"No, no no! The parry is your opportunity to regroup and catch your breath.  If you simply riposte after each parry you are going to wear yourself out in the opening moments of the fight.”, exclaimed Galdo in exasperation.

“That seems boring."

Galdo scratched at his neatly trimmed beard in frustration as he looked into the placid face of this altogether galling youth. After a few moments of awkward silence he continued.

“Look Dunstan, this is not a game. I am trying teach you how to stay alive. Your opponents are going to come at you with all they have and if you are not aware of your pacing you shall end up dead.”

“Why would I be tired?  I’m never tired.”

“Take it from me boy, in the throws of sword play you will find yourself expending energy at an alarming rate!  The heightened demands of combat will…”

“But you’re old.”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“You’re old.  I’m not old.”

“Age has little to do with it son. In fact a seasoned swordsman is more dangerous than anyone you will face…”

“Old is slow.”

Galdo wiped is hand over his face in frustration, slowly counting to ten in his mind in an effort not to throttle this annoying and cocksure young man with his bare fists. For weeks, he had been trying to teach Dunstan the finer points of sword form only to be foiled at every turn by the boys contrary nature and blunt tongue.  To make matters worse, he was good.  Too good for a young man of his age…it was unnerving.

“Very well Dunstan, we shall test your theory.  Draw your steel and let’s see if you have learned anything in the last few weeks!”

Lightening quick for his age, Galdo drew his Rapier and attacked in one smooth movement, holding nothing back. With a look of alarm on this usually expressionless face, the boy dropped to the ground as if boneless and rolled under a near by rickshaw sending Galdo’s surprise strike careening into the carts wooden frame.

The horse stomped and huffed obviously unnerved by the combatants. Dunstan popped suddenly to his feet and stared at Galdo across the seat of the rickshaw.

“Slow.” He said, with that infuriating blank look on his face.  Did the boy have nothing resembling emotion going on in that vacant head of his?

With a roar, Galdo charged around the back side of the canopied rickshaw only to find the space previously occupied by Dunstan empty.  Galdo slowly crouched, peering beneath the cart.  He was gone.

“Where in the seven hells…” 

Galdo's question was cut short as Dunstand emerged form inside the rickshaw baring down on him with an sweeping overhand attack. In seconds, Galdo’s blade flew up and the ring of steel filled the courtyard. With inexplicable swiftness the youth jumped off the rickshaw thrusting his blade forward into a bizarre continuation of his previous attack.  Galdo was an excellent swordsman having served with the Royal Order of Musketeers for more than 20 years but this move was so unorthodox that even he was taken by surprise.  He shoved his sword upward guiding the boy’s incoming blade over his left shoulder,  spinning to put his back to the now shuddering rickshaw.

Dunstan landed lightly in front of him and stood there looking at him with that infernal “look” on his face.

“Slow.”, was all he said.

“I’ll show you slow you cheeky little ingrate!”, Galdo shouted as he began to rain blows down on the backpedalling youth.

Galdo poured all of the strength and speed he could muster into each attack pushing Dunstan backward.  The boy managed to parry the incoming attacks but it was obvious that he had not expected this explosion of violence.  Galdo raged in satisfaction as the little shit backed up against the wall eyes wide with concentration.

Breath heavy with exhaustion, Galdo lunged forward for the killing trust but to his surprise Dunstan caught the blade on his own and drove it upward in desperation, teeth gritted. The guards of their rapiers locked as each pushed against the other, struggling for control as steel screeched on steel.

“You see boy!  You see now what arrogance gets you?”, Galdo shouted triumphantly as he push ever harder against the boy’s guard.

Slowly, a grin spread across Dunstan’s otherwise expressionless face. Ah, here it was, Galdo thought, the admission of defeat!  Now, Galdo supposed, the arrogant welp would attempt to laugh off his embarrassment by claiming sickness or some such lame excuse that seemed to be the mantra of the cities youth these days, but no such excuse came.  Instead, Galdo heard the resounding click of a pistol’s hammer being drawn back.

They were close enough to smell each other’s breath as they leaned together, swords locked. When Galdo looked into Dunstan’s eyes he saw the faint sparkle of something he had not seen there before…was that joy? At that moment he felt the slightest pressure between his legs and Dunstan’s right eyebrow crooked upward.