In The Marshes

I wandered around the town on my own, seeking solitude. I finally found it on the edge, and stood staring in to the misty dregs of life ahead. I had a feeling that I would hate this place, a feeling that increased when I saw one of the Vaan crawling out of the marshes, a dead animal slung over his back and a ugly grin on his face. He stopped when he saw me, and scurried away in to the village. I shuddered. They gave me the creeps.

As I vanquished the urge to run from the deep greens that were ahead of us, I noticed Destran stepping from the town a few buildings down, and staring ahead at the marshes as I had been. I slipped across silently, feeling the old mischevous me from our childhood planning to give him a fright. A tap on the shoulder later and his sword was at my throat. So it probably hadn't been the best idea.

"You got me." I said as he withdrew his sword, and he anxiously checked my neck for drawn blood. I hastened to reassure him. "I mean, you would have, if I had been an enemy."

He smiled quietly and rolled his eyes.

"I have been trained Yara." As if I had forgotten.

"You still couldn't beat me in a fight." I saw the challenge light his eyes slightly.

"Oh really?"

"Really." I grinned, slipping my dagger from my thigh. Over the last few weeks we had all sparred with Valenstar, but I had not sparred one on one with Destran. I wanted to see how he coped.He seemed to be thinking along the same lines, as he readied his sword.

The first clash of metal on metal lit the excitement in both our eyes. His flashed, and he grinned. He had just saved himself from a knick on the shoulder. As the clash of sword upon sword continued, we attracted several onlookers, among them our feelow questers. Valenstar looked as though he would join, but Brena held him back which I was grateful for. I wanted to see if Destran could beat me.

The fight continued for a good while, and I had a cut on my thigh and across the back of my hand, while Destran showed a slash on his forearm, a cut on his cheek and a few oncoming bruises courtesy of the handle of my knife. It had begun to rain, and the onlookers had grown. The fight was interesting, firstly because neither of us wanted to harm the other, and secondly, because he clearly would normally use his strength and skill which he wasn't fully using because of the first point, and I would normally use my agility and thoughtfulness, which I also wasn't using to its full extent for the first reason. Yet if one of us did not yield to the first, we could be at this for hours, and would be too tired to continue our journey.

The next few blows showed that Destran had been thinking the same thing, and as we battled round a tree I realised he could not lose to a woman, because of his pride, and the fact that Jack would endlessly mock him for the rest of his life. I let myself be backed against the tree, seemingly slipped on the mud and felt the blade sideways across my throat, Destran close behind it. As the onlookers applauded he glanced down and saw my dagger, hidden from view to all the others, pointed directly in to this gut. He knew I could have got him, but everyone thought he had won. It was fair. As he looked up at me again I smiled, and could practically see his brain analysing everything since I had supposedly slipped, giving him the upper hand. And he knew. He knew.

"That was an incredible fight!" Lyra said, coming up to us. I slipped the dagger back in to its holder, moments before Destran removed his sword from my neck and stepped away from me.

"Thank you." I muttered, searching Destran's eyes to see if he was offended that I had let him win. He was not angry, in fact, he seemed delighted that I had not been as easily defeated as everyone thought.

"I believe it is time for us to continue our journey in to the marshes." Zahkon said, coming over to stand next to Lyra. He seemed on edge, and as I remembered where we were, I too felt on edge.

"I agree." Destran sheathed his sword, and Brena and Jack joined us. "We should try to get as far as possible before nightfall."

It took us only a matter of minutes to prepare for the journey, and we were soon on our way. As we entered the dense overhanging greenery, I felt a shiver of longing for the sea breeze. It was too constricted, too close, too dense here. I hated it.

The End

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