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The Merits of Redemption

Short story By: TheScripture
Fantasy



Who truly deserves the better half of justice?


Submitted:Mar 9, 2013    Reads: 40    Comments: 1    Likes: 1   


A man traverses the stone floors and wooden drapes of the inner palace with another man by his side. Both are clad in their best suits of steel armor, polished until their lustre is incomparable to a newly forged set, their blades hang in their sheaths, undoubtedly sharpened as the light glints off of their deadly edges. Wooden shields rimmed with steel are slung across their backs, each bearing the insignia of their respective family's crest. Their heads are helmeted, and their expressions contrast. The man on the left is determined and grim in his visage, seemingly unphased by any inner conflict or outside distraction. He walks with a highly controlled, militant gait. The man on the right is relaxed, with a smile cracking his face that he appears to be struggling to supress. He walks with a skip in his step and a gait that would betray a jolly demeanor.
They pass the halls and reach what appears to be their destination, a curtained archway. They pass through this arch, removing their helmets. The man on the left immediately and almost robotically descends on his right knee, while the man on the right hesisitantly remains standing. Sitting on a royal purple throne is a man wearing a red robe and gold crown, both embroidered with a colourful variety of jewels. He rises from his seat and addresses the two men.
He walks up to the man kneeling and speaks in a ruling albeit comforting tone.
"Welcome to my court, Opnus. It's good to see you again my friend."
He then turns to address the man who is still standing.
"And you, Anastas. Why do you refuse to kneel before me?"
"I kneel before those who earn my respect, my liege. Something I'm afraid you haven't accomplished."
The King responded with a condescending laugh. "It matters not to me whether I am respected or not, because either way, today you will die, Anastas." Opnus rose to his feet.
"While the crimes you have committed against my family and the Kingdom are unattonable, I have granted you the honorable parameters of death that you requested, out of the grace of my heart." He smiled. "I wouldn't want to stoop to your level. Standing next to you is the greatest warrior of our army, Opnus. His technique is unmatched, and he has slain innumerable fools in his conquests. A peasant like you has no hope of defeating him. Consider this your execution." A smile cracked Opnus's face.
Anastas's reply was short. "You underestimate me, old man."
"That we shall see. Opnus, slaughter this fool and avenge the death of my son!"
Both men put their helmets back on, and drew their swords from their sheaths. Opnus's sword was perfectly cleaned and embroidered with jewels and intricate ingravings, obviously the sign of an esteemed warrior and noble. Anastas's sword was rusted and worn from use, although he clearly had made an effort to sharpen it beforehand.
"Let it be known that your death is-" Opnus was cut off short as Anastas let loose a bloodcurling cry and leapt at Opnus with a vicious overhead swing, which Opnus managed to block as he barely pulled out his shield in time.
The King made a swirling gesture with his hand raised in the air, and then retreated back to his throne to watch the duel. Anastas was wreckless; he neglected to use his shield at all, instead opting to wield his sword in two hands, which he swung fiercely and wildly. Opnus blocked and parried every attack with almost inhuman precision, and he seemed almost impenetrable.
"Now do you understand what you're up against, fool? You have no hope of defeating me." But Anastas completely disregarded the obvious taunt from Opnus; there was a fire burning in his eyes and he was determined to be victorious. He let loose another scream and tore off his helmet; sweat was already pouring from his brow and his swung his sword in a vicious storm that seemed almost endless. While Opnus managed to deflect every blow, he had absolutely no opportunity for a counter attack, and the assault was begininng to wear on his shield arm, as every shot caused him to stagger further and further backward.
"This Kingdom deserves a leader who is passionate!" A wound up swing sent Opnus staggering backwards. "A King who leads through example and not through fear!" Another swing. "A King who is as fearless as the warriors he commands!" And yet another.
The King began to become enraged. "Opnus, stop toying with this peasant! Kill him now!" Opnus swung his shield toward Anastas and clipped him across the chest, which caused him to fall backwards with a hard thud. Opnus lunged his sword towards Anastas with a calculated blow to the head; but Anastas rolled out of the way, which he then followed with a kick to Opnus's wrist, causing him to lose his weapon.
Before Opnus had time to gather himself, Anastas lunged at his knees in an absolute rage and took him to the ground. He wrenched off his helmet before Opnus threw Anastas off of him with a well placed kick to the chest. Now both warriors were standing helmless in the King's court.
"Is this what I should come to expect from the King's greatest warrior? Pathetic." Opnus yet again seemed to be unphased.
"Opnus, what are you waiting for! He cannot be allowed to live!" Opnus gathered himself and swung horizontally toward Anastas's head, which he ducked underneath and followed with a sweeping kick that again knocked Opnus to his feet. He was slow to get up.
"Why can't I kill you!!" He shouted. "You're a peasant, you've never even had formal training! It should be as brushing aside a fly!"
"You just don't get it, do you Opnus." Anastas said calmly to him. "How does it feel to be the King's son? You've never had to scrap a day in your life for anything you have. It's all been provided for you, hasn't it?"
Opnus and the King shared a concerned look. "Yes, I know." Anastas laughed. "All it took was a little snooping around, and some blackmail. Besides, I can see the resemblance in your miserable faces."
"Now," Anastas continued, "How many more members of your family am I going to have to kill before you finally develop a warrior's heart, Opnus?"
Opnus snapped at this remark. "You bastard, I'll wipe your miserable face from the Earth!!" He leaped at him with a furious scream that came from his heart, but it was for naught, because Anastas took advantage of his blind rage, and drove his sword straight through Opnus's windpipe.
"Fitting," Anastas said, "that it should be in the moment of his death that he discovers the true passion of battle." He pulled out his sword and Opnus dropped heavily to the floor. He turned his attention to the King, who was backing out of the room in a fevered panic.
"Impossible," the King said, scrambling backward. "How could you kill my son?! He was the most skilled warrior in the entire Kingdom!"
Anastas approached him slowly. "Don't you get it, old man? Flames cannot be effective if there is no fuel to give them light. Your son came here today looking to prove himself to you; I came here today looking to prove myself to no one but me. And there is nothing as dangerous as true inspiration."
And with that, Anastas bellowed, and the King's head was taken from his shoulders.




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