∴ A Tempering Blow ∴
A slow exhalation forces its way through clenched teeth as you fight to clear your head. To push back the hot wind of anger, knowing how it turns cyclonic. You recall the words of your teacher: temperance, boy. Temperance and discernment. That’s what wins a fight – not a blaze of righteous glory, nor a clumsy, tell-tale rage. Only moderation.
Your senses reel and you clutch the spiral-bound grip of your sword for balance. You are almost dwarfed by her, yet she moves with measured certainty. You open your eyes to recall those familiar features: deep blue leather, fullered steel, the resplendent sun on the cap of the pommel. These are the things you can trust. The straight, sharp line between right and wrong.
As your breathing slows and the heat fades from your cheeks, you take in your opponent with renewed passivity. You’ve seen his kind before, you realise. All baiting, leering show. You will not rise to it this time. Instead, you step coolly into measure with an ascending cut from the right. He is not expecting it – nor the next one – nor the thrust that finishes him.
∴ A Humble Warrior ∴
Stone presses into the your knees, cold traveling through your bones and into the heart of you. Your conscious voice begs you to move, to shift just slightly, to relieve some of the pain, the cold, the stiffness – but still you kneel.
There is no earthly comfort to be found here, in the palace’s quiet, cold little chapel. But there is beauty. You raise your head to gaze through half-lidded eyes at the dappled sunlight illuminating the window. The rich garnet reds and emerald greens. The contrite knight, hat in hand, hanging in that translucent space between one world and the next.
And the sword – yes, the sword! Every detail learned by heart: the wire and studded leather of the grip, the ridged facets of the pommel, the tooled whorls on the rain guard which you once traced clumsily with fat, childish fingers as your father told you, “one day it will be yours.”
Well, that day came – heralded by blood and mud and frenzied shouts – and now the sword of the window’s luminous knight, passed down from father to son for generations, hangs at your side, its tip resting on the ground behind you.