A Harvest of Broken Stars

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Chapter 53: Shatter

Backing away, Gilmir examined the wound with his free hand. Blood was already gathering on the left side of his stomach. A flesh wound. But not just a flesh wound. Gilmir felt the taint of foul magic. Felt his life force leaking out with the blood. A glance at Voan confirmed his fear. The crinkling of the skin around the man’s eyes revealed a grin.

‘Don’t worry, friend. It’s just a flesh wound. Nothing to worry about for a great elven warrior.’

Gilmir fell on one knee, holding his hand on the wound and grimacing.

‘What?’ Voan said, taking a few steps towards the elf. ‘Was that all? A small gash and the exceptional warrior falls to his knees. I had expected more from an elf of the finest lineage.’

Gilmir closed his eyes. Hearing the man moving forward, sensing the foul energy of the magic sword. He sensed the weapon coming forward in a rush and drew on the energy of the shard around his neck. Directing the force to his muscles, he burst into movement. He opened his eyes and slashed the long blade towards the stabbing sword. Going for the hilt and the hand holding it, he scored a hit. Voan dropped the sword. It too fell over the ledge and down to the platform below. Gilmir got to his feet and pressed the advance. The blade coming the other way striking at the man’s torso. Voan jumped back, narrowly avoiding the attack. Gilmir kept coming forward, kept striking. Falling into attacking routines practised to perfection over a human lifetime. Voan dodged and retreated, somehow managing to avoid being hit. Building momentum Gilmir went for a desperate finish. He slid down on his knees. He came in low and made it hard for his adversary to retreat. The blade slashed out, cutting a gash in Voan’s thigh.

Voan growled. Gilmir’s momentum stopped. Ignoring the wound, Voan moved out of reach, picking up the battleaxe behind the throne in the process.

‘You are starting to annoy me, elf!’ Voan said, swinging the colossal battleaxe with his right hand.

Gilmir glanced to the left, to the small table by the throne. Nodding towards the flasks, pots and incense. ‘How have you been feeling lately?’

‘What the hell are you talking about?’

‘The face mask, the lavender, the elven tobacco, the ointments and creams, those won’t help you,’ Gilmir said, holding one hand at his wound and the blade pointing at the man.

‘What are you playing at, elf? I don’t take health advice from an assassin!’

‘Sound logic. Thus, I wonder why you would consult with a necromancer?’ Gilmir tilted his head towards the robed figure below. ‘Don’t you realise he is the one making you sick? He’s poisoning you and making himself invaluable by remedying his own poisons.’

Voan eyes widened ever so slightly before he cast a glance down into the room. Gilmir came forward. He fell into a vicious attacking routine. A sequence of swings and thrusts made for one outcome. Building up for a killing blow and foregoing all defence in the process. Voan brought his huge axe up to parry. Once, twice, three times. He stepped back, dodged and twisted. With his momentum building, Gilmir was close to the grand finale. Taking a step forward, he gripped the sword with two hands and slashed. It would have been the killing blow if it had reached its target. Instead, a boot in his gut sent him backwards. Voan followed and sent the axe in a mighty sidelong chop against Gilmir’s head. The elf sensed the weapon touching his hairs as he fell backwards. The heavy axe crashed into one of the great windows, shattering it.

Wind gushed in. The setting sun reflected in one of the golden window frames. Gilmir lay on his back. Voan took a step forward, his axe was once again ready to strike. The wound in Gilmir’s stomach throbbed and weakened him. He had nowhere to move, no way to resist the massive axe descending on him.

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