This is a series of short tales about how a person's will can exceed their physical state, especially when they have something to lose/protect. The first tale is open to everyone but the rest is reserved for members. You should join. Its free.
“I will guide you until the end.”
The words bounced off the walls of the room, even though the old man never said them out loud. The small girl on his lap — his granddaughter, would have awoken if he had hurled them out as powerfully as they echoed in memory. The words never left his heart, appearing when he closed his eyes.
A slight rustle of sound made his eyes open, darting to the thin shadow cast by the light of the lantern on the curtains. Moving his lips, soundlessly the old man transmitted his voice to the person that had slipped into that shadow.
“You are already here. You might as well come out.”
A light wind rippled the curtain and a person folded out of the shadow, appearing slowly, like they were half here and half somewhere else. It made the fair features of the man look blurred, even the hard lines of the half moon blade he had in hand.
“Is it time, already?” the old man said soundlessly again, adjusting slightly to accommodate his granddaughter as she shifted under the touch of the light wind. When she turned and looked to fall off his lap, a slight nudge of his knee kept her in place.
The blurred man gazed at the armless body of the old man, his eyes slowly to moving from armless shoulder to armless shoulder.
In turn, the old man did not let his eyes move from the blurry figure. Moving his lips, the old man soundlessly asked the question again.
A snort answered him. It sounded weak, but stirred the air in the room, making dust dance in the lantern light.
The old man gave the blurred figure an evil eye even as he leaned over his granddaughter to keep the wind and dust from waking her up. His eyes, when he looked up were brilliant and edged.
The blurred man’s voice was as soft as his outline. “The Emperor took both of your arms. He should have shorn away your ego along with it. How can you have such will when you are without your famous blades?”
“Life is a sword,” was the old man’s response.
“Even after you lost your arms to wield a weapon? What? You have learned to use your feet to wield a blade?”
The old man shook his head and said, “Say your piece.”
“You have been lucky for this past year. Otherwise, the Emperor would have taken more than your arms for slaying his son and daughter.”
The old man said nothing but stared back.
The blurred man held his gaze for a moment before his lip curled and twisted his face. “Fine. If not for Irenecus — that not man and not woman — the Emperor would have taken your head instead of stopping at your arms.”
The old man closed his eyes, rocking his granddaughter slightly to soothe her. His voice was soft, correcting the blurred man. “Best of both, not lacking in each.”
Spit blotted the floor in return. The blurred man flung the lingering trails from his lips with a finger at the old man’s feet. With his weaponed hand, the blurred man dug out a twisted length of metal, pierced and scarred with bite marks.
“It does not matter. For a year, Irenecus has battled with the Aspyr Hive but he met his match in the Hivemaster and was torn apart, every scrape eaten by the Hivemaster’s minions. Naught but this scrap remains. The disciple shielding you from the Emperor has fallen.”
The old man’s eyes, when he opened them were bright with unshed tears. The words he had said those years ago, when Irenecus was young and new, echoed back. The old man finally said them aloud.
“I will guide you until the end.”
The blurred man left a snort in the air as he moved, half moon blade raised to cut down the old man and his granddaughter in one sweep. He lost the arm with the blade first. Then, the other arm, followed by both legs before he dropped to the bleeding. Something cut across his throat, damaging his voice box, and slicing away the shriek boiling out his lungs.
The blurred man’s eyes rolled and pleaded until they finally dulled, life leaking out of them. The answer he wanted — why the old man could kill him with a sword when he had no arms to swing one — became clear after his death. As the old man looking at the bloody scene, his gaze materialized one invisible sword after another, cutting and destroying the bloody scene, until nothing but a clean room and a slight smell of death remained.
To no one or perhaps the blurred man’s ghost, the old man whispered, “Life is a sword. Having no arms means nothing. Everything is a sword to my will and no sword at all.”
The sudden tension in the old man woke the young girl in his lap. She stirred and old man softly said, “Its time to travel, little one. We have someone to visit.”
Rubbing her eyes, she gave the old man a hug before staggering off to get ready. He looked after her, his will surrounding her with invisible blades. A few went outside, killing those outside to clear the way as light crested the horizon.
It would be a bloody dawn.