The Bleeding Son
Chapter One: Midnight Dance
“As you should be able to tell, we’re here to, er, kill “it” – and by “it” we mean, er, him.”
A polished nail, a polished dark nail, a polished dark long nail on rather long fingers pointed in the direction of the sleeping man, before the hand of its owner casually fell to his side. He was one of the four who had entered into the room where the sleeping man snored softly, his back exposed, as the figure that was bent over him massaged his back, neck and scalp.
Slowly, the massage stopped.
“Sirs,”, the masseur began, “this man is in my care at this time. Today has been a long and terrible day for him, and for me. Please, move on…”
“Move on?” the sneering voice responded, before chuckling softly. The sound was almost kind. “You are quite aware that if we need to, er, cut through you to get to him, we will have to, er, cut through you, right?”
As the question was asked, the other three that had stood behind the speaker at this time slowly fanned out into the large room. They were tall, about a foot taller than the masseur who was dwarfed by their height, and their shadows shrouded his smaller figure with a thin veil of darkness. Their ill intentions were clearer with every passing moment.
“Sirs,” the masseur, “I have not been informed prior to now about two things. I have not been told that it is his time to die, and I have not been told that it will be you who will take his life.”
There was a pause before he let out a deep sigh, knowing that he had committed himself.
“And so, I cannot let you kill this man…tonight”.
The door opened slowly without a sound and four more men walked into the room, all about the same height as the first set of intruders. The only difference was there was no mask to their intentions, as they all held curved short swords, with sharp serrated edges that were clearly designed for making messy deep wounds. The others who had been in the room slowly drew out their swords, which had the same design.
“As you can tell, friend¸” their leader continued, with a chuckle, “you are outnumbered”.
It was at that point that I had decided I had heard enough. I have many virtues, but patience, in such a scenario as this one, is not one of them.
“Actually, I think that it is you who are outnumbered!” I said, emerging from the corner of the room where the darkness had given me enough cover to blend in. “Now, get out of here or face me!”
As you can tell, they chose the latter, and they charged at us – and lost. I don’t think there is any need to go into the details, so I don’t bore you to death with every swing of swords, of every block, roll and parry…
Or maybe I should.
But before I go on, let me give a brief background. I like to fight.
Now, while that brings pictures to mind of a ruffian or an individual who looks for a reason to get into a brawl, that is exactly an opposite picture of who I am and what I am NOT. From when I was very young, I found I had been obsessed with weapons of various sorts, with the strengths and weaknesses of fight stances, the physics behind techniques. I can go on and on, but the bottom line is, I see fighting as art. Come to think about it, every living creature has a defence mechanism, right?
I remember telling the boss about how much I really liked fighting, and he had given me a job as store keeper of the armoury. For years, all I had done was stock and re-stock weapons, cleaning them, making them shine and never once getting a chance for combat training. Fast forward couple of years later, and I was one of the chief combat instructors. I had spent time with the masseur in training and I was confident, we would get through this fight unscathed – even though at his core, he is not a fighter. However, the fact is that under the right circumstances, there is a warrior in every one.
So back to the events of that day…
I had stood next to the masseur, giving him ample room to manoeuvre and then the dance began. The first enemy had charged at us, sword drawn back and I had closed the distance, before he could swing, blocked the swinging hand and slammed a hand into his neck area, disarming him in the same motion. Then I cut him down. With a yell, four of the others had charged at me and I stepped sharply to a corner, counting on them to follow. They did, and as they closed in, overtly focused on reaching me, they tumbled into one another – and I cut them down quickly as well.
The others watched me, and I could see doubt beginning to seep into their eyes. I brought the sword all the way down, resting; It is always critical to find rest points right in the middle of combat. One of them lunged at the masseur now, and I charged at them in that instant, partly breaking the focus of the attacker. Then it was cut, cut, cut and then all was quiet in 3 strokes of the sword. By the second cut I had heard a dull thud and knew the masseur had taken care of his attacker. By the time I looked in his direction, he was already back to massaging the temple of the sleeping man. Satisfied, I turned and began to walk off towards the shadows in the corner of the room, when a familiar voice stopped me in my tracks.
At the sounds of that voice, my hair stood on ends. I turned back sharply to see Samael calmly walk into the room. His eyes met mine and as always, I could feel the genuine warmth of his smile washing over my being. His gift was that smile. The masseur had stopped now, and simply stood watching as Samael walked over to him, gazed long and hard at the sleeping man, before looking at me again. The atmosphere in the room was tense, and I didn’t need to look to know that the masseur would be covered in goose bumps at the presence of kind Samael. You see, every time Samael showed up somewhere, it meant only one thing.
Somebody was about to die.
“I will be going into the other room. Would you like to come with me?” Samael said softly. His voice was always gentle, as gentle as his gaze, perfectly complimenting the grace of his walk, and the overwhelming kindness found in the pools that were his eyes.
“Samael, " I had finally found my voice again, "why are you here?”
“The reason, brother, is in the next room”, and with that Samael had slipped through a door that was not far from where the sleeping man lay. I followed him into the other room and paused.
There was only one occupant in this room, also sleeping. Hilda lay under a ceiling fan, her crib adorned with all the beautiful things that a two-year old would love to see, her rosy smooth cheeks right above her little chest that rose and fell as she slept on her back, a faint smile on her face. She was clearly lost in some pleasant dream. In the far corner of the room, I could see the silhouette of her guard as he stood silently in the darkness, watching as Samael and I walked into the room. He had looked at Samael, eyes locked into that gaze that had captured me some moments ago, before he walked over to where Hilda lay sleeping. Then, so gently, like a father would, he had touched her hair with one, and then another finger, stroked her face with all the tenderness that a guard of his ranking can muster – and then closed his eyes at the rustling sound that announced the presence of the newest guest.
Thankfully, what happened next happened quickly. Our guest had walked in quickly without a word at any of us, walked right where to where Hilda lay sleeping, pulled out that cruel sword that all members of his vile group appeared to carry on their person and then had plunged the sword into Hilda. There was no cry, no screaming, no words, just the gasp of a two-year old as she stiffened for a few seconds that seemed like forever, and then she lay still. The sword had been casually pulled back, the owner smiling with contentment, like a goal had been scored, before he turned and walked off into the darkness from whence he came. I watched him go, anger welling up in me, unable to understand what was going on, why this had been allowed, and realising that I would not find the answers I needed here.
As always, Samael had moved quickly. Hilda lay in his arms now, all full of smiles, her gaze never leaving his face as he spoke words to her that I could not hear, but whatever he was saying seemed to keep her delighted as she laughed and grinned like only delightfully two-year olds can. He gave me and her guard a brief nod and with that graceful walk, glided towards the opposite door from where the sword man had made his exit, and then he was gone, again with no sound, into the quiet stillness of the dark night. No one would dare challenge or oppose him, except they were ignorant or plain fools. Samael, though gentle, is the embodiment of a different level of power.
The room was quiet again. There would be tears in the morning, but for now, all I could do was stand with my hand on the shoulder of my friend as he stood there, beside the crib, still stroking the hair of the lovely, lovely Hilda…
(To be Continued...)