Finding Gratitude, Part 15

Sela caught the practice sword tossed her way. It was actually a rather fine piece of wood. Tested, weathered, but still retaining a supple nature. Sela tested the blade, and was amazed by the nature of the sword. There was a perfect balance, right in the center of the blade. Beyond a blunt edge, she was holding a true weapon.

And it had been given to her by a true swordsman. Named only Bill, he was at the edge of the ring. Not trying to stare off into the distance, or put her off with some sneering bravado. He was warming up. His own blade whirled around him, starting in slow circles, going faster and faster until Sela could barely keep track of the movements.

The crowd was up and awake. Many had already been attending to the fights, and even enjoyed and cheered her on against Bluelight. But for this, people crowded the edge of the ring, trying to get a closer look.

There was real bloodlust in the air, expectant. It excited Sela.

Regni whistled once, and the bar went silent. No one wanted this to wait another second. The gnome looked at the two duelists. He knew they’d obey the rules, and honestly wanted out before anything truly bone crunching happened. He clapped his hands together, and ran out of the ring.

Before he got five steps, Sela and Bill met at the center. The sharp crack of wood filled the air. Again, and again. Quick strikes, testing each other. Trying to find any imperfections in the opponent’s stance and style.

Sela knew he was going to find it. She understood in seconds. Her motions were fluid, and she knew she held some sort of grace. But she was used to a certain level of savagery, with Sir Violet egging her on and guiding the movements. Without the sword’s guidance, or passion, she felt just the tiniest bit lost. With someone like this Bill, in a fair fight she gave herself eighty-six more seconds before she would have to admit defeat.

Sela never admitted defeat.

She spun on her heel, and lashed out at his knee. Bill sidestepped, and she kicked again, higher. He parried, and struck out. In an instant she had his arm, and threw him to the side of the ring.

Bill laughed, and turned to her. “Not bad, though not dueling.”

“Missing my sword,” Sela said.

“A duelist is ready for anything,” Bill muttered. He saluted her with his blade. “Something you still need to learn.”

Sela readied her own. “We’ll see.”

“No!” Regni burst back into the ring. “Run, everybody run! The cops are here!”

The audience stared at him, confused. “Didn’t you pay them?” Bill asked.

“It’s the Mayor’s Guard!”

The bar exploded in activity. Spells, invisibility cloaks, vanishing discs, anything that could get them out of the bar faster. Those without magic ran for anything that could be construed as an exit.

Bill also ran, but not before he winked at Sela. “You’re decent. Gratitude’s going to be a bit more fun with you here.”

He ran off just as the Mayor’s Guards charged into the bar. Any stragglers were trampled under their silver and purple boots. They stopped in front of Sela. Crossbows were at the ready, pointed straight at her.

One man, the captain, judging by the badges decorating his chest plate, walked in. he looked at Sela, and the rest of the area. “Sir Violet secured?”

“No, he isn’t.” Sela folded her arms, and frowned. “What’s going on?”

“The mayor would like a word, Sela.”

“Here’s two. Bite me.”

The captain smiled. “Blunted bolts should just knock you unconscious. I hope we don’t give you a concussion.”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

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