Chapter Five: Slaughter
Quickly forgetting what he was about to say to Black Wind, Torben runs outside the forge. Black Wind and Belgin follow him, wanting to see what the situation is. Torben turns back to Belgin. “Belgin, go inside and grab my sword. Then hide indoors. You know where to go to stay safe.” As soon as Torben told her what to do, Belgin quickly ran back into the forge. “And you, Black Wind, was it? Do you know how to fight?”
“Yes.” Black Wind nods and succinctly answers.
“Good, then follow me. Hopefully these bandits are nothing much.” With one hand, he grabs the large sword being hauled out by Belgin and starts running towards the source of the screams. Although Torben is running as fast as he can, to Black Wind they might as well be standing still. But he follows obediently behind Torben for now, until he knows what the situation is like.
As they reach the front of the village, there is a group of about 20 armed men standing around. Although a few have their weapons drawn, it looks like luckily there hasn’t been any fighting yet. There is, however, a middle-aged man lying face down on the ground with blood pooling around him. In front of the body is a giant man riding on an even more giant horse. He wears a brigandine for armor and carries a long spear. The spear has blood on it, obviously from the man on the ground. Seeing this, Torben gasps out, “Emmett!” His eyes redden as he looks at the man riding the horse. “Who do you think you are, barging into our village and killing the chief?” Torben angrily demands.
The rider turns his horse towards the two people who came late to the scene. “Me? Hah. I’m the great Roland. Do you know who I am now?” The man, Roland, arrogantly states.
Torben’s face pales a bit when he hears this name. Obviously this bandit has a bad reputation around here. He grits his teeth despite that and calls out, “Ok, so you’re Roland. What we have to give you for you to leave us alone? Money? Food? Weapons? If we have it, it’s yours. There’s no need to kill anyone.” Black Wind is surprised at how easily Torben is giving in to this bandit. His impression of the blacksmith was a favorable one, thinking him a valiant figure.
Roland gives a sinister grin and says, “You said it, so don’t regret it. We get whatever we want, right? Then bring out 50 gold, two barrels of your best ale, and 5 nice women for us. Don’t worry, we’ll give the women back when we’re done with them. If you still want them.” He starts laughing, as though he finds this whole situation to be the funniest thing in months. The men behind him start laughing too; it’s an altogether creepy sight. Black Wind feels his blood boil and starts emitting a faint bloodlust.
Torben grabs his sword before slowly releasing it again. “Fine.” He yells out. “We’ll bring you 60 gold and three barrels of ale. That should be enough for you to leave, right? That’s all the gold our village can afford. And even then, we won’t be able to pay the taxes to the lord at the end of the season.”
Hearing Torben reply, Roland suddenly stops laughing and stares him right in the eyes. “And the women. You can’t forget that, it’s very important.”
Torben, unable to take it any longer pulls out his sword. “You bastard! You’ll have to kill us first, before we hand anyone over to you!”
Roland grins and points at the chief, Emmett, lying dead in the dirt. “Funny, because that’s exactly what he said. I guess I don’t mind doing it like that.” Before he even finishes talking, he spurs his horse on and charges at Torben. In the blink of an eye, he arrives and thrusts his spear towards Torben’s chest. Torben barely parries it out of the way with his broadsword and slashes at one of the horse’s legs, disabling it.
Obviously not expecting his opponent to have any sort of skill, Roland jumps down from his horse and confronts Torben. “You’ll pay for crippling my horse. This whole village will burn! Men! Do it!” The bandits who were previously just standing around start to take action upon his signal. They draw their weapons and take out torches, lighting them. A few men in the back hold out their hands and start chanting, magic designs appearing on the ground at their feet. Sensing that the situation is going from bad to worse, Black Wind goes into action.
Roland and Torben are exchanging blows, both of them obviously very skilled with their respective weapons, when they see a black blur pass by and feel a gust of wind on their bodies. Roland’s eyes widen as he realizes that the man who was standing behind Torben has disappeared. But he can’t spare any thought to think about it too deeply in the middle of a fight. Torben is just too frightening with his heavy blade. Each swing carries the weight of 10 men behind it and is as fast as a swooping swallow. If not for the added length of his spear keeping Torben at bay, the bandit leader would have an even tougher time staying unharmed.
The entourage of bandits have already taken action, though, by the time Black Wind decides to act. Those with their weapons drawn run towards the villagers, getting ready to massacre. A few torches are thrown onto the thatched roofs of nearby houses, quickly setting them aflame, and the magicians in the back continue to cast their spell. As Black Wind does not yet know the capabilities of magic in this world, and he remembers back to how unfathomably powerful Sage George was, he first sprints past the other bandits to deal with the magicians. He runs up to the first one, and a flash of black strikes out. Black Wind doesn’t even bother stopping to confirm the kill and continues on, striking out at the second magician. Black Wind is long gone by the time the body of the first falls to the ground, his head and body neatly separated. This scene repeats itself until the magicians are all dead. By this point in time, the other bandits have realized that something is going on and look back, stupefied, at the sight of this mysterious swordsman standing over the decapitated bodies of their 4 magicians.
Enraged at their comrades’ deaths, the bandits stop their advance towards the villagers and head back to where Black Wind is, surrounding him. He just stands there, seemingly calm, watching them get into formation. As the bandits creep closer like a cat stalking it’s prey, Black Wind speaks up. “Hypocrits. You’re fine killing and robbing others, but as soon as your friends die you get mad? Scum like you don’t even deserve to live. Good thing I can help with that.”
As soon as he has finished talking, he seems to vanish. The bandits look around, wondering if he ran away with some sort of magic. In reality, Black Wind jumped into the air above them. As he reaches the peak of his jump, he spins, utilizing the sword technique “The Heavens Weep and Stars Fall.” The bandits below don’t even have time to scream out as they are pierced by countless streams of qi infused sword energy raining down from Black Wind’s Celestial Blessing. Black Wind lightly lands on the ground, using his qi to push the blood away from where he steps. Not even sparing a glance to the sea of bodies around him, he walks over towards the single remaining bandit.
On the other side of the clearing another fight is taking place. Despite his surprise at there being an expert in a small town such as this one, Roland has been able to slowly start putting the pressure on Torben. Torben, on the other hand, is covered in small wounds. It’s evident that his lack of fighting in recent years has dulled his previous skill. He has managed to keep from taking any lethal wounds so far, though.
Roland pushes forward, using the superior length of his spear combined with his vast combat experience to maneuver Torben against a wall. Trapped there, Torben does all he can to keep himself alive. Unable to avoid the strikes any longer, he is forced to parry and block the ones aimed toward vital points while occasionally allowing himself to be hit in non vital areas. The spear strikes rain down towards him, never giving a chance for respite. Finally, his guard drops by a few meagre inches as his arms start to lose strength due to accumulated blood loss. Roland sees the flaw in his guard with hawk like eyes and drives his spear straight for Torben’s heart, using all his strength to make sure this killing blow can’t be driven off target. However the strike never reaches Torben’s heart. Instead it hits the flat of a black sword.
Letting out a quick sigh, Black Wind is relieved that he made it on time. After dealing with the group of bandits that threatened the villagers, he looked over and realized that the blacksmith, Torben, was in trouble. He dashed over at full speed, and barely blocked the fatal strike that would have taken his life.
“What… How can this be?” Roland stutters as he sees the mysterious swordsman appear in front of him, blocking his killing blow. Aside from the fact that his spear is being blocked by this man’s sword, he would even think that he is seeing a ghost. There is no other explanation that he can think of for how the man with the black sword can disappear and reappear like he does. Enraged, he calls out, “Men! Subdue this swordsman! Once we kill these two, the village will be ours to plunder!” But all that answers him is silence.
A chill goes down Roland’s back as he thinks of something. But unable to believe it, he leaps back from Black Wind and Torben and takes a moment to look behind him. Upon seeing his former subordinates scattered on the ground like rose petals, he starts shivering. A terror comes over him as he looks back at the swordsman standing by Torben’s side. Black Wind’s headband has come off thanks to his high-speed movement, revealing the black, light absorbing, gem in his head. Combined with the bloodthirsty look on his face, it makes him look like some sort of devil. Roland stumbles backward and falls to the ground. A dark stain appears on his trousers as his mind goes blank.
The devil walks toward him and raises his black sword. Wind whistles as the sword swings down.
Black Wind looks at the corpse sitting in front of him, and his bloodlust fades. Regaining his mind, he realizes what just happened. Although Black Wind is used to killing, having walked the path of a swordsman, he still doesn’t normally massacre like this. He values life and is merciful. So why did he lose his mind so easily to bloodlust this time? As Black Wind ponders this, he reaches up to his forehead.
The stone feels hot.
Notes: Ok, so I said I’d be putting out less chapters. But I know you guys wanted action and I wanted to get to the action too. So I spent some time and pumped out this chapter.