Morning Melee

by Thomas Lazur

This is probably going to be the first chapter of my Fin and Delano series. The characters and events I write about are 100% my creation and they cannot be reproduced without my consent. Copyright 2000 by Thomas Lazur.

The morning's mist was hanging weightlessly above the ground, shrouding the forest floor, and hiding Fin's legs up to his thighs. The air felt, smelt, and even tasted moist. The humidity was a mixture of dank, almost stagnant air with fog, morning dew, and decomposing leaves. The sun was barely shining through the evergreen canopy of the forest, and when it did, it produced long, elegant fingers of light that seemed heaven-sent. His senses were poised and receiving, ready to alert him to the slightest sound or movement. Feeling his muscles tensing and stiffening, he forced himself to relax.

Even and steady, slow and methodical Fin breathed in the air. Not one sound did he make, not one muscle did he flex. All was concentration as Fin let himself exist with his surroundings. Then he heard it. It was a disturbance, an interruption of the peace. The sound was small, barely audible intake of breath combined with a foot grinding dead, wet leaves into the dirt. It was behind him. Fin whirled around while drawing his sword from his side hilt. He turned just in time to see his opponent leap from the foliage, his own sword at the ready. Both were wielding rapiers about three fourths of a meter long in their right hands. His opponent, clad completely in forest green from his feet up to his covered face, wasted no time in attacking, and gave a diagonal slash from his left shoulder to his right hip. Fin leaped back, and the deadly cut never got close.

Fin started circling left, keeping his sword in a ready position. The man in green matched Fin's maneuver. They were locked in a slow, synchronous orbit with each other. The man in green advanced a step, and then another. Fin took one step back then feinted at the man in green's face, but the he didn't take it. This opponent was no amateur. Fin gritted his teeth, advanced, and then made a thrust the man couldn't ignore. The point of the blade soared through the air and stabbed the empty space where the man had whirled out. Fin was amazed at the man in green's dexterity. The man in green completed his spin in a slice that was blocked by Fin's quick recovery. Throwing finesse to the wind, Fin grabbed the man in green's sword wrist and ran towards a nearby tree. Fin planned on sandwiching his foe against the unyielding bark of the redwood.

The man in green seemed taken aback by Fin's growling charge and unable to take respond. Just as the man was about to be slammed into the tree, he kicked both his legs out toward the tree and planted his feet on the bark of the redwood. The man then pushed off the tree, flipping over Fin, breaking the hold. The man landed with a thud on his feet, then rolled away from the turned away Fin.

Fin turned around, brought his blade up, centered himself, and perched on the balls of his feet. Letting out a roar, Fin called upon his ethereal powers, and felt a deep power surging from his heart through his chest, and then to his arms. Fin could physically feel his muscles becoming denser, and his sinew becoming strong and supple. Fin had used his power of the magi to better his physical performance. In his even stronger state, Fin leapt forward into a spiraling somersault. This rotary slice would surely cut anything in his way to ribbons. Fin landed sword first on the ground, his quarry gone. The man had moved out of the way in time. Fin didn't even pause to consider it. He exploded into a volley of slashes, lunges, thrusts, and swings that were matched by the man in green move for move. The combatants were moving with such celerity that they seemed a blur. Distinct features were impossible to make out. The misty arena gave the battle a surreal guise, as if it was warring visions, not true men locked in combat. For every yard or two one of the men gave up, the other would regain it in seconds. The two seemed matched in skill, strength, and of stamina.

In all wars, there is a victor and a loser. The time had come for them to take their rightful places. After a few more intense minutes the final move was made. The man in green, recovering from Fin's thrust, spun on his foot and brought his blade around in a horizontal cut. Instinctively, Fin turned his blade to his right and flipped it upside down against his shoulder. The two swords clashed together with a piercing ring, and Fin pulled back his left wrist and pushed it forward into the man's nose, which was followed by a sickening crunch of bone and cartilage. The man fell to the ground gasping. Luckily for him, his nose had not been pushed into his brain. Fin put his sword at his opponent's throat and with a grin said, "Yield or die."

"Yield or die. Yield or die?" Delano tenderly poked his freshly reconstructed nose, "A little melodramatic aren't we huh?"

"Sorry Del," Fin said sheepishly. "It was a spur of the moment kind of thing." Although Delano's nose was healed after a few minutes of meditation and magic, Delano was still sore in another way. Fin tried to excuse himself, "When I get going, I sometimes just…" Fin spread his hands, "lose myself."

Delano stopped nursing his snipped snout and frowned. "Tell me about it. I remember when we were both in the Academy's production of "Geeroy: The Last Warrior." You did more than 'lose yourself,' you almost killed me."

"Ah Del," Fin shook his head, embarrassed that his friend would bring that incident up. "I have apologized for that so many times, I don't think you're allowed to hold it against me anymore."

"Are you kidding? When a dear friend forgets the intended falsity of a play and attempts to lop the head off of who he thinks is the Ogre-king, then I believe some retribution is quite acceptable."

"Now who's being melodramatic?" Fin said with a smirk.

"Ah shaddup." Delano picked up his green mask and rapier and began his trek back to the castle. "You coming or what?"

Fin smiled to himself and stood. "Sure thing your highness."

"I heard that."