Life Isn't Fair
He saw the attack coming. Clumsy, slow, not creative at all, it was everything he was expecting. Honestly, he was a bit disappointed. It actually made it harder when his opponent was so outmatched. It made it harder to keep things entertaining.
He raised his sword to meet the attack. Blade met blade. That unmistakable sound of metal meeting metal rang through the late afternoon air. He loved that sound. The circle of people surrounding the two combatants let out a collective gasp as they realized that the potential death blow had been averted.
Another attack came, if possible even slower this time. This man was no fighter. He raised his sword and parried this blow, purposefully leaving an opening even this inexperienced warrior couldn't miss. The man didn't. Seeing that he had backed himself into a corner, the man pressed an attack. The crowd cheered as every agonizingly slow blow was delivered and every one was blocked. Now his opponent finally had him where he wanted him, trapped between the ring of spectators and a large tree stump that for some reason had not been removed from this open area. The man swung his blade upward with all his might. Stepping to one side and straddling the stump he dodged the blow, allowing his opponent to bring his sword full force into the wooden obstacle between his legs, mere inches from his most sensitive area.
"Whew! You don't have to kill me to win," he said stepping over the sword and past the man, patting him on the shoulder as he struggled to free the blade from the stump.
The crowd laughed. His opponent didn't find it funny. Once his sword was free, the man, now angry, pressed his attack even harder. With a war cry the man lunged at him full tilt, hate in his eyes, and vengeance in his heart. Even in his anger, this man was no match for him. Every blow was predictable. He knew where each blow was going before the man even initiated it. Still, it was getting late. This would most likely be his last opponent of the day. It was time to finish this.
He mounted an attack of his own. The man wasn't ready for it. Even if he had been this man couldn't have stopped it. He called forth all of his knowledge, wielding his blade not as a weapon but as an extension of his body. The blows came so fast it almost seemed as if he had more than one blade. Against a more experienced opponent this type of attack would have been suicide. Perhaps that was really his goal. Why he always ended fights with this flurry of strikes. Maybe he sought death. Maybe then his pain could end. This man however was not experienced enough to send him to the underworld. Pressing the man backwards he continued his attack, it would soon be over. The man couldn't stop it. Finally he worked his way in close, time to finish it.
Swiping the man's blade to one side with his, he brought the flat part of his blade to meet the back of his opponent's knuckles loosening the man's grip on his weapon. Quickly bringing his blade around the hilt of his opponent's, he flicked his sword up sending the other's blade flying into the air. It was time for the final blow. Reaching backward with his left hand, he swung his blade at the man's neck with his right. The man closed his eyes in anticipation of the coming blow. The crowd went silent. Swinging with all his might he let out a roar. The blade was on its way. He saw the man's muscles tense in expectation. Finally the man realized the blow hadn't landed yet. When his opponent cautiously opened his eyes there he was, his blade in one hand inches from the man's neck and his opponent's blade in the other. With a smile on his face he took his blade from the man's neck. Looking at the other weapon in amazement the crowd joined him in saying what had become his trademark,
"Is this your blade?" they asked. The crowd laughed again.
"Give him a hand he fought well." He said returning the sword to the man. With a look of amazement the man accepted both the applause and his blade and walked away dejected.
Last fight of the day, it was time to pack up and leave before it got too late. If he left now, he could get a few miles of travelling in before he had to stop for the night. He started to make his way to his pack, but before he could get there the hawker stepped into the ring of humanity.
"Do we have anymore challengers?" He asked in a loud voice. No one spoke up.
"Oh come now people, surely there's someone among you capable of dispatching this strapping young man." Still no one spoke up.
He hated the hawkers but they were necessary to draw the crowd he needed. The more people, the more potential challengers for him, and therefore the more money he could make. Ever since the war had ended he had made his living with his blade, travelling from town to town taking on any challenger. In all that time he was still undefeated.
"Come on people, we have enough sunlight for one more challenger. Surely there's one of you brave enough to accept this man's challenge." The hawker continued. Of course he wanted another challenger. The deal he'd struck with this man, who usually spent his time tending a bar, was, if he lost, this man would get the entire purse from the day. This was this man's last chance not to waste an entire day and have to explain that to his wife. He hated hawkers, all he wanted to do was call it a day and leave with his money.
"Come on, surely there must be one!"
"I'll give it a try," came the response.
It came from a man about his same height standing behind him. Handing his pack to the woman standing next to him the man stepped into the circle of spectators. This man carried himself different than the rest of his opponents today. This man was a fighter, he could tell. Despite the baggy cloak and hood the man was wearing, it was plain to see this man was muscular. The sword he had at his hip was unique as well. He'd never seen anything quite like it. Perhaps this would get interesting.
"We have challenger!" screamed the hawker with a pleased grin on his face. He hated hawkers.
"So, what's your name friend?" He asked his new hooded opponent.
"Richard. Richard Cypher," the man said pushing back his hood revealing a head of medium length brown hair.
The crowd let out a collective gasp. The hawker smiled even wider. He hated hawkers. Suddenly he knew why the sword looked so unique. It was the Sword of Truth, the weapon of the Seeker of Truth. Forged by wizards millennia ago and passed down from Seeker to Seeker for thousands of years.
"Richard Cypher! The Seeker!" he said in astonishment. The man nodded.
His mind was racing. Things certainly had gotten interesting indeed. What should he do? If he fought the Seeker and won, he would never need to recruit another hawker. No more making deals with bartenders and merchants. His fame would spread all over the three territories. People would come for miles to see the man who had bested the Seeker. Every man would want to challenge the man who had defeated the Seeker of Truth in a fight. On the other hand, if he lost this entire day would be a waste. He had used all the money he had travelling to this town. If he lost he would lose the entire purse and walk away empty handed. That was too big a risk. He raised his voice.
"Oh come now my people, surely you don't want to see a massacre. We've all heard of the Seeker's epic battles against the D'harans and Banelings. He's killed thousands. He has defeated the Keeper himself for crying out loud. Certainly I am no match," he really didn't care if he was outmatched it was just too big a risk. "I'm afraid I must decline."
While the crowd expressed their disapproval the hawker came storming up to him.
"You can't do that. We had a deal. You said if anyone defeated you I'd get the purse. You can't back out now."
"I said if I was defeated you'd get the purse. I never said I had to accept all challengers and you didn't see fit to stipulate that. I'm not backing out of anything and don't you dare accuse me of such a thing," he said pointing his blade at the scrawny little man's chin to make sure he got the point.
"Of course I didn't stipulate that, I thought it was implied in the deal. This isn't fair" The hawker pleaded, desperately looking for a way out of his predicament.
"Life isn't fair!" He snapped. "Next time I suggest you think things through more carefully," he seethed patting the man on the shoulder with his blade to drive his point home. This conversation was over. Quickly getting control of his anger, he turned to the crowd and exclaimed, "I'm afraid the entertainment for the day is over my friends."
With a sigh the crowd started to disperse and he began to collect his things.
"Then I'll sweeten the deal," Richard said.
The crowd stopped in their tracks, intrigued to here what the Seeker had in store.
"What's your name friend?" Richard asked.
Seeing that this man wasn't going to back down he obliged.
"Ben Meiffert, Seeker."
"Good to meet you Ben. If the money is what bothers you, I'll solve the problem. If I win and you lose your purse for the day, I will personally reimburse you."
"What?" came the reply from a woman in skin tight red leather standing next to the woman holding Richard's pack, apparently another companion of his. Ben didn't know how he had missed her. He could feel anger, hate, and rage rising in side of him again. She was a mord' sith. Ben hated mord' sith more than anything even hawkers. Richard ignored her.
"If you win," he continued, "you will receive something sought after by men throughout the three territories. A rare yet dangerous gift. You will receive something that could make your name famous throughout the entire world or destroy everything that you are," then turning to the crowd, now hanging on his every word, he asked, "Do you want to know what it is?"
They cheered, expressing their curiosity.
"If you win, you will receive…" he said turning to the woman holding his pack, "a kiss from the Mother Confessor herself!"
"What?" Ben, the mord' sith, and the Mother Confessor all screamed in one voice.