Catacombs: (1062 words)
It wasn’t the first time he was to accompany his master to a duel, but it was by far the first time he was to accompany his master to a duel with the grandeur of this one, a gladiatorial feast seen only once in a human lifetime.
Marnix Tirratus was a servant in the Liberine Saints chapter of Space Marines, a chapter known for their elegant ways with a sword.
‘’Marnix, pay attention.’’ His master spoke to him.
‘’I apologize, my liege.’’ Marnix replied, bowing his head as he tried to suppress a shiver that made its way down his back.
Marnix accompanied his master, carrying his master’s left sword, a great honor which had befallen upon Marnix.
The right sword was carried by Tessa, his companion and fellow servant.
Tessa didn’t speak, she wasn’t able to.
Once she had spoken up to an officer in the Imperial Guard, the officer had raised his pistol at her as a means of intimidation, trying to get the young woman to behave. The weapon accidentally fired though, and Tessa’s voice box had been damaged beyond repair.
She had no trouble communicating however, and her hands were often used to relay her thoughts, though never again towards an officer…
‘’Adrian, it is good to see you my friend.’’ Marnix’ master bellowed at the sight of his long time companion with a smile on his face.
‘’Likewise, brother.’’ Captain Adrian Vyper of the Space Angels III Company replied, returning the smile.
Marnix and Tessa bowed their heads once more, awaiting their master’s command to hand him his weapons.
‘’So it is true?’’ Captain Vyper asked, removing his crimson cloak and handing it to one of his servants.
‘’Aye, we are to clash swords.’’ His master replied.
‘’Expect no quarter from me, brother.’’ Captain Vyper joked. ‘’For I am certain not to be given any by you.’’
‘’I expected nothing less of you, Adrian.’’
‘’Marnix, Tessa.’’ His master addressed the servants. ‘’My swords.’’
Marnix and Tessa each offered him a sheathed sword, the hilt of each blade extended towards the warrior clad in white ceramite.
His master grabbed each hilt and unsheathed the swords, revealing their silver, curved blades and the golden thorn bush patterns engraved upon the blades.
He spun the blades in hands, feeling their weight before gripping them securely and activating the force fields, encasing the swords in a bluish light.
Marnix was amazed at his master’s skill with a sword, but when he displayed his true skill it was met with nothing but awe.
The swords started spinning in his master’s hands once more, nearly stripping the paint of his armour and cutting through the cloth that hang from his abdomen.
Yet he was in full control as the swords passed behind him and he spun on his heel, the swords passing between the arm that wielded them and the torso the arms were secured to.
‘’An impressive display.’’ Captain Vyper remarked. ‘’But I will only be truly impressed if you manage to best me, brother.’’
‘’Shall we then?’’ His master replied as the swords came to rest beside him, his grip firm on their crimson, leather hilts.
‘’Best of luck, my lord.’’ Marnix said as he stepped back, a sword’s sheath still held in both his hands.
His master entered the fighting grounds through a large, marble arch and raised his arms as a crowd cheered for him and chanted his name.
Marnix could not see the ensuing battle, but the sounds of meeting swords and armour in combination with the sounds of the crowd gave him an impression of the battle.
His master was struggling, he could tell by the unmistakable sound of a sword meeting a shield, and his master carried no shield.
But perhaps it was for the better, it meant he was on the offensive, able to strike at his opponent.
Right now there was no real way of knowing.
For over twenty minutes there was the sound of fighting and the crowds response to the display of martial skill before them, yet the fight went on each time the crowd seemed certain blood had been drawn.
Suddenly there was a grunt of pain and the crowd was silent in awe. There was no cheering, no chanting, no applause.
He heard heavy ceramite boots come his way and he dared to raise his head as the two space marines came back into the catacombs.
Blood stained both their faces and their armours both had marks of sword cuts and dents in them.
‘’A shame.’’ His master said, his voice not allowing for any doubt in the duel’s result.
‘’Aye, though, sadly, there could have been only one victor today, friend.’’ Captain Vyper replied as he handed his shield to a pair of servants, their joint strength barely enough to raise the shield.
‘’Perhaps in another hundred years.’’ His master said as Marnix and Tessa each raised a sheath so their master could sheath his swords.
When he turned to face them Marnix saw proof of the duel’s result, a large cut in his left flank, blood trailing down the side of his white ceramite armour.
‘’More than enough time to train.’’ Captain Vyper said. ‘’Will you stay, watch the other matches?’’
‘’Alas not, brother.’’ His master replied. ‘’My captain was quite clear in stating that I was to return home as soon as possible, a campaign awaits us.’’
‘’I understand.’’ Captain Vyper said as the two warriors embraced. ‘’Best of luck then, and perhaps I will see you here again, in a hundred years.’’
‘’Perhaps.’’ His master replied. ‘’Though I hope we will fight side by side before that day, brother.’’
‘’As do I.’’ Captain Vyper said as he re-secured his cloak to his shoulders.
‘’Until then.’’ His master replied, turning away to exit the catacombs, this time through an arch that led them to the landing pads where several craft awaited the warriors that partook in this championship, ready to bring them back to their ships.
Marnix was saddened by the fact his master didn’t win the duel, but there would be others, both on the field of war and in arena’s such as the one he was standing in, and one day, long after Marnix had died, his master would conquer this very same arena, of that he was certain.
Today’s tournament however, was over.
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