Monday, July 2, 2012

Wither The Vain: Spare Change Part 4

The Arts

Being beheaded hurts less than you might think. Especially if they sever the spinal cord on the first swing. That's the key. That way you don't feel the two or three follow up strikes it usually takes to finish the job.

Arbiter Moon had no intention of taking more than a single swing.


I dropped to the warehouse floor in mid-lunge and rolled beneath Moon's blade. He kept moving forward, spinning his enormous sword in an unbroken circle. As I rose, I flapped my wings once and burst away from him.

Dipping the bristles in the paint.

"You are fast War Dreamer."

"As fast as you are powerful Arbiter."

He chortled wetly behind his mustache of tentacles. Moon continued to spin his blade, a fan of unrelenting steel.

Wither watched silently from the sidelines. Christoph and Holly continued to hiss and whisper to each other. Arturo was shouting.

He wanted to know why a rapier.

Wither already knew.

You'll never overpower death, only outplay him.

Arbiter Moon lunged again, right to left downward slash. I let my right knee give out and fell into a roll. As we passed, I drew a single stripe across his ribs with my rapier.

He bled through the single clean cut in his leather armor. Arbiter Moon turned and lowered his blade in deference for only a moment. I bowed in return.

Brush stroke arcing across the canvas.

Moon lunged again, and for a moment, I forgot who it was I faced. One of the elite of The Judges. One of the most feared foes of the Sleepers. My equal by rank. I lunged for him in return. And as his blade came for me across the horizon, I dropped flat once more.

And then his blade stopped, spun, and changed directions. I lay frozen.


Steel blade, easily four foot long. Thick. Wide. A cleaving sword. At least a hundred and fifty pounds of raw power. At least. And he stopped it dead.

I moved, finally, twisting to the left as he drove his blade into the concrete. I found my feet inside his arm's reach and drove my shoulder into his stomach.

He did not budge. Instead, I was hoisted by the back of my neck and flung backwards to the edge of our ring.

An opposing arc of paint dwarfing the first.

I struggled up once again and lowered my rapier in respect this time.

"You are strong Arbiter."

"My Lord Kraken has made me unstoppable as the tides themselves. No honor lost to fall here. You will be heralded among the worthiest of the sinners."

Wither laughed. Barking. Unrestrained. Scornful.

"You mock my word old man?"

"I mock your perception Arbiter. Seth, give him his honorable death. My hands are starving."

"Pardon my brother Arbiter, he is a murderer with no sense of honor."

Moon nodded. We raised our blades once more.

We lunged for each other again. Moon carved a path diagonally with his blade. I slipped aside, meeting his blade with my own.

His great sword snapped my rapier in two, a bare foot from the hilt.

Moon's court cheered.
Arturo cursed.
Christoph and Holly gasped.

But Wither was smiling.

I drove the severed blade into Arbiter Moon's throat and twisted. His eyes widened as he choked on his blood and my blade. He flailed wildly, flinging me backwards.

I skidded across the flooras he clutched at the hilt of my rapier. He dropped to his knees, gurgling through a maw full of murky blood. He tentacles grasped each other tightly.

And he saluted me, fist to chest, before he fell. Dead.

A final stroke, the brush breaking, the piece complete.

The Judges fell silent. They lowered their weapons and each saluted me in turn. I returned their salute, standing straight with bowed head.

Each memeber of Moon's Court touched a small red pouch at their wrist. The contents, a purified stonefish poison, coursed into the system. They died, wordlessly, as their Arbiter had.

"What just happened?"

"You're Victory Arturo, don't you know anything about honor? Moon fought for them in a trial by duel. They were found guilty."

I turned to Wither.

"Are you satisfied?"

"Satisfied? No. Impressed? Yes. Good job Seth. Was wondering when you'd really start remembering."

"Not satisfied?"

"No. I'll only be satisfied after you help me over to each of the bodies once I finish with Moon here."

The bastard.

"Murdering dog. He died with honor. Leave his body and essence in peace."

Wither sighed disgustedly and crouched beside Moon's body. He drew my broken blade from Moon's throat.

"You are wrong Seth. I am not entirely without honor."

He laid his hands on Moon's wounded throat, as he pulled off his gloves. The great hole in the Arbiter's neck drew closed. His tentacles writher madly as he sucked in air.

"Welcome back Arbiter Moon. You died with honor. And for that, you get a second chance."


Wither chuckled.

"C'mon, get up squid head, you've just been drafted."

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