Elaine watched as Amfortas fell back as she pushed against his legs. For a second, she was filled with the hope that he would topple over--but he regained his balance, and smiled at her. “That was unwise,” he stated.
“Don’t touch my family,” she declared.
“Or you will stop me with your vast, horrific might,” noted Amfortas, steadying the Blade of Light. He chuckled. “I am trembling. Really.” He raised the sword, with hands that still seemed to tremble. “Of course, I must admit the desperate notion that I will kill you, then move on to Mansemat has occurred to me, but then, that’s me. Always hopeful.”
“I won’t let you kill him,” said Elaine. As the sword swung down, she made a desperate attempt to catch his hand. To her surprise, the hand almost seemed to jerk into hers, allowing her to catch it easily.
Amfortas looked at her, his face as mild and pleasant as ever. “My goodness,” he said. “You are stronger than you look.”
“It’s… an… Erl… thing,” gasped Elaine, as she tried to keep hold of his hand. Amfortas’ yanking grew more and more urgent, and at last broke free of her crude grip. And then it happened. Somehow, the Blade of Day fell from his hands. And into hers.
And then its blade exploded into brilliant light.
Amfortas and Elaine both stared at it for a moment. “Oh, my,” Amfortas managed to say at last.
Elaine gripped it in both hands and smiled. “Now, what was that about me ‘stopping you with my’… how did it go again? Oh, yeah… ‘vast, horrific might’.” She stepped forward, the Sword of Light shining like a beacon. “Or all that stuff about being the chosen of the Seven… the perfect servant of the Light… and so on… and so forth…” She lunged forward to stab at Amfortas. “Because it seems like the Seven don’t agree!”
Amfortas easily side-stepped her blow. “Mmmm. Truth be told, I’ve always had my doubts about Clarent. The records are rather dubious actually, the Synod have never officially endorsed it as a chosen weapon of Light, and….” Elaine swung again. Amfortas dodged it once again. “Well, the entire discussion is rather arcane. Still, whatever its nature, granting its power to a girl who has never held a sword before does appear to have its drawbacks.” He dodged Elaine’s next blow. “Frankly I wondering if you are wielding that sword, or the sword is wielding you…”
“Shut up!” she shouted.
Amfortas sighed. “First your mother, now you…” He drew a knife from his belt. “This is growing tiresome. And I know just how to end this discussion.” He twirled the knife expertly. “Once again--I prefer small blades. And am quite adept with them. Far, far more adept than you are with your ever-so bright sword.”
He circled he warily for a moment, then suddenly lunged at her right. Elaine moved to avoid his attack, only for him to suddenly fall back and then slash at her left. Elaine felt a sharp pain in her left arm. Amfortas inspected his bloody blade and smiled.
“So tell me, dear… who do you give the advantage in this battle?” said Amfortas quietly. “You. Or I?”
At which moment a large black blur rushed into him, and sent the Prince of Leonais sprawling.
“The answer is I,” said Mansemat, dusting himself off.
Amfortas stared at the Erl for a moment. “That was enough strangledust to keep a man out for an hour,” he stated in a calm, detached voice.
“And it would have worked on a man,” answered Mansemat. “But you faced a dragon, Amfortas.”