Chapter Six - Proclamations.2Mature

          They approached warily, doubt in their eyes and posture. Two were clearly green boys, all gangly arms and legs with patchy peach-fuzzed chins and faces. Each held a quavering sword. The third was a gnarled old man whose face looked not unlike the twisted bark of a tree. In place of a sword, he sported a morningstar.

          Slowly they encircled him, as Jon knew they would. Their like never attacked straight on. That's fine. The battlefield is seldom one-on-one.  

          Poised on the balls of his feet, he bounced and turned energetically so his back was never exposed to one man for more than a second. His opponents' apprehension was palpable as each looked to another to make the first lunge. Jon decided to relieve them of that decision. 

          Whirling, he spun and swept low, taking out the legs of one of the boys. He landed on his butt with a thud and an embarrassed groan. The second lad thought this an opening, and swung in a great arc to strike. In an instant, Jon's staff was up to meet the blow, turning and wrenching the blunted blade from his grasp. He gave him a solid crack on the side of the head that sent him spiraling to the dirt. 

          The ball-and-chain wielder had kept his distance, watching his comrades humiliation. Clearly he had no desire to share their fate, as he lowered his weapon and muttered, "Yield."

          "Not good enough," said Jon, and raced forwards to deliver a gut-wrenching blow. The old man coughed blood onto his jerkin before falling to writhe in pain. 

          Jon motioned to the onlookers. "Do not misconstrue what you have seen here. I have punished these soldiers for dishonorable practice. Yet there is no honor on the fields. If you give your opponent the slightest opening, he will not hesitate to do the same to your throat. Remember that." 

          He left the training grounds to attend to his other duties. 

The End

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