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First Time I

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The first time Peacekeeper fought Kensai, she was not intimidated, not at all. It wasn’t unlike fighting the Knights’ own Warden, after all, save that Warden pulled his punches when he was fighting her, (and vice versa). Not that it should’ve mattered, after all – she was ‘the silent blade’, the ‘dancer of death’ with ‘two blades for partners’, but when your opponent has a longer reach than you do, it still does.

Peacekeeper doesn’t do armor; she may be one of the Knights, but she is still an assassin at heart; moreover, her blades are designed to go even through armored opponent, let alone unarmored ones, but this is something else.

It is fairly easy to fight Warden and his longsword, (though she never tells him): the strikes are fairly predictable, and – angular, as one may say; plus, being a swordfighter herself, Peacekeeper feels that she has something of an advantage; but – Kensai is different. His strikes are different from Warden’s, more broadly sweeping, (he is better at using momentum than Warden is), and he can grab the blade with one hand, (from the behind) to block better and wider than Warden does.

It is frustrating. True, she gets the better of Kensai in the end, as she knows that she shall, but it takes longer, the fighting is harder, and she is sorer at the end of it than how she has anticipated it. Yet—

/ / /

The first time Peacekeeper and Kensai take a break, (after they fought each other for the fifth and decisive time), Peacekeeper decided to comment.

“So, how do you do that blocking maneuver with the – nodachi?” Peacekeeper asks, as the two of them drink tea and generally relax after five rounds of non-stop battle. “Why don’t you cut yourself?”

“Armored gloves,” Kensai replies, shrugging, “plus the hind part of my nodachi is blunt; only the front end is sharp. Your friend Warden calls it sabre, and ‘not a true sword’. Bah! What does he know? He loses our battles as often as I do! At least Raider of the Vikings’ has the decency in his nature to treat both of us with equal decency – he may be confident that his axe is the mighti-est weapon of them all and be done with it. Good for him; all people are entitled to their own opinion—“

“The Vikings’ probably see this differently,” Peacekeeper cannot help but to point out.

Kensai just shrugs, a surprisingly graceful movement from such a solid man. Then he points to the bump on Peacekeeper’s head. “If the conditions are right, a helmet is no protection at all,” he ex-plains calmly, “and if hit enough times, even a Viking gets the point, you see?”

Peacekeeper scowls. “I got some good blows in too,” she points out.

“But of course! Can I confide?”

Peacekeeper thinks this over. “As long as it doesn’t stain either of our honors? Sure.”

“I have something of an advantage when fighting your friend Warden,” Kensai replies somewhat mournfully. “It isn’t too different from fighting our own Orochi; his katana isn’t very different from a longsword, so I have some idea as to how Warden will strike at me in our battles; you and your two swords are different.”

Peacekeeper thinks this over. “Meh, this is a tricky issue, but the rule of the thumb is? As long as you fight honestly, your experience does not count. We all fight to win, after all.”

“Good,” Kensai sounds genuinely relieved. “So, what now?”

It is Peacekeeper’s time to think things over; sadly, there is nothing to think over. “Nothing,” she confesses, sounding somewhat morose herself. “As always our honor depends only on ourselves; everything else comes from The Powers To Be; the war is almost upon us. Soon.”

“Soon,” Kensai echoes. The two warriors make a toast with their cups and just enjoy the view over the river. Duelling, fighting, and warring will soon be upon them, after all.