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Monday, October 16

A Duel

A Duel
Short Fiction Halloween Story
by C.S. Nusbaum

An owl hooted in the distance. Thick, silver-blue clouds drifted along the black sky, as midnight lay heavily over the forests of Darken Night. Crickets chirped and the thick of pine trees blanketed itself over the stretch of land. The moon, a golden orb, shed its shimmering light across the land, harmonious to the soft, fluttery wind.

The ranger, his black and blue hair falling across the pale white of his face, lay on the earthy ground, his back to the forest, lying against a great oak. He was wearing a black coat with a hood that threw most of his face into elongated shadows. Still, his eyes sparkled maliciously through the night.

A soft crunch here and there put the ranger on his guard. It was perhaps a human, although it was known that they were slow. No, they were far to clumsy to have traveled such a distance, the ranger decided. Still, the soft noises did not subside, not even after the ranger let out a warning howl. The clan would not be happy.

Just as this thought flickered through his mind, the noise subsided. He closed his eyes once again, feeling the moon's rays warming his eyelids. Striking the silence was the belt of a bowstring, some distance from the oak. Immediately, the ranger jumped up, faster than the speed of light. He saw the arrow in flight and his mind forced the arrow to snap barely seconds before it was going to strike him in the chest.

The ranger stiffened. It was no ordinary foe he was facing. He pulled out his own bow and arrows, but barely had he knocked the arrow to the string did another arrow whip out. This one found its mark. The sharp stone edge broke the bow no harder than slicing butter. The ranger involuntarily jumped two paces backwards, his back touching the bark of the oak.

A single, shrill cry erupted from a passing hawk. The intruder's eyes were strange cat-like slits of pure silver. As one lock of magenta-black hair fell across his face, the ranger realized that the intruder was not a he at all.

As the ranger was caught off guard, the intruder thrust an underhand cut at the ranger's unprotected left side, causing the ranger to be thrown off balance. The sword cut his robes, but it missed becoming a serious injury. Still, blood was seeping through his robe, and for that the ranger was angry.

Holding his side carefully, so as to contain his blood, he used his other hand to mark a number of side thrusts that pushed the enemy back against the tree, where the ranger wanted him. Releasing his side, his hands red with his blood, the ranger used is free hand to slide his poisoned dagger from his hood.

The move was deadly, but too slow. The intruder suspected what he was doing, and quickly brought his short sword to stop the poison dagger, slicing it cleanly in half. The venomous green juice sizzled to the ground, hissing as it seeped into the dirt. At the same time, however, the long sword made a deep, wounding gash in the intruders left leg. The sword slid and jarred, embedding itself in her bone.

Oddly, not a sound passed from the intruder's lips; even though the ranger was still gasping from the minor wound in his side. Blood was trickling down the intruder's leg. She gave the ranger a cold, menacing stare, and leapt from the oak, directly at him, as if her leg wound was nothing. The ranger quickly stumbled back, shocked at the sudden movement.

Quickly, he brought the long sword, bloody and dented, to block the attempt. It was clumsy, and most of the strength in the intruder's thrust went into his right shoulder. He heard his bone snapping, and felt a great pain in his collar bone. Dropping his weapon, he sank to his knees, the world becoming dark and obsolete. The evil maiden seemed to tower above him.

Some of his blood has rubbed into her shoulder. As he watched, black spots dancing before his eyes, she licked his blood from her ashen-white skin. In one last stand, the ranger through what was left of the poisoned dagger at the figure. A single, toxic drop of the poison flicked just where blood was still pouring from the gash in her leg. Her leg trembled convulsively, but again, no sound was heard.

The ranger, from shear exhaustion, crumbled into himself. He lay upon the floor, panting his last breathes of life. The intruder likewise came to the ground. She put her back to the oak, in the same position that the ranger was in. Her pearl-white fangs glittered in the moonlight, and she closed her eyes.

And an owl hooted somewhere in the distance.


C.S. Nusbaum writes fantasy novels, short-stories, and war poems.

1 reactions:

Kelly Parra said...

C.S., wonderful! Thanks for sharing with FM! =D