Cirathan Swordplay

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

The large, golden eyes of the Cirathans give them incredible vision and an unparalleled attention to detail. While this eyesight has served them well as diplomats, merchants and negotiators, being able to subtlety sense and infer the thoughts and feelings of others lead to their sports not being games of physical strength and tactics, but competitions of who can hide their own intent, and read the intent of their opponent better. Sword combat, for example, is a sport designed around a single, decisive motion.

We stood ready in an arena, a minute had passed already. The audience sat with baited breath, studying every last twitch of our muscles and trying their best not to even blink.

Our swords were thin, slightly curved and lightweight, they’d shatter if we collided like they do in movies. They remained in the sheaths on our hips until the time was right.

His form was excellent. Bare chested as he was, I still couldn’t tell what he was planning. His Cirathan eyes were clear and free of intent. He didn’t move a single centimeter beyond what was intentional. His bare, lithe legs didn’t wobble or quake, I’ve never seen hands so still.

My heart raced with anxiety and it was hard to breathe. If he noticed the trouble I was having, he didn’t show it.

Just one strike and it would be done. I’d win or lose the match based on less than a second of motion.

A minute passed.

Two minutes.

He flexed his right thumb. It was a useless motion that meant nothing. I shifted a few pounds of weight to my back leg, but he didn’t fall for it.

When he flailed his nostrils I almost lost! I could have sworn it was the prelude to his strike and I only just caught myself!

In this game, set up and positioning are everything.

When you reach the higher levels of Cirathan Swordplay, it’s decided in a single, volatile moment. When you strip away useless motions, there are only 20 or so viable attacks, with each being a counter to another. The winner is whoever can better foresee what attack his opponent will use and pick it’s direct counter. Reacting to your opponent after you’ve started moving would be like trying to change the course of a bullet after it’s already left the chamber.

Suddenly, it happened! The chance arrived! A single explosive moment of activity! To the unobservant, it might have seemed like a arbitrary moment, but it was the best option!

The toes of his left foot dug into the thin layer of sand on the arena! I saw it! Of course, I saw the shifting of each grain, it was impossible not to, but I saw through his intent! It was a clever ploy to entrap me!

The corner of my right eye twitched in response to his game, and he fell for it! The fool! His nerves must have gotten to him!

With lightning speed and an efficiency only possible thanks to years of hard work, every last muscle fiber in his body worked in tandem to create the perfect motion! As he dropped forward to his right knee, his strong hands drew his blade, aiming for a horizontal slash to my lower abdomen!

His technique was flawless, anyone else would have been caught in his strike, but I saw through it!

The moment he dug his toes into the sand, I had a basic idea he would try a slash, though I didn’t know from what angle. Once I purposely twitched my eye, the specific shifts and twists of his body told me exactly what he would do!

After he started his attack, dropping to one knee and slashing across my chest, I hopped back! As I was in the air, I took out my blade and swung it in a downward arch towards the top of his head!

The result? My overwhelming, undeniable victory!

His sword harmlessly passed through the air where I had been a moment prior, and after the danger had passed, my sword came down and connected with the short golden hair on top of his head! I had to extend my shoulder and twist my body to get the proper length, but I had more than enough reach!

The blade, being fragile and dull, shattered to pieces against his skull, and he was harmlessly showered by thousands of shards.

The audience took longer to process the result then we did. I breathed out a heavy sigh while he sunk his shoulders in defeat, gently placing his sword against the sand so it didn’t shatter.

A second later, the audience erupted into cheers and applause! They ran on stage and gave us both support for a job well done!

I was almost lost in the relief and joy of victory, it was easy to be overwhelmed by the sense of triumph  and accomplishment, but I noticed my opponent bite his bottom lip.

I understood his pain well. Hindsight is 20/20 after all, it’s hard not to kick yourself when you look back and think on how obvious things were.

Pushing through the crowd, I made sure to pat him on the shoulder and give him a thumbs up. He got a slight smile from that, and he raised his chin. I could tell from the sharp look in his eyes that he wanted another match in the future!

With just a look, he knew I’d be looking forward to it! Win or lose, Cirathan Swordplay offers such a burst of adrenaline that no other sport can match!




Cover artist: Elenamegi

Instagram and webtoon : Elenamegi

Submitted: April 04, 2020

© Copyright 2023 RichardPercival. All rights reserved.

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