These Hands

These Hands by Shaun Ryan   I wait in shadows, head bowed.  Outside, in the sun’s blessed light, the crowd roars its delight as some man or beast meets their end.  Steel clashes against steel, a song that sings in my blood.  My heart quickens as brass trumpets blow a glorious fanfare.  The prince has arrived. My nephew, Galen, who serves as my arms bearer, hands me a ribbon of crimson silk.  He is my brother’s son, orphaned now, my charge. Standing, I whisper a final prayer to my grandfathers and tie the fabric around my brow.  The crowd loves this minor affectation.  It is part of my character, my trademark, but serves a practical purpose as well.  When the heat of battle is upon me, it will prevent the sweat of my efforts from blinding me at the worst moment.  I check my sword belt and scabbard, making certain they are secure.  The battered leather greaves receive the same careful scrutiny, as do my boots.  The sword remains sheathed.  I have no doubt as to the weapon’s state of repair.  It is a part of me, handed down from father to son since the beginnings of my family’s long, bloody history. Far down the dim corridor, a gate crashes open, stout oaken planks meeting ancient stone with force.  The booming echo rolls past on a breath of hot...

Read More