“Show me what you did.”
The armsmaster glared at him. Eventually, “I felled a kinslayer.”
“Yes, you did. I think about that every day.” Edward looked at his hands, before turning his gaze back on the armsmaster. “But you did something strange to hit me and I couldn’t block it.”
“You blocked many blows that day. At least four of Cynric’s men were aiming for you at the end.”
Edward shrugged. “Yes, but I don’t think I could’ve blocked your blow if it had just been the two of us. It was… different.”
Hlodowic considered. “It’s no great secret, I suppose. I’ve had over two decades since I lost my leg. I’ve been fighting with that axe in one hand ever since.”
“Show me,” commanded Edward.
Hlodowic lifted his axe and sent it dancing a number of complex steps.
The armsmaster stopped, holding the axe extended, perfectly still and stable despite its weight. Then he nodded. “Yes, that twist. Oddly, it’s something I could never do when I had two hands. I only figured it out when I learned how to fight with only one. More like using a sword than an axe, though with longer reach.”
“The gods give as they take away.”
Hlodowic stared at Edward for a long moment. Then finally nodded. “Get cleaned up. You’re a mess and it would not do for you to irritate Bedarth. And make sure to oil that armor.”
- "What's in a Name," first published in ''When Valor Must Hold"