Nicyes wrenched his sword free of his enemy’s ribcage, and let the last man fall to the ground like a particularly troublesome melon rind. There had been no sign of the giant, and that left Nicyes feeling both fortunate and apprehensive. A living foe was a threat, and all threats needed to be dealt with in turn.

He scanned the battlefield. Nearly a dozen dead, though none of them as threatening as the man who now lay dead at Nicyes’s feet. Alquis muttered something about a waste of life, but Nicyes reasoned that an enemy was an enemy.

“They came at us,” he said. “They took up arms in defense of their way of life, which we opposed.”

Alquis shrugged. “It just so happened their way of life involved feeding people to a powerful giant to avoid being eaten themselves.”

“You don’t know that,” said Nicyes. “Not that it matters.”

“No, it doesn’t matter,” replied Alquis. “They seemed to be so desperate in the fight, like they were throwing themselves on your sword as though their lives meant nothing at all. I can’t help but feel we played into someone’s trap.”

“Well, it’s a piss-poor trap if it requires that you die to catch your enemy,” said Nicyes. He spat on the ground.

“Come to think of it,” Alquis paused long enough to gaze through his focus crystal. “Never mind, they all seem to be dead. There’s nothing left of their minds for me to manipulate or destroy, and they don’t seem to have any animating force.”

Despite what Alquis said, Nicyes went from body to body, skewering vital areas or slashing out throats to confirm each kill. When he was finished, he wiped his blade off on the tunic of the closest dead man.

“I have a bad feeling about this,” said Alquis.

“I don’t,” said Nicyes. He stalked out of the marsh.

Alquis glanced around and then followed.