by Renee "Mouse" Booke
As the human boulder stomped down the road towards her, Ashryn plucked her rapier from its scabbard. Despite the collection of baubles and engraved buttons that adorned her person, the blade stood out above all the rest once freed. It was so well polished that there was an ethereal glow about it, an aura that drew in the eyes. Crafted for her several years back, the blade was only slightly longer than the average rapier, and measured around three and a half feet. The swept hilt, and the blade, were both forged from a rare ore known in these parts as Sky-Metal. The grip was also made of rare material. For its construction, ivory had been imported all the way up from the Tuh’Chiri Empire in the far south. The pommel, which brought balancing weight to the slender weapon, was also made of Sky-Metal, but inlaid with carved amethysts and almandine gemstones.
“Don’t you move, Reymaris! I’m taking you in!”
Ashryn rolled her eyes, tapping the blade against a tall black boot. “And here I was told never to go anywhere with strangers,” she mused. A coy smile crossed her face. “Come now, Sir Bryson, tis a lovely day, no need for the grumpiness.”
“It will be a lovely day when you have faced the justice of the law!” Bryson called back, still stomping towards her. From head to toe he was covered in a complete suit of well-tempered steel. His cuirass had detailed engraving depicting a displayed raven. Ravens had long been the symbol of the Kingdom of Vamhadras, so it was no surprise to see this nationalistic display from the stalwart Knight. His helm, the product of some artisan’s vision, was a masterpiece. It was narrowly open-faced, save for the extension that covered the bridge of his nose. Though his eyes and mouth were unobstructed, the rest of the dome protected his skull in a thick case of unblemished metal. On either side of the helm back towards the ears, additional plates of metal had been attached, engraved to look like silver wings. It was an angelic statement, a testament to the honor and strength of the Silver-Winged Justicar; the rank and file soldiers of Vestulaan.
Ashryn exhaled slowly, bringing her free hand up to her chest. She held it firmly over her heart. “You wound me with such judgmental talk,” she said, “Can we not just stop for a moment and enjoy the clouds?”
Bryson furrowed his brow, quite agitated with the remark. “The last time I stopped to speak with you, you stole my coin. I have not forgotten the slight.” He began to move, adjusting the strap that ran around his far shoulder; keeping his heater shield in place upon his back. It was easy to shift into his hand with a twist of his torso. Comfortable with his defenses, he next reached for his mace. “I trust you are prepared for combat?”
“My dear Sir Bryson, I can assure you that I am always ready, but I fail to see the point in this conflict,” said Ashryn.
“I’ve made myself quite clear on that. You are a common criminal, Reymaris. You’ve stolen from me, and likely countless others. I’m taking you in to local authorities so that you may serve your time and repent for any wrongdoing,” Bryson replied.
Ashryn bristled with offense. “Now listen here you lumpish, motley-minded measle! Surely I deserve a better label than common! I hardly stole from you, I merely borrowed with every intention to pay you back.”
Bryson shifted his weight towards his back leg at the outburst, such a cacophony of words was not something he was privy to on a daily basis. “Borrowing without permission is still theft.” He rapped his mace against the front of his shield, filling the air with high-pitched, overlapping rings. “Vestulaan forgive me for the violence I must use to uphold your will,” he prayed.
Ashryn sprinted ahead, closing the gap between them. With her rapier in hand, she thrust the blade forward on Bryson’s right side, and then lashed out quickly to the left. The armored Knight was ready, however, and his shield deflected both attempts as he gently turned his body to keep in step with the blows. He kept his shield raised to protect his torso, but never raised it above his line of sight; an act of discipline in the face of Ashryn’s swift strikes. Not to be deterred, Ashryn tried again. With her seemingly delicate blade, she kept throwing shots on opposite sides of body, trying to lure him into the safety of a familiar rhythm. Still on the defensive, Bryson continued to block her shots as best as he could, but found himself losing ground. With every aggressive movement she took, it was forcing Bryson to backpedal. The hardened Knight knew he needed to take control of the pace, or admit his surrender.
“Come on you goatish, fly-bitten clot-pole! Don’t tell me that for all your talk of justice, you’re just going to sit there and let a common criminal walk all over you!” Ashryn shouted, attempting to give him another deft prod with her sword.
Instead of idle deflection, this time Bryson pushed his shield forward with uncharacteristic aggression. It would leave him open, he knew, so he followed it up with a simultaneous effort from the mace. With all the strength he could muster, he swung his weapon downwards from over his shoulder and stepped forward into the attack.
The forcible push from the shield left Ashryn’s sword only one direction to travel in, which the elven warrior couldn’t contest in such close quarters combat. She went along with it, and planted the tip of her sword into the ground. As Bryson stepped forward into his mace swing, Ashryn dipped low to move under his arm. Still holding the grip of the rapier, Ashryn’s arm and weapon combined to make a most glorious tripping hazard. Bryson, unable to stop the momentum of his vigorous attack, tripped over the trap that had been laid before him; and fell face first into the dirt.