Clean, a story for the Giraffe Call (@inventrix)

For [personal profile] inventrix‘s prompt

“…and always remember, when fighting the Hosether, is that the only true and clean way to kill is with a blade.”

Instructor Blaias had lost one arm, his off arm, in a battle with the Hosether (or perhaps the Glarth); now he taught the next generation of sword-fighters how to war properly and with honor.

They listened, the young students holding their practice swords, wide-eyed with awe. They listened as he worked them through their exercises. They listened as he showed them how to block properly, so that they would not lose an arm themselves, or a leg or their lives.

They listened as he told them the evil of sorcery. The way that a distance kill was both immoral and illegal, the way that the cleanliness of a blade finished the soul properly, the way that only sword-training gave a truly disciplined soul.

The student Gilcas listened as intently as the rest, learning the way to cut cleanly, for all that he missed his twin.


“…and always remember, when fighting the Rodrigerafaus, that the only true and clean way to kill is with a spell.”

Teacher Charis had lost her left eye and half of her nose in a battle with the Glarth (or possibly the Rodrigerafaus); now she taught basic spellcasting for the next generation of fighters.

They listened, the young apprentices. They watched, wide-eyed with awe, as she showed them how you killed someone without ever showing your face. How you took the personal out of the kill, how you took your own soul out of it. They watched as Teacher Charis showed them how to sling a death-spell, so that the death was quick and perfect.

They took it all in, as she showed them how a sword-death was both illegal and immoral, how the blade severed the soul from the body, so that it entered the afterworld bereft of its needed skin, the way that the death-spell finished the body and soul in one swift shot, the way that only spell-casting created a truly disciplined soul.

The student Sashlie listened intently, practicing the motions and whispering the words to herself, learning a clean death, for all that she missed her twin.


There was never a time when the Rodrigerafaus were not at war with the Glarth, or the Glarth at war with the Hosether, the Hosether with the Rodrigerafaus. There was never a time when those with swords were not up against those who slung death-spells.

“When you fight, the only true and clean way…” Gilcas, his sword hilt-deep in a Glarth soldier, thought the blood splatter across his face was anything but clean. He muttered a spell he wasn’t supposed to know, and watched the soul separate and fly away. There were a lot of souls leaving today, and the sun hadn’t reached its zenith yet.

“…make the death clean and perfect.” Sashlie used a forbidden knife-block to push a soldier off of her, and pressed a death spell into another soldier’s face. The look on his face was in no way impersonal; the feel of his death flooding back over the spell was intimate and dirty.

She watched the way the body twisted into the heavens. There were a lot of deaths for the gods today, and the sun was barely climbing up its stairs.

The two, half a battle-field apart, took it all in, using the motions they’d been taught and the lessons they had learn, for all that they missed their twin, for all that the cleanest of deaths left them feeling filthy inside.

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