Medievia Mudslinger

March 4, 2001

Duel of Fates - By Arguile

Arguile bent over the lavish fountain in the town square, taking time to study each of the surrounding citizens. Heroes and novices rubbed shoulders in the busy streets, brushing past the city's regular denizens with ease. A cleric wandered the square amongst the mass of people, healing the injured and offering succor to the fallen. Janitors were liberally distributed around the streets, disposing of litter and corpses with equal dedication.

All of this Arguile took in with an apathetic, almost melancholy glance. This was not his problem. You could not stop to gather minnows when sharks roamed the pond.

Hallar, Arguile's father, was often prone to sudden disappearances, but this time he had come back in an aggressive mood and with an overwhelming challenge for his aspiring offspring. If Arguile could defeat his father in a duel, he would receive knowledge and praise from the heroes of the land.

Emerging from the shimmering portal in the midst of the warrior's quarters, Arguile made his second examination of his surroundings in as many minutes. Carnage reigned supreme, although it seemed a distant din by the time it reached the young adventurer's ears. His own thoughts throbbed in his ears, mixing with the death screams so often heard in Medievia City, and he almost collapsed with the sheer weight of it all.

Arguile faltered but drew himself up and slowly walked on, muttering to himself. "My father... returned from his distant crusade... this damned fool challenge my father offered upon his return... I don't know who the bigger fool is, father for offering it... or myself for accepting it!" By the time his thoughts had run their course, he realized that he had reached his destination.

The dueling complex was a simple warehouse, organized in a haphazardly way. To the ignorant it might seem as if the crates and shrubbery were placed in a random formation to liven the area; but to the experienced adventurer, each of these obstacles were death traps, able to be used as weapons themselves, never to be considered lightly.

Hallar stood apart from the others surrounding the dueling complex, browsing through the trinkets his endeavors had garnered. Perhaps they would find some value on the auction blocks later, but for now they were just a minor distraction.

His eyes darted up briefly from the baubles, and he found exactly what he had assumed he would. Arguile stood not ten feet from him, unable to see him because of a simple invisibility spell he had woven about himself earlier. His son was... a thief, was it now? ...it had seemed so long ago that his conception occurred, Hallar of the Hallar lineage bearing his youngest son, Arguile the cleric. His son had grown more than a foot since Hallar's last voyage, and he could not express his longing to show the ecstasy he felt. But he must play his role today, and he must play it well.

He strolled forth quickly to his son, and caught him completely off-guard by tapping his shoulder and flicking his nose. His son must have quickly discovered the meaning, and he soon heard Arguile chanting a few arcane words. Arguile stared longingly into his father's eyes for any sort of relief, or remorse for his departure, or for any sort of emotion. What he got was not what he expected.

"I hope you don't EVER go into hazardous areas with that brain of yours! To think that someone could hide themselves so easily from you! Have I taught you NOTHING?!?"

Arguile briefly elapsed into a silent, brooding stare at his combat boots, until he finally spoke, and it was with clear hurt and surprise. "Are we going to fight or not, 'father'?"

Hallar hoped his son had not meant what he had said, but as usual he showed no sign of his inward emotions. "All right. Get on your gear. I hope you feel prepared to die. It has been so long since I last killed another trained assassin." Hallar quickly prepared himself for the battle, although he did leave out several choice pieces of equipment. "..might as well give the squirt a chance," he thought.

Arguile and Hallar stood exactly a hundred paces apart, staring intently at each other. When they both conceded that duel must begin they began circling menacingly, waiting for the slightest hesitation, the faintest chance of an error. A terrifying death scream came from the south-western corner of the area, and Hallar turned his head to examine the commotion. Arguile leaped at this chance, viciously gouging the flesh on Hallar's back with his flaming short sword. Hallar gasped in amazement at his own folly, and fled the immediate area. For a moment Arguile remained in place, wobbling while trying to regain his balance, so Hallar uttered a few arcane words to soothe and mend his wounds, preparing himself for a brutal counter-attack.

Hallar slunk into the shadows surrounding the area, maneuvering himself into position at Arguile's rear. Leaping from his secluded cover, Hallar ravaged the small of Arguile's back. Arguile retreated, and remembering a precious few skills from the days when he served the gods, cast a few healing spells on himself and began to search for an opening in his father's position.

For near half an hour this went on, attacking and retreating, until Arguile decided to break the flow and put extra shielding spells on himself. When Hallar attacked next, he found himself barely able to penetrate Arguile's defenses. Hallar quickly recovered from his attack, but he continued by uttering spells that abolished Arguile's shields, leaving him as defenseless as a newborn. Father and son lashed out viciously against each other, inflicting numerous wounds and cuts as they danced with their blades. Hallar felt his strength diminish as they fought on, and soon felt that he was about to face defeat by his young son, when an idea sprung into his head.

Throwing caution to the wind, Hallar lashed out with the last spell he could summon power for. "Blindness!" Hallar chanted, and suddenly Arguile felt his powers of sight demolished. Hallar quickly took that opportunity to skirt around his flailing son's position and stabbed the boy's back ruthlessly. All Arguile could manage as he took his final breath was to scream in a terrifying death howl, much like the one that had distracted Hallar when the combat started.

Arguile collapsed to the ground bleeding heavily from his wounds, yet as the blackness claimed him he felt a warmth spread throughout his body. Hands imbued with divine powers touched him gently and his father's voice spoke softly in his ear. "You may not be able to beat me yet, son, but with the proper training you may do me proud some day."

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