The spectacle revolved around the combatants on the sand. A young man of great stature stood in the center of the circle. Standing taller than Mandrean, sweat rolled down his chiseled bare chest. Holding a wooden sword with both hands, he gasped for air to accommodate his excessive exertion.
On either side of the boy were Imperial Guards who also bore no armor. They were identifiable by their uniforms. Similar swords were in their hands. The one directly before the boy jerked to the side and then lunged at him. Spinning out of the way, the boy was struck in the arm by an attack from the soldier behind.
“Sloppy,” yelled the old man. “Acreas you must anticipate the attack. See it before it comes.”
Acreas rubbed his bicep where the strike had fallen and yelled back. “Master, he was behind me. How can I see something if my head is turned the other way?”
“I cannot see anything in that circle but I knew it was coming,” the old man scolded. “Seeing is not only with your eyes. True sight is in the mind. Use that sight and you will be victorious. Ignore it and you will die.”
Angered but undeterred, Acreas re-engaged his opponents. He struck at one and forced him on his heels. Then he turned around and parried a low strike from the second man. While he was successful at blocking the sword, Acreas failed to realize the intention of the attack was merely to leave his body defenseless. The soldier immediately punched him in the face and sent the towering youngling to the ground. Before Acreas could collect himself, the soldier stabbed his sword into the sand by the boy’s head. “Kill,” the soldier cried.
Acreas stared at the victor with furious anger. For his part, the soldier looked unimpressed. He held out his hand to help his victim to his feet. The boy took his hand and regained his footing. As soon as the soldier turned around, however, Acreas struck the pommel of his sword into the back of the man’s head. The blow staggered the soldier but did little more than earn his wrath.
Slapping the sword out of the way, the soldier again connected his fist with Acreas’ face. For his part, the boy returned the attack and the two were quickly wrestling on the ground. The other soldier took a drink from a bucket of water and happily watched the entertainment.
The old man struck his cane on the ground. “Enough,” he yelled. Both men respected the statement and separated. “Acreas, you allowed pride to motivate your attack. That is never wise. Then you attacked him in a dishonorable way. That is never acceptable.”
“Well there is more than one way to fight, Master,” Acreas snipped.
“Yes,” said the master. “There is the right way and the wrong way. You are clearly demonstrating the wrong way.”
“It works for me,” said Acreas.
“If that is true, my student, then why are you the one with all the bruises. You do not use your mind and you fight with no honor.”
“Honor?” scoffed the pupil. “Where is the honor in fighting two against one?”
The master shook his head. “I am not training you to fight duals. I am training you to reach your potential as an elite warrior. Such men rarely see odds stacked in their favor.”