Listening (Not What She Expected XXX)

03 Dec 2022  C. chou  15 mins read.

Raising a hand to silence the group behind him, Xev paused in his steps and squinted into the space ahead. A distinctly familiar set of sounds rang out from somewhere beyond the combination of tree trunks, shrubs, and overhanging leaves. Sounds that he would’ve expected to hear at this part of the forest. Not with the army’s general reluctance to send men this far in. Not with the hoops he had to jump through and the terms that he had to offer to finally get his supervisors to allow him to gather a team for this. Still, there was no mistaking those sounds.

As a man experienced with the blade, he was more than familiar with the sounds of metal colliding with other surfaces. Swordplay wasn’t uncommon, in fact, in the hands of a skilled user, it was one of the most efficient ways to kill a petrification worm. However, it wasn’t the blade usage that caught his attention, but the way it was used. From what he could tell, he was reasonably certain that there was at least one upper tiered swordsman present. Judging by the frequency and hardness of each of audible blow, alone, the person ahead was likely at least a supreme tier. Even so, something was off about this entire thing. Something that he couldn’t quite put a finger on.

He’d traveled quite a bit and met no shortage of skilled sword users in his time serving in the army. From his experience, something extremely unusual about the way that the figure in the distance used the sword. Then it struck him. From the sounds, the fighter up ahead wasn’t using any of the defined patterns that he’d come to recognize as a critical part of supreme-tiered swordplay. Yet at the same time, the way the blade cut through the air and struck was more than what the average upper-tiered swordsman should’ve been capable of.

He turned toward his men. From the questioning looks on their faces, it was clear that they could also hear the fight. Before his sister’s foolish excursion, coming so far into the forest was practically unheard of. Yet, behind him was another person that was crazy enough to enter the darkness of the trees. Someone insane enough to not only step foot in a place that the military had previously declared off-limits, but had also ventured deep enough to be there alongside them. But that wasn’t the thing that shocked Xev the most. What was even more surprising was that, when he strained his ears, Xev was almost certain that the fighter, in the darkness, was none other than a citizen from their country. Even worse, despite his initial assessment of the individual’s strength, it appeared that the stranger was losing.

Placing a hand on his sword hilt and motioning his men to stay put with the other, Xev moved toward the source of sound. Under normal circumstances, it would’ve been wiser to have one of their team’s scouts investigate the area before making a move, but nothing in that they’d encountered this far into the forest could really be described as “normal”. His men were trained to take down petrification worms at the edges of the forest, not venture into its depths and certainly not to challenge the dangers offered by the unknown. Among the men, he had the greatest odds of escaping if the rescue mission went wrong and he wasn’t abandoning a citizen, not to mention a potentially valuable asset of their country, behind when he had the ability to do otherwise. Carefully moving along the trees and doing his best to remain shrouded, he drew on the energy within himself and silently infused his weapon.

C. Chou
C. Chou

A writer that loves cabbages and bamboo, but also enjoys writing and sharing fiction (particularly the fantasy genre). Find me on Medium at: