Ithuriel: Inception (Chapter One)

Presenting original fantasy fiction from Robert Roach, this prose series features sword and soul hero Ithuriel in adventures placed in fantasy lands.

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The motley pack of assassins—shocked by their associate's sudden death—backs away from Tzumé's position & warily pivots toward Ithuriel.

"Who the hell--?!" one killer starts.

"He's our mark's son!" another answers the unfinished question. "But he's supposed to be dead!"

Ithuriel's whirling his blade like it's a weed whacker, parting the assailants into two groups. At the same time, Tzumé fights to his son's side—rather, to his back.

"Hope you're feeling younger than you were earlier today," Ithuriel jokes as he readies himself for the intruders' attack.

"I'm glad to see you're back by dinnertime," Tzumé counters. "The first time you've been on time in a long time."

The hexagon-shaped chamber is about 400-square feet large. The dining room is designed & decorated similar to the great room. Its lanterns are lit & the chamber well illuminated. The pathway to Tzumé's library is closed off—chairs & smaller tables chaotically piled in front of the door. Ithuriel looks at the blocked kitchen doorway, to his left. The upturned great table is also on his left, with the table's 12 chairs strewn haphazardly throughout the room. But, as with the library's entryway, the furniture isn't scattered about without forethought. The way the room's rubble is placed, all the would-be murderers are strategically funneled toward Tzumé's position, giving him an advantage. 

The chamber's artwork, cabinets, cabinets' contents, pelts & so on also litter the room's floor.

Like the squad that attacked Ithuriel earlier, this troop is also of mixed ethnicities—three fighters from Sandeh, one from Assihr & two from Paarsin remain.

The assassins look at each other as they catch their breath & reevaluate their situation. The two men from Paarsin, still dressed in their rural, tribal gear, speak to each other in Paarsini. The one with multiple knives on his belt steps back & rests his right hand on a dagger's hilt.

"What?!" the tall man from Sandeh demands. "Speak Nigritian so that we can all understand!"

"They're just talking strategy," the Assihri informs. "Assihri & Paarsini are cousin languages--"

"But not 'cousin people!'" the knife thrower retorts.

"Enough!" the tall Sandeh snaps. "Argue once our targets are dead." The killers turn their eyes toward the duo & then launch their second assault.

Father-&-son are back-to-back. The six remaining mercenaries have parted, three fighters on each side of the chamber. All are armed with long weapons. The three from Zhou-Baek's southern continental region are wielding scimitars.

One Paarsini, still trying to gain space so that he might create a throwing angle, has six knives on his belt. One of the Sandeh soldiers, a bald man with red, amber & brown maquillage decorating his torso (these colors working in concert with his armor's feathers), has four 6-inch hurling spikes. In fact, he's throwing one of these at Ithuriel, who ducks & avoids the projectile.

Furniture debris around the room continues to restrict the assailants' access to Ithuriel & Tzumé, but the killers are determined to finish this job—& the job their compatriots didn't complete with Ithuriel. The tallest of the three Sandeh warriors is brandishing an extra-long sabre, rather than the country's standard broadsword. Using this lighter blade, his swordplay should be faster than Ithuriel's. It isn't.

These two fighters engage. The spike-thrower is also on Ithuriel's side of the chamber. He's trying to get a good angle to skewer Ithuriel. The shorter, pudgy Paarsini is also battling Ithuriel directly, viciously swinging his scimitar at the young warrior's head.

Ithuriel simultaneously ducks the Paarsini's swipe & parries the Sandeh's thrust. The spike-thrower tosses another barb but it misses again.

Under flickering lanterns on the chamber's far side, the Sandeh, Paarsini & Assihri fight with Tzumé. The Assihri knife-thrower, like the spike-thrower, is circling Tzumé & the other two fighters. He's looking for another chance to toss an additional dagger.

Ithuriel & the tall Sandeh fighter close on each other, coming chest-to-chest. Ithuriel takes this opportunity to punch the tall man's face with his sword's hilt. The Sandeh guerrilla is slightly stunned, falling back a few steps.

The spike-thrower sees his chance & unleashes a barb at Ithuriel. This instant—with no one obstructing the two—seems perfect.

Unfortunately, the Paarsini has also chosen this opportunity to attack. He jumps in at this moment to directly confront Ithuriel. The airborne spike skewers the foreign fighter at his skull's base, instantly killing the chubby warrior.

"Dammit!" the thrower exclaims, taking out his sword to more closely assault Ithuriel. But he continues to look for a chance to toss another spike.

On the other side of the room, Tzumé keeps the Paarsini & Sandeh dogs of war between him & the knife-throwing Assihri. He's well aware that this man is probably his biggest danger. Keeping a barrier is smart—& Tzumé is a smart fighter

The assassins remain stunned at how well their targets can scrap.

Tzumé flicks aside his immediate foe's blade a bit & slightly wounds the Paarsini. Yelping a little, the man is forced to step back & regroup for a moment. Taking advantage of this instant, Tzumé effects a sudden flourish, pushing the Sandeh—a man wearing a colorful feather neckpiece—a few steps back & in the knife-thrower's direction.

Tzumé's now in an advantageous position vis-à-vis his trio of attackers.

Before the colorfully-garbed warrior knows what's happening, Tzumé viciously stomps on this man's right foot, nearly crushing it. The killer squeals as he stumbles & nearly collapses—spittle flying from his lips. But Tzumé isn't done.

After stomping on the Sandeh's foot, Tzumé pirouettes 360°. Before the knife-thrower knows what's happening, Tzumé completes his spin—blade extended—& hamstrings the Assihri. Tzumé slashes the assailing warrior's tendon behind his left knee.

Shrieking in agony, the assassin crumples to the floor.

The other two men regain their killing composure & reengage Tzumé, redoubling their efforts to complete this job.

On the other side of the room, almost 15 yards away, Ithuriel dances among the furniture & the dead bodies as he fights his attackers.

The spike-thrower, nearly out of hurling weapons—is now using his broadsword in concert with the taller Sandeh warrior, who's back in this combat. Due to his broken nose, blood has splattered across his face.

Though the two think that by fighting together they'll have an advantage over this younger warrior, both soon realize that this isn't true. Ithuriel's slashing side to side & carving out more space for himself. He sees an advantageous moment & stabs the bald spike-thrower in his oblique. 

Ithuriel story elements are the sole property of Robert Roach/Hometown Productions ©2020

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Words and illustrations by Robert Roach