I let myself fall backwards onto my bed and would have been perfectly happy to fall asleep, but my mind had other plans. Again it decided to bring up Pailadyn and again I told it to cut it out.
My brain didn’t listen. It replayed our conversation over, and over, and over…
As a result I didn’t sleep at all that night, and showed up to training half-alive and definitely out of it, and as fate would have it, I was supposed to have a sparring match today. Pailadyn hadn’t come in to wake me up and she refused to meet the numerous glances that I threw her way. It was really starting to worry me. She was the only person that I actually knew here. The only person on Cyst who I could call a friend, and now, something I had done was threatening to change that.
What did I do?
How could I fix-
My head snapped from Pailadyn to Traynur, all thoughts about girl problems vanishing in the instant it took for my head to swivel.
“I asked you if you were ready for your match with Pownde.”
“Uh… Yes! Of course.”
“Then perhaps you would like to join him in your section of the Arena.”
“The rest of you know what you’re supposed to be doing. The tournament is in three weeks! I want each and every one of you,” he glanced at me, “to be ready to participate should you so choose!”
I took my place in the area where I was supposed to fight Pownde. I hadn’t fought him yet, but I had watched him battle others. His Shroud took the form of hammers. He was slow so he rarely landed a hit. But with hammers like his, all it took was one or two taps and the battle was over.
Traynur came by and gave us the official countdown and our battle was underway.
I hadn’t won too many fights, but I had given more than a few competitors a run for their money. I wanted to change that in this match.
If only I wasn’t so tired.
When Traynur gave the word, we started circling each other. I feinted once or twice to gauge Pownde’s reaction speed. For a bigger guy, he was very alert and relatively agile. I went for another prod and nearly lost my head as Pownde anticipated the attack and swung his hammer. That was one of the curious things about Pownde. He only used one massive hammer on his right hand. I had never seen him use his left hand.
I faked right and spun left, leading with my right blade. I managed to knick his hip and roll away before he could retaliate. It wasn’t a very deep cut, but he didn’t even seem to know that I had cut him.
He stepped forward and made his first swing at me. I evaded it with a single step back. His hammer came at me again, from the left this time. I took a step back and waited for it pass in front of me as it had done before.
At the last second, the handle of the hammer extended by about three inches.
I screamed as the hammer caught my hip. My left leg collapsed underneath me and I fell into a kneeling position. As I clutched at my hip, Pownde advanced and raised his hammer above him to make the final strike.
It was time to for a little of that control.
I let my anger and pain flow into my Shroud and I managed to lift a bade above my head just in time to meet Pownde’s blow. The hammer struck and my arm reverberated, but the blade held, and even began to spin a little faster. As I watched, my blade began to act like a drill or piece of sandpaper. Pownde pulled his hammer away in shock, the corner that had struck my blade and been rubbed off.
I staggered to my feet and winced as my hip groaned in pain. It was dislocated at the very least. I had assumed again, but at least this time I had gained a piece of information. Obviously it took a lot of effort to swing that hammer, and when Pownde’s hammer connected with my saw, it remained immobile while it’s wielder garnered the strength to heave it back off.
It wasn’t a long period of time, but it was all I had.
I didn’t have to do a lot of acting to appear like I was hurt to the point of not being able to move. Pownde swung from right to left, which I ducked, and then utilizing the momentum of the swing, he brought above his head and tried to smash me once more. I slide to the side at the last second and brought my blades down on the handle of the hammer as it hit the floor.
My head exploded as Pownde used his left catch my cheek and shove me off his weapon. I hadn’t managed to cut all the way through it, but there were two deep furrows in it now. As I stumbled back from his punch, Pownde swung at my chest. I regained my footing and spun around, holding my arm out like a baseball bat.
Our weapons connected again, but unlike the first time, Pownde’s weapon broke.
Other’s who had already finished their battles or training exercises had been milling around, talking and watching the other fights. When Powned’s hammer snapped, the entire room went silent.
Pownde lowered his right arm and retracted what was left of his handle. Then without warning he sprung at me, swinging both arms which now had one small hammer each. I brought my left arm up and blocked one, but the other hit my shoulder with a thud. It didn’t hurt as much as the first strike, but it was enough to make grunt in pain.
The smaller hammers were much quicker and much more agile than the large hammer, and he didn’t stop. He brought his hammers together for an overhead strike which I turned away with my left saw blade.
I tried to form another one, but I was too tired and in too much pain to be able to focus enough. I ducked as Pownde swung both hammers from the outside in to make an x with each other.
I made a fist and positioned my remaining saw on the front of it, like a propeller on a plane, as I swung. I caught Pownde in the stomach and could feel my saw rip through his Shroud and grind into his flesh. He yelled and lurched forward, trying to catch me off guard. It nearly worked, but I threw myself to the ground and let him trip over my balled up body. We both stood slowly, Pownde was a bit slower in rising than I, and faced other for one brief moment.
Pownde leapt forward and swung from the outside with both of his hammers. I brought my saw blade back to my wrist and knocked one aside. Then I spun inside and brought my blade up to his neck while grabbing for the other hammer. Pownde had staggered the swings though, and my hand found nothing but empty air, while the back of my head felt the cold hard head of a hammer gently settle on the back of it.
We stood that way for a while, each of us taking note of the other’s weapon. Then it slowly dawned on us that we had fought to a standstill.
In other words, it was a tie