A Show of Audacity - A short story by memymoi
I was the first to arrive on the scene; I cannot explain the horror that was being portrayed before me as I gazed down onto the hard wooden floor where a corpse lay, a splintered sword through his shoulder, his face distorted, almost comical. I could hear voices whispering in the distance, silhouettes of strangers looming behind a bright light. A solitary man approached me cautiously, carrying a flickering lantern and a sword. Upon seeing the body he advanced on me. He looked at me threateningly, screaming something incoherent at me. My mouth was dry; my eyes were startled by the spotlight cast upon me, my mind disorientated as I tried to understand how I had arrived in this situation. I said my piece to the man and turned to flee the scene, before it became uncontrollable and out of hand. The man in front of me gestured again, dramatically, and yelled once more. Before I knew it swords were drawn. We were dueling.
I stopped to take breath, leaning against a tree, placing my lantern on the ground and impaling my sword in the roots of the tree, as I recovered from the run, sweat was running down my cheek. The night sky was looming gravely above me, watching my every move like a giant beast preparing to pounce. I had just heard the news from the city watch that an assassin had been sent to my brother. I was torn apart by guilt! It was all my fault! My fault that he could be dead! I could not bear to think of the state that my brother might be in when I found him, but I had to find out. After a short pause I recovered my breath and continued on my way to his house. My heart was pounding as I ran through the woods; I saw his shack in a clearing just in front of me. As I advanced on it, lantern aloft, I saw a figure tentatively investigating the scene. I approached him cautiously, raising my sword as I went, letting him know that I was prepared to fight if need be. I looked to the side and a horrible sight met my eyes. My brother lay on the floor, lifeless. I did not raise my voice as I asked the stranger whether he had killed my brother. I was amazed at the steadiness of my words, and yet he backed away as if I had lunged at him with a spear. He seemed to mutter to himself almost irrationally and I began to wonder whether he was going insane with the thought of what he had done to my brother. I gestured to the man lying on the floor, alone and growing cold on the chilled grass, and demanded an answer from the solitary stranger. When he refused to answer I drew my sword and charged towards him, knowing it was he who had killed my only brother. We were dueling.
I had fought this newcomer before and knew his style; I parried his advances and retaliated strongly. One minute passed. Two minutes passed. I forgot his technique. I stumbled briefly. I was forced to improvise wildly and struck him once in the shoulder and twice in the knees before he fell to the ground, motionless. I threw him out of sight so that he could leave this world unseen by those watching and judging. I raised my sword victoriously, away from the house behind me, with its winding pathway, away from my past, strewn with murder and grief, away from everything I knew, and vowed, before all the witnesses bearing down on me from above to leave this land and never to kill another soul again. I let out a sigh of relief as I realised. It was all over.
He seemed an extremely skilled combatant. I had never fought such a master of the sword. He seemed to know every move I made, before I made it. I would have retreated were it not for the anger and rage I felt towards this man for murdering my last and only living relative left to me in this world. As I began to turn my fury into a flurry of strikes and elusive manoeuvres, he started to fall back. I was winning! Then all of a sudden, as I knew he would, he struck me, not once but three times! I fell to the ground and froze. He dragged me from the scene placing me behind a few trees, hidden from sight. I rose and came back from a long way away. I had been captivated by myself, totally involved in my other half. I took a seat and observed my colleague performing his role admirably. I listened as he vowed, in a howling voice filled with sorrow and remorse, to leave this land and never to kill another soul again. It was at that moment that a great red blur skated past in front of him in a haze of red curtain.
We all rose, hand in hand, and bowed as we congratulated ourselves before the audience.