“Over the hilltop of roofs, over the canopy of coral clay,” the Lady Rina pointed out, “beyond the regular refuse of the city—it’s that dome there yonder, strangely opalescent in the sun but, I can guarantee you, completely opaque from within.”
“I can see the resemblance.” Arius replied, squinting his eyes in the strange light. “Not at all distant now. I assume you know how to navigate this maddening labyrinth of fractured boulevards and side-streets?”
But Gul Ladal was already poised to gently push the lady beside, faced as he was with a forest of half-rusted dagger points once secreted in the dug-out clay repositories of the abysmal country homes of Ivederenghoi.
In the unseemly familiar pidgin of the degenerates the bodyguard laid out his challenge, imprecations before five chthonic gods and a demand to lay down their weapons and surrender themselves before an expedient execution. Nevertheless, in their throng undaunted they wailed bloody ululations that mocked the mother tongue of Braxosian, of which precious little could be translated, save for the vagaries of unmentionable expletives intended for the traveling dame, who, guarded against the vileness of the commons stood fully erect and stunned, serpentine eyes widely dilated while she drew vigorously shallow breaths.
Little could be determined of their features, clad in crudely-stitched rags that obscured all the obscenity of their firmament curse save for the desiccated blisters on their exposed digits, in truth more hospital patients than even would-be assassins.
Grinning, a lunatic having been denied his vocation far too long, Arius drew the singing blade from its scabbard, which seemed to gleam and sparkle in the approaching storm to blinding effect. Guarding their filthy visage against the impossible luster they inadvertently gave ground on a heavy heel, until finding themselves literally up against the wall; a pair charged forwards, their implements held in a pinch-grip at arm’s length; they’d killed before, intending the heart-stroke which precipitates death in mere seconds, but in their panic they proved as careless as witless, prey of the otherworldly glow. With peerless speed and a master’s concision, the ancient fuller drove head-first through the upper-lip and first-row of teeth of its first victim, coming to rest only after having severed the tip of the tongue far past the uvula. It was just a flick of the wrist to cleave the wandering eyes with the otherwise undamaged skull from the sputtering bloodspray and staggering mandible of the still strutting body shortly to collapse with a “puff” in the dust. His companion, cocksure of a clean kill, slid below and under, driving his dirk up and towards the ribs, only to be halted in the paladin’s indomitable grip which snatched the hand from the blade of his assailant before tumbling the attacker earthward, dislocating his elbow with the end of his pommel before he trammeled his assailant’s skull under the splattering weight of his boot heel, gory with his bodily excess.
Content at first to lean upon his magnificently proportioned polearm, Gul Ladal could no longer stand idle and allow the day’s glory consumed by a single man alone and heaved forward with the impossible impetus of charging horses, armored head-to-toe. With a single swipe he severed a pair of assassins of their hairless heads forevermore, and with a succeeding spray of carmine he cleaved diagonally through the midsection of a third, his bones no more a bulwark than paper before the refined edge.
Howling disparate old country paean, the bellicose pair weaved through what remained of them to the familiar gurgling of moribund blood which ran like rivers before the inviolate arch announcing the temple district in ancient and unabated Braxosian until the assassins’ futile essay did finally make end of itself.