∴ A Serpent’s Coils∴
The roar of the onlookers is a hot rush in your ears as you step out to meet your challenger. As you stride across the salle, one hand waving absently to the audience, you’re already sizing up the competition.
The serpent, they call him. To be honest, you can’t see why. His slight stature, narrow eyes and nervous disposition put you more in mind of a rodent than a snake.
But his sword – now that is a thing of beauty. A curling black guard, like his namesake’s sinuous coils, sweeping up into an elegant knuckleguard topped with a dragon’s head.
Another look tells you that there’s more to this totem animal: clamped between the serpent’s jaws is a carved black heart. In every sword is a story, and this one is clear enough: beware the allure of the beast, for this one is a killer.
The horn sounds and you settle into guard, watching for your opponent’s tells. Almost immediately he circle-steps around you, smoothly, confidently. You follow him round, angling your blade to protect your right shoulder, only for him to take another sweeping step.
You’ve seen this before: the serpent is back-footing you, forcing you to move in response to him, to fight on his terms. Knowing this, you relax and plan your lunge, waiting patiently for the gap in the arc of his next side-winding stride.
As you shift your grip on your sword, ready to strike, you realise that something is amiss. Your attacker is not where he ought to be. With a split-second sinking feeling, you understand: the serpent has not only been stepping around you, but with each stride fractionally nearer. Now, perfectly in measure, he catches your blade with his dagger and steps in to take the point.
You’ve been caught in the serpent’s coils.