The Aeolian Master - Book One - Revival HTML version

anticipating a win, but now his chances were less than even as Ben was considered the favorite.
The last time they met in competition, two years earlier in the Galactic Games, Zirnen had won the match by
using a maneuver which had been out of use for thousands of years. But this time Ben was ready.
He had researched the move, and had practiced against it a number of times. Now it was easily thwarted,
and anyone who tried this trick against him would certainly lose.
It wasn’t the trick that concerned Ben, for he had practiced against it many times having his sparring partner
maneuver to both sides with the roll and the attempted thrust into Ben’s ribcage, instead it was Zirnen’s
improvement over the last couple of years that made Ben a little anxious about this match. Like all good
swordsmen, Ben kept up on the swording news by reading the Quarterly Galactic Swording Magazine, “Sword
Times.” Since the last Galactic Games, two years previous, Zirnen had successfully defended his title as
champion of Lomar, his home planet, each year and had done so in a commanding fashion. He had also won a
Tarmorian tournament, which included beating the number four sword of the Galactic Games. There was no
doubt that his swording had greatly improved since Ben had last sworded against him. Ben shrugged it off. He
was still better than Zirnen.
The warning light flashed on the scoreboard as the clock counted down to zero. The buzzer sounded,
indicating the start of the match.
The Tarmorians were excited, but during a match they became very quiet. They stopped stomping their feet,
stopped whistling and clapping, and stopped shouting and talking. They waited and watched in silence.
Ben and Zirnen stepped to the center of the platform and crossed their swords making a slight clanging
The buzzer stopped and both men jumped back with their swords at the ready position. Zirnen moved
forward and immediately took the offensive with a thrust, thrust, parry, thrust. Then he surprised Ben with a
relentless attack—almost a brawling, hacking attack with his sword as he kept lunging forward.
Ben kept moving back, skillfully avoiding a hit by Zirnen’s unexpected frenzied attack. Flurry after flurry of
offensive sword maneuvers came at Ben and it backed him up to the edge of the mat. Ben turned to his right
and kept countering with defensive moves. An attack like this from most swordsmen would end with a quick
kill by Ben, but Zirnen’s skill had increased even more than Ben had anticipated with his accurate and expertly
timed offensive moves. Ben had to clear his mind, put everything aside, especially Lyil and the upcoming
archaeological expedition, and concentrate solely on this match.
He stopped Zirnen’s vicious advance by defending a thrust then stepping forward. He thrust, thrust, then
parried. By his movements Ben knew Zirnen was coming for the kill. He watched Zirnen’s sword closely for
the sign that he was going to make a thrust toward Ben’s chest. And then it came, but Ben parried it easily and
made a thrust of his own—one which would have scored on most swordsmen, but Zirnen parried it, and then
made another thrust. Ben jumped back and parried.
Finally Ben saw a slight opening and was able to counterattack. Thrust, thrust, parry, thrust, thrust, and then
the tip of Ben’s sword hit Zirnen’s sword hand.
The buzzer sounded and the match stopped while a point was put on the scoreboard under Ben’s name. The
buzzer sounded again and the two men crossed swords waiting for the buzzer to stop. When it did they jumped
back with their swords going to the ready position.
Two minutes and fourteen seconds from the end of the round, Ben parried, thrust, switched hands in mid air
and thrust toward Zirnen’s chest. Zirnen parried in time to keep from being hit in the chest and thereby losing
the match, then with the sinuosity of a striking snake he lunged at Ben’s stomach. Ben countered in time to
keep from losing the match, but his parry wasn’t enough to keep Zirnen’s sword from hitting his shoulder.
The buzzer sounded and the men stopped swording. A point was put under Zirnen’s name on the
scoreboard. After another two minutes of swording the round ended in a one to one tie.
The crowd cheered.
The second round went better for Ben as he began to adjust to Zirnen’s style of swording. Ben won two
points to Zirnen’s zero and the third round would begin with the score three to one in Ben’s favor.
Before the start of the third round and as Ben waited on his side of the platform sitting on his stool, it
occurred to him that Zirnen might try the roll trick again. He quickly dismissed this idea. Zirnen would have to
assume, and correctly so, that Ben had practiced against and was now ready for it. With only a two-point deficit
it was still possible for Zirnen to win the match and the tournament.
The buzzer sounded, Ben whipped his sword through the air once and moved forward toward Zirnen in the
middle of the platform. They crossed their swords and waited.