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The Slayer and the Squire

BY RUKA


The thunderous roar still bit at the back of his skull, sensitive feline ears twitching madly at the din of combat. Alexen had been on his newfound journey for only two days and already action was afoot. Normally he’d have some witty remark, or thought on the situation; I’ve never seen an old growth pine thrown over before! Or Blunderous thing, can hardly swing! Instead it was taking all his concentration not to join the tree embedded in the upturned soil.

Alexen of Siril, a lynx felidae of rather promising agility, amateur swordsmanship and worst of all upstart bravado. Rolling between trees to obstruct a bludgeoning strike he recalled what his master had said only a minute ago. “Don’t rush it.”

Perhaps the first lesson would be to listen to him, after all one shouldn’t ignore the advice of the Slayer.

Looking around a similarly old pine’s heavy, cracked girth he could see the beast trying to flatten him. The thing was as tall as two carriages stacked atop each other, like some large rhinoceros with stubby hind legs. Only the forelegs had been replaced with elongated, twisted arms ending in chitinous clubs. The face was a smattering of eyes and horns so stuck in its shoulders the neck was nothing more than leathery, bulbous flesh puffed out around the throat like a highborns collar. This was the best glance he could get through as one of its many wet, teary eyes made contact and forced the beast to lurch forward, sending one of those heavy arms in an executioner's arch.

With firm footing pushing him on, Alexen tucked into a roll, hearing before feeling the resounding thunder as the club collided with the earth. Sending a rain of dirt, pine needles and broken bark scattering. Recovering from the roll he brought forward his blade and thrust, sinking his steel into naught but the monster's thick hide. His shortsword, home made and finely fashioned, was made for duels and weaker beasts. Alexen had a hunch he was just tickling this creature, maybe that was why it was so keen to pulverize him.

If I could just get in close! He hissed at himself, mind flying with maneuvers to try and get to the softer, weaker bits. Perhaps the fallen tree could be leveraged, a jumping point. A newfound surge of excitement found him sprinting. Lungs burning with the extended dance of dodging and rolling but he had to push. He couldn’t disappoint his master; he had to prove himself.

Jumping from the upended roots of another unfortunate pine, Alexen firmly planted himself on the fallen tree, now for the leap! He just had to leap. A leap that never came, the beast's rebuttal came too quick with the free arm Alexen had ignored. Crunching the middle of the tree, buckling it all and sending Alexen catapulting. The air left his lungs while gravity left his feet.

It had been proven before, but not all felines landed on their feet. As was evident by the violent tumble across root and rock and dead needles Alexen spun through. Dizzier still from the sudden stop, the ringing now at the forefront of his mind. Hazy vision revealing little more than the beast lifting both arms, accepting its weakened prize as an easy victory to be squashed.

It was only now, bruised, hazy, dizzy. Alexen noticed what a nice day it was, blue sky peeked in between the heavy, dark green boughs and branches of the old pine forest. Sunlight beaming down, only more so now with one less tree in the way. A small glimpse as those clubs raised for the final swing. When a great streak of fire, bright enough to darken daylight, coiled and slipped between and around the two great club-like arms. Crunching them together with enough force to send shattering cracks through the chitin! A grotesque display of pieces of hardened bestial armor similar to broken porcelain collided with the forest floor all around Alexen.

Nidhogg! The lynx could only stare, his eyes stuck seeing the fine toothed chain blade puppet the monster's arms to the side, forcing the whole beast off balance. It tried not in bestial rage, but a grotesque desperation, to free itself, pulling at the chain. Following the great streak of flame Alexen finally saw him. The Slayer was simply standing there, heels dug in, barely a snarl to his muzzle as he held Nidhogg firm in both hands, forcing the beast closer with every firm pull.

The chain slacked, and the beast swung. Raising its arms madly to try and fling the chain and its wielder. The Slayer left the ground, Now a streak of flame and brilliant armor, using the momentum of the swing to deftly land atop the beast's back. With a deathly quiet grunt The Slayer rended Nidhogg not away from, but through the broken remains of those bestial arms. All it could do now was let loose another roar, like a desperate play for freedom. So did this roar house a pathetic plea, or curse? Alexen was so entranced he could hardly tell! His eyes on the Slayer, watching as he smoothly pendulum swung Nidhogg in a great arch overhead and around. Sweeping it through the soft, flabby neck. The roar died off into a wet sucking gurgle, the beast's stubby head collapsing to the forest floor before the body followed suit.

“I had the same idea!” Alexen finally squeaked out once he had gotten his footing. Jogging over broken tree limbs and the broken chitin of the beast. The Slayer had just finished walking off the beast’s back, Nidhogg already swung cozily around his waist where it rightly belonged. Barely a quirk of the brow registered he was paying attention. Alexen took it as a sign to continue.

“It’s true, I saw that flabby neck of his and thought for sure to stab it. Great minds think alike, don't they master? I suppose if nothing else I was a good distraction, but a key one that led to our success!”

“Did you swallow any?”

Alexen blinked, mouth left open awkwardly. “Swallow? Swallowed what?”

“The Ichor. It’s all over you.” The wolf gestured lazily, only then did Alexen look down at himself. What had once been a comfortable, navy blue traveling tunic and similar trousers was now a dripping mess of the dark and heavy ichor from the beasts club like arms.

“OH! Oh Mothers sweet bosom!” Alexen yelped, thinking for a quick instance… He only tasted some dirt in his mouth, a little sweat, a hint of blood possibly from his collision with the tree. “I only taste dirt master, and a little bit of blood. My blood specifically!”

His Master eyed him, the wolves sharp ears swiveling for a moment, nose twitching. The pause made Alexens heart leap, surely his master believed him? Alexens relief was apparent when he heard him speak again. “You can hear the river? Five minutes east. Go wash up.”

“O-of course, master! We make a great team don’t we?”

“Wash.”

Alexen swallowed and quickly nodded. Of course once his back was to him and he was jogging off towards the river a grin rapidly spread across his features. His first monster with the Slayer. How many more might there be? Did his master see his worth? His ability to stay out of harm's way was surely a handy feat. Alexen could only dream of the day his own blade might flash in the sunlight like Nidhogg did, he was already fast, how could he get as fast and powerful as that Wolf?

It was only thanks to the damp, firm river rocks that Alexen was made aware he should come to a stop. Already before the shining river, a clean swath of water snaked through this dense, old forest. The sunlight, pushing through the canopy above, gave the river a welcoming glitter.

It’s almost as if a monster wasn’t just beyond those trees. Alexen thought to himself, all while dismissing his ichor soaked clothes. The fluids had seeped through and onto his fur a little, dampening the softer, creamier colored front. Oily, that was the word, the only one that came to his mind, and he hated it. An oily, unhealthy, slick sensation over his lean frame. He wasn’t a muscled warrior, quite the contrary Alexen was of a lean, wiry build. The muscle is tame and thin, sporting a solid punch but not the earth shattering force a bear might have.

Master looks thin like me, how strong are his muscles? And when will mine be like that? The thoughts snagged him while wading into the water, letting the ever so slightly cold wash of the stream run across his legs, waist, and soon his torso. Scrubbing diligently, Alexen went to work feverishly to push the oily sensation off his fur. Hoping that whatever trace amounts of ilk didn’t disrupt life downstream.

“I wouldn’t have gotten this filth on me if I was faster. I’ll have to train more after this.” Alexen began, speaking to himself absentmindedly as his fur slowly washed clean to its true colors. “I’m not about to let the Slayer down, I can’t, I’ll be a knight as great as him someday.” More ilk gone, more fur exposed, his body felt tight under his palms.

Could he have done it? Slain the beast? Alexens mind drifted to the Ovivenga attacking his village, he hadn’t truly slain it, but the fright he gave it seemed to ward it away from his town. A creature of the night like the Ovivenga had not expected the lynx to produce the flames he had. Which, in truth, was just a simple ploy of egregious amounts of lamp oil and dry hay in a cart just behind him. But it worked and the beast never returned. He had done it once, he knew he could do it again. He was made to slay monsters, save villages, and rescue damsels.

A sudden sharp crack brought him back to the present, looking back to the bank, the Slayer had started a bonfire. The ichor soaked clothes promptly tossed into its hungry depths.

“Couldn’t we have washed that? Was my favorite, you know.”

“No.”

“Damn, well the days not getting any younger, and I have some spare garments. I’m positive the next town will thank us for this slaying with some nicer clothes.”

Alexen boasted, his smile coming back to him as he put aside his drifting queries. Those could wait another time.


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