Mercy

By
The Sun suddenly dazzled my eyes as I stepped out into the arena. It was my first time and likely to be my last if I made one mistake.
As my opponent came into view, I was suddenly gripped by fear; that might be the last face I ever see. It was a cold, hard face, battered from previous conflicts. He wore only a leather cuirass, cloth pants and sandals, which would provide little protection from my blade.
The large gap between us closed slowly as we prepared to fight. The command was given and we began.
Immediately, he made a move, slashing at my side. I blocked reflexively and stabbed at his chest, but missed. As I regained balance I was seized by pain; I’d received a blow to the leg and he had drawn first blood.
Ignoring my pain, I swung my sword toward his leg. He blocked and I tried for his arm, which was suddenly covered in red.
We broke from combat momentarily, pain and tension mounting. The crowd roared a we charged back together, slashing, stabbing, blocking, and dodging; most of the time missing, but occasionally landing a blow.
Finally, as both of us were growing weary, with a final effort I knocked the sword from his hand; he was at my mercy. I looked out at the crowd, up at the Emperor, and received the thumbs up. I was to let him live and threw my arms over my head, drinking in the excitement of the spectators. Then, I slowly left the arena.





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