Yet he did not give up the search, for he was a stubborn and loyal old dragon, and not the...
Wednesday Apr 2013
Continued from Heim
The traveller considered his position. It was not good. The wall and the knight weren’t the only challenges: a gaping chasm separated the castle from the outside world, to be spanned only by the castle’s drawbridge, which was raised and looked to be frozen solid between the pair of gate towers. Above the drawbridge hung a flared cross, cast in bronze and twice the height of a man. It had been etched with a line of Norse runes:
Citadel of the Holy Order of Hyperborean Knights
‘Take a shot if ye think you’re good enough,’ said the traveller. His voice had a deep resonance that made it easy to hear above the wind, as if he were accustomed to bellowing orders across raging battlefields, while his accent managed to mix the refined tones of academia with the earthiness of a Barbarian shield-wall stalwart. He was unmistakably a soldier, though he could have been anything from a hard-fisted sergeant to a Free Coast mercenary captain. ‘I’ll climb the wall and jam the bolt so far up your ass your gums’ll bleed. Tell me your name so I can hunt ye down if ye turn tail and flee.’
‘My name is sir,’ the knight replied, loading his crossbow, ‘and you would do well to use it if you’d like to beg for a clean head shot, rather than a flesh wound and a painful death being eaten by wolves. And have no fear that I shall flee: I am a Hyperborean Knight; we do not flee, especially not from the likes of you.’
‘Ye sure talk tough from up on your tower.’
‘I do,’ the knight admitted. ‘That, my friend, is the privilege of tactical advantage, as you would know if you were a soldier.’
The traveller chuckled. ‘Tactics! I’ve always wanted to learn those. Maybe ye can teach me something about them, and in return I’ll take it easy on ye when we’re sparring.’
The knight hesitated in his shot, lowering his crossbow just an inch. ‘You came here to join?’
‘Ja, what the fok else would I be doing in this frozen shithole?’
‘I don’t know, you have the look of a wandering madman.’
‘And? Are the Hyperborean Knights no longer recruiting madmen? Madmen are exactly what ye need. I’ll be the best knight to ever don the black cross.’
‘You’ll be the shitkicker who scrubs the latrines — if I decide to let you in. But why should I? We are the most exclusive order of knighthood in the world. Barons and dukes have served in our ranks — even kings. We have no place for knaves and rogues.’
‘I would’ve thought ye had a place for fighters. When I choose men for war I choose hard chargers — I couldn’t care less if they’re the son of a king or the son of a whore. From the sound of things you’re doing nothing here but assembling a collection of noble dandies for a nice dinner party. Real fighters are born in mud and blood — we eat barons and dukes for breakfast.’
‘I happen to be the son of a duke, and I can assure you that I am no dandy. I’ve been handling crossbows from the moment I could pick them up. You should count it a privilege to be shot by me: I’ll put the bolt right between your eyes so you can have a clean death. What are you anyway? A bandit chief? Some sort of mercenary?’
‘I’m your mother’s secret foker. And when I wasn’t busy fathering ye I was a warlord. I’ve commanded an army of a hundred thousand men. Ye sit here in a castle of a hundred and think you’re something special. I would sacrifice your entire order in battle without blinking an eye.’
‘A warlord, ha! Likely story. A whorelord more like. As for my mother, she never foks men with such tiny cocks as yours. I think I recognise you now: you used to be a pimp on the Twilight City waterfront. You’ve commanded a platoon of whores, but that’s about it.’
‘Hehe, that’s not bad, and also partly true. But let’s end our conversation now, before your simple brain runs out of witty things to say. Time to fight.’ The traveller drew one of his swords.
The knight cocked a blond eyebrow. ‘You want to fight sword against crossbow? You’re even more stupid than you look. All right then, you asked for it.’ He raised his crossbow and fired.
The traveller swung his sword. There was a loud clang, and the crossbow bolt dropped into the snow. The traveller picked it up, stuck it between his teeth, and bit it in two. He held up the jagged end. ‘That’s gonna hurt when I jam it up your ass.’
The knight was astonished, but well trained, and started reloading without even thinking about it. ‘You got lucky,’ he said. ‘And I’m beginning to tire of this game. Tell me your name, so I can tell it to the wolves when they bury you in their guts.’
‘Haven’t ye already guessed that from what I told ye? Ye’ve been hiding away from the world for too long. My name is Gothia von Wulfhammer.’
The knight was so startled that he fumbled his crossbow and dropped it over the wall.