Monday, December 16, 2013

The Immortals: Chapter One, Part Four

                The man with the sword – though, on closer inspection, Kendra was not entirely sure that it was a sword – looked up as Nef led her over to the grindstone. Kendra had never really thought much about swords. She knew that long thin ones were rapiers, and that the musketeers were good at using swords (except for when they used guns) and that two handed swords were claymores, but then again, land-mines were also called claymores. She knew that knives in Call of Duty were instantly lethal – but she was also pretty sure that that wasn’t very accurate, as she had once read an article about how shockingly hard it was to stab people to death with a knife.  

                Then the man pushed his welding mask back and Kendra stopped thinking about irrelevant details.

                He was gorgeous, though on second impression, Kendra was pretty sure that it was the smile. His face was rounded and Asian-ish, with a far darker tan than she expected, and short cropped black hair. But that smile…it was broad and generous and impervious to the bad things in the world.

                “Hey Nef. Found a new friend?” He asked, his voice smooth, rich…and British.

                Kendra thought of Sean Connery and Benedict Cumberbatch and Doctors nine through eleven and felt her cheeks get hot. So, his accent is cute too.

                “Kendra, this is Bijay. Bijay, Kendra.”

                Bijay stood, setting his curved sword-knife-thing down on a nearby table and held out his hand with a smile. Kendra looked at his hand as if it was an alien pseudopod. Then her mind slapped the back of her head: Hand. Shake. Make nice. Now!

                “Oh!” She started, then took the hand. He squeezed firmly – but not hard – and shook. “You’re British.”

                He smiled. “You…could say that. If you have an extremely loose and flexible idea of what British is.”

                She nodded. “R-Right. Sorry. I…didn’t know there were Chiii…” She trailed off as he shook his head slightly. “Ja…” He shook his head again. “Tha…” He shook his head a third time. Kendra was turning as red as a tomato now and felt like she should just throw herself in front of a bus.

                You could have just asked him where he was from, you stupid…

                Kendra barely stopped herself from muttering: 'Shut up brain.'

                Instead, she hung her head, let her hand drop, then said: “I’m sorry.”

                “I’m a Gurkha.” He said. “We are from Nepal. My family is from London.”

                Kendra glanced up, and saw that he was still smiling. She smiled back, but it was the kind of miserable smile that said ‘I am an idiot.’

                “Still,” Bijay turned around, picking his knife up – it glittered in the sun – and then turned back. “It’s nice to have a new face around here.”

                His smile faltered slightly as he said: “Nef…Sean is getting worse.”

                “Oh no.” Nef put her hand over her heart. Bijay slipped his knife into a sheath.

                Kendra looked from her to Bijay. “W-What’s wrong?” She asked, biting her lip.

                “Sean is dying,” Bijay said, his voice soft. “He's been getting worse today."

                Nef nodded, her hand curling into a fist. “I…can you give her the tour, Bijay?”

                Bijay nodded and Nef hurried off, muttering to herself in a language that Kendra didn’t recognize. But if it wasn’t ancient Egyptian, then she would eat her own hat. Once she put one on, of course. She turned back to face Bijay, who reached up to untie his blacksmithing apron and shrugged it off. Despite the chilly December morning that had not yet become less-chilly December day, he wore a short sleeve shirt under his apron. 

                He was…muscly.

                Kendra put her hand over her mouth to suppress a giggle as he turned back to face her, his smile returned. It didn’t even seem forced.

                “So, tour?”

                “Tour!” She clapped her hands.

                “Well, this is the grindstone.” He said, gesturing to the stone. “You’ll get to use that later. This way heads to the garage, where the actual blacksmithing kit is…the, uh, the forge, the auto-hammer, the tools, the metal stores.”

                “Do you make a lot of swords?” She asked, walking with him – part of her wanted to ask more details about Sean, but she figured it was a personal thing for Nef. Then she stopped. “Wait, is Nef dating a mortal?”

                “Well, swords break, so…” He stopped, then shook his head.

                Kendra put her hands on her hips. “Wait, I was told I was Immortal. That means living forever, right? So, how can he be dying? Was he…”

                Bijay shook his head. “No, it isn’t anything we can do to fix. If it was, then…” He sighed. “Did Nef tell you about her birthdays?”

                Kendra nodded.

                “Well, I was born 1896, in Nepal. I was also born in 1995, in London.” He sighed. “When an Immortal is about to die, the world changes, karma shifts about, and the immortal stays alive. The bullet misses. The car brakes before hitting. But you cannot dodge death from old age.”

                Kendra nodded.

                “But Immortals are able to change the world, if they focus. This skill is like a muscle.” He lifted his arm, then flexed. Kendra gulped and barely managed to suppress licking her lips. “When you start, you can’t do much. But if you work and exercise and practice, then you can leap further than you can imagine. By the time most immortals are twenty or thirty, they have worked this muscle far enough that they can alter when their parents met.”

                Kendra’s eyes widened.

                “S…So, uh, why are you eighteen years old?”

                Bijay’s smile widened. “Most Immortals learn their talent at their home. I learned mine in a little place. You may have heard of it.”

                He turned around, heading down the walkway that led through the gated community.

                “It was called Gallipoli.”

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