Field of a Thousand Swords
“No! Please don’t. Stop. I’ll go for you if you let Kurou live.” Ami screamed.
Yasu lowered his sword and looked up at her with a grin. “That’s more like it. Do you swear?” he asked with a low growl.
Ami nodded as the tears ran down her cheeks.
“That’s not a good answer,” Yasu roared as he raised his sword and pulled Kurou’s head for the final blow.
“Yes! Yes, I swear. I swear on the life of my unborn children. I’ll go to your field of swords and fetch this Reaper’s Toll you are talking about. I swear it. Just let Kurou go.” Ami sobbed.
Yasu grinned wickedly as he lowered his sword. Then he gave Kurou a hard shove to the ground.
Kurou groaned and rolled over to look at Yasu. “No! You must not do this. He already had the Scarlet Terzite. If you give him the sword, he will be unstoppable.”
Ami shook her head and wiped the tears from her face as she shakily to her feet. “He is already unstoppable, Kurou. He defeated all five of us without it. The others are dead or dying. I just want us to live.”
Kurou groaned and refused to look at her.
“I will not look at your face ever again if you do this.”
“I don’t care if you don’t look at me, Kurou. Just knowing that you are still alive will be enough for me. The hope that someday you will look upon me again will be enough.”
“I will never look at you again,” Kurou spat in her direction, and then moaned in pain at the movement. Then he tried to push himself up.
Yasu kicked Kurou in the ribs. Hard. Ami heard ribs crack.
“Please stop it,” she sobbed. “I already said I would fetch your stupid sword. Now, leave him alone.”
Yasu smiled as he kicked Kurou again. “I don’t trust your kind,” he growled. “If I let him up, he’ll do something that would make me want to kill him. I need him alive for you to do what I want. So, it’s best he stay down.”
The large, burly man spat at Kurou who lay groaning at his feet. “Now, go fetch me my sword you snotty, little brat.”
Ami looked up at him pleadingly, “But where is it? How do you want me to get it if you don’t tell me where it is?”
Yasu snorted, “Seriously? You expect me to believe that line. You and your friends attacked me to try and steal the Scarlet Terzite. It’s obvious you wanted it to get to the Field of Swords. Why else would you have come after me like that?”
He reached down and grabbed Kurou by the back of his coat and tossed him over his shoulder.
“Walk in front of me down this way,” he grunted while pointing down the shadowy tunnel.
Ami walked slowly shuffling her feet more than she had to just to buy some extra time.
“What about my friends back there?” she asked.
“What about them? They’re dead. You can come back and bury them after you get me my sword.”
Amy asked him a few other questions, but he didn’t answer. Yasu told her to shut up and keep walking. He paused from time to time when they came to branching tunnels as if trying to remember which way to go.
Finally, he stopped and motioned for her to step inside. She walked into a massive cavern full of exquisite stalactites and stalagmites that had formed over hundreds and thousands of years.
They came to the other side of the cavern and Yasu motioned her through a smaller tunnel that led to another smaller cavern.
A soft blue glow filled the room. It was beautiful. It emanated from a round circle in the middle of the cavern.
“What is that?” she asked.
Yasu guffawed in scorn, “Seriously, you’re still gonna play dumb and act like you don’t know what that is?”
Ami shrugged and looked at him blankly waiting patiently for his reply.
“C’mon! That’s the portal to Sechya.”
“Sechya?” Ami exclaimed. “But that is over a thousand miles away. What’s in Sechya?”
Ami’s sobbing had ceased. She seemed enthralled with the sight of the portal before her.
Yasu scoffed. “That’s where my sword is, and it is far. That’s why you need the portal.”
“But I was told portals like this were dangerous,” Ami exclaimed. “In the stories, my grandmother told me as a child there is always a trap.”
“Of course, to keep others out. Your people built this and set traps to kill my kind.”
“So, what traps are here and how do we get through it?” she asked.
“Not we! You. I’ll stay here with your friend while you fetch me the sword. And don’t even think of trying anything funny. I’ll slit your friend’s throat without thinking twice.”
Ami sniffed and wiped her eyes. “Just tell me what it looks like and how to find it. Quickly, so I can come back and help him before he bleeds out.”
Yasu kept his eyes fixed on her as he pulled a piece of folded paper out of his pocket. He held it by the corner and shook it out so that it unfolded. It was old and brown and tattered and worn.
“Wow!” Ami exclaimed as she stared at Yasu’s crude drawing of a sword. “It looks like you drew that a long time ago. Huh? How long have you been looking for this thing.”
A low growl erupted from Yasu’s throat, “Far too long. Far too long. I spent my life searching for this weapon.”
“Why?” Ami asked.
The grotesque orc stared at her a long moment before answering, “Once I have it, I will exact vengeance upon my enemies. And I will drive them away from this mountain so my people can once more live in peace from those who have enslaved us to dig out the treasures the mountain hides. Then the treasure will be ours once more.”
Ami sensed the passion emanating from him as he spoke.
“So, what does this sword do?” she asked. “Why is it so important to you? And how will it help you?”
She looked back at the portal and squinted. It seemed like she could make out the faint outline of a sword on the other side of the glowing blue light.
“It’s the sharpest blade ever forged here in these mountains. Some say it is so sharp that it could cut through the hardest rock like goat butter in the summer sun. Once I possess it, I will slice through my enemy’s ranks as none of their weapons will be able to withstand me. With the Scarlet Terzite in one hand to protect me, and the Reaper’s Toll in the other, I shall be undefeated and vanquish my enemies.”
Yasu’s low growl increased to a roar so that by the end he was shouting the words at her as his arms flailed wildly. Ami had to wipe bits of slobber from her face with her sleeves.
“Okay, okay. I get it. So, how do I get through the portal then if there are traps? I can’t even see what is on the other side.”
Yasu grinned and pulled out the Scarlet Terzite. He stepped closer to the portal. The blue glow cleared so that they could see through to the other side. Ami could see a field full of swords all stuck into the ground.
“So, that’s why they call it the field of swords,” she muttered. “How did they get there?”
“They were taken there when great warriors died. It’s a safe haven for them where they are protected from the elements until such a time as one worthy to wield them was found. Or at least that’s what the legends say. They say that the Reaper’s Toll was…”
“C’mon, I don’t have all day or Kurou is going to bleed out,” Ami interrupted him. “Let me go get the sword and then you can tell me all about it.”
Yasu cocked his head to the side and looked at her with a pleased look. “Yes, good. Go!” he commanded.
“But what about traps,” Ami asked. “What if I die going through. Then how will you get the sword.”
The orc grunted and frowned as if he hadn’t considered the possibility. “But your kind can go through there. Only I cannot. It is a trap for me.”
Ami shrugged. “Maybe, but there may be something else that triggers it too.”
Yasu smacked his face with his hands and sighed in exasperation. He walked around in a small circle and motioned her through. “Just go. I’ll take my chances. If you die, I will find someone else of your kind.”
“But you won’t have any leverage over them like you have with me and Kurou.”
“Argh!” Yaso roared. “So, what’s your plan woman. What do you suggest?”
Ami shrugged. “We should at least throw somebody through to make sure that portal won’t burn me up like it would you.”
“Haha! Very smart woman. You want me to throw your friend through first and then you will jump through and run away. I am not that stupid.”
“No, I wasn’t thinking of him. I was thinking of the body of my friend that you killed back there. You can throw her through just to make sure nothing will happen to me because I sure don’t want to die going through this portal today.
“Hmmmm…” Yasu growled. “I suppose you are right. I don’t want to have you die. Then who would get my sword for me.”
The bald-headed orc growled and ran his large rough hand over his grisly gray bread as he pondered his options for a moment.
“C’mon! Let’s go fetch the other body,” he finally said.
He threw Kurou over his shoulder and walked back through the tunnels the way they had come. When they arrived back where the fight had started, he pointed at one of the bodies on the ground.
“What?” Ami said. “You’re the big, strong orc. You can carry them both.”
“I’m not doing all the work here,” Yaso growled.
“Well, fine! But the other guy over there is smaller and lighter.”
Yaso set Kurou down and helped Ami heave his body over her shoulder. She staggered and stumbled under his weight as they walked back down the corridor. They had to stop a few times for her to set him down and catch her breath. Yaso had to set Kurou down and help her each time.
They finally made it back to the portal. It had closed again and turned blue. Ami heaved the weight she was carrying to the ground and placed her hands on her knees to catch her breath.
“Let’s go! We don’t have all day. I want my sword.” Yaso complained.
Ami pointed at the portal, “Well, first you have to open it though. Right?”
Yaso snarled at her and looked like he was about to say something but didn’t. He pulled the Scarlet Terzite from his pocket and held it in front of the portal until it cleared. He nodded for her to continue.
Ami picked up her friend’s arm and held it by the sleeve as she tried to push it through.
“It’s not going through,” she huffed. “Maybe he has to go through with the Scarlet Terzite.”
The orc snorted and his nostrils flared. “I’m not giving you the Scarlet Terzite, woman.”
“Well, do you want me to get through this portal or not?” she asked. “You’ve never actually used it before, have you?”
He slapped his thick orc hands to his face and roared as he turned away for a moment. Finally, he turned back and handed it to her.
“Fine, take it. But remember what I’ll do to your friend here if you try anything foolish.”
Ami took the red crystal pendant and placed it in her friend’s hand before pushing it through the portal.
“Be careful,” Yaso yelped. “If it falls out on the other side, we may be stuck her without being able to fetch it.”
Ami looked at him with a scowl but then paused for a second to wrap the chain around her friend’s hand so she could pull his arm back through when needed. Then she pushed his arm right on through the portal.
The orc breathed a giant sigh of relief behind her. He was so close that the sound and feel of his warm breath down her neck startled her so that she almost fell through herself. She jumped back, pulling her friend’s arm and the Scarlet Terzite back with her.
“What are you waiting for? Go on!” Yaso berated her.
“Calm down, orc. It’s my life on the line. I want to make sure there aren’t any of those traps that are going to go off after we get him all the way through. Help me turn him around so we can push his whole body through.”
The orc shook his head, “Not me. I’ve seen what it does to other orcs that get too close to this thing. Other orcs have tried before me. I’ve seen it. It was built to keep us orcs from going through to the other side.”
“So, how did you know that the Scarlet Terzite would get me through,” Ami asked.
Yaso shrugged, “My friend and I overheard two of your kind talking. They said the Scarlet Terzite would open the portal to the Field of a Thousand Swords. So, we took it from them. My friend tried to go through the portal. And it turned him into a pile of mush and goop.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Ami said after a quiet pause. “Let’s push his feet through first.”
“Don’t let the Scarlet Terzite go through,” the orc rumbled in his all-too-familiar growl as he turned her friend around. The orc gave her friend a slight shove through the portal so he was about halfway through.
Ami lifted his upper body up and pushed him the rest of the way through while holding onto his arm. She let his limp body flop through to the other side of the portal and pulled the Scarlet Terzite off his hand at the last second.
“It works,” she shouted with a glance back at the orc.
He waved her forward and she took a step through. The shimmer around the portal had disappeared and the air was completely clear as if the very fabric that separated the two locations no longer existed.
Ami held up her face to the warm sun that she was now standing under and paused with her arms lifted up over her head.
“Hey! Get the sword,” she heard the orc yelling at her.
She turned and grinned at him. “Hang on to your horses there you impatient imp! Do you know how long I’ve been down in that cave and since I’ve felt the rays of the sun warming my body?”
Ami saw his face fill with rage and he flinched as if he were going to leap through the portal at her. She just grinned and looked back at the field around her.
It was full of pink and white flowers. Dozens of swords stuck up out of the ground around them with their sheaths beside them.
She pulled a sword out of the ground and waved it in the air around with masterful skill. She picked up its sheath and slid the sword into it. Then placed it on her side.
Ami turned and smiled at the orc. “Come get your sword, Yaso. I have no idea which one it is, but I think I’m going to keep this one.”
“What?” the orc shouted in a thunderous roar. “I’m going to chop off your friend’s head.”
He slid his sword from its sheath and reached down to grab Kurou’s head in a threatening gesture.
Ami just smiled and shrugged her shoulders as she placed the Scarlet Terzite around her neck.
“Go ahead. You can’t get to me. I’m safe. Do what you want to with him because I didn’t care for him much in the first place.”
The look of shock on the orc’s face at realizing he had been had was classic. He screamed and threw his sword at her. Ami easily dodged it and just kept laughing.
“C’mon, Hibiki!” she said kicking at the body of her friend. “You can get up now. No, need to keep acting.”
Hibiki opened his eyes and smiled at her. “Whew! That was close. I almost threw up when that stinky orc got close to me to help you pick me up.”
He reached a hand up and Ami helped pull him to his feet. “You always were a good actor.”
They glanced over at the orc who had a befuddled look on his face as he tried to process what was going on.
“What?!” Kurou yelled. “You’re going to leave me here to die.”
Ami shrugged. “Sorry, Kurou. That crazy orc would kill us all anyway if we gave him what we wanted. This is what we came for. Right? Our task was to get the Scarlet Terzite and come through the portal. I saw that Hibiki wasn’t really dead like the others. He had only passed out. I just had to improvise after Yaso bested you to get us over here.”
Yaso took a step forward and growled at them, “Careful, woman. You swore an oath on the life of your unborn children that you would get me that sword. Your word is your honor.”
Ami smiled wistfully, “Truth is, that I can’t have kids, Yaso. My doctor told my parents that years ago. So, that’s not something I’ll have to worry about. Is it?”
Yaso let off a string of thunderous curse words in his language that Ami had no idea what he was saying, although she imagined they were probably pretty foul as he took another step forward.
“Careful, Yaso!” the woman cautioned. “You don’t want to turn into a pile of goop and slime like your friend. Do you?”
He held up his hand and pushed it forward slowly. It came through the edge of the portal without anything happening to him. Ami and Hibiki took a nervous step back.
“It seems the portal is wide open. I think you forgot to close it behind you, little lady.” the orc said with a smirk. “When you called me an imp, I almost went into a rage and close enough to sense that the portal’s protection was no longer blocking me.”
Ami pressed closer to Hibiki and whispered for him to grab a sword while she covered him. She began to slide her sword out of its sheath. Hibiki lunged for the nearest sword sticking up out of the ground. But the orc was still faster.
He closed the gap between them and grabbed the hilt of her sword with one hand and slapped her to the side with the other.
The orc spun around and lashed out the tip of Ami’s sword clean through Hibiki’s wrist whose hand fell off still holding the sword he had tried to grab.
Hibiki fell to his knees screaming and clutching his wounded arm with his good hand.
Yaso walked over to the woman who lay sprawled on the ground where she had landed. “What was it that you said about improvising?” he smirked as he circled her.
He waited in front of her as she pulled herself to her knees. Ami had landed on top of a sword and pulled it up behind her back. Hoping that the orc wouldn’t see the tip until she had a chance to use it. Waiting for him to come closer.
Yaso didn’t disappoint. He got right up close in her face. Grinning with that taunting smile.
“Thank you for opening the portal, Ami. Now, I can find my sword myself. This turned out much better than I expected. In fact, I think I see it sticking up right over there.”
As he turned to point to the side, Ami swung her sword out from behind her back and shoved the weapon up into his chest as hard as she could.
He looked down at her in shock. “You don’t cease to amaze me, human. For a female of your kind, you are very resilient and so full of surprises. Too bad you are not one of us. I would take you for my wife. There would never be a dull moment with you around.”
Ami waited for him to step back or fall forward. But when he smiled, she looked down at the sword she had shoved at his chest. She pulled it back. Then sighed in frustration when she realized that the blade had broken.
The orc pushed his fingers through the hole the sword had made in his shirt, exposing the hard leather and chainmail protection he was wearing. He continued holding on to Ami with the other hand.
A glimmer of sunlight flickered in Ami’s eyes and bright flash accompanied by a swishing sound of sweeping sword before it connected with the orc’s thick arm. The orc screamed and let go of Ami immediately.
She fell back to the ground and saw Hibiki looking just as a shocked as the orc did.
“A hand for a hand, and a wrist for a wrist, you orc scum,” Hibiki shouted in gleeful anguish. “No protection there. Huh?”
The orc’s arms were thick and strong, and Hibiki only had one arm to swing the sword with. So, it hadn’t cut clean through the orc flesh and bone but gotten stuck about half way through.
The orc grabbed the handle of the sword with his good hand and roared as he pulled it loose.
“Your kind should know better than to mess with someone like me. You’re weak and pathetic. That’s why I didn’t kill you in the beginning but let you live. I should have followed my instincts and cut your heads off right from the start.” he spat at Ami who was scrambling to get away from him on all fours.
Hibiki was limping over to pick up another sword. He turned to face the orc with his sword pointed in its face. But the orc swatted it to the side. His powerful arm were no match for his scrawnier, punier opponent’s.
Even though he only had one, good arm to swing with, he drew his sword back and brought it straight down on Hibiki’s head, cleaving through his skull.
Yaso didn’t even try to pull it free. He left it there and turned to go after Ami before she became a threat. She had found a sword and was turning around, but Yaso didn’t even bother finding another weapon to face her with.
He simply dodged her attack and swatted her arm in the opposite direction. She attempted to recover and swing back in the other direction. But before she could come back around, the orc smashed her across the face.
Ami fell hard. The sword fell beside her. She lifted her head to look for it, but the world swirled around her from the pain of the blow. She felt around for the sword, but by time her fingers found it, the orc had already stomped his giant foot down on it.
Yaso bent over and swatted her hand away. He picked the sword by the handle, then wiped his face with the back of his other hand. He wiped away the sweat, but ended up smearing blood from his wounded arm which only made matters worse.
The orc spat to the side and stared down at Ami with so much hatred that she could almost feel the rage emanating from him.
“I rue ever considering accepting your offer to get the sword in exchange for your friend’s life,” he growled as he flipped the sword in his hand so the blade faced down.
Yaso raised it over her throat for the final blow. Ami raised her arm and turned her face to protect herself.
She heard the sound of metal slicing through flesh. She felt the splatter of warm blood across her face and body. But she felt no pain.
Ami pulled her arm back and looked up to see Yaso with a large blade sticking out of his throat and another through the middle of his chest.
He dropped his sword and reached up to feel the blade coming through his flesh.
The orc continued to look at her in disbelief as he tried to understand what had just happened. He turned around slowly to face Kurou before falling to his knees.
“What? How?” he said as he fingered the sword coming through the breastplate in his chest.
“I guess you were right about the Reaper’s Toll cutting through anything,” Kurou said before bringing a third sword across the orc’s neck. It took three or four hacks for Kurou to chop off.
“Do you think he’s really dead?” Kurou asked as he pulled the Reaper’s Toll from the orc’s chest.
Then Kurou came over and bent over Ami. She smiled at him and sat up trying to hug him.
“Oh, Kurou! I’m so glad you’re safe.” she said with a sob.
“Oh, save it, woman. Your tears don’t fool me anymore.” he said as he pulled the Scarlet Terzite from her neck. “You left me back there for dead.”
He stood up and walked away. Ami scrambled to her feet.
“Wait! Where are you going? I’m coming with you.”
“I’m going to finish my mission. You can go back to whatever hole you crawled out of before I found you.” he growled.
Ami fell to her knees.
“No, please don’t leave me. Stop. I’ll go with you and fight with you!” Ami screamed after him.
Kurou turned and smiled at the irony of her words before stepping back through the portal and closing it behind him.