Jillian asked this a while back, and I couldn’t help but go into a little too much detail…
Ilya, from The Warlord Contracts, isn’t the most technical fighter, but he cheats like nobody’s business.
Dejean, from Pearl, is pretty clever when he wants to be though, and it doesn’t matter how thoroughly he’s beaten, if he’s fighting for someone he cares about, he’ll get back up until the moment his soul leaves his body…
The pirate was going to win.
Ilya could see it in every confident but uneven step he took, in the light raging behind his eyes, in the determined crook of his smile. Blood covered him, seeping through his clothes, coating his skin, and sullying his hair. Yet every one of his strikes hit Ilya like a crack of thunder.
Returning with a frantic block of his saber, Ilya stepped backward once more, his boots slipping across gravel. His arms trembled and his fingers clammed up. He grit his teeth, trying to imagine the weight of the sovereign’s ring he’d someday bare, forcing his grip tighter. But his brother’s outstretched hand appeared in his mind instead, bringing another memory with it: Vasha lifting him up when he fell, brushing the dirt from his hair, fussing like a mother wyvern.
Damn him. Damn the tears he’s cried over me and the tears he’s cried because of me. Vasha should not have been the thing keeping him alive, but for some stupid, terrible, wonderful reason he always, always was.
Ilya yelped as his blade jolted him his hands, driving away the thought and sending his sword clattering across the ground in a heart-wrenching flash of metal and lost chances.
The pirate breathed in ragged gasps, but he held himself a little straighter. “Do you surrender?” he asked.
“I surrender,” Ilya croaked. He drew up his hands to shoulder height, palms half out. His face burned. He took the slightest step forward.
Then he lunged, past the pirate’s guard, knocking his sword away with one arm. With the other, he drove a tiny, hidden blade into the artery just below the man’s started expression. A new stream of blood appeared as Ilya twisted it and drew it out, the flow masking every cut that had come before it.
The pirate might have won. But he wouldn’t live to tell about it.