Today, Patience Argyle Defends Himself.
March 12, 2012
A little dark this time. I had to get out some of my aggression I guess with a fight scene. I really like this character, too, I just have to build a better story around him. Around the movement he’s apparently a part of.
So, like always, let me know what you think. Send it to your friends and colleagues. Like me on Facebook, Circle me on Google+. Follow me on Twitter @Luarien.
Also, enjoy yourselves. It’s a tough world out there.
I don’t think they were expecting it when they jumped out at me from the alleys. The first had a billy club in his hand, I think, and was growling something about me barking up the wrong trees. Or angering the wrong people. There was a bunch of idiotic catch phrases hurled at me pretty quickly. I felt bad, though, they didn’t know about me. No one prepared them. No matter, though, since Patience Argyle never disappoints!
While I was a computational technician before the Plague struck me, I’ve always been a student of the sword. Practice kept me lean, or as lean as my broad profile will allow, and it made my hand-eye coordination top notch. Also gives me a great awareness of where my hands and feet are without having to look at them. That, in fact, came in handy as they leaped out at me.
A good fencer, especially one who prefers the broadsword and the various Askadian swords as I do, tends to look much like a dancer when engaged. The first bloke who jumped out with the club barely knew what was going on as I slid toward him and snapped my cane around my shoulder, letting it get up to speed as I rolled it down my arm and struck him full speed in the temple. I’d say he collapsed like a bag of rocks or something similar but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an inanimate object dive for the ground quite so fast as he did. The second, with a knife I think, I hit in the throat with a quick thrust, pushed him backward over his heels and onto the ground as I hopped over them.
One more appeared just in front of me as I tried to regain my footing. Luckily for me, or unluckily for him depending on your point of view I guess, he was on my weapon side. The end of my cane crashed through the bridge of his nose and drove him into the wall just behind him as I spun to gauge the reactions of the others. Three on the ground, incapacitated, and the fight hadn’t even really begun yet. They smelled of rotten fish and pickled eggs, Foggherty’s men probably. Dock workers and drunkards, louts and thugs. Three more that I can see. One’s got his fists clenched, probably knuckledusters of some kind. Another’s got a chain but clearly has no idea what he’s doing with it. The last has a cudgel of some kind, nothing I could call a club. It isn’t even refined enough to be a stout stick. All ugly knots and hard angles.
The chain came first, feinting toward my offhand. Good tactic against any other street crim, not so good against someone who’s been in a few fights with experienced fencers though. I lashed out with my cane right to the bridge of his nose and was able to get another good clubbing across his skull before he fell back, eyes watering and screaming in frustration. The guy with the knuckledusters turned out to be a lot more dangerous. He sprinted toward me as I clobbered his associate and started swinging wildly, arms all the way up and out like he was going to turn me to pulp without considering the fact that I can still move. I snapped my cane back into my hands and fended off several of his punches by striking and parrying his forearms away, each one getting me a little closer to him. Just before his buddy could overtake me with that tree trunk he brought with him, I drove the top of my cane through Knuckles’ throat and bowled him into Branch’s chest. Which I quickly followed with a tactical retreat.
I readied my cane again, straight out before me like a sabre, and watched the two disentangle themselves. Knuckles was coughing and falling down, choking on his now bruised larynx, while Branch threw him toward a wall. No honor amongst thieves after all, it seems. At least not hired muscle. Branch was a mountain of a man if there ever was one, and it was clear that one errant strike from that sapling was going to lay me out. Maybe permanently. That also appeared to be the man’s intention as he strode toward me, wheeling the branch back like a baseball bat. Looking like a champion slugger stepping up to the plate.
I didn’t have time to let him figure me out. I had to end this as quickly as possible, I had to make sure that when he went down he didn’t get back up to kill me. With that in mind I planned my grim business.
I watched him move forward. Deliberate but slow, wading over the fallen form of his former comrades. He swung his hips back and forth like he was unsure of what to do with them, his legs were bowed as well. Perhaps from long hours as a teamster, lifting and dragging loads down at the docks. He smelled strongly of herring and stale beer, so it seemed like a reasonable guess. He favored his left, letting his right foot drag a bit when he could. A scar over one eye seemed to be a trophy from a recent row, perhaps in these alleyways before the uprising started. It was milky and unfocused to, his pupil seeming to spin around what he was looking at like he couldn’t see it clearly. His jaw was set oddly, as was his nose. Clear evidence of former breaks. His knuckles were wrapped hard around the small tree he was carrying, his arms stiff with anticipation. Inexperienced. Short sighted.
I leaned forward slightly, tucking my feet under my mass and waited. Predictably, he swung downward, diagonally though so not a complete fool, trying to crush my head and collar together. I was prepared, though, and dove under the swing, feeling the wind of it tug at my vest as I ducked beneath his angle, and drove my cane two-handed into his weak knee. He started to fold under it. I pulled my cane back with both hands and drove it into his shoulder, right into the fleshy part beneath his collar, and struck it repeatedly until he let go of the branch. I heard him roar as he regained his senses so I snapped the bottom of my cane from his shoulder through his jaw, breaking it again and separating the upper from the lower without trouble. Then I stepped back and swung my cane double handed at his head. It took several strikes to drop him to the dirt, each strike sending a spray of blood outward from his now-tattered nose, his loosely hanging jaw, and deep cuts in his jowls and cheeks from the repeated strikes from me. It wouldn’t have been so messy if he wasn’t a damn ogre wearing a man suit.
Breathing heavily I stood up and watched a well-dressed man step from one of the alleys that had spat out my opponents. He spun a watch chain over his fingers slowly and watched me. He carried himself like they did, all muscle and no mind, but with the edge of experience that came with captains among the gangs around town. He was an enforcer, probably the one who hired the thugs for Foggherty. I spat at his feet and raised my cane toward him, still dripping blood.
Between ragged gasps I called out to him, “Don’t forget this, asshole. Remember what you’ve seen here. I might be a little hobbled, I might be a little high, I might be a little hungry, but I’ve survived more in the last month than you have in your entire life. I’ve grown comfortable with spilling your boss’s blood, your mens’ blood, in the dirt until me and mine have what we need – justice. Equality. Life. Even if you did kill me, another would replace me. You can’t keep this up for much longer. You can’t hold us down forever.”
I didn’t really blame him when he ran. It’s not every day you jump a limping man with a cane and watch as he quickly dispatches a group of thugs with precision before he turns to you. Threatens your life. Remember, just because I’m limping, just because I creak and I’m in pain, just because I smell of dreamweed and I breath a little heavy doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten how to fence. Doesn’t mean my cane isn’t just as dangerous as it was before I came down with the Plague.
It does mean, though, that I must be fast. I must be efficient. I must be brutal. I can’t pull punches I don’t have the time or the luxury to be congenial in combat. Largely, it’s your fault if you jump me, Sir Thug. Perhaps as you watch your mates’ blood dripping from the end of my cane you’ll reconsider attacking people who seem like invalids to your petty mind.
Do not underestimate me. Do not forget that I am still a warrior, a technician, and an artist. My sickness does not end these things.