Thursday, March 21, 2013


He's an old-fashioned chivalrous werewolf from a doomed world. She's a hard-bitten bisexual lawyer who hides her beauty behind a pair of thick-framed spectacles. They fight crime! (from

“Frederick, you don't have to hold the door open for me,” she snapped, stepping out of the car. She shut the door hard, nearly slamming his fingers.
Frederick grunted and shrugged. “Sorry, Selene, that's just what I'm used to, where I'm from.”
“Maybe that's why your world is dying, everyone's too stuck in the past.” she said, piercing eyes glaring behind her thick glasses.
“You're one cold bitch,” he snarled, glaring back.
“Somebody has to be,” she replied and started walking up the path to the house.
He grumbled to himself, following. “What are we doing here anyways?”
“Mary Andrews is a single woman living alone on the third floor. She's been threatened.”
“Why didn't she go to the police?”
“It was the police who threatened her. That's why she called us.”
He grunted, surprised. “Nice cops in your world,” he muttered.
She gave him a scowl before buzzing the third floor.
“Who is it?” A tentative voice spoke through the speaker.
“It's Selene and my partner, Frederick. We spoke on the phone.”
The door clicked and Selene opened it. They walked past faded paint and up creaking stairs. Selene knocked at the door and it opened a few inches. A woman with frazzled blond hair and wide eyes stared past a silver chain that held the door.
“Sorry,” she said quickly. “Had to be sure...” she closed the door and unhooked the chain.
Frederick felt anger building within him and kept it buried. It would not do to change now. He took a deep breath. The woman's face had looked bruised and battered.
Mary opened the door and welcomed them in. A shabby place, the door opened into the living room. A red ikea couch sat in front of a big box television. A doorway led into a cramped kitchen and another hallway beyond.
“I don't have much can sit on the couch. I just made some coffee...” Mary's voice trembled ever so slightly.
“No thanks-”
Frederick cut Selene off. “Coffee would be great,” he said with a smile.
Selene scowled as Mary went into the kitchen.
“We need to put her at ease,” he said in a low voice, sitting on the couch.
Selene didn't respond, which told Frederick she knew he was right.
He noticed her watching Mary in the kitchen. Though the woman wore loose sweatpants and a sweatshirt, her body was still noticeable. Fredrick noticed Selene watching the woman with interest.
“Hey,” he said. “We've got a job to do.”
She turned away. “Just because your mind's always in the gutter does not mean...” she muttered to herself.
He could hear Mary in the kitchen, getting out mugs and filling them up. He listened for anything else, a sign of someone else there. He heard nothing.
She brought in three mugs of steaming coffee and set them on the dusty glass coffee table. She hesitated. “I'm sorry, I forgot to ask if you wanted crea-”
“It's fine,” Selene said, taking a cup. She even managed to crack a smile, though it looked more menacing than comforting.
At least she was trying, Frederick thought. “Thank you, ma'am. Please, sit,” he said, motioning to a faded blue lazyboy chair.
Mary sat, taking a cup for herself and sipping at it. She looked down into the black liquid.
“What happened?” Selene asked.
Mary gulped. She sipped at her coffee.
Frederick followed her example. It tasted burnt but he didn't mind. Something smelled...wrong. It seemed to come from the kitchen. Mary kept glancing that way.
“I saw...something. I-I wasn't even sure I believed it until...” She took a deep breath. “I should hurry, in case he wakes up....”
“Someone's here?” Selene asked, eyes widening.
Frederick frowned. With his ears, he'd be able to hear someone even just breathing in the bedroom. That, along with the smell...”Vampire,” he growled, standing.
Selene put a hand on his arm.
He looked down, muscles tensing.
“Sit,” she said.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He could feel the change, feel the beast wanting to come out. Not now. He sat and looked at Mary. “I...apologize.”
“No need,” Mary whispered. “I saw a police uniform. He was in an alleyway and he...he bit this girl right on the neck. She bled everywhere and looked like he was drinking it. I wouldn't have believed it if...if they hadn't shown up last night. They...threatened me. One...stayed over.” She gave a shuddering breath. “He's still here. They all think...think I'm too scared to do or say anything...” She looked down at the coffee cup shaking in her hands.
“You're braver than you know,” Selene said. “To call us and meet us with one still here? That takes courage.”
“I just want them out of my life,” Mary said. “I don't have much to pay you...”
Selene frowned but Frederick shook his head. “Whatever you can give will be enough.” Selene gave him a look but Frederick didn't care. They couldn't leave this woman to be preyed on by blood-sucking leeches. He stood up.
“Do you have garlic?”

In a few minutes, Frederick stood next to the bed. Curtains covered the windows, making the room dark. A pale naked man lay on the bed, sleeping.
“Get ready,” Frederick said.
Selene stood next a window, hand on the curtain. Mary waited in the living room, just to be safe.
Frederick held chopped garlic in his hand. He opened the sleeping man's mouth and shoved the garlic inside.
The man screamed into Fredrick's palms, his eyes wide. Smoke seeped out from between Frederick's fingers.
The man struggled, grasping at Frederick's arms but unable to move them. Vampires were weak in the day time.
“Shut up,” Frederick said.
The man stopped shrieking, whimpering instead.
“You're going to tell us where your nest is.”
The man nodded.
Frederick pulled his hand away.
The man spat out the garlic into the bed, dry heaving and spitting up blood. The man wiped his mouth and glared. “You're going to pay for that,” he hissed. “You don't know who-”
Selene threw the curtain back. Sunlight poured onto the man.
He shrieked, curling up, body beginning to smoke. It smelled toxic, like rotting burning flesh.
Selene pulled the curtain into place, blocking out the sun.
The screaming died down. The vampire shivered.
Frederick gripped the man by the throat. “Where is your nest?”
The man's eyes widened in realization. “You're one of them,” he gasped. “A Beast...”
Frederick's grip tightened. “Where. Is. Your. Nest.”
“24 Lexington st,” the man choked out.
Frederick looked at Selene and nodded.
Selene opened the curtain while Frederick held the vampire down until he was gone.
“Mary,” Frederick called, leaving the bedroom.
Selene watched where the vampire lay, now only ashes, and took a deep breath before following her partner.
“You need to leave,” Frederick said. “Is there anywhere you can go? Friends, family, the farther away the better. Hopefully, only for a couple days.”
Mary licked her lips, wringing her hands. “My-my mothers. It's two hours from here.”
“Good. Pack a bag and go there, as soon as you can.”
“What-What's going on?”
Frederick gripped her wrists gently. “The man in your bedroom is gone. He will not hurt you again. The others are still out there. Until we take care of them, you need to go somewhere safe.”
Back in the car, Frederick sat in the driver's seat. He turned on the car and put the gear in drive when Selene gripped his wrist.
He turned to her and noticed she was shaking. Her eyes were wide behind her glasses.
“Fred, tell me what the fuck is going on.”
He'd never seen her like this, without her tough exterior. “I told you about vampires.”
She threw up her hands. “No. You said there were such things where you came from. You never said anything about them being here.”
“I didn't know.”
She shook her head and looked away. “I've swallowed a lot of shit, Fred. I can accept some of it. That you're a werewolf, well, I've seen it with my own eyes. That you come from another world, like mine but with shapeshifters and vampires? That's a tall order but I can take it. But these...vampires? Here? Killing and drinking blood?” She shook her head again. “It's out of a fucking nightmare.”
Frederick turned to her. “If you're scared, I get it. If you want out, I understand,” he said in a soft voice. He knew exactly what he was doing.
She gave a fierce glare. “I am not afraid,” she snapped. “And if you think you're going to get rid of me that easy...” She stopped, making a noise of frustration. “I know what you're doing.”
He smirked. “You going soft on me, Selene?”
“Never. Just tell me everything.”
He shrugged and spoke as he drove. “I told you most everything. I do not know how I came here, only that I am here. It is similar to my own world...only more alive. It was the vampires that doomed my home. They are monsters who only live to feed and feast upon the living until there is nothing left. They perpetuate their numbers with a single bite. That is why my home dies, overrun by them. I had hoped never to see them again. To find them here...and as police officers? It bodes ill.”
Selene pulled out the pistol she kept in a shoulder holster underneath her business suit. She checked the ammo and snapped the clip back in. Back to business. Nothing disturbed her for long. On the outside, at least. “Well, let's fucking kill them then.”

He pulled up to a ratty two-story house, dulled yellow paint and windows covered by cardboard.
“They'll have guards.”
“Vampires are slow and weak during the day. It's when they sleep. That's why the one back there was so easy to handle. This is their nest for the day. They wouldn't leave themselves undefended.”
“Who would guard a fucking blood-sucking vampire?”
“They find people, give them a taste of their blood, sweeter than any drug. One taste and the human's addicted for life. We called them the Devoted.” Frederick looked at his partner. “I didn't think you'd be so keen on killing them. Figured you'd want to get evidence against them, get them arrested, follow the law, you being a lawyer and all.”
“I know what things the Law can take handle. Blood-sucking vampires from another world ain't one of those things.”
Frederick nodded. “Let's get on with it, then.”
Selene slipped the gun into her purse as she got out of the car.
They walked up to the door and Frederick pounded on it. The sun hung high in the sky, not long after noon.
The knob turned and the door opened a couple inches, chain near the top cinching tight. A haggard face peered out.
Frederick saw red in the man's eyes and knew.
“Who the fuck are you?” The man asked.
Frederick threw his shoulder into the door, busting the chain off. It caught the man square in the nose, knocking him back. Frederick charged inside, grabbing the man and shoving him against the nearest wall.
“How many?” Frederick growled.
The man grunted, stunned.
Footsteps in the hall. A man turned the corner wearing only sweatpants but holding an uzi and swinging it up in their direction.
Selene was quicker. The gun kicked in her hand, gunshots ringing in the air. The man fell before he could fire a shot.
“Cops are going to be here quick after that,” Selene said, her eyes on the fallen man.
“Forget him, he's barely human.” Frederick gripped the man's head in his hands and slammed it against the wall until he collapsed. Frederick growled, changing. Fur sprouted all over. He grew taller, muscles bulging, face mutating into the visage of a wolf.
More footsteps. Frederick could hear them, tell where they were and where they were going.
“One from that way, two from the kitchen.” Frederick growled around long fangs. He went to the kitchen.
Two men came, pistols in hand. They fired, bad shaky shots but a couple hit Frederick. He didn't notice. He charged them, grabbing one in each clawed hand and hurling them against the wall. A couple quick movements, claws tearing open throats and guts and the Devoted fell, dying.
He heard a couple shots from Selene and a short burst of return fire. He found her and another dead man next to the stairs.
“We go up,” he growled. He heard no movement on the ground floor.
She nodded. Her eyes were wide with shock but she moved with ease, unhindered. It would hinder her later, he knew. Killing humans, even wretches beyond saving.
He headed up first, his ears twitching. He heard movement but it was slow. Bedsheets moving. The Devoted were dead, that only left the vampires.
They went to each bedroom. The men within struggled to stand and fight. Frederick ripped them apart. Selene kept an eye out. Sirens could be heard when they entered the last bedroom.
“Wait,” Selene said.
Frederick hesitated. The man before them stood, eyes half-closed, lips peeled back revealing fangs.
“What is it?” Frederick snarled.
“I recognize him,” Selene said. “Fuck, he works for Marlon.”
Marlon, the local crime boss, involved with vampires. Marlon hissed.
Frederick bit through his neck and let him vanish to ashes. “Let's go.” They rushed back through the home, now filled with bloody corpses and piles of ash. They raced to the car, Selene to the driver's seat.
Frederick compacted his large self into the passenger seat and changed back to human. He grabbed a black bag from the back as Selene took off, flashing lights in the rear view mirror.
“They're not following,” Selene said and smirked. “Will you put on some fucking clothes?”
“Working on it,” Frederick replied with a grin. He pulled sweatpants and a sweatshirt out of the bag and put them on.
They drove in silence for a few moments, the adrenaline burst fading, the realization of what they had just done hitting home.
“Marlon and vampires...” Selene said. “Does that mean what I think it means?”
“Either the vampires are infesting organized crime or the crime boss himself is a vampire....who knows. It's not good.”
“No, it's fucking not.”
“It'd make sense though. Vampires like to insinuate themselves into the local organizations. Government, the police, positions of power. Organized crime has a lot of power.”
“Shit,” she swore. “This is big.”
“Yes,” he said. “It is.”
“This is a big fucking job.”
“And we're the only ones who can do it.”

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Garden

(I took part in a flash fiction challenge, though technically I am putting up late, was supposed to be done by noon today and only 1500 words. Oh well, mine's 2500 words, guess I'm a rebel.

The challenge is here, by Chuck Wendig. It's basically this: Pick a number between 1-10 three times. I rolled a d10 using an online dice roller(I am a nerd). The numbers correspond to these choices in three corresponding aspects: Subgenre/Setting/Element.

My random picks?
Subgenre: Sword and Sorcery
Setting: At the Gates of the Garden of Eden
Element: A Talking Sword.

This is what I came up with.)

The Garden

The knight walked the pitted road alone. His armor no longer shined, covered in dried blood and mud. Black hair hung down to his shoulders, dirty and unkempt. He'd lost his helm long ago. He carried a sword, its tip dragging in the dirt.

"How can you be sure?" The sword asked.

"I believe it," the man replied.

"But you don't know. You can't."

"I do know. I have faith. That is enough."

"How do you know you'll make it? It has not been an easy road."

No, it had not. He'd faced hordes of dark men, monstrous beasts and turned death aside each and every time. "Like I said, I have faith."

"You really believe. You really trust in Him. After everything."

"Yes. After everything."

"How will you find it?"

"Faith. Faith, my old friend."

The man walked on, the sword silent. The land lay flat all around, dark and sandy. A hot wind blew dust about. The man covered his mouth with his hand and closed his eyes. It passed and he moved on.

"We've seen nothing for miles," the sword said. "Perhaps there is nothing left."

"Remnants. Vestiges of what we once were. Pieces that are not whole."

"Will never be whole."

The man shook his head. "We will be, again. There is always hope."

"Hope for what?"

"Salvation. For those of us left in this broken world."

A hut appeared in the distance, as the sun neared the horizon and the sky, always gray, grew darker. It stood, walled with gray brick scoured by ages of time. A light shone from the one window.

"We are close," the sword said. "Be wary."

"I will be faithful." He found the strength to pick up the sword and sheath it on his back. The door to hut stood strong and wooden. He pounded on it.

"Who be there?" A frail voice called. "These be evil times."

"A humble traveler, asking only shelter for the long night."

"Do you have anything to offer?"

"I have nothing."
The door creaked open, revealing a wizened old face. The old man peered curiously through a gap in the door. He took notice of the armor and the sword. "You look like one from ancient times."

"I follow an ancient path."

The door opened fully, revealing the one room shack within. A dusty table stood in the center, wooden cupboards against the wall and a cot in the corner.

"I don't have much but what I do have, I offer."

"You have my thanks."

The old man nodded and gestured to the table where two rickety chairs sat.

The knight took a seat as the elder walked around the home, opening the cupboards. He took out a bottle of brownish liquid, sloshing about. He grabbed two glasses and set everything upon the table.

"I thank you but I do not drink liquor," the younger said.

The old man halted, muttering to himself. He went back to the cupboards and pulled out another pitcher. This of water. He poured the liquor in one glass and water in the other. He slid the water glass over to the other man.

The knight took it and drank. "I thank you."

The old man took a seat across the table and drank from his own glass. "Are you a knight?"


"You truly do follow an ancient path, then, one long forgotten in this world. What does a knight do, in a world so lost in darkness?"

"Bring light to the darkness. Seek forgiveness and salvation. Believe."

"Believe?" The old man snapped, drinking more. He cackled. "Believe? You are a fool!"

The knight put the glass down. "If I have offended you, I will seek shelter elsewhere."

The old man chuckled at that. "There is no other shelter here." He shook his head. "Stay. I have not had company in a very long time. Tell me, knight, what do you seek? The Holy Grail?" The old man smiled as if he'd made a joke.

The knight finished the water in his glass. "I seek no holy relic, only a holy place where I can finally rest."

"You seek a temple?"

The knight shook his head. "I will know it when I find it."

The old man, in gray rags and long ragged white hair, smiled a toothless grin. "You search the wrong way. There is nothing up this road but death. Go back the way you came, I tell you."

The knight shook his head. "I must keep on as I am."

The elder nodded. "Very well." He stood and picked up the water pitcher. "Let me refill your glass." He walked around the table.

The other man put his glass down as the elder walked over. The old man threw the water into the knight's face.

The knight's head snapped back.

The old man thrust a dagger at the other man's neck.

The knight caught the wrist, twisting it away.

The pitcher crashed against the knight's head, knocking him over and out of his chair.

He rolled, standing, lights flashing in his eyes.

The old man came on.

The sword flashed out in the knight's hand, knocking dagger and pitcher away. He held the point of the blade against the old man's neck.

"Yield!" The knight called.

The old man hesitated.

"Adam," the knight said, his voice soft and low, vision clearing. "Yield or die."

Adam sighed and raised his arms. "I yield."

The knight sheathed his sword.

Adam gestured to the table. "Shall we break bread and talk?"

The knight nodded.

Adam went to the cupboards and brought out a loaf of bread. He brought it to the table and broke it in half.

The knight sat, accepting half a loaf.

"We tried to come back," Adam said, nibbling at a piece of bread. "We knew we couldn't go back, just as you cannot go there...but we tried. Just as you will try, and fail."

"I will not fail. You guard it now?"

"I suppose we do. What do you expect to find? Paradise?" Adam laughed without mirth. "You will not find that."

"I do not search for paradise."

"You seek the Garden. You are close but the way, the way is perilous."

"Is Eve here, too, then?"

Adam nodded, his eyes heavy with sadness. "The most beautiful woman. The only woman. We tried to come back." His voice filled with regret, he looked ready to cry. "I would cry but I have no more tears left. I have cried for all that I have done, all the sorrow I have wrought. I have no more tears left."

The knight ate in silence.

"You should kill him," the sword spoke.

Adam's eyebrows rose in surprise. "Your sword speaks? The sounds familiar." Adam stared at the weapon. "Who is it?"

"That is none of your concern," the knight said.

"You should kill him and abandon this quest," the sword said. "The pathetic man is right. You will not find salvation."

"What?" Adam asked, standing up. "It cannot be true! A human believes where an angel does not?" He burst into laughter.

The knight finished his bread and stood. "I will seek shelter elsewhere," he said and headed for the door.

"He abandoned us, knight!" Adam called out. "You will not find Him!"'

The knight left the old man bent over, cackling with laughter.

Night had fallen, pitch black and thick. The knight walked along the road, leaving the hut behind.

"You will not sleep this night?" The sword asked.

"I will walk. We are close."

"You will do no good if you get yourself killed."

"You forget, you always forget. My faith protects me."

Silence held the air as the man walked, boots crunching dirt.

"You are a good man," the sword broke the silence. "I am glad you are the one who found me. I hope you find what you are looking for."

The knight gripped the handle of the blade. "He forsake us for our sins and left us to destroy ourselves. We did so and now we are left, broken and bleeding. He did not believe we deserved saving. I will show Him we can be pure of heart and mind, we can be saved. I will ask for forgiveness, for all of us. And he will give us salvation."

The sword did not answer.

The knight kept on, his muscles drained and his body exhausted. The sun rose, lightening the dull gray sky and illuminating the flat plain around him. The road led on, empty and lifeless. The air around him seemed to thicken. Each step felt harder to take than the last until it seemed he walked through water. Haze obfuscated the land around him, blurry and distant. His vision grew distorted, colors swirling, mixing, spreading, growing.

"What manner of trick is this?" He asked, spitting out the words, sounding shaken.

"I know not, but it is dangerous. Do not..." The sword's voice faded from his mind.

His feet no longer touched the ground. His body fell miles.

He forgot.

He opened his eyes. He lay on a bed in a white room underneath white blankets. Pain was gone. Exhaustion was gone. He struggled to remember. Why would he be in pain? Why would he be exhausted? He realized he was naked in the bed and looked for clothes around the room, but there were none. No sword, either. Why did he think of a sword? He had no need of a sword. This place felt safe, peaceful.

He pushed himself to sit up and the door swung open. Had there even been a door before...His thoughts stopped abruptly as a beautiful woman walked in, wearing nothing but a flimsy black robe. Long and flowing brown hair fell down her back, her eyes not pools but oceans of blue you could drown in and she flashed a radiant smile at him.

"You're up," she said, her voice as beautiful as her body, light and magical.

"Yes but..." He frowned. "Something's wrong..."

"Don't worry," she said. "I'll join you in bed. We can forget about everything, here."

"No, wait." His cheeks flushed red. “We can't-”

She pulled the robe apart. “Why can't we?”

He closed his eyes. "No, something...this...this is wrong."

"Then why does it feel so right?" She whispered, coming closer.

He felt her sliding into the bed, getting close to him. He slid away, falling to the floor in his haste. "I cannot." He remembered...something. "I've taken an oath."

"Oaths were made to be broken. Trust me, I know."

"No," he said, standing. "I'm sorry but I need my clothes. I need to leave. Now."

"You are a fool." Her voice changed.

He turned as she threw herself from the bed, stabbing him in the side with a dagger. Her hair turned filthy white, her face wrinkled and her eyes black. Her voice blazed with anger.

"Fool!" She screamed.

With a roar he grabbed her arms and threw her away. He stumbled back, clutching at the dagger. "Eve!" He howled, pulling the dagger out and throwing it at her. The world fell away into darkness.

He remembered.

"Wake up!" The sword called. "She's going to kill you!"

The knight awoke, laying on the ground. He wore his armor and his sword but felt blood gushing from his side. He pushed himself up, side spiking in pain. A shriek hurtled through the air and he saw her, dark and old, floating in the air. She looked as she had in the dream at the end, hair white, skin stretched and wrinkled, eyes oozing darkness. She raised a hand and fire flew from her fingertips.

The knight dove to the side, fireball exploding behind him. He ducked another and threw himself back from a third. His body, still weary, seemed slow to respond. He felt burns across his open skin.

Eve screamed and flew at him, fingers extended, claws reaching for him. He turned but too slow. She raked his face bloody. He hit the ground hard.

"Give up!" She screamed like a banshee. "Give up and live!"

"You couldn't forgive yourself, could you Eve?" The knight called out, standing up. "You couldn't ask for forgiveness for your sin. It's eaten at you all this time, turning you to this wretched thing."

Eve snarled like a beast, throwing another ball of flame.

The knight stood tall, open armed and let it strike his armor. It billowed around him but did not harm him, though the metal warmed up. He drew his sword as she threw another. The blade struck it and sent it back. She barely dodged the explosion.

"Let's kill the bitch," the sword said.

"For once, we agree," the knight said, taking steps forward. He ignored the pain in his side, the ache in his muscles and the sheer exhaustion he felt. He strove towards the witch.

Eve threw visions but he saw through them, she threw lies yet he saw truth. She summoned up beasts and he slew them.

He reached her. She looked tired, barely able to stand, arms raised but doing nothing. Her face sagged and her eyes were wide in fright. "You will not find what you seek! You will only find death!"

"Yield," he said. "And I will spare your life."

She smiled. "Never," she spat, eyes twinkling as if she knew something he didn't.

"Behind!" The sword called and the knight turned without questioning, swinging the sword.

The witch's head hit the ground and rolled as the body crumpled to dust. Darkness swirled around the knight and then dissipated, revealing a dark forest with a lone dirt path leading through it.

The knight walked the path. Blood left a trail behind him. He pulled off his breastplate and let it fall to the side of the path. The side of his shirt felt patchy with blood. He said nothing. The sword said nothing.

The man's breath caught at the sight of the gate. It stood, looming over him, its height above the trees of the forest. A dark wall extended from the gate in both directions as far as the eye could see. The gate itself was made of golden bars, bright and polished...No, that wasn't right. There were spots of rust here and there along the gate, the brightness dimmed in spots. Still, it was an impressive sight.

"We made it," the man said.

The sword said nothing.

He frowned as the two giant sides of the gate stood ajar, leaving a gap wide enough for him to fit through. He had expected it to be closed, to open at his touch...

"It's not for me to question," he whispered, stepping through the gate.

His feet faltered and he fell to his knees. The view shocked him. The ground looked ancient and dusty, nothing but old dirt and dead foliage. The trees stood tall but their limbs were bare. Many had fallen, not to an axe but to rot. Bones littered the earth. Bones of every kind of animal the man could think of. So many bones, all over. So much death.

A wail escaped him. Everything welled up and poured out. He clutched his bleeding side and fell, weeping. A cold wind blew but nothing in the Garden moved.

The man pushed himself to stand. He unsheathed his sword.

"Don't do this," the sword said.

"I have nothing left," the man said. He put the point of the blade against the left side of his chest and both hands on the grip. He thrust the sword into his heart and fell.

Eventually, all that was left was his bones, the only human bones in the whole Garden, and the sword, lying at the gate.