Duke of Metamor?

by Chris O'kane

Misha stared down at the corpse of the old duke. The stallion's body was still twitching, but he was definitely dead. The lean, rangy fox held up Thomas's severed head as proof of the kill. Misha let out a yowl of triumph and tossed the head of his victim down the steps. It would later join the skulls of all the others hanging from the main gate as warnings to all who opposed Misha's right to rule.

With Thomas dead that left only rival to the Dukedom. Misha turned to Andre. The wolverine was standing at the base of the steps, sword in hand. Fox and wolverine stared at each other for a moment. Andre held up his longsword in a salute "Hail Misha, Duke of Metamor" he said mockingly. "Duke for the moment" he finished with a low growl.

"Lets finish it Andre" Misha said quietly. He hafted his axe and advanced on his rival. Misha was sorry he had lost his shield while fighting Thomas. The horse had put up a good fight, too good a fight. Misha had spent a lot of energy killing him.

Andre waited until his opponent started to swing the axe before he lunged forward. Misha shortened the swing and prematurely brought the blade down, but the axe only sliced stone. The wolverine pulled back then lunged forward, past the axe head. Misha let go of the axe and leaped backward to avoid his opponent's sword. He felt a searing pain in his chest as the sword cut through flesh and bone. "Did that hurt?" Misha's rival asked with an evil grin, as the fox clutched at his side.

It was a deep wound; it had to have punctured a lung. Misha drew a shortsword, and tried to ignore the pain. Andre lunged, launching a storm of blows. Their swords rang as the rivals hacked and slashed at each other. Then the 2 separated. This time Andre clutched at a wound. The blood seeped from a hole in his shoulder.

"I bet that stings" Misha taunted. Andre's final attack came with lightening speed. Misha parried, but just a little too slowly.

The wolverine's sword slid past Misha's blade, and sank into his chest, slicing through flesh and bone. Misha gasped and sank to his knees as the sword dropped from his numb fingers. When the blade sank into Misha's heart Andre taunted him.

"SEVEN, A HIT!" he shouted in a voice loud enough to be heard all over The Deaf Mule. Misha stood up and stared at the game board the words, "COUP DE TATE" was written across one side.

"You need a 9 to hit, not a 7, that means you miss" Misha argued.

Andre shook his head "I have the Sword of Marlborough that's a +2 to hit".

"Where did you get the Sword of Marlborough?" the surprised fox asked.

"You should have gone into the Caverns of Death instead of the Temple of Power" the wolverine explained.

"Blast" was Misha's only answer after a long pause.

"Come on Misha, say it" Andre said smugly, obviously quite pleased with himself.

Misha took a drink of ale and mumbled something into the mug.

"I can't hear you, peasant" the wolverine said in a mock haughty tone.

Misha reluctantly stood up. He gave Andre a long, slow, formal bow "ALL HAIL DUKE ANDRE THE FIRST, DUKE OF METAMOR, " he shouted at the top of his lungs "THIS HUMBLE PEASANT BEGS YOUR FORGIVENESS FOR BEING SO UGLY".

Duke Andre gave a vague wave with his hand and haughtily answered his supplicant "You are forgiven, peasant".

The waitress came up to the table bearing more drinks for both gamers. Misha quickly stood up from his bow and took both mugs. He handed one drink to Andre and put the other in front of himself. "Pay the woman, servant" Andre said the haughty look still on his face. As Misha handed the appropriate amount of coin to the waitress, she shook her head in amazement.

Ande's solemn demeanor broke into a warm laugh "What's wrong Sally, no harm in a little role playing for amusement". Misha nodded in agreement.

"You two take that game too seriously" she answered.

Misha patted her on the back "Relax Sally, this " he stated holding up a small painted figure of Duke Thomas "is the only Duke that we'll ever try to kill". Sally turned and started back for the bar. "Besides, the ducal robes are too big for either of us" Misha said, and both gamers laughed.