The Aeolian Master - Book One - Revival HTML version

The sudden disengagement was like a dowse of ice-cold water.
Again Lyil looked at her watch. “Time really flies,” she said.
Ben knew what was coming. “Yeah, it does.” He knew she had to get up early. "Well, I better . . . "
She stepped closer and took his hand. She leaned forward. "No," she whispered. "Don't leave." She led him
toward the bedroom. “I’ll probably have to skip my workout tomorrow morning,” she added. “And besides,
I’m on vacation.”
This time he didn't mind that she had interrupted.
Ben stood on the swording platform thinking about Lyil. It was nine days ago that she had asked him to
spend the night, and he hadn't spent another night in his guest quarters since. He only went back to get his
things and to check out.
Ben's relationships with women in the past had always been fleeting and noncommittal. Considering his age,
this didn't bother him, and in his mind he had reasons why he never formed a permanent relationship—such as,
he was too busy with swording or he was too busy with his professional life as an Archaehistorian, but now he
was beginning to think that they had just been excuses while he was waiting for someone like Lyil. For the first
time in his life he was forming a solid relationship, and it was at the worst possible time. Crap, he thought as he
flexed his sword. He was on a planet far from his home planet, and he was busier now with swording and
Archaehistory than he had been during the past.
Ben looked to his left at the ringside box seats, which were designated for his friends and family and saw
Lyil sitting with Tam and Rand. Her long red hair was a sharp contrast amongst all the Tarmorians throughout
the stadium with their heads of black hair. He nodded in her direction, and she smiled back.
He whipped his sword through the air a couple of times. It whistled, sharply. Then he turned and looked at
his opponent.
Doog was a man who looked darker than any of the other Tarmorians Ben had seen. It wasn't so much his
brown skin nor his black hair, which made him look dark, but rather his deep set, penetrating, black eyes, which
lurked behind a long, sleek nose. As a result he had an almost sinister look about him.
Ben noticed that Doog seemed fidgety and anxious. Perhaps he was nervous, after all there was only one
match remaining after this one. And whoever won this one would be going to the finals.
This was the tenth round, the semifinals. Everyone had been knocked out of the tournament except for
four—Ben, Doog, Zirnen, and Julian (an offworlder whom Ben had beaten in the Galactic Games). The odds-
on-favorite to win the semi-final matches and advance to the finals were Ben and Zirnen. In fact the odds were
overwhelmingly in favor of Ben and Zirnen at ninety-five to one.
Ben looked at one of the four clocks, which was located on one of the walls above the spectators. There was
a little more than two and a half minutes before the match would begin. It wasn’t customary for Ben to be
looking at the clock like a nervous novice anticipating the beginning of the match, but today he realized he was
anxious to get started. He didn’t care about winning as much as he was looking forward to having dinner with
Lyil and her friends. He wanted to finish this match quickly.
He glanced at the stands, and what he saw was a crowd of people composed mostly of Tarmorians, some G-
staff, and some offworlders dressed in brightly colored, vacationers’ clothing. The stadium was packed to
capacity. Excitement permeated the air. The spectators were anxious, and so was Ben.
He did some stretching motions to limber his muscles. And while he was doing them he decided to take his
mind off Lyil and concentrate on Doog. He was, after all, close to winning a Tarmorian tournament.
Ben was waiting for the buzzer, when Doog suddenly did the unexpected. He put his sword on the mat and
walked toward Ben until he was but a few feet away. "I just wanted to shake your hand before the match
begins." He stuck out his hand and grasped a hold as Ben extended his. "Swording is my life," he said. He let
go of Ben's hand. "And I've never crossed swords with anybody as high up in the ranks as you. This is a great
honor. And believe me I want to beat you, and I'm going to do my best."
"I would expect nothing less," said Ben.
Doog smiled. "Yes, but I've seen you perform. So, in the event that I should win I just wanted to say I'm
sorry, because it'll have to be a lucky strike."