Zeke and Rafe left the busy marketplace and headed back towards the hospital. Zeke was admiring his new sword. He could feel the power it had inside it. He was eager to test it out. He wasn’t sure why Rico wanted to be rid of it so badly, but he was glad to own something so pretty.
“I take it that you would like to try out your new sword?” Rafe asked, looking behind her. She smiled when she saw him gaze at the sword excitedly. She remembered the day she got her first sword. She thought that she was invincible. It wasn’t until her father taught her how to use a sword that she began to feel confident in her skills. She was looking forward to teaching Zeke how to master his sword. She was a little unclear how its magic would come into play. She was also worried about why Rico was in such a hurry to give Zeke the sword. This didn’t sit well with her, but what’s done was done. She would just have to keep an eye on it.
“Would I? What kind of question is that? Of course I want to try it out!” Zeke said. “I can’t wait to use this baby in battle!”
“I think you’re far from winning any battles with that thing.” Rafe chuckled at Zeke’s enthusiasm. “Let’s check in with Moralie and Simon first, and then I’ll take you out of the city to train.”
Zeke and Rafe returned to the hospital and entered the room where Moralie was recovering. Moralie and Simon were engaged in a deep conversation when they entered. All talking stopped and they smiled at them. Zeke held up the red sword and triumphantly set it on Moralie’s bed.
“Look at what I got today!” Zeke pointed to the sword at Moralie’s feet.
“It’s a sword,” Moralie said. “It’s a pretty sword. Not many of those lying around, I can tell you that much.” She reached down and picked it up. She examined the red blade carefully. “It’s a magic sword, too. Where did you get it?”
“In the market place! Ask me how much I paid for it!” Zeke was bursting with pride.
Moralie shrugged her shoulders. She knew that a sword like this would cost a lot of money, more money that a mere wizard apprentice could ever hope to have.
“I got it for free! FREE!”
Moralie examined the sword again. Something like this would never be free unless there was something wrong with it. There wasn’t anything obviously out of place. The craftsmanship wasn’t the greatest. She had seen some well made swords in her day. She had even stolen a couple of them. She got an uneasy feeling about Zeke’s sword. There was something dark about it, but she couldn’t really put her finger on it. She wanted to warn Zeke about using the sword, but she didn’t want to rain on his parade. He was very elated about it, so she decided to let him have his little moment. She shot a look over to Rafe and saw that she looked like she was having some of the same concerns.
“Looks great, kid.” Moralie handed the sword back to Zeke. “Just be careful where you swing that thing. You might put someone’s eye out.”
“That’s the point!” Zeke laughed. “Get it? Point? It’s a sword… with a point?” The others groaned at his terrible joke. He chuckled as he returned the sword to its sheath. “Rafe said that she’s going to teach me how to sword fight.”
Simon shot a glance to Rafe and gave her his toothy grin. “Don’t let her work you too hard. She’s a tough teacher.” He winked at Zeke.
Zeke didn’t know what to do with the face Simon was making, but he awkwardly grinned and waved. “Sure thing.”
“Where will you be?” Simon asked Rafe.
“We’ll be on the outskirts of Pimeria, near the woods.” She walked over to where she left her sword last night and picked it up. “We won’t be there for very long- maybe an hour or two. It depends on how well the student does.” She strapped her sword to her back and indicated to Zeke that she was ready to go.
“Wish me luck!” Zeke waved goodbye to Simon and Moralie. They waved to him as he and Rafe left the room. He was sure that they were eager to get back to the conversation they were having before they were interrupted. He wondered what they had been talking about for a few seconds and then the rush of sword practice took over from there. He couldn’t wait to test out his new sword.
To the north of Pimeria, a lone man dressed in all white rode his horse toward the city. He looked down at the bustling city from a high hill and breathed in the fresh country air. He reached underneath his shirt and pulled out an amulet with a red stone embedded in a gold chain. It caught the light of the sun and pulsated red light. The man smirked as he replaced the amulet underneath his shirt. He knew that what he was looking for was nearby. It was mere moments from his grasp. It had taken months to finally track it down, but now his sweet reunion was at hand. He snapped the reins and commanded the horse to move forward.
The sound of swords clashing could be heard throughout the woods outside of Pimeria. Rafe had shown Zeke how to hold a sword and then trained him on some simple sword wielding techniques. She was amazed by how fast Zeke was taking to the instructions. He wasn’t quite a natural, but he was getting it. She taught him the things that her father taught her when she was a young girl. There was no better swordsman than her father. He was the royal trainer for the army of the kingdom Quartia. She learned from the best. She felt honored that she would have this chance to train a student his teachings.
Now Zeke and Rafe were standing several paces apart with their swords held at the ready. Rafe grinned at Zeke and beckoned to him. Zeke raised his sword and yelled as he ran toward her. He brought his sword down to strike, but Rafe easily deflected the attack, knocking his sword out of his hands. It landed on the ground with a mighty thud. She also knocked Zeke to the ground. She didn’t have to do that, but she enjoyed it. Her father did the same thing to her.
“I almost had you,” Zeke said, rubbing his behind as he stood.
“You never almost had me,” Rafe said, brushing her blond hair out of her face. “Now let’s go again. Don’t hold back. I can take it.”
Zeke was panting loudly. He wanted to take a break, but Rafe wouldn’t let him stop. He now understood what Simon meant when he said not to let her work him too hard. In a way, he didn’t want to stop either. He wanted to prove to Rafe that he could hang in there, that he could take anything that she threw at him. They had been working at it for a solid two hours. He felt that his body was going to give up long before she would.
He walked over to his sword and picked it up. It vibrated slightly and tickled his hand as he held it. He dropped it and stared at it for a moment. Rafe looked at him curiously and then at the sword.
“Is there something wrong?” she asked.
“No, it just…” Zeke cautiously picked up the sword and gripped it tightly with his right hand. He waited for it to vibrate again, but it didn’t. He looked up at Rafe and shrugged his shoulders. “I guess it was nothing.”
He slowly got back into a battle ready stance and waited for Rafe’s instructions. She nodded her head and Zeke took off running towards her. This time he held his sword with the tip jetting out in front of him. He was sure that he was going to get her this time. Rafe made quick work of his attack and blocked it. She tried to knock the sword out of his hand, but this time he held onto it tight and he brought back for another attack. He was almost too quick for her, but she brought her sword back and caught the blade just in time. They continued to spar until Rafe finally kicked the sword out of his hand and held her blade at his throat.
“I concede,” Zeke said breathlessly. He put his hands up and got down on his knees.
“You don’t have to kneel, Zeke,” Rafe said, amused that he would go that far. “Please stand.”
“Rafe?” Zeke looked over at his sword and saw that the blade was glowing a red light. He pointed to it and Rafe turned her attention to it. “Should it be doing that?”
“It’s a magic sword, who know what it’s supposed to be doing.” Rafe didn’t like the looks of it. She watched as Zeke stood up to retrieve the sword. Something wasn’t right; she felt it in her bones. She regretted letting Zeke get that sword. Maybe Rico was right for being hesitant in giving it to him.
Zeke bent down and picked up the sword and felt it vibrate in his hands. It was a challenge to hold it. It tickled his hands and made him want to drop it, but he held on tightly. The sword began to produce a low hum. He looked to Rafe for an explanation, but she couldn’t offer him one. They continued to stare at the glowing, vibrating sword.
Another humming sound was heard from somewhere nearby. It was of a higher pitch than that of the sword’s. They seemed to harmonize with each other. Zeke and Rafe tried to pinpoint the location of the second hum. It wasn’t too far away from their current location- and it was getting closer every second.
When the humming got close enough, Rafe suggested that they hide. They quickly ran to the nearest trees and concealed themselves. Rafe had an afterthought of hiding their trail. They had greatly disturbed the ground where they had been sparring, it was a dead giveaway that there were there. It was too late for the second hum was among them now.
The sword’s humming grew louder as the second hum reached them. Zeke wanted to bury it inside his shirt in the hopes that it would muffle its sound. There didn’t seem to be a way of stopping it. He rolled his eyes and sighed as he waited for whatever was going to happen next.
The sound of a horse neighing alerted Rafe and Zeke that someone was there. They risked a glance from behind their trees and gazed upon a man dressed all in white dismounting from the horse. He was holding up a red amulet that glowed a bright red. He walked around the area where Zeke and Rafe had been sparring and let the amulet hone in on its prey. The sound of the harmonizing hums fluctuated depending on where he pointed the amulet. When he was satisfied, he put the amulet away and the humming stopped. Zeke was overjoyed by this.
The man cleared his throat and said, “I believe that you have something that belongs to me.” He paused and stared at the two trees that Rafe and Zeke were hiding behind. “If you return it to me right now, I will spare your lives.” He waited for a response. There was only the sound of the soft breeze passing through the leaves. “I offer you this chance to walk away with your heads firmly attached to your necks. Squander this chance and you won’t live to regret it.”
Rafe and Zeke exchanged glances. They knew that he was talking about the sword. Zeke didn’t want to give it up; he got it fair and square. Sure, he didn’t have any money invested in it, but he wasn’t going to just hand over his sword over to some blowhard.
Rafe looked at the man and decided that this man was not a good man. Threats aside, she could just sense that he was up to no good. Based on what she had seen of the sword, it was probably used for evil purposes. She posited that someone had separated the sword from its master in an attempt to reduce the amount of terror it caused. Now Zeke had it. What would happen to him if he used the sword?
“Are you still silent?” the man in white shouted. “So be it. I will take it back by force.” He reached out his hand at the tree that Zeke was hiding behind and gathered up his magical energy to summon the sword.
Instantly, Zeke felt the sword vibrate as it tried to leave him. He tightened his grip and resisted the pull. He felt the sword begin to pull him out from behind the tree. He tried to secure a foothold on an exposed root. He only succeeded in tripping over it and being dragged out into the open. Rafe attempted to grab his arm, but she was too far away.
The man in white looked down at Zeke as the sword dragged him forward. He ceased the summons and watched as the sword fell to the ground. The boy looked relieved. “So, you cling desperately to my sword like a babe to her mother’s teat. Amusing.”
“I could have done without the mental imagery, thanks,” Zeke said, standing.
The man extended his hand expectantly. Zeke looked at it and simply shook his head. “You would dare to deny me?”
“This sword is mine now. I bought it, it belongs to me.” Zeke raised the sword and pointed the blade at the man.
The man stared at Zeke with his steely dark eyes and scanned him up and down. “I can tell by the way you hold the sword that you don’t know how to use it.” This caused the man to chuckle. “You are but a boy. You have no use for this sword. Give it to me.”
Zeke looked at the sword for a moment. He saw that the blade was still glowing. It had so much power within it, he could feel it. He wanted to possess that power. Still, he had half a mind to give it to him. He didn’t want to upset this guy any more than he already was. The sword wanted to go back to him, he could feel that, too. He didn’t get good vibes from this man. Maybe it would be better if he didn’t have it.
“Don’t give it to him.” Rafe stepped out from behind her tree and raised her sword.
“I was wondering when you would appear.” The man was amused by this. “Another lamb for the slaughter. I suppose the time for talking is over. Give me the sword while you still draw breath.” Rafe and Zeke continued to point their blades at him. He bowed his head and said, “Very well.” He reached into his shirt and pulled out the amulet.
Before they had a chance to blink, an unseen force emitted from the red stone and threw Rafe and Zeke backward into the trees. They fell limply to the ground, but they didn’t stay there for very long. They quickly got back up and took account of their limbs, they were unbroken. They stood ready for another attack. Rafe just wanted to wipe the smirk from his face.
The man raised a black eyebrow at their defiance. While he had only used a fraction of the amulet’s power, it was usually enough to knock someone unconscious. He was impressed by their boldness.
“Alright, boy. I propose we settle this like men.” He walked over to his horse and took a sword out of his pack that it was carrying. The blade of this sword was green. He returned to Rafe and Zeke and swung it a few times to get a good feel for it. It wasn’t often that he used this sword, but he didn’t tell them that.
“We will duel for control of the sword. The winner gets the sword.”
“And the loser?” Rafe asked.
“And the loser will die.” The man gave a menacing grin. “What do you say?”
Rafe stepped forward. “I accept. I will duel with you.”
The man looked at her and chuckled. “My duel will not be with you. He possesses my sword, he will fight me.”
Before Rafe could argue, the man shot a red blast from the amulet and it sent her flying far into the woods. She landed on the ground with a hard thud and did not possess the strength to get up. He had used more power to pack a harder punch. She soon lost consciousness, despite her best efforts to remain otherwise. Her last thoughts were a silent prayer that Zeke would survive. That remained to be seen.