I looked him in the eye and spoke into his soul and knew there would be no bloodless ending today.
“Is this what you truly want?”
He nodded, drawing his weapon. I did the same, feeling the balance of my blade like an extension of my own arm. The anticipation of the fight flowed through me, and I carefully tempered it with a calm acceptance that I had done all I could to avoid this turn of events.
“En garde,” we spoke at each other, settling into our defensive positions. I nodded, as did he, recognising the good manners that were so hard to come by in this day and age.
Our opening strikes were fast and swift, brief exchanges of such speed the bystanders only saw flashing reflections of light as we disengaged. I tested the range of his longer weapon, and he tested the footwork and speed that went with my more conventional choice.
Our boots traced slow circles in the dust and I re-engaged – I had been reluctant to pursue this line of negotiation but that was not to say I was hesitant to execute it.