He pivoted left letting the blade pass harmlessly a breath from his ribs and felt their rage and terror pour into him. Tass peeled his lips back from his teeth. “Storms take the dead,” He hissed. The knife blade came again and Tass parried it away with his own, grinning at the scarred monk desperately trying to stop him.
Their feet slid on the blood-soaked grass as they fought. The scarred man was the first to stand against him. The devotees, weaponless and resting within the sacred grove, had not suspected the danger. Now, their corpses floated in the grove’s sparkling pools.
The monk charged him.
Tass scored a deep cut to the monk’s side as the scarred man rushed forward but was knocked to the ground under the charge. Tass struggled beneath the monk’s weight, his sword arm pinned between them. Around them, a few remaining devotees shivered at the violence, so common outside, but unheard of under the sacred grove’s fiery autumn leaves. They didn’t know what to do. Tass grunted, and then wheezed a laugh, “As useless as the dead you worship, I’ll send you to them!”
Their glaring fear and offense were worth withstanding the solemn still air of the place. Worth the scarred monk’s snarl an inch from his face as they stared at each other across knife blades. Worth the growing murmurs of power around him–
Tass shoved the bleeding monk off and sprung to his feet, flipping the knife in his hands. Someone had joined the devotees ringing the clearing, a girl dressed in muddy yellow. She faced him with firmly-planted bare feet on the bloody ground, a shallow vessel of clean water cradled in her arms. The air did not feel still anymore.
Around her, the devotees had stopped quavering. They stared at Tass, calm hate grounding their stance. Tass felt his glee wash away like summer dust in the season’s first rainfall.
“What are you doing?” Tass demanded of the girl, advancing. “Stop it.”
The girl met his eyes and raised the cistern to her lips. He stalked forward, intending to knock the water away and slip the knife deep into her unprotected side. Unshaken by his sudden threat, she didn’t move. The air thickened and the smell of a storm grew.
Tass hesitated at the sudden change. The moment cost him. A scarred arm wrapped around his throat, a callused hand caught his wrist, a knife pressed itself to his kidney. The scarred monk dragged Tass back and the girl’s devotees surged forward to help.
Through all this, she drank from the vessel, eyes locked on his and pure water dribbling down her chin. Tass tried to struggle, to scream, but he could not find the sound or the rage to fuel it. The sun above the crimson leaves was warm, the smell of a brewing rainstorm lay heavy in the air, the afternoon bells from the distant market chimed with a sweet harmony. He felt–calm.
He met the girl’s eyes, pleading, as they pulled him away. She did not relent and the sudden peace smothered him.
I stole this line from The Gate in the Wood as part of the Legal Theft Project. See the original here, and the rest here. A thief is rarely content with condoned thievery and so I have borrowed the scarred monk from More than 1/2 Mad as well.