The Legend of the Rah
Author: LCD

Chapter 2
A Nasty Surprise

Loar saw the figure out of the corner of his eyes the moment he had turned to step back into his dwelling. Instinctively, his hand flew to the handle of his sword and he whirled around again. He scanned the balcony where he had just been standing, but no one was to be seen. Loar was certain that someone had just descended from the roof and that he had heard the soft thud of the intruder when his feet had hit the floor.

 

What a skilled and cold blooded warrior Zylbersdyne was sending, it went through Loar's head as he stood prepared, all his muscles taut and on alert. Loar had heard of Zylbersdyne's special unit, the Niinyata, who were trained and drilled to conduct stealth missions, sometimes even in broad daylight. Squinting into the sun that was flooding the room with light at this time of day, Loar  acknowledged that the intruder had chosen the perfect time to attack from that side of his house. Loar had still not drawn out his sword more than an inch from its sheath, not wanting his opponent to hear it slide and to realize that his presence was known to Loar.

 

The young man's heart was racing now and his breath was uneven, as he was listening for sounds that would give away the exact position of the attacker. But it remained silent. Loar started doubting his first perception and his muscles loosened slightly again but he knew that the special force was extremely skillful and meticulous in the execution of their tasks. They would wait as long as necessary for the opportune moment to strike, lulling their victim into false security first. Loar felt the palms of his hands moisten with sweat. He dared not move. He was thinking hard about his options and the next actions he should take. At least he would have a chance to fight, it went through his head, in contrast to his parents whom they had killed in their sleep. Those cowardly bastards.

 

Suddenly, a door swung open directly behind Loar. He whirled around on one foot to face his opponent. In one smooth motion he drew his sword out of its sheath and swung it in a horizontal arc at the height of a man's neck.  There was a swishing sound as the blade cut through the air towards the intruder. It took but a fraction of a second for Loar to complete a half circle and bring the sword back in front of his chest, expecting to have decapitated his attacker. Loar's eyes widened when he saw that it was his little sister who had entered the room, singing gayly for herself.

 

“Lalalala! - Whoa! Hey Loar!” Myquenna protested when she became aware that his sword had passed over her head. He had missed the top of the twelve year old's head by less than an inch. Loar froze in horror when he realized that he had almost slain his sister. She planted her hands on her hips and tilted her head,

 

“Is this a new game of yours? Why did you just swing...”

 

Loar quickly jumped forward and covered Myquenna's mouth to prevent the attacker from hearing from her that he had drawn his sword and that his vulnerable little sister was there, too, now. But it was too late. Loar felt a blow to his side that threw him off his feet. Myquenna screamed when she saw the hooded figure who stood broad-legged above her brother, pointing the tip of his sword at his heart.

 

“Defend yourself, you fool!” A hoarse voice demanded from underneath the hood. But Loar had already regained his faculties and deflected the attacker's blade with his own. Myquenna squealed and ran to the farthest corner of the room, cowering in terror of the erupted fight. The attacker had been surprised by the quick response and lost his balance for a moment. This gave Loar a chance to come to his feet and make a stand.

 

“You won't finish me without a fight! I'll take as many of you with me as I can!”

 

After that, the two men exchanged slashes at each other with their swords. But both of them defended themselves skillfully. Myquenna pulled up her legs to her chest and covered her ears as the fierce clinging and clanging sounds of the steel rent the air. Loar was surprised that he had been able to survive so far, as he threw a few feints to gain advantage. He sensed that their sword fighting skills were about equal but he got the impression that his attacker was a young guy, younger than himself. He would lack the experience of a swordsman like himself, Loar thought, and tried a few of his fighting tricks. But each time, the other one anticipated Loar's feints and thwarted the real strikes, as if he had observed Loar before. Loar fought off another offense by the attacker and ground his teeth,

 

“So these are Zylbersdyne's last resorts for preventing his inevitable defeat?!” Loar called out between two series of blows. He had used his superior muscle strength and had succeeded in driving the guy back onto the balcony with his force. “Sending out boys to match up with the leader of the resistance army?! Where is your backup?!”

 

Loar looked around as if expecting other enemy soldiers to join in. The other one angrily slashed back at Loar feeling ridiculed.

 

“Quit talking... just fight!” It came from under the hood. Loar lost his concentration for a second and suddenly hesitated in surprise and lowered his defense. The other one used the advantage and struck his sword, hitting it out of Loar's hand. The weapon landed in front of Myquenna's feet. She craned her neck and was stupefied with horror when she saw her defenseless brother with a sword pointing at his heart once more.

 

“Noooo!” She screamed and quickly grabbed the heavy weapon at its grip with both her hands. She sprang to her feet and dragged the sword up the steps to the balcony where the two fighters were still standing opposite to each other, trying to catch their breaths. She held up the handle of the sword to Loar in a desperate attempt to save her brother. Tears were rolling down Myquenna's eyes in fear for her brother's life. She knew that the attacker could thrust his sword into Loar's chest any second.

 

“Please don't kill my brother...” she begged the other one. Loar had a strange expression on his face that surprised Myquenna. It wasn't fear or horror, but impatience bordering on anger.

 

“Take off that stupid hood, Dworne, you're frightening Myquenna!” Loar pushed away the blade from his chest with his bare hands as the other one unveiled his face. It was the sixteen year old brother of Loar and Myquenna who was standing in front of them with a sheepish grin on his face,

 

“Sorry for that, Myquenna... but I won the fight at least!”

 

He raised his fist victoriously. Myquenna burst out into tears of relief and rage when she realized that all her fear had been unnecessary. She lifted her small fists and started drumming them on Dworne's chest,

 

“Dworne, you stupid big brother! echh, echh... you... echh, nearly scared me echh to death... how could... echh, could you?!”

 

“Ouch, hey! I said `sorry'! You weren't supposed to be here and disturb Loar anyway! - Stop hitting me. Get off!” He was trying to defend himself from his little sister now and seemed to need to struggle more than when he had his brother as an opponent. Loar shook his head with disapproval over his brother's actions,

 

“Serves you right, Dworne! What were you thinking, coming in here like a Niinyata?! I could've killed you in the fight! Or the guards could've shot you down with an arrow!”

 

“I hate you Dworne! I hope they kill you!” Myquenna switched brothers and fell into Loar's arms with a loud sob.

 

“I couldn't stand losing you, Loar! I still have nightmares and hear mother's calls for help.”

 

“I know, little one. But we're safe here... and I will avenge our parents. Don't be afraid, Myquenna.”

 

“I don't want you to go to war... I just want peace. - Send Dworne instead!”

 

She gave her other brother a dark look.

 

“The people of Rah must be liberated for there to be true peace. I'm responsible for both of you, too. We must stick together... and not pull unnecessary pranks.” Loar also gave Dworne a long look.

 

Dworne looked furiously at both of them and felt misunderstood,

 

“You told me to improve my swordsman skills, didn't you? Said I would never get good enough to join the fighting troops. You always mocked me with that! Now I've shown you!” He threw down his sword in front of his elder brother's feet. He bent over and pulled off his cloak and, likewise, threw it on the floor before he headed toward the door. He felt embarrassed for his bad judgement and angry that the display of his skills hadn't earned the praise he thought they deserved.

 

“Dworne!” His brother called after him. But he didn't react. “Dworne, wait!” Loar commanded. Dworne stopped at the threshold of the door not daring to defy his older brother. Dworne refused to turn around, though, in a display of his hurt pride. Loar said solemnly,

 

“You fought well, brother. You have indeed become a formidable swordsman by now...”

 

Dworne couldn't help himself and felt the corners of his mouth move closer to his ears. He turned slightly to the side and glimpsed at the unequal pair of siblings standing embraced on the balcony. Myquenna  was still wrapping her arms around the waist of her eldest brother. She looked out from where she had been burying her face,

 

“You might be as good a swordsman as Loar... but you're way stupider!”

 

Dworne's smile broadened,

 

“Hey Quenn! I'll make it up to you. What was the name of that insipid game you always want me to play with you...?”

 

Myquenna's face lit up instantly and she let go of Loar,

 

“The Falling Tower of Aylashua?! Yay! Let's play!” She ran towards Dworne and took him by the hand. The two brothers' eyes met and Dworne knew that he had become a man now.

 

 

 

 

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