Fiction Fragment Friday
Like many of my stories that were not inspired by prompts this story was inspired by a dream. Sometimes dreams give me scenarios, sometimes they give me characters, and sometimes they give me concepts. In this case I took a bit of the dream situation and heavily focused on a thought I had during the dream. I developed the idea, but I wanted to challenge myself. With that in mind I decided to write the fight scene as a sword clashing fight scene is fairly far outside my comfort zone. I will let you be the judge on how it all came together.
I brought my sword up in a defensive stance bracing with my legs for the impact. My opponent was a foot taller than me and had muscles in places I didn’t know could grow muscles. He was the reigning champion and had the kind of reputation only being undefeated can earn you. I wasn’t sure what to expect out of my first tournament, but I did think I would have a more even first match than this was likely to be.
His sword collided with mine sending vibrations throughout my body. My knees wobbled and almost buckled from the force of the single blow. As he backed off I couldn’t stop myself from stumbling back a few steps. I had signed up for a friendly competition, but that had felt like the type of blow you level on someone you are trying to kill. My opponent played to the crowd, and they fed his ego with their cheers.
When my opponent turned to face me again, I charged forward bringing my sword down on him. I could have struck while he was playing to the crowd, but that would have been dishonorable. That is not the type of competitor I wish to be. I prepared for the impact from my sword hitting his, but it did not come. I had not put all of my strength or speed into the attempted blow, but it had been enough to cost me my balance when he spun to the side dodging my swing. He completed the smooth movement with a swing of his own sword clanging against the back of my armor. Thankfully it was a gentle blow and only served to complete my stumble to the ground.
“First point to Reginald,” the announcer called out as I hit the ground. Standing up in armor is far from the easiest thing to do. It isn’t just the weight, but the metal limits your range of motion. That is why it is something you practice often. Not being able to get back to your feet before another blow comes would mean death on a battlefield. I tried to rise with a bit of flair, but the audience was firmly in Reginald’s hand.
I had finally realized my mistake. I was approaching this match like I would a friendly sparing session. This was a competition though and that brings out a different level of commitment. It wasn’t live or death combat, but a true competitor would treat it as such. I had not prepared for that level of impact not swung with those intentions. In reality the first round I had been playing while my opponent had been fighting. That had to change.
I spun my sword in my hand adding a bit of flair to my movements. It isn’t that the movements actually help to defend, but they server as a distraction. They can draw the eye of your opponent, so they do not see your feet. Most people think that in a fight you should watch the blade. You certainly cannot ignore it, but the real story is in the feet and shoulders of your opponent. They will move long before the blade. I hoped to draw his eyes to the blade and away from my own feet.
I rushed forward and this tie used all my speed. The best strategy against a stronger opponent is to be faster. I was prepared in case he dodged again, but this time he met my blow. Our swords rang from the collision after collision as I struck, and he expertly blocked. I performed my own spin around him going for his back, but he easily deflected. I could see his eyes track between my feet, shoulders, and blade. This was not a man easily distracted. This was where I made my second major mistake. I knew I needed a better plan so I backed off of my attack to reassess.
“My turn,” he said with a wide smile. For a man so large his movements were nearly a blur. I barely got my sword up in time to stop his first swing and lost ground reacting to it. His swings continued and I felt my body aching with the impact of blocking them. I could not get my feet braced so all of my defense relied on upper body strength. The fatigue was quickly overtaking me, but he was not letting up in the slightest. Finally, I went to block a swing and instead he lunged jabbing the armor over my stomach.
“Second point goes to Reginald. One more point and we will have our winner.” I might have been offended by the announcer’s assumption that the next point would also be Reginald’s but at the time I was doubled over in pain. This hit had not been a gentle one. It was a heavy impact and I had to fight to keep from throwing up. It was the first time in my life that I had to acknowledge that I would be dead if I were not wearing armor. That is quite an impactful thought to have.
This time I took a different strategy. I had been the initial aggressor the first two rounds. This time I waited for him to make his move. I stood back watching his feet and trying to read him. He was difficult to read, but there were subtle tells. When he finally moved to attack, I tool a page out of his own book and instead dodged the blow. My own counter swing was easily deflected. I needed to show him something he had not seen before, but I could not forget that he had a longer reach.
I successfully dodged three lunges and could tell the crowd was not happy. They wanted to see impact not dancing. It was time to show them something. As my opponent closed in on me, I feinted a move to the left. He bought it and adjusted accordingly. Instead of dodging with a roll though I dropped to the ground. His swing went over my head letting me get in closer. I bought my sword up and pinged against his chest armor.
“First Point to Calvin. Score is currently Reginald two and Calvin one.” The announcer sounded both surprised and disappointed to make the announcement. He obviously thought the match would be over by now. I was not going to let that happen though. I had manged something he had never seen before and I just needed to do so again two more times.
Reginald came at me with a speed I did not know he was capable of. His swings brought his full force with them, and I wasn’t sure if I had the strength to actually block them. Dodging was my only option. I could feel his anger radiating off of him. He did not like having given up a point and was trying to overwhelm me with his assault. Unfortunately, it was working.
He kicked at my knee and I felt something in my leg give. The move was not technically illegal, but it was considered poor sportsmanship. The crowd did not seem to mind though, they cheered even louder chanting his name. “Cut his head off,” I heard someone in the crowd scream. They wanted to see my blood. I tried to step away, but pain shot through my leg. It buckled under me unable to hold the weight.
Seeing me falter Reginald pressed his advantage. I had no choice but to block his blows directly with my sword. I could not deflect them or roll with the impact. Instead, my whole body shook from each hit. I felt my arms begin to shake barely able to bring the sword up. He paused the attack giving me a chance to look up into his face.
The man’s smile held no mirth in it. The anger had faded, but the cruelty was front and center. “This arena is mine you worthless nobody. Count your blessings I don’t make more of an example out of you.” I braced myself for the next impact, but to my surprise he spun around me instead of striking downward. My knee wouldn’t let me turn so I didn’t see the flat of the sword sweep down at me.
I felt the impact against the back of my head and then everything went black. I am not sure how long I was unconscious, but when I awoke I was in a bed and all my armor had been removed. A nurse was applying a cold wet rag to my forehead. It did little to stop the pain, but it did feel good. She left without making eye contact, but I swear I heard her mutter “idiot” under her breath as she went.
I had not understood what competition was. The training I did never could have prepared me for what I faced in the arena, but now I knew that. I would return at the next tournament. Next time I would not make the same mistakes. You either bring your best or you might as well not show up at all. I did not bring my best. I would be ready next time, but all the same I hoped for an easier first round opponent.