“Holy shit!” Derrick heard Rick cry. But this wasn’t happening. These were Kin’keska, Derrick didn’t need a little bird to tell him that. But – but! For Pete’s sake, they had drawn swords! And over what? This was crazy! Panic settled in his stomach in a cold lump, while blood raced through his veins. The big Kin’keska was suddenly matching swing for clanging swing with Gabriella. And the other two men who had been sauntering beside the wagon were now running toward – him!
Derrick no longer felt frozen with panic. A sudden calm overtook him, he dropped the wooden practice sword in his hand as he turned to run into the cabin for his real sword, hanging inside on the wall above his bed furs. Rick was on his heels; they skidded on the wooden floor of the cabin in their haste and dashed back outside to meet their attackers.
As Derrick felt the cold metal of the sword hilt in his hand, he suddenly realized what he was in such a rush to do: to kill a man. His mind drew away from the idea in alarm - and then retreated even further from the sudden revelation that he might also be running to his death. His... own... death. What did he know of fighting with swords but a few basic moves, the very foundation of swordplay?
Then he was back in the sunlight with a tall, long-haired man in clover green trousers bearing down on him with his sword facing Derrick, business end first.
The tall Kin’keska stopped and looked at Derrick and for a just a moment, Derrick thought it would be a dream after all or that the tall man with the ponytail would say, hey, what are we doing here? Why are we fighting? and offer his hand in peace. But then the Kin’keska smiled maliciously and swung at Derrick. SWOOSH!
His heart in his throat, Derrick jumped out of the path of the blade and brought his own sword up. As he saw the sun arc off of the other man’s sword, Derrick brought his own around. The Kin’keska’s sword clashed into it with a jarring clang. That clang was what Derrick needed to break out of his daze. When the Kin’keska’s sword came around again, Derrick met it with all of his own strength behind his swing. An idle part of his mind saw the Kin’keska’s brown eyes widen in surprise at the impact. He thought I was easy bait.
Pride and the heat of combat surged through Derrick and the panicked, young child in him vanished. We’ll have to see about that. Derrick sized up the Kin’keska in between blows. He was tall, very tall, and lean. Wiry. But, Derrick thought, I’m tall too, and I’m also bigger than he is. With that, Derrick seized his advantage. Taking the offensive, he squared his shoulders, forcing the taller man back, mindful not to throw all of his strength behind his swings as one of Gabriella’s warnings surfaced hazily to mind: Reserve your strength for when you need it. And he didn’t need it just now. He was doing just fine driving his opponent back with simple parries and blocks.
What he didn’t count on was that his opponent knew a few more tricks than he did. Derrick wrenched himself out of the way of a sudden uppercut designed, thought that idle part of his mind, to introduce his intestines to the outside world. His movement wasn’t enough to spare him completely, though, as he felt, felt the Kin’keska’s blade slice through his side in an upward direction. Sucking in his breath in pain (I’m not going to die I can’t die) Derrick suddenly glimpsed an opening for his own sword to penetrate, left open by the uppercut move that had resulted in the warmth trickling down his hip.
Then time slowed; actions dawdled by in lingering, drawn-out seconds. The Kin’keska swung his sword down from the air and around in the beginning of another slash. If Derrick could just manage to stab his opponent in the mid-section where he had left himself open and still get out of the way in time to block the movement already going into effect....
Derrick’s sword pierced the tall Kin’keska’s body with a sickening giving way of flesh and a sudden jarring against (bone), but even the sudden pain that seized the Kin’keska didn’t hinder him from completing his swing. Derrick saw the blade arcing cruelly in the sunlight inches away from his body and tried to bring his own sword up to block it. But he couldn’t free it; it was still caught in the other man’s torso. Even though Derrick jerked his sword arm up in a futile effort at shielding himself, he only managed to rip the blade up through the man’s body, his arm thus taking the brunt of his opponent’s final swing. Derrick saw, rather than felt, the steel bury itself into his upper arm. He jerked away from the Kin’keska, who was gasping with pain. Derrick’s sudden movement separated the offending blade from his upper arm and he watched in shock as the tall man slid off of Derrick’s own sword, collapsing in a misshapen heap onto the ground at Derrick’s feet. Derrick stared at the Kin’keska’s widened eyes... they weren’t moving....