The shade of the pear tree felt wonderful to Arcus. The time for the blossoms perfuming the autumn breeze had long passed, but fruit plump from the ample rain and sun bowed the smaller branches down. Arcus had liberated some of those pears, two cores lay on his right while half a dozen fruit nestled in an open burlap bag on his left. I might just stay here tonight. I can unroll my blanket, and enjoy the pears for breakfast, too.
"Are you Arcus of Thallory?" Stewards protect me. Not again.
Arcus pushed up
the brim of his wide hat, and regarded the man, who had seen as many as thirty summers, and a score of battles from the mismatched armor and the scar on his forehead and cheek. He had a determined set to his jaw, and the sword hilt he caressed was ready to be drawn at a moment's notice.
"I'm just a traveler enjoying the shade. Pear?"
"I'm not interested in your fruit."
"Are you sure? They're quite tasty." Arcus picked up a fruit from the sack, and offered it.
"I have come to challenge you. By defeating you, I will become the greatest swordsman in the land." Just one day. That's all I wanted, one day of peace.
The man, clearly unprepared for this, lost his dour gaze. "What?"
"I concede. You challenged me. I forfeit. You win. You are now the greatest sword in the land. Tell me your name, and I'll spread the word, myself."
"What kind of man are you? You are the greatest swordsman in a hundred years, and you will not fight?"
"No. I'm comfortable here."
"If you will not fight, I will slaughter you where you sit, and take your sword as a trophy."
"Now, I like my sword." It did not look like much, a simple steel hilt wrapped with deer leather in a scabbard splotched and stained so as to earn sneers of disgust. The blade, though, shone a stream in the sun. Arcus had Made the blade, and no jumped up soldier would take it from him.
Arcus brought the pear up, and took a bite. The man smiled and chuckled.
"So now you will fight. Yes, I will take your precious sword and—"
Arcus hurled the pear at him, then rolled to his right, sliding his sword out of the scabbard where it had been behind his blanketroll. Arcus came to his feet before the man had managed to draw his sword more than half-way. Using his left hand, Arcus caught the man's wrist and slammed the blade back home into the scabbard. Arcus brought the shining blade of Solace to press against the man's neck. "You should spend more time in the shade of a pear tree."
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