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Sword
Scene 9 of The Acts of Awes West
Noose stewed and scowled over the obvious suicide of His Master—being well known as the best-hearted of his big-wigged kind, who were mostly pricks who looked upon rangers as niggers, whatever their coloration, white, black, red or brown. The Rose Knight recognized the Holy Ghost in each and every one of his men and saw in them all the spirit of Saint Martial of Just War, who turned from pagan ways in the long ago to fight for Jesus. Noose felt himself the very embodiment of Saint Martial, gallows born and Order Sworn as he was.
The sword—massive and wide and long—of the Grizz Knight proclaimed the arrogance of the Knights Sepulcher, with scepters of earthly rule at the pommel [1] and at the ends of the cross piece.
Both men unsheathed their great blades and held them point down between their spread legs and prayed a silent prayer.
The arming sword of the Rose Knight had its hilt before the ricasso [2] worked in a half circle of blued steel and the pommel—itself a small Celtic cross circled out with a blued steel knuckle guard. This hilt was in total a Celtic cross with the full circle interrupted for insertion of the knights hand—strictly a one-handed grip behind a blade of 36 inches and two-and-a-half pounds. The blade had a fuller [3] at the base and a riser [4] at the foible [5] and tapered to a needle point.
The sword of the Grizz Knight was a bastard—used one or two handed—a full four feet long, broad and with a riser its full length, making it a good 4 pounds of heft and having a sort point clipped at both ends.
“By the Holy Sepulcher!” intoned the Grizz Knight in a grave baritone.
“By Saint Martial—forgive us My Lord Almighty and Saint George,” prayed the Rose Knight, apologizing to his crusading order and to God for taking steel in a duel against another Christian.
The Grizz Knight spat and leaped in, two hands upon his longish hilt.
The rising roof block of the Rose Knight, neatly deflected the huge waste of effort and muscle and licked down like an angel’s dread wing and cut the collar of the grizzly bear cloak next to the broach.
The great cloak fell from the broad shoulders of the owner as he roared and shift-stepped in behind an X-cut, backhand to forehand, two devastating strokes that would have cleaved a man in twain, but were deftly parried by the Rose Knight as he out-stepped and side-stepped, effecting a neatly negotiated circle around his furious foe.
Vexxed he: ‘Ahorse, the Grizz Knight would already be disarmed and spared. Why this dance? Is it some big-wigged death-song?’
The Grizz Knight swiped a long cross cut at the Rose Knight’s knee, to which the Rose Knight cooly shifted the leg back and cut the snout from the grizz helmet, causing it to dangle in the beast of a man’s face.
The Rose Knight could have run him through but held back. Knights usually fought to disarm or disable their rival and hold them for ransom or take them into unpaid service.
The lance and banner of the Rose Knight was planted in the ground before Sacks and Noose, the banner hanging breathless in the still noon.
Beyond the banner, the Grizz Knight leaped back with a grunt, left the right hand on his great sword and used the left hand to cast the ruined bear-head helmet aside, a snarl of respect upon his lips.
The Rose Knight kicked aside the grizzly cloak rather than use it as a blade-foil, which irritated Noose to no end!
Brooded he: ‘Damned big-wigged afray!’
The Rose Knight then doffed his own helmet and cast it with his left hand to Sacks, who caught it with narry a sound.
The Grizz Knight ran two steps and let rip a powerful diagonal slash from his right shoulder, which the Rose Knight beat from behind lightly with his sword in a backhanded way and stepped left—a slick move by half, looking like a fencing master on the bastion court cobbles toying with the squires, pages and sergeants.
Fretted he: ‘Sire could have cut his throat off the back beat!’
A baleful light glowered in the eyes of the Grizz Knight even as faraway fairy lights flickered like dim forget in the wide open eyes of the Rose Knight like as if he were somewhere else, even as he easily foiled this brute of a knight in this dance of whirling steel.
Willed he: ‘Sucker him in for another charge, a lunge even, Sire, and cut his bull neck from its hinge!’
Noose could tell that all the men, save Ben and Shawnee, were intently following this duel and willing their master to prevail even as city folk back east cheered on boxers in the ring and opined their prescriptions for victory.
To his sanguine wish, the Rose Knight stepped back right for a set up and the Grizz Knight lunged in with not a two-handed cut, but a left backhand to right, his left hand working the blade in a backhand from a low grip near the pommel, a grip that could easily lead to a disarm by the Rose Knight, which was his inclination in an affray with a Christian foe.
The Rose Knight executed the same pass beat and step, so Noose hoped, to draw cut that throat with his blade having beat the back foible [5] of the bigger blade with the back forte [6] of his—but it was a sucker move, a repeat after a way…
As the Rose Knight swept his blade downward towards the exposed left hand of the Grizz Knight’s neck, and extended his empty gloved left hand to check the Grizz Knight’s forward progress, that big blade already deflected and on an outward arc, it turned out that the Grizz Knight was a shifty duelist after all who had pretended at bull-rushing.
Started he: ‘Damn big booger be slick as a coon!’
The Grizz Knight shift stepped forward with his rear right foot and brought around his bare sword hand in a huge mallet of a fist and punched the Rose Knight in his jaw. The punch cracked like mallet upon peg and the Rose Knight fell back like a whip-sawed tree.
As silence reigned all around, Noose’s personal Savior, lie still on the brown needle bed of the great trees that witnessed his fall. The ominous silence of the hard men gathered there, who all waited to see if the chest of the fallen knight would rise with a breath of life or stay still in death, heralded Noose’s greatest dread—to be owned and ordered by a bad man of low-minded character and big-wigged measure.
Resigned he: ‘You could have dueled ahorse, Sire. Now your gallows boy is the slave of a great big turd of booger-kind.’
Notes
-1. The often decorative counterweight at the base of the sword’s grip.
-2. The unsharpened portion of the blade just above the crosspiece or hilt that can be grabbed for close two-handed work, as was the doctrine of the Knights Sepulcher, gripping the upper hilt with a right forehand and the lower ricasso with a left backhand. The circle of steel before the crosspiece and wound red hot around the ends of the crosspiece and the base of the blade 4 inches forward was not used by the Knights of Saint George as a grip, but as a blade catching trap for use in disarming.
-3. A fuller or “blood groove” is a reduction of metal into a semi-hollow center line to reduce the weight of a broad blade.
-4. A riser is a raised middle of the blade to strengthen a narrow cross section.
-5. The foible is a weak spot in the straight blade where it begins to narrow to a point that corresponds to the ‘sweet spot’ on a stick, bat, cleaver, curved sword or club.
-6. The forte is the lower, stronger portion of the blade, preferred for defense against the offensive foible and point.
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