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The blade struck whip quick and slid in easy for the first three inches, until it hit bone. Olt felt a grumbling crunch somewhere deep within the walls of his chest, and the pain that brought him to his knees was quickly followed by retching that bore all thoughts of his adversary from him. Blood, bile and food fled him like rivers flee a glacier. His body softly toppled face first onto the muddy ground beneath his knees.

The sword tip had remained in his chest, lodged between his ribs. His adversary's throw had been good, but his had been better. His axe hewed helmet and skull like so many winter melons on practice posts. He could vaguely feel the edge of the blade where it cut into his arm when he fell on it. He heard his father's voice in the back of his head chiding him, "Death is a cold mistress."

His blood surged between white flares of pain and furious gasps of air. Olt could feel the hot wetness spreading from below his left breast across the inside of his hauberk. He knew how much of it must be staining the ground below him, and how short a time he had to sing his father's name. Olt rolled over onto his back. A floating sensation overtook him, and, as he looked into the brooding sky above the battlefield, he could almost make out the start of a rainbow at the edge of the one break of sunlight in the roiling slate above.

When the next surge of white overtook him, it was as a blood-choked throat shouted his father's name.

***

Diomedes paced the scriptorum, a habit he had developed upon attaining his robes, and abandoning the still and silent ways of a novitiate of the order. How much had a decade changed him over all that time? His pacing was just another form of the drilled steps of the soldier he once was. Bodily, he was not as strong as he had been then, but he was still stronger than any others at the abby by far. Nonetheless, ten years was a long time to any son of Adam's seed. Sighing, he ran a heavily calloused hand across a balding pate, another reminder of his time lost in pursuit of his goals.

Settling back to his desk from his pacing, he noted from the text to his right what line he had been translating. Marked with a thin strip of polished wood to help keep his place, Diomedes quickly resumed making notes in his commentary text. Transcribing a language none had written in three centuries was tedious. Translating a work written in a shorthand version of that language was like shaving a bear with a tweezer.

Gazing at his mechanus tempus, the middle-aged monk was taken aback slightly by how little he had accomplished in a night nearly spent. It was much later than he believed - compline long gone, with the last of the vigils soon to be upon him. Several of the candles by the door had gone out, and he could almost feel the thin fingers of dawn creeping in beneath the oak door to the study. He had no windows here; nothing from the outside to distract his work.

Standing, he groaned at his aching back as he shuffled into his small sleeping nook, adjunct to his study. The day would begin soon, but not before a few hours sleep. Unconsciousness found him with a half-spoken praise to his Father dying on his lips.

***

In the still hours just before the sun started it's long climb of the day, a rock shifted deep in a mountain deep below the southern face of the tallest peak of the Fargas Mountains. It was not the wind that shifted that buried rock, nor the occasional quaking of the earth caused by the thunder splits in the storming sky above.

Something dark moved in the rocks. Something was awake that had long lay sleeping, and it would not doze for long.

Comments

zerogenius
Aug. 16th, 2004 02:36 pm (UTC)
hehe Nice :)

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Steam Escaping!
delascabezas
The Son of the last of a long line of thinkers.
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