Chapter 113 = A reason to fight
Disclaimer: All characters here are of my own invention, but the original idea of Yoshies, Birdos, etcetera, are copyright of Nintendo, and I make no money from writing this.
17th of Jallora,
CD 2156; Halls of
Mikhail and the Dragon Slayer captain ran for each other at the same time; as the captain took a large slash, Mikhail stepped aside to avoid it. He raised his sword to strike back, but instead was forced to parry a follow-up slash by lowering his blade. He struck out at the captain’s sword, hoping to unbalance him for another strike, but such a tactic was expected and the captain held his sword still. Mikhail was at a distinct disadvantage – while he did not know how the Dragon Slayer captain would fight, the captain in turn most likely knew the finest details of the fighting style that Mikhail was taught.
Still, he could not give up, and had to hope that his foe would make a mistake or let down his guard, giving him any opening he could take advantage of. He suspected some form of treachery, given who he was fighting; but the two guards the captain had brought with him were standing back, not getting involved in the fight, at least for now.
Mikhail took a step back to steady himself, trying to feint his opponent with a quick, weak strike, but the captain saw through his ruse and moved his sword to block the true attack that followed it. Moving on the offensive, the captain took a broad, horizontal slash at the anthro Yoshi, forcing him to step back further, and he pressed forward again, driving him back with a stab that Mikhail avoided. Salína, behind him, also stepped back, unsure of what to do; if she joined in, the two guards would likely join the fight as well, and then they would be outnumbered.
“Not bad.” The captain sneered as he deflected another strike, his next stab missing as Mikhail twisted his body to the side. “You put up a better fight than your parents did. Your mother wasn’t even armed, heh.”
Mikhail gritted his teeth, but tried not to let his anger take over, even though it was seething, boiling inside of him. But if he did that, he would become careless, and surely be defeated; he fought not just to avoid being gutted by the silver serrated sword, but to keep his temper under control. Obviously, the captain was hoping to goad him into overreacting, and he couldn’t let him have his way… no matter how much he wanted to lose control right now.
“Your father didn’t exactly last long either.” The captain said, staring down Mikhail as he stepped back, preparing to strike again. “All he had was a scythe. He must have been a farmer, not like it matters now, eh?”
Mikhail’s grip tightened on his sword, but he resisted the urge to make a reckless strike, holding back to sidestep the captain’s swing when he moved forward again. He dearly wanted to strike out, but that would only end him – once he won this duel, then he could take all the time he needed to finish this man off. Then again, Salína was right behind him, and she surely wouldn’t approve of that… he would be forced to give this man a fast death, one he did not deserve, no matter how much he wanted it to be otherwise.
I suppose doing that will make me a better person, somehow?
His thoughts were interrupted as he took another step back, finally thrusting and only striking at armour. “Come on, you chicken. Stop trying to hit me, and hit me!” The captain taunted, attempting to disarm Mikhail with a strong strike to his blade, though the anthro Yoshi’s grip remained firm.
In response, Mikhail made a low thrust, forcing the captain to hop backwards, and a high one to make him bend away; he followed it with a third strike to the chest, hoping to get in between the plates of armour, but his blade was turned away. He quickly stopped his offensive and not a moment too soon, stepping back from a strong vertical slash by the captain. Mikhail twisted his wrist to flick his sword out quickly, and drew first blood, only managing a short nick across the forehead of his adversary.
The captain swore and stumbled back, but was quick to regain his composure, making a less involved thrust for the anthro Yoshi. Mikhail was nimble enough to evade it, and the next slice that came his way, scoring another hit on the heavy red armour of the Dragon Slayer captain, to no avail.
“Three members of your family take me on and all you can get is a tiny scratch? Pathetic, really. Now, hurry up and die for me.”
Mikhail stepped to the side to avoid the next strike, and swung at the same time as the captain’s next slice; their blades met in the air, and they held them that way for a moment, pushing at each other in a contest of strength, circling slowly around where the two swords met. Mikhail eventually broke off as his hands became tired, jumping back out of the way of the next slash, and stepping forward to make one of his own, coming within an inch of the captain’s face.
Normally after such a move, Mikhail would have retreated again, but he knew that was exactly what the captain was expecting. Instead, he swung his sword downwards, hitting the captain’s; taken off guard, his grip faltered, and he was momentarily left defenceless. Mikhail was about to take advantage of this, when the captain grinned broadly – instead of holding position and recovering, he instead retreated quickly…
…ending up behind Salína. Before either Yoshi knew what was going on, he had her in a headlock, and had his sword held at her throat, ready to kill her on a moment’s notice.
“So, what will you do now?” The captain said, breathing heavily to recover from the fight. “A real soldier would choose victory first, but if you do, she’ll be dead.”
Mikhail hesitated. Salína was held firmly; she had dropped her pike and was trying to free herself from the captain’s bracer-covered arm, to no avail. With his sword held like that, he was wide open for a finishing strike… but Mikhail’s sword might not get there in time to ensure the captain was the only one to die.
“Heh. They really have turned you, haven’t they? You’re just a weak-willed coward now, a civilian with armour and a sword. A soldier wouldn’t hesitate to finish his task, no matter the cost. That’s why you’re a disgraced guardsman and I’m the captain of an elite force.”
“You’re wrong.” Mikhail said, holding his sword by his side. “Maybe I would have agreed a month ago – but I’ve learned there’s more to life than just being an obedient soldier, following orders blindly. You think you’re superior, but you’re no better than a housepet doing tricks for its master.”
“Listen to the overgrown lizard talk!” The captain chuckled, tightening his grip on Salína. “We’ll see who’s superior when the both of you are dead and I’m on my way for another promotion. Are you going to put your sword down and take this the easy way, or do I have to get my men to do it for me?”
“After this war, I’m going to stop fighting… I’m not going to do this any more.” Mikhail could see Salína struggling more, unable to overcome the captain’s strength. “You took so much from me, hid so much from me, I’m going to learn how to find it.”
“Are you done dreaming yet?” The captain responded. “Here’s what will really happen: First you will die, and then her. The other way around works too. Then, I find the rest of your party and gut them and get made a general. And then I live happily ever after and you rot in a trash heap somewhere.”
“No.” Mikhail retorted. “I’m not going to fight any more… after this is over. Until then, I’ll fight to protect what I’ve regained, and I’m not going to let the man who took my parents’ lives take that of me or my lover, too.”
“Now wait just a second-” A startled Salína said upon hearing the last part, but she was silenced by the gauntlet at her throat.
“Hah, lover, that’s a good one. Tell you what; you’ve got until she suffocates to put down your sword.” The captain said, glaring. “I’m not in the mood for any more games.”
Mikhail paused, but saw her starting to choke, and started to bend over as if to place his sword on the ground. He watched the captain carefully – and as soon as his grip on Salína relaxed a tiny amount, he stood up again sharply; in the blink of an eye his sword cleaved the air, and through the thin gap between the captain’s bracer and his elbow, cutting through bone and removing his lower arm entirely. Salína cried out in surprise and disgust as she was splashed with blood, jerking away from the captain; who was himself crying out in pain. He was utterly defenceless now, and Mikhail could do to him as he wished; but, even though Mikhail would once have wanted to cut off his other limbs one by one or simply leave him as he was, he brought his sword up in another swift stroke and decapitated the captain with it, silencing him.
As his body fell down and his head landed nearby, Mikhail stared down at his defeated foe, blood dripping from his blade. “I actually think I feel better this way… rather than stooping to your level of torture.”
He turned on the spot, glaring at the other two guards, who were already hesitating and stepping back. It only required him to take a step forward for them to turn and flee as fast as they could, as Salína retrieved her pike from the floor where she had dropped it.
“…hey, what you said there-” She started.
“I meant it.” Mikhail cut her off, turning to face her. “I felt it since I first met you… I may have been misguided, but now I can start anew. I love you, and I will protect you until my dying breath. It is the least I can do to atone for what I have done…”
She blushed deeply, but moved closer to him. However, they both heard footsteps approaching; holding their weapons ready, they turned to face the sound, and saw the two vampires catching up to them.
“We led them around a bit before escaping,” Skafria explained. “Where is Darkmark?”
“We lost him somewhere along the way.” Mikhail said. “If the alarm has been sounded, the king and his court are likely taking refuge in the throne room, so we should go there.”
He turned, pointing the way for them to go. “This way. We must hurry… who knows how he is doing without our help?”
To be continued…