By the Bloody Stars
by J.D. Miller
Sion and his fellow Black Blade, Riko, swept round to the western side of the dense forest. Timing and speed would prove as valuable as their black-bladed weapons. Although the enemy’s attire was as black as their own, that was where the resemblance stopped. The Bok sentry succumbed quickly to the blades of the elves. While Riko disposed of the bodies, Sion took over sentry duty, his fine-tipped ears listening to the sounds of his brother Blades as they moved from tent to tent, moving deeper into the encampment. He surveyed the immediate area and, spying only the shadows cast by the campfires, stepped behind a nearby tree to relieve himself. Within moments, he heard an unfamiliar voice boom from the darkness.
“Where the hell is the sentry? I swear by the devil himself, I’ll tear out your black hearts and shove them down your throats.”
“By the stars,” Sion muttered, fastening his breeches. Just as he stepped from the dark sanctuary of the tree, he reached back to untie the leather strip that held his hair in a tail down his back. Blond locks darkened with streaks of mud fell forward to cover his ears. “Here, sir.” He recognized the man as a Bok officer by the shiny signets displayed across his chest.
The officer blustered at his sudden appearance. “You worthless shit. Where’s the other one?”
Sion nodded towards the forest. “Personal business.”
“A sentry is posted for a reason. We cannot afford to let down our guard. I expect every man to do his job and do it proper.” He cocked his head and eyed the elf, head to toe. “I don’t know you.” He came closer and pulled on the elf’s collar. Sion held his breath to avoid inhaling the stink of evil that rolled off the man. “This isn’t Bok issue.” The officer’s hand touched the hilt of his sword. “Who are you?”
The elf shifted and straightened his black jacket. “I come from the north, past the mountains.” Sion pointed in the general direction. “My brother and I joined up during the march south.” Not too far from the truth except the Black Blades came to defeat the Bok, not join them.
“The man must be a bloody whale if it takes him this long to piss.” The officer drew his sword. “Let’s go find this brother of yours.”
Sion’s first instinct was to reach for his blade, but with the Bok’s sword already waving in his face, he decided to wait for a more opportune moment. Once away from the camp, he would be in a better position to grab for the dagger in his belt. The elf turned to lead, but a sound from behind made the hairs on the back of his neck rise. He looked over his shoulder and his heart stopped. Mother of us all.
Another officer stood with the first, accompanied by a dark green, long-faced goblin. Sion knew his kind – tall, strong, and ruthless. The officers conversed amongst themselves with an occasional glance to the elf. The yellow eyes of the Tengu goblin impaled him with an infected stare. Sion matched the glare, hoping to invoke an elven trance with his piercing violet gaze. Gradually, inch by inch, Sion slid one foot then the other back towards the darkness of the forest in the hopes of a quick escape to warn his brothers.
In time, his efforts proved fruitful. The tree behind him appeared in the corner of his eye. He blinked. Unfortunately, the momentary break became his undoing. The goblin sneered. Drool dripped from the deadly slit of a mouth. Yellow eyes glittered with heinous intent as the goblin spun a double-bladed sword; one end serrated, the other honed to a fine edge that curved to a pointed tip. Sion would have to think fast and move even faster if he hoped to get out of this alive. Without another thought, he slammed into the goblin before the blade could take his head.
The first officer laughed to the other. “Shall we leave our friend to his dinner and go in search of his dessert?”
“Leave the elf’s weapons untouched, Fregus,” the other officer called out. “I’ll add the blades to my collection.” He laughed with a glance to his fellow Bok and met a frozen, blank stare. The mouth moved, but only blood oozed from between the lips. The lieutenant crashed face first into the dirt.
Riko stood in his place, his black blade dripping with blood. “I hear dessert is a killer.” His sword came up, but the officer jumped back and fumbled for his own blade, drawing it just in time to save his neck.
Sion spun round the trunk of the tree, reaching for the blade on his back as he moved. Coming round full circle, he slashed out and nicked the right shoulder of the goblin. Fregus grunted and made a grab for the tang. Sion swung his blade down, twisted his wrist, and cut up. Slimy yellow blood sprayed as the head of the goblin separated from its body, bounced off the tree, and landed with a heavy thud. Sion kicked out, knocking the headless body to the ground. He raised his sword one last time and gashed into the severed head, removing a pointed dark-green ear. With the trophy tucked safely into his belt, he turned in time to see Riko’s blade gut the remaining officer.
“By the bloody stars,” Sion exclaimed, grateful to see the dark-haired elf.
“Aye, they be bloody tonight.” Riko cleaned his blade on the fallen officer’s uniform.
“You had me worried.”
“Sorry for that, my brother.” Riko slapped him on the back. “These officers don’t travel alone. I had my hands full, relieving others of their duties. Nice work on the goblin.”
“We should find the High Lord. He needs to know about the Tengu.”
“We will, but there’s more work to do.”