The Scholar and the Pugilist

And so it was that I began a pugilistic match. I, a slight, if lean, scholar versus a bare-chested man of curly fur and such meat that I could scarcely imagine damaging anything beneath his fleshy armour.

He gave me an exaggerated grin, the whiskers beneath his nose curled smilingly upward from behind his meaty fists. He had one hand near his chin and the other upturned some distance farther. I mimicked his stance. Being a gentleman of the sport, he allowed me the first strike, and strike I did–a jabbing pop right into his chin. I felt as though my knuckles were cut on the glass of his grainy chin, and he barely flinched at the touch. Rather, he raised his thick eyebrows and allowed his mustaches to curl ever upward. I struck out again, another jab, at his nose, bending it slightly before he pawed my wrist away with his defending hand.

That was two he allowed. Then he struck back–a similar outward punch, a distracting blow, right into my cheek, and I all but bent over backwards from the force. The man, a pugilist by the name of ‘Bones,’ was my first competitor in the tourney, and the man most closely matched to my level of inexperience. It seemed I would not be advancing to the next round.

As my wits recovered, he struck me again, rattling my chin, and once again in my abdomen, doubling me forward. Then he danced around me in a clockwise fashion, mustaches utterly curled. He might have been sneering beneath those whiskers, but to my impression he seemed to be the happiest chap alive. I squared my shoulders and swung my fists into the dense dough where his ribs ought to have been, then again, only to strike harshly against his defending elbow.

The lads of the tavern laughed consistently at my efforts. For every five swings and touches of mine, he rang my bell with but one, and I needed some seconds to recover each time.

I thought about summoning the winds to crush him in gale force. I thought about focused storms like wolves ravaging his chunky flesh. I thought about singing his song in discord and rearranging his essential being into a mangled horror. I thought, in shame, of draining his very life force to feed my own. All these things I could have done. And I chose to be pounded to pulp, to square my average body against his massive one. No, I could not employ my magical knowledge. Not without revealing my position to my enemies. Not without betraying trusted secrets. I chose this. I chose to train.

I sometimes think my scholarly pursuits have ultimately left me unfathomably stupid.

And Bones, bored with the show, clobbered me atop the skull like knocking upon a desk, and the match was over.




Day 271’s three random writing prompt categories were, “Magic scholar,” “A fight scene,” and, “Meat.”

Pugilist is one of my favourite words.

– H.

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