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This is something that I started writing last month, but I'm feeling a tad bit insecure about it. It's my first attempt at anything other than a short story, and I haven't been able to get anyone I know to look at it. So here I am!
It's fantasy fiction, though I incorporate two worlds: Earth and Kyronas. This is only a part of the prologue. See what you think!
Kyranos, two summers ago
The sound of swords clashed through the arena. The two combatants each struggled to gain control over the other. For a few seconds they grappled with each other, almost embracing if the swords hadn't been in the way. Realizing that wouldn't get them anywhere, they leaped away and began circling as they glared across the space between them.
At first glance, it doesn't seem that these two are evenly matched. One was tall and lean with a feral grace. The other was a head taller and all brawn, like a large bull. With little effort, he could have cleaved the other in two. However, the eyes that watched them saw that they were more than evenly matched. Though the smaller may not have matched the other in size, he certainly made up for it with his quick cunning. At times, he seemed to dance through the swordplay while the larger man simply hacked as if his sword were the battle-axe he normally used. Indeed, a battle axe would have fit more comfortably in his hand.
"Do you give in?" the smaller man asked, a grin playing on his lips. He was sure of his opponents reply.
The larger man laughed. "You're a madman, Mal! I would give in if you didn't need the exercise. You have gotten a bit soft since you became the captain of the guard. Not as much to do when you have lackeys to do it for you, eh?"
"I need the exercise? Ah, Macob! What is that big lump you keep hidden there?" Mal indicated Macob's not- so-flat stomach with a jab of his sword, which Macob parried a little clumsily.
"It is merely the extra muscle I need when you tire me with your gab! Let's get on with this!" Scowling, Macob moved into stance as he prepared to attack Mal.
Mal smiled grimly, then settled into serious concentration. Cautiously, he watched Macob as they circled each other. He knew the other man's weaknesses just as Macob knew his. A mistake now could cause permanent injury, and that was something Mal could not afford to do. A bead of sweat traveled down his jaw line and dropped from his chin. As if it were a signal, the two men raced towards each other, screaming at the top of their lungs.
The crash as they came together would have knocked other men unconscious. With grunts and growls they wrestled, swords forgotten. By sheer strength, Macob gained ground as Mal strained against his power. Finally, Mal remembered that this was a sword fight. He jumped back to give the sword room and started to rain blows about Macob's body.
With a growl like a savage beast, Macob was forced to defend himself mightily but it wasn't enough. With a particularly clever move, Mal disarmed him and pointed his own sword at Macob's throat.
"Do you surrender?" he asked, breathing heavily.
Macob sat back on his haunches has he also tried to recover his breath. "Yes, I surrender." He placed his hands on his knees to show that he had no other weapons.
Mal dropped the point of his sword to the ground and retrieved Macob's sword. After handing it back to him he exclaimed, "That was quite a bout today! You almost had me."
Macob chuckled ruefully as he stood up and began to beat the dust from his clothing. For a warrior such as Macob, he was unusually tidy with his person as well as his possessions. He flicked another speck off of his arm as he replied, "One day I will, Mal. Then where would you be?"
"I would be at the best eating-house with you, Macob, because I have bought you the best dinner and wine in the city! We'd celebrate all night!" Mal grinned at the thought.
"Well, then - I will certainly make sure that happens." Macob stopped. "Mal, how do you do it?"
Mal glanced up from cleaning his sword. "How do I do what?"
"How can you make a simple man like me feel like I'm the one who wins even when I have to surrender? You've always been like that, since we were boys."
"It's because you don't surrender, Macob - not really. You improve each time and you come back for more. Soon you will earn that dinner, and you will make me feel like I was the one to win because you allowed me to help you." Mal grinned at his friend. "Even if the sword isn't your weapon of choice, you could still do damage with it. This day's practice was the hardest for me yet!"
Macob smiled and looked at his sword as he hefted it. No, the sword would not be his first choice. Give him the axe, and he could make it sing! He knew that he was terrifying to behold on the battlefield when he plied his axe.
Mal and Macob finished cleaning their weapons and clearing the area of debris. Just as they were done, another figure came into the arena. Though this person was obviously as experienced a warrior as the other two, there was one glaring difference. This one was a woman. Meldana wasn't just any woman, though. She was the one that took Macob's breath away every time he saw her, ever since they were children. Macob was a romantic at heart, but he found it harder to tell Meldana how he felt than a full day's battle with his toughest enemies. Mal found it all to be very amusing.
"So when are you going to talk to her?" asked Mal as Meldana drew closer.
"Hush, Mal!" Macob growled.
"Well, you're not a boy anymore, Macob! You can't tell me she still intimidates you. She's only human. If you don't say something soon, you might lose your chance. Besides, what's the worst that could happen - Meldana! How are you?" Mal clamped his mouth shut and grinned at his other friend.
"What's the worst that could happen?" asked Meldana curiously, and then dismissed it. "I'm fine, Mal. And you? The place is a bit cheerless since you went to the guard."
"I'm fine, fine." Mal said, still grinning. He nudged Macob, who just glared at him. "Well, we were just about to go get some food. Care to join us?"
"Well, I would, but you have a message from the Palace. It has the emperor's personal seal on it." She handed the message to Mal.
Mal took it silently, no longer smiling. He wondered why the emperor would be sending him a personal message. Frowning, he debated whether or not he should open it there, or wait until he got to his room.
"Well? Aren't you going to open it, Mal?" demanded Macob. "It's from the emperor himself!"
Mal turned the message over in his hand as he answered, "I think I should read this in private. Sorry, Macob. We'll go eat some other time. Will you and Meldana excuse me?" Without another word, Mal turned and ran out of the arena.
Left to themselves, Macob and Meldana glanced at each other with confusion. Finally, Meldana shrugged and asked, "Do you still want to get some food?"
Relieved, Macob nodded as he replied, "I'm starved. Let's go!"
And they too left the arena.
The eyes that had been watching them blinked once, then again as they faded into the shadows. With the sound of a robe shifting and soft shoes shuffling on the floor, they too were gone.
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