The sky rang with the sound of steel on steel. The combatants swung and stabbed their blades, circled and spun without either gaining an advantage. The onlookers eyed the pair with critical amusement.
“Sarah’s getting better,” offered Bonnie Anne, “usually our captain would have won by now.”
“It used to be that Sarah could often best our captain in a sparring match. No more. But today the captain’s right side is too stiff,” assessed Gaspard de Vole.
“Weel, that’s what happens when your arm is nearly torn off by a maddened lagoon monster,” Bonnie commented wryly.
Captain Anne Radcliffe decided to change her strategy. She pirouetted just out of range of her adversary, swinging off her hat as she did so, then slipped in under Sarah’s guard with the hat outstretched. She wiggled the feather in front of her surprised friend’s nose.
Sarah sneezed. At once she got a light poke on the shoulder, signaling the match was over.
Sarah frowned with pretend sternness. “Captain, that was not fair!”
“To use zee rapier wit, eet ees always fair,” Anne impishly mimicked their brilliant fencing teacher, Morgan Lafitte. Sarah could not pretend to be angry any longer, and began to laugh. Anne joined her, and soon the two were sitting on the deck, holding their sides, laughing.
Old Ratbeard shook his head in affectionate exasperation. “The captain’s been shot at, mauled by monsters, almost had her head taken off by a blade, punched by thugs, and nearly tossed into the winds by cannon explosion. And that all since yesterday!”
“Yet she is the same joyful person as ever,” smiled Bonnie.
Subodai nodded. “It was the same even on that Armada prison ship. I first saw her through the bars of my cell as they brought her in; she looked so confused and small. I wondered angrily why the Armada would stoop so low as to imprison a child. I wished to comfort her, but I did not know how.”
“But it was she who sought to comfort me. She talked, schemed against our captors, even sang me songs, ballads of old MooShu.”
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