Honorable

Two knights stood in the center of a burning village. The raid had taken place, and the defenses were overwhelmed. Somehow, when the attacking force moved on, one knight from those numbers had remained. That knight had yellow paint on his helmet. The other knight had no paint on his armor. He belonged to no army, as he was a man of the people who once lived here in the village.

The two held their longswords pointed at each other, fifteen feet from each other. They circled each other savagely like there were prey to one another. Two predators battling in the food chain. One would enter. One would leave. No holds barred.

Precious seconds passed. The two men were waiting for the other to attack, to parry or perhaps counter attack. Every movement was intentional.

Suddenly, Yellow began to rear up with his blade as Nopa went to guard, but Yellow stopped himself. “Wait, wait…” He stepped back and lowered his sword, and it seemed to sag in foolishness. “I can’t do this if you’re going to be an asshole about it.”

Nopa also lowered his sword. “Fucking what? Me be an asshole? You’re the one that attacked us!” He pointed his sword at Yellow. “Your whole army swarmed and picked my people off like they were mosquitoes!”

“Yeah, I know,” Yellow looked around, noting the dozens of dead bodies that were strewed wantonly around the area. Fires freshly burned, taking down the structure of the village’s nearby mead hall as he looked around. The ash drifted up in a small, sad plume. “We came in, basically destroyed the place, but I mean… I wasn’t a dick about it. I had all clean kills.”

“What in the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Nopa’s helmet shook in outraged confusion.

“All my kills were honorable. I didn’t kill any civilians, and when I did kill soldiers, I did it with my sword. Honorable kill.” Yellow noted the blood that stained his armor, moving his hands from up to down to make a point.

“Is there any difference?”

“Well, yeah.” Yellow pointed to a nearby fire. “You see that right there?”

“The fire your men set on the old pastor’s hut? Yeah, I see it.”

“I’m not going to throw you into it.”

“What?” Nopa was completely speechless to this dialect.

“I promise, no matter how close you get to that fire during the fight, I won’t throw you into it.” Nopa turned his head to look at the withering blaze. “That’d be dishonorable.”

Nopa paused to take this in, looking at the burning hut and then back to Yellow. “Thanks..?”

“And I can’t be fighting you like this if you’re going to be an asshole and throw me into it. Get what I mean?”

“Because that would be dishonorable?”

“Right! So you’ve got it, then!”

“I guess so,” Nopa shrugged. “But I still don’t get it. You don’t fight for survival?”

Yellow leaned on the hilt of his sword, the blade sinking slightly into the harsh ground. “Why would I do that?”

“Because maybe someone wants to kill you! Or, say, an army fucking overruns your home!”

“I fight because it’s my job, man. I don’t give a shit about these stupid villages.” He stopped himself, and raised his hand in apology, “No offense.”

“So people are paying people to fight battles for them?”

Yellow corrected, “Professional people.”

Nopa started again, “Yes… paying professional people to fight battles for them. And you are one such professional person.”

“Why yes!” Yellow gleefully replied. “It’s just a job to me. But you’re the last one in this village, so my job here’s not over yet.”

“Why didn’t you just leave with all the others? They left about fifteen minutes ago!”

“Well, to be perfectly honest, I haven’t had a nice duel in some two years. Saw you, and, if I do say so myself, you look competent, so I decided to wait until every one else left and you crawled out of your hiding place so we could duel!”

“I don’t get it. You think this is fun? All this bloodshed over gold tender? You could have bashed my head in while I was unconscious and made just as much in coin.”

“Ah, but that would have been…” Yellow motioned for Nopa to complete his thought, like a mentor. “… Dishonorable.”

“I see.”

Awkward silence followed as each of the knights idly kicked dirt and looked around at the burning surroundings. Yellow had leaned off of his sword and now simply stood up, unarmed with his hands on his waist. Nopa stood still slightly guarded. The wooden walls of one side of the village were mangled and broken. More structures collapsed from the fire. Flies started to gather on the bodies. Yellow smacked one that landed on his hand.

“So, uh…” Nopa spoke after a moment. “We gonna do this?”

Yellow looked up, wiping the fly’s corpse from his gauntlets. “Why of course!” He grabbed the hilt of his sword and overdramatically pulled it from the earth. “As long as you’re not going to be a dick about things! Steel on steel only! You versus me! Mano a mano!”

“Fine, for Christ’s sake, steel on steel. Honorable. Come on, then.” They both assumed ready positions again, circling each other.

“Deus vult!” Yellow yelled, and lunged at Nopa. Nopa casually stepped out of the way, pushing Yellow’s back as he went. Yellow ran uncontrollably off of a ten foot drop, his plate armor clattering loudly as he landed. Nopa walked over to the edge to look down at the other knight. “What happened to honor?!” Yellow stood to dust himself off, seemingly unphased from the fall. He would have been unable to get over the small ledge in all that heavy armor.

“You were between me and a way out of here.” Nopa turned from the ledge and walked away. “And I’m not the one bitching about it, you loser!” He turned back for a moment and continued walking away, to cup his hands around his mouth and yell even louder, “Be less shit next time!”

“You chancer!” Yellow shouted after him, trying and failing to scale the tiny ban. “Are you kidding me?! After that whole monologue about honor! You don’t play by the rules! War is supposed to be like a sport! Bet you don’t have a duke that gives you a wage, you absolute bastard! Your mother would be so disappointed that her son wouldn’t stand and fight! Your father should be ashamed, and your sister…” And his cries faded out of earshot as Nopa left the village, leaving the honorable man complaining in the dust.

(PDF version, 2/28/17: Honorable)

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