Battle Through A Warrior's Eyes
Our ancestors had been hated enemies. Their feud led to a war that had lasted long…too long. The war that lasted more than a century was down to two warriors: myself and the man standing before me. We had never met but because of our heritage and our blood, which as going to paint the land around us a deep black-red in just a matter of seconds, had made us sworn enemies since birth.
There is nothing quite like the moments before a duel. There are many misconceptions about it, such as your life flashing before your eyes. That is just a cliché. There is only one thing that you think about when you stare your opponent through their eyes. You think about what you will miss the most if you are to fall that day. For me it was my son. I was here today so he wouldn't have to one day. At the same time while you look into the eyes that may end your mortal existence you can see what they will miss. It's almost magical how you can read their every thought through their eyes. The man standing in front of me would miss a young woman. A girlfriend or a wife? I didn't know but it didn't matter now.
After the dreamlike moment passes where you get a peak at your opponent's soul is when the adrenaline kicks in. Time slows. You enter another level of existence. You can hear, see, taste, touch and smell things that you never could before. A bead of sweat dripped off the chin of the man and landed in puddle of water bellow him, sending out endless ripples. A heard the flapping wings of the butterfly nestled on a nearby flower. The air had that unique smell and taste that it acquires shortly after a thunderstorm. Every nerve ending on my skin was alive. I felt every hair, every fiber of cloth and every piece of armor more acutely than ever. I was aware of every muscle in my body, the placement of every limb. The world was a torrent of stimuli that berated my senses. I knew to focus, though, so I tuned it out and paid attention only to my enemy.
He struck first out of impatience. A vertical slash that I parried with my sword. I was shield less and so was he. Ambitiously he brought the sword around and slashed from top to bottom. A foolish more. I blocked once again, and with his weapon held to the ground I kicked him square in the neck. He staggered backwards and clasped his neck, gasping for air. He didn't have time to react as I delivered a roundhouse kick that I planted in the side of his head that sent him flying to the ground.
I twirled my sword to be blade down and thrust it down on him in an attempt to deliver a coup de grace. He recovered from my kicks faster than I had expected and rolled to the left. He swung at my left calf but luckily he only landed a cut. Still, it would be a hindrance. He jumped up to his feet and attacked with a left-right combo that he delivered with such force it took all my strength to block. He then thrust his blade with his full body weight. I used that to my advantage, parrying to the right and sending him off his balance.
As he slid forward I brought my sword past his and cut him along his side. His blood sprayed over me. I turned to face him. I was surprised to see him still standing. He grasped his side for a moment, but then forced himself to pull his hand back to the hilt. His injury was bad, but not life threatening. I admired his perseverance. Most men would collapse after a strike like that. If I it was he who was going to kill me I was not ashamed. Another stare down began.
Once again he lashed out first because of impatience, which seemed to have increased after his injuries. This time he slashed horizontally. I was taller than he was and I had always had difficulty when blocking a horizontal attack from shorter opponents. I barely managed that one and he knew it. He swung wildly from left to right with all the power he could muster. I barely had time to block let alone a counter attack. It continued like this for a few seconds, but then he had a lucky break. When I stepped in a puddle I had misjudged its depth. I fell backwards and his blade connected with my torso. My blood sprayed forth and covered him. I thought that was it. The fatal blow. The wound burned at first, but the pain faded. I thought he would move forward and end this, but he took his stance and waited. I looked down. It was bad, but I could manage. I touched the wound to get a sense of how deep it was. I regretted doing that because as soon as my hand touched it I felt as if I had stabbed myself. The pain sent a shiver throughout my whole body and my eyes watered. This would not deter my will. I grasped the hilt of my sword with both hands and prepared myself.
We stood there both covered in the blood of each other. My boot was filled with blood from the cut he delivered to my leg and the side of his face was black with blood from the kick. I could tell he was starting to become dizzy and so was I. The battle will be decided in the next few moves.
This time I struck first. I swung diagonally at him and he blocked. The blow knocked him off balance and he stumbled backward. I went to strike again but as I did he drew a hidden dagger from his boot and slashed upward at me. I leaned back away from it as it missed my face by a matter of an inch or two. With his other hand we swiped his sword horizontally and I jumped back, but that caused my chest wound to ache. We both assumed our stances now that we were out of each other's reach.
He had used the dagger out of desperation. This meant that he was getting tired. I could end this now, but I needed to think how. What was his weakness? Then it came to me. He had lost his balance several times, that must be it. I knew the move I was going to use. With any luck the battle will end in the next attack. But this move was dangerous. If I failed executing it he would kill me.
I waited for him to move, and he waited for me. It was a contest of wills to see who would strike first. We stood there for what seemed like eternity, but I used this time to center myself. To fall back on meditative techniques that would help focus my resolve for the next move. Time slowed once again. This time a drop of blood fell from his shirt into a puddle. The butterfly took flight. My lips tasted the sweet taste of blood. Was it his or was it mine? It didn't matter.
He charged forward, letting loose a battle cry. This was exactly what I wanted. I held by sword up to block. He put all his weight into his attack. It was his last ditch effort. He had no idea he played into my trap. I put no strength behind my blade and just took a step to forward. When his blade connect with mine he felt no resistance. Since he put his whole weight behind it he fell forward. Before I let him hit the ground I thrust my weapon into his back. He never landed. Instead, he was suspended in the air by my strength alone. I pulled my sword out, unleashing a spray of blood.
I flipped the man over gently. He was still alive but definitely unable to fight. He breathed deeply, looking up at me with utter horror. I lifted my sword up into the air. Then I thought about the woman he was here for. About my son. This man was not a villain. Why was he my enemy? Because of my great grandfather and his great grandfather? I dropped my sword to the ground. "What is your name?"
"I am Malcolm…"
"It is just Malcolm, your last name doesn't matter." I interrupted. His face showed that he was baffled. I bent down and extended my arm to help him up. He cried out in pain as he arose. I had to help him walk. After a few steps the clouds began to clear and in the distance the sun was setting. Or was it rising?
"Why…did you let me live?" He forced out. He might die from his injuries, but there was also a chance that he could live.
"This duel is over."