The sun setting behind us, long shadows painting the cliff wall on either side; as the Captain of the Kings Guard I didn’t like it at all, but with howls of fury behind us, it was our only choice.
I wasn’t worried when he stepped out from a boulder ahead; dull gray and black armor; horned helm and a massive greatsword. Fear boiled off of him like summer heat, my score of guards wilting before him. He did not fight as much as he walked towards my charge; those that didnt break meeting casual death underneath his greatsword. I studied his inevitable progress; carnage and gore dripping from his work.
Only three of us remained, the princess, her servant, the lowborn Speaker, and myself.
I readied myself, assuming Tiger in the Tree; his first blow staggering me regardless. He followed up with Bear falls down the Mountain, his repeated blows striking sparks in the setting sun's light. I was going to die on this mountain pass. Everything in me screamed to flee, but he would cut me down like the others. I froze. His blade drew back.
Then Ren, quiet, tiny Ren,stepped out of his tall his shadow as if it were a doorway. Dressed in her Truth Speaker’s simple white, the top of her head barely to the man’s waist.
He casually swung his sword towards her neck, a small movement of her hips shifting her head so the sword missed by a hairs breadth. The blood from his sword spraying across her face. Her serene face quivered, and her eyes widened.
The fear had taken hold.
She exhaled, and it was as if a wave of calm washed over her. His follow through with Falcon Takes the Mouse would have cut her in two, but she ducked casually towards him inside and under the blow, forcing him off balance. Her hand was open a few inches from his chest but a fist upon impact; but then he was aloft flying a dozen feet over the edge.
He did not scream as he fell,his eyes and face without emotion as he disappeared below. I’m not certain that he met his end, but surely, without Ren, the Head Gardener’s daughter, we three would have met our end to his Executioner’s Step.