Cutlery Book 2: The Pirate Hunters part 2

Continued from here part 1

The Baracuda

Hana stood across from Bartley with a crudely carved wooden blade, "Why do I need to learn this."

Bartley put a hand on his hip, "You're throwin' star ain't like normal blades. Its a livin' thing that has to rest from time to time and it ain't a whole lot of use in a close up fight without power."

He then swatted her blade aside and stopped his a mere inch from her neck, "You want to live this life, you're gonna need to get better."

Angus leaned against the mast as he looked to Bartley, "I know I heard of you, somewhere."

Bartley shrugged, "That so?"

Angus searched his memory, "I heard tale of a pirate named Black Heart Bartley."

Bartley chuckled as he knocked Hana's blade away again, "Haven't been called that in years."

Angus grinned, "They say you killed a thousand men."

Bartley shrugged, "Bah, it was barely a hundred. Folks love to exaggerate."

Hana sighed as she dropped her blade, "If you're a pirate, what are you doing on a Navy ship."

"Well, see quite a while ago I ran into this young Navy Lieutenant in the middle of a raid. Big son of a b*tch who fought like a monster. In the middle of everything he'd got his sword knocked out of his hand and I thought he'd be easy pickings. He swatted my blades from my hands and beat me half to death with his bare hands.

A bit after that I was waiting for a judge to tell me I was being executed when that big man said I'd be more use on a Navy ship than at the end of a noose. Told'em if I made trouble he'd kill me himself. Been workin' for him ever since."

He then side stepped and tripped Hana as she tried to charge. He caught her just before her face hit the deck and yanked her back to her feet, "Don't be thinking I can't talk and fight at once."

***

Across the deck Vargas working out a kink in the anchor line when Akida stepped up behind him, "You think you're funny, sell sword?"

Vargas looked back, "I've been known to crack a joke or two."

Akida gritted his teeth and shoved Vargas who rolled his eyes, "You're just intent on being a cliche' ain't you?"

He then took a swing that Vargas easily dodged and followed it up with an attempted strike with his hook blade. Vargas caught his wrist and looked at it, "Triton's Claw? Guess you do have to give up a hand to use it."

Vargas then put a foot to his gut and kicked him away. He noticed the blade beginning to glow, "Controlling fish ain't gonna do you much good here."

Akida looked surprised at the blades activation but they were distracted by the ship suddenly dipping on the port side. Abasi and Kearn were sitting inside the cabin playing cards when they were both suddenly slung to the floor. Kearn sat up angrily, "What the hell is going on?"

On the Deck Vargas and Akida's eyes went wide as massive tentacles began wrapping around the ship. Vargas turned, "You called a damned Kraken?"

Akida looked just as shocked as Vargas as he began to stammer, "I didn't mean to."

"Do you even know how that hook works?"

Menace and Bedlam burst from the cabin to attack the beast followed by Kearn and the rest of the crew. The Admoral roared, "Get that thing the hell off my ship."

Angus was the first to hear the mast crack. He and Bartley grabbed it to keep it from coming down as the Changeling took the form of a support beam. Bedlam tore into one of the creature's tentacles as Menace leapt for its face. The creature fell back into the water taking the dogs with it.

As it moved to grab them Kearn stepped up on the bow and sent Leviathan to capture the Kraken and move it away as he ordered , "Drop a longboat and get my dogs."

As some of the crew got the dogs Kearn noticed a guilty look on Akida's face as Vargas stepped away from him. He marched over and stared down at the frightened sailor, "Did you call that thing?"

Akida looked as if his life flashed before his eyes as Vargas tried to slip away. Kearn caught him by the back of his shirt and dragged him back, "Two days in the brig, both of you."

Vargas seemed stunned, "He started it."

"And I'm ending it."

***

After seeing Vargas and Akida to the brig he came back up to see his shipwright, a middle aged man named Olaf. Olaf had an annoyed look as he stood by the mast of the mainsail, "I can patch it but if we get much more than a stiff breeze, I'd be shocked if it doesn't give."

Kearn sighed, "If we head north east we ought to meet up up with the God's Head in a day or so. We can do a proper repair there. In the meantime, do what you gotta do."

***

Down in the brig Vargas looked over to Akida's cell, "You haven't figured out how to talk to that hook, have you."

Akida turned away in a huff as Vargas chuckled, "First time I accidentally let the Wolf howl, I blew a wall out of an inn. Couldn't hear crap for near a day after. The inn keeper was mad as hell. My father laughed his ass off."

Akida turned, "I only got the thing a month ago."

Vargas gave a nod.

***

Captain Barrick sat on a barrel on a pier sipping rum from a bottle as a massive ship pulled into the harbor. He tossed the bottle to Amos as it docked and walked over. As the gangplank hit the dock a woman stepped down. Her name was called Selena and at her side was a claymore broadsword called the Midgard Serpent.

Barrick gave a bow and spoke in a mocking tone, "What brings the pirate queen to my humble island?"

She gave an annoyed look, "Stow it. Its been a long sail and I need some rum. We'll attend to business after."

He chuckled, "You're in luck. The Navy was generous enough to part with a few dozen barrels."

She got a slight grin, "That was awful nice of them."

***

Two days later.

The Barracuda pulled up to the God's Head. Angus and Hana looked in awe at the ship the size of a city. Bartley chuckled, "Nice boat, huh?"

Down in the brig The Master-At-Arms, named Castor unlocked the cell doors, "Olaf said to tell you, if you try to break his ship again he'll have you keelhauled across the God's Head."

Vargas got up from his cot with a stretch, "Been a while since he threatened that, the kid must have broke something big."

Castor nodded, "The kraken broke the mast for the mainsail. Bartley had to talk the old man out of coming down here and burring his ax in your heads."

As Kearn stepped off the ship a petty officer shouted, "Admiral On deck!"

The men around him gave a salute which Kearn returned. He then looked to the chief petty officer of the God's Head, Argus, "We got a mast that needs replacing."

Argus gave a sigh, "We should be able to handle it."

Kearn gave a curious look, "There a problem sailor?"

Argus looked over to Bartley as he stepped off the ship, "Barrick and that damned sister of yours have amassed a fleet of pirates and they claimed an island sitting in the middle of the biggest trade route between the Western Empire, Europa and the African Empire. They've been raiding any ship that comes through for weeks."

Bartley chuckled, "Selena loves stirring crap up, don't she."

Argus shrugged as he looked back to Kearn, "Supplies are getting a bit tight."

Kearn nodded, "You planing on sending someone after them?"

"We have, last try they sent back one sailor in a dinghy and killed the rest for show."

The Admiral sighed, "Well get my ship fixed up and I'll go take care of that for you."

They began to walk off when Lieutenant Casandra cleared her throat behind them. Kearn turned, "You're supposed to salute."

She gave a slight grin, "Who says you deserve it old man?"

He laughed, "That's my girl. Where's that grand daughter of mine? Got her a present from the Capitol."

Vargas stepped off the ship and Kearn pointed, "By the way, brought your cousin with me."

She gave Vargas a wave as she answered, "Kali is in school, it can wait."

She got a bit of a serious look, " I heard about Marcus and Victor."

Kearn shrugged, "Bah, they went out in a fight, they'd have had it no other way."

"I also heard about Vargas killing Harris."

"He's fine, and if he weren't he ain't the sort who talking it through would help."

Angus and Hana met Vargas by ship. Angus looked him over, "All rested up?"

Vargas stretched his back, "I've slept on stone softer than a Navy brig cot."

Hana gave a wary look, "Perhaps it will teach you manners."

"Doubt it."

(To be continued)

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Cutlery Book 2: The Pirate Hunters part 1

See this first Book 1: part 12

Hana sat on the deck of the ship called The Barracuda trying to meditate. Bartley dropped down across from her with a half empty bottle of rum in hand, "What you doing, girl?"

She opened one eye with a sigh, "I'm trying to hear my blade's voice."

He took a swig from the bottle, "How's that going?"

Her eye narrowed into a glare. A booming voice came from behind, "You're trying to hard, kid."

She turned to see Kearn standing above her, "What do you mean?"

He stepped in front of her as he snatched the bottle from Bartley, "You still got work to do."

He then sat down wiping the top of the bottle before finishing it off, "Hearing the voice, doesn't have to be a chore. You just need to figure out what about you made it choose you."

She looked confused so he continued, "Look at Vargas, see the Wolf and Coyote want to fight and love a good challenge. Vargas is natural born fighter, who's always getting in over his head."

He then mentioned Angus, "That fella is a strange man, who seems up for anything. Because of that he has a strange weapon that can adapt to a variety of situations."

She then looked down to the Starburst, "So why did it choose me?"

He shrugged, "Hell if I know, we all have to learn to talk to them in our own way."

***

Angus stood in the Galley of the ship helping the cook, Luca, wash pots. He noticed a meat cleaver bigger than most battle axes, "What do you cut with that?"

Luca lifted it, "Mostly pirates. This is the Bone Chopper."

"What's it do?"

Luca grinned, "I'm sure you'll see."

***

Vargas was helping Dory swab the deck. He looked over to Hana talking to Kearn, "He letting her off easy, cause she's a girl?"

Bartley walked past, "Nope, she finished up her chores an hour ago. Maybe life on land has just made you lazy."

An old man with one eye named Abasi stood at the helm as a younger man named Akida, with a hook like blade where his left hand should be, spoke to him, "I don't like this."

Abasi turned, "What's that?"

"Hauling a couple sell swords and that girl. We ain't a cruise ship."

Abasi shrugged, "One of those sell swords is the Admiral's nephew on a mission from the High General of the Marshals and the former cabin boy of the ship you're standing on. The other two are earning their keep which is more than I can say for you at the moment."

He glared at Abasi who gave a bored look as he ordered, "Why don't you go find something to do. I have no ear for nagging today."

***

Hana looked to Kearn, "Why did your sword choose you?"

He chuckled, "Its complicated."

She gave him a blank stare. He sighed as he pulled out his blade, "This is the Leviathan, one of the seven great Serpents. She's a stubborn old hag who can hold a grudge forever. Maybe she just picked me because I was mad as hell when I found her."

"What do you mean, seven great Serpents?"

His eyes narrowed, "Don't they teach you kids anything? There are orders of blades, the great serpents are blades said to wield the power of the seas. The Leviathan has the crushing power of a Tsunami."

As he waved it the water around the ship rose. Hana's eyes went wide at this.

***

Many miles away a pirate captain named Barrick stands on the deck of a burning Navy ship. A sailor is brought before him. He smiles a bit as he pulls a cutlass. He aims it toward the man as the blade sprouts eight more, "Do you know what this is?"

The sailor gives a hateful look, "Its the Hydra."

Barrick nodded, "Very good, boy. I want you to watch this and then go tell your comrades what happens when the Navy comes to my island."

He hopped up on the edge of the ship and looked out on several other Navy ships as his crew retreated from them. He raised the hydra and with it nine massive waves rose in the form of knife blades. He then swung down causing the waves to obliterate the other ships.

He then tossed the young sailor in a dinghy with and oar, "I'd hurry along boy, my men aren't as kind as me."

Barrick then jumped over toward his ship as a large man covered in tattoos reached out to catch his hand. He heaved him up and as the captain arrived on the deck he looked to the man who caught him, "Thank you, Amos. Was there any loot to be had?"

Amos nodded, "Aye, sir. One was a supply ship. Had about ten gallons of rum."

Barrick smiled, "As good a reason as any to celebrate."

***

Navy flagship God's Head.

A small old man sat at a desk as an aide delivered a stack of papers. His name was Fleet Admiral Rikke. He glanced at the reports before tossing them in a basket, "Any word on when the rum's coming in. We're running a bit low."

The aide, a tall blonde woman named Lieutenant Casandra sighed, "I'll check on it, sir."

Before she left he asked, "Any word on how Kearn did at the Capitol?"

"The report is on your desk, sir."

He gave the stack of papers a hateful look, "I'm sure he did fine."

Casandra rolled her eyes as she walked away.

***

The Barracuda.

The men all sat down for dinner but before Vargas could start eating Akida sat across from him and dragged his plate away with his hook, "I don't think the sell swords should be eating with men. They can go eat with the dogs."

Vargas grinned a bit, "I'm sure the dogs would make for better conversation, but I'm comfortable right where I am."

He then yanked the plate back. Akida started to stand but Vargas glared up, "If you'd like to keep the hand you have, I suggest you stay down."

Akida continued but Abasi pushed him back down, "He'd kill you before you crossed the table. Now shut up and eat."

Akida grabbed a fork and took some food off his own plate as he stared hatefully at Vargas. Bartley looked to Kearn, "I got three days."

Kearn gave a wary look, "I got tomorrow."

The ships doctor Oliver looked over, "For what?"

Bartley sipped his rum before replying, "Until one of them starts a fight."

Luca sat down, "I'd have won the pool already if Abasi had stayed back."

***

Hana sat on the deck with a half eaten plate of food as she stared at the Starburst laying on the palm of of her hand, "Okay, why did you choose me?"

She paused as if waiting for an answer before sighing, "Oh, come on."

She then took it up in her fingers, "You're going to talk, because I will not be hidden away like a child while others defend me. I will be strong."

She then slumped her shoulders as she tossed it in front of her. It stopped mid air and floated as a smile came across Hana's face, "About damn time."

(To be continued)

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Cutlery Book 1: The Sword collector part 12, Epilogue.

Continued from here part 11

The Capitol.

2 days after the battle people stood as priests finished up a prayer for the dead at a mass funeral service. A member of the royal guard walked down a line of men lighting torches. Kearn took one of the torches to light Marcus' funeral pyre as Gunnar did the same for Ian.

***

After the service Gunnar found Uri as he helped with the reconstruction, "You're weapons helped quite a bit."

Uri shrugged, "While they lasted."

Gunnar nodded, "How would you feel about staying on here?"

He looked curious, "Why?"

"I'm now in charge of the defense of this city, that means the walls are my responsibility."

Uri sat, "So you want me to fix the walls?"

Gunnar shook his head, "I want you to turn the walls into weapons. This is the capitol city of the Western half of the world and we cannot allow this to happen again. I know you have other interests and the Marshal's service can fund that research if you like. All I ask in return is that you help me defend this city."

***

Kearn stood in front of the statue of Magnus with Vargas, "Yea, he would of hated this."

Vargas nodded, "Victor found it pretty funny."

Kearn sighed a bit, "When I was about seven my father was killed by a pirate named Cykes. Magnus was just finishing up at the academy and Marcus was still a boy himself. The red plague had taken our mother about a year before that so Magnus was left to take care of us. We hated Cykes, I spent my whole life training to join the Navy to find the bastard. Magnus watched that hate make me strong, maybe that was a bad thing but one thing you should know. All that hell he put you through, all that anger he gave you was to make you strong. You need to hate him that's fine, but just know he had his reasons."

As Kearn walked away Vargas asked, "What happened to the pirate?"

Kearn didn't look back as he answered, "Menace ate him."

Vargus gave a nod and a chuckle.

***

A day later Kearn's crew was loading their ship with supplies. Vargas, Hana and Angus were packed up and ready to be on their way but came to see them off. Kearn stood next to Vargas, "You got a plan?"

"Gunnar is gonna keep paying me to collect blades. I suppose I'll keep collecting bounties and selling scrap weapons on the side."

Kearn nodded, "You know there are quite a few powered blades in the hands of pirates. And damn near all of them have a bounty of some kind. A man in your profession could do well on the sea."

He looked to Angus who shrugged, "A pirate ain't nothing but a bandit with a boat."

He then turned to Hana, "You still intent on tagging along?"

She nodded, "A debt is still owed."

"Alright then."

He turned back to Sarah who leaned on a nearby crate, "Tell Alana, if she wants I'll marry her when I get back."

Sarah chuckled a bit and gave a nod, "Will do."

Kearn gave a nod, "On the boat, boy. We're wasting daylight."

End.

(Book 2 coming soon.)

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Cutlery Book 1: The Sword collector part 11

Continued from here part 10

The Capitol, near the Coast Wall.

Bartley along with the royal guard and several member's of Kearn's crew were engaged in a rather vicious battle. Bartley had found himself surrounded. He fought with all his might but was nearly overwhelmed when he saw several of his attackers fall before him. He let out a hardy laugh when he saw Vargas, "Look, boys it's the runt."

Vargas smashed the jaw of a bandit beside him before kicking him away as Bartley continued, "You've grown what an inch, two? Still a runt though."

Vargas chuckled, "Not too short to save your flabby ass."

As the two were forced back to back Bartley nudged him, "Dogs too tired to bark?"

Vargas gave a nod, "Give me a bit, I'll get a second wind."

***

The West Wall.

Alana was being treated by a field medic as Oleg and several other soldiers fought to keep the location secure. Sarah noticed her laying on the ground and knelt down, "How you feeling?"

Alana gave a hateful look, "Like some bitch tried to gut me. You?"

Sarah patted her on the head, "You'll be fine."

Oleg then yelled over, "We got more bugs, Chain girl might be coming to finish the job."

Sarah raised her blade releasing an electrical charge that took the swarm of metallic insects down as she stepped past the soldiers. Sarah then looked to Zhin who glared, "I will avenge Paimon."

Sarah shrugged, "You aren't capable."

Zhin gritted her teeth and moved to call another swarm. Sarah quickly appeared before her and knocked her blade to the ground, "A true warrior conserves her energy."

Sarah then backhanded her to the ground. Zhin then yanked her blade to her and launched it at Sarah. It was easily deflected. Zhin was enraged as she began flinging her chain. Sarah stood calmly as she deflected every strike until finally slamming the hilt of her sword into Zhin's forehead knocking her unconscious.

Sarah turned to Oleg, "Bind her."

He scratched his head, "You leaving her alive?"

"She's not worth killing."

***

A top the North Wall.

Dmitry stood amid several dead soldiers as he held a spyglass. He looked and noted Paimon, laying dead on the field. He then turned to see the shattered South wall and finally into the city where he saw Belial facing off with Kearn.

He then patted the Wind Slitter, "It seems we won't be getting paid."

Several soldiers then arrived. He turned, "Seems I no longer have a reason to kill you."

He then jumped from the top of the wall and seemed to disappear.

***

Near the center of the city.

Belial raised his blade to strike at Kearn but the admiral struck his blade. He fell back a step as Kearn struck his blade again nearly knocking it out of his hand, "You think you're a master, boy?"

Belial tried to answer but Kearn punched him in the face sending several teeth flying from his mouth, "A real master of the blade would have killed me already."

Belial fell to a knee as as Kearn stepped back. He pulled himself up and charged with the Reaper's Arm but Kearn side stepped. He then turned the Leviathan and it wrapped around Belial's body with crushing force, breaking several ribs and an arm before Kearn tossed him away.

He tried to pull himself up with the scythe as a crutch but Kearn kicked him in the chest, breaking another rib. Kearn then swatted the Reaper's Arm away as he spoke, "People like you disgust me. You think just being able to pick up a blade makes you strong. You ain't strong, you ain't nothing but one more would be conqueror that doesn't understand the power he tries to wield."

Belial sat struggling to breath as blood filled his lungs. He then tried to crawl toward the Reaper's Arm. Kearn shook his head, "Pathetic."

He then stabbed his sword through Belial's heart, nailing him to the ground. He then turned to Gunnar, "What the hell you still standing here for, we still got an infestation to deal with."

***

Near the Coastal wall, Vargus, Angus and Bartley were fighting all comers. Bartley looked over as the royal guard began pushing the attackers back, "Hey look, the royals aren't all worthless."

Angus was using whatever weapon he could pick up due to the Changeling being spent after overwhelming Bao. He fought until his weapon broke and then found another. At this point he was swatting attackers down with a large stick.

Some made their way near the civilian shelter but quickly turned and ran as Kearn's massive dogs fought back. Vargas was shocked to see dozens of men running away before seeing Menace charging after them.

***

As the sun set the few attackers who weren't dead or captured, fled. Paimon's men and the mercenaries had taken off as soon as it became clear they wouldn't be paid, leaving the bandits to fend for themselves. Soldiers began the task of clearing the dead from the streets as a crew of marshals searched the dropped weapons for powered blades.

Sarah ordered her men to aid the medics in getting the injured to the city's hospital. Kearn met with Vargas by the shelter as the people were being let out. Angus looked over the large man as he spoke to Vargas, "Why is everyone in your family two feet taller than you?"

Kearn chuckled, "His mother was a small woman, he takes after her."

He turned as a soldier approached, "I sent for my brother, where is Marcus?"

The soldier was nervous as he spoke, "His body was found just outside the North Wall, one of the prisoners indicated that he was killed by a mercenary called Dmitry."

Vargas sighed, "The Wind Slitter?"

The soldier nodded. Kearn's jaw tightened a bit, "Did he at least go down fighting?"

"He crushed several men with the Lion's Paws."

As he sat a soldier raised a hand, "What is it?"

He gulped before speaking, "We found the Blade Vault open at the armory, it wasn't broken into so whoever did it had a key."

The Admiral nodded, "So this , Dmitry is the prime suspect? How many did he take?"

"Half, sir, 37 in total."

Vargas shrugged, "Mercenaries always find a way to get paid."

Kearn took a deep breath before ordering his men, "On your feet, boys. We got a mess to clean up."

He looked to a young man, "Oliver go help with the injured, the healers will need all the help they can get. Bartley take the guards and check for stragglers and looters. The rest of you go help with the clean up and get these people home."

He then turned to Vargas and Angus, "What, you deaf? Move your asses."

***

As Vargas walked along he noticed Alana being carried to the hospital. He started walking toward her but Sarah stopped him, "She'll be okay, we need some help out here."

He sighed, "We got about 2 dozen powered blades, the rest is mostly scrap."

She looked over at the cart he'd been filling, "You sure that's all of them?"

"Trust me, I'd know if there were."

She gave a nod, "That's a useful thing to know."

"The Coyote senses their presence. That's why Marcus hired me to collect them for him."

***

Gunnar was called to meet with the council who informed him of Marcus' death. After they were done he nodded, "So why am I here?"

A council member stood, "He named you his second, that mean's you're High General now."

He had a grim look, "Fine, but no damned ceremonies. We got a city to rebuild and we ain't got time for it."

A priest on the council looked ready to say something but Gunnar caught him with a glare, "If the gods have an issue with it, they can take it up with me themselves. Other wise, I don't want to hear it."

(Book 1 to be concluded)

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Cutlery Book 1: The Sword collector part 10

Continued from here part 9

The Capitol, West Wall

Zhin managed to cut herself free of the vines and wiped the spores from her face. She noticed Alana fighting and launched her blade to eliminate her. Alana knocked it away the the Rose and slung a vine whip with the Thorn. She caught Zhin's leg and yanked her toward her. Zhin quickly pulled back her blade and cut the vine.

She began to get to her feet but Alana made it to her first. She kicked her in the gut. Zhin rolled away allowing for only a glancing. Alana was too close to use the chain as a whip so Zhin attempted to slash her with the blade. Alana blocked with one blade and moved to attack with the other.

Zhin wrapped her chain around her hand and punched Alana in the jaw. As she staggered back Zhin unfurled her chain again and called forth a new swarm. Alana saw this and surrounded them in a cage made of thorny rose bub covered vines. The rose buds opened and shot out tendril-like spores that snatched the insects from the air.

Zhin gritted her teeth as she charged at Alana.

While this was going on, a few yards away Paimon faced off with Sarah. He looked her over, "You really think your little flower can defeat a tiger?"

He then shot out a beam of red energy which she dodged. She then ran forward and swung her sword. Paimon moved but his cheek was slashed open. She pulled back, "A slow tiger is worthless against lightning."

The grin he'd held throughout the fight disappeared. He gritted his teeth and punched her in the face. He then delivered a savage kick to her gut causing her to spit blood. As he lifted his sword to finish her she stood up and smashed the hilt of her blade into his jaw. There was a horrible crack as it shattered. She then shoved him back.

As he stood with his mouth hanging open and now unable to speak she took a fighting stance. One hand behind her back with her sword aimed at Paimon, "I haven't got all day."

All he could muster was a hateful glare as he charged. She side stepped as he was about to connect. As he turned to fight she drove her sword into his heart. She then ripped off a piece of his shirt as he fell and used it to wipe her blade as she walked away.

***

North Gate

Belial moved to enter the city but Marcus attempted to punch him. There was a loud clang as Dmitry's blade blocked the Lion's Paw. He attempted to shove the High General back but he couldn't move him. Belial slipped in with the distraction but Marcus knocked Dmitry away.

Dmitry picked himself up and began to dust himself off as Marcus turned to stop Belial. Before he moved Dmitry called to him, "You killed my father, you know."

Marcus turned, "You'll have to be more specific, I've killed many."

Dmitry chuckled, "About the response I expected."

Marcus sighed, "You after vengeance?"

"Nah, he was a jackass who got what was coming to him. But being a sell sword like I am, killing the High General of the Marshals would look fantastic for the resume."

Marcus chuckled, "That your way of saying you'll kill me when my back is turned?"

Dmitry nodded, "Without hesitation."

***

Coast Wall

Kearn and his men marched in with the royal guard following. He halted them as he noticed a few frightened guards standing in front of a large sturdy looking building. He turned to one of the guards with him and pointed, "That the civilian shelter?"

The guard nodded. Kearn gave a loud whistle and two dogs the size of rhinos jumped off his ship frightening the guards who stood by it. They charged into the city and stopped right before Kearn who patted them on the head. He ushered them toward the shelter. He looked to the men on guard, "These are Menace and Bedlam, they're gonna stand watch with you."

He looked to the dogs, "Anyone who ain't a friend tries to get in, you eat'em."

He then looked to the cabin boy, "Dory, stay here and make sure they can tell the difference."

They marched a few streets in before running into a few dozen attackers. A man aimed a sword with a golden snake head hilt toward Kearn. A chubby man in short pants and an ill fitting sleeveless shirt stepped in front. He held two scimitars resting on his shoulders with the blades crossed behind his head as if to form a head rest. He looked to the man, "Hey lads, that's a fancy looking pig sticker."

The man yelled, "Its the Golden Viper, even a scratch from it is deadly."

The man called Bartley grinned, "My blades ain't got no nifty name or fancy powers, guessing I'd have to be a fool to fight ya."

The man with the Golden Viper moved to attack but Bartley split open his chest before anyone had seen him move.

Bartley turned to Kearn, "I can handle this lot boss, go on and find your brother and that runt nephew of yours."

As he still rested one sword on a shoulder he raised his other and lifted two fingers off the hilt of his blade to beckon his enemies forward, "On with it boys, we're wasting daylight."

***

Toward the center of the city Gunnar and Ian stood breathing heavily along with many other soldiers amid a pile of dead bandits, some laying with half melted ice spears run through them. Gunnar looked to Ian, "You got any fight left, Old Man?"

Ian nodded, "You kidding, Boy? I can do this all day."

Gunnar then chuckled as he looked back to his men, "This area's clear, let's move."

***

North Wall

Angus stood with the Changeling in the form of armor with long claws. Bao looked him over, "There are a few minor flaws in that form."

Angus chuckled, "Is that so?"

Bao moved with blinding speed as he began slashing away with his blade. Angus was deflecting him as best he could but had trouble keeping up. Suddenly Bao changed position and aimed for a knee joint where the armor had to be weaker to allow movement. Angus realized this just in time to dodge.

He leapt back a bit realizing the armor was making him too slow for this fight. As Bao moved in for another attack the Changeling became a staff with a long blade at each end. Angus turned to hit him. Bao backed off but not in time to avoid being slashed across the chest.

Bao noticed a flaw in Angus' defense and charged again, slashing his hip. Angus gritted his teeth at the pain and jumped back. He then noticed Bao's eyes had a yellow glow. He figured out that his blade was showing him weak points.

Angus looked down to the Changeling, "All right buddy, we need to keep this fella's attention scattered."

As this was going on Harris and Vargas charged each other. Harris blasted a flame as Vargas' blade howled. The two attacks canceled each other out as the Wolf clashed with the Dragon's Tail. Vargas attempted to gut Harris with the Coyote but he caught his hand. Harris then headbutted Vargas sending him back. He then raised his leg kicking him in the chest.

Vargas hit the ground and rolled away as Harris swung his blade down. As he rose Vargas slammed the hilt of the Wolf into Harris' gut and then swung the Coyote around aiming for his throat. Harris dodged the blade and rammed a shoulder into Vargas' midsection lifting him off the ground and knocking the wind out of him.

Vargas pushed off and landed on his feet but Harris charged again. Vargas side stepped and grabbed his arm. He turned and flung Harris away. Harris noticed he was now past the gate but had little time to examine the situation. Vargas stabbed the Coyote into the ground ripping a crack that Harris barely avoided falling into.

He turned and spun the Dragon's Tail creating a flame in the form of a full dragon that flew toward Vargas. He swung the Wolf causing what sounded like a thunder clap that dissipated the dragon but covered the area in flame.

Harris pulled himself up on a staircase that lead up the wall. Vargas came at him coming a mere inch from slashing his throat as Harris rolled onto the stairs. Vargas then jumped up next to him and slashed. Harris blocked his blade, sending it into the wall. When the Coyote hit the wall it sent a shock wave through it causing it to crack. Vargas kicked Harris driving him further up the stairs as the wall began to tremble.

After a few minutes of swinging and dodging the two found themselves on top of the wall as it began to crumble. The two men were no longer paying attention to what was happening around them. Harris raised his blade covered in black flame and slammed it down to shoot a pillar of fire at Vargas. He dodged but the flame had destroyed a large chunk of the already fragile wall.

As Vargas released a Howl large portions of the wall collapsed leaving them standing on the bare wooden support beams that held together what was left. It reminded Harris of Victor's lessons with the poles. He looked to Vargas, "Looks like only one of us is getting cake."

Vargas gave a nod as they both squared off for an attack. Again the Wolf clashed with the Dragon's Tail but Harris had a pained expression as he looked down on the Coyote in his chest. He then looked up to Vargas with a grin, "You always were a sneaky bastard."

Vargas then pulled the Coyote from his chest and pushed him off the remains of the wall.

***

North Wall

A frustrated Marcus slammed a fist into the ground as Dmitry dodged with ease, "Stand and fight you damned jumpy bastard. Dmitry sighed, "As you wish."

He then took a fighting stance as Marcus charged. The High General winced as he saw one of the Lion's Paws hit the ground along with the hand that held it. Dmitry then turned and sliced his head off with a single stroke. He then gave a slight bow, "Rest easy old man, your fight is done."

***

West Wall

Alana stood across from Zhin in her cage of vines. She moved to strike but Zhin dodged. Smashed a chain wrapped fist into the side of Alana's head and slashed open her side. Alana fell to a knee as she held her side and Zhin was about to deliver the killing blow. The last of the spores was clearing up and out of the corner of her eye she saw Paimon fall as Sarah casually walked away. Her eyes went wide as she slashed open the cage and ran to him.

Alana tried to follow but dropped down. Oleg came up behind her and lifted her onto his shoulder. She looked down, "Don't be getting any ideas, fella."

He chuckled, "The Captain would make a woman of me if I tried."

He then carried her toward a few soldiers, "Get her to a healer."

Zhin stood over Paimon looking at his smashed face and chest wound, "That woman will pay for this."

***

Near the center of the city, Gunnar and Ian along with their men had strewn several streets with the bodies of their enemies and were feeling confident. As Ian turned a corner a blade came from the shadows and went through his back. Belial stepped out kicking the man off his blade. He then turned to Gunnar and his men as he swung the Reaper's Arm. Black energy swept over them but Gunnar was enveloped in white light that protected him as his men turned to dust before him.

He pulled the Angel's Wrath as Belial charged. Before the blades clashed a blade stopped the Reaper's Arm as a large hand caught Gunnar's wrist. Gunnar looked to see Kearn holding him. The Admiral roared, "What the hell do you morons think you're doing?"

He threw Gunnar to the side as he shoved Belial back sending him to the ground. He then stepped on Belial's hand as he reached to retrieve his blade, "You trying to kill us all? Every idiot knows those two blades can't touch."

Belial kicked his foot off him and grabbed the Arm, "They belong to me."

Kearn gave a wary look as he lifted his broad sword called the Leviathan, "Is that so?"

Belial gave a hateful grin, "You think you can beat my blade with that?"

Kearn shrugged, "Ain't about beating the blade, just the one who holds it."

***

The North Wall had just begun to crumble as Angus tried to figure out a way to defeat Bao who seemed to see through everything he did. An idea occurred to him. He then had the Changeling take the form of a ridiculous looking weapon covered in spikes and blades. Bao smirked, "You can't be serious."

As Bao looked on the strange mass of metal Angus held he didn't notice the thread like bit leading to the ground. Angus took a fighting stance as his enemy charged. As Bao came in striking distance hundreds of blades shot out of the ground. The shredded him before he'd had a chance to react.

Angus then dropped to the ground sweating as he talked to the Changeling, "You took a bit more out of me than you thought for that one."

He then sat up, "Yes, I know it worked."

As he pulled himself up Harris hit the ground. He looked up to see Vargas hopping down the broken chunks of wall. As he landed Angus shouted, "We ain't quite done here yet."

Vargas looked on the body of his former friend and sighed, "True, hurry up. If the Marshals are gone there'll be now one to pay the bounties."

(To be continued)

4 Comments

Cutlery: Blade wielder index

Vargas (First appearance Book 1: Part 1 )

Blades: The Wolf (Broad Sword) Powers- Sonic manipulation, capable of producing a wide range of sound frequency. Up to and including sonic booms.

The Coyote (Short Sword) Powers- Vibratory manipulation, capable of producing vibration of various scales from small tremble to mid level Earthquake.

***

Victor: deceased (First Appearance Book 1: Part 1)

Blade: Big Bear (Large Battle Ax)

Powers- Wind manipulation, up to and including hurricane force.

***

Magnus : deceased (First mentioned Book 1: Part 1)

Blade : Angels Wrath (Large Battle Ax)

Powers- Various types of energy manipulation including light and heat, one of the 2 most powerful blades in the world.

***

Belial (First Appeared Book 1: Part 1)

Blade : The Reaper's Arm (Scythe)

Powers- Shadow and Dark energy manipulation, capable of rapidly decaying matter as well. One of the 2 most powerful blades in the world.

***

Reeves (First Appearance Book 1: Part 1)

Blade: Stone Crusher (Bladed Large Mace)

Powers- Earth Manipulation of unknown degree

***

Harris (First appearance Book 1: Part 2 )

Blade: The Dragon's Tail (Scimitar)

Powers- Produces and controls black flame, capable of producing heat intense enough to melt steel.

***

Angus (First Appearance Book 1: Part 2 )

Blade: The Changeling (Pocket Knife default form)

Powers- Size and shape shifting abilities of unknown limit.

***

Gunnar (First Appearance Book 1: Part 2)

Blade: Angel's Wrath

Powers- (See Magnus entry)

***

Marcus (First appearance Book 1: Part 2)

Blades: The Lion's Paws (Bladed Cestus)

Powers- Massive physical strength upgrade for their wielder.

***

Alana (First Appearance Book 1: Part 3 )

Blades: The Rose (Dagger)

Powers- Creates rose buds that release spore clouds for various purposes.

The Thorn (Dagger, the Rose's twin)

Powers- Creates thorny vines used primarily as snares and whips. When used in conjunction with the Rose it makes an excellent trap.

***

Bedo: deceased (First Appearance Book 1: Part 3)

Blade: The Cobra's Fang (Cutlass)

Powers- Summons giant ,demonic snakes with venomous bites. The snake's skin burns whatever it touches as well.

***

Paimon (First Appearance Book 1: Part 3)

Blade: The Red Tiger (Katana)

Powers- Energy manipulation to various effect

***

Ian (First Appearance Book 1: Part 3)

Blade: The Frost Bite (Giant Ice Pick)

Powers- Creates Ice, freezes things on contact.

***

Hana (First Appearance Book 1: Part 4)

Blade: The Starburst (Shuriken)

Powers- Multiplies, wielder can control its movements while airborne.

***

Sarah (First Appearance Book 1: Part 6 )

Blade: The Lightning Lily (Rapier)

Powers- Summons lightning, controls electricity to an unknown degree)

***

Zhin (First Appearance Book 1: Part 8)

Blade: The Silver Wasp (Bladed Chain Whip)

Powers- Creates a swarm of metallic insects. Wielder has total control of the swarm.

***

Bao (First Appearance Book 1: Part 9 )

Blade: The Falcon's Eye (Pata, A sword with a gauntlet as its hilt/hand guard)

Powers- Sensory enhancement for its wielder, other powers not yet revealed.

***

Dmitry (First Appearance Book 1:Part 9 )

Blade: The Wind Slitter (Pandat , see here for description of the type http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandat )

Powers- Channels air into blade like forms to cut through almost anything.

***

Kearn (First Appearance Book 1: Part 9 )

Blade (Yet to be revealed)

(That's it for now, Index will be updated as necessary and specifics will be added as they are revealed.)

3 Comments

Cutlery Book 1: The Sword collector part 9

Continued from here part 8

The Capitol

A scout is spotted running toward the wall by a gatekeeper. A guard at the top of the North wall kicked down a rope ladder for the man and waited for him to get up. As he reached the top Gunnar reached over the edge and yanked the man up, "Report."

The man was a breathing heavy as he spoke, "There's a massive force heading this way. They split up and it looks like they're going to attack all three gates at once."

Gunnar then looked to some of the gathered guard, "Go see if any of the scouts have come back from the coast wall."

He looked back to the panting scout, "Go rest up, it's gonna be a rough day."

***

Sarah stood on the West wall with a spyglass as a guard ran up to inform her of the situation. She put up a hand to silence him, "Its a siege, right?"

The guard nodded, "Looking that way."

***

Marcus stood on the South wall as Uri came up with a yawn, "Why can't these things happen after breakfast?"

Marcus shrugged, "Just damned rude of them ain't it."

He then looked on Uri's weapons, "These good to go?"

Uri nodded, "They'll be giving the enemy nightmares for years, if they survive."

***

Alana sat up from bed and noticed Vargas putting on some light armor, "That's new."

"Picked it up from a shop a few streets over."

She stood, "So its starting?"

"Its just about to."

In the other room Hana was giving Angus a hateful look, "I will not go hide with the children."

Angus glared, "We can't be watching over you."

She crossed her arms, "I've been in fights before."

Vargas stepped up behind her, "This isn't a fight, its war. You may be good in a scrape but you aren't ready for this."

She then stomped away angrily.

***

Paimon stood within sight of the West wall of the city. He sent Zhin to watch for the signal to attack. Harris stood at the North wall with a portion of their army. One of Paimon's men, named Bao stood with his blade that was attached to a gauntlet. It was called the Falcon's eye and one of its abilities granted Bao a visual of the entire battle field which he was using to watch for their signal.

Belial stood next to a man named Dmitry who had a type of sword known as a pandat called the Wind Slitter at the South wall. Belial gave Dmitry a nod and he raised his blade. He swung it down causing a massive plume of dust to rise, signalling the attack.

Bao tapped Harris' shoulder. He nodded and raised the Dragon's Tail, he shot out a flame that smashed through the first wall of the gate. Suddenly flame seemed to pour out from the wall. Bao pointed, "You seem to have triggered a defense." The fire had ignited oil Uri had planted. As the burning oil poured down it ignited a hidden moat of the same. A huge wall of flame suddenly surrounded the city.

Catapults and ballistas began firing from the walls causing the attackers to fall back. Marcus patted Uri on the back, "Maybe you are a genius."

At the West wall Paimon had fallen back but looked to Zhin, "We need to disarm the wall."

She nodded as she unfurled the Silver Wasp. She then cracked it like a whip causing a swarm of small silver insects to appear from her blade. They flew over the walls and began attacking the weapons. They clogged the gears and chewed through the wood.

Paimon then nodded back to one of his men who twirled his blade causing rain to fall. Paimon then unsheathed the Red Tiger and blasted the gate. His men looked ready to charge but he halted them as a large cast iron plate covered in spikes slammed down. He then slashed again to breach the wall.

The soldiers at the wall were under attack from the insects but a series of vines sprung up from the wall. It shot out thorns that tore through the swarm. Sarah gave Alana a nod, "Decided to join us?"

Alana smirked, "Can't let you hog all the fun."

She then looked down as Paimon's men rushed forward, she noticed Zhin preparing to launch another swarm, "I should probably stop that."

She raised the Rose and the Thorn. She called up vines that sprung from the ground snaring attackers. Zhin began slashing at the vines but rosebuds appeared all over them. As they opened they released clouds of spores that quickly became too thick to see through.

Sarah then stood on the wall with her Lightning Lilly pointed to the sky. She then lowered it sending a lightning bolt toward Zhin. She barely avoided it but was caught by a vine. Alana rode down to the field on her vine and immediately began fighting. Sarah caught a rope and followed suit.

As Alana began slashing away at his men while using her vines to slow them down Paimon turned to attack her. Before he could swing a bolt of Lightning flashed before him. Some of his men stopped for a moment but he shook his head, "Hurry along boys, this one is mine."

At the South Wall Belial raised the Reaper's Arm and sent out a wave of black energy that caused the wood on the gates and weapons to rot and the metal rusted. He then order Dmitry to cut down the gates. He sent out a wave of wind that formed a blade that shattered the weakened gates.

As the men began to rush in several of them were launched back out. Marcus stepped forward with a pair of bladed Cetus called the Lion's Paws. He slammed a fist into the ground. The resulting shock wave sent cracks through the ground tripping up attackers as they ran.

Dmitry looked to Belial who seemed shocked, "The Lion's Paws are said to give a man strength that would rival a god. Did you assume, they would cower in fear of your blade?"

***

At the North wall Harris watched as the wall of flame died down and then lifted his blade to strike again. As he blasted a wave of flame toward the gate there was a sound of a piercing howl as his flames were shot back toward Harris and his men. Several were instantly ablaze as they ran away screaming. A massive cloud of smoke was now between the wall and its attackers.

From the smoke Bao heard a yelping sound, "Is that a dog?"

Harris' eyes widened a bit as he roared, "Fall back!"

The ground rippled like water until a crack opened up. Several men fell in. As they tried to crawl out the smoke enveloped them. They began to scream for a moment but suddenly went quiet. As the smoke began to dissipate Harris looked on Vargas standing with both the Wolf and Coyote bared. Blood dripped from both blades.

Bao leapt over Harris to attack but was batted away by a long blade. Angus stepped out followed by many soldiers and marshals pouring out of the gate. He yelled to Vargas, "We'll deal with the little guys, but you're splitting that bounty with me."

Vargas gave a slight nod as he glared at Harris. Harris sighed, "We don't have to do this."

"Shut your mouth, traitor."

Harris began to speak but recognized the look in his former friend's eyes, "Well I guess we do."

***

As the land gates were under attack a guard noticed a ship on the horizon from the top of the coastal wall. He nudged his partner with a spyglass, "Do we have trouble?"

The man hopped up on the wall to get a better look.

***

Marcus fought with all his might at the South wall but the enemy managed to get past him. The same was happening to Alana and Sarah's men on the West. Paimon and Sarah were engaged in their own battle.

***

As this went on Gunnar prepared to lead the forces inside the city. Ian stopped him, "I'd wager, they're after the Wrath."

Gunnar nodded, "I agree."

"Wouldn't it be wise to hide it?"

Gunnar glared, "I won't use it if I don't have to but it stays with me. Why aren't you in the shelter with the rest of the counsil?"

Ian huffed, "Boy, I was a marshal longer than you've been alive, I won't hide with the women and children when my city is attacked."

Ian put his hand on the hilt of a weapon that looked like a giant ice pick called the Frost Bite, "The old boy is looking forward to a fight."

***

The city erupted into chaos as the army of bandits and sell swords made their way past the walls. Hana paced in the shelter as the civilians of the city cowered at the sounds of clanging blades and explosions from outside.

***

At the pier beyond the coast wall a ship made port. Guards were present as the first man stepped off. Their eyes went wide as the mountain of a man stepped down the gangplank. He stopped in front of a guard, "Sorry we're late, had some pirates to deal with."

The guard was nervous as he replied, "Admiral Kearn?"

He nodded as he looked back to his men on the ship, "Looks like the Navy is gonna have to show these marshals how to defend a city. Where's my brother?"

The man straitened up a bit, "The High General is holding the South wall."

The guard asked as Kearn turned away, "Is the rest of the Navy coming?"

He gave him a wary look, "This ain't the only war going on boy, you're lucky you got us."

He looked over the guards, "You royal army?"

They nodded as he sighed, "Guess you'll have to do."

(To be continued)

2 Comments

Cutlery Book 1: The Sword collector part 8

Continued from here part 7

Several years ago.

Harris had just turned sixteen and was preparing to go to the Marshal's Academy. He was sitting in the outpost inn with Gunnar and Vargas who grumbled because the innkeeper had served Harris an ale but still told them they were too young. Gunnar complained that he was only two years younger but to no avail.

Harris looked down at his first ever pint of ale, "It smells kind of funny."

A voice from behind came up, "Drink it fast, only way to get past the taste of the rotgut this place serves."

The boys looked up to see Marcus with something wrapped in cloth strapped to his back. Vargas looked at it, "What's that?"

Marcus grinned a bit, "That's something your father and I picked up from a bandit. You want to see it?"

The boys nodded as Marcus sat down. He then unwrapped a scimitar. Their eyes went wide as Vargas spoke, "Is that...?"

Marcus nodded, "Yup, the Dragon's Tail."

Vargas had a bright smile as he looked it over, "This was the blade wielded by Darius the Bandit King. They say its flame is so hot it can melt steel and stone."

Marcus patted him on the head, "Been studying up on lore have you?"

Gunnar slid up nervously, "Can I hold it?"

Marcus chuckled, "Oh, what the hell, give it a shot."

Gunnar put his hand on the hilt but pulled away quickly and blowing on his burned palm. Vargas then reached over as if to snatch it but quickly yanked his hand away, "Ow, damn it."

He and Gunnar then looked to Harris, "You gonna give it a shot?"

"Sure, why not?"

He then grabbed the hilt, ready to get burnt but it didn't happen. He then gripped the hilt and lifted the blade. Marcus looked wide eyed, "It seems to have chosen a master."

***

Just after night fall, Magnus was at a table at the inn having dinner. As he ate, Victor walked in, Big Bear in hand. Magnus looked to the ax then to his son's hateful glare, "You have some business, Victor?"

Victor stared down at him, "Vargas and Gunnar ain't going anywhere with you."

Magnus waved him off, "The experience will do them good."

Victor stood his ground, "The Blood wood is no place for children, especially with some jackass running around trying to start a war."

Magnus gave a condescending look, "You have no say in the matter."

Magnus then picked up his fork to continue eating but Victor split the table with the Big Bear, "You ain't taking them."

Marcus grabbed Victor by the shoulder, "Don't. He is the High General."

Magnus shot a hateful glare to his brother as he bellowed, "Rank is no issue here, is that clear?"

The room went silent as Magnus pointed toward the door, "Outside, boy." At that Victor growled and snatched his father up before hurling him through a window.

The boys stood in shock as the High General landed on the ground before them. Victor charged out the door, arriving just as Magnus made it to his feet. He kicked him hard in the gut then punched him in the jaw sending Magnus back a step.

He gritted his teeth as he looked on his eldest son. He then punched Victor in the mouth and then planted another fist in his gut sending him down to a knee. Magnus stepped back but Victor grabbed the hilt of Big Bear and swung it toward his father's head. There was a metallic clash as the Big Bear collided with the Angel's Wrath.

Magnus shoved him off. Victor then jumped back and sent out a hurricane force blast of wind from his ax. Magnus waved the Angel's Wrath sending out a wave of bright white light that cut through Victor's attack and launched him into the air.

After he landed Victor pulled himself up on a tree. Magnus seemed to come out of nowhere swinging his ax. Victor dodged as the Wrath hit the tree causing it to explode into a rain of splintered wood and leaves. Victor raised his ax again but it was knocked from his hand. Magnus then kicked him in the chest sending him to the ground.

He then swung his ax. The blade stopped just above Victor's throat. A fist then blasted into Magnus' face sending him to the ground. Magnus looked up to see Marcus standing between him and Victor, "That's enough, you proved your damn point."

Magnus looked angry but when he looked on his bloodied son he calmed a bit. He then looked back to Marcus as he spat out three teeth, "Get the boys ready, we leave at dawn."

As Magnus stood to walk away Victor sat up and glared, "If you let any harm come to them, I swear to all the gods I will kill you."

***

Two days later

Harris stood before a large wagon with many boys his age heading to the Academy. Victor patted him on the shoulder, "You'll do fine. You were trained better than most of your instructors. Just remember, even if you're better than everyone there, don't let it go to your head. Vanity will get you killed just as quick as weakness."

Harris nodded, "You hear anything from Vargas and Gunnar yet?"

Victor took on a stern look, "Don't be worrying about them. They're strong boys, they can handle whatever they need to."

Harris sighed a bit, "Well, its time. Anymore parting advice?"

Victor just patted his head and walked away. He gave him a wave over his shoulder as Harris hopped on the wagon.

***

The Present.

Paimon stood with a woman from his crew named Zhin. On her side she wore a strange weapon comprised of a chain with a weighted blade at its end. It was known as Silver Wasp. Paimon glanced down at her weapon,"I'm told you've become quite adept with that."

She nodded, "It took some time but I believe I've tamed her."

She then turned her eyes to Belial, "Do you believe that man can do what he says?"

He grinned, "Of course not, but that's not my purpose. Whether our attack succeeds or not doesn't matter. If we can breach the gates it will make the Capitol appear weak in the eyes of the world, rogue nations and rebellious factions will see an opportunity. The Marshals will be embarrassed, the Royal army will continue to appear pathetic and then there we'll be with our army of well trained sell swords to pick up the slack. We'll work for both sides, naturally and I'll retire richer than a king."

She gave a wary look, "And if he does succeed?"

"Then I'll be the right hand of a god and still retire rich."

***

The Capitol

Alana stands before High General Marcus, Gunnar and an assembly of Captains as she tells of Belial and his group. As she finished Sarah spoke, "Paimon's presence bothers me. Several of his known associates have been reported to be gathering forces for the last few days. If they're recruiting for him then we have a much bigger problem."

Marcus nodded, "Put all outposts on alert. I want scouts covering everything within twenty miles of the city. From here until further notice, no one goes in or out without an armed guard."

He then called in Ian, "We need to call in the city planners. There's a siege likely and I'll not have people starving if it goes on long."

He looked to the Captains, "You're dismissed, but stay close."

As they stepped into the hall Sarah stopped Alana, "Have you been told?"

"Told what?"

Sarah sighed, "Victor is dead. He was killed by Harris."

Alana's eyes widened, "Does Vargas know?"

"Yes, he didn't take it well. He's staying with the High General at the moment."

***

Vargas laid on a hammock on a balcony staring at the sky as Alana stepped out behind him, "How you holding up?"

He glanced at her, "I'm just fine."

She nodded, " I know he was important..."

He cut her off, "Tears are worthless. It was one of my father's lessons. He said to me, tears don't make the pain go away and they don't fix the problem. All tears do is make your enemy harder to see. He said they're a weakness."

She sighed a bit and crawled into the hammock with him. She started to say something but let the thought go.

***

As the sun rose the next day Belial stood in front of his army. He told Paimon to get the men up for a march. He looked back to Harris, "I expect to be at the Capitol in three days time, is there anything I should know before you march with us?"

"Nope, all ready to go boss."

(To be continued)

6 Comments

Cutlery Book 1: The Sword collector part 7

Continued from here part 6

Several years ago

Victor had finished his requirements as an academy instructor and taken command of an outpost many miles from the Capitol. It had been a little over a year since he had taken Harris and Gunnar into his care. Marcus had come for a routine inspection.

He approached Victor in a field just behind the outpost, "How are the boys doing?"

Victor turned, "Pretty good. Gunnar and Vargas are progressing well, but that Harris is a damn prodigy."

The men looked out on a series of logs the boys had been placing in holes Victor had dug. As they finished Victor walked over and ordered them up the poles with their wooden swords. He then looked up, "Last one standing up there gets cake for dinner."

Vargas looked down, "What do the losers get for dinner?"

"Beans and water."

Vargas looked to the others, "Guess I'll be sleeping outside tonight after I've had my cake."

Harris chuckled, "Is that so?"

Gunnar charged without a word but Harris easily deflected his shot and tripped him sending him to the ground. Gunnar angrily punched one of the poles cracking it. Marcus looked to Victor, "Did you see that?"

Victor nodded, "Yea, Gunnar's strong as hell."

Vargas attempted to attack but Harris dodged and struck him in the back. Vargas lost his footing but caught the pole. He launched himself into the air and attempted to kick Harris down, only to get the flat of a wooden blade across the gut.

Vargas fell between two poles but spread his legs to lodge himself. Harris looked down to gloat a bit but Vargas was gone. Suddenly Vargas' blade smacked against his ankle sending him over. Harris caught the top of a pole to hold himself up as Vargas jumped up with a grin.

***

Their back and forth battle went on for over an hour. Many of the marshals and workers from the outpost made their way to watch. They began placing bets on which boy would fall. The boys paused for a moment, staring each other down as the sweated and panted. As they charged warily at each other both slipped and butted heads as they tumbled down.

Victor stood up, "Looks like we got a draw folks."

The men grumbled as Gunnar collected Victor's winnings for him. Vargas and Harris sat up and in unison yelled, "Who hit first?"

Victor grinned.

***

As they sat down for dinner Victor relented and gave each a slice of cake. Gunnar slid his away, "I'll eat it when I've earned it."

He then dug into a plate of beans. Vargas looked to Harris, "He's sleeping by the window tonight."

The two chuckled a bit but a glare from Victor shut them up.

***

The Present

Belial and Paimon walked alongside as their forces marched. Paimon gave a wary look toward Harris as he spoke to Belial, "You sure he's got the stomach for this?"

Belilal looked curious, "You doubt his courage?"

"Not courage but his resolve. He is said to be one of the world's greatest swordsmen but when he fought Victor, he flailed about like an angry child. To be sure he wanted us to believe he wanted the man dead, hell he may have wanted himself to believe it, but combat never lies."

Belial shrugged, "All that matters is that he's dead. Now to the matter at hand, where have you lead us?"

Paimon grinned a bit, "I sent a bird to inform my old crew of my freedom. This miscreants you've gathered will serve as nice pawns but we need power if we want to win. I instructed them to gather every bandit and sellsword they could find with a grudge against the marshals."

They came over a hill and looked down on hundreds of men gathered behind Paimon's crew. Belial smiled, "We can work with this."

***

As they joined the camp the bandit Erick looked on Vargas as he sat alone by a fire, "Why haven't you joined with the others?"

He looked up, "There's a man we may encounter, he will not be pleased with some of the things I've done and I must make certain I'm prepared to kill him."

***

The Capitol

Gunnar stands next to Ian on a city wall as workers buzz about, "What's happening up here?"

Ian turned, "This man, Uri, has had every blacksmith, carpenter and engineer in the city working for two solid days. Said our defenses were pitiful."

Gunnar looked at a line of catapults connected by a system of poles and cogs. Ian pointed out, "He says we only need two men for every five catapults. He's even devised a system for automatically firing ballistas on the East wall."

Across the city Hana sat next to Sarah while trying to attain a meditative state, "How is this supposed to help me master the Starburst?"

Sarah cast a weary eye on her as she picked up her rapier, "This blade is called the Lightning Lily, she chose me when I was younger than you. The reason our blades can choose us is simple, they are living things with a voice of their own and you will never master yours if you can't hear it."

She looked to her shuriken, "Can Vargas hear his blades?"

Sarah nodded, "He claims the Wolf sounds like an old man who's overly fond of ale and cigars while the Coyote is like an angry boy who's voice cracks when he gets excited."

"Is that true?"

Sarah shrugged, "I don't know, only he can hear them."

Hana then looked to Angus who was eating a bag of mixed nuts as he watched some street performers from the balcony, "Do you hear the Changeling?"

He nodded without looking back, "Yappy bastard never shuts up. Plus side, he's funny."

***

Vargas stood with Marcus as a large vault door slid open, "I'll be glad to get rid of a couple of these."

He handed the bag from his back over to Marcus who opened it as he put a metal gauntlet on. He pulled the Cobra's Fang out, "I've heard stories about this nasty piece of work."

Vargas nodded, "Luckily I don't think Bedo had it long. Only really knew two moves but the second was pretty much a variation on the first."

Marcus placed it on a table with other blades with snakes craved on their hilts before pulling the next blade from the bag, "So, I assume you'll be wanting to add the Dragon's Tail to the collection. Are you prepared to take it?"

Vargas nodded, "He's never been able to beat me before."

Marcus nodded, "This is true, but you've never been able to beat him either."

"Those were different times. As far as I'm concerned my friend died on the battle field with my father. I'm just doing away with the thing using his name."

***

Alana stood in front of the North gate of the Capitol, "Hey, Gatekeeper! You there?"

A man poked his head out, "We're a bit busy up here."

She yelled back, "Why's the gate closed in the middle of the day?"

"We're on high alert."

She sighed, "Can I get in?"

"What's your business?"

"Can you just let me in?"

"I can if you tell me your business."

She gritted her teeth, "My sister is Marshal Captain Sarah of the Lightning Lily."

He looked unimpressed, "That's nice, what's your business?"

She huffed a bit, "I have information about the guy with the Reaper's Arm and the army he's about to march on to this city."

"Give me a minute."

She listened as the gates unlocked and began to open. She muttered to herself, "I hate this place."

(To be continued)

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Cutlery Book 1: The Sword collector part 6

Continued from here part 5

Many years ago, Marshal's Academy at the Capitol.

A young Victor stood before a group of new recruits doing an amount of push ups that bordered on abuse. As they counted off The then High General Magnus along with his brother and second in command Marcus approached. Victor turned and gave a nod, "Morning Marcus."

Magnus rolled his eyes a bit, "No greeting for a superior?"

He glared to his father, "Morning, you rat bastard."

Magnus had a slight grin, "Better."

Marcus cleared his throat, "We have business."

Victor sighed then patted his underling Reeves on the shoulder, "If they loose count, make them start over."

Victor turned and followed them. He entered a room where two nervous looking boys sat. One was a ten year old Gunnar and twelve year old Harris. Victor looked them over, "Bit young for service."

Magnus nodded, "These boys need someone to take care of them."

Victor gritted his teeth, "I'm already raising one son for you...."

Magnus cut him off, "They're war orphans, they have no place else to go and I don't want them in the orphanage."

Victor growled, "Fine, under one condition."

***

The boys stood out on a field as Victor stood behind them. Magnus and Marcus watched from a distance as Victor called, "Vargas, get your ass out here."

An eight year old Vargas wandered out, "What?!"

Victor tossed his little brother a wooden sword then handed one to each of the boys, "If one of you manages to land a hit on him, you both can stay."

Gunnar looked hesitant, "You want us to beat up a little kid?"

"You don't need to beat him up, just hit him once."

Harris didn't question as he ran headlong at the boy. He was caught by a foot to the chest as Vargas leapt up. He then landed behind Harris and slammed the wooden sword across the back of his knees. Gunnar ran up and attempted to catch him off guard but took a knee to the gut for his trouble before Vargas brought the hilt of his weapon down on his head.

Gunnar got angry and began wildly swinging his blade as Vargas easily dodged. As he backed up he suddenly stopped as he felt the point of Harris's sword poking his back. Victor caught Gunnar's hand as his blade nearly crashed down on Vargas' head, "Your buddy already got a kill shot. You're good."

He then looked to Vargas, "You still ain't watching your back boy."

Marcus noticed the faint grin on Magnus' face, "Careful, they might find out you give a damn."

Magnus noted the sarcastic tone as he turned to his brother, "Their hate'll make them hard and strong. They'll need that."

"If you say so, still sounds like a terrible idea though."

He nodded, "Has to be done. You'll understand when its time."

***

The Present, The Capitol

Gunnar still fumed in his chamber as Marcus spoke, "I sent out riders to confirm it, if Victor is dead they'll bring him back to be buried with honors. I have to ask, would it be wise to tell Vargas. We want him to stay for a bit."

Gunnar glared, "The Wrath showed me an image of a Reaper, a Tiger and a Dragon marching on the Capitol. If he knows they're coming he'll wait, trust me on that."

Marcus sighed, "You say the vision showed a dragon striking down a bear, you know what that could mean?"

Gunnar silently nodded.

***

Belial stood next to an angry Paimon, "You should have let me kill them."

Belial rolled his eyes, "You still on that?"

Harris seemed a bit sullen before noticing many men marching toward them. He yelled to Belial, "We have company."

***

Several men broke away from the large group and approached Belial. One called Erick stepped forward, "Rumor has it, one of you managed to take down Victor the Bear."

Belial nodded and pointed to Harris, "The blood still stains his blade."

Erick gave him a nod, "His brother killed our leader, I figure that means we owe you for the small measure of vengeance."

Belial grinned, "We aim to exterminate the marshals, if you march with us you may consider your debt paid."

Alana watched as she hid in a nearby tree. She sighed as she muttered to herself, "This doesn't bode well."

***

Vargas nervously boarded Uri's machine as he began to wind it, "I don't think a full wind will be necessary this time."

Uri shrugged as he stopped at a quarter wind, "If you say so."

The machine then launched down the hill as Hana, Angus and Vargas clutched the sides of their seats.

***

A couple minutes later they found themselves speeding toward the city gates as a royal guardsman raised a hand to stop them. Uri's eyes went wide as he kicked the break lever. The guard barely managed to dive out of the way. The machine screeched to a halt as Uri began to apologize profusely. Vargas stepped down and the guard gave a hateful look, "You can never arrive like a normal person, can you?"

The guard then glared up to the gate keeper, "Its just Vargas."

A massive stone wall lowered into a cut in the ground as several locks sprang loudly. Uri watched as several massive wooden planks slid away as the main gate opened, "Marvelous, but still nothing compared to my machinery."

As they entered a woman armed with a rapier, Sarah stood before them. She looked on Vargas, "The High General needs to see you immediately."

"Can't I get lunch first."

She gave him a blank look, "No."

Angus and Hana's eyes went wide as they saw the city for the first time. Angus turned to Vargas, "Meet you later, gonna go waste some money."

Vargas then tossed a small purse of coins to Hana, "Go get yourself some cloths that fit, grab a bite or something."

A man with Sarah called named Oleg leered at Hana, "Allow me to escort you, mi'lady."

Vargas gave a fake grin and a nod as he pulled Sarah over, "Tag along, and tell Oleg if he lays a hand on that girl, I'll remove it from his body."

She chuckled a bit, "Will do."

He then looked to Uri, who was already happily boasting about his machine to whoever would listen. he shrugged and headed toward the Marshal's Headquarters.

***

A mile from the Capitol riders came upon Clive carrying the Big Bear to deliver to Vargas. After a quick exchange of words Clive agreed to carry out the confirmation as they proceeded in their task to retrieve the body.

***

Vargas had become sidetracked on his way to the headquarters but eventually made his way there. As he arrived an aide ushered him into Gunnar's quarters. He looked around the room, "This is quite a few steps up from the crap holes Victor raised us in."

Gunnar had a stern look as Vargas noticed the Big Bear sitting on the desk. "Is Victor here?"

Gunnar shook his head, "We need to talk."

Clive nervously entered the room as anger started to form in Vargas, "Why the hell is the Bear here without Victor?"

Gunnar motioned for Clive to sit down, "We're both about to find out."

Clive sat and told his story. Vargas and Gunnar listened intently to every word the nervous young marshal uttered until he'd finished. Gunnar sat back, "So he died fighting?"

Clive nodded. Suddenly Vargas stood and flipped the desk sending it crashing through a window. Clive looked frightened as Vargas turned and kicked open the door nearly taking it off the hinges as Gunnar ordered, "Vargas, stop."

Vargas gripped the hilt of the Coyote, "This can't go unanswered."

Gunnar stood, "It won't. His killer is marching here. Aside from that he's with the man who wields the Reaper's Arm. We both want Harris to pay but I also need to protect this city. With you here we can do both."

Vargas took a breath, "I brought a man with me, find him and bring him to the city's engineers. Perhaps he can help with defense, if he refuses just stroke his ego a bit."

Gunnar sighed, "Can I trust you to keep your head on straight? You know him as well as I, one mistake, one second of hesitation and he will kill you."

Vargas gave a nod, "I know."

***

Angus sat at a small table outside a restaurant. The waitress commented, "The marshals seem on edge today."

Angus nodded, "Fight's coming."

She looked down to him, "You know something?"

"Nothing specific, I just feel it in my gut. If you'd been in as many fights as me, you'd see the signs too."

The Changeling had been vibrating in his pocket off and on since they'd entered the city. He knew something bad was coming.

***

Several royal engineers approached Uri. One spoke up, "Sir, we were told you were a man of great skill and we'd like to have your aid."

Uri smiled, "Well of course you would, a man of my genius is rare indeed."

One of the men rolled his eyes, "That was easy."

(To be continued)

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