A Lesson in War
A Sword of Otrim Story
by Lyndon Perry
Copyright 2011 Lyndon Perry
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In vain we peer beyond what can be
– Idessian Proverb
“Slay the infidel, Otrim, and have done with it.”
Otrim looked up at his commander, then across the valley floor and blinked blood from his eye. Like afterbirth on a peasant woman’s floor broken bodies splattered the battlefield. A slight breeze carried the dank odor of dirt and death.
“‘Love thine enemies and do good to those who persecute you,’ so the Master taught us, Ardus.”
“Aye, but the Master faced not these heathen hordes. And behold, you’ve felled already a dozen such persecutors. It’s late in the evening to determine the day, don’t you think? Come, Lieutenant, why this sudden bout of remorse?”
“Not remorse, Commander. Mercy. Defense, by the word’s meaning, is defensible. Offense is an offense to God.”
“You confuse wordplay with swordplay, Otrim. Your ethical quibble would allow the enemy to rejoin the battle.” Ardus glowered at his lieutenant who knelt by a wide-eyed and wheezing Korreti warrior. “And such debate tires me.” Snatching the sword from his underling, the commander beheaded the infidel with a quick and fluid downward stroke. “Ah, see? His blood, too, is on your sword.”
Otrim sprang to his feet and wrenched back his weapon; his shoulder – leveraged against his commander’s chest – sent Ardus sprawling to the blood-stained ground. Just as quick Ardus was up, his own sword drawn and ready for combat. With a shout both men leapt at each other and their instruments rang, clashing to the hilt where they came to a quivering stop, v-shaped under their chins. Their hot breath crossed the plane of their raised swords and they tasted each other’s battle lust. Equally matched in muscle and grit, the two men paused, some hidden part of their brain calling out for reason amidst the rising passion.