by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73
I leave for a fun-filled writing weekend in a few hours, but I leave you with a second excerpt from the upcoming ebook, Power Play: Hero's Sword Volume 2. In this scene, Jaycee facts a test with the sword - a test that could make the difference in proving that she is indeed Lyla Stormbringer.
If you missed the first excerpt, read it here.
We walked back to the manor grounds, the crowd following. I could hear bits of conversation, people debating whether or not I was Lyla Stormbringer. I took this as progress. When I’d arrived no one had believed me. At least people were wondering now.
The practice ring was a circle approximately fifty feet in diameter with a raised border. Roger stepped into the ring and motioned for me to follow. “Lyla Stormbringer is a fearsome blade,” he said, making sure the entire crowd could hear. “It is only fitting, therefore, that she have a strong opponent, someone who can challenge her - me.” Roger unsheathed the sword on his hip and bowed.
I fought to keep my face expressionless. I had to fight Roger? On the one hand, this was good because I was sure he wouldn’t kill me. On the other hand, I was also sure he was a pretty good swordsman himself, so he wouldn’t give me a break either. I flexed my hands, drawing in deep breaths and trying to calm the butterflies in my stomach.
I drew my own blade. The leather-wrapped hilt felt good in my hand, like it belonged there. The sword was neither too light nor too heavy, and the sunlight shone off the blade. I rolled my wrist a couple times, drawing circles in the air. It felt natural. I smiled, swung my sword up in a salute, the way I saw in the movies, and bowed. Roger also smiled and we stepped into a ready position.
This might be fun. Then Roger attacked and I changed my mind. This might be deadly. Roger hadn’t been kidding, he was good and it took all that I had to block his flurry of attacks. There were a couple of times that I thought he’d get me, but he didn’t. I was sure I was working on reflex alone, because it wasn’t skill.
I had never swung a real sword. The closest I’d gotten was when I played Zelda on Stu’s Wii. Believe me, swinging a video game controller is not training for swinging a real sword. Roger chased me all over the ring, blows coming at my head, side and feet. I was managing, but barely. It was just a matter of time before he scored.
Once again, the muttering started. Whatever street cred I’d earned at the archery range was almost gone. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the guy from the range elbow his neighbor and smirk. For some reason, that made my blood boil. A balloon rose in my chest and a ringing started in my ears. Enough was enough. Roger might beat me, but I wasn’t going to lose looking like a fool.
I went on the attack. The more I swung at him, the more Roger smiled. But I didn’t think it was the same kind of smile as the people watching. He looked pleased. I pressed him harder and sweat started to form on his brow, and the smile disappeared as he frowned in concentration.
I lost track of time, so I couldn’t tell you how long Roger and I stomped across that ring. He swung at my head and I ducked. I swung at his feet and he jumped. I blocked a wicked strike that would have carved a chunk out of my chest. I recovered quickly, faked a blow to Roger’s right and swung at his left side. He also reacted quickly and blocked my swing.
Sweat poured down my face, stinging my eyes and I could feel my shirt sticking to my back. I should have been terrified, but I’d never had so much fun. A fierce confidence that I’d never felt before burned in my chest. I still might lose, but I knew I was putting on a show.
After who knows how long, I saw my opening. I took a quick swing toward Roger’s head, but instead of swinging again when he blocked, I slid my blade down his and flicked my wrist in a circle. The move trapped Roger’s sword and twisted it out of his hands. It flew to the side and I held my sword inches from Roger’s throat. I was soaked with sweat and breathing like a sprinter after a race, but I smiled like I'd just been told I would be free of homework for the year.
Roger was also soaked, but his smile stretched across his face and his eyes twinkled. He nodded and I dropped my sword. He retrieved his own blade and we bowed to each other. I was breathing too hard to speak, but Roger held up my sword hand. “I declare this test passed,” he said, his voice ringing with something I could have sworn was pride. I bowed to the crowd.
“And now for the final test,” Roger said. “A test of wits.”
I was flying high. After the bow and the sword, I figured this would be cake. Boy, was I wrong.