“What is lesson one?”
“Are you kidding me?” Sami’s eyes were unfocused as she swung around to face me.
“No, what is lesson one?”
“You are crazy!” She turned back to look at the horde approaching, looking like they sprang from the ground, multiplying with each breath. Who knows? Perhaps they did.
“I am not alone in the universe!” she shouted as the vanguard closed in, now a leap away.
“Then prove it!” I yelled as the wave of goblins crashed on us. Then I had no breath to spare for talking.
Swing, pull, duck, kick, breathe, repeat.
The reality of a melee never aligned with what the authors and the bards described. It was not romantic or glorious.
It was terrifying, bloody, and abrupt.
No time to think. No time to fear. No time to worry.
I yelled, adding my voice to the cacophony. Silas roared. Sami screamed and didn’t stop screaming. She wouldn’t be aware of it until her voice was lost tomorrow. If we all lived past the next 10 minutes.
Even as goblins piled at my feet, there was no break in the wave. For each that dropped, another took its place. My lungs burned as I slipped on a slick of blood and stabbed a goblin who tried to use my unbalance in his favor. He hacked at my hip as if to cut me literally off at the legs. His blade cut through my apron but clanged on something, surprising us both. I regained my footing and slashed him in two.
“We seem to be at an impasse,” Silas growled as he struck down a goblin with a massive paw then snapped another in two with his jaws.
“Yes.” I couldn’t spare as much breath. “Suggestions?”
“Of course.” Jab, duck, repeat. “Never occurred to me.”
“Your humor is ill timed.”
Humor was the only thing that kept one sane in battle. That or the ability to disassociate.
As if I needed a reminder, as if a clock was not ticking in my head every time I took a breath or swung my sword. Fools who thought themselves wise said sanity was necessary for life. That’s why they are fools.
Sanity is not what keeps you alive. The willingness to fight to survive is what keeps you alive.
So I took a breath and broke my mind in two.