Friday, November 30, 2012

"Why the Dzur Stabbed the Yendi in the Back" by Will Shetterly


This is a bit of fanfic inspired by the Vlad Taltos stories of Steve Brust. Or maybe by the Paarfi stories. —WS

Why the Dzur Stabbed the Yendi in the Back

by Will Shetterly

Once, so long ago that no one remembers their names, a Yendi and a Dzur went to war. The Yendi used seventeen strategies, each more clever than the one before, to deprive the Dzur of all her allies and resources. When the Yendi heard the Dzur had nothing left but her sword and her honor, he laughed in anticipation of her surrender or her death.

But he stopped laughing when a guard said a lone warrior was approaching the castle with a sword in her hands. The Yendi climbed the castle walls to see for himself. Before the front gate, the Dzur stood shouting, "Yendi! I've come for our final battle! One of us shall die in honorable combat!"

The captain of the guard said, "Shall I have our archers answer her?"

The Yendi nodded, then smiled and said, "Ah! Obviously she has a spell to deflect arrows, and her last allies are hidden in the woods to aid her if I come out to fight. Send half our soldiers by the back gate to scour the forest and thwart her plan."

"My lord, she's a Dzur."

"Yes, but she's no fool. Do as I say. Even if I'm wrong—" And here he laughed at the idea that a Yendi could be outwitted by a Dzur. "—a dozen warriors and a stout gate remain between us and the Dzur."

So the captain did as she was told. Half the Yendi's warriors left the castle to search the countryside while the Dzur pounded the front gate with her pommel and shouted, "Yendi! Open this gate, or I'll batter it until it falls!"

The captain said, "Shall we reply with a shower of boiling oil?"

The Yendi nodded, then smiled and said, "Ah! Obviously she has a spell to deflect falling objects, and she wants us to stay within our walls to give distant allies time to gather and lay siege to us. Open the gate."

"My lord, she's a Dzur."

"Yes, but she's no fool. Do as I say. Even if I'm wrong—" And here he raised an eyebrow at the idea that a Yendi could be outwitted by a Dzur. "—a dozen warriors remain between us and the Dzur."

So the captain did as she was told. The castle's front gate rose, and the Dzur walked in. As she climbed the steps toward the Yendi and his soldiers, she shouted, "Yendi! Meet me here, or send your soldiers against me! I'll fight them one by one, and then I'll fight you!"

The captain said, "Shall I have the guards attack her from all sides?"

The Yendi nodded, then said, "Ah! Obviously she has a spell to kill all who crowd around her. Send our people one by one against her until she's exhausted and slain."

"My lord, she's a Dzur."

"Yes, but she's no fool. Do as I say. Even if I'm wrong—" And here he frowned at the idea that a Yendi could be outwitted by a Dzur "—I am the best fencer in all of Dragaera."

So the captain did as she was told. Each warrior attacked the Dzur, and each fell with a slashed throat or pierced heart. At last, the captain faced the Dzur. Their combat lasted longer than any previous encounter, but ended no differently.

The Dzur raised her blade toward the Yendi. "Yendi! Now one of us dies."

The Yendi raised his sword in turn. "You know I am the finest fencer in the land."

"What do I care, so long as you face me like a warrior!"

As the Dzur's sword drove forward, the Yendi nodded, then said, "Ah!" and whirled around. The Dzur, unable to stop her thrust, stabbed him in the back.

The Dzur cried in horror and shame, "Yendi! Why did you turn?"

The Yendi gasped, "To see the assassins you obviously sent to slay me while we fought."

The Dzur said, "But there are no assassins!"

The Yendi grimaced, and the Dzur thought he would speak no more. Then the Yendi whispered, "Ah! Obviously the assassins were invisible."

And he died smiling.