He was the best swordsman in the realm. And I was an apprentice witch of the woods. The duel was not going to go well for me.
But he was an oppressor. A witch hunter, yes, and a butcher of men, women, children. He killed “monsters” whether they were dangerous or harmless, and speared woodland animals for fun. And the worst part was, he managed to convince everyone that he was always the underdog, tackling foes bigger and stronger than he. He would spin tales about fanged beasts and powerful sorceresses, implying that a mere swordsman should have been no match for them.
So I marched into his palace (or rather, sneaked into in cat form) and challenged him to a duel. If I won, he would have to retire his sword for good. And if he won, he would have boasting rights for defeating yet another foe in single combat. Also, he would have my head.
Yes, I was a fool. A sword could cleave a wand faster than a wand could disarm a skilled swordsman. Even if I did land a spell or two, he had the strength of ironwood in his bones. Muscles like stone mountains.
So when the duel began, the whole court watching us, I didn’t try to disarm him. I froze the ground between us, so that when he rushed to behead me, his steel-clad boots skidded along the ice and swished up into the air, knocking him onto his back. His sword skidded away, and I quickly jabbed my wand at it and uttered, “Cattus forma!”
The sword shivered on the ground, and I was worried my spell was ineffective. In reality, the shine from the sword (or maybe the ice) reflected the spell into the audience. I noticed a courtier shrink out of his clothes and hop out of them in cat form, scampering away.
I rushed to grab the sword, foolishly, and found myself losing my footing on my own ice. Idiot girl! But instead of hitting my backside, I stumbled onto the chest of the swordsman, splayed out over that wall of armour.
He took a swing at me, but I kept my chin against his breastplate. His armour prevented him from moving his arms inward enough to strike me. But this wasn’t the ideal position for a duel.
To my surprise, the swordsman stood up, with me clutching his chest, as though he had no additional weight on him at all. I racked my brain to think of a spell, but he was leaning over to pick up his sword, and I had very little time to think. So I stabbed him in the eye with my wand.
He howled and cursed me, missing the hilt of his sword by a handspan. Not knowing what to do next, I performed a shrinking spell on his helmet, hoping to disorient him. Instead, it bounced off his shiny skull cap. That was when I fell.
It seemed like an eternity, just descending through the air. Just when I started to realize what happened, I landed on the icy floor of the courtyard. I wasn’t (too) hurt–the shrinking spell diminished my mass tenfold, so I could fall much longer distances without shattering on impact. But I was also only a few inches tall.
The swordsman called me coward and cried out for me to face him. His voice boomed in my ears. He was now a real mountain of strength. An errant step of his boot would end me. But the spell also made me as invisible as a fleaperson. So I prepared my next spell while he was still confused.
I had forgotten all about the cat I inadvertently created until I saw it in my peripheral vision, bounding toward me with hunger in its eyes and claws sharp as swords.
Today’s prompt categories were, “Swords and wands,” “The fool,” and “Strength.”
A tarot triple-threat, today. And yes, I threw in a fleapeople reference. Sue me.
Today marks my fiftieth day of the writing prompt challenge! Woo! Only 315 more days to go.