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datatime: 2022-10-06 03:24:08 Author:yUjEVBoI

I nicked him and the blood flowed.

I moved around the desk.

"It wasn't that merciful," I said. "You know where you left me, to die of the plague. The first time, as I remember, it was pretty much a draw."

I tried a very fancy attack I'd learned in France, which involved a beat, a feint in quarte, a feint in sixte, and a lunge veering off into an attack on his wrist.

"I guess so," he said, with a sigh. "It's true, that uneasy-lies-the-head bit. I don't know why we are driven to strive so for this ridiculous position. But you must recall that I've defeated you twice, mercifully granting you your life on a Shadow world the last occasion."

"Don't we all?" I told him.

"I know a way," he said, and then he glared at Dik, who promptly departed and closed the door behind him. I heard it snick shut.

Now don't get the wrong idea. I'm damn good. It's just that he seemed better.

"It wasn't that merciful," I said. "You know where you left me, to die of the plague. The first time, as I remember, it was pretty much a draw."

I kept backing away, and the fear and the knowledge came upon me: I knew I still couldn't take him. He was a better man than I was, when it came to the blade. I cursed this, but I couldn't get around it. I tried three more elaborate attacks and was defeated on each occasion. He parried me and made me retreat before his own attacks.

I nicked him and the blood flowed.

I tried a headcut, which he parried; and I parried his riposte to my heart and cut at his wrist.

"You want the throne," he said.

I kept backing away, and the fear and the knowledge came upon me: I knew I still couldn't take him. He was a better man than I was, when it came to the blade. I cursed this, but I couldn't get around it. I tried three more elaborate attacks and was defeated on each occasion. He parried me and made me retreat before his own attacks.

He parried this and kicked a small stool between us. I set it aside, hopefully in the direction of his face, with my right toe, but it missed and he had at me again.

"This is true," said I. "More than one of us are assembled against you."

I parried his attack, and he mine. Then I lunged, was parried, was attacked, and parried again myself.

Then there were some alarms and excursions in the hall outside. Eric's retainers were coming, and if he didn't kill me before they arrived, then I was confident that they'd do the job - probably with a bolt from a crossbow.

Now don't get the wrong idea. I'm damn good. It's just that he seemed better.

I parried his attack, and he mine. Then I lunged, was parried, was attacked, and parried again myself.

There was blood dripping from his right wrist. His hand was still steady but I had the feeling then that under other circumstances, by fighting a defensive fight, I just might be able to wear him down with that wrist injury going against him, and perhaps I could get through his guard at the proper moment when he began to slow.

"Don't we all?" I told him.

I parried his attack, and he mine. Then I lunged, was parried, was attacked, and parried again myself.

"Well, when it comes to things, Corwin. Poorly, on other counts, however."

"What an enormous chutzpah you possess," I told him. "What makes you better than the rest of us, and more fit to rule?"

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