13.9 Dance Partners

by Matt P.

Walter cursed and jumped back as a form flew out of the doors of the school. He heard Morgan shouting something but couldn’t make out exactly what she said. Whatever it was, the last word couldn’t have been Sparta, he thought. It was only after a moment that Walter realized that what had flown out of the doors of the school was Ninja Grandpa, his nose bleeding and his arms wrapped around his torso while he groaned in pain. He was followed a moment later by Morgan wielding a longsword, who in turn was followed by five faerie warriors and a dog the size of a small pony. The warriors were not on her side, but were apparently giving her plenty of room as they tried to gauge how to attack her. The hound, if anything, looked confused.

Morgan’s eyes clearly fell on the battle going on with Tennyson and Tania against Oberon, and they hardened. “Can you take care of this?” She asked as she started to walk past him toward the bigger battle. Walter considered for a moment, before shrugging.

“I guess we’ll find out. Any way I can get it one on one?” Walter asked in return as the five men drew up with Ninja Grandpa, who had just gotten up to his feet. Morgan’s eyes flickered over to the Faerie man that Walter had shot, and she raised an eyebrow.

“If you killed him…then maybe,” Morgan murmured softly in response. “Anyone who kills a Knight of Faerie in a legal duel or lawful war is automatically considered a freeholding citizen of the Court of their choice. As such they can issue a challenge to a duel against any citizen or challenge another knight for knighthood. Nobility can only be challenged by Knights or other nobles, but knights can be challenged by citizens. We consider them rebels, but they consider this a legal war. Play up his cowardice if he refuses, and he may be forced to fight you. Good luck.” Morgan’s voice was sotto voce and matter of fact until the end, when it stayed every bit as quiet but took on more of a heart felt air.

“You got the soul stealer or whatever they were?” Walter asked softly, reaching out to squeeze her shoulder.

“One…apparently I lost one in all the costume changes in Nightmare. It will have to do,” she responded, her brow furrowing in concern.

“If not we’ll make a back-up plan,” Walter reassured as the enemy started walking toward him.

“If this doesn’t work, Walter, we lose,” Morgan said with a shake of her head, as she drew the small black knife that was the goidte dubh she had made from Oberon’s Sword. It was slender enough she had it in a pocket.

“Then we won’t lose. Go, I’ll keep these six off your back.” Walter turned to the people coming toward him, and holstered his pistol. They slowed down when they saw him drawing the railroad spike knives out of his vest, so Walter decided to waggle them in a menacing fashion. “You and me, Ninja Grandpa, we’ve got some business to settle.”

Ninja Grandpa sneered and began to walk toward Walter as if he were unafraid, although his eyes kept flickering back to the knives. The fact that Morgan had apparently just beat him senseless had put some caution in to him, which Walter figured could be good or bad; he wouldn’t have minded him overly cocky, to be honest. So time to piss him off some… “I have more important things than putting you in your place again, mortal…” The white haired man growled.

“Is that what you told everyone happened last time?” Walter asked, twirling the knives around his fingers idly as he pitched his voice to be loud enough for the other men to hear. “Cause I seem to remember it was a tie, and I’ve had nothing but time to come up with new ways of whipping your ass. But if you think I’ve got too much for you to take, you can always go try to fight one of the Queens instead,” Walter said with a lazy, predatory grin. The other man paled to match his hair, a twitch coming to his features as Walter stoked his anger.

Ninja Grandpa forced down the anger with a sneer of arrogance. “I’ll leave you to my men and the Hound, they’re more than enough for you, boy.”

“Right, leave me to your posse so you don’t get beat down again,” Walter snorted. As the men in question started to advance, he held up a hand to them. “Hold on boys, I’ve got yours coming in a minute. But you, we’ve got to settle this. A man can’t just come to my house, get his ass kicked and run without me wanting to finish business, you know?” Walter’s grin grew less lazy, and more predatory as he spoke. “You have offended my honor, sir!” Walter spoke in a high, almost sing-song voice. “I demand satisfaction! I challenge you to a duel for knighthood! Or stuff!”

“Loses something on the ‘or stuff’,” Morgan managed to call out from where she was fighting, her voice strained.

“The peanut gallery will focus on their own fight,” Walter ordered, before he looked back to Ninja Grandpa. The young (looking) man was stunned, apparently not having heard Morgan’s whispering. He let out a startled laugh as he processed Walter’s challenge.

“You must be insane, mortal…I’d as sooner respond to a challenge from a pig as from you.” His voice was less than sure as he spoke, however, and the men who had come with him stayed stopped completely.

“Sure, sure, except you can’t,” Walter said, examining his fingernails. “I killed that dude, and I’m pretty sure he was a Knight too. So that makes me a freeholding citizen, although after I kill you I plan to be a beerholding citizen instead. So I can challenge you for knighthood, and once that’s done go murder your boss. Then go home, get some sleep, Netflix and chill. You know. But if you can’t take it in front of your boys back there, feel free to keep on walking.” Walter stepped aside and held out his arm. “Of course that makes you a coward turning down a challenge during a lawful war…or maybe you don’t think the war is really lawful. I mean, it’s your choice.” Walter shrugged, but he looked up at the man with eyes flashing.

Ninja Grandpa sneered, his lips spreading wide over his teeth as a hiss of breath escaped from him. He went from pale to flushed, and in a moment he was holding an iron blade like the one dropped by the man Walter had killed—apparently brought so as not to harm a Faerie blade against cold iron. That thought made him reach out and grab it, since Tennyson had taken back his sword when Walter dropped it and was now using it. It was longer, and would give him a little reach. The notched bowie knife was well made despite the chip, and Walter settled in to an easy stance.

“I engage,” Ninja Grandpa sneered, as he began to launch himself forward.

“Bring it,” Walter responded as he brought his knives up to block.