A net is fisted in his left hand, and a square, embellished shield in his right. I'm perplexed by the shield and realize it must be a gift, otherwise the weaponry of choice is appalling.
The shield glints bright and the shine takes me by surprise. I catch my reflection in the polished surface and don't recognize the tall, dark man covered in blood and scars. Is this what I look like? I hide my disappointment behind a stone face as we approach each other.
His eyes sweep over me and I draw myself up hoping to look especially intimidating as I tower over him. He doesn't react as expected, instead seeming to sigh and resign himself by calmly opening and closing his mouth. Enraged by his disrespect, I lunge towards him with a growl, hoping he will stop.
Sensing my fury, he swiftly dodges my attack, surprising me with his agility. Lunging again, he ducks and rolls out of my path and, from the corner of my eye, starts to wind his arm back. He throws his net towards me and I slash my sword as it tries to ensnare me. He quickly draws it back with a flick of his wrist before I can slice it to shreds.
He re-evaluates the move and we circle each other, eyes locked in anticipation. Sweat covers me in a thick layer from my previous matches, slicking uncomfortably from between the metal plates over my torso. The straps over my calves and arms from the guards are starting to feel numb.
The sun shines blindingly off the shield and I have to break out of my revere to focus.
Who was that man? I shush my thoughts when I catch a glimpse of myself again in the mirror-like facet. Where did the boy go?
I lunge towards him and instantly he throws his net at me in response. Holding out my pilum, I tangle the net by weaving the metal head through the openings. He attempts to tug back, but the differences in our strengths is monumental.
I pull hard, but he instantly releases the tether at the end of the net, freeing himself from my trap. I stumble back, driving the end of the staff into the sand to keep from falling.
He opens his mouth again, this time aiming it at the audience with a smile. He jabbers on, flicking his hair off his shoulder, and the annoyance burns.
Leaving behind my ensnared javelin impaled in the sand, I jab my sword at his shield, the force denting the polished metal and sending a shaking pain up the arm of my cocky opponent. He yelps and pulls his arm to his chest protectively, eyeing me with a confused and awed expression.
In reply, I smirk.
Massaging his arm, he regards me then unwinds himself to have a squared position. Unsure of what he is doing, I am caught unaware when he dashes at me, hidden behind his dented shield as he rams me with all his weight.
After a panicked shuffle that causes me to stumble, I'm in the sand, and it is scorching. Spitting the grit from between my teeth, I swing my sword above me to fend off any attacks while I am down. I stop when I realize I'm just slashing at air. Lifting my head, I find him doubled over, his body shaking. Picking myself up, I seethe at the embarrassment of being thrown down by a slight amateur.
Without a second thought, I charge at his exposed back. He catches me in his peripheral and mistakenly releases his shield as he turns to face me. His hands reach for mine around the hilt, and as I charge, he pushes my hands away from himself.
The force is shocking, and the sword with my hands swing right, dangerously close to my cheek. Releasing my sword so it spirals far into the dirt, I twist my wrists out of his hands and marvel at the unexpected tactic.
He starts to move his mouth again, but I can't bother thinking too much anymore. With no weapons in hand, I resolve for my fists. They connect with his exposed navel, quickly disabling him and halting his constant chatter.
He's doubled over again, this time in pain, but I wait for him to straighten up before landing a fist into the side of his ribs. No more games. This is a fair fight with strict rules of life and death, and we're going not playing anymore.