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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PART NINE

Ithuriel's foreign attacker spins away from the barbarian, grasping at the slash in his side. Though just a deep flesh would, the sword strike's gash gushes blood.

The tattooed man spins around, howling, & falls to the ground. The way he crumbles to the littered floor & rolls about is almost comical. He ends up roughly halfway between Ithuriel's combat zone & Tzumé's fighting space.

The spike-throwing Sandeh grits his teeth. Ithuriel's stab has gone all the way through his stomach's "love handle." It's a good thing for him that his handles are a bit chunkier than many people's. He tries to stand, but the hitman's body refuses this intention. He collapses in a heap again, slightly sprawling in agony.

Though the pain & muscle trauma continue to prevent the Sandeh assassin from rising to his feet, the man isn't entirely useless. Squinting through his anguish, he notices that Tzumé's back to him.

He pulls loose his last spike. As the would-be murderer starts to throw this barb, his "colorful" countryman switches positions with Tzumé. At this moment in the battle, Tzumé & his assailants are jumping back-&-forth, quickly & continually changing places. This fact causes the man to pause. The merc on the floor doesn't want to make another mistake & kill any more compatriots.

So he waits for a better chance, ever watchful.

The two trespassers engaging Tzumé suddenly fight with inspiration. They momentarily drive him backward. The statesman pivots again, barely evading a scimitar stab directed at his neck by the Paarsini.

Behind Tzumé's battle, the Assihri has again struggled to a seated position. Like the warpainted Sandeh, the Assihri knife-thrower is trying to ignore his wound's pain & help his comrades to kill the duo. He leans on a broken chair, unsteadily grasping for one of his daggers.

Tzumé rebuffs his two attackers' charge & drives this duo closer to the chamber's center. They're now 3 or 4 yards from the downed spike-thrower.

Though Tzumé is tired, he isn't winded—the assassins' huffing & puffing starkly contrasting with the Kahnuri warrior. Tzumé smiles as this causes him to recognize an important fact: he & Ithuriel are always prepared to be their best.

He takes a moment to steal a glance across the room—past his assailants & past the straining spike-thrower. He sees his son, controlling the fight & pushing his attacker to his brink. A brief wave of pride washes over Ithuriel's father.

But instantly his thoughts return to his own battle.

Now that his assassins are stymied, Tzumé inflicts another wound on the Paarsini, forcing the man to stumble back a bit. The three are even closer to the spike-thrower.

Due to this sudden shifting amongst Tzumé & his combatants, a slight gap between them develops.

Just as Tzumé fatally slashes the Sandeh's abdomen—the fighter doubling over in pain as his entrails spill onto the manicured tiles, the bald warrior hurls his last projectile. It strikes Tzumé in his upper left arm. The spike hits a nerve cluster & his arm has gone numb. This appendage is now useless.

The often-injured Paarsini's back up again, once again becoming a barrier between Tzumé & the Assihri knife-thrower. The Assihri knife-thrower is still leaning on the broken chair & is kind of kneeling—using his one uninjured knee & the chair as support. The man continues to tug at a dagger with sweat-moistened fingers, the knife finally coming free from his belt.

Since both Tzumé & the Paarsini are hurt—"one arm" Tzumé even more so than his assailant, the fight will be "fair" from this point on. At least this is the erroneous assumption borne by the Paarsini.

Tzumé is a far superior warrior. Even with one arm temporarily useless & the Paarsini by-&-large fit, Tzumé still has the advantage.

His wounded left arm dangling, Tzumé is still light on his feet. He works the Paarsini from side-to-side, rocking the man off balance. Tzumé steadily turns the man's scimitar aside & controls the action.

The two men scuffle around the bald spike-thrower, constantly stepping over him—occasionally stepping on him. The Sandeh on the ground is pretty much worthless. He's injured & out of projectiles. Nevertheless, the colorfully painted man continues his efforts, trying to reenter this fray.

Across the chamber, Ithuriel is overwhelming his foe. The young man's sword flashes as if it's a blur, rather than steel. His victory is just moments away. Both he & the tall man from Sandeh sense this.

The Assihri assassin has his knife out. Though haggard, the man has steadied himself. This would-be killer is leaning against the broken chair &, in spite of the bloody mess that was his knee, the mercenary has composed himself. He's scanning the room, intending to target either father or son.

The Assihri first sees Tzumé & the Paarsini's battle. The Paarsini's back is to the knife-thrower & this man is functioning as a barrier to Tzumé. The Assihri has no clear shot at Ithuriel's father.

But the fight between Ithuriel & the tall Sandeh is different. Ithuriel's unprotected back is to the Assihri. At this moment, the young warrior is totally defenseless from this angle. In this case, the knife-thrower has a clean shot at Ithuriel.

To "average" people, this throwing distance might seem daunting. To this assassin, it will be an easy toss & kill.

As the Assihri lines up his throw, Tzumé slips inside the Paarsini's scimitar & runs him through. With a dying sigh, the foreign fighter slumps to the floor. Now able to clearly size up the situation & the Assihri assassin's intention, Tzumé immediately comprehends this danger in its entirety.

Tzumé's view of this deadly situation—& his understanding—are very clear. From 16 or 17 yards away, the knife-thrower has an unobstructed shot at Ithuriel's back. But the statesman has LiwÂ. He can use his trusty sword to knock the dagger aside.

Simultaneously—as the Assihri knife-thrower is cocking his dagger & about to release it, the wounded spike-man struggles to a kneeling position. He grimaces in pain, blood & spittle still specking his face. But he continues to strive, with Tzumé as his goal.

Tzumé is ready. His singular concentration is on the Assihri. The Assihri's singular concentration is on Ithuriel's back.

The dagger is coming forward. Tzumé's eyes narrow in anticipation. He's ready.

The kneeling Sandeh spike-thrower also thinks that he's ready.

Just as Tzumé begins to spring into action, the injured, bald fighter lunges at the father. The assassin's aim is the statesman's waist, but the Sandeh killer has underestimated the extent of his injury. The man doesn't have enough strength to reach & grapple with Tzumé.

So he comes up short, only grasping Tzumé's right wrist & LiwÂ's handguard. But, under these precarious circumstances, this effort is enough.

The man's sudden interruption completely throws Tzumé off.

Anguished by this split-second's turn of events, the father sees the knife just leaving the Assihri's fingertips, heading toward his son. Tzumé struggles to break free & protect his son. But the colorful assailant continues to hold Tzumé's wrist & Liw tightly for this instant.

Tzumé pivots & tries to leap. He finally wrenches his right hand free, but Liw is torn from his grasp. His trusty blade arbitrarily flips through the air. The sword is completely useless. And Tzumé's fighting posture has become twisted due to this unexpected scuffle.

The Assihri's knife whistles, continuing its lethal aerial track.

His left arm is useless & Tzumé's body is in an awkward position. He can't quite raise his sword arm & Liw is gone. There's only one thing to do. Only one sure way to save his son.

With a herculean effort, Tzumé lunges, casting his torso between Ithuriel & the knife. The dagger thuds into Tzumé's chest, just to the right of his sternum. Though mortally wounded & entering shock, Tzumé smiles, knowing that his son is safe.

As the loving father collapses, Liw rattles to the floor. 

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

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Words and illustrations by Robert Roach

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