When the ring cleared of competitors once again, Halatir’s lieutenant Fan-Zhou strode up to him all official like, holding a blunted curved sword. ‘‘Alright recruit, its your time to shine. Show us what you’ve got.’’ He handed the sword to Halatir and gestured him to enter the ring, where another recruit with the same type of sword was stepping in to it across the way.
Halatir weighed the sword in his hand, and it was neither light nor too heavy. The opponent he was up against he did not know, but he looked young, a fresh recruit as well by the looks of it. His face bore no signs of stress nor hardship, and neither did he look afraid to fight. The Niirai recruit approached Halatir in the ring, and as Halatir was cautiously preparing to dodge, block or parry an incoming attack, his opponent bowed to him. In an instant realising he was forgetting something, Halatir mimicked him, and bowed back. He did see the previous competitors bow to each other before their fight as he observed, he just got a tad excited about finally fighting himself. Though a recruit such as this didn’t fill him with much anticipation of a good fight.
And neither was it. The young recruit made an advance on Halatir a few times, striking vigorously at his sides, only to be blocked and parried by Halatir with relative ease. Halatir sidestepped the recruit’s attacks and exploited his slip ups to his advantage, landing a few nasty hits at his sides. Tired and practically beaten already, the young recruit didn’t stand much of a chance when Halatir made his final push, and knocked the young lad off of his feet, sending him tumbling backwards in to the cold wet winter dirt.
With hardly a scratch on him, Halatir straightened up as another one of the militia helped the poor recruit to his feet and out of the arena. This would have been it for Halatir for the day, if Huangfu-Shang himself didn’t take an interest in the snow elf’s abilities. Fan-Zhou didn’t like Halatir being made the star of the hour by allowing him more than one duel, but Huangfu-Shang insisted they test his skills against someone more experienced. Ren, an elf from Halatir’s own unit stepped forward and volunteered to spar with Halatir.
‘‘Absolutely not!’’ roared Fan-Zhou in his outrage. ‘‘This is a training exercise, not a competition nor a test of endurance!’’ he insisted, but Huangfu-Shang was determined.
’‘I am not arguing with you Fan. Enough. This elf is a foreighner in our lands, and boasts to come from a warrior culture. You might not be curious, but i would certainly like to know what asset i have on hand, and what to expect of him. I need to know of his abilities, and understand his limits.’’ the Shangshi explained, ‘‘And having Ren fight him, an elf from his own unit, will assure a friendly competitiveness between the two. Besides, the lad has been aching for some distraction for ages, let him have it.’’
Fan-Zhou sighed and gave up. He brought Ren to the arena and fetched Halatir to have another go.
’‘The Shangshi is intrigued by you.’’ he explained to him, and continued with a lecture, ‘‘He seems to have high hopes for you, thinks you may be something special. I don’t. Those feeling have to be earned through hard work, not just because you say you are from far away. Make sure to not disappoint.’’
Ren was already in the ring, he however had a blunted katana to fight with. A more traditional weapon used by Samurai, long and well balanced. Ren was certainly anticipating the duel, clearly seen by the grin on his face. Likewise, Halatir too seemed amused by this turn of events. They bowed to each other, and entered combat stance.
Being no stranger to fighting, Ren put up greater resistance to Halatir’s blows than the recruit before him. He managed more blocks and parries when he defended, and certainly landed more hits, but he was not used by how physical Halatir could get. When in close quarters, Halatir would prod, push, and shove Ren around almost effortlessly as the teenage elf was utterly unprepared and unfamiliar with the fighting style. Halatir had even managed to throw Ren off of his feet a few times, but unlike the recruit, Ren managed to recover and swung back up. Ultimately however, Halatir emerged victorious as Ren tired from being shoved and spun around, and eventually ended up laying on his back with Halatir looming over him.
Ren grasped for air, ‘‘Consider me impressed!’’ he coughed, smiling. With that, Halatir backed off, and Ren exited the arena. Huangfu-Shang was impressed as well, and since Halatir’s unit was getting the spotlight already, Fan-Zhou proposed that Halatir fight another one of his squad mates, Wei-Yong. Huangfu-Shang was hesitant at first, but it would sure test Halatir’s strength and will power against one of the strongest in the base. In the end, Huangfu-Shang gave the go ahead, and Wei-Yong, the towering bulk of muscle that he was, entered the arena.