He then amazed himself by turning the roll into a somersault, which then ended with Dominick standing in a slight crouch before the towering, ax-wielding, obsessed-with-seeing-him-die, mass of muscle. Now that he was standing, he could see that the creature was at least eight feet tall.

Dominick threw his hands out before him.

“Whoa now, big boy,” Dominick said. “Let’s think about this, okay? I just got here and I have no idea what the crap is going on.”

“I kill you, little squirrel,” the thing said, its speech somewhat impeded by the tusks protruding from its lower jaw.

It was then, as his blood froze, his heart raced, and his bowels threatened to relax and release, that Dominick remembered the sword. He stuck a hand in his right pocket as the creature swung the massive ax once again. It came at him this time from the side and Dominick jumped backward over a fallen soldier behind him and avoided being split in half by a hair.

He pulled the tiny sword from his pocket.

“Can’t we talk about this?” Dominick said, clutching the miniature sword before him in his sweaty fist.

“Can talk after dead, squirrel.”

The creature raised the ax and made ready to bring it down upon Dominick’s head. But then it paused, its eyes narrowing as it took in the sight of Dominick and his tiny sword. It began to laugh, the sound rising above the roar of the battle.

Dominick looked down at the sword in his hand and was soon laughing along with the creature who was about to end his life. It all seemed so silly to die in such a fashion. To know that after years of a life spent in perpetual blandness that he had to travel to another world entirely just to die in what had to be one of the most exciting ways possible: split down the middle by a giant, poop-inducing, ax. And all he had to defend himself was a sword made for a toy soldier.

The creature paused; the ax poised just above the thing’s head as it stared at Dominick in confusion. Then shrugging its shoulders, it brought the ax down.

At the same time, Dominick, knowing how futile the act was, pulled the tiny sword from the tiny scabbard. The moment the blade cleared, the sword and scabbard both popped to normal size and for a moment hope tweaked him on his cheek. followed–rather dramatically–by a clap of thunder in the sky above them.

The blade of the sword was black, and nearly four feet long. The grip was made for two hands, but Dominick held on to it with just one as if the blade weighed nothing at all.

Dominick gaped. And as he held the naked blade before him, the ax fell. Dominick raised the sword, putting the blade between him and the ax, knowing that he wasn’t going to be strong enough to hold back the force of the blow. But then, as ax and sword met, a sound pulsated forward from the impact of the two blades: The sonorous tone of a massive bell. Then the blade of the ax shattered into thousands of tiny pieces against the black steel.

Dominick and the creature stared at each other, the lingering sound of the bell hanging in the air between them. Dominick still gaped; the creature looked shocked as he held tightly to the shaft of his broken ax.

“Sword of Power,” the creature said, its voice a whisper.

That was the moment Dominick realized that the fighting around him had stopped. The combatants had all turned to look in his direction and he felt uncomfortable under such voluminous scrutiny.

“Sword of Power,” the creature said again, and then the shaft of the broken ax fell from its fingers.

“Look, um,” Dominick said, his eyes darting from the creature to the crowd around him. He’d never been good in front of an audience.

“The One,” the creature said, pointing a trembling finger at him.

“What?” Dominick said.

“The One,” the creature repeated, and then, with very little in the way of ceremony, fled.

A large portion of the crowd around Dominick followed the creature’s lead and ran away in terror. Lizard men, more of the dark skinned creatures, and other humans. They ran from the field as if a giant, mutated goat had entered the field, devouring all within its path.

To be continued . . .

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