Chapter Six

Death or Draw

By the time I met with Logan again, I knew I really had only one option left.

I slept for nearly a full day before the meeting, so when I saw him, my head felt very awake and clear. "I have one more request for you," I explained, when he asked why I'd wanted a second meeting.

"Oh?" He was interested, surprised.

"Let me work for you," I said, getting up out of the meeting room chair. "I know that you and I are destined to be enemies by the natural order of the world. So let me prove myself to you, that I am worth your effort, and if you think I'm lacking in some way, you can give me an honorable death."

"You would fight me?" He blinked, truly shocked. "I have no quarrel with you, Chancy."

"I don't have one with you either," I pointed out. "I want to be one of your guards, the way Raziel is, so I know that it takes a fight to prove that I'm able."

He stood up to face me more properly, and right then I knew he'd say yes. "Why would I fight you, instead of have you duel one of my guards?"

"It's my last request," I said, and tried to use my best English skills to get my point understood. "When I leave this place, I know I'm going to die. There is nothing for me in the world now anyway. If you defeat me, then you may kill me in whatever way you see fit, if you think I am worth the effort."

I think my seriousness surprised him. I mean, I meant every word of it; I knew I'd die in the next few days regardless, and maybe even by choice. "I accept your offer," he said. "Come, we will do it now. I will tell my advisors, and they may watch to see you earn your respect among them."

"Thank you," I said, relieved that he'd accepted.

We were to fight in the ceremonial place, in their great hall. There were already some people there for some reason, so Logan got up in front of them to speak. "Here today I have been challenged by a wolf from far away, a pack none of us know, and whom we have never quarreled," he began. "But do not hate him, for he is not challenging me for my life, my position, or the safety of my people. He is bereft of pack and territory due to a vengeful spell, and has challenged me to this duel for the sake of his own honor."

I got the impression from the reactions of the panthers that this kind of thing had never happened before. I wasn't too surprised. I waited patiently in my position at the bottom of the tiered rise where he stood. The others stayed pretty far away from me.

Logan walked down to where I waited, and asked what form I wanted to duel in. I told him I wanted everything traditional, so we shifted into our battle forms.

Having never seen a werepanther, I didn't know what to expect. But even though I was amazed at how powerful he was I knew I would get my way. I knew he would either kill me or accept me. I could take him in this fight at least enough for that.

It lasted for nearly two hours, until the hall was so packed with people that every time we hit each other, our blood sprayed on the faces of the onlookers. It was the best fight of my life. I felt more alive than ever before, as though now I had found my real place in life. Logan was the best fighter I had ever seen and many times he almost got me, but I was too quick. His battle form towered over me, which is what I'd expected, and I used it to my advantage. He had the upper hand with reach and power, but I knew I had earned the pride of Fallen Sun, and was good enough to push him to his limit.

It was at the end of the second hour that he called a draw. I was surprised at first, but soon realized that he was right. Our skills were too equal to determine a winner without blood rage, and neither of us were really upset so much as enjoying the challenge.

He shifted back into his human form and addressed his pack again, this time covered in blood and sweat: "Here today you have witnessed a wolf stronger than any were who has ever challenged me in combat. You have seen him earn the right to be respected above all others in this way. Yet he wants none of that. He wants only a place to live. Here I accept Chancy, fallen vak-rala of the Fallen Sun Clan, into my personal guard and under my personal protection. Any who find fault with him for his race alone will answer to me, and my punishment." He said a really great speech, but it was obvious he was just as worn out as me. I think that was probably enough proof that I was serious than any words were.

Raziel told me later that it was the best fight he'd seen in his life. Logan started assigning me to guard people almost immediately, but most surprisingly he gave me a room to stay in his own house. I was his personal guard now, he said, and until the day I could return to my pack, I would stay there under his command.

I can't say I was happy at the thought of starting over, a new life, in a new place, where I had no one. But after those two hours I knew I deserved to live, and that I would rather die fighting for any cause than I would surrender to the fate Morgan had wanted for me.