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datatime: 2022-12-02 20:04:39 Author:NFJhjKvB

"It wasn't that merciful," I said. "You know where you left me, to die of the plague. The first time, as I remember, it was pretty much a draw."

"Oh, damnable brother" he said, retreating. "Report has it Random accompanies thee."

"Pity," said I, "and how shall we put things aright?"

Now don't get the wrong idea. I'm damn good. It's just that he seemed better.

"Well, when it comes to things, Corwin. Poorly, on other counts, however."

"Pity," said I, "and how shall we put things aright?"

There was blood dripping from his right wrist. His hand was still steady but I had the feeling then that under other circumstances, by fighting a defensive fight, I just might be able to wear him down with that wrist injury going against him, and perhaps I could get through his guard at the proper moment when he began to slow.

And his blade was in his hand and mine in mine.

I kept backing away, and the fear and the knowledge came upon me: I knew I still couldn't take him. He was a better man than I was, when it came to the blade. I cursed this, but I couldn't get around it. I tried three more elaborate attacks and was defeated on each occasion. He parried me and made me retreat before his own attacks.

I tried a headcut, which he parried; and I parried his riposte to my heart and cut at his wrist.

"I know a way," he said, and then he glared at Dik, who promptly departed and closed the door behind him. I heard it snick shut.

"Then it is between the two of us now, Corwin," he said. "I am your elder and your better. If you wish to try me at arms, I find myself suitably attired. Slay me, and the throne will probably be yours. Try it. I don't think you can succeed, however. And I'd like to quit your claim right now. So come at me. Let's see what you learned on the Shadow Earth."

"It wasn't that merciful," I said. "You know where you left me, to die of the plague. The first time, as I remember, it was pretty much a draw."

I nicked him and the blood flowed.

Then there were some alarms and excursions in the hall outside. Eric's retainers were coming, and if he didn't kill me before they arrived, then I was confident that they'd do the job - probably with a bolt from a crossbow.

Now don't get the wrong idea. I'm damn good. It's just that he seemed better.

"The fact that I was able to occupy the throne," he replied. "Try and take it."

"What an enormous chutzpah you possess," I told him. "What makes you better than the rest of us, and more fit to rule?"

"Don't we all?" I told him.

"You want the throne," he said.

I nicked him and the blood flowed.

I moved around the desk.

"Don't we all?" I told him.

And his eyes were wide with amaze and his voice heavy with that which men call sarcasm, and I can't think of a better word, as he replied:

"What an enormous chutzpah you possess," I told him. "What makes you better than the rest of us, and more fit to rule?"

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