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The Duel of the Ages

Chapter 3

By David J. Parker

Darius watched the Llagimlyn knight march down the road. The poor fool, Darius thought he honestly thinks he just defeated me. The big warrior watched as the crotchety old Llagimlynian (how does one pronounce that, Darius thought)1 retreated up the path, heading in entirely the wrong direction if he intended to return to Larosis. Poor fool. Darius thought again. When he had agreed to guide the elderly knight back to his home town (Darius had never even heard of Llagimlyn, but he figured it must be that new Tenth Kingdom of the North that Ibex's heir Roland had annexed), he had noticed early on the signs of senility in the old man. For one, he believed that he was still a young man, and that it was Darius who was old! That was far from the truth. The poor knight's armor, which undoubtedly had once fit him snugly, now rattled around on his diminished elderly body as he walked. The strange sword he wore at his side, which Darius thought was better suited for chopping vegetables than the hide of hungry wargs, was almost more than the old man could handle. All this while Darius himself, although perhaps past his prime, hardly qualified for the senior citizen discounts in the Plaza.

1 Llagimlyn is the correct spelling; Llag-gim'-linn (with a gutteral 'll', as the Welsh pronounce it) is the correct pronunciation. One from Llagimlyn is called a Llagimlian (Llag-gim'-lee-an), though in my first book, this word is never used. Dave was originally trying to spell the two words correctly, but then gave up and spelled them wrong intentionally. Normally my proper nouns aren't so convoluted.

2 An obscure Monty Python reference.

3 A reference to the first chapter of Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring. The opening chapter tells of Bilbo Baggins' eleventy-first birthday party.

He hadn't liked taking the oath the old knight had thrust upon him, but he had felt it the best way to avoid the old man's senile rage. Besides, he had crossed his fingers. Now he withdrew his sword once again and began following the old knight down the road. He had changed his mind about incurring the old man's so-called wrath. To the dark realms with this old man's dementia and visions of grandeur, he was going to teach him a lesson.

Blood Drops heard him approach. "Stand fast, old foe!" he shouted, a feeble sound rattling its way out of a worn down throat, "I thought we had a deal? No more swordplay for you, old man!"

"I'm 37, I'm hardly old,"2 Darius remarked. "You, however, fit that adjective nicely. You must be a hundred and twelve, at least."

Blood Drops stood indignant, his ancient armor sagging from his withered shoulders.

"I'll have you know that I just celebrated my eleventy-first birthday,3 and have yet to show any sign of slowing down," he said with pride, finally admitting to his old age.

"Or speeding up, for that matter," Darius remarked casually. "I killed you too quickly the last time, a mistake I don't intend to duplicate. Raise your sword, old man, and let's have at it!"

"Very well, to the death!" Blood Drops shouted as he drew his carrot-slicer awkwardly.

"NO! To the pain!" Darius shouted.

"Can we dispense with the Princess Bride references, please?" Blood Drops asked wearily.

Darius shrugged and relented. "As you wish," he replied.

Blood Drops rolled his eyes. "Stop that now, I mean it!" he shouted at the top of his ancient lungs.

"Anybody want a peanut?" Darius said, chuckling slightly before striking the opening blow of the confrontation. With one quick slice of his mighty sword, the big warrior cleaved the old man's left arm completely away from his torso.

4 A reference to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
"And don't try telling me it's only a flesh wound!"4 Darius said emphatically, stealing the funny right from Blood Drops' mouth. The old man had nothing to say, now; he could only watch as his life blood pumped out of the hole where his arm had once been, spurting in perfect crimson arcs through the air to soil the ground beside him.

The two fought for quite some time, after that; Blood Drops showed quite a bit of spunk for a mortally wounded 111 year old. Darius toyed with the old knight; allowing him, even, to strike a few blows (the old man's ancient sword was about as sharp as a sack of wet rice). Soon, however, much to Darius' chagrin, the old knight faltered, his sword slipping from his gnarled old hand as he fell face down on the ground, exhausted and dying from blood loss. Darius took pity on him then and smote the man fifteen times with his own severed arm, killing him mercifully.

Darius wiped his blade clean and re-sheathed it, then sat down to wait. In spite of his un-threatening appearance and his complete lack of ability with a sword, this man had a nasty habit of not staying dead. So Darius would watch over him this time, waiting to see if perhaps he could catch the old fool in the act and learn his secrets. Being able to raise himself from the dead would be a wonderful skill to be able to put down on his resume.

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