Chapter Twelve

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Chapter Twelve


Aurelia had never seen anything quite like it.

As far back as she could remember, she had witnessed Roman soldiers fight as one, a cohesive war machine, acting like they were of one mind rather than as individuals. The terribly effective shield line, what must have been the very thing of nightmare’s to Rome’s enemies, advancing together in their tight formations on the dusty training fields back home. Enemy armies would break upon that line and the last thing they would see was the tip of a Roman spear and the red plumage on a bronze helm.

This fight was entirely different.

It was… hypnotic, to say the least. They had circular shields, but that was the only thing in common to Roman warfare. British warfare was wild, a deadly dance that was a raw form of skill and brute strength using long swords made of dull steel. It had started off slow, circling each other with eyes intent upon the other, searching for any give away response, any weakness in the other’s stance. And then without any warning, their swords clashed and the real fight began in earnest.

The ring of metal against metal was startlingly loud and Aurelia flinched from it. But she didn’t look away. She was unable to look away.

Aiden’s first cut was low, and Kailen deflected it off his sword. Kailen answered with a sidearm blow and Aiden’s shield got in the way. Wooden splinters flew and the surface split sideways with a satisfying sharp crack. Kailen pressed his advance with a slash at Aiden’s thigh, once, twice, screaming against the steel. Kailen was impressively quick, but Aiden managed to deflect them all.

Growling, Kailen smashed the side of his sword into Aiden’s face, blood spurting in an arc. Aiden staggered back, regaining his feet at the last moment. He raised his sword to open Kailen from shoulder to hip, but Kailen spun away.

Aiden cast his broken shield away, sending it rolling across the ground, and leapt for Kailen with an enraged bellow. The Silure threw up his shield in time, putting all of his weight behind it and he repelled Aiden’s desperate attack.

“Let’s make this a fairer fight,” Kailen called as he threw his own shield away. “Now we are even.”

Bran had not been exaggerating. Kailen was a force of nature when he fought. He wielded his sword like it was an extension of his body, the swings and jabs were relentless. Muscles corded and strained as he twisted and parried. Sweat was beginning to glisten on his skin, making his shirt cling to his torso. He showed no signs of weariness as he moved, only a calm determination that was thrilling to watch. He met Aiden blow for blow, speed for speed. It reminded Aurelia of a dance, deadly, but a dance nonetheless. It was flowing, freethinking, a scary sort of perfection that kicked up Aurelia’s heartbeat.

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