Swords Beneath the Ocean
by Jeff Baker
AUTHOR’S NOTE: The draws for the March Flash Fiction Draw Challenge were a Horror or Dark Fantasy, set at the Bottom of the Ocean, involving a Broadsword. So I drew my sword and put on my Robert E. Howard hat.
Sorion the Wild stared at the bubble that surrounded the ancient City of the Prophets. The bubble was thin and murky, like the few soap bubbles Sorion had seen. He rubbed his thick biceps with one hand, clenching the hilt of the broadsword with the other. He stared at the curious fish which poked their noses against the bubble which held back the deep dark green of the ocean..
Only the magic of the Prophets of Kesh held back the force of the sea and kept the inside of the bubble filled with fresh air.
Sorion had fought his way to the city through the fabled Tunnel of Snakes beneath the ocean and he wiped the greenish blood off the sword on the sea grasses that grew on the ocean floor. The broadsword had cleaved monsters before and doubtless would again.
“Ho, foolish mortal,” came the voice of the sorcerer. “You are all that stands between myself and the sacred library.. Stand aside or die!”
Sorion did not know how the sorcerer had gotten there. Doubtless by sorcerous means, he did not look like he had fought through a tunnel of serpents. He did know that the sorcerer could not enter the library if it was defended. Powerful magic saw to that.
“I fear no wizard, certainly not you Elam of the Crossed Plains,” Sorion said defiantly, planting his sturdy feet on the somehow dry ground. “Bring on death! I have faced him in combat before and defeated him!”
Sorion stood several hands taller than most men and his arms and legs were the thickness of young trees. His loincloth shimmered with worn threads of gold and the bands around his chest were inlaid with the skulls of the evil ones he had defeated.
Elam the Sorcerer, standing tall next to the bubble wall, waved his ancient arms and a section of bubble parted like a curtain and the water held back as a figure strode through—a skeleton holding a sword, a glint of half-life in its eye sockets, shreds of tattered clothing clinging to its form.
“You face my First Sword-man, my Herald,” Elam called out. “You face death!”
Sorion raised his sword.
The sounds of battle echoed off the bubble and the stone walls of the city. Sorion’s broadsword striking the skeleton’s blade. The scuffing of Sorion’s sealskin boots on the ground. The skittering of the skeleton’s feet, the clatter of its bones with every strike. Sorion’s grunts as he thrusted and struck, missing the bones by a coin’s width.
He imagined every thrust going into the chest of the sorcerer Elam. He saw the bubble, the sea, the skeleton and his sword tinted in a haze of red.
The skeleton’s sword hissed in the air. Sorion felt a sharp tug as some of his hair was sliced off of his head. As the hair was falling to the ground, Sorion swung his sword and this time connected with the skeleton’s spine. Sorion’s sword arced through the air and the skeleton’s ribcage shattered. A backward thrust and the skeleton’s sword arm fell to the ground. Sorion readied a final shattering thrust when something bit into the back of his leg.
The detached arm had slashed out with the sword.
With a howl of rage and pain, Sorion plunged his sword into the skull of Elam’s First Herald.
The skeleton clattered to pieces. The skeletal arm dropped the sword.
The sorcerer laughed and applauded.
“Well done, Sorion the Wild. You have shattered my Herald, but as you will see, he was only the first!”
The bubble-curtain parted again and a line of sword-wielding skeletons marched toward Sorion, swords held high.
“I have an army of all the dead in all the oceans at my command!” Elan said. “How long can you stand and fight?”
The sorcerer cackled evilly.
“And then you will join my army of the unwilling dead. Forever!”
Sorion tensed his muscles and gripped his sword as the skeletons clattered forward their grins fixed in silent laughter.
——–for Robert E. Howard and Ray Harryhausen