It’s good to see that our long rest in Halcyon has been moderately productive. Having spent the past year building an established village, I’ve recently heard rumblings of recidivism. One would think that publicly beheading one fool who didn’t understand the concept of community would put paid to that kind of crap. Looks like it’s time to take up the axe, don the black cloak, and start strolling through the city and outlying villages again.
I wandered north to one of the wee hamlets. The hard working farming folk there had visitors from the local tinkers, and one hot-head too deep in his cups began fomenting rebellion and sedition. I had dressed as a cloaked laborer and simply listened calmly (I’m sure Adra would be surprised) as the Strigani fool boasted and capered. I finally asked him what he’d do if Halcyon’s Black Axe were here.
His youthful face twisted into a sneer “I would shorten his beard by a headlength.”
The look on his face was priceless as I pulled the Black Axe from beneath my cloak and slammed it loudly on the table. The din of conversation died suddenly, and I told him “Here’s your chance, boy.”
Now several of my companions may consider me a bloodthirsty sort of fellow, and I’ll admit to a perverse pleasure in combat, but the boy should’ve walked away. I would have let him. Too much cheap wine, too many of his friends watching, and too much bravado…
The punk Strigani was fast. In a flash, a dagger was in his hand and he was leaping to knock the Black Axe to the floor so I couldn’t grab it. I rolled backwards with his dive, kicking him over me and rolling into a combat crouch with my battleaxe in one hand and my handaxe in the other.
The fool tumbled across the floor and sprung upright quickly. He grinned broadly as we both heard the clang of the Black Axe striking the floor.
“Walk away, boy. This is the first and last warning you’ll ever get.”
What happened next was pure stupidity. I could’ve told you exactly what he was going to do by his second step. It was obvious the fool had never fought anyone armed with axes. He was telegraphing every move and foolishly assuming that axes need broad swings.
I assumed The Mountain Holds stance as he attempted to bob and weave in front of me tossing his dagger from hand to hand. Better footwork might have saved him, but by the time he was in position, I had flicked out with the handaxe wrong-footing him. As he was spinning away to avoid the feint, a twist of my wrist drove the battleaxe slicing up into his left armpit. Against an armored opponent the move would have been impractical and woefully ineffective, but against this fool’s silk shirt it was lethal. His momentum worked against him as he slid along the edge and I continued to lifted the axe deep into his body.
The boy screamed, his left arm nearly severed, hanging by a tendon or two. Blood jetted from wound and quickly soaked into the sawdust coating the floor. His Strigani friends were stunned by how fast the fight ended, and by the time they leaped to the fool’s aid, he was shivering from blood loss and pain. Whimpers and screams filled the air. I could tell by his waxy pallor and the way they squeamishly tried to wrap his shoulder that the fool would be dead in a matter of minutes. Cedric’s healing powers might have saved the boy, but he wasn’t there and mercy would have sent mixed messages. The boy had to die painfully and brutally.
Squatting, I slid the handaxe into a loop on my hip and grabbed a handful of sawdust to clean the blade of my battleaxe, then slid it into the other loop at my hip. Grabbing the haft of the Black Axe, I spun quickly and brought it up from the floor, over my head, and down savagely across the fool’s throat. His friends dove and scattered as the singing curve of black iron struck home; the bravo’s severed head bounced off the floor and splattered blood across them all. Whistling air from the cut windpipe was the only sound in the room.
Flicking gore from the edge of the Black Axe, I roared: “Sedition will not be tolerated. Rebellion will not be tolerated. If you don’t want to be here you can leave, BUT BY ARAWAI’S MUDDY TWAT, I WILL HAVE ORDER OR HEADS WILL FUCKING ROLL!”
Silence and the coppery scent of blood reigned as I slowly strode to the door and out into the night.