Just in case you didn’t notice, the navagation bar above now sports a “characters” tab. This is to help you to keep track of the major characters in stories. This way, even if I get sidetracked and don’t write the next part of a story for awhile, you don’t need to reread what has come before to get a refresher on who the main players are. I’ll do my best to keep it up to date.
Speaking of next parts, this is the third chapter in a novel I’m writing called Waywards Wandering. You can click here for the first chapter, or click on the Waywards Wandering catagory link above and scroll down to where ever you left off.
As always, comments are welcome! This is not a final draft by any means, so criticisms could be very helpful.
Thanks for reading!
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Lashea Fallenwood held her bastard sword firmly with both hands in spite the slickness of her sweaty palms. Calluses had formed over the blisters that had first formed when she had been left at the temple with the monks of Brihaad many years ago.
“Are you well, sister? Would you rather we continue this when you are less tired, perhaps?” the bald, round-faced priest smiled and mocked as he circled with his mace held firm in his right hand. Lashea forced herself to ignore his comments as she knew he was trying to goad her into loosing focus.
Not this time. Lashea has been practicing, studying her master hard. She was surely beyond his tricks, even if they were tried and true in the past. Lashea allowed a small, sideways smirk to appear on her fair-freckled face.
Today is my day. The clerics will come for his wounded body.
Without giving Clavus the benefit of a reply, Lashea stepped forward and swung her heavy sword down in a mighty arc is if to cleave the middle-aged monk in two. Clavus started to move forward and to the side, to strike at Lashea’s now exposed stomach. Lashea’s smirk broke into a grin as she knew he’d fall for the bait, thinking that she was enraged and unbalanced. Lashea reversed her momentum, not having thrown everything behind that swing, and brought her sword sweeping to the side, one-handed to cut off Clavus’s advance.
But rather than strike him as Lashea has expected, the sword passed through air as the monk took to the air and leapt over the low swinging blade to kick Lashea square in the face. She fell back and somersaulted, landing in a crouching position. Blood trickled down the side of her face, bringing out the fierce green in her eyes as she glared at her master. Clavus stopped his advance to let out a light-hearted chuckle.
Lashea ran, full tilt at the apparently distracted monk, stabbing strait at his solar plexus with her oversized blade. The monk parried it aside easily with his mace and kicked out, hitting Lashea’s hand. To her credit, she did not loosen her grip on the sword. Instead she swept out her right leg hoping to trip the off balance monk.
Not only did her use of martial arts not catch her master off guard, but it allowed him to again leap over Lashea’s low blow and score another series of strikes to her already bloody face with his fists.
This time, however, her master did not come out unscathed as Lashea was able to bring her sword to bear and swing in time to place a deep gash along one of his forearms.
Sensing an advantage, Lashea let out with a series of swings and thrusts. Though her attacks were slightly slower than the monk’s dodging, it also did not allow Clavus a chance to counter-attack without risking loosing a limb. Lashea had him backing into a wall of the training hall. She hoped to back Clavus into a place where he could no longer dodge, but he surprised her by turning after one such dodge, and running at the wall and up it several steps. He spring-boarded off the wall and launched himself at Lashea with an outstretched foot. Surprised, she barely dodged the attack, not having time to bring her sword around. She retreated several paces breathing heavily.
Again they circled each other. Clavus’s arm was bleeding more freely now, but he still maintained an air of superior calm. Conversely, Lashea face sported only a few minor wounds, but she struggled to not show her excitement. Never had she scored such a hit. She felt an urge to rush in claiming victory, and yet she recognized that time was on her side as her nose bled but a bit, but Clavus’s arm would weaken him the longer they circled one another.
Lashea also recognized that any mistake would be enough for Clavus to end the fight as he had so many times before, with Lashea on the floor of the training hall and Clavus admistering the healing powers of Brihaad.
Out of the corner of her eye, Lashea saw a door open to the training hall and Father Salane, the high cleric of the temple, walked in. He was followed by a diminutive robed figure, who Lashea did not recognize.
Sensing the opportunity for an audience in high standing, Lashea, swung her sword above her head and in back of her waist one-handed, handing it off to her opposite hand. She then brought the sword back in front of her to two hands. The gesture did nothing to phase her master, if anything he seemed even more amused as a wide grin adorned his lips through the display. Lashea had expected this reaction and was not distracted by it. She allowed her display to give her momentum into a series of wild swings, linking one-handed and two-handed styles. This was a routine she had been practicing in the private of her own chambers for months, never near her master. In training she had allowed him to continue to believe she was still too weak to handle the great sword one handed for more than a few seconds. If this took her master at all by surprise, he did not show it, being there to parry, dodge, and even slip in a few attacks of his own! Still he did not score a hit either which allowed Lashea to continue with some measure of pride and keep her mounting frustrations at bay. She was beginning to tire, but was inspired to press on.
Her audience murmured at her change in style. Lashea again allowed her smirk to surface, and even indulged in another glance over towards the door as she and Clavus began to circle each other again.
Lashea couldn’t help but let her guard down a moment as she saw another figure had since entered, and he sported a thick, green tail trailing out behind him!
* * *
Lashea, her humiliation complete, allowed herself to be introduced to Kanji Takimura and Deathwish, two adventurers, the former a monk of Brihad from the Eastlands. Lashea was not very tall herself, and yet the top of this monk’s head placed barely at Lashea’s neckline. Even so, he handled himself with the grace of a practiced warrior. He had also revived her after the conclusion of her mock-battle with brother Clavis, a conclusion which Lashea did not remember.
However, Lashea assumed it had not ended in her favor.
“Lashea was orphaned after the plague swept through our fair city some ten years ago. Alas, our temple was unable to save almost a hundred in that breakout,” explained father Salane a bit sadly, “Since then she has been one of our finest students, being one of the very few sisters to bear a Sword of Brihaad!”
Lashea was able to stand a bit straighter at that. It was true that very few of the holy order at all were able to handle the large bastard swords that Brihaad was often depicted holding. Even fewer were the women that could train their muscles the kind of endurance necessary to control the blade’s heavy swings for very long. Lashea had been brought to the temple as an angry, a vengeful spirit without a foe, having lost her parents to the sickness. Every other weapon they placed in her hand was often soon in too ill of a condition to use, as she broke staves, dented maces out of balance, and shattered lesser swords. When they placed the large blade in her hands she swung the sword about and nearly toppled over much to her own embarrassment. The sword forced her into discipline as she had to learn to control the awesome power of each thrust. In turn she learned to control her own wild flashes of anger with the same smoldering patience. The fires of her anger forged her fierce ability with this weapon, and it turn it taught her many things about the dual nature of justice. Just as she had to bide her time with this weapon to reap its rewards, so too would she have to wait for the right time to avenge her parents and put an end to the evils of this world, in service of The Great Protector: Brihaad. Brihaad would give Lashea the power she needed to fight the cruelties of the world.
Lashea suddenly realized in her recollection that she was staring at her sword and had not been listening to the rest of her introduction.
“This, Lashea, is entirely up to you whether or not you decide to accompany these two on their quest into the Eastlands,” Father Salane was saying solemly, “We know that it is a long way to ask you to go on your first journey, with strangers no less, but know that you would be in fine hands. These two were the slayers of the Lord of the Undead to the north in recent times, but also have been party to many great deeds to the present. Above all, they are followers of Brihaad. Kanji is a monk, meaning that he has been trained to use his body as his weapon. Deathwish here, if you look beyond his appearance is actually a paladin. Though you walk a slightly different path as a acolyte priestess, you would learn much from them, Lashea, much that we cannot teach you here in the temple.”
Lashea’s breath was stolen as she was looked at expectantly by the high cleric, a large, imposing looking human-reptile, and a small, serious monk. She was compelled to yell in affirmation and run to pack her things. Yet much to her own surprise, she protested, “What about the rest of my training? Beating master Clavis and learning more of the priest-powers of Brihaad and…”
Lashea was cut off by Salane’s waving hand, “You are more than ready. You more than demonstrated that this afternoon in the training hall.”
Yeah, you would’ve had him if you hadn’t gotten so distracted by my good looks.
Lashea suddenly drew out her sword and spun about at Deathwish’s mental communication.
I’m over here. No need for another demonstration. I think you can swing that thing around well enough for now.
Lashea’s jaw dropped as she regarded the scaled, armored humanoid waving at her and speaking directly into her mind. She then suddenly remembered herself and picked up her mouth and put away her sword. She stood up strait and nodded.
“I would be honored to accompany such fine warriors.”
Continue to Chapter 4