8. Dreams and Men of Mystery (part 3)

          Cautiously, the man clad in blue let go of his sword with one hand, but still maintained the same pressure with the strength of the other, not allowing the gruffy man to gain on him. He reached down to his belt and grabbed an object hanging from it. Rapidly, he removed the object and tossed it back to Hataru. She looked at the sleek black thing, trying to figure out what it was, until she realized that it was another air mask! Faster than a streak of lightning across a stormy sky, she snapped it to her face and gulped in the fresh air it provided. The fog that had begun to cloud her vision quickly evaporated and she could see clearly. Turning back to the two men, she gaped as they resumed their battle.

          It was easy to tell who would be the victor as their swords clashed. The filthy man swung either too fast or too slow which proved him to be poor at offense and defense, while the other man was a master of both. Tripping, falling, and tumbling to the ground became a habit of the former; unfortunately, the one thing the man was good at was perseverance. He could not see that he was incapable of winning, so he would not give up. The amateur jabbed and stabbed at the royal navy man, attempting to perform complex sword play moves without any luck, as the other just pivoted or jumped out of the way. It was only a game to him, a game that he knew very well, as if he had memorized the rulebook. He laughed out loud, the thrill of the duel plastered onto his mask-hidden face. Hearing his chortle, the other man fought harder, which only made him more clumsy.

          Circling each other for one last attack, one man grinned behind his mask, and the other folded his face into such a scowl that one might wonder if he would ever be able to unfold it again. As if on cue, both men stopped; the new man stood at the edge of the cliff and the grubby man’s back was against the mountain wall. This was it. This last stand would determine the winner and loser of this battle, and the odds were in favor of the bluejacket. Stupidly, Hataru’s attacker let all of his rage fuel his energy. He directed his sword at the new comer and charged. Out of reflex, the man in blue sidestepped the attack, and his opponent flew of the side of the cliff. Fortunate for him, there was a small ledge that caught him before he fell to his death.

          Chivalrously, the man in blue reached down and said in a voice as charming as his appearance, “Here now, my friend, let me help you up. I promise not to kill you, if you promise to leave the young lady alone. Is that a good deal?”

          Face red from humiliation, anger, and the heat, the gigantor was incapable of speech. His eyes lingered on the kind man’s hand for a moment, and then he swung his sword, with intent to slice it off. The navy man reared back quickly, untouched. Regrettably, he lost his balance and fell on his rump, causing a tremor in the ledge he was resting on. Cracked lines snaked their way across the chunk of rock with gaining speed, until it broke free from the mountain. Hataru could still hear his screams ─  an ear piercing cry ─  several minutes after the horrid man disappeared from sight as he plummeted to his death.

          Looking down, over the side the bluejacket sighed contritely. He seemed upset for a moment, but then quickly contented himself by turning his attention to Hataru. Walking promptly over to where she still sat on the ground, he gazed upon her face, hidden behind the mask he had so benevolently given her.

The End

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