The Song of Steel

When even the buzzards had had their fill, and flew away slowly with red beaks, the old man still stood on legs like tree trunks, his white-maned head low between mighty shoulders. His armor, stained crimson, hung in tatters on his frame. The sword in his hands, nocked from cutting iron and bone, dripped blood from point to pommel.

His enemy stopped his chariot beyond the reach of that mighty steel blade. Even surrounded by his victory-drunk slayers, the the black-cloaked sorcerer did not dare approach the man who stood like a grizzled wolf at bay.

The magic-smith’s words carried like a pestilent wind across the field. “Put down your sword. Your kingdom is fallen, and your last loyal retainer is slain. You will be the proudest trophy in my victory celebration.”

The old king spat blood, his eyes reddened. “I have seen and done all that is sweet and awful under the sun and the moon. Only Death still hides his mysteries from me, and soon, I will rend even those from his bony grasp!”

And he laughed.

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