TITLE: Lament the Blade
GENRE: YA High Fantasy
Like many boys his age in love with war, Cyran Averne practiced the executioner's art many times on gourds and melons, but all the playacting in the world couldn't prepare him for the real thing.
The shackled convict stood in front of an old tree stump and whimpered, his breath visible in the chill air of the early winter morning. A soldier shoved him to his knees when Master Swordsman Gent arrived and surveyed the group. Battle-hardened, Gent was a survivor of the War of the Long Dark. Scars crisscrossing his cheeks told the tale.
"Which one of you skinny runts is up to a kill?"
Cyran froze. Surely, this was a test, but Cyran didn't know what Gent was testing. Strength? Skill?
When no one stepped forward, Gent pointed to Cyran’s best friend Balar, tallest of the boys, whose bony limbs and gangly appearance got him the nickname 'Scare The Crows'.
Gent held out a huge sword almost as long as Balar was tall. "You'll have to do. Have at him."
"What?" Balar's face blanched. "What do you mean?"
"Separate him from his head."
Balar took the sword, but the blade dropped to the wet earth, the tip sticking in the mud.
"Dark be damned!” Gent took it back and wiped it on his trousers. He shoved Balar to the side. "Who among you can hold a sword?" He walked around the group, eyeing them up and down. "What about you?"
Gent pointed the blade tip at Cyran.