Chapter 20

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Setryv, his strength slightly regained, contemplated his next move. He knew that many times, whether it be late in the day of a battle or the late rounds of a competition, fatigue set in. The survivor was usually the one who retained their stamina, could keep their level of concentration high and remain patient. The knight saw that his opponent, a medium-sized man with great agility, was struggling against both him and fatigue. His moves were not as graceful as they had been at the outset. The blows, when they landed, were weak. And he relied more and more on his defense, simply waiting to counter and score points. Setryv thought his opponent was hoping to survive until time expired and win on points.

The blonde knight decided he could finish it quickly and lashed out with a barrage of strokes, driving the man back. Most of the strokes scored and did heavy damage, the last of which knocked his competitor's sword loose and it fell to the ground. Setryv quickly positioned himself between the sword and his adversary.

Cautiously brushing the damp hair from his eyes, Setryv caught his breath, smiled and said, "It might be prudent to give it up, friend. You have earned your points. There is no dishonor in leaving the field." Though the words sounded earnest, his look clearly mocked his opponent. Then he added, "There is no reason for you to be subjected to further disgrace."

What little dignity the man had left quickly dwindled. With a cry, he made a desperate lunge for his sword. But Setryv was waiting for it. The knight placed a perfectly directed boot to the side of the man's head and he crumpled to the ground. Setryv was on top of him immediately and struck him twice in the jaw with the hilt of his sword. He pulled his opponent to his feet and beseeched the crowd to pass their judgment. They screamed and yelled for the knight to finish him, but Setryv pretended innocence and only continued to urge them on. Then he made as if to walk away, pirouetted and backhanded his adversary across the face. The man fell to his knees and then flat on his face. It was over. The crowd cheered wildly. Setryv was a semifinalist.

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