Saturday, April 9, 2016

Around Again It Comes--Part 36

Mansemat glanced around, sword raised warily.  The hall was dark, even for the eyes of an Erl.  Which of course was no problem for his opponent.  Whatever it was the mysterious woman used to see with it was not her eyes. 

The sound of a light footstep came from his right.  He whirled around, slashing downwards, and was rewarded with the sound of cloth scurrying away.  Mansemat gave himself a mental kick.  He should be used to his opponent's strange and eerie speed by now, but it still struck him as horribly off-putting.  He found himself wondering if his own foes felt the same way when they fought him. 

He rather expected they did.  Somehow, this failed to comfort him.

Another flurry of footsteps, coming from behind.  He allowed them to come closer, then twirled around.  The footsteps retreated swiftly away.

Mansemat frowned to himself.  Even with the power of the Sword of Night, he was tiring.  Magic could take flesh farther from its limitations, but only so far.  He could hope that this was true for his foe, but he knew that warriors who thought in this manner typically wound up dead. 

He felt a rush of air coming at him from above.  He rolled back, and watched as the mysterious woman landed in front of him, and threw a knife. He managed to duck just in time, and then found himself dodging and parrying the woman's blows.  One struck the blade of his sword with a strength that made it tremble in his hands.  And then she leaped back, and was enfolded by the darkness.

There was silence for a moment.  "You move well, in this darkness," came the woman's voice.  "I've known few opponents who can."

"I've trained myself in many ways," said Mansemat quietly. 

"It shows," said the woman with a chuckle.  "You are truly, as they say, a great warrior.  It will almost be a shame to kill you."

Mansemat raised his sword.  "My feelings exactly."  He gave a swift slash, and heard another flapping of cloth.  "But then, you are hardly trying, aren't you?  This is about delaying me, so that your employer can accomplish whatever she is trying to do..."  There came an amused chuckle.  "What does Armida have against me, I wonder?"

"What makes you think it's her?" came the woman's voice.

"I may not recall your name, but like my sister I know your face," he said.  "And knowing who you are associated with--well, the conclusion seems reasonable."

Another knife came at him from the darkness.  He fended it off.  "Tisiphone," came the woman's voice.  "If it makes things easier for you."

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