An man sits on a wagon made from the remains of an ancient truck bed next to his son. The cart moved along, being pulled by buffalo sized creatures jokingly referred to as Bully Goats. As they went the man opened an old book to read to his son.
"You sure you want to hear this one again, its gotta be the hundredth time?"
The boy gave a grinning nod as the man read on, "No one knows where the blades came from, some said they fell from the sky, some claim they were already here from a time before the ancients. All that is known is that they were discovered at a time when the world was ruled by lost science, houses were lit by bottled lightning and carts required no beasts to pull them."
The man looked to the boy furrowing his brow, "Get to the good stuff."
He chuckled a bit, "Okay then. Now when the blades arrived it didn't take long for their power to be discovered, The great scythe known as the Reapers Arm was found by a hateful man who feared his god was angry with the world for choosing their science over their faith. He gathered a great army of blade wielders to force the world to return to old ways. His greatest warrior was a man with no faith in any god and joined only for the promise of riches, he wielded the broad sword known simply as the wolf."
"In response a force rose up to stop the forces of the Reaper's Arm. A great man took up the axe called the Angel's Wrath and gathered an army of his own. This is the army we call the Marshals now."
The man looked to the boy staring at his shoes while he waited for his father to get past what he considered tedious detail. He sighed and flipped a few pages forward, The clash of the Reaper's Arm and the Angel's Wrath had brought the world to the brink of destruction. As this was going on a force led by the Wielder of the Wolf neared a library said to be the last vestige of the knowledge of the ancients."
"The Wolf slaughtered his enemies at first but halted when he saw a young warrior doing the same to his own forces. The young man wielded a short sword called Coyote. The two men made their way across the field to each other. The blades seemed to call to one another, unknown to the warriors, these blades had been intended as a pair and were never meant to clash. As they met a wave of power swept the armies away...."
The man stopped his story as several armed men stood before the bridge they intended to cross. The leader of the group stepped forward, "Sorry to interrupt the story, but this bridge has a toll."
The man grew nervous, "I have no gold, we are heading to the nearest village hoping to sell some crops."
One of the men shook his head, "Tsk, tsk, that just won't do."
He eyed the boy, "Though I bet what we could get from slavers from a good strong boy like that could cover your passage."
As they moved toward the wagon one noticed a somewhat short man crossing the bridge from the other side. He had a large bag and an even larger battle axe strapped to his back and on his hips he held two sheathed swords, a broad sword on the right, and a short sword on the left.
One of the bandits walked toward him, "I guess nobody pays attention to tolls now."
As he drew near the man with the bag he seemed unconcerned. The bandit reached to grab him but the man quickly drew his short sword, taking the bandits arm before he'd even seen the blade. The leader of the bandits began to speak but the short sword flew through the air and buried itself in his chest. The man then looked to the rest of the bandits with his hand on the hilt of his broad sword, "How about the rest of you drop your weapons and run along."
They obeyed his words without hesitation. The boy's eyes went wide as he noticed the hilt of the short sword in the bandit's chest was topped with a silver coyote's head. His father hopped down to thank the man but noticed him leafing through some paper as he looked on the bandit, "Well, I guess he'll cover a night in the inn."
The man from the wagon gave an annoyed look, "Are you a bounty hunter, or a Sell Sword?"
The man shrugged, "Well I do sell swords, but I'm no mercenary. As for the bounty, well no sense letting it go to waste."
As he gathered up the weapons he looked on the wagon, "You know, I could help you out with something more threatening than a rake to defend your crops."
The farmer grimaced, "I have no money."
The man nodded, "Well, tell you what. This ax is heavy as hell and carrying it and my bounty here is going to be a pain. So how about I trade you for a few of those apples and we call it square."
He held the ax out to show the farmer, "Its not a bad deal."
The farmer nodded and took the ax. The man then looked to the boy and tossed him a small sheathed dagger, "Here kid, consider it compensation for helping with the bounty."
After taking some apples he sheathed the Coyote short sword and tossed the bandit on his shoulder and walked on. After he was out of sight the boy looked up to his father, "That man had the Wolf and the Coyote."
The man patted his son on the head and chuckled, "Don't be silly, boy."
A few miles down the road near an outpost for the army known as the Marshals the man began to feel exhausted. A few marshals rode up, "We seem to have a bandit slayer."
The man looked up, "Is that against the law?"
The marshal shrugged, "Probably, but you saved me some trouble so I'll let it slide."
A one eyed marshal rode up and stared hard at him, "Maybe we should take those blades as a fine."
He looked up with a grin, "You're welcome to try."
The one eyed man hopped off his horse and they stared hard at each other, making a young marshal nervous. Suddenly the two burst out laughing. The one eyed Marshal clapped a hand on his shoulder, "Its been too long Vargas."
The young one looked confused but the other marshal turned to him, "Vargas is Victor's brother. Good thing too cause if those two had to fight the whole damn county might get turned into a crater."
Victor chuckled as he patted the massive ax on his back, "Nonsense, Big Bear could curb his little dogs with ease."
Vargas grinned, "You sure about that? I heard them bones creaking when you got off the horse, maybe you can't swing that thing?"
Victor took Big Bear off his back and swung sending a massive blade of wind that sounded like the roar of a bear toward several tress felling them as they blasted through, "That work for you, little man?"
Vargas looked at the strained expression on his brother's face, "Did you throw your back out?"
"Shut up, boy."
Later at the outpost inn Vargas was counting his gold from the bounty as Victor sat down next to him, "You know, my offer still stands."
Vargas rolled his eyes, "I can't be a marshal, I don't have the patience for it. I'd end up in a stockade in a week."
Victor shrugged, "You could name drop the old man and get a command."
"Would you do that?"
Victor looked indignant, "Hell no, I wouldn't give the old bastard the satisfaction."
Vargas shrugged, " I saw his grave up by the capital a while back. They planted a big marble statue of him waving the Wrath around."
Victor burst out laughing, "Glad to here it, he'd of hated that. Here's hoping the demons in hell let him see it."
The young marshal named Clive looked to his elder named Reeve, "Who are they talking about?"
"Magnus of the Angel's Wrath, he was their father. Apparently he wasn't quite the hero he's made out to be. See Victor was nearly a grown man when Vargus was born. His mother died before seeing him and Magnus was always away in battle or just away so Victor raised the boy. Victor had never been too fond of the old man anyway so when Vargas was twelve and he came around talking about his boy earning a blade Victor was not too pleased. Magnus dragged the boy out to the blood wood by the Needle Point ruins and left him there. No one knows exactly what happened but he was missing for a couple years. He came back with the Wolf and Coyote and a bitter hatred for his father. Some people claim he actually glimpsed the Reaper's Arm and scared his soul with the evil of it but he always laughs that off as a myth. They offered Victor the Angel's Wrath after Magnus died but he said he'd just as soon toss it in the ocean."
A cloaked man looks on the ruins of the city once known as Seattle. He notices a forest just beyond a fallen building that people now refer to as Needle Point. The forest is an odd place, the trees bare blood red leaves year round. Legend has it that this was the site of the final battle of the reaper war, where the Reaper's Arm clashed with the Angel's Wrath and destroyed the world of the ancients.
The cloaked man walked deep into the Blood wood until he came upon a stone where he found the Reaper's Arm stuck in a large rock with a decayed hand gripping it. The rocks and trees surrounding it had years old scars. It looked as if a giant dog had scraped his claws across the half mile of land behind the scythe. The cloaked man looked down on a third of a skeleton. It had been cleanly cut in thirds but was missing a hand.
The man tossed away the hand and yanked the scythe free. The sky itself seemed to scream as he lifted it. He looked down on the dead man, "If you had been worthy of this, there's no way a child with those dog swords could have defeated you."
He then swung the scythe and grinned as the trees around him rotted and fell.
(To be continued.)