Chapter 20

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Mharkhel cautiously struck out at Vhalk and the knight was amazed that his opponent somehow managed to escape. This one should be taken seriously, injured or not, he thought. He began to formulate a new plan of attack. Every movement, every thrust, every blow was directed at weakening Vhalk, trying to force him into submission. And the plan was working. Though Vhalk persisted, Mharkhel began to gain the advantage. A feint allowed Mharkhel in close and he rained blow after blow on Vhalk, sending him to the ground. Incredibly, Vhalk regained his feet and retaliated with a powerful counterattack that Mharkhel was forced to absorb.

They squared off in the center of the arena and traded thunderous blows. After the fourth successive shot landed, Vhalk went down again. Somehow he managed to get up and continue on. They engaged each other anew and Mharkhel faked a kick at the wounded leg, then landed yet another blow, this one to the helmet. Vhalk staggered and the ensuing thrust to the midsection had him on the ground for the third time.

Mharkhel began walking away but was attacked from the back by Vhalk who had scrambled to his feet. This time it was Mharkhel who went down. But when Vhalk pressed the advantage, the knight rolled onto his back and used his legs to flip his attacking opponent over his head. Vhalk landed heavily, the wounded leg bent under him at a bad angle. He tried desperately to rise, finally successful after the third attempt. Meanwhile, Mharkhel had been imploring the judges to stop the battle, but to no avail.

Vhalk screamed Mharkhel's name and the knight turned to look at him. Vhalk had his weapon in the ground and was leaning heavily on it. Blood had soaked through the bandage and his leg appeared to be completely useless to him now. But he still gestured for Mharkhel to continue the fight. Mharkhel looked to the judges and they asked Vhalk if he wished to yield. Vhalk shook his head vehemently and gestured to Mharkhel again. The knight shook his head in dismay and grudgingly went forth with his weapon.

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