(continuing the novella that begins here…)
Broken Blade: chapter 2
“Broken Blade, huh? Put your right foot up on the plate.”
Blade obeyed, but didn’t answer the implied question. She rubbed her wrists, exploring the texture of skin that hadn’t seen the light for several days, and watched as the big man took his hammer and chisel to her ankle chains.
“Do you have a name?” she asked, feeling faintly interested. Big man seemed about right. He wasn’t as big as Mount had been, but he was tall enough, and heavily muscled, with a way of moving that seemed effortlessly powerful.
“Sword,” he answered, his big hands prising open the binder around her shin. She wasn’t quite sure if it was a name. “Left foot.”
A few sharp chimes of metal on metal, and the final manacle was off. She smiled, flexing her toes, and then turned the smile on him. “Thanks.”
He shrugged, hiding his reaction in his eyes, then laying down his tools, and standing up full height, looking at her. “It’s work.”
She looked up at him. “Blacksmith work, or train-her-as-a-gladiator work?”
“Either.” He wiped his hands on a rag, then pulled off his heavy leather apron. “You fought before?”
She lifted an eyebrow at the strength and definition of his bare chest. “Not in the ring,” she shrugged. “I had hand-to-hand training, though.”
He studied her, like a fighter wondering if she was the weapon he wanted to use today. “Edged weapons?”
“A little.” She didn’t want to say much more, but she appreciated the professional, almost indifferent way he looked at her. We can get on, she decided.
“How did you get your name?” He turned away, busying himself with something in the forge. The muscles of his back rippled, and she saw the old scars.
“It was just Blade, once,” she answered, rubbing her wrists again, resisting the urge to follow him into his den. “Then I got broken. I’ve been the Lord Executor’s valetta for the past two years.”
A brief pause.
“So you can still fight,” he said, turning round and looking at her, eyes assessing her form. “Broken Blade. A street weapon, improvised, but short enough to hide, and good for stabbing people in the guts.”
She grinned at that, surprising herself. “You could say that.”
“Okay.” He moved across the room, confident and poised. This time, she followed. “Let’s get you out on the sand, and find out what we’ve got to work with.”
(… continued in chapter 3!)