Trevor and Rod arrived with time to spare at the designated clearing, half a mile's walk from the centre. In contrast to the surrounding forest, it was a sandy place with rocky outcroppings, about the size of a school playing field. A referee loitered centrally and four boys all wearing a stylised eye-crest stood around a man, not much older, seated languorously.
On seeing them, the referee stopped pacing and one of the boys, a wirey, blonde boy with a far too wide grin stepped forward.
"You turned up." The man wore a look of pleasant surprise. "I congratulate you on your bravery. Neil will be attending to you. Neil?"
"Yes?" The boy looked to the man, his grin faltering .
"You know what will happen if you lose."
"Yes." His grin dropped entirely.
"In places?" the referee asked. Neil took a couple steps back and leant forward into a strange stance, like that of a runner off the mark; Trevor and Rob spread out, to avoid being taken out in one attack. They nodded, and the referee continued. "This is a match to knock-out; when all players in a team have been knocked out, they are declared to have lost. No substitutions can be made during play. Is this okay?" All nodded assent. "On my marks: 3, 2, 1, GO!"
Neil's first attack, came at a blinding speed; the thing which surprised Trevor more than how quickly he'd gotten to Rod was that Rod could dodge the punch. Rod countered with a jab, as Neil shot a spire up forcing Rod to back down. Trevor did the same to Neil, but Neil was on him almost immediately, with what would've been a knock-out had Rod not intervened. And almost as quickly, he was out of range.
"You're not going to let me just take you out, are you?" Neil smirked. "This could be fun."