Saturday, April 17, 2010


Proving Ground
By Julia Gravitas

The instant our swords clashed, I knew it was over. He was older than me, more experienced, a veteran of more wars than my father’s books had records for. He grinned, and I forced myself to bare my own approximation of that confident half-grimace.

“You fight like your father, Julius!” He pressed harder, made a play for my inside, gave another grizzled grin as I backed off, slapped the attack away with my own blade. “Predictable. Flawed.”

“I’ll try to remember that the next time I find myself impressed with his field honors.” I shot back, pushing my own attack, testing the edges of his defense. “Flawed or not, his worth as a patrician and as a soldier has never fallen to dispute.”

“You, on the other hand,” another thrust, another parry, “have yet to prove yourself a man.”

That pissed me off. Baring my teeth, I slashed at him, moved fast as steel rang against steel. There was an opening in his form, a gap, and it took only the faintest distraction of the sword for me to open it, to draw my knife and fill that gap with it.

Pulling back, he pushed aside the attack effortlessly, but the tip of my blade nicked his chin on its way out. That earned me a broken nose, and I took the sudden strike as just repayment for my sudden anger, my lack of self-control and as an easy sentence to endure for damaging imperial property. As I picked myself up out of the mud, he looked at me carefully, sheathed his weapon.

“Good.” He said simply, gruffly. “Next.”

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Gravitas knows no boundaries.


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