Jackrabbit

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 22 (v.1) - Chapter 22

Submitted: February 19, 2018

Reads: 99

Comments: 1

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Submitted: February 19, 2018

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For such a large garden, Henry didn’t wander off far. The prince stood in front of a large marble sculpture, looking back at us with an unreadable expression on his face. From his right sleeve, crimson had stained the cloth. He had probably been injured when the dragonkin had made their entrance.

 

The frigid air made the hair stand up on my arms, but I ignored it. The prince was unarmed, merely looking back at us with a grim smile on his face. “You caught me,” it seemed to say. Even so, he did not move. Henry stood there, merely looking back at us.

 

“I guess…I’ve been backed into a corner.” His voice was soft. There was a strangely intimate quality to it that almost made me shiver. Was this really the end? Something about this was too convenient.

 

Backing away a few steps, he looked at us with a guarded gaze. In his bloodied hand, a long, cruel blade stretched towards the ground. The weapon was a dark obsidian, swallowing up all the light around it. Even so, it didn’t seem to be a magic sword. It was just cruelly sharp, and wouldn’t hesitate in shaving away flesh should it make contact. A sword was resolute, unlike magic. It did not take its wielder’s feelings into consideration. If a blade made contact with flesh, it cleaved through. If a caster hesitated in firing magic, the power would dwindle and fade away. Magic was an extension of one’s feelings -- one’s soul, as it were. A blade, however, merely followed its orders to the letter. It wouldn’t hesitate to turn against its previous master if it fell into enemy hands.

 

But then again, a blade was stalwart and trustworthy. I wouldn’t be where I was without my daggers. Even when my resolve wavered, the daggers remained sharp and true as always.

 

“Look, it’s over,” I said, trying to sound as kind as I could manage. “You’re done, Henry. Just give up; I don’t want to stain my hands.”

 

He merely exhaled, long eyelashes pointed towards the ground in the prince’s contemplation. After several moments, he raised the sword, looking back at us with no emotion. A light scowl covered his face, but it was almost a cocky smile in a way. A visual of the knowledge that he wasn’t in the right, but wasn’t in the wrong either. “Sorry, but I’ve come too far to stop now without a fight.” By the resigned look in his eyes, he knew that he wasn’t going to walk out of here alive. Yet some part deep inside had always known that, and he had accepted it wholeheartedly.

 

Lunging forward with surprising speed, I only had a split second to parry the blade skewering towards me. It glanced off the knife, grazing against my side and biting into the flesh. The metal was icy cold, robbing me of my strength. It didn’t seem to be magic, however.

 

I swung the blade towards him, my blow lacking the vigor that I wished it to. The prince ducked away, and it nicked his cheek, darting towards his left eye before stopping. Had the blade been just a half inch longer, I would’ve blinded him.

 

“Stay back!” I shouted at Rachel, pushing Henry away. She was the prince’s target in the end, and I was only there to protect her. She’d be helpless against the prince’s advances, with her only weapon being her staff.

 

The prince’s movements were swift and biting, refined yet savage with their speed and precision. Years of dueling and practicing the finer arts of the blade had honed Henry’s skills far above mine. However, he was wounded, and plainly exhausted from the commotion. I had Rachel to revitalize me in case if I was injured, or to restore my stamina.

 

I could hear Karen’s voice in my head, instructing me with what to do. Do not hesitate. Concentrate. See where the blade will go, not where it is in the moment. Almost not of my own volition, my knife parried his sword rapidly. He may have been in better physical condition, but I had the lighter weapon. It was nimble and small, allowing me to duck around the openings of his stance. However, each time I slashed he skipped backwards outside of the blade’s reach.

 

“Come over here and make this an easy job for me,” I growled, growing frustrated with the current situation.

 

The prince merely smiled. “I’m afraid not.” His breathing slowed, and he brought the sword close to his breast. I stiffened, on guard for his next move.

 

The blow was quick, much faster than I had anticipated. It lacked in power, but that didn’t stop the blade from burying itself into my shoulder. With a scream, I jerked away, the blade clumsily being yanked out. He had missed any vitals, but blood still gushed. It felt warm and sickly wet, reminiscent of sweat as it trickled down my chest.

 

From the grim look in his eyes, I could tell he took no pleasure in this fight. The frigid pupils were tight with determination, but not bloodlust. With each thrust of the blade, he sighed with the effort to override the instinct to soften each blow. Even a complete novice would be able to tell Prince Henry was used to pulling his punches. Unlike people from my walk of life, Henry had no need to kill. His fighting was for the purpose of beauty. Of art. Swordplay was only a game to him, whereas it was a matter of life and death to us. As such, I was not afraid to play dirty.

 

However, with each movement, a fresh wave of burning pain rolled through my shoulder. No matter how hard I tried, it slowed my attacks considerably. Rachel couldn’t help; she was thoroughly exhausted from the healing she did earlier. The longer this battle drew out, the slimmer my chances became of winning.

 

Sensing the situation, Henry slowed down. It was almost like he was toying with me, though he did not enjoy any part of what he was doing. My vision was beginning to swim, and I struggled to even keep up with his slowed movements. If the bleeding wasn’t staunched, the fight would be over in no time.

 

Throwing my hand out wildly, I somehow, by the luck of the gods, managed to knock his sword out of his hand. It fell to the grass, and the prince pinned me down to the grass. He was scrawny and weak, but I was no match after all the blood loss. His heart was pounding against mine, racing with adrenaline. The two of us were in a deadlock, and the first to break away was the first to die.

 

“I guess in the end you were just some nobody merchant’s son,” Henry spat.

 

A nobody’s son, huh. He wasn’t wrong. My father might have been a wealthy merchant, but he held no power in the end. Even over me. How many times had I hid from him, fearing that he’d bring out his cane? But laying there in the moment while fighting the prince, I felt afraid of my father no longer. He couldn’t hurt me anymore. In fact, he taught me something once. Something that had nearly slipped my mind. “I just sliced the tendons in his feet. Once you do that, he can’t move. Always remember that, Leonard.”

 

My fingers faintly detected the sensation of the cold metal knife, and grasped it. It almost seemed like a dream with my vision spotting in and out, but somehow I managed to still move. “You’re right,” I replied, tensing my muscles. “But this is no fairy tale, and the prince isn’t always the hero in the end.” Twisting to the side, the prince stumbled forward and I grabbed my chance. It only took a second to slice both the tendons in his feet, and the effect was immediate. The agonized scream from the prince chilled my blood, and he flopped to the ground, blood gushing from his feet.

 

Panting, I got to my feet and almost stumbled. “Lennard!” Rachel’s soft hands caught my shoulders and supported me. Her warm scent of honey and lavender wafted over me, dimming the pain a little. After a minute, my vision began to clear. Henry laid on the ground, surrounded in a pool of blood. He looked up at me, expression unreadable.

 

“It’s over,” I told him, trying to sound firm yet gentle. “Just give up already.”

 

With a determined grunt, the prince grabbed his blade off the ground and stabbed it into the dirt. Hauling himself up, he could only use his arms to hold himself above the ground. His legs were useless, and most likely he’d be forever unable to walk.

 

We did not intervene as he pulled himself over to the marble pedestal and waited for us. He merely limped, waiting for us to come closer. The prince, streaked in blood and his feather gone, looked like hardly more than a wretch. Even so, he was still beautiful. It dwelled in his eyes -- eyes that showed nothing but pride and acceptance. Two elegant ice chips surrounded by dried crimson. “Come over here then,” he said calmly. “Come over here and take my life. I see there’s no other way around it.”

 

We made eye contact for several seconds before I hesitantly stepped forward. The prince offered me a faint smile and opened his mouth to say something. It never left his lips, however, as the sudden squelch of a dagger gutting him from behind filled the air.


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