Duel Two – Harland O’Connel
“Have you finished looking around yet or have you forgotten that you still have fifteen more duels to go.” Davis’s next opponent called out from somewhere in the still fog surrounded ruins of Corfe Castle. The closeness of it muffled sound and made it difficult to judge from which direction the voice had emanated from. Davis turned back to the arch watching the wisp craw around the arch like a living creature. A robed figure seamed to materialise in the archway and Davis‘s the next combatant, a man by his voice, leaned against one of the supporting walls of the arch’s frame. As he approached, the person turned and walked into the ruins. Stopping just before passing under, leaning against one side, Davis poked the edge of his sword through and used it’s reflective surface as a mirror. Turning the blade about, he looked over as much of the ruins that were not obscured by the mist. Davis moved to the other side of the arch and again used the sword to look around. Unable to spot anyone, Davis raised his sword and walked deeper into the ruins.
Davis’s opponent sat on a window watching as Davis eased his way through the remains of the castle. On the wall above him sat two more of the sixteen lords. The two were never apart and being twins, always fought together side by side.
“Do you think he will be the same as his brother, Harland?” the female of the twins asked.
“I don’t know Eudora, I do not think he knew anything about his brother until Zylphia, mentioned it.”
“Zylphia!” Eudora responded surprised.
“He does not know about his brother being a traitor?” Ezra, Eudora’s brother asked.
“No, he was quite surprised when she mentioned it.” Harland said picking up a stone and throwing it in the ruins off to the far side of Davis.
“Harland, what are you doing taking the second duel, You should be in the ninth place duel.” Eudora asked.
“I requested the second slot as I have some things to attend to. Also, I did not want to wait for you first eight to wear him down.” Harland said with a smile. He watched Davis jump and look around. Standing up, Harland balanced on the edge of the stone window surround, “I think I better go and see how good he really is.” Harland bowed to Ezra and Eudora, then stepped off the window, walked along a stone wall that had once been part of the castles inner Bailey, and jumped down behind Davis, sword already raised to block Davis’s startled strike.
Acting on instinct, Davis swung his sword to block his attackers swing and try to get under his opponents defences but unlike the Zylphai, this one seamed to predict his attacks and block the swing aimed for his neck. Davis took a step back to realise a breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding. and noticed that his opponent was standing sideways like a fencer. Davis place his knife back in its sheath, stretched and rolled his shoulders and bowed.
“My Lord, Harland O’Connel.” Davis said and watched as the one in front of him bowed in return. Sweeping his cloak behind him and off the shoulder of his sword arm.
“Well that was a quick duel you had against Zylphia, she is not used to loosing so fast, she will not let that one go so easy.” Harland said, smiling from the confused look on Davis’s face. Harland took a step towards Davis and pointed his sword tip at Davis Unlike Davis’s own weapon, Harland’s claymore had a gold and jewel covered basket that was wide enough to cover both hands on the hilt. Davis tapped the tip of his sword against his Harland‘s Claymore, and retreated a step back while keeping his eyes on Harland, studying his body movements for any clue on what his first move could be. Harland drew his right foot of to one side and lowered his stance ready for an attack, making a guess on what that first swing could be, Davis leapt into an attack swinging his sword upwards from a low guard. in an attempt that would push Harland’s sword out of the way allowing him to get close with his knife. As planed, he did push the sword out of the way, but is opponent’s elbow was up, and Davis’s sword traveled over Harland’s and his momentum carried him forward and he hit the elbow, he head flew back and his legs buckled under him and was sent falling to the ground backwards, the impact of the rubble covered ground knocking all the wind out of him and sending his sword clattering across the stones.
Harland stood there for a moment looking down at the dazed Davis. “Get up Davis, have you learn nothing in all the years of study?”
Davis rubbed his chin, picked up his sword a stood up. “I fell for your cheep trick, My Lord.”
“I do hope that you expecting more of my cheep tricks?” Harland said holding out a hand and helping him back to his feet. “Shall we start this properly now?”
Stretching his shoulders watching as Harland resumed his stance, Davis gave a quick swing of his sword with an over exaggerated flourish and launched into an rapid attack. Starting with his blade on his right shoulder, Davis swung down to the left and brought his sword around in a circle that forced his opponent to turn spin around. Harland turned his back to Davis, his sword scraping the ground and he swung his sword up to the right and caught Davis’s sword with an impact that caused both swords to ring out across the ruins. For a moment, they stood there pushing each other sword backwards and forwards nether giving an inch of ground. Harland noticed that Davis still had his knife out and was using it to push down on his blade. Adjusting his position, Harland twisted his sword and it slide up into the knife. Pushing with all the strength he could force into his two handed grip this hit the Knife, forcing it out of Davis’s hand and spinning across the ruins. Both of them spun around and as Harland came back around to face Davis’s he felt the bridge of his nose crack with assistance from Davis’s fist.
His eye’s blurring from the tears issuing from his eye’s, Harland took a step back and shook his head. Something hit him in the back of his knees and he fell to the ground, his claymore falling from his hand and clattering across the stones to land just out of reach. He rubbed his eye’s to clear the tears and looked up the length of Davis’s sword.
“Well met, Davis.” Harland said looking over to the referee. “I concede.” He said holding up his hands for assistance in standing up. Harland stood up, walked over to where his sword hand landed,picked up his sword and sheathed it, dusted himself off then held out his hand. “Go and win this, you have the family reputation to restore.”
Davis and Harland Shook hands and Davis watched Harland walked out of the ruins and down to the gate house now visible through the retreating fog.
* * *
Out of sight of the main fighting area another lord stopped Harland. “Lord O’Connell?” Harland smiled at his apprentice. Colm had only held his title for a few years but was proving to be a strong fighter in tournaments. “He is Lord Swiftblades son, that much is true, he is very controlled with his attack’s and that makes him predictable, my young lord Colm Quaterstaff.”
“Will I beat him and end his trial?”
“No, work him hard but let him win, I wan’t to see that he does not end up in the same dishonourable position as his brother.”
“His Brother?” Colm asked, “I did not know he had a brother.”
“Do not worry about that, it was a long time before your trial, not many will speak off it and I ask you not to ask.”
“Yes my lord, I will do as you ask.” Colm said. “Are you going now?”
“I have something to do before the mission, I will be back in time for the ending ceremony.”
“I will see you later then, Lord O’Connel.” He said and watched as Harland raised the hood of his cape and made his way down and out of the castle in the direction of the castle.