Across the muddy stable yard, the young military officer stripped down his uniform to shirt, breeches, and boots.
Bell kept any overindulgent looks to herself, grateful for the shadow cast by her brother’s hat. It wouldn’t be seemly for the Lord’s son to be ogling the man he was about to duel. She rolled her arms, loosening her cold muscles and cursing the extra fabric in the coat’s shoulders.
Around them, the small contingent of soldiers and the house staff watched the preparation in tight silence. The officer’s hands jerked off buckles and straps. He threw his saber’s sheath to the ground before spinning the blade to bear a foot from her nose. “Master Aurell, you’ll regret this. The boy’s got a civic duty. The’s coming with us and for the trouble here I’ll make sure he finds his way to the front. ”
Bell didn’t know what this man was talking about, but assumed her brother did. She also assumed her brother did not want these soldiers hauling off her family’s stable boy to the trenches and probable death. But he wasn’t here to trounce the brash, if well-built, officer.
She drew her sword. If the house staff made note of brutal, pommel-less blade the Lord’s son was using, none made comment. Bell would suffer ill-fitting coats and impractical heavy hats, but not the basket-hilted overgrown needles her brother favored.
The duel began with the captain’s charge. Bell met it with a step to the side, blade sliding on blade. She rolled her sword arm’s shoulder as she pivoted back, noting the way the limb rang. The officer was even stronger than he looked.
The man loomed, slashing his saber down. Bell swivelled, stepping back as she slid her sword against his again, pushing the strike’s momentum to the side. She leaned, trying to drive her blade around his. He parried it away, forcing Bell to hop backwards.
“Oh, don’t tell me you’re just going to prance about.” The officer growled, trying to stalk around Bell’s defense. She moved again with smooth sweeping steps, keeping low like a coiled snake. The officer followed, still talking. “If I’d come here to dance, I would’ve found your sister. She’d probably give me a good whirl.”
Bell disliked chatter in a fight, and in general. Taunts and jibes muddied the rush of the steel and it gave your enemy another reason to want you dead. But her brother, if feeling bold, or annoyed, had been known to goad his opponent. Sometimes it worked. Bell dropped her shoulder and flipped her off hand in invitation. “Well then, let’s dance.”
The captain’s lewd grin turned to affront and he hesitated. He wasn’t quite sure what was being proposed. Bell stepped forward, swordpoint leading.
Crime everywhere! This week I stole the line “Well then, let’s dance.” from The Gate in the Wood as part of the Legal Theft Project, they stole my character. I also stole a hat from More Than 1/2 Mad.