Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Chapter 2: Three return, and three depart

        Everyone gathered in the town square. In the center, parked next to the fountain, were the Dragon Knights. Four had large shields that reached from their shoulders to their ankles. The shields bore the Dragon Knight coat of arms, a Serpent, coiled around a sword. It's mouth wide and striking at the tip. Their breast plates shone on top of the black chain mail underneath. The fifth was a general, he wore a red cape with a silver dragon clasp, concealing his armor and weapons. 

        The general stepped in front of the crowd. "All able bodied men, over 17 harvests, step forward and line up."
        Men kissed their wives and loved ones as they walked forward. Caden's father left his side to join the line of men. Caden waited in the crowd, then rushed forward to join the line. His father looked down at him. 
"What are you doing?" he asked.
        "I'm joining them."
        "You're too young, now get..."
        "No talking in the ranks," yelled one of the Knights. "You shall remain quite, until such a time as the general speaks to you."
        Caden's father looked down at him, and scowled. Caden smiled and stood straight and rigid.
        The general walked down the row of men, inspecting each one and dismissing him. He stopped in front of Caden's father. "You're too old. You're excused." He returned to the crowd as the general looked down at Caden. "How old are you."
        "17 harvests sir."
        Two swords swept out from under the general's cape. Crossed right above the handle, their edges rested on opposite sides of Caden's neck. "In the Dragon Knights, lying to a general is punishable by immediate execution." Caden swallows. The swords cut into his neck. A trickle of blood ran down his shirt. "Care to answer again?"
        "17 harvests."
        "Good thing you're not a Dragon Knight." The swords disappear under the general's cape. "You're too young. Dismissed."
        "I can fight. I've been..."
        "You got guts kid." The general smiled. "But it takes a lot more then that to survive out there. Go home." 
        The general walked down the line, dismissing more men. He accepted two before he reached Damion. He looked at the carved sword under his belt. "What? Are you a kid? Playing with a toy sword?"
        "No, I've been training."
        "Have you now?" The general leaned in close, "And what good will knowing how to swing around a stick do for you?"
        "Try me, and you'll see." Damion smirked at him.
        The general stood up. "Jonas, show this boy why we only train with real swords."
        Jonas stepped forward and drew his sword. Damion did the same. The stared at each other. Finally Jonas charged and attacked. Damion blocked every strike, and pieces of his sword were cut off. Jonas struck at his head. Damion stepped aside and struck his sword against Jonas's. The sword cut off the tip leaving a sharp stake. Damion put his shoulder into the shield and knocked Jonas to the ground. Damion landed on him, pinning him under the shield. He placed the stake at Jonas's neck.
        The general laughed. "Okay, you can come." He turned to the crowd. "Everyone else, you're excused."
        The crowd departed and returned to their lives. Damion waved to Caden as he joined the Knights by their wagon. Harron walked up to his son and shook his hand. "I'm proud of you, boy."

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