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45
First Victory!

For Lady_Roisin, with prayers for her recovery. Beta by RiverOtter.


~~~

First Victory!


Eldarion gave over his offense and stepped backward, watching his opponent closely, trying to predict which move might be tried next. Then he noted that the other’s sword was lowered slightly more than one usually saw, and he immediately moved to take advantage of that brief moment of increased vulnerability.

Whack! Clang! And suddenly the other Man’s sword had dropped from his grasp and was skittering across the practice ground.

Eldarion stepped back, lowering his own blade to a guard position as he’d been taught—“Never assume you have won until your opponent has made it more than plain he yields--and even then ward yourself, for some truly have no honor, and will seek to take advantage of any perceived laxity of guard.” From the corner of his eye he could see the mouths of several of the onlookers drop in shock, for most had never seen this Man lose a practice bout with a sword to anyone, and particularly not to a fifteen-year-old youth; but it was his opponent’s own face he watched most closely, seeing the initial dumbfounded surprise give way to realization that, yes, he had indeed been bested, and then the growing respect and--and pride! that went with that realization.

The Man straightened. “I yield me,” he said, placing his right hand across his breast and bowing respectfully. “Today, my son, you have indeed proven your skill. Now, if you will grant me the chance to redeem my reputation?”

Eldarion Telcontar finally sheathed his sword, realizing of a sudden that his hand was shaking. He looked down at it, then back to meet the eyes of his father. “I fear, Adar nín, that it would perhaps be best should we look to match ourselves again tomorrow. Right now....”

And Elessar Envinyatar Telcontar was suddenly stepping forward to press a steadying hand to his son’s shoulder, his eyes already searching the youth’s face, noting the sudden pallor and the sheen of sweat on the youth’s forehead. “Nay, you are right, ion nín,” he agreed. “Tomorrow will be soon enough for me to challenge you again. But today you have adequately shown that you have listened well to the lessons offered by myself and your uncles and by Hardorn. And I am ever so proud of you.”

Eldarion took a deep, strengthening breath, straightening in pride and sudden delight. He had done it! Today he, a mere youth of fifteen summers, had managed to defeat his father, reputedly the greatest swordsman among Men. He might not match this feat for months; but today--today he had proved himself a worthy match for the King of the West! And when others crowded about him to offer him their congratulations he felt his smile threatening to split his face.

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