The Sacrifice - Short Story
This is a short story that may eventually become a full length novel. It is about an African warrior whose wife had been kidnapped so he sets out on a mission to bring her back.
My prayer, my sacrifice, my life and my death. This woman means that much to me. My sword was lowered midway at my waist. I could feel the souls emanate around me. Crimson fluid leaked from my weapon as I stood face to face with my final conflict. The enemy of all enemies. The one who was responsible for stealing her away from me. My eyes tightened, my arms were sore and aching from the brutal task I just completed. My tears were hidden in despair the moment I realized she had been removed from my home. He was finally frightened when he saw the severity of his crime. His eventual doom was shown on his wrinkled brow. Her sad eyes remained focused as she lamented for me internally. She knew her worth. She knew that she was worth every man I slaughtered to reached this place. Her compassion had compelled her to feel sorrow because she did not want me to endure such pain; such a loss.
I took a step forward and he slid backward with his pivot foot arched. The tree limbs waved with the wind, singing of my violent deeds. Nature had attached itself to my cause and concentrated on the moment. My heartbeat was rapid and my breathing was labored. Only two people in the world existed. One I wanted to protect while the other I wanted to destroy. I wanted to savor the kill and taste his blood. He could feel the desire I had and pondered his dilemma. The hilt of my blade was wrapped tightly between my fingers. His long-knife’s edge was barely breaking the skin on her neck. Beads of sweat formed down my face as I began to plot. This would not be settled by a brutal onslaught of steel clashing. Three of us were living but none were quite sure who would be left standing. We may all die today.
She attempted to smile. A serene melancholy circled around her aura. Despite her predicament she would not become bitter or cynical. Our eyes met and I felt warm inside. Her beauty was internal and genuine. He was nothing but a mere obstacle. His furrowed brow betrayed his deadly intent. We stood at the precipice of life and death yet everyone was in their position like rooted trees. So he would know that his death would be slow and horrifying, I turned toward the bloody trail I left behind. Scattered parts of human limbs littered the beaten road to his camp. Severed heads with disfigured features laid next to mounted bodies I had dismembered only moments earlier. Combat was second nature for me. My focus was intensified as he gritted his teeth in fear. She calmed me with a gentle look that weakened me enough to lower my weapon. We were at a crossroads.
His blade was no longer touching her soft skin. Now it stood but an inch from her neck. He pulled her back slowly, anticipating any sudden moves I might attempt to make. Backing towards the campfire, he bent his knees to reach for a pouch and another sword. My woman was still in harm’s reach so I remained still. Without notice, she leaped from out of the reach of both blades he was brandishing. A cruel smile crept on his chiseled face. His arms extended to their fullest extent as he invited me in.
My woman backed away as I ran towards him. He crossed his blades in preparation for my attack. His discipline to remain still until I reached him displayed a level of mastery. I could die today. His fear was only a guise to make me overconfident, arrogant. I could feel the cold chill stiffen through my spine. I had to allow my spirit to guide my movement and dictate my action. To rise above emotion into the highest form of divinity was every warrior’s true goal. My intuition informed me that this man would test me to the fullest extent of my skill. This would be the epic duel that poets have written about for thousands of years.
When our blades met, the expected sparks of flame singed through the air. What altered my mindset was the observation that his feet remained firmly planted. His strength was remarkable but his speed was blinding. Her lovely face was carrying the burden of worry. My momentary lapse of judgment found my buttocks on the hard dirt path. I rolled out of the way of the coup de grace by a second and swiftly regained my footing. He had overextended his efforts trying to finish the fight rapidly. I hunched over in a fighting stance that might offset his two-blade variety fighting form. My blade jabbed at his torso, searching for an opening. His defenses were just as impressive as his offense. I continued to press my attack low, hoping he would counter going high. His overhand swing was both fast and strong. My attempts were futile as he easily recognized my baiting for what it was. My only advantage was that I had not overexerted myself. He was slowly regaining his second wind as we circled one another. I had to take a risk.
My blade came down on his crossed blades but he felt my foot in his torso. He grunted and stumbled backwards several feet. I did not give him time to recover. I rolled low with my blade finding his inner thigh. He belted out obscenities as I rolled to my feet. My onslaught continued as I changed up variations of blade angles, causing him to give up ground. The broad sword flew like the breeze, landing its curved edge at his left wrist. One of his weapons fell to the dirt pavement making our odds even again. My enemy was giving ground further as I could taste victory on my lips. As I pushed forward, my intuition halted my advance. Hesitation was a dangerous action but there was something in the air. For the first time in minutes, I made eye contact with my enemy. There was a coy look in his face that made me realize what made me hesitate. He was luring me in for the kill. He only feigned defeat so that I could overextend myself like he once had. I backed away and his eyes widened. The wind left his body, realizing something had halted my attack. I regrouped and prepared for a more tactical offensive. He was the best I had fought thus far and the duel was far from over.
When his body stood to its fullest height, I took two careful steps back. His face betrayed his agony. Two gifted warriors with equal determination colliding like the earth to the moon. Who would survive the death match of all ages? The clash of our swords were more explosive than two erupting volcanoes. Our passion was only matched by our hate. My blade swung high only to be countered by his attempts at my mid-section. Side stepping the point of his sword as he plunged forward. I countered with a strike across his shoulder, forcing him to drop to one knee. I reluctantly placed the blade to his neck. Trying to ascertain if there were anymore crafty maneuvers he had for me? There were none. I kicked him in the chest, firmly placing his back on the ground. He grunted one last time. I lifted my weapon high before I was gently touched on the shoulder.
She smiled as our eyes met. I glanced down at my formidable enemy and he was defeated. I glanced back at her and she spoke without speaking. He was defeated. It is foolish to leave a dangerous enemy alive, I pondered. She gave me that look again, he is defeated. I slowly lowered my sword as she touched my face. I backed away from my vanquished adversary and glared at the trail of dead bodies in my wake. She looked in the direction of the various corpses and smiled at me again. I had done enough. She was mine again. I turned one last time to see my foe wallowing in pain and that is when I sheathed my weapon. He wept. Her arm adjoined mine and we walked away. Mercy is the greatest sacrifice a warrior can bestow upon an enemy. Her genuine beauty and grace had compelled me to such an act. Blessed is the man that has a woman that inspires him to give his greatest sacrifice on her behalf.