Overkill by Lawenta

Fanfiction
Overkill by Lawenta
Characters: Rannon, Narcissus
Summary: A session of light friendly  sparring suddenly turns serious when blood is drawn.
For art and other works inspired by this, click here.

The sweet rush of victory was great while it lasted.

Then reason kicked in, and with it the sick realization just whose ego he’d decided to stroke by challenging him to a session of light sparring.

That plan went horribly wrong.

Truly, horribly wrong.

Rannon ZanTaoyaka, his sparring partner, his unlikely protector in this forsaken place, the man on whose mercy he and Ebenholtz both depended with their very lives, didn’t even blink, just lifted an expectant eyebrow.

Below that unwavering pale gaze, Narcissus’s knife cut so close to his jugular that he felt every heartbeat passing through it.

This was a man who had undoubtedly killed for less. The former tyrant of Kayalana, the legendary swordsman and even more legendary strategist – royal blood ran the length of the blade towards Narcissus’s fist to drip, drip to the floor.

To kill him now would be in supremely bad taste.

More importantly, it wouldn’t save Narcissus in the long run.

His hand was beginning to shake, which didn’t make his problem any better.

He made a hasty step back and dropped both knives, flinching at the jarring sound they made on the stone floor.

Obligingly, his opponent lifted his sword so that it didn’t cut Narcissus’s shoulder as he withdrew. Good sign, right?

Narcissus gave his best apologetic smile. It was only a little shaky around the edges, if he said so himself.

“That was unfortunate. I-“

An unhurried arc of the sword cut his voice rather effectively rather short. He managed not to swallow too obviously, but it was a close thing.

The former tyrant sheathed his blade.

And bowed, without ever releasing Narcissus from his stare.

It took Narcissus way too long to remember that right, this was how things were done in Kayalana, obviously, they’d started the session that way as well. He quickly followed suit, a little too gracelessly for his tastes but passably, he hoped.

There was a rare spark of amusement in his host’s eyes, which would be reassuring if Narcissus could tell benign amusement from cruel in that impassive face.

He patted his shoulder delicately.

“I think it was a draw-?“

“Hardly.“

“Sure,“ Narcissus agreed swiftly. “You were faster, of course. I’d never get so close if you intended to finish the blow.“

ZanTaoyaka’s nostrils widened on an exhale. Narcissus suspected that on someone less stone-faced it would have been a derisive snort.

“We would be both dead if this was a duel. Do you call that a draw?“

The sweat running down Narcissus’s back, usually by far his least favorite part of sparring, was quickly turning ice cold.

He refused to give the obvious answer. Instead he drew a handkerchief from a hidden pocket and gestured vaguely towards the wound. Surely his host knew about it, even though he hasn’t acknowledged it yet, and surely a ruined collar wouldn’t put him in any better mood.

“Allow me? It’s the least I can do.“

Something strange and thoughtful passed through ZanTaoyaka’s face, the expression so understated it was unreadable, but then the spark of unlikely, unnerving mirth returned. He tilted his head, baring his throat and making his blood drip faster.

Willing his shaking fingers to cooperate, Narcissus quickly wrapped the wound in silk the best he was able. It didn’t help that ZanTaoyaka was still watching him out the corner of his eye, the awkward angle taking nothing away from the sharpness of his stare.

This was it. He was going to be told to pack his meagre possessions and leave. It was better than being killed on the spot, but only marginally. Maybe he should plead at least for Ebenholtz to stay. She had nothing to do with this and hasn’t even fully recovered yet.

Absently he fiddled with the knot, trying to delay the inevitable, when a firm hand stilled his fingers. Startled, he looked up, into a face that didn’t look quite as severe as expected.

“That is enough. Thank you.“

The grip was warm and sure. And lasting a while, which combined with the unexpected almost-warmth of the other’s expression made Narcissus forget what words were for the time being.

Rannon ZanTaoyaka, of course, didn’t suffer from the same affliction.

“I admit, I’m impressed. Very few ever got so close, in practice or otherwise. Will you join me for lunch again today?“

With that, his fingers were released as if nothing happened. Completely off his balance now, Narcissus bowed sligtly and gave a vacant smile, the mask of it sliding into place to carry him through the situation while he struggled to adjust. He was safe? ZanTaoyaka had no reason to play games and postpone his revenge. Or to pretend to not be offended when he had the power to demand any compensation he wanted. He was safe. Probably.

“I’d be honored.“

Empty words, but apparently the right ones. His host nodded briskly and gestured for them both to leave the room.

 

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