Rain had poured over New Rimar all morning, but the sun dominated the sky at noon, quick to dry the arena's sandy ground. Leithan and Rami entered it now, through a side door.
Nerves raced through Leithan's body, making his heart thud fast – he'd been to the New Rimar Arena before, but never as a part of the spectacle. He'd been up there in the rings of seats, watching.
The arena had been built to the north-western edge of the city, between West Harbor and the City Lord's private lands. The circular seats rose to a height of four-story and if you stood on the top row, you could glimpse a sweet view of the Siren Ocean beyond the cliffs.
Right now, the seats were empty. This was only the qualifications, after all.
But, their friends had come anyway, and they sat in the front row, on the north side.
Shaylan with Quin, as well as Peyton, Rilien, and Teshin – he had said he wouldn't miss the chance to watch Leith fight. Even Sunzar Acanthade showed up, which had pleasantly surprised Leithan. She stood next to Rilien, wind rustling her long auburn locks, an intrigued look on her face as she watched Leithan and Rami take their place in the center of the arena, swords in their hands.
Rami's sword was a classic Rengleam model like Leithan's, its steel simple, straight and double-edged. They took their positions and glanced at the panel of judges at the far side of the arena's ground. Saul Silverleaf, seated in the center, was the only one out of the six judges Leithan knew. The others must have been military school teachers or maybe retired City Watch officers.
While the judges seemed to be discussing something, Leithan told Rami, "I wanted to say, what you did to Henten, or rather, what you said to him . . . Thank you."
Rami nodded, lowering his gaze briefly. "No need to thank me."
"I think they're about ready," Leithan said with another flitting glance to the judges. "Don't go easy on me," he told Rami.
"Not a chance," his friend replied, amused.
The qualifications were just for the judges to see their technique. To decide if they had what it took to enter the real competition, which would begin the following month.
Leith's chest tightened with the hope that, what with all the changes that were stirring in the city right now, his mother would be out of jail in time to come to the actual competition.
Behind the panel of judges, Saul briefly got up to announce, "You may begin!"
Rami and Leithan eased into their fighting stance with perfect synchronicity. They'd trained together so many times, this felt natural. Rehearsed. Almost like a play; but instead of lines, they exchanged blows.
Excitement and anticipation surged inside Leithan, and the fact that Teshin and the others were in those seats, watching, raised the stakes. He wanted to give them a good show.
Leithan knew Rami was a bit of a show off too, so this worked perfectly.
Rami's sword flew upward. Its name was Black Remedy. It was this Rengleam thing – you had to name your sword.
Black Remedy met Whisper in the first vibrant clash, echoing across the nearly-empty arena, and so it began.
All the stress, the worrying, the tiredness, the uncertainties – all of that vanished from Leithan's mind. Utterly gone. Four years of training, the desire to prove to himself that he could do this, and everything else, had led him to this one moment.
The two swords withdrew with a hiss of metal, then clashed again. Rami pulled back, a small smile of concentration on his face. Concentrated, but at ease, in his element. Leithan could sense it, because he felt the same way. His mind was in the same place.
YOU ARE READING
Son of No CityFantasy
Two factions. One island. Because of his mixed blood, Leithan Blackfeather doesn't truly belong to either side. When tensions rise between the two communities and war seems imminent, Leithan is caught in the middle. But he finds an unexpected ally...