Chapter XLV – Danger!

[Link to previous chapter]

My sister’s dead. That’s the most positive conclusion I can come to. And a god has taken her place and will probably mess up my family for fun. Admittedly, I don’t like much of my family, but, still, they are mine.

My sister Jallia, dead. I knew she shouldn’t have come. It’s my fault. I don’t want to deal with it, or much of anything else. So I sit there and hang my head and cry. The others come over and say stuff, but I don’t care. It doesn’t matter.

And then Katrina raises her voice. “Shut up, everyone. I hear something.” To be followed by a loud oath and, “Snakes! Tollon, get your damn sword out now!”

It’s more Katrina’s tone than her words that get me up, and I automatically draw my sword. And I see them. Hundreds of snakes, all coming toward us. And I’m no herpetologist, but they look like the poisonous kinds.

Katrina doesn’t have to yell. She has a hard voice. “Mia, Alencar, get behind us. Tollon, shoulder to shoulder, three feet apart.”

It occurs to me that I’ve never learned how to fight snakes with a sword. Somehow, that’s just not one of the things that came up. I think I’d be better armed with a shovel.

Katrina says, “Don’t lose it, kid. Just kill them.” And she swings her sword, and kills three of them in one blow.

Me, I stab. I cut. I slice. I do whatever I can to get my sword in position to do before the next snake gets close enough to strike at me. I head a scream from Mia, swing around, and go charging past her to attack the snakes coming from the other direction.

Experience is a great teacher, if it doesn’t kill you. As we are more and more surrounded, I learn how to swing my blade to slice through or scare off more and more snakes. And it’s strange, but I don’t think I’m doing it. I think the sword is. Or maybe I’m just becoming such a good swordsman that the blade and I am one.

It goes on and on. I stop consciously thinking, and just keep killing snakes. There are more behind them.

I keep killing snakes. There are more behind them.

I keep killing snakes. There are more behind them.

When the snakes stop coming, it takes me several moments to realize they’ve stopped. I want to go out and kill more, but Katrina grabs me. “Tollon, TOLLON, get a grip. You’re done. You’re done.”

I’m done. I look around. Katrina has worked up a sweat. Honorable Alencar and Mia are staring at me as if I’ve grown a third eye.

Well, no, they are staring at my sword. I take a look at it. It looks strange. It takes me a few seconds to understand what I’m seeing. There’s a red glow running down the middle of the sword, from the tip to the pommel.

Katrina says, “You didn’t tell me you had a magic sword.”

I look up at her. “I didn’t know. I took this off a highwayman. It’s the Etralstan sword I mentioned.”

“That’s not an Etralstan blade, Tollon,” Katrina replies.

Mia steps over and looks at it carefully. I hold it up so she can see it. She nods. “I’ve heard of such a thing, but I didn’t know any of them still existed. The blade is fae.”

I have a sword with an Etralstan pommel and a fairy-made blade, which I took off a highwayman. This makes no sense.

I sheath the sword and look around. The field is bordered by woods in every direction.

And in between the trees, I catch a fleeting glimpse of my highwayman, before he ducks behind a tree and scurries down a path.

Oh, yes, it does make sense. I turn to the others. “Come on, we have a bit of hiking to do.”

Honorable Alencar asks, “Where are we going?”

“I have no idea,” I tell her. “But it will bring us closer to our goal, that I can tell you.”

[Link to next chapter]