Ral kept his face-plate up, allowing the cool breeze to pull the sweat from his too young face. His enemies must have thought him mad. Perhaps they were right.
Ribs crunched beneath breastplate, screams of the dying echoed across the field filling Ral’s ears with sweet music. Music that he made, with the help of the other soldiers of course, but they were secondary. He was the artist, the choreographer that put it all together and made art.
A maniacal grin split Ral’s face as he pulled his shield back from the destroyed foe, only to sweep at the man with his longsword, taking the stunned, stumbling, faceless man just beneath the helm.
A head, packaged neatly in helm, tumbled over green grass, leaving splotches of red until coming to a stop. Ral paused to admire the work before moving on.
At least he wasn’t faceless. The mail and plate was a bother, but it was necessary. Battle would be better, more honorable without it, but one could not step onto a battlefield against fully armored foes without it. Oh, the art he could make if they would just fight honorably. Oh how the blood would flow.
These faceless men talked of honor, then hid behind masks. At least they did fight. There were those worse than these. Those who wore the armor, but never took the field. They called themselves Generals.
One faceless foe after another fell to Ral’s longsword, spilling their paint on his canvas. He left a trail of bodies across the field in the direction of the enemy command tent. If they would not join the battle, he would take the battle to them.
His approach drew the eyes of a hulk in gleaming armor, standing guard outside the command pavilion. The hulk lurched toward the field, toward Ral.
Ral marched to meet the hulk, just another faceless foe.
Five more of the faceless fell dead or wishing for it before he closed the distance enough to make out the eyes behind the mask. Grey eyes. Eyes like his.
Eyes like that were rare. Very rare. The only eyes that Ral had ever seen like that had been in the mirror.
They crashed together, a storm of metal, swords and shields. Stroke after stroke, they matched each other. Ral smiled, happy to have found a worthy opponent, even if this foe did not have the honor to show his face.
Ral relished the fight but felt the fatigue from the battlefield. The faceless hulk was fresh, having stood by watching the artistry as Ral painted the field red. Vibrations ran up his arm as he blocked a blow with his sword, forcing him to step back before returning the blow. His longsword clanged off the shield of the faceless, but it was a good hit.
The faceless was beginning to falter, to stagger back, and Ral redoubled his attack, raining down blow after blow. This fight would be over soon… One final blow.
The hulk moved fast, so fast that Ral, wearied from the countless foes who lay in his wake, could not dodge, could not block. The hulk had baited him. It was a masterful technique, one that he had fallen for in his haste to end this contest.
The blade took Ral behind the knee, bringing him to the ground. Sweat flew from his face, joining the red and green on the canvas beneath their feet. He rolled to the side and brought up his shield in time enough to block the killing blow.
He struck upward from where he lay on his back, connecting with the hulks sword arm, but it was an awkward blow that did not have the force required to make the hulk drop the sword. It did feel the blow however, stepping back and flexing the grip of the sword.
Ral stood, testing the knee and locked eyes with the hulk.
A horn sounded in the distance. One long, clear note. The battle was over. The hulk looked over its shoulder to where the horn sounded and backed toward it.
Ral’s army had won the day. He watched as the hulk in armor mounted and rode away, longing to finish the contest.
In the distance the hulking figure stopped, turned his mount and found Ral in the crowd of soldiers. They locked eyes once more across the distance, and the hulk gave a bow from horseback before turning to ride away.
If you like this story, perhaps you would like part one as well. You should check it out here.
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