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The ringing echo of blades bounced off the circular walls of the training court inside Auréa. Daniel blocked a high strike and pressed against his opponent’s blade. The young man backpedaled, leaving Daniel with an opening to attack. He swung low and then across the man’s middle. Both attempts were blocked, but with another thrust, Daniel had his sword point pressed against his sparring partner’s chest. He breathed out hard and shook his head as he lowered his blade. The young man hadn’t even tried to block that last attack.
“Ian, how am I supposed to know if I’m a halfway decent swordsman if you always let me win? You’re not going to hurt me with a blunt blade, and even if you did, I wouldn’t do anything about it.” He tried to temper his frustration and soften his tone. He hadn’t minded so much when he was young and it was all fun and games, but he had begun to take it more seriously in the recent days.
“Now, come on. Fight me. For real this time.” He raised the sword for a second match, but Ian looked questioningly at the other instructors. Daniel sighed and let the sword drop. Shaking his head again, he turned to look around the room. He put his arms out in exasperation. Surely someone had the guts to actually try to beat him. “Is there anyone who will give me a proper fight?”
Daniel’s gaze shifted to where Aric stood in the doorway. How long had he been there? Daniel had seen him sparring a couple of times. The man was one of the most skilled swordsmen at Auréa. He had to be to have secured the position as head of security.
Daniel nodded, eager. “Thank you.”
Aric strode in and unbuckled his jerkin and sword belt. “Like you said, you won’t know what kind of swordsman you are if you’re never challenged.” He handed his jerkin and sword to one of the attendants and took the blunt practice sword from Daniel’s previous sparring partner, who backed quickly to the perimeter of the room.
Giving the sword a few test swings to get the feel of it, he faced Daniel. Daniel took his own sword in both hands with the feeling he was about to get exactly what he wanted, and he honestly didn’t have a clue how he would fair against it.
Copyright 2015 by Jaye L. Knight