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Ghost In Blood by Owen Jones
‘When we are young we believe in the goodness of things, of the innate righteousness of the cause, these first feelings are quickly lost as anger, hatred, betrayal, pain and fear are discovered, suddenly there is the sense of a darker, primal nature at work. A battle that begins with a sense of purpose is discarded in the face of overpowering bloodlust. Reason is sacrificed to the splash of crimson and the rasp of metal on bone. All this is ended by whatever madness the surviving side defines as victory.'
It was reasoning he understood well, yet how many times had he longed for such an event – but the young and foolish, particularly the foolish, often wish for things they have no right to, he chided himself. The soldier among all professions is the most ambiguous, for a man can be a loving husband and father but also a deadly killer, a taker of lives and dreams.
Lost as he was in forgotten moments of happiness, each of the three Chian warriors approaching from Kater's blindside could have been forgiven for thinking their prey an easy target. Indeed, Kater almost didn't block any of several rushed, pre-emptive attacks. Almost, though, is a fine line on such occasions, in this case as fine as each of his dual, ten thousand folded blades that opened the central soldier's jugular deep into the carotid artery.
Before he descended to his knees, panic stricken, trying to prevent his precious lifeblood exploding from the side of his neck, this soldier, if he were so inclined, could have looked across and seen his two comrades lifeless bodies feed the muddy leach on which this ‘righteous' battle was fought.
Kater watched as life left the first soldier's eyes knowing that there was still much to be done.
No further warriors chanced an attack on the ‘Silver Ghost' as Kater marched back to the central command post. This was something that troubled Kater greatly. Many times people had warned the young Kater about being too arrogant, too sure of his own invincibility. Even the wise man of his village, Aesthos, had cautioned "that there will always be someone quicker, stronger, faster and more powerful than you." As Kater's infamous name ‘The Silver Ghost' spread far and wide he had often thought, even hoped, that eventually such a man who could equal or better him would come forth. Much to Kater's consternation that individual never had.
Now any man who claimed to be his equal or superior ended up losing their tongue, if not their life for such a foolish belief.
Such vanity, shadows whispered in corners, would be the Silver Ghost's undoing.
So far such hopes had been nothing but unsubstantiated rumours.
Kater said nothing, it was not vanity but belief.
Often such trains of thought had lead always to the same single, constantly lingering question, ‘Am I unbeatable?'
Yet even this was but the topmost level in an array of confusing circular puzzles, for once, Kater had met a truly brilliant opponent, Nogash the Biare.
Nogash was a peerless swordsman. Deadly with two snake shaped, short swords coated with the blood from hundreds of opponents.