True to his word, I found it nearly impossible to best him. I attempted several different maneuvers of surprise, but each time he managed to predict my next move and thwart my attacks. Twice, the point of his sword grazed my skin. Although I was unable to penetrate his defenses, he began to perspire.
“I think we need to call a truce,” I huffed.
His brows furrowed. “Giving up that easily? We haven’t even begun to test our real skills.”
Taking a deep breath, I shook my arms to loosen my muscles. “If you insist. But I think you’ve won this round.”
“Not by my standards,” he frowned. “I haven’t disarmed you yet.”
A twinge of pride seeped into me. Maybe I was better than I thought. As our weapons clashed again, I was startled when my sword suddenly became trapped between both of his. Before I realized what had transpired, he thrust both of his weapons at me, nearly slicing my face as I stumbled back. Too concerned with losing my head, I dropped my weapon and rolled away.
“What was that?” I cried. “You nearly beheaded me!”
“But I didn’t,” he replied casually. “Would you like to continue?”
Scrambling to my feet, I grabbed my sword, determined to finish this quickly. “Only if I don’t end up dismembered,” I grumbled. I took my stance, holding my sword level.
Ikane arrogantly tossed one of his swords into the air and nimbly caught it. “Very well,” he said with a smile.
I snorted. “Show off.” Every weapon had a weakness, as well as the one wielding it. Ikane had used his upper body to force me back, but how deft were his legs? I decided to find out. I charged, but did not lift my sword in an attack. Instead, I let myself drop and rolled behind him. He turned, but not fast enough. My blade grazed his lower arm as he tried to block. His second sword flashed before my face as I struggled to get out of its reach, the blade hissing past my ear.
He looked at his arm, watching as blood leaked and stained his musty-white shirt. “Unexpected, Kea,” he smiled, but his green eye sparked menacingly, like a smoldering ember in a fire when prodded. Suddenly, dread overtook the pride I’d felt only moments ago.
“I… I’m sorry,” I said quickly, backing away.
“I’ve already grazed you twice. There is nothing to be sorry for; however, you do realize that I must respond.” Suddenly, he charged. I blocked his blades as quickly as my tired arms could, but still, he advanced, pushing me back. His speed increased with every attack, while mine seemed to dissipate. The weight of my sword pulled me down as the relentless blows of Ikane’s blades made the burning in my arms surge.