This blogfest entry is brought to you by J.C. Martin at The Fighter Writer. You can view all participants through this link.
This entry stars my protagonist, Valence. Most returning fest-goers have met him. This scene occurs in the beginning of the story, when Valence steps in to save the king from an assassin.
If something bugs you or sticks out, please let me know. Thanks and enjoy!
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C'mon! Come Get Me!
Valence stepped forward, pretending the poison no longer contaminated his blood, and charged with his crescent blade. He yelled with a beast-like rancor and the assassin pulled two sabers from the sheaths on his back. Valence hacked away, missing a clean swipe at the assassin’s chest. The black-skinned man danced in at him, the blades flicking like snake tongues. The assassin knocked away another crushing blow and Valence backed off with the tip of his sword meeting the tip of a saber.
They circled carefully. “You’re Valence, am I right?”
Valence glared and he cocked his wrist up, positioning his tip higher than the saber. “How do you know my name?” His fingers fidgeted, coiled to strike, and his hand thrummed from their clash. As if sensing he would be a dangerous adversary, the assassin narrowed a glare on Valence that strove to pierce his guard. Valence refused to falter and confronted the look with his own discerning stare, probing his foe’s strengths—and weaknesses. For him, the face-off lasted forever. The assassin stunk of earth and sweat, and his skin had an unnatural sheen. He smelled death on the assassin’s blades. A thousand screams of defenseless victims lingered there.
“We all have names.” Their steps were matched in time. “Mine is Xixios.”
“That doesn’t answer my question.” Valence fought for his breaths, but Xixios did not appear broken like he.
“You’ve become quite popular. The Darkness wants you.”
Valence caught a lost breath. Mekuyo spoke the truth. He examined the assassin’s posture and studied his words a second time. “Not going to happen.”
The assassin curled his lip and tightened his hold on the sabers. “Nothing escapes it once claimed.”
The duel continued.
Valence had Xixios on the defensive, but with each swing, the assassin dodged. Their circular movements pressed on. He lunged and Xixios lurched away, leaving the crescent sword to slice tufts of shadow in his wake. He lifted his blade to his chest, ready to parry. Xixios coiled the shadows and vanished into the screen of darkness. The dueling ground tightened. Valence tempted a slice at the thickest part of the shadows and returned to guard with his left hand resting at the knife on his belt.
Valence stood alone, circling and eyes darting. The shadows broke open and Xixios jumped in, sabers held high, cutting toward him. Valence ducked and repelled the first saber. He tucked his sword low at his thigh and struck his elbow at Xixios’ abdomen.
The darkness surrounding them tore apart when Xixios tumbled to the floor. The afternoon sun teemed through the windows in pillars.
Xixios gathered his second wind and returned to his feet. As Valence watched him rise, the king stirred at his back. Valence stepped into the assassin’s view of the throne, sword pointed down.
“That was fun,” Xixios said as he picked up his sabers.
“That’s Lunata combat.” Valence’s answer was sharp and he kept his weapon ready.
Valence's breath rasped as he tried to keep his balance, but the poison brought him to his knees. He lacked the strength to hold his sword’s weight and his fingers tingled against the leather wrappings.
Xixios sneered, the reptilian slits scrutinizing Valence’s strength. “Did I get you?”
“Not this time.”
“Let’s see if I can fix that.”
Valence forced the poison to retreat and rose as Xixios rushed. The assassin spat obscenities as he hacked at Valence’s feinting form. Valence bellowed each time his weapon connected to the whistling sabers and pushed harder. Slice, dip, and lunge. Xixios lagged and Valence struck forward, grazing the assassin’s arm. He followed through and tangled his weapon between Xixios’, fighting to break his hold on the sabers. Their strengths matched and his opponent’s stink assaulted him the closer he stood. His sight fuzzed as sweat dripped into his eyes.
“You’re done,” Xixios said.
“Not yet,” Valence breathed. The words stung his throat. He tasted his own defeat, but refused to let Xixios hear it. His biceps screamed, the pain surging, but he pushed Xixios away.
Valence expected Xixios to reexamine him, but lashed again. He pushed his advance on Valence, his blade patterns all too similar to the Lunata fighting style. Valence stepped off Xixios’ explosive combat. The sabers whirred left and right, cross body and into an extended thrust. Xixios finished with a reverse-blade uppercut.
Valence tucked and rolled as Xixios landed shortly behind him from a leap. His saber crushed through the floor, showing no strain of having cut into solid marble. Valence spun and pressed into a lunge, but faltered as tendrils of poison swam down his sword-arm. Xixios parried and dropped his saber short into Valence’s vambrace.
Valence’s sword skittered across the floor. He witnessed the hatred in Xixios’ red eyes boil to black and watched defenselessly as the saber rose and hewed into his pauldron. It bit through the hide protection, the strike deep and just left of his collarbone. Valence yelped from the serrated sting of his flesh tearing open and was grabbed up from his knees. Xixios lifted him off the ground and flung him over his shoulder.