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And Itza Danced coverBecause of the death of her parents, Itza is now head woman of her village. She has led her people in more than one battle, but they grow weary of having to protect themselves against every bandit and brigand who thinks he can get what he wants from them. This newest threat, Elveric, has struck a deal with Itza. The two of them will fight. If she wins, they leave them in peace and tell others to stay away. If he wins, he and his men take what they want.

One of the bandits and oldest of the farmers were to judge. Each of the combatants took their stance and waited. The signal came and they prepared their attacks. Elveric circled to his left, looking for an opening. Itza countered his moves, eying him critically, waiting for a betraying movement which would herald his attack. He lumbered around facing her, limping slightly on his left leg. It was a relatively new injury, he favored the leg, stepping on it gingerly.

With a feint to his right, Elveric hoped to throw her off, but she came in low from his left, clipping his sore leg. Before he could recover, she fell forward on her hands,balancing on her bent left leg, swinging her right in a low, tight circle.

Elveric howled with pain and rage. He landed heavily on the ground, shaking his fist as he stood once more. Bellowing like a rabid bull, he ran toward her, forgetting his injury.

Itza stepped aside easily, watching him flail his hands in helpless circles, trying to grab her in a bear hug. If he succeeded in trapping her, she would have little chance to get away. Her greatest tool was her agility.

“Hold still, you wench! How can I best you if you fight like this? She’s cheating!”

He yelled at his official, but the bandit took his job as a marshal seriously, as did the old farmer.

“She’s not cheating, Elveric. She’s in her rights to fight this way. No one set any rules up, you’ll manage.”

He nodded his head sharply at his boss, noticing the leader’s jowls turn red with anger.

Elveric regrouped, hobbling to his corner to have his leg seen to. It was bleeding again, which annoyed him. It was a fairly fresh wound, less than a fortnight old. Some nasty bar wench had taken a dislike to his advances and sliced him before he overcame and beat her. She’d not forget him, but he’d not forget her easily either.

Now this little kitten was becoming a plague to him and he had to do something decisive quickly or lose his men. He signaled the marshals that he was ready once again, and took his position opposite Itza.

“Here, kitty, kitty, kitty,” he taunted.

Itza didn’t show any emotion. It was a pathetic attempt to cause her distress, but she found it humorous. Tamping down an urge to chuckle, she stood her ground as Elveric prepared another hulking attack on her person. He reached out with his long, hairy arms, lunged toward her and fell over his own feet. She moved again and he lurched forward, dropping heavily to his knees. Flailing head over heels, he landed on his back, the air knocked out of him. The marshals came to him, bent over and spoke softly.

“Are you planning to rise, sir?” his underling asked him.

“You rise or you lose, you sluggard,” the farmer said crisply, wishing for an end to all this nonsense so he could get back to his tankard of ale.

“Course I’m getting up, you fools!” Roared Elveric. “Give me a hand up, Crex! Now if she’ll just hold still, I’ll finish this right away! Enough rushing about, give me a long staff, Crex. A good one!”

He pulled himself up, holding onto Crex’s surcoat, wobbling slightly as he waited for his staff. Itza called for hers and waited patiently for him to arm himself. Once both were armed, she decided that she no longer wished to wait for him to make the first move. His reach was longer and his arms stronger, he could deliver a devastating blow if he connected.

With a leap and a spin, Itza seemed to dance in the ring, a powerful pirouette of pain. Each step took her closer to Elveric, who stood open mouthed, gaping at her fascinating aerobatics. With a final hop, she landed on her toes, back to Elveric. Before he could react, she whirled around, using her staff like an extension of her arm, swinging it in a mighty arc around her. The force of her blow knocked Elveric to his knees, gasping in pain and shock. While he was down on the ground, clutching his ribs, she used the staff like a prod, hitting him squarely on the sternum. He heard the bone crack and he fell backward, both hands now on his chest.

Itza jumped lightly over to him, her staff providing a pole vault for her. She landed on his shoulders, holding him to the ground, forcing his shoulders into the sand, her staff inches above his lowering brow. He looked up at the inch and a half thick piece of wood cross eyed.

“Do you yield?” Itza said quietly, only he and the marshals heard her.

Elveric didn’t reply, still gasping. Her right heel dug into his shoulder and her staff tapped him lightly between the eyes.

“Yield?” She said more loudly this time.© 2015 Dellani Oakes

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