The Stand Off

“Sheath your weapon, soldier! Stay your hand!” the commander shouted, and the soldier’s swing stopped mid descent mere inches from cleaving through the prone enemy’s skull.

The muscles on the unarmored soldier bristled along the hulking mass of his bare back. Even in his battle ready and crouched position, the solder was 6 hands taller than anyone on the battle field, living or dead. The carnage wrought by him and his unconventionally long and serrated bastard sword formed a circle around him as though he had been anchored to the spot he now occupied.

The commander’s roar had been clear and it carried easily across the short distance of the unnaturally quiet battle field. All movement had ceased, all heads had turned towards the soldier and the commander. The wounded, the dying, the beaten and the victors stared as one at the stand-off that was unfolding before them.

“Soldier!” the commander barked again, taking a few uneasy steps forward. “The battle has concluded and the enemy has begged for mercy. There is no mercy at the end of that monstrosity. So I say again, sheath your weapon.”

The soldier’s chest pumped like that a destrier ridden to its limits. His glare remained unflinching upon his intended target. Sweat and blood intermingled and ran in rivulets down his forehead and into his unblinking eyes. His sharpened teeth were bared and gritted as his labored breaths seethed and hissed through the the cracks and gaps.

Even though his weapon had ceased its savage path, it would take little for the wielder to circle the arc back around and cleave the fallen man in two.

Emboldened by the soldier’s lack of movement, the commander strode forward. “Put it away, son, and show this man the mercy he has begged of you with your side arm. Quick and painless.” he said in an encouraging voice that didn’t quite come off as authoritative.

As the over confident commander drew closer, the soldier suddenly shifted the blade in his grip. Without removing his glare from his primary intended target, the blade circled backwards and met with the under-armored crotch of the commanders ceremonial battle armor.

The commander followed the path of the weapon, in a disconnected slow motion, as the blade effortlessly shred up through his body and armor.

In a moment that seemed like an eternity, he saw the dark symbols along the blade flare to life and brighten as they traced their wicked path up the center of his body. The serrated edge of the ensorcelled blade seemed to dance forward and back so fast that, even as time moved at a snail’s pace, their movements were blurred to him.

As the blade exited the top of the commander’s skull, the two halves of his ceremonial helmet fell to either side of him. It continued its circuitous path through the air and only came to rest after cleaving a diagonal path through the head of the soldier that, only moments before, had begged for mercy.

Even as the eyes of those around him stared in abject fear with the anticipation that they would be next, the soldier was finally allowed to calm. He seemed to shrink down from the hulking mass of muscle and brutality that he had just been. His eyes softened and the spectators around him gaped with wonder as the sharpness of his teeth seemed to dull and the weapon he wielded shortened to a mere fraction, and far more conventional form, of what it had been.

With a sympathetic and almost mirthful look at everyone and no one in particular, he raspily intoned:

The blade hungers and must be fed.
The blade cares not for how it satiates.
The blade only consumes.

Exhaustion took him then and he pitched forward, unconscious, into the remains t of the fallen enemy soldier he had just butchered.

Shaken from their stupor, a throng of soldiers surged towards their fainted comrade, some eager to marvel at the berserker and others just as eager to apprehend him, for what he had done to their commander.

As they surrounded him, however, their bravery seemed to wane and no one who had thought to restrain him wanted to be the first to touch him. The brutality of what they had just witnessed sank in and they could do nothing more than stare down at what now seemed to be nothing more than a young boy of no more than fifteen.

The groans of the dying and wounded seemed to come back into being suddenly, as if they were merely forgotten. The sharp sound of someone clearing their throat brought them out of their confusion.

“Give the boy some room, or else you might startle him when he comes to. Believe me when I say, that it is not advisable.”

Heads snapped around in shock at the familiar sound of their commander’s voice. their eyes widened as he seemed to easily bring himself to his feet.

His armor barely held together as he stood. The path of the blade was clear, even though the wound that was wrought was not in evidence. While parts of it seemed to stay in place by sheer willpower alone, others remained in place with the aid of his arms being held in an awkward raised position. As a result of his arms being held this way, he was unable to cover the area where his small clothes and chain mail had once been and his manhood was left exposed and visible to anyone with eyes to see.

“Gentleman, give the boy some room.” the commander encouraged again, the edge to his voice more pronounced. “And please avert your eyes, your stares are making me uncomfortable.”

The attempt at humor lightened the mood and there were some chuckles then as they respectfully gave the unconscious boy some space. Some even attempted to maintain eye contact with the commander, even though they were still unsure how he survived the cleaving. Others thought they could see white bone like protrusions peaking through his shock of black hair, but quickly dismissed it.

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