The Sakhir desert was filled with a cold and gentle wind. Plumes of sand wisped in to the night air like transient apparitions only to brief the currents before resettling on another of a thousand moon-silvered dunes. The dark sky, spotted by innumerable, perfect stars, blanketed the Sakhir and almost lent itself to an illusion of cool wetness; a cruel joke the Sakhir often played.
But amidst the ocean of dry sand, blemished usually only by the spartan prints of rodents and snakes, the resounding ring of fashioned steel thundered.
Under a platinum moon two armed men traded blows, casting short-lived sparks that briefly changed the desert night to that of a fire's light. Sand shuffled and was kicked in to the air as they paced around eachother, eyes locked with deadly intent. One man, his sword long and straight edged, was lightly armored. His hair grew down to his shoulders and played in the wind, strands sticking to the sweat on his forehead and neck. The other was short haired, cut and cropped like a professional soldier's. His blade was also straight, but slightly shorter; able to be weilded by either one or both hands. He wore no armor but instead a tunic with embroidered imagrey, heralding his service to another kingdom.
They clashed in a dance of two seperate yet similar styles, driving blade against blade, pitting will against will. Moments of silence were, where only heavy breath and the quickened pulse of their raging hearts beat in their ears, broken by flurries of swordplay. Steel battered steel, sending sparks off in to the frigid air as if fireflies were born out of combat.
The Sakhir was a desert rich in metal, stone and precious jewels. It was a playground for warlords who desired the wealth of the desert, men capable of raising armies to protect their interests, and while skirmishes among them were common, there were also warriors who consented to duels of wager to spare the cost of war.
The man with wild, unkempt hair was dressed in an attire of spacious, lightweight cloths wrapped in a fashion familiar with those who inhabited the desert. His lower abdomen was guarded by scaled armor that narrowed in the center and stretched down half the length of his thighs inbetween them, the design mindful of a man's vulnerabilities. The dark, star-lit night shadowed his features and hid his face, veiled by the length of his hair.
Both men understood eachother's presence and had begun their duel without a word spoken. The knight, armed with the shorter of the two swords, found his footing in the sands with more difficulty than his opponent. While not burdoned with the sparse armor of the warlord he battled, he was no quicker; he was not a resident of the Sakhir or any other wasteland, but an emissary for some far-away throne and while accustomed to the art of combat on many lands, he was not a friend of the shifting sands. He, decorated in the sigil of his king on the front of a long blue tunic, was an experienced fighter and had been sent to secure this savage's estates.
A blow from the warlord, aimed low toward the knight's leg, was deflected upward and away in such an angle that it turned the warlord half-around. A gutteral roar burst from the knight and he followed through with his strike by spinning on a balanced heel. He brought his blade around toward his foe's side, aiming for his unprotected lungs after turning again to face him, but with great grace the warlord had also continued the momentum fed in to him by the knight's repel of his previous strike and had spun to meet the knight's intelligent attack. The longer of the two swords came down on the outside edge of the shorter and struck it solidly, casting brilliant sparks in to the sand. The knight found his blade cast high but he was able to keep it from losing him. Before he could recouperate, however, a surprisingly quick knee found his gut from the warlord and doubled him over, and then the butt of the larger sword struck home on the back of his head. He was instantly incapacitated and slipped on to the sand. At a slight angle on a dune he glided several feet downward before collecting in an unconcious pile.
“Welcome to the desert, my friend.”
Mercureous, the victor of the bout, set his mighty blade in its proper sheath along his back and followed the short trail left by the knight which the steady winds had already begun to disguise. He was able to win the duel without bloodshed and weighed on the side of mercy. He took the knight by his ankle and managed the strength to drag him back toward his mount.
A powerful horse, trained for the rigors of war, had waited for its master to return. The short haired, long maned horse, colored like that of delectible chocolate, nickered as Mercureous crested the dune it stood, its master in tow. The warlord met eyes with the regal beast, taking swift note of its expensive, tailored dress. The horse was gowned in long white cloth, bordered by the same blue of the knight's tunic. The horse stepped in place, flaring its nostrils and puffing at the warlord as he neared, obviously agitated by his proximity. Mercureous in turn flared his nostrils and grunted in amiable mockery, then dismissed its docile actions as he struggled to right the knight up in his saddle, which was a very difficult task. While fit and lithe in form, the knight felt twice his weight in his current situation. However, he was soon tightly bound in his saddle with makeshift ties and Mercureous was satisfied that he had a good chance of staying on until he woke.
The horse reared up on its hind legs and then bounded off across the dunes as Mercureous slapped his bare palm on its hindquarters. It galloped in a direction away from his keep, kicking waves of sand up behind it, so he didn't question its sense of way.
Exhausted, Mercureous slowly turned toward home. His own mount waited for him as well, and he was glad to know its master would be returning on his own two legs.
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