The men had no fear.

They were old soldiers.

We didn’t exchange a greeting as I entered the room, nor did we issue threats.

As I crossed the threshold, the men rose from their seats, bowed, and attacked.

They were brilliant, and they were deadly. Knives appeared in their hands, and their attacks flowed through the room.

I have never been one for finesse, not when it came to fighting. I admired their skill, and I countered it with brute strength and black rage.

One man plunged his knife into my upraised hand, the blade painfully hot. He tried to retrieve his weapon, to drag it out of my flesh and bones, but I took hold of his wrist, used him as a shield against his fellows, and then drove the blade up and into his throat. He took a shocked step back, eyes full of confusion, and then blood exploded from the mouth and his nose.

His comrades never missed a step.

They moved over and around his body, ignoring his feeble attempts to regain control.

I drew the knife from my hand, flexed the injured limb and nodded with satisfaction as the wound began stitching itself back together.

Neither of the survivors paid it any mind. Instead, they launched a coordinated attack. They went high and low, on the flanks and above. All in an effort to drive me into a corner.

I maneuvered through all, slashing out when I could.

A moment later, my hand had healed well enough to hold the knife.

I switched the blade from one hand to the other, drew my own knife, and moved in.

They pressed their attack until I took the nose off one of them, and then their determination faltered. When it did, I drove one knife into a man’s eye, the blade scraping against his socket and striking the back of his skull.

He wavered on his feet, sagged to his knees, and then fell to one side, taking the knife with him.

I didn’t mind.

It was the one that had been put through my hand.

I looked at the remaining soldier. “Where is he?”

The soldier straightened up as his words raced through my mind.

“He is a palanquin,” the soldier said. “He seeks to escape to the docks, and from there, to a ship.”

I nodded.

“Will you make it quick?” the soldier asked.

“I will,” I told him.

And I did.

#China #horrorstories

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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