! Cap'n says we're not to kill any priests, so it's your lucky day. But he didn' say anything about not robbing 'em!"

Father Paolo spread his hands out to his sides. "I'm sorry, my good man, but I've nothing of value on me. I am a priest, not a merchant."

The pirate snorted in derision. "Everyone knows the Church's got scads of money. I've seen the fancy clothes and jewelry brought out on holy days, so I know you're gonna have somethin' of the like on ya. So hand it over!"

Paolo sighed. True, the high clergy's formal attire and symbols of office could be rather expensive, but... He was an itinerant. What did the pirate expect, a silver amulet carried at all times to help perform blessings over births and deaths? A gold knife for ceremonies to represent the cutting away of old sins? How absurd, out in the Sky. Silver tarnished and gold was heavy. But this one wouldn't listen to such things. He tried a different tack.

"Tell me, my son, when you first learned the saber, did your teacher smack you for taking the blade up in your left hand? Force you to use your right?"

"Huh? What of it? Stop trying to distract me, holy man."

"Oh, very well." He shrugged, and reached into his robe. "Let me get my purse, then," he said, and ran a silent prayer through his head, asking for forgiveness for the lie. Instead, he grabbed a hold of the saber at his side, curling his hand around the grip. He stepped closer to the pirate, as if ready to hand something over -- and rammed the sword's pommel and his fist up into the pirate's chin, catching him by surprise.

The pirate's teeth clacked together audibly, and Father Paolo would not have been surprised if he had bit his tongue or cracked a tooth. The pirate went down swearing, and looked up at the priest with an expression of utter malice. He started to climb to his feet, grabbing for his dropped blade, and Father Paolo casually cracked the saber's guard against the man's temple. The pirate collapsed.

"You should have fought left-handed," he suggested to his prone foe.

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