The Duel

21 6 0

Lucas jerked awake tearing himself away from his dream. He looked around, striving to see something, anything, in the darkness around him. But no matter how hard he looked Lucas could see nothing. He couldn't hear anything either, silence was thick in the room. Slowly that fact started to sink in, there should be noise. The sound of someone breathing as they slept, the quiet rasp of sheets against skin as an elf turned. But there was nothing, Lucas held his breath searching for something that would describe the curious anomaly.

Slowly he became award of a presence in the room, it seemed to be standing still by the door. A great mass blocking the exit, Lucas stared into the shape trying to discern what it was. But he had no luck. Carefully he pulled his sheet back, tossing it carelessly against the wall next to him. Then after a moments hesitation he changed his mind, Lucas gathered the cloth up quickly and clutched it close to his chest. The mass he thought was there had not moved, it seemed unaware of his movements. So Lucas slid from his bunk, muscles screaming in protest at his careful precise movements.

He crept towards the shape, moving so silently he couldn't hear himself, and paused readying himself. Now the shape moved, it turned towards Lucas apparently sensing the elf's prescence. But he didn't give it a chance to do much more than that, Lucas leapt up from his crouched position throwing the sheet over the intruder while simultaneously tackling it. Though he was tempted to to gain momentum Lucas didn't yell as he attacked, he simply held the struggling shape against the ground listening for others. Then an unexpected sound reached his ears, "Lucas you bliddy fool! Get off me!"

Lucas leapt back as quickly as he would to escape from a stinging hornet. "My apologizes Master Hoffman, I was not aware it was you." The great man pulled himself up to his feet, tossing the sheet Lucas had used to the side. "Well you did well in that you were the first to react, but in the future identify your target first." Lucas looked around confused, "Sir?" Hoffman sighed, "It was a test, the others were taken unawares while they slept. You were the first to wake."

Lucas sighed, "It's daybreak isn't it," he waited for a reply then realizing his mistake hurriedly added, "sir." Though he could not see it Lucas suspected Hoffman smiled, "Yes, though try telling that to your bunkmates. They all slept like logs and are now reaping the benefits. Scrubbing tools and cleaning out stables." Suddenly very glad he had woken up Lucas stood a little straighter, "And what would you like me to do sir?"

Hoffman opened the door behind him letting some light into the room, "You need to work on your riding skills. Get going to the stable." Lucas saluted and ducked past, he was a little peeved that Hoffman acted like he was falling behind, after all he only seen a horse for the first time a month ago. Nevertheless he jogged to the stables, trying to get his blood flowing before he would be forced to sit on a piece of leather on one of the beasts.

When he arrived Lucas caught a glimpse of several men shoveling buckets of manure out of the numerous stalls. He smiled to himself as he grabbed a stablehand, "I'd like a . . ."

"Bucket and scoop?" The stablehand interjected snidely.

"No . . . a set of tack, a good horse, and Harriet." His tone was menacing, impatient. The boy took the hint and raced off, leaving Lucas to stand in the stable. In the stall beside him a head popped up, it was one of Lucas's bunkmates who apparently didn't react when Hoffman came a knocking. "Why aren't you cleaning Lucas?" Lucas looked at the man triumphantly, "Because I attacked Hoffman, why are you cleaning Julian?" The man smiled unabashed at Lucas's reference to his failure, "You attacked Hoffman? How'd that go?" Lucas smiled, "Well I took my bedsheet and tossed it over his head right before tackling him to the ground.

Julian stared at him amazed, "Wow, I woke up after he tossed me to the ground and told me to go scoop manure." Lucas laughed at the good-natured elf, Julian grinned at his accomplishment before joining into the normally surly elf's merriment. The stable hand reappeared just then leading a great roan horse, he handed the lead to Lucas before scampering off for some gear. Julian smiled again, "Bet you wish you were scooping rather than riding one of those beasts." Lucas sighed, his hatred of riding was apparently no secret. He nodded in agreement and attached the large stallion to an iron ring drilled into the wood.

Lucas (Book Two of The Guardians series)Read this story for FREE!