Alonso should be in pain, and yet he barely seemed to breathe as he watched the bandits.
Despite his condition, the lord never took his eyes off them. He observed without focusing on neither, paying attention to each and any movement.
The largest of the bandit was a fat man over two meters tall who carried two axes.
The other was slim bald one held a two-handed sword almost as tall as him.
And the third was a short woman with two daggers.
These three are much different than all the bandits so far, the soul in the sword thought, glancing at each one in turn. But you already can sense that…
The bandits smiled as they got closer and closer. But those smiles were too creepy.
They were smiles of people who wanted to toy and torture their victim before killing him.
Tetsuko waited in silence, making her energy boil inside her.
Everything was quiet in the clearing.
There was no wind. There was no sound of animals.
The nature was quiet there.
Even Alonso’s heart seemed to stop beating.
Then the fat bandit banged his axes together.
In the silence, the sound of the metal colliding filled the small clearance, echoing through the trees as if someone was drumming.
The moment the lord’s eyes focused on him, the other two moved.
The bald bandit slashed at Alonso with his two-handed sword.
At the same time, the woman leaned forward and ran, aiming at the lord’s legs with her dagger.
Alonso stood still for a heartbeat.
Then he advanced towards the axes wielding bandit.
The surprised crossed the trio’s face for a moment. But that brief moment was all Alonso needed.
Fat blocked Tetsuko with both weapons. But he wasn’t fast enough to react when Alonso spun around him and stopped at his back.
The lord was too close to use his sword, so he slammed his shoulder against the fat bandit, pushing him towards the other two.
Bald and Woman got out of the way in time.
Alonso took advantage of the momentary distraction and ran towards the bald bandit
When he was close enough, he slashed Tetsuko horizontally.
The bandit reacted in the last moment, blocking the attack with his weapon.
Tetsuko concentrated her energy and made it boil.
In the next moment, the surprise crossed the bandit’s eyes as the lord’s blade cut through his sword as if it was made of cloth.
Bald could to nothing as Tetsuko went through him around the waist.
He looked down. For a moment, he seemed unhurt. Then blood slowly gushed from his wound.
Slowly, the bandit saw himself cut in two pieces.
It took a moment, but when his mind registered his death, he screamed.
He dropped his sword and tried to hold himself with his hands.
But there was nothing he could do.
The bottom and the upper half fell a few meters apart and then his screams died.
“How dare you?” the woman bandit shouted.
But it was Fat who raced towards the lord with his weapons raised, each step rumbling the clearing.
With no room to dodge or redirect, Alonso placed his left hand on the handle of Tetsuko and blocked the blow.
For a moment it seemed as if they were tied. The lord was withstanding the blow for a moment, even if he had to use every ounce of strength he had left.
But it soon it was clear Alonso was weaker than his enemy. His feet left marks on the ground as Fat pushed him back.
“You guys are trash!” Alonso shouted, staring into the bandit’s eyes. “Trash that are putting this kingdom and its people in chaos. How dare you?”
Alonso shouted as loud as he could.
Drawing strength from his own voice, the lord managed to get out of the way and redirect the axes towards the ground.
When Fat lost his balance, Alonso smashed the hilt of Tetsuko on the bandit’s side.
The attack dented the metal armor deeply, and the bandit screamed and place a hand on the wound as he fell.
Alonso pulled his weapon back, ready to finish the bandit off with a stab.
But before he brought Tetsuko down, Fat’s companion attacked.
Don’t try to defend it, the soul inside the sword shouted to her wielder. With those daggers, she has the advantage in close quarters.
The former blacksmith didn’t know if her voice was heard or not, but it didn’t matter; the lord had realized that as well.
Instead of the blade, Alonso used the hilt to block the daggers.
He tried to gain some distance, but she didn’t let him.
The bandit didn’t stop attacking even for a moment.
Even if all her attacks were blocked, she never stopped moving her daggers.
Those daggers are almost like snakes, Tetsuko thought, trying to find an opening.
Alonso blocked all. But that was taking its toll.
Soon, some of the attacks got past his defense. They were the ones that weren’t aimed at his vitals.
But even so, it was wearing him down little by little.
The lord was panting even harder as his sweat mixed with blood.
The woman smiled and continued, her daggers getting even faster.
No… it’s my wielder who’s getting slower, the soul in the sword realized.
“Guess even nobles can die by peasant’s hand,” she teased him.
But despite her tone, her eyes were full of hate as she aimed at the lord’s fingers.
Her eagerness to kill the noble before her created an opening.
Alonso noticed that and kicked the woman out of reflex.
Even with all her hate, she managed to jump sideways and avoid the kick.
For a moment the lord smiled in relief. But in the next second, it vanished.
Despite her short figure, the woman’s presence was enough to block what was behind her.
The fat bandit had stood up. Despite his pained face, he was racing towards Alonso once again.
Jump back now, Tetsuko shouted in her mind.
The lord glanced back for a heartbeat before jumping back.
A tree blocked his path, but Alonso didn’t seem surprised by that.
He rested his back at the trunk and prepared his stance, raising his sword, ready to block any attack.
Fat brought down the axes.
This time, with the help of the tree, Alonso managed to withstand the attack.
But before he could counter, the bandit jumped out of the way.
Behind him, the woman was rushing towards him with an amazing speed.
She flashed a wild smile as she attacked.
Alonso took one hand off Tetsuko’s handle.
With the sword, he blocked one dagger. With his hand, the other.
He bit down his lips to stop his scream.
Tetsuko smiled. You’re not gonna give them the satisfaction of hearing you scream of pain, the soul in the sword realized.
I don’t know if you can hear me or not, but they’re gonna do the same thing again. Don’t just defend. Attack if you don’t wanna die here.
The moment the woman pulled back her daggers and jumped out of the way again, the fat bandit was almost on top of the lord.
Flashing a smile almost as wild as the bandit’s, Alonso ignored his pain and placed the bloody hand on the bottom of the hilt.
The next moment, he threw himself forward while extending his arms
The tip of Tetsuko was aimed at the dent Alonso had made it before.
The bandit’s surprise was a delightful sight to both the wielder and the sword.
Tetsuko pierced the dent with ease, going all the way through the armor and its owner.
The bandit stopped in his tracks and looked down with a blank expression.
His face lost its color. Before he could scream, Alonso swung his sword to the side.
Almost as if he was cutting paper, the blade went through bone, flesh and then metal.
The fat bandit’s gut spilled on the ground as he fell with a heavy thud.
Panting even more than before, the lord turned to the last bandit standing.
The woman widened her eyes and took a step back.
She almost tripped on something.
When she looked down, she saw it was her other dead companion.
Alonso took advantage of that moment and raced towards her.
She looked at him. Her eyes were still full of hate. But now there was something else; fear.
The bandit raised her daggers to deflect the attack.
The lord shortened the distance and then slashed at her diagonally.
The woman tried to redirect the attack, but even with all her skills, she couldn’t.
She bent her knees as she tried to withstand.
But when Tetsuko concentrated her energy on her edge, she went through those two small blades.
There was a second where she seemed surprised. It only lasted a heartbeat.
In the next instant, Alonso drove Tetsuko into her shoulder, going all the way to her waist.
She didn’t even scream as the light left her eyes.
With an eerie silence, she fell on top of one of her dead companions.
The lord stabbed Tetsuko at the ground and sat.
Just breathing seemed to pain him.
With great effort, he managed to take off his gauntlet and the leather beneath.
The woman’s dagger had pierced all the way through, but when he closed and opened his hand, he realized he still could use his fingers and relief crossed his face.
Alonso ripped some of the woman’s clothes, whipped the blood and used it as bandages.
After he put on the leather and the gauntlet back, he stood up.
Even if he was exhausted, he dragged himself back the way his horse had come.
“I need… to command… my men… they need… me,” Alonso managed to say, as if he was drawing strength from those words.
Tetsuko smiled and closed her eyes, focusing.
It was hard, but she could sense there was a faint gathering of the same energy she wanted to control.
There, she said, trying to shift her metal body towards the right direction.
The former blacksmith didn’t know if her voice had gotten through her wielder, but Alonso changed his path a little.
Soon, she thought. Soon he’ll hear me.