Part of me was glad I hadn't been placed with any of my fellow students. It meant that if I survived it would be because I had the skill, not that I was the best of a bad bunch.
On Salazar's signal to start, the whole wooden structure began to shift beneath my feet as every competitor on all the platforms began to move. I staggered backwards but managed to keep my balance, just in time for one of my opponents, a fully fledged Black Soul Hunter, to come charging at me, a flail in his hand.
I jumped quickly to one side, only just avoiding the spiked ball that was coming crashing towards me. Instead it hit the floor and my attacker let out a roar of anger when he realised it was stuck in the wood. I knew this was my moment to act and take out my first opponent.
Drawing my sword I ran at my opponent, making him stagger back, weaponless. I swung at him again and again, forcing him backwards to the edge of the platform, where I delivered a hard, sharp blow to the centre of his chest, making him overbalance and fall to the waters below.
Part of me wanted to check and see if how the others were doing, but the sound of clashing metal behind me drew my attention back to my own battle.
The other two competitors were fighting it out, one with a longsword, the other with a battle axe. Their blades were locked and I could see the strain on both of their faces as they fought to gain the upper hand. Suddenly, they broke away with the sound of scraping metal, which set my teeth on edge.
The woman, who was holding the longsword, took this opportunity to take a swipe at her unprepared opponent, who dodged her blade but staggered backwards, unbalanced, and found himself balancing precariously on the edge of the platform. The woman was standing on the other side of the platform and wouldn't be able to make it to her opponent before he could regain his balance.
My decision was instant, and within moments I was standing by the man with the battle axe and swung the blunt side of my blade around to catch him on the back of his knees, sending him backwards and off the edge of the platform.
'How dare you!' The woman's voice was full of anger as she advanced on me. 'That was my victory.' She swung her sword at me, which I hastily blocked with my own sword before it cut into my face.
Our blades swung around and I instantly began to regret standing so close to the edge as I had nowhere to retreat to. I was cornered.
I blocked all of the woman's blows as they came at me, one quickly following the next, but I could feel my arms starting to tire. I wouldn't be able to keep this up for much longer. I looked around for any sort of escape, and my eye caught sight of the rope that was holding the platform off the ground. A plan immediately jumped into my head. All I had to do was get to that rope.
I blocked another blow then feinted right to throw my attacker off balance then ran right towards the rope. I reached out with my left hand, and used it to swing onto a different side of the platform.
Unfortunately I hadn't factored in my opponent's speed of recovery and when I landed she was already running towards me. I dodged her blow, ducking under her sword and swiping at her ankles with my leg. She hadn't been expecting it and fell to the floor, her sword dropping from her grasp. I reached to knock her sword out of her reach but was stopped when my opponent threw herself at me, pinning me to the ground. There was nothing I could do to escape; the woman was heavier than she looked.
She wrenched my sword from my grip, throwing it out of reach. I heard it clatter onto the surface of the wood, so at least it hadn't fallen into the waters below. I could feel the woman shift her weight on top of me and we suddenly began to roll.
I realised what was happening just as the platform disappeared and I went into free fall. I instinctively grasped upwards and was delighted when my hands touched wood and I managed to hold onto the edge of the platform.
I was hanging in mid-air, the waters of the river crashing below me and my opponent on the platform above me. But I was not going to be beaten.
Will all my strength I pulled myself upwards until my arms were resting on the wood and I could get the rest of my body onto the platform. My opponent clearly thought she had won as she had sheathed her sword and was bowing to the onlookers. My sword was lying a few feet behind her and I knew that if I could get to it without her noticing, I might stand a chance of catching her off guard and forcing her off the other side of the platform.
The platform jolted and I almost lost my grip for a moment but managed to hold on. This would have been so much easier if the other platforms didn't affect mine, but that was something I was going to have to live with.
I hauled myself up onto the platform and ran as fast as I could towards my sword. I grasped it and continued running towards my opponent. I could hear the gasps from the audience as I swung my sword at the woman. She noticed me before the sword could hit her and dodged out of the way. I swung at her again, as she tried to unsheathe her longsword, forcing her to dodge again.
Finally she managed to draw her sword and blocked my attack. We were so close to the edge now, only a few more steps and she would be off the edge of the platform. I reached inside my tired body for one last surge of strength to push her back.
Our swords clashed again, but this time I twisted my blade at the right time, sending her longsword flying off the platform and into the waters below. I quickly sheathed my sword, lashing out at her with my fists. I landed one hit to her shoulder and another in her stomach, making her double over.
'I think you'll find this is my victory,' I whispered in her ear before pushing her off the platform. I watched her fall, not wanting to make the same mistake she had made.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw her body hit the water with a splash. I'd won. I'd fought three professional Hunters and was the last one standing. I felt a sense of pride wash through me, making a rare smile spread across my face.