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You learn more from your mistakes than your successes.
So here I am to try, and to fail, so I can learn.
Paul Fail. For The Win!

22 April 2011

#FridayFlash: An Eighth of Copper


Friday Flash
An Eighth of Copper
©2011 D. Paul Angel
891 Words

The metal in the Weapons numbed my hands. They were already cold. The sun was rising as we walked up the Mesa, but it had not yet reached inside. Down into the sunken arena where the Trial Ring was. I had helped my Master before many times but never with an Opponent like this. I was pulling out the Weapons and placing them by the Ring for Master's use in the Trial. I usually talked with Master while I did this. I liked tlaking with Master. But today he and the Opponent were talking to the Judge. They were speaking with the Old Words. It was hard to understand, but I could tell the Opponent looked pleased.

Master had explained to me before we left what the Opponent would say to the Judge. He would be upset that our client was a woman. He said there was no specific rule against women being clients, they were just forbidden from touching Coin. Since We were forbidden from representing someone without receiving Coin, there could be no way for a woman to be a Client. Our Client's husband had died though. He gave the Coin to Master just before he died. The Coin that Master now showed the Judge. The Opponent did not look pleased anymore. I was happy for Master. Master never looked pleased. Sometimes I had to be pleased for him.

The Opponent went back to his side as Master came to me. Each had seven Weapons they could use, but they could only use the one handed to them by an Assistant. I was Master's Assistant. The Opponent had six assistants. One for each Weapon. They would all offer their Weapon and the Opponent could choose which one to use. Master could only take what I offered, so I had to make sure I knew what he wanted. I was always scared I would hold up the wrong Weapon for Master. Master never seemed to worry about it though. He always won, too.

Our client sat behind me. Her whimperings and murmurs were distracting, but Master had told me to expect them. She was a simple woman. Her husband was killed by the Opponents client. It took him long enough to die that he hired Master to avenge him. The Opponent's Client was very mean. He was also very rich. The Coin my Master had was an Eighth of Copper. The Opponent's Client had a bag of Gold Coin between him and his wife. He looked smug. She looked arrogant. I hated them both.

Master returned from the Conference and knelt before me. He looked very old and frail compared to the Opponent. I was worried. Master told me not to be. He knew much that the Opponent did not. Master had many of the books that came from before The Fall. He spoke of Science, Logic, and Justice, but I found them very confusing. They only existed in the Old Words. Master did say that women once could handle Coin. They were even leaders and powerful individuals. But that no one trusted the Old Ways after The Fall. Master believed we would return there again. To the Old Ways. He said it would take many long lifetimes though. Master knew so much I believed him.

Master rubbed some sand between his hands. I offered him his Sword and Shield, but he shook his head. Instead I offered him his Spear. He smiled as he felt its heft. Master rarely smiled. But it always made me feel better when he did.

The Judge rang a bell and the Combat began. It would decide if the Opponent's client was guilty or not. Our client kept gasping every time the Weapons struck. The opponent had Sword and Shield, but Master pierced the shield with his spear. The Opponent had to discard it, but Master was now without Weapon. Master turned to me and I offered him Knives. I don't know why. I would normally offer Sword again, but Master liked the choice. He winked at me. Master never winks.

They moved about the fighting pit as the Sun climbed. They were sweating a lot. The opponent looked more tired than Master, but it was hard to tell. Master kept his distance. He never advanced. He never let the Opponent get too close. The opponent was frustrated.

Then the Master threw his knife. The Opponent easily ducked, but the knife flew past him. The Knife stuck the opponent's Client in the eye. He opened his mouth to shout but no sound came out. Then he slumped backwards into his wife's arms. He died quickly and she started screaming. The sand absorbed a lot of the blood but she was still covered in it.

The Opponent looked furious. Even the Opponent's Assistants glared at Master in anger. Master ignored them and held up his arms. He demanded the Judge hear him. The Judge rang the bell again. Master and the Opponent stopped and looked at him. Master spoke slowly to the Judge. I could just make out enough of the Old Words to know what Master said. Master demanded proof of payment. Just like the Opponent had earlier.

Everyone turned. The bag of Gold Coin still sat next to the dead client. His wife still cradled him. She was still crying. She could not touch the Coin.


15 comments:

  1. Wait, a world in which women can't touch coin is post-Fall?

    :-)

    marc nash

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  2. A very interesting world that you have drawn here, the MC talks like a serf from the Olde Worlde days, but I get the feeling that it is set in the far future of a post-apocalyptic era.

    I like the surprising way the story was rounded off too.

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  3. Marc - Thanks for the comment! Everythign goes to hell after the Fall :-)

    Steve - Thanks for your thoughts! There is a deep, deep satisfaction as a writer when someone reads your story with no background or context and "gets it!" Whether they love it or hate it, at least you conveyed it. That is totally the world I was trying to create :-)

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  4. Liked it! Very engaging.

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  5. I was really drawn in from the begining and this voice was fantastic.

    I loved this, and must say this is so far my fav flash this week.

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  6. Laura - Thanks! I'm glad it kept interest.

    Michael - Thank you for the kind words. I found doing this voice was far more difficult than I had expected. I realize in my own voice I use long, complex sentences and I kept having to cut them down. I also tend towards adding adjectives and many of them had to be left behind as well. I am thankful that it worked and grateful for you letting me know :-)

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  7. This was enjoyable all the way around. The narration was great, the world you created is quite interesting, and the ending was perfect. Great job!

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  8. Chuck - Thanks you good sir! I've been in the legal field as my day job for awhile now. I've always wondered if this is how it would end up :-)

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  9. This is a very interesting world and I like the way you wrote it. Very enjoyable.

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  10. Sonia - Thanks! I just finished reading your post on POV, and, as I mentioned there, this story didn't really take into I switched from the Third to the First.

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  11. Cleverly written. I like this well thought-out world and the way the woman not touching coin works in the ending in an unexpected way.

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  12. Very interesting world you created. Lawyers battling for their clients. Hmmmm... :) I like the ending too.

    Just one question, as I might have gotten confused, could Master reject a weapon that was offered by the Assistant? I thought they couldn't.

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  13. Aidan - Thanks for the comment! hubris has a way of catching up with us all, eh?

    Mari - Thanks for your thoughts. And no, a Master cannot refuse a weapon offered by his Assistant. That's what puts Master in such a tricky position. Especially since his Opponent is rich enough to have one Assistant per weapon. It also means Master has to trust his Assistant, whereas teh opponent does not.

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  14. I don't know how I missed this one last week! It's really good. I felt like I was sitting ring side watching the whole of this event unfold. It too felt futuristic to me. I was intrigued by the idea of disputes being settled this way. The ending was perfect.

    Sorry for being so late coming here.But glad I found it.

    Helen from helen-scribbles.com

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  15. Helen - I think your timing was just awesome, all the more so from taking me away from an unlucky 13 comments :-) I am glad you enjoyed it!

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Thank you for taking the time to comment, I greatly appreciate it. Kind words are always nice, but please do not hesitate to give me criticism as well. I want to learn and write better, and your critiques are a huge help in that. Thanks!