A matter of honour

A story from the forgotten history of Alter-earth

Loophole

“You’re insane, you do know that?” enquired Mim.

“Why?” challenged Da N’tan.

“The little turd is up to something!” she asserted.

“Mim, you know I can easily best Treddan, the ugly scrotum is a weakling!”

Leofric Da N’tan had been challenged to fight the brother of Cynewulf Boneshaker who he had slain at Wrocenset after the rescue of Edythe Hardrada. The worm had somehow got the Cyning’s reeve to put it before Ailef and now Da N’tan had to meet it or suffer dishonour, according to the rules he was allowed to bring a second.

He had wanted to bring Wassa of the Scar but had been talked into bringing Mim along instead. “Why in Tiw’s name did I bring you?”

“Because I am good company and fair to the eye,” she replied with a smile. “And because Saewine insisted.

He couldn’t argue with that. Red-haired Mim was slim, graceful and a powerful seer to boot but he would have preferred Wassa’s mighty axe at his side whatever the shaman may say.

They rode to the appointed meeting place before an old ruin from the days of Rome, to find Treddan already waiting there with his man-at-arms.

Upon seeing Leofric he bared his teeth. “Wassael, Son of Scartho you are ready to die I hope?”

“Nay, Treddan the Trampler, brothur of Cynwulf, though I am ready to kill you soon enough!”

Treddan regarded Mim. “Who’s the tender morsel with you? I shall enjoy her after I have covered the earth with your blood.”

“Cachu bant ti cachu mes!” spat the red-haired Brython.

“What?”

“You heard ffwl.” She replied.

“Who did you bribe to get the Reeve to issue this challenge Treddan?” asked Da N’tan.

“It matters not to you, Scarthling, for your days are ending!” he replied, glancing briefly towards the ruins.

“Then why not tell him you pathetic braggart or are you just a shit-scared coward?” Mim was stirring him up.

“Ha-ha, I am going to hurt you when I take you, red-hair. Since you are to die I will tell you this, Leofric of Scartho, it was none other than Ailef’s own trusted man the Reeve himself!” replied Treddan boastfully.

“Good enough!” started Mim and quickly unlimbering her bow she shot an arrow straight and true through a slit in the old Roman wall, a strangulated cry followed as the archer hidden there fell with an arrow through his throat then before anyone could move she drew again to take Treddan’s man-at-arms from his horse. “Do you still wish you had brought Wassa?”

“You Brythons and your bows, and Saewine saw all this?” asked Da N’tan.

“He saw treachery, a wall and a hidden archer, Leif, when is he ever wrong?” she answered with a smile.

Da N’tan looked to Treddan who, now alone, drew his sword nervously as the warrior approached hefting his runed war-axe “Now it’s just you and me, Brothur of Cynewulf, I’ll deal with the Cyning’s treacherous Reeve later.”