The Royal Emissary of the house of Zel cleared his throat. He looked out nervously over the villagers that had gathered in the town square, and tried to convince himself that there weren't as many bitter faces there as he thought he saw. The speech would go over fine, he told himself, the only potential distraction was the blacksmith a few huts over, and he wasn't even very loud. He took a deep breath.

"Good people of the village Drania," he began, "We of the Royal House of Zel will keep our messages short, because we know you have little patience for long-windedness, unrefined as you-"

Clang. The blacksmith's hammer rang out loudly, interrupting the messenger's speech. He glared over at the forge, but it seemed relatively quiet now.

"As I was saying, this message will be short, but important. The House of Zel has long sought unification of this land, and we have succeeded in bringing together several smaller kingdoms near our capital, bringing our enlightened ways to-"


Now the emissary was starting to get suspicious. Was the blacksmith deliberately interrupting him? No, he thought, he was just being paranoid. The smith was just louder than he had hoped.

"We have seen much good come out of this unity, and so we have finally turned toward the rural districts outside our new boundaries. Though you have long remained independent of our governance, there has never been any enmity between we civilized and you-"

Clang, clang, clang!

The emissary raised his voice slightly and pressed on: "We wish to absorb you into our main kingdom, and it will be beneficial for the both of us. We will get more land and more farmers and tradesmen, and you will get both our protection-"


"And our more sophisticat-"


The emissary was shouting now. "Way of life, so that-"

Clang, clang!

"We can teach you! –"


The emissary gave up, and motioned to his personal guards. "Silence that worker."

Clang! A hammer hit a piece of sharp steel, bringing it closer to being a sword. Daku the smith smiled.

A lightly armored man marched purposefully up to Daku's forge.

"Sir," he said, "I'm afraid your hammering is disrupting His Excellency's speech. Do you think you could work a bit more quietly?"

Daku didn't look up, but replied: "Yes. I believe I could."

"Thank you." The guard hurried back to the emissary, who continued his speech.

"We will be bringing this village under our uniform governance and code of laws—"


The guard came back, with a friend this time.

"You have one last chance to quiet down and stop disrupting His Excellency's speech. Put down your hammer or I will be forced to confiscate it."

"Go ahead and try," said Daku, still not looking up.

The guard made a grab for the hammer. Daku hit the man's hand, and swung the near-finished blade off the anvil and across his throat. He kept the blade up, blocking the second guard's sword. He swung his hammer at the guard's sword hand, which jerked away. The hammer instead hit and broke the handle. The long blade fell down uselessly and let Daku unfinished sword swing in for the kill.

Then, he kept forging the sword. Soon, he noticed everyone staring.

"What?" he said. "He tried to grab my hammer and didn't duck."

Someone screamed. Daku looked out of his hut to see a man on horseback throw a torch on a straw roof on the outskirts of the village. A gang of dirty-looking men was riding up behind him. Daku gripped his sword and grinned as the knights rushed off towards the bandits. Two of them rode straight up to Daku's hut and leaped off their horses. One drew his sword and took a swing, while the other ran towards the forge and stuck a wooden club into it.

"Thanks for the fire, smith! We'll burn down your house with it!" He did this, laughing all the way.

The bandit Daku had been fighting ran off into the bigger fight, but Daku cornered the one with the torch.

"What the hell? Don't you want to get out before it collapses on us?" the man yelled.

"Yeah. But I want to make sure you don't."

The bandit swung his flaming club at Daku, but it got stuck on his sword. Daku smiled, and pulled a dagger from his belt. He was just about to stab when a gauntleted hand grabbed his arm and pulled him out of the burning hut. Looking at an armored knight, he got ready to say "You idiot! I was going to kill that bugger! Prepare to die!"

But the knight brought her visor up and Daku's words became "Thank you for saving me from my own reckless anger, miss. Shall I assist you in killing the rest of these buggers?"

The young woman stared at Daku. Daku took the opportunity to stare at her. "Yes," she said.

Daku threw his hammer at a bandit, and screamed before it hit, giving just enough time for the bandit to turn around for a faceful of iron. He ran at the dazed bandit, chopped his head off, picked up his hammer, and found another enemy to repeat the process with.

The young woman charged at a bandit, shield forward, sword pulled back for thrusting. The bandit raised his sword, but she beat it away with the shield, following through with her sword into the man's chest. She kicked the body off the blade and went to help out the remaining knights.

She saw Daku yell to a bandit "Get my back while I kill this bitch!" Daku ran at her, and the bandit ran behind him, back to back. The young knight raised her shield in surprise. Daku swung his sword, but not far enough to hit it. He instead spun around and hacked the bandit's chest. The bandit fell over and Daku stabbed him, just to make sure. He ran off to kill another bandit.

The battle was just about over now, all the knights except the lady dead, all the townsfolk having ran away. The three remaining bandits surrounded her.

"Well, look who's still alive?" one said. His head fell off.

"Sup," said Daku, spinning around and slashing at the second bandit's neck.

"What the hell? You were on our side!" he said, having barely managed to block.

"That's what I told this idiot," Daku replied, kicking a corpse.

The third bandit swung his sword at the knight. She blocked it with hers, and kicked him into Daku's wildly swinging sword. She stabbed the bandit Daku had been fighting in the back.

She and Daku were now alone in a burning village littered with corpses.

"My name is Akali. I thank you for assisting the house of Zel in enforcing order. However, for your previous crimes, you are under arrest."

Daku backed up, sheathing his sword. "Well, nice meeting you." He ran to jump on the nearest horse. Akali found hers and pursued him.