Friday, March 11, 2011

Flashfiction - Bragging Rights

featuring the characters from Aria & Will
(600 words)

As soon as Wilhelm pulled his sword from the demon’s chest, he stepped forward to confront his next adversary. He glanced toward Aria for a second. She was only a few yards away, battling her own demon. They usually fought closer together, guarding each other’s back, but tonight was different.

At the back of his mind, the number four pulsed like a heartbeat. He raised his sword, centered himself, and lashed out at a new demon with a shout. Five was within sight. He wondered what Aria’s number was so far.

The demon blocked his sword with its moon-blade axe and swung back at once. Wilhelm ducked. He still couldn’t believe he had agreed to this. As he rotated to gain momentum, his gaze swept the battlefield, and the two dozen fighters there. The game he and Aria were playing tonight was strongly discouraged amongst the soldiers. It was just too dangerous. If anyone got wind of this…

What would it look like if the Guard’s Commander and a Head of Squadron were found to be competing over who killed the most demons, like two foolish cadets who had just graduated from basic training?

His sword struck the demon’s armor on its right side, and sparks flew when metal met metal, like fireflies in the summer night.

Two weeks earlier, he had taken Aria away from Newhaven for a night when they had both been off duty. Officially, the Guard frowned on such escapades, especially at night when demons could always strike without warning, but being in charge had to have some advantages. They had found a small meadow, just two hours away, and they had made love under the stars, with fireflies flickering around them, and a nearby stream murmuring against smooth rocks.

But maybe it wasn’t the best time to think of that.

Using Wilhelm’s distraction against him, the demon hit toward him in a wide, powerful arc. Wilhelm stumbled back. His foot caught on a stone and he fell backward. Decades and decades of experience guided his sword up, where it would at least have a chance to deflect the demon’s next blow.

When the axe fell down again, however, it didn’t reach Wilhelm’s blade. Instead, Aria’s sword stopped it almost at once, sliding in from the side. She pushed the demon back, then slashed at it, low, high, left and right, a flurry of motions that turned her blade to quicksilver in the moonlight.

Before Wilhelm could do more than jump back to his feet, Aria had found her opening. Her sword struck the demon’s side, where the armor left a gap. When she pulled back again, the blade was covered in blood as dark as ink, the scent bitter enough that Wilhelm grimaced. She waited until the demon had stopped wavering on its feet and fallen face first before she turned a beaming smile to Wilhelm.

“That was number five,” she said, the silver bells of her laugh ringing in her words. “How many do you have so far?”

Wilhelm huffed. “Not so loud. If your squadron hears you, they’ll all want to compare numbers and that never ends well.”

Aria only laughed again. “Less than me, huh? Prepare to pay up.”

She pressed a quick, hard kiss to his mouth then ran off to find another prey. Wilhelm watched her for a few seconds before doing the same. The prize was such that, whichever of them won and killed the most demons, they would both enjoy the aftermath – they would enjoy it a lot, in fact.

Bragging rights, however, were an entirely different matter…

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