Fiction Fantasy Adventure

Kerrigan, short and stocky, stood on the orange, clay road in the middle of rolling, green farmland. He wore a simple tunic and leggings, the ones he could move the most freely in, and rested a hand on the hilt of the single edged sword at his side. He could see his home village in the distance, miles away. 

Bo-Himmon, tall and broad, was about two hundred paces away. When he was close enough, the two would fight to the death. It was a sad and morbid eventuality on that crisp, spring day, but Bo-Himmon had tarnished Kerrigan’s honor by having an affair with Kerrigan’s wife. It was, therefore, Kerrigan’s duty to reclaim his honor with a duel to the death. If Kerrigan did not go through with the duel, then he would forever be a disgraced man in the village. 

A brisk breeze swept across the vast land and fluttered Kerrigan’s black, shoulder-length hair. Everything about Kerrigan, save his blade, was round and unassuming. Bo-Himmon, on the other hand, was seemingly carved from a boulder. He stopped ten strides away from Kerrigan, the threatening, chiseled angles of his body showing under the fabric of his black kimono. Kerrigan felt himself a dumpling facing off against a statue. 

“If you forfeit, I will spare your life,” said Bo-Himmon in his gravely baritone. His thick, bald head and neck glistened under the sun. 

Kerrigan swallowed. His throat always tightened in tense situations. “I challenged you to the death,” he said, strained and squeaky. “I…I do not go back on my word.” 

They allowed another breeze to pass over them. 

“Then I will flatten you to the earth,” rumbled Bo-Himmon and pulled out a battle hammer from a sheath on his back. The head of the hammer was almost as big as Kerrigan’s head. 

Kerrigan swallowed. Why did his wife have to cheat on him with such a brute? Kerrigan’s fighting prowess was limited to a handful of lessons he received in his youth. On top of that, he was a merchant by trade and only exerted himself physically for the occasional odd job around his own home. Truth be told, he had never been in a real fight with anyone in his life.

Kerrigan unsheathed his katana, the metal of the blade signing. “You will pay for what you did with your life.” He said, not even convincing himself. “I put my blood, sweat and tears into my marriage, but you have forever tarnished it.” 

“Ha!” exclaimed Bo-Himmon, his voice booming. “Perrigold was starved for the touch of a real man. I only gave her what you were unable to.” 

Kerrigan turned red at the insult. His grip whitened around the hilt of his sword. His body moved by itself and before he knew it he was charging towards Bo-Himmon with his sword over his head. 

Kerrigan sliced down but Bo-Himmon side-stepped with trained efficiency and shoved the pommel of his hammer into Kerrigan’s exposed ribs, sending the chubby man rolling onto the ground. The blow forced the air out of Kerrigan and before he could take a full breath Bo-Himmon closed the distance between them and swung his battle hammer vertically in a long arch. 

Kerrigan was barely able to squirm out of the way before the head of the hammer connected with the ground where he had just been. 

Kerrigan scrambled to his feet. He must have broken a rib, because the pain in his side would not stop and it hurt to breathe. 

“You are quicker than you look,” said Bo-Himmon, resetting himself in a ready stance, hammer held in two hands out in front of him. 

Kerrigan focused on his breath, trying to ease the pain in his ribs. “Why did you do it?” he said, trying to buy time for himself. “She is married to me.” 

“I took what I wanted,” said Bo-Himmon, “and so did she.” 

This reignited the fire in Kerrigan’s belly. He darted forward and slashed horizontally at Bo-Himmon’s middle. Bo-Himmon jumped back, dodging the strike, and immediately upon landing he thrust the head of his hammer back out towards Kerrigan. 

Kerrigan spun out of the way and swung out again. He connected! Bo-Himmon stumbled back holding a bleeding shoulder. 

“You bastard!” said Bo-Himmon. 

Kerrigan licked his lips. Seeing a successful blow sent adrenaline reverberating through his body. He lunged forward, but Bo-Himmon parried the sword away with the shaft of his hammer and then headbutted Kerigan directly in his nose with a crunch. 

Kerrigan stumbled backwards and fell to the ground. The pain made his vision grow white. Before he could compose himself, Bo-Himmon was forcing the cold, metal head of his hammer into Kerrigan’s neck.

“Yield,” said Bo-Himmon. 

The hammer suffocated Kerrigan’s breath and panic began to rise in him. Before he knew what he was doing, he was mouthing the word “yield.” 

“What was that?” said Bo-Himmon, taking the hammer off Kerrigan’s neck. 

“Yield! Yield!” said Kerrigan. 

“That’s what I thought,” said Bo-Himmon and kicked the sword out of Kerrigan’s hand. The big man then walked backwards a few steps and fell to his knees on the ground in relief.  

Kerrigan laboriously rolled onto his belly and gradually pushed himself onto his feet. He gingerly touched his broken nose and winced in pain. 

Bo-Himmon started to bubble with noise. Kerrigan first thought it was laughing, but looked to see that the big man was sobbing into his hands. 

Bo-Himmon’s hammer rested on the ground. Kerrigan eyed his own sword only paces away from himself. It was a perfect opportunity to strike Bo-Himmon down, if he acted quickly enough. But he stayed where he was. 

“I am ashamed, Kerrigan,” said Bo-Himmon through tears. 

“What?” said Kerrigan in surprise. 

“I knew it was wrong to bed with her,” he said. “But I did it anyway. I am ashamed that I did it anyway.” 

Kerrigan’s nose throbbed with pain and blood trailed down his chin and onto his kimono. He walked over and sat down next to Bo-Himmon. They stared out over the vast, green farmland. 

“I didn’t actually care that you did it,” said Kerrigan. 

Bo-Himmon looked up, surprised. Blood dampened his injured shoulder where Kerrigan had cut him. “Then why did you challenge me?” 

“I guess…” stated Kerrigan. “I guess for the same reason you accepted the challenge.” 

Bo-Himmon grunted. “Because of what other people would think of you.” 

“Yes,” said Kerrigan and he noticed, for the first time, the crops planted around him. “Are those radishes?” He stood up and walked over to a row of planted radishes and pulled on a cluster of green leaves. Out came a red radish from the ground, speckled with dirt. 

Kerrigan took a bite of the radish, dirt and all. It was crunchy and remarkably sweet. “You know what,” he said. “I think this is the best thing I’ve ever eaten.” 

Bo-Himmon stood up and walked over to pull a radish out of the ground too. They ate their radishes next to each other. 

Kerrigan finished his radish and threw its leaves onto the ground. He stepped back onto the clay road and faced the village.

“Will you return?” said Bo-Himmon.

“I think I will go out on my own,” said Kerrigan and turned to walk away from the village. To a place that he could call his own. 

June 08, 2023 19:37

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