Sword Called Kitten Serial

Gordon A. Long

Published by

Airborn Press


   Home      Issue # 20 Battle of Ghost Lake Pass Part 2
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EPISODE 20

Battle of Ghost Lake Pass Part II

 

 

His Sword in one hand, the other grasping the wound in his back, lord Coelric stumbled the perimeter of the crimsoned snow of the battlefield, then crossed through the scattering of fallen men. There were groans and slight movements, but as he passed by, these began to fade.

One over there, my Lord. Maridon. Badly wounded.

With a frown of distaste, the Inderjornese noble regarded the dark-skinned soldier who lay, blood staining the front of his tunic and leggings.

The dark eyes fluttered open. “Finish the job, you damned white-skinned ghost. I took a sword in the guts and I’d rather die clean. Even by your hand.”

Lord Coelric swung the Sword, and another soul flipped away into the ether.

“Any more?”

Any that are left are fading fast. You’re the last one, my Lord, and you need to get settled so I can work on this wound.

“You can heal me?”

I can’t work like a Healer can, but if I can keep the blood from flowing for long enough, you will heal yourself. Find a place to lie down. Somewhere sheltered. We may be here for a while. How about that clump of trees over there?

The wounded man stumbled over to the trees, crawled under their low-hanging branches and lay in the soft moss.

All right. Pull me across your lap. I can work best when I’m close and your hand is on my hilt.

“As it has been all day. We fought well, Sword.

You are a fine soldier, Lord Coelric.

“We were good together, Sword.”

Yes. It was a tough fight and we saved the realm from an invasion. You can feel proud of yourself and your men. As they spoke, the Sword used all her skill, all her Power to try to Heal her Hand. When you get to the Halls of Valhalla or wherever, you will be received with all glory.

“Valhalla? Is that where I’m going?”

There is too much torn flesh. I cannot stop the bleeding. I’m afraid you must prepare yourself for death, my Lord.

“But I’m not finished here!”

Nonetheless. Do you have any folk at home that you wish to think on? Any favourite places you would like to visit one more time?

“Yes, I do, rather…”

After a while, the Sword gently nudged her Hand’s mind. The time is coming.

Is it?

Yes, you are only speaking in your mind, now.

Don’t have the energy to talk.

That’s right. It is time to make the change.

What do I do?

I don’t know. It comes naturally. One moment you are here, and the next moment you are free.

Free to go where?

Anywhere you like, but most spirits seem to know exactly where they are going.

 I told you. I’m not going anywhere.

The Sword pulled the spirit’s attention to the bloody corpse beneath them. You don’t exactly have a place to stay.

No chance of healing?

Lost too much blood, I’m afraid. You would keep fighting.

I had to. They would have won!

I won’t argue with that. A successful campaign, if a bit costly in troops.

The spirit regarded the bodies spread back down the trail, the pile of soldiers around the tree. I suppose I could have done that part better.

I doubt it. You were outnumbered and outclassed. We just outsmarted them. And of course that final charge of yours…

…when the enemy soldiers were already half scared to death, remember…

Still, they were five to one, and we took them all. The raid is over. The pass is plugged.

What is that awful noise?

The Sword scanned the battlefield, then plunged into the source of an awful whooping and wailing. After a moment she returned.

There was one Maridon soldier with a strong soul and a burning desire to return to Marida. He was killed while running away. His spirit is torn between fulfilling his desire and returning to finish the battle.

What will happen to him?

If I don’t do something, he’ll probably haunt this pass for about a hundred years. Wait a minute… yes, that worked out better than we could plan.

What happened?

There were more Maridon reinforcements coming up the trail. They seem to be more sensitive than I thought.

What do you mean?

I mean they’ve dropped their weapons and are scrambling back down the trail, screaming. All right, soldier. You’ve done your duty, and warned your fellows away. Now SCAT! MMMMMEEEEOOOWWRRRR!

She sent a wide-open, fanged visage at the spirit, and it ducked away with a whimper. Silence descended again.

And there you are. The pass is safe.

No it isn’t. There’s nobody left to defend it.

That’s partly true.

Which is why I have to stay.

You can’t.

How do you know?

I may be a young Sword, but I have been in battle. When a soldier is killed, his soul whisks away as if it knows where it’s going. With a certain amount of regret, definitely, but with a great deal of joy as well. I don’t know why it should be different with you, but if you try to hang around here, you’re going to have a very unpleasant time, and then you’re just going to fade to nothing. Away you go!

But you’re a magic Sword. You can keep me here.

Where did you hear that nonsense?

Magic Swords can take souls. Everyone knows that.

I don’t take human souls. They’re messy and disorganized and they keep me from thinking properly.

So you have taken them. In the past. Otherwise you wouldn’t know.

The Cat was silent.

I’ve caught you, haven’t I? You do take human souls.

She glowered at him as only a cat can. During the forging of a Sword, if there are any appropriate human souls available – statesman of honour, soldier of prowess, philosopher of wisdom – they are offered the privilege of joining with the Sword. Yes, I have several. Even one Dowager duchess. She and I got along rather well.

So your mind is made up of all those minds.

Not at all. That would be a complete mess. No, I have their souls. This gives me a certain amount of access to their former skills and memories. That’s all. I can’t go looking for Lord Ecward: ‘Say, Ec, old friend. I must teach my clumsy Hand to dance the quadrille. Will you take him over for awhile?’ Doesn’t work that way.

So you have taken several souls. You could take mine. Then I could stay here with you and guard the pass.

The Cat sighed. “That’s the problem. A recent human soul carries with him all the intentions and goals and feelings that he had at his death. And it gets all mixed up in my mind. Sorry, my Lord, I’m not interested. We’ve done our duty here. We stopped the invasion. Now it’s someone else’s turn to take over. You have to learn that, Lord Coelric. You’re dead. You can let go of the earth. Now flutter away to wherever you’re supposed to go and leave me to figure out how to get off this stupid mountain. I have goals too, you know. And sitting here in your dead lap isn’t getting me towards any of them!

But I am not going. I am going to stay around here and haunt you, and drive you cra-a-a-a-azzzzzzzzzzzzzzyyyy y y y y y … y …  y … y …  y!” The spirit spun away and roared past, a high keening wail reverberating around in the rocks.

Hey! How are you doing that? Spirits are supposed to be silent!

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s because you’re here. And as long as you’re here, I’m going to keep it up! O-O-O-O-OOOOOOOO-E-E-E-E--E--E---E----E----E!

This is ridiculous. I know you’re just a new spirit, but please grow up. In case you didn’t notice, you’ve driven every creature within a league completely out of the valley. In fact… wait a minute… oh, well done!

What? What did I do?

There is now a troop of soldiers running in panic back down the pass to Inderjorne. That must have been your relief, coming up to find us. And now you’ve scared them away with your ghost act.

They’ll be back.

I doubt it. They have very open minds, and you were screaming both out loud and inside their heads. Now nobody is going to want to come up here for a long, long, time. Thanks a lot.

Well, at least we have each other for company.

I told you already, you won’t last. You’ll just fade away. You’ll forget all your connection to the earth, forget who you were. Then you’ll be gone, except for a vague uneasy feeling for everyone who passes by. And I’ll still be stuck up here in this Smith-forsaken pass where you’ve scared everyone away. It could take centuries.

I’m sorry.

No problem. Battles never go the way they were planned.

Ours did, though, didn’t it?

Except for that pike in the ribs, it went perfectly.

Minor error. It’s the result that counts.

In this case, I suppose it has to be. So you can be happy. You can go away now.

No. I have to stay and guard this pass. If I can send my backup troop running, I can do the same for any invading Maridons.

If they come in the next three months or so.

What happens in three months?

Pffft! You’re gone.

Then in about two months, you’d better absorb me, so I’m not gone. I have no intention of leaving my post.

By that time there won’t be much left to absorb. If we’re going to do it, the sooner the better.

You’re really going to do it?

I suppose so.

Right now?

As I said.

Will it…hurt?

I don’t think so. Just come over here and relax.

Just come over… like this…? But… Oh! What happened?

Congratulations, Lord Coelric. You have just become a part of Ailur, Last Creation of Hanflaed the Smith. Destined to be a Sword of Legend, with a Name that will resound through Time. I suppose I ought to make up an appropriate ceremony.

That sounds wonderful. May I look around?

You’re part of us now.

Will I see those other souls?

I shouldn’t think so. They were a while ago, and they’re pretty well absorbed. Go ahead.

Wow! Is that what the world looks like from a cat’s eyes?

No, that’s what the world looks like from the eyes of a Sword who was once a cat. Without living creatures nearby, we can’t see very far or very clearly. Wait till the animals come out at dusk and you’ll see, then. Literally. Ha, ha.

Do I have to learn your sense of humour?

It doesn’t work that way. Soon you will become me, and your sense of humour and mine will be the same.

How long will that take?

Some parts of your soul are already joined. A few of the rough ones are looking for somewhere to fit it. Gives me an itch. By the time the itch goes away… I’m talking to myself, aren’t I? Aye. He’s gone. Huh! The duchess lasted much longer than that. Of course, she was quite a character.  I know he’s in there, though. I feel better, come to think of it. A sense of accomplishment. That must come from him. Not much else at the moment. Oh, well, some day a memory may surprise me.

The quiet calm of the forest infused the clearing. She could hear the wind sighing through the treetops, feel the minds of the small animals and birds stirring cautiously to life around her. And nothing else.

Well. This is going to be a new experience.
 e hH

 

 

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