CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER TWO

Shin Fehr stalked stealthily through the tall grass of the Resamie Plains. He was so close to the border just a few more kilometers and he would be within Lystria. Those tracking the crown prince of Keldreal weren't far behind and were his own people, no less. They had been after him ever since he went rogue for his own personal reasons. In order to slow down and elude his pursuers he had usually traveled during the night, but he would forego sleep now that he was so close to the border. During the two week exodus he had set traps and ambushes, he had eventually eliminated every one of soldiers except one. Shin held no illusion that the one left would stop the chase once he crossed. What those in Lystria didn't know wouldn't harm them. His only chance would be to finish him.

It was a strange feeling, being betrayed by his family, friends, and countrymen yet he was the one deserting. The ruling classes were doing the most hideous things that he didn't agree with, worse yet was that he knew these people. Shin valued and respected these people in the past, but something happened and they changed drastically. He could no longer be a part of their agenda even if it meant his life.

His cat-tail swished and whispered along the stalks of waist high grass. He halted the nervous motion and froze dead. Feline ears twitched and rotated a full ninety degrees trying to catch the odd noise which didn't belong. With his spear held tight, the renegade prince crept forward soundlessly. Something was out of place. It shouldn't be this easy, which only meant one thing, an ambush. Luckily he was ready for a fight and had the opportunity to train with the best Keldreal had to offer ever since he was old enough to hold a blade.

"Trem! I know your out here, and I know you won't let me just me cross the border peacefully. Come out and face me in honourable combat instead of sulking around like a wretched coward."

A rustle of tall prairie grass and the other Kajarien appeared willfully, "Well I guess there's no more use hiding. I'll give you one more chance to come back or die for high treason and murder."

Shin simply shook his head and wagged a finger, "I can't do that. Too much is at stake for our country and I won't let the royal court destroy the peace for their greedy ends. No one is listening to reason, but you have your orders, don't you?"

"Yes and that won't change even if I've been your bodyguard since you were a cub." Trem's hand rested casually on the hilt of his sword, an underlying threat of close imminent death pervaded this simple motion.

With an explicit gesture from his hand he growled, "Fine then, that's just too damn bad. A real shame for our relationship to end with you dieing."

Trem snorted contemptuously, "You really think you can beat the one who mentored you? I know I taught you better then to be so arrogant and foolish."

"Is that right? Well, I've had the chance to go beyond you with multiple teachers. I thought I taught you to think for yourself once in a while! You can see with your own eyes what's become of the royal court. They're nothing but warmongers now. Something bad happened, something real bad and I'm gonna do something about it. Even if I have to kick your ass, you hear me!? I killed the others under your command just to come this far, so I'll kill you to get the rest of the way."

"Don't you dare address the dead in such a manner. I, for one, honour their sacrifice."

"Dead is dead, mange spreader. Soon you will be too. My intentions are sound and I have thought this out, believe it or not. I won't let you stand in my way and let our country be destroyed."

Trem let loose a ferocious battle growl and launched himself at Shin while drawing his blade free at the same time. Shin was waiting for the first strike, in fact all his insults were to make him give away his first move and throw Trem into a fit of rage. Shin whacked the blade from its intended course with the butt end of his spear while spinning out of the way of Trem's forward momentum. The harden soldier spun around and recovered far too rapidly for Trem to capitalize on the lapse in judgment. Obviously Trem's discipline and experience had kicked in.

Cursing under his breath he quickly fell back into a more defensive position, Shin had hoped to end the battle quickly. Someone with Trem's skill was too dangerous to draw out into an extended fight. The prince knew he had no chance against Trem in a fair fight so he had to take advantage of his sense of honour and pride. The only thing Shin had going for him was his ability to outwit Trem and force him to make a mistake. While not weak, Shin did have knowledge from multiple teachers to draw upon. Still that combine with the reach advantage of his weapon might not be enough to keep him alive.

With a few quick strikes Trem tested Shin's defenses and with a calculating mind was trying to determine a way underneath or around the spear. During their sparring matches Trem had once told him not to be intimidated by a weapon simply because it was different and to not only think of ways around the weapon but also ways around your opponents' weaknesses when faced with such weapons as well. The weapon wasn't even half of the problem Trem was facing here, it was him.

Another problem was that they knew each other so well that it was hard to get past certain limitations when they each were doing their best to cover up their weak points. The combatants panted as the fight dragged on, which soon became a confrontation of attrition. They traded blows and despite their best efforts neither could gain the upper hand on the other. Shin was tiring and it was starting to show in his form, if this kept on much longer he was sure to make a fatal error. He had to end this fight quickly. Forfeiting protecting himself Shin put his effort into an all out offensive, he pressed Trem back step after step in a deadly gamble. Even still Trem was too skillful and deflected each blow but Shin could tell Trem was having difficulties adapting to his change in tactics.

Sweeping the spear low he feinted just as it was about to land and with a flick of the wrist quickly trusted around Trem's blade which was going low to stop the false strike. The tip of the spear landed squarely in Trem's abdomen. He knew that such a blow wouldn't be fatal to Trem in any short order so Shin immediately followed it with another jab higher up in his chest. Crimson blood glisten in the setting sun as Shin pulled his spear free and the red droplets sprayed the area. The prince then snapped a kick squarely into his former bodyguard's chest, his golden eyes watched Trem intently as he wheezed and hacked up blood. His ears lowered and a slight frown formed on his lips.

"Trem. How many more must die until something is done? I never wanted this to happen but as you can see my hand has been forced. I really don't give a damn whether you believe me or not I just wanted to make my peace with you before you died. Oh, and don't worry, you have died a warrior's death so as such I will give you a warrior's burial. Personally I think you threw your life away you dumb shit head," tears streamed unbidden down his furry cheeks. "Why? It just seems so senseless. What a stupid way for anyone to die."

After short gasping breaths the veteran warrior forced his mouth to speak words, "I have thrown my life away because it was my duty, Shin. I'm a soldier I follow orders without question. That was my lot in this life. I am finely free from it now in death. I can rest easy knowing that I have done my duty at least. I believe you. You did teach me to think for myself and I have seen the corruption. I am glad you are the one to do something about it because I could not. Shin… I don't blame you."

Those were the last words spoken by Trem Omar. The Kajarien lay still in the prairie fallow that was to be his grave. Late into the night a young prince piled rocks on top of a mentor and a friend whom he killed.