Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Torch Light (part 5)

(Source of pic, Leonid Mamchenkov)

Continued from Parts
1, 2, 3 and 4...

There was no reply.

But before I could decide on my next move, "he" had already raised his broadsword and was charging swiftly towards me. The sifting sands under his shuffling feet jangled my nerves. I stood fixated, completely paralysed with shock. Actually, I think I even dropped my own sword. Must have been a pretty embarrassing sight. A saving grace then must certainly be that no other person had witnessed the event.

That unplanned action probably saved my skin. The loud "clang" of my sword hitting the ground had a piercing and awakening impact on my inert mind, shaking me out of my temporary state of shock. In the split second between "him" raising his sword and putting a premature end to my young life, I felt for a shield and cowered underneath it. So this was it...


I braced myself for the anticipated blow. I re-braced myself. And then, again.

"Huh…?"

It took a while before I dared to peek over the shield again. A second and more audible "Huh...?" escaped from my gaping jaws. "He" was gone. And I was not at where I thought I was. Confusion abounds!

Looking around, I found my back pressed against the wall of the closed entrance of this cave. Yes, the very same entrance I had passed more than an hour back. I swiped the beads of perspiration that were skidding off my forehead, still gasping for air as I did so.

I recall myself shouting, "Hello?". It was a semi-desperate bid to make sense of what had just happened. I probably wanted to hear myself more than anything else. Only my own echoes answered my calls. I sat there for quite some time feeling stunned and limp.

It was as though I had just cheated death. It must have been at least a good half-hour before I could calm myself down sufficiently and muster enough strength to get back to my feet. Despite the rest, they still felt slightly rubbery. I stared at the shield lying on the ground. In that fleeting moment, a thought cut through my conscious state of mind. It suddenly dawned on me what this was all about.

That prompted me into re-commencing my journey immediately.

I began by walking briskly. But my impatience got the better of me and I broke into a sprint. Before long, I had tired myself out and slowed to a jog. I rested at regular intervals to catch my breath but the message was clear and I had once again found the impetus to move forward quickly.

Although my recent memory of this tunnel was one of a monotonous line of weapons, I could actually recall particular parts of my previous journey as I trudged forward. It helped me gauge how close I was from my destination. That just set my adrenaline pumping at a faster rate.

As sudden as it was not, I was there again.

And as I had thought, he was still waiting for me. This time, he waited for me to make the first move. I did not require any taunting or prompting to do so. Not that he was someone who would resort to that in the first place. I picked up another sword and went for the jugular.

I was able to match his every cut, slash and thrust. The angry impacts of our swords numbed my limbs. Ashamedly, my arms were never strong to begin with. Since I became an apprentice, I had been concentrating on my practice of magic and had neglected the physical side of my training. Now, I am living to regret that "oversight".

Actually, there is not much more I would like to add. A fight between two quite obvious novices was not a sight to gawk at. Both of us could not fight to save our own lives. So I should spare the reader the cringing and fast forward to the last bit of it...

With the last ounces of energy my weary arms could summon, I gave out a loud yell of intimidation and the strongest slash from my borrowed trusty sword. It worked! His sword twisted and flew out of his hands. The second "clang" of this two-round battle meant that victory and defeat were now both mine.

Such was the force I had used that he fell backwards, throwing his hands back to break the fall. His covering hood fell behind to finally reveal his true form. I observed his crew cut, unsightly stubble, broad nose and slightly sloed pair of eyes. He could not resist the chance to give me a naughty wink and grin before disappearing into thin air. "Poof!" So, was that some form of congratulation?

I resumed my journey. From that point onwards, my hunger and thirst dictated the pace. It rapidly deteriorated into a heavy anti-climax. Relief finally came in the shape of the other end of this tunnel.

I had not learnt any spells in it, much less any spectacular ones. I had not seen any precious artifacts other than the finely polished, violence-reeking weapons that decorated the entire tunnel. But I do not regret anymore my initial decision of choosing this particular tunnel.

As with all previous sanctuaries, the latest one I found myself in had all the required facilities. The trickles of spring water never sounded more refreshing and enticing, the drinking hole never looked so sparkling and cool and the crudely made bed next to it (another historical artifact left behind by a former apprentice!) never felt more homely and welcome. I was cured of my thirst and snoring away in no time.

My hunger? Oh, that can wait.

Akan Datang: Pop quiz answers

58 days to go.

P.S. That's where I stopped writing; There's no part 6.

2 Comments:

Blogger ChroniclesofChaos said...

Yay!

Thu Feb 02, 12:17:00 am 2006  
Blogger Acey Deucey said...

I said two weeks means two weeks mah. It'll appear on the 6th February, right on the dot of a fortnight.

Thu Feb 02, 05:40:00 am 2006  

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