The Marshal's Road: The Last of the Strongmen - 9.

"Best get your boy ready there, scrapper," Serg yelled to Stephan. 

"It'll take the two of you to get me, if you're even gonna do that..." He taunted, the crowd yipping in agreement as they started cheering for Serg. He turned to Captain Kendell, watching from the side- his own blade drawn and ready-,  and gave him a respectful nod, clapping his heavy blade along his sturdy shield. 

He then turned to his prey, the two standing awkwardly in the middle of the dark ring, shaking a bit as the crowd jeered and prodded. Serg slowly approached them, his blade tentatively swinging ahead of him. 

With a clang of steel it started, swinging his heavy blade at the pair, separating them. He threw a second swing, the heavy sword catching Davey's blade with a crack as it wobbled free of his grip. The crowd laughed as the sword flung free of his twisting hand; the strength of the old knight unimaginable as it came crashing with intention on the weapon. With a third swing, Davey's head join the dropped blade; flipping off his gushing neck as it crashed forgotten into the dirt. 

He then turned to Stephan, his eyes wide and confused as he watched his master break from their agreed script; his partner laying headless a few feet from him. Serg lunged towards him, heavy body crashing against Stephan as their blades met with sparks. 

"Davey turned the shit real, Stephan." Serg muttered quietly as the two were pressed tight; their blades held close as they scrapped steel against steel. Stephan gave a knowing nod; Serg shoving him away with his shield as he gave himself space. 

Stephan could tell Serg was holding back, having spared with the man enough to know what he was capable of. Even drunk, he would have already bested Stephan as well, the master killer capable of dealing his strike at will. But the master was holding back; more for the entertainment of the onlookers than it was to give any quarter to Stephan. He swung a few brave thrusts, each swing bouncing meaninglessly off Serg's thick shield; the aged warrior standing unmoved by his flurry. And Serg responded in kind, sending a swing or two of his own; heavy steel blade pinging hard against the defenses of Stephan. 

Stephan could see the blade giving a little with each deflected strike; not knowing how many more it would take before the steel gave and his life ended. He gave a mighty heathen war cry, unheard this far south of the mountains of his birth, charging at the woolly man. But Serg deflected him like he would have a child, skirting him as he jabbed his shield against his side; heavy steep divots capped with spikes tearing into Stephan's skin as he did. 

Serg moved quickly behind the prone man, silently praying to himself Stephan would allow him to make it quick. But Stephan was no coward, thrusting back blindly with his blade, hoping to clear himself some safety. Serg's instinct reacted more than he did, deflecting the blade with a crossing blow, severing the swinging arm as he did so. Stephan screamed, his cried silenced by a second blow, Serg's heavy sword coming up across his prone gut, nearly cutting him in two. He collapsed in a heap, barely keeping his innards in as he laid, his fading eyes catching the final approach of Sir Sergen of Blackwall. 

He never felt that final cut, Serg driving his heavy blade into the base of his neck, killing him quickly. The crowd howled, their thirst for blood quenched by their champion. A few already went to work on Davey, cutting themselves a keepsake off the fallen man. A few tried to do the same to Stephan, but Serg stopped them; demanding they pay the man a soldier's dignity. 

"He died honorably, guilty of nothing more than having a big mouthed friend he stood to defend. He goes to his gods whole." the great knight commanded, claiming lordship over the crumpled heap. He called for Aaron, commanding the man to see that Stephan be given a proper burial.

"My Lord!" Serg then heard Kendell call to him, his voice booming with excitement as he moved to the knight. 

"To hope when I have seen as many summers as you that I am nearly the man you are! Why you could still ride among my men, if you needed to. That man was no slacker, that was for sure. And you indeed felled him as quick as any of my best would have." He said, slapping his gloved hand hard against Serg's stinging muscles.

"Come see about it in the morning. Perhaps you'd feel different then," Serg replied, choking down a sick feeling in his stomach. He needed a drink badly, a slight guilt building over the endgame of their little vignette. 

"Yes, yes. Well get inside then, sir. Let Wallace's women and wine reward you for your honor restored. Allow my men the pleasure of picking up your mess before we go." 

He then saluted Serg, his drunken frame snapping quick to attention as the old war horse walked past him. His men did as well, snapping to as the old soldier walked past them towards Wallace's door. 

Serg awoke before the sun rose, tangled in a mess of half dressed girls a third his age. In a flash he was dressed and ready, running water on his face and rinsing his mouth before fetching Aaron. He too was found in the embrace of a paid for lover, though of a slightly lower stock than the company Serg had kept the night prior. He gave the woman a quick glance as Aaron readied himself, her thick thighs and heavy chest reminding him of a wife he had left off in the north. Or was it the east... He barely remembered their faces or names, women too blurred as the years had passed for him. 

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