Casavel : Story

Note: This story was written sometime last year for a writing course, which is why the WoW elements are very toned down. Just consider this the first installment... there is a second story brewing on the horizon.

“I believe in my Prince. He is just! If we do not act now, our homes and families will be destroyed! So ride this day. Ride for our prince, our families. All depend on us.” The voice rang out over the surrounding knights, as horses shifted and whickered, those that sat in the saddles easily moving with their mounts. The waiting tension was getting into the men and into the horses. A hand gently moved down the arch of a silken neck, soothing a restless animal so that it would stand quiet, waiting, like its rider for the word that would set the mass loose upon the swarming army below them.

Casavel shifted in the saddle, peering out through the visor, watching the scuffling skitter of some of the individuals on the hillside across from them. Her lip twisted back, in a grimace of loathing. It had been breathed during the night, while she stood with the icy wind, keeping watch, that the men they faced today were not men, that the leader was more than man. It had been whispered for weeks. She snarled silently.

“I believe in my Prince. Gods protect you with my own blade.” She breathed, repeating part of her oath to her liege, what had set her feet on the path to this dawn. She had been honored that the Prince had even noticed her, but he had, and she was now on a horse, a Blood Knight for her people.

Shaking her head slightly to clear the memory from her mind, her eyes swung back to the red and gold standard that dipped towards the ground once, twice, thrice, then snapped upright again. Horses moved forward at a walk, in an easy line. Horses picking up pace, hooves drumming the ground and down the sides of the hill like an arrow loosed from a bow. The other army swarmed forward to meet them, swords oddly glint less in the morning sun, while armor winked and flashed from the charging knights.

Fingers curling, waiting for the down stride, so that the horses own motion helped to lift free the long blade, she drew breath with it, and was engulfed by the cloying mass. Sound sharp in her ears, a strange buzzing scream as a horse went down, and the clash of shield on shield. Men yelled and others screamed. Her own mount gathered, muscles bunched, and sailed clean over the downed knight, into the up thrust, thirsty, red marred spears.

Casavel hacked down, using the weight and momentum of the horse to add power to the swing, so that instead of just bouncing off the armor, it cleaved through it, splitting thin metal and opening up the throat beneath the guard to the seeking gleam of silver. Blood sprayed and misted, coating the blade and her gauntleted hand, as motion flowed out, her mount rearing, lashing forward with a hoof and backing three steps on its haunches, before crashing down on shield and spear, turning to the side. The sound of her screaming was lost in the clamor of men, horses, armor.

The stagger alerted her, and she threw herself free, as the horse crumpled, legs no longer supports, caving under its own weight. Her fall tucked the blade against her shoulder, rolling to the side, her helm coming free as she gained her feet, without shield, but still in possession of the long sword. She planted her feet, as her dark hair spilled free, showing the hordes in front of her that they faced a woman. Her eyes gleamed cold, clear green as she waited for the overwhelming rush. Three moved forward, all holding blood-caked blades, eyes glittering oddly blue flamed in the dawn. She had an instant to take her guard, and they closed in, blades hacking at her, forcing movement, which she took by throwing herself forward, knowing she was cut off.

One hand held the sword as she threw a handful of dust into the eyes of one with an axe, slowing and confusing him, so that when he swung, the axe buried itself into the thin leather armor of his companion to her left, instead of her own guts. She lashed out with a foot, knocking the blinded one off balance as he tried to yank his blade free and clear his eyes at the same time. Swift flash of bloodied silver ended the attempt as she turned to face the third of the trio, a shield coming to hand as she ducked and side-stepped the heavier claymore that the man bore.

The claymore gashed a furrow in the blood soaked land, and she lifted the shield in defense as he yanked his blade free and swung at her. She caught the weight on her shield arm, and slid left, deflecting much of the blow. She recognized the fighting style in that flash of the blade and stepped into it, ramming her shield arm into the down coming blade, sliding her own underneath, slicing open the leather and spilling entrails and copper blood onto the ground. Opening the sickening stench of death for her, she breathed in harshly, taking the smell with her forward steps.

She jerked back as two figures leaped towards her, teeth bared and short blades held in hand, wearing the same thin armor as their downed companions. An arrow took the one to her right, through the eye, sending a form tumbling like a starfish awash on the cresting blood red wave. The tip of her blade found the left, as his buried itself in her shield arm, just below the shoulder, slicing through chain mail and flesh, slicking the metal.

Then, between her ribs, from behind came the icy caress of a blade. She gasped, her eyes widening, and it slammed into her again, having found a chink in the mail. She gasped again as the blade withdrew and then slashed across her exposed throat, spraying blood into an arc in the air.

Her legs crumpled, the sword fell nerveless from her hand, and she heard again the words of her oath. “I believe…”

Casavel gasped as her lungs slowly flooded, breath whistling from her throat as her heart pumped out her life-blood onto crushed grass, escaping through the tears in her body, where a blade from behind had brought her down. She forced her mouth to shape the words again, “Gods protect you.”