#18 – The Comet Knight

The knight had twisted four of the blades like screws. The other two he had wrapped around his forearms, after breaking off the hilts. With two in each hand, he ran across the sand. As he approached, a murmur was heard, which grew into a panic. Before he crashed through the line that had formed, he stopped dead, tossed one of the screwed swords from his right hand to his left. He sighted his targets, floating above a sea of helmets. The sword spiraled through the air, and disappeared behind the structure. He had over estimated, so his next throw was shallow. It was sent through one of the drapes lining the first level of the commanding center. The signalers at the top were pointing his way when the third sword landed in the leg of a blue-robed man. He fell back from sight, and the knight’s attention was drawn to the line pressing in.

The knight stepped into the crowd. He dug his shoulder into the chest plate of a thin man with a black and white stripped mustache. The bronze plate that was intended to protect the disgruntled captain became convex and pinched by the knight’s armor. With his plough secure, the knight drove the man over his compatriots. Those who fell under his feet gave better traction than the sand, and he cautioned to place his footing to full effect. He knew the trail that lay behind him, and he kept crashing on. Within his helmet was a savage roar that drowned out the weak calls of others. He focused on the black and white striped mustache that was pressed against the screen of his visor. He shifted west to match his waypoint, and felt his strides rip through a tent. Water splashed underfoot, and his steps threw clumps behind. His plough hit one of the base poles that held up the central platform, and the knight’s knee caught the imbedded stump of the former support beam. The two rolled apart, with the striped mustache sunk in the sand.

Projectiles were identified by his suit, but the spears stabbing down through the floor hit him first. By instinct, he clasped the back of his neck, and squatted down. The water lapped at his chest for a second as he waited for his suit to ready. His thigh’s reached peak pressure, and he released himself the surface of the world. The ‘frog-jump’ was always mocked during training, but it was mandatory teaching for knights, to be used to escape holes, wells and crevasse, or in this case to implant the top half of his torso into the palm floorboards. His legs dangled loose, and he took a half second to admire the construction withstanding him. The other half of that second was used to grab a blade that was scratching his visor screen. The owner of the blade made the mistake of holding on to it, and was tugged within grasp. The knight’s grabbed his wrist and squeezed the golden bracelets into the man’s flesh. He jerked in a twist, responding to spear in his back, and the arm he was holding on to became severed. The armless man fell limp beside the knight, and he pressed into the blue of his robe to raise his legs out.

The spear tip was on him again, tinking off his visor screen and collar. The wielder of the spear was the mightiest Sun-Stained so far, both in physique and stature. His armor gleamed white, not bronze, and was ornate. His helmet bore two snakes, blue gems for eyes, whose tails twisted into rivers. The warrior hooked his spear behind the knight’s right knee, and tried to pull him off his feet. The knight’s leg didn’t move, but his arm swiped down and struck the side of the spear’s metal shaft. The weapon bent away from the warrior’s grasp and he stepped back almost clueless. That was when the knight noticed the third man, sitting in the corner, with one leg crossed over a knee. The high pitch his weapon generated was a sound he recognized, and he threw himself to the ground. Fun turned into fear. The neat oval hole that had just appeared in the wall confirmed his suspicions. The knight was able to dash for the ladder up, before the seated man’s rail-driver had recharged. The second shot skimmed through the casing of the knight’s left ankle, before he could get out of eye sight.

The signalers that weren’t thrown off the roof, jumped by their own accord. The ones that stayed were squeezed, and left to lie limp on top of the hatch leading down. He stood high and alone, looking down upon a swarm of scared individuals. The knight turned to see how the city fared and was awed into hesitation. The vanguard was well past the shallow ring of water and was nearly at the walls. Five of the towers were in tow, the sixth tilted in the water with a set of broken wheels. More detachments were pouring over the shallows from the north-east and north-west. The swath of sand that separated the city’s walls from the water edge, became alive. It started in the south of the island, and wrapped north at both sides at once. It was a glimmering wave, of a light purple sheen, the same hue as the tower itself. Only as it neared, could the knight understand what he was seeing. Like scales on pivots, the ground surrounding the walls flipped over in thousands of diamond shaped plates. The sand that covered the metal fell away into an abyss before the sections sealed back up to form a solid ground again. When the wave hit the towers, which were too big to fall in between the plates, they were flipped and chewed apart. The ground seemed to have some intellect as the wave of flipping scales waited over the fallen towers until no remnants could be seen. The city was still and alone again. The remaining soldiers, who were still in the shallows when the ground swallowed all ahead, would not step on the now pink approach which led to the walls.

He heard the rail-driver charge from below, and moved wildly to evade. A spray shot up from the bodies blocking the hatch, but they remained, weighing the door down. From the roof, the knight began to kick at the beams around. The flags fell down, then the walls and floor under the knight. When the structure had finished falling apart, the knight dug into the mess, found the rail-driver still in hand, and drove his boot’s heel into the device. When he saw the pieces of the weapon fell off his boot, he realized he needed to resume breathing. The tall tents to the north were on fire, and the camel carts were already being rushed back to the west.

He thought about resting, then he got angry at himself for being afraid. He was there on a battlefield with cause to unleash, and he took that anger out on anyone he could get his hands on. His old blood rushed hot, and he stopped paying attention to what he was doing, and who he was hurting. He snapped back to thought some time later on the western shore. The sun was nearly down, the light gone from the beach, but not from the tower. He tried not to think about the bodies lumped and buried. He reasoned that not all of them were him, and that there most likely was some infighting, he remembered seeing fire, but not starting any. He headed back to where he sheltered his friends, but took note not to wander too close to the island. He did step into the shallows just to give the rail-driver another squeeze in his gauntlet. Night was in full cover when he got back to the gully. His suit identified the merchant and minstrel’s heat signatures, and he grunted a greeting as he approached. The palm heads shifted before he arrived, sliding aside. He crawled inside the space with them.

“You’re bleeding.” Said the minstrel without surprise.

It was a news to the knight, who followed her attention. His left ankle was oozing it’s shock lining. The minstrel used a leaf to collect a pile of the blue slime, and she tried to wrap it around the metal boot.

“That’s going to be stiff in the morning.” Said the knight, before closing his eyes.

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