“How may I help you gentle…men, I said gentlemen, gentlemen—gentlemen, this morning—this afternoon? Basking in the luxurious spray of the warden quay? Out for an afternoon stroll to the pier?” quizzed Arius, gazing upon the severe and unblinking countenance of a snaggle-toothed lizard bearing an unfamiliar livery and closely attended by a bored-looking scaly spearman resting the broad rim of his ponderous shield across the bulge of his upper shoulder.
A head shorter and far too lackadaisical, Arius was virtually beneath their contempt, but they nevertheless barred the way with broad-chested bravado and school-yard bullishness. Before they found form to masticate the words of their hissing tongue they were preceded by the officious candor of the bodyguard Gul Ladal. “I recognize you, Sfernor and Slafnr, scions of House Tyletus. Know yourselves to stand in the presence of the wards of a superior house. Retire immediately and make way for the property of the primary house or doom yourselves to the clear-sky consequences, gurgling your inbred ichor from between your shattered teeth as you sputter your last in the desert dust.”
The incipients, callous with inculcated apathy, locked their gaze with sneering brutishness upon their golden opponent and replied, “The man-thing is ours to take, as right as any other. You know the law. He isn’t of the people, and if you cannot prevent him than we shall do as we please.”
They had answered badly. Gul Ladal grasped his furious glaive tight, prepared ever since the day of his seniority to carry his obligations to the very last, seething now to thrash beneath their embroidered shields the whole of them into a fine paste no more fit than to be the chum of fishermen, but the friendly palm of his recent charge slipped comfortably up his shoulder, and the cavalier declared in a whisper, “You know, I have absolutely no doubt your prowess, but leave these to me. It will be pedagogical to match my might against theirs, especially should there ever be need again.”
Gul Ladal, burning with the ire of their disrespect would have none of it, though the cavalier proceeded regardless. Grunting with emasculation the bodyguard snapped his vision to his remaining responsibility in earnest, but the sight of so-far silent Rina, bounding in place upon her supple feet and eyes wide and moist with the apperception of raw potential, ameliorated his public shame, and he traced his steps backwards and ceded him the field.
“You both have such cute faces,” began the paladin, slowly drawing the unrelentingly pale blade from its sun-stained scabbard as they adopted a defensive stance, virtually invisible behind the heavy bulwark of the broad-rimmed shields punctuated by the broad spear-points meandering just close by. “Let us not rest on ceremony. I have not the time or the energy to waste my afternoon on you. Fools you must be to contend so openly with your betters, the facsimile of soldiers that have never seen more campaign than abusing crooked slaves and your immediate inferiors.” Grinning mischievously, he lowered himself into a fool’s stance, blade pointed earthward and remaining arm cast wide, mocking with the winking eyes of open contempt.
“A bit of old soldier’s magickry,” he decried within, dipping the point of his sword into the dusty turf, before casting the blinding spray into the unsightly visage of one, who coughed and spat and screamed and clutched meaninglessly at his temporarily blinded eyes, while his companion spattering the devil-speak of the subhuman confidently lunged with his ashen spear forward and forward and forward—and ever more criminally—until he over-extended himself, and his skewering implement lodged firmly and uselessly under the grasp of Arius’s left shoulder. In desperate recrimination, the slithering lizard drove his broad-rimmed shield forward like a star eschewing the sky, but was himself yanked forwards and forwards and forwards and found himself falling helplessly upon the presented point of the sparkling blade that penetrated within and through the spine and left him there dead and done in mere moment.
His companion had by now barely cleared the obstruction from his gaze. Having clattered the monstrous shield from his hands, he was careful not to scratch the gleaming blaze of his own spear point within the undesirable features of his own broad countenance. Only through tears and hazy view could he witness the wide swing of that pale edge that beheaded spear and bearer alike, tossing what few seconds remained of his vision dizzily into the air to come familiar with a squirrel’s perspective, spewing blood from shattered vertebrae upon the ground.
“Filthy creatures,” Arius remarked, prodding the slowly stiffening bodies with his boot. “Filthy creatures.”