On Life, Death, and All Manner of States in Between (Part 3)

Michael O. Varhola

threw back his cowl, the better to see the threat that had suddenly manifested before him, and spoke slow, sonorous words that, in truth, Arabasz was too distracted to attend to.

Things continued to happen very quickly. The lady, confronted with a horde of shamblers, whipped her sword forward like a lightning stroke to behead the nearest. How so obviously experienced and deadly a personage as she could mistake Arabasz for any sort of undead fiend might not be immediately apparent. However, as has been mentioned previously, Arabasz had already dispatched a headless shambler, a ghoul, and two more shamblers so fortunate as to have retained their full properties, all of this in close combat, in which there was much slicing of this and that and assorted sprayings and splatterings. Now, because of Arabasz’ long experiences with sprayings and splatterings, he did not give it as much concern as another less sanguine soul might have when portions of said sprayings and splatterings landed upon his clothing and person. Thus, when he rose into view at the forefront of a small, but undeniable, horde of undead, looking no less disreputable, and nearly as disgusting as the various monstrosities lurching to their feet or whatever passed for them, around him, the lady’s mistake is understandable.

Which is not to say that Arabasz excused the error. As he rapidly leaned out of the path of the hasty stroke, he cried out, partly, but not entirely, in affront of the lady’s attack. The other portion of his cry, if a cry may be said to be portioned out like pudding, was directed at the crawler now gripping his ankle and aiding in Arabasz’s avoidance of the lady’s sword by the simple and timeless crawler expedient of drawing the foot so attached toward its horrid, undead mouth. Arabasz employed Stork Saves His Foot from the Crocodile while swiping his longsword down in a remarkably ungraceful but effective beheading stroke that he could not, in good conscience allow himself to think of as Lion Deigns to Strike. He then drew his right sword and generally whirled his blades around, severing any limbs near enough to be abbreviated by such treatment. There was no specific maneuver for this in his experience, but later Arabasz thought that it might be dubbed Frenzied Iron Wheel. At the time he could only think of a single syllable, and did not