Candle on the Water
By: Manna


xOx…

Shout: Iceblade28, thanks for helping me out with ideas.

Warnings: Alternate reality…sorta.


xOx…

Prologue: Fight to the Death

He lifted his sword arm to block a blow that was meant for his neck. His opponent, a broad-shouldered man riding a horse that was easily three or four hands taller than his own, grinned and swung his weapon in a downward stroke again.

Their horses were parallel to one another, and Kent pulled on his mount's reins with his left hand in an attempt to get her to back up while he continued his defense. He needed time to catch his breath, to think things through… It only took him a moment to realize that the other man was not going to give up on him so easily, and he parried one last sword stroke before kicking his mare forward.

He may not have had an advantage where strength was concerned, but his horse was smaller and therefore more agile. By the time that his opponent managed to compose himself, Kent was several meters away and safe for the time being. He quickly wheeled his horse around to face the enemy, but he was certainly not willing to be the first to strike.

Fighting from the back of a horse usually gave him the upper hand due to the fact that he was up off the ground, but he had never had to fight a stronger man who rode a taller, stockier draft horse.

His lance still protruded from the corpse of a man lying mere feet away; the tip of the weapon had broken on impact, and it wasn't worth the effort to retrieve it.

Sain had gone ahead to scout out the area, and Kent cursed himself to high Heaven for letting him go—after all, the three of them should have stuck together. Strength could be found in numbers. He could only hope that Sain had not been ambushed due to their recklessness.

His eyes found his Lady Lyndis. She was doing well for herself, he thought. Her opponent was a man that towered over her, but she was quick on her feet. The trunk of a tree was just behind them, and he could see the gleam in her eyes that announced the fact that she had a plan. He couldn't help but admire her persistence…

She would be angry with him if he rode to her aid when it was so obvious that she would emerge victorious.

His eyes flickered back to his own opponent, and his heart sunk in his chest when he saw where the other man's gaze led—right back to Lyndis. He reacted almost too late when the other man viciously kicked his palomino forward, heels digging into its sides as he yanked on the reins. The bit pulled against the animal's tender mouth, and it leapt forward, turning its head just as its rider knew it would.

His heartbeat thudded in his ears as he urged his own horse on a path to intercept them.

It was a race he could not afford to lose.

His mare's hooves pounded against the forest floor as she ran, and he drew in a breath of fresh air and pine needles as he pulled alongside the huge draft horse, switching his sword to his left hand before swinging.

The motion was meant to be more of a distraction than an attack, as he was not skilled with left-handed swordsmanship, and it did the trick nicely—the man pulled his horse up short, mere feet from where Lyn was fighting.

His liege found herself backed against the tree as Kent turned his horse around to face the other cavalryman. A dull thud told him that she had managed to move out of the way of a powerful swing…only for her opponent to find his weapon imbedded into the soft wood in front of him.

Kent switched sword hands again, letting go of his reins as he did so. Instead of fighting immediately, he kicked his horse and she pushed forward, closer to the enemy, and in mere moments, they found themselves engaged in close-range combat.

He thrust his sword forward at every opportunity, trying for an easy, fast kill, but the man in front of him refused to go down.

Kent was clearly outmatched. What could a person do when their opponent was stronger and had nearly every advantage in the fight?

Speed was his only ally.

The palomino backed up of its own accord, clearly feeling claustrophobic. As he drove them further and further away from Lady Lyndis, Kent leaned forward in his saddle, kicking his horse to urge her on. The closer she drew toward the other horse, the more nervous it got, and it kept retreating, step by hesitant step. He was just thankful that they were moving away from Lady Lyndis rather than toward her. He threw his sword just as he might have done with a javelin—with practiced precision—the moment the man opposite of him took a split second to kick his horse's sides in what appeared to be annoyance, and by the graces of Saint Elimine, his weapon hit its mark.

The man slumped over the horse's neck, and Kent's own steed took one more step, pushing the lighter-colored equine into taller grass at the edge of the tree line.

Just as the palomino stepped into the long grass, it scared a pair of pheasants that had been hiding there, and the birds took to the air, startling the horse almost as much as the claustrophobia and the death of its rider, who had begun to slide off of its back.

It was too much, and the frightened horse reared up, its eyes a sickening shade of white as they rolled in its head. Kent almost didn't hear Lyn's shout of warning. He looked up and saw the sharp-edged hooves coming toward him as the animal lifts its legs into the air again, and he tried to pull back out of the way, tugging almost desperately at the reins.

He wasn't fast enough.

Stars exploded in front of his eyes as one of the palomino's hooves struck him in the side of his head, and he vaguely felt himself slip from his horse and fall to the ground with a painful thud.

As his dead enemy's horse galloped away, his world went black.


xOx…

Author Notes:

Updates will be slow.

This is the beginning of…something that I've intended to write for a long, long time. Iceblade28 pointed out that it sounded like a movie, Just Like Heaven, so I rushed out to buy it. (Sure enough, it's quite similar!) I hope this will be a fun story that both amuses and does a little tugging at the heartstrings. Thank you for reading! Feedback is much appreciated.