Dare to Take My Bow

Photo by Om Prakash Sethia / Unsplash

Short Story

An unedited, fun short story for everyone to enjoy.

“Aren’t you afraid of death?”
Eyes burning, Colin laughed, blood splattering from his torn mouth.
Opposite him, Merth snorted and waved a hand. The two burly thugs holding Colin’s shoulders pummeled him with several blows. After knocking him about for a good minute, they smashed him back down on his knees, head hanging listlessly.
Merth gestured and one of the burly thugs lifted Colin’s battered face so he could see it.
“And now? Is this persuasive enough? Do you love the past so much that you still see it as worthy? No matter how great the past was its nothing but dust in the present. Bow. Show me you are worthy and I’ll not only spare you but teach you as a student.”
Colin’s eyes flickered for the first time and his lips moved, though he didn’t say a word. The two burly thugs holding his shoulders jeered, loudly asking what he was waiting for and to not lose the opportunity to be a disciple of Merth, an unprecedented master of the blade.
Something burst inside and Colin suddenly looked up and stared at Merth with a sharp gaze. He enunciated each word carefully past broken teeth.
“Will you dare … have me acknowledge you as my master?”
Merth gave a half-smile, saying, “Oh? Should I not, you think?”
Colin said nothing, shrugging at the hands holding him.
At Merth’s gesture, they let him loose to wave unsteadily on his knees. Colin spit blood at a spot just in front of him, half-falling when he placed each hand beside it.
Staring at the blood on the ground, Colin said, “Master, please receive three kowtows from your student.”
The moment his forehead touched the ground, the air shivered. The wind, gently blowing around them the whole time, died.
The two thugs stepped back unconsciously.  Only Merth looked on unperturbed. He could sense the strange energy that rose with the first bow, but didn’t seem to care.
Some of the blood from the ground smeared on Colin’s forehead, mixing with the sweat to burn his eyes. Not looking up from the ground, Colin asked, “Do you dare let me continue?”
“Oh? Why aren’t you continuing? Are you not going to bow three times?”
Colin strangled the laugh in his throat, coughing out instead, “Master, please accept your student’s second bow.”
The air around them seemed to wither, slowing to a death-like pace. With it, sound died.
The two burly thugs ran but only made it a few steps before the knives flying from Merth’s hands found a new home in the back of their skulls. They fell, any sound of their passing eaten by the withering silence around them.
Colin didn’t bother to pay attention. He bowed a third time, saying, “Master, accept your student’s third bow.”
An eerie stillness grew, descending from the sky, seemingly appearing out of the dead air. It landed on Merth without any chance to dodge. It didn’t do any damage but dropped like a mountain.
After a momentary struggle, Merth’s look of confidence slide away and his knees buckled, slamming him into the ground.
Colin looked up, blood dripping down into his eyes.  You want to be my teacher and receive my bow? I’m just afraid you don’t have the life to accept it. Even dead, master’s will lives on. You underestimated how arrogant and how powerful my master is; even in death, he will not accept his student bowing to another teacher.
The eerie stillness finished turning Merth into a pool of blood and leaped to him.
Colin closed his eyes.
It was going to be a long time before he made this up to his master.

Monty St John

Monty St John