Today I'm going to share with you one of my favorite scenes from episode 1 of Quests which won the 2008 National Writers Association scholarship contest. In this scene the elvin princess, Beritta is asked by her teachers, the elders, to practice her fighting skills with a lower ranking elf named Oakley. Beritta is none to pleased thinking she will easily beat him. This is scene is the resulting skirmish.
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Now the story:
Beritta made a disgusted face as Oakley moved to stand beside her. As one of the highest of High Elves, she was expected to be an expert warrior, since she would some day lead other elves in battle. Turning her back on Oakley, Beritta followed one of the elders until they were out of Oakley’s earshot.
“Excuse me,” she said tugging on the elder’s robe. When he turned to face her she continued, “I think there’s been a mistake. You see the elf you partnered me with is a Wood Elf.”
“It’s not a mistake,” the elder replied. “I’d like you to work with Oakley.”
“But you know I’m one of the best fighters in the city,” Beritta argued. “I’ll beat him in no time and it won’t even be a challenge! You should find me a different partner, one who will put up a good fight.”
“I will not cater to your pride, princess,” said the elder. “If he is below your level you can help him improve.”
So Beritta grudgingly returned to Oakley, secretly vowing to go easy on him. She sized up his skinny body with an inward sigh. This would be far too easy.
“We’ll start with swords,” Beritta announced with a toss of her long hair.
Oakley nodded and picked a thin curved sword from the pile of weapons the elders provided. Beritta rummaged through this pile for a minute until she found her favorite practice sword. It was curved, like Oakley’s but with a small blade a few inches longer than her forearm. She swung it through the air experimentally, enjoying the whistling sound this made. Oakley stretched and sliced the air in front of him before moving into a ready position with his blade pointed straight in front of him. Beritta also took a ready stance.
Once all the pairs stood ready, an elder signaled them to begin. Beritta swung her sword forward but Oakley moved at the same moment, blocking her attack. The blades met with a metallic ring, sending up a shower of silver sparks like pixie dust. They pulled back and circled each other until Oakley jumped forward, forcing Beritta to block his blow. Beritta retaliated with a series of stabbing motions which Oakley parried, swinging his sword from side to side in a quick motion and starting the fight in earnest.
They wove in to deal blows and out to avoid the other’s weapon. Their movements were quick and graceful like a dance. Beritta loved the feel of the smooth motions and the fire in her blood which made her powerful. Usually she was faster and stronger than any elf she skirmished, but that day she found her opponent’s skill greater than she expected. Oakley was just as good as she was, moving his sword smoothly through the air in time with her.
As Oakley forced her to yield ground through a fierce attack, Beritta took back on her promise to go easy on him. With a two handed sweep of her sword, Beritta chopped at Oakley’s legs. He jumped back, giving her the space she needed to push herself into an offensive leap. Yelling, Beritta extended her sword, intending to smash the flat down on Oakley’s head, ending the fight. Positioning himself in a crouch, Oakley sliced upward using the force of Beritta’s leap to send her flying backward. Beritta felt the wind knocked out of her as she hit the ground and slid, raising a cloud of dust and pine needles.
By this time most of the other pairs stopped sparing and gathered to watch Beritta and Oakley. Beritta got to her feet and rubbed her sore scratched back. She glared at Oakley who held his sword in front of him with a calm air. With a shout Beritta charged. As she neared him, Oakley swung out his sword, slapping Beritta’s hand with the flat of the blade then swinging it beneath her weapon, disarming her. It was a complicated move only the best swordsmen knew. Beritta stared at Oakley, red faced and humiliated. She, Beritta, princess of elves had been beaten by a Wood Elf.
An elder standing nearby raised an eyebrow then clapped. Beritta and Oakley both turned in surprise. A mighty cheer went up from the watching elf children.
Exasperated, Beritta faced Oakley again and yelled, “All right, I admit it, you’re better than I am! I QUIT!”
She stormed off leaving Oakley confused and partnerless.