The Bandit’s Daughter

[ “Tales Of  The Mountain child”  Story 2]

 

 

Kordan turned his back to the village gates. The head  of a slain Yeti stood mounted on a pike atop the gate arch. The cold air sobered him up, half of his payment did not leave the inn.

  The road ahead led to lands where the snow did not fall so fast, south beyond the tundra. For now at least, every unsavoury creature in the hills had been killed and every townsmans pockets emptied. Kordan’s fortune lied in the creatures in the southern plains, humans.

  To kill a monster is to collect a bounty on its head. To kill a wanted man is to take the bounty and the dead man’s fortune. The edge of his sword itched and begged for the taste of blood and money.

  The land around him sooned turned from white to green as long grass burst from the roadside and trees rose proudly into the air, stretching their arms to clear snowless skies. Birds sat in bushes and singed sweet songs, while small ground animals rolled and played in the cool dew soaked grass.

  The calm silence of nature was broken by the sound of pounding hooves. Kordan turned his head as the sound of a carriage wheels crunched rocky earth below its smooth wooden wheels.

  The carriage was somewhat dilapidated, its windows were nothing but gaping holes in its rotten wooden frame and its wheels shook and pivoted on rusty metal fastenings. The old and sagging horse stopped and a man leapt from a larger hole that was apparently a door. The Mountain Child stopped, eager to hear what this man had to say.

“You sir!” he called, in a friendly yet dark voice “I cant help but noticing your money purse, it seems to be quite heavy…maybe we can strike an exchange.”

  Kordan took one glance over the rickety carriage and grumbled “what could you have that I would possibly want”

“Your life? It seems like a good deal to me” he said with a smile, drawing a long thin sword from his belt.

  Kordan roared with booming laughter, the man looked confused.

“I am Kordan, son of Veroth…I am a beast of greed, I choose money over peace and harmony any day.”

“So be it, beast” the man shrugged.

  The man had hardly began his lunging stab before Kordan’s club flew from his belt and into the mans side, filling the air with the sound of splintering ribs. The bandit recoiled in pain, but continued with adreneline fuelled precision. Kordan drew his sword and made an easy parry.

  A breif look and shock and fear ran like electric through the bandit’s eyes as the sword smashed through his stomach and drove him back into his own vehicle. Blood seeped from the corner of his mouth as he crashed to the floor. The sword was removed and he slumped helpless at Kordan’s feet.

“You…of course, Kordan…the mercenary” he managed to cough.

  The victor watched as the bandit lie bleeding on the floor. A young woman suddenly leapt from the carriage and slid onto her knees at the dying man’s side. Clean dark hair washed over a pale and pretty face, and soft pink lips became wet with tears from icy blue eyes.

“Father…please don’t die Father” She sobbed, holding his head in her arms.

“It’s okay…it is all part of a bandit’s life.” He coughed and blood spattered the arms of his daughter “A fathers blood should never stain his daughter” he mourned.

  Kordan turned his back to the girl in mourning and began to trudge back down the road. He heard her cry out in anguish, her wails carried on the terminal breath of her parent. Remorse held no place in the mountain’s heart, it was an object of rock and ice…not flesh and blood.

“Beast…won’t you even stay to be slain?” She cried out.

“I will be slain by a hero…not a woman” he called back.

  He heard the sliding of metal and the pounding of small feet. He turned to see the girl charging at him with her father’s sword, tears streaming from her eyes. The first few strikes made him dodge to the full potential of his agility. He drew only his sword, and needed both hands to control it precisely enough to parry her blows.

  He had never seen a human fight with such skill and vigour in his life, hers was the swordsmanship of a demon. He tried to strike back but her offensive was too strong, driven by love and hate.

“You can’t be human!” he roared.

“I am more human than you will ever be!” she screamed back, cutting through the side of his shoulder.

  Kordan found truth in her words, through humanity she had the power of a demon. He had thrown his away and could never know love and attachment of the sort she fought for,and what he had taken from her.

  She fumbled and dropped the sword, he stepped on the blade but did not take her head as she stood stunned, unarmed and afraid.

“So kill me, monster…kill me like you killed my father”

Kordan sheathed his sword “I choose to gift you with life…keep your humanity, don’t throw it away on pointless quests and vendettas. Do not give yourself to your sword, and do not view your life through reflections in blood”

  He turned and walked from the first person he had ever spared. He walked away from his own act of humanity, a feeling most unusual to him.

“Come back! I do not want life if it is given to me by you!”

  He understood her feelings…he too, would not want his life made a gift and given to him. But he knew he would never feel what she felt now, he was a beast to be slain, not spared.

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