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His hands are cold. Hunched double on his knees, palms splayed on the dry, dead dirt below him. Icy beads of sweat run down his bare shaking arms. But it is not the cold that shivers him. He shakes from anger, disgust, humiliation, all colliding like reacting particles, vibrating their container. And a heat is building in his chest. A rage that will consume him. His breath comes in short, shallow gasps, as if he had just run a marathon. The cold wind calms his soul, allowing him time to think.

He feels the brush of wind on his back, and flings himself sideways. Rolling in the dirt, he pushes a hand below himself, raising his body from the dirt. His eyes fall on the gleaming steel that hangs, rigid where his neck just was. The arm that holds it is solid like a rock, unmoving, as the eyes of his enemy are upon him. The hero raises himself fully, to his full height, extending his arm to his side, and calling forth his own blade. He is ready once again. For a moment, all is still.

They are watching each other, waiting, eyes wide, taking in everything. The smallest stone, hidden in the dust could change everything. A cool breeze brushes their necks, like a frozen blade. The wind smells only of dust, and the faint metallic smell of blood.

His heart pounds in his ears. His mind races through a hundred scenarios. His skin crawls in the wind. Blood slowly falls down the side of his face. He breathes. And-

The End

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