Sunday, February 3, 2013
The Pen and the Sword: Swordspoint
Richard knew he was fighting for his life, and he was terribly happy. In most of his fights, even the good ones, he made all the decisions: when to turn serious, whether to fight high or low . . . but already Applethorpe had taken that away from him. He wasn't afriad, but the edge of challenge was sharp under him, and the drop from it irrevocable. The world had narrowed to the strength of his body, the trained agility of his mind in response to him opponent. The universe began and ended within the reach of his senses, the stretch of his four limbs and the gleaming steel. It was too good to lose now, the bright point coming at him always from another angle, the clarity of his mind anticipating and returning it, creating new patterns to play . . .
He saw the opening and went for it, but Applethorpe countered at the last instant, pivoting clumsily so that what should have been a clean death stroke caught him raggedly across the chest.
The Master stood upright, gripping his rapier too tightly, staring straight ahead. "Michael," he said clearly, "that arm is for balance."
- Swordspoint, Ellen Kushner