• Flux Magazine

"Among the Roman" by Shelby Liddicoey

The taste of metal surged through my mouth as I flew backward landing hard against a tree and sinking to my knees. A large hand emerged in front of my face; grasping it, I was forced to my feet.

“That was good,” Maxim smiled. “You’re getting better, but we still have work to do. Why don’t we take a break?”

“No,” I replied harshly. “Let’s go again.”

Maxim threw his head back laughing. “No, no, no, dear friend. Please save your death wish for battle; I do not want to be the one to kill you.” He tossed me my captured gladius and motioned for me to follow him. “Besides you have to hold up your end of the bargain.” He raised an eyebrow mischievously and started the woods without another word.

My breath became steady as I opened my eyes to the world around me. I was alone, alone in a dehydrated field surrounded by nothing but the horizon, which sang out and forced a chill down my spine. An unexpected rustle to the northwest stole my focus. The distinctive color of a rabbit camouflaging itself among the grass stood out to me. Before I knew it my bow was clouding my line of sight, but I could see the arrow jutting from the rabbit’s eye, as it lay stiff in the grass.

“Damn, Charun,” Maxim broke the silence reminding me that, yes, he was still here. “How do you do that?”

“If you paid attention, maybe you’d learn something,” I chided back, before spotting another rabbit about a decamped pertica behind Maxim. “Do you want to get it or should I?”

Maxim spun around and fired his bow, most ungracefully I might add, at the rabbit. He missed...by a lot. The rabbit stared him down with its beady little eyes then turned arrogantly and disappeared into the thick grass.

“Futuo! How did I miss that?” Maxim threw his bow at the ground and swore under his breath some more.

I smiled at his brashness for that was what was holding him back. “Hey! You wouldn’t throw your sword at the ground if you made a mistake in battle! Why

would you do that with your bow?” I shook my head at his ignorance. “You have to

be patient...”

“But I don’t want to be patient!”

“And don’t interrupt me! Do you want to learn how to shoot or not?!”

“I preferred watching you fall on your ass.”

“We are done here,” I turned away from him, smiling.

"Wait, no, I'm sorry....how do I use this thing?"

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