Veram continued swaying back and forth, kneeling towards the sun in the east. His body must all be in motion. His prayer would seem less genuine. "I thank the One above for allowing me to keep my vow," He chanted.
Nine rings from the town bell awakened the Vokashe from his prayer. "Bandits!" He could hear from the distance, "Bandits are coming!" He arose from his mat and picked up his sword his with left hand. He walked towards the exit of the tent's canvas doors and looked through the crack with his narrow eyes. He peered west towards the beach and saw two boats.
Slowly, the Vokashe's feet pulled him outside the temple. As he gazed once again from the hill where the temple was laid, he saw nineteen men climb out of the boats. Their scruffy faces, bulged forearms, tattered tunics, and large axes made it clear of their identity. Only one of them carried a sword. He wore a cleaner and brighter red tunic.
Veram walked down the stone path to the beach. Strange how the bandits had not raided yet.
The bandits lined up in a single horizontal file, their chests puffed at the villagers and their axes resting on their shoulders. The leader tapped his fingers on the hilt of his blade. As Veram approached his presence, he tapped faster. Some other Vokashe were already at the beach, facing the bandits. It seemed that the leader insisted that every able guardian of this village was present, ready to fight.
The elder of the Vokashe spoke, "You come to our shore, armed for battle. Yet you stand still, as if you intend peace."
The leader in red raised his voiced. "My interest is more than simply taking your gold and grain. I have heard of the men of sacred oath. I wanted to see the truth... before I begin."
"We are grateful for your honor."
"Now then," the red bandit unsheathed his one-handed blade, two-edged with a black gem, which is the mark of their bandit's clan. He pointed the edge towards the Vokashe, "I wish to duel one of your men of oath. Once he is dead, then I will raid."
"And if you are defeated?" The elder asked.
The leader pointed his sword to the rest of the bandits. "Then they will leave." The bandits look at each other with puzzled looks. Their eyes thirsted for blood and gold.
"Very well then. We pray that you honor this vow you have made before us and your men." The elder's eyes moved toward Veram. Veram himself seemed prepared for this glance, as he quickly nodded back. The elder turned back at the leader's composed face, which was surrounded by his minions' impatience. He pointed towards Veram. "You will challenge him to the death."
"Let us begin, then."
The bandits, witnessing villagers who have also gathered, and the rest of the Vokashe stepped back until the red leader and the single swordsman where circularly surrounded by all watching eyes. The bandit from Hyzya assumed his stance, legs apart, left hand guarding his chest and face, right hand above his head with the blade pointed at Veram. The opponent from Parrar took his stance, holding his sword on the draw.
The red leader glared at this warrior stance. He simply smirked, "Just as the tales said you would." His foot shifted in the sand, ready to jump forward at any moment. Veram stood as a mountain, eyes hooked on his enemy, taking one deep breath after another.
"BEGIN!" The elder shouted.
The bandit leaped forward and swung at Veram's head in a flowed stature. Veram ducked, his hands still on the draw.
Veram's chest rose back as a reed straightens from the wind. Another swing towards Veram's heart. With hands still on the draw, he drove his right leg behind his left and twisted his hips, dodging the double-edged sword by a hair. In continued aggression, the red bandit takes his sword by both hands and swung the blade down with the might of a hammer on an anvil, all with the goal of Veram's head again.
To Veram, that swing seemed as if it stopped in time, taking hours to reach its contact. He foresaw its destination. The image of the blade trailed downward.
With one step to the left, "Vo-"
With one twist of his hip, "Ka-," The leader's blade missed, with his neck open, ripe for the picking.
"SHE-!" Veram's sword unsheathed.
One swing. One motion. From the sheath to the neck to the Vokashe's right side. The red leader didn't say a word, didn't gasp for air. He fell, headfirst into the ground.
The click of Veram's sword back to his sheath echoed in the raiders' ears. According to the leader's promise, they must leave. The bandits growled and looked at each other, waiting if anyone would say anything next.
"Kill them!" one bandit shouted.