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The Gauntlet

Title: The Gauntlet
Author: jaune_chat
Fandom: Heroes
Characters/Pairing: Matt/Mohinder, Elle, Jessica, Molly, Charlie, Thompson
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 5,272
Spoilers: None
Warnings: AU, Sword-fights, UST
Disclaimer: Heroes is owned by Tim Kring, NBC, et al.
Notes: This was written for kethni’s birthday. It’s in a medieval setting. Just roll with it.
Summary: Down-on-his luck caravan guard Matt gets into an inadvertent duel with the noble Lord Suresh.



The gauntlet fell at the noble’s feet. Matt closed his eyes in disbelief when he felt it slip from his belt, uttering a soft, unheard prayer that it would not land near anyone important. After being turned away from the sixth inn in a row, trying to find some gainful employment as a peacekeeper in between guarding caravans, he was not eager to start a fight.

Turning, he mentally cringed to see a lean, swarthy, brightly-dressed nobleman pick up his fallen gauntlet. From the jewels at his throat and hands, and winking from the hilt of his rapier, the noble was not someone to cross. One of his rings alone could have kept Matt in comfort for a year or more.

“My lord, I apologize. I didn’t realize I’d dropped-,” Matt started, desperately hoping to stave off his impending doom.

“You’ve thrown down your gauntlet, good sir,” the noble announced loudly, his educated tones clearly audible to everyone within fifty paces.

Clearly the gods had decreed there would be no luck for Matt today. The crowded tavern stirred in interest, slowly pulling away from the two would-be combatants, leaving them plenty of room. A beautiful blue-eyed woman with hair like yellow silk whispered in the ear of the nobleman, her small hand hanging onto his elbow.

Though Matt was too far away to hear her whisper with his own ears, his mind heard her as clearly as if he’d been the one she’d spoken to.

“He looks dangerous, don’t you think? Awfully big. Practically an ogre. Be careful, my lord.”

Matt flushed in embarrassment at her thoughtless cruelty. He’d been born tall, and dedication to fighting and the sword had given him strength, but years upon years of inn fare and trail food had padded him with thick flesh. He didn’t even have the option of ignoring the taunts of those around him; like many of the distant bastards of wandering magicians, he had been born with a spell in his blood. In his case one that let him hear nearby thoughts.

A true wizard would have been able to do anything, from knowing thoughts, to flying through the air, to changing his shape, but bastards were stuck with one spell for all their lives. Matt couldn’t wish it away, so he’d had to learn how to use it. With it, he was rarely ambushed, and lying to him was difficult, but all too often he forgot to censor his speech for knowledge he shouldn’t have. Though he was a strong fighter, he had no permanent position, for what rich merchant or noble wanted a hireling that could see right through him? Rich and powerful men, Matt had discovered, thrived on lies.

“Oh, he is not all that big,” the noble said more loudly, and the crowd laughed their appreciation for his wit.

“My lord, upon my honor, I did drop my glove my merest accident!” Matt protested, trying one last time to get out of the situation unscathed.

“Oh, an accident? I think not!” the noble said, tossing back his dark curls. He was annoying handsome, this arrogant noble, beautiful of face with a lean and muscular body. Probably fancied himself quite the swordsman, given the quality of his blade, and must have been learning from blademasters from the time he could toddle. Undoubtedly he could perform every trick in the book and could easily dazzle a peasant crowd, but wouldn’t last five minutes in a bandit raid.

Matt stopped his line of thought, realizing his “idle speculations” were nothing of the sort, but his grasping mind using his unguarded desire to know his opponent to pluck the information from the noble’s mind. That was the problem with spells, they didn’t always act with the will of the user, but with their intent.

“I pledge you, Lord Suresh, I do not want to cross blades with you!” Matt insisted, and then felt himself go white as the noble stiffened in shock.

“You know my name,” Lord Suresh said, narrowing his eyes. “And I have not yet given it to you. As you are a stranger in my city, I rather think you planned your little ‘accident.’ Do not insult me further by refusing.”

Matt cursed his wayward magic as he paced to the edge of the empty space, dropping his pack at the feet of a straggly-haired pot girl, her hands still clutching her washrag.

“Molly, two coppers to you if you’ll watch my packs during the duel,” Matt said, finding the strange girl’s name in her mind without trouble, and was pleased to see her smile at his knowledge. She nodded, and Matt tossed her one coin immediately.

Taking a deep breath, he turned and drew his heavy broadsword, a weapon suited for his stature and strength. Lord Suresh, standing at the other end of the room, flipped his jeweled rapier into his hand with a flourish, swishing it about him in an elegant display. Matt let his magic loose a little, and could easily see and hear how the noble intended to beat him.

He could practically see Lord Suresh acrobatically flipping to the center of the room to meet Matt’s lumbering charge, dodging away at the last moment and scoring a hit on his backside, to roars of laughter from the crowd. Matt would turn, puffing and angry as a bull and charge again and again, each time with Suresh dancing away, making hit after hit against him, dodging here and there, tickling him with the point of his rapier again and again. Finally, Suresh would lead him on a merry chase, spinning him around until dizzy and finally making him trip over his own feet, falling on his back to the floor so the noble could put a foot on his chest and the tip of his rapier to Matt’s throat and magnanimously accept his surrender.

Afterward, he would have a cooling glass of wine, accept congratulations from all, and take his lady Elle back to home for a little post-victory celebration…

Matt shook his head to clear it of Lord Suresh’s visions of victory and pressed his lips together. He was no bear to be baited! If he spoke the truth too often, or was not kept on staff after a long caravan, he could truthfully say he’d never been let go for incompetence with his fighting skill!

Stalking to the center of the room, Matt waited grimly. If the innkeeper could see how he dealt with the arrogant lord, assuming he wasn’t about to hang for what he was going to do, then perhaps she’d reconsider her position! No amount of clumsy bearing or overly-truthful speech would overshadow Matt’s skill, if he could just show what he was capable of.

Lord Suresh smiled and bowed mockingly, and Matt followed suit with more decorum. Then the noble struck with acrobatic flair. He was fast, Matt would give him that, but the lunge that took him the length of the room also left him wide open for what Matt did next. Which was to swat aside the noble’s blade, bull his shoulder into the noble’s chest to send him crashing to the floor, step on the rapier, and lower the tip of his broadsword to Suresh’s neck.

“Yield,” Matt said flatly. The crowd was silent, gaping at how the large, clumsy-seeming man had downed the lord in two strikes.

Lord Suresh went white with fear, and then red with anger. Matt simply stared at him, hearing the conflicting thoughts of humiliation and petty revenge in his mind batter themselves senseless before Matt leaned in slightly with the tip of his sword. Then all became icy terror.

The noble put up his hands in surrender, and Matt quickly stepped aside.

“I did not drop my gauntlet on purpose, m’lord,” Matt said quietly, before Lord Suresh could launch into the diatribe Matt had heard in his mind. “I am not a duelist. I am a caravan guard. I fight to end conflicts as swiftly as possible, so we can get back on the road.”

Lord Suresh’s mouth moved silently, and his mind discarded a dozen confused or angry responses before he simply shut his mouth again. Getting up quickly, the blonde woman stepped forward to brush off his clothes, cooing over him and offering ego-salving statements about “big brute with no sense of style.” The crowd was too wise to chuckle out loud at Lord Suresh’s defeat, but the minute he’d stormed off in a huff, Matt was immediately plied with all the free food and ale he could handle.

Blinking in bewilderment, Matt took the bounty offered. He wasn’t sure he deserved it for trouncing their lord in public, but he was too practical a man to turn down free food.

“You fight better than you look.” The innkeeper that had turned him down for a job, a hard-bitten, fair-haired woman called Jessica, sat down at his table. “A lot better. And I liked the way you handled Lord Suresh.”

Matt took another quick gulp of ale before answering. There was no malice behind Jessica’s question; she thought Lord Suresh arrogant and didn’t mind him being taken down a peg.

“I’m glad you think so,” he offered finally.

“Do you know why I didn’t want to hire you?” she asked.

“You thought I looked too nice, too timid to stop a fight,” Matt said without thinking, and took another gulp of ale to drown a blush of embarrassment for speaking her mind out loud.

She only smirked. “Guessed dead in the black. You get that a lot?”

“Sometimes,” he said tentatively.

“Look, Lord Suresh isn’t bad, as nobles go. He comes to my inn, for one, so he’d not as arrogant as other highborn I’ve met. But he thinks he’s the gods’ gift to swordsmanship and never stops trying to prove it. I’ve had to replace a dozen tables and benches since he started challenging everything that moves. If you can break up all fights that fast, I’ll hire you. Five silver every two weeks, room and board.”

Matt looked down into his mug, thinking. It wasn’t as much money as he could make on a caravan run, but it was decent, with a bed that wouldn’t involve having to camp out under the stars in any and all foul weather. He had at least one person here who appreciated his skills… and if after a while she wouldn’t want him and his too-truthful tongue around, he’d be no worse off than before.

Smiling tentatively, Matt reached out to shake her hand.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“I’m the best pupil Swordmaster Thompson says he’s ever taught.”

Matt heard Lord Suresh’s voice behind him, but didn’t break the rhythm of his practice until he’d completed the last slashing maneuver. He’d been at the Twin Mirror Inn for close to a month, and this was the first time Lord Suresh had come back. Up until now, Matt had been certain he’d landed in the best job of his life. Jessica was a stern woman, but extremely fair, the pot girl, Molly, was a wonderful child, who made everyone around her happy just by her sunny smile, and one of the serving wenches, who called herself Charlie, was honestly fascinated by the stories Matt could tell her about his time on the road.

Matt’s room was comfortable, and the food and ale were fine. The work wasn’t too difficult, just breaking apart the occasional drunken brawl and helping with the occasional bit of heavy lifting, easy enough that he made sure he practiced his sword-craft in the horse paddock every morning so he wouldn’t get out of form.

But no idyll could last forever, particularly not in Matt’s world, and he quietly sighed as he turned around to face Lord Suresh. The nobleman was in clothing as colorful as Matt had last seen him, brightly colored silks contrasting with the brighter glint of precious metals and gems. But this time, at least, he’d foregone female company. He’d brought no witnesses, which meant either things were going to go very well… or extremely poorly. Without witnesses, Suresh could claim anything had happened, and Matt would have no way to protest.

“Swordmaster Thompson was the King’s Champion, until he retired,” Lord Suresh continued, his tone arrogant, and his accent exquisite. “He’s taught me everything he knows. I can do the seventeen sword dances of Kal’maresh, the tulpacor charge, the One Hundred Moves of Perfection, and the Riposte of Yaalat, which only six men before me have mastered. I have studied the fine arts of swordsmanship since I was four years old, and have beaten every champion to ever come to my father’s court.”

Suresh walked several steps closer to the fence, his shoulders tense.

“My father was also a fine swordsman, and I hoped to even surpass his own magnificent achievements by winning the right to be the King’s Champion in the tourney next fall.” His words became terse, and high color touched his cheeks. “But you, stranger, beat me. Two strokes, two passes, and you had me on my back. How?”

Matt gently sheathed his sword and walked to the fence, realizing he was looming over the more slender noble. Suresh refused to back down, and met his gaze squarely. There was no deceit in him, like Matt had feared. He didn’t have sycophants waiting to pounce on Matt and rough him up for humiliating him in front of the crowd. He wasn’t here with murder in his heart to avenge his bruised ego. Instead Suresh was here with stiff-backed pride, acknowledging there was something he didn’t know.

“You are a swordsman, m’lord,” Matt said simply. “I am a fighter.”

“What does that have to do with anything? You said that before, when we met. What does getting a caravan somewhere on time have to do with being able to beat me?” Suresh demanded, his hand on the hilt of his jeweled rapier.

Matt stared at him, his magic flowing over Lord Suresh as he tried desperately to find the intentions of the sort of person he’d never had to speak to before. In his mind’s eye he saw privilege and power, days spent without want, of food always available, always a warm bed, a willing woman, and access to whatever knowledge he desired.

“My lord, survival is the best and harshest teacher,” Matt said finally, head down to hide his jealousy at this man who had never wanted for anything. “You have never fought for your life.”

“Well, that…” Suresh trailed off, looking slightly abashed before regaining his aplomb. “This is a civilized country. The position of King’s Champion is a, ah, ceremonial one.”

Even if Matt had not heard Suresh’s desperate excuses in his mind, his weak protest showed he was uncertain in the face of Matt’s words.

“Then I hope for your sake that we never go to war, m’lord,” Matt said, flicking bits and dust and grass from his shirt. He’d hate to see the man skewered for lack of practical skill… Too late, Matt realized how dangerous that statement had been.

Matt heard the rising anger in Suresh’s voice before he heard his rapier clear its sheath.

“How dare you speak that way to me!” Suresh said, high anger coloring his cheeks. He vaulted lightly over the fence with a grace Matt could only envy, landing a dozen paces away. Taking a brightly embroidered glove from his belt, Suresh threw it at Matt’s feet. “Let us try this duel again, and see if your ‘survival fighting’ is as good when I know your style.”

Arrogant pride was practically glowing from Suresh’s mind, but behind it this time was caution. Matt could see him trying to rein his temper back, his moves more carefully plotted to account for what Matt was capable of, not just what Suresh wanted him to do. Indeed, the noble might be all that he claimed… but Matt refused to leave the city in shame, just when he’d found a place where hoped he could stay. Unsmiling, he drew his broadsword.

Suresh danced forward, sword weaving in a complicated pattern, trying to draw Matt’s eye to its tip. Matt slid his eyes to Suresh’s shoulders, saw them tense for a strike, and threw himself under Suresh’s blade. There was no grace to his movements, just persistence and power, and his body shoved Suresh’s sword-arm high. Matt caught Suresh’s other arm with his own shoved him away. If he’d been a real enemy, Matt might have forced him to his knees, but he could not do that to a noble and live.

Suresh went pale, but went on guard again, and danced to the side.

Matt lunged back as Suresh thrust at him, and used the noble’s momentum to push him into a stumble.

Suresh recovered quickly and leapt for Matt’s back. Matt knelt and helped Suresh tumble over his shoulder, jumping backwards out of his range.

“Use your blade, damn you!” Suresh shouted. He slid in, faster this time, and Matt’s sword licked out to drive Suresh’s to the earth, twisting to try to disarm him. The noble twisted with it, catlike, and flipped out of the bind.

“Swords are expensive, m’lord,” Matt pointed out. “If I knick it, it’s a month’s wages getting the smith to mend it.”

Suresh bent and exploded upward with power, rapier flying down. Matt had to duck and roll, and felt the bite of the lighter blade strike the dirt just behind him.

“There’s no honor in wrestling in a duel!” Suresh insisted, dashing in to strike while Matt was still on the ground and vulnerable. Matt lashed out with his legs and took Suresh’s out from under him, rolling on top of him and pinning him down with superior weight.

“The only honor is coming home alive,” Matt said right in Suresh’s face, feeling the smoothness of silk beneath his hands and marveling at it. Up close, Lord Suresh was as beautiful as the rapier in his hand, and Matt felt ashamed for sullying such grace with his ugly, brute form of battle. He got up, offering a hand, and was surprised to have Lord Suresh take it.

“Swordsmaster Thompson said that to me once. I have never heard anyone else speak of it,” he said, looking more curious now than angry.

Matt could only look at the ground, quickly letting go of Lord Suresh’s hand.

“I wish to be the best swordsman in the country. By all accounts of my father, teacher, and peers, I already am so. But you have beaten me, twice, by what some would say was trickery,” Suresh said, sounding meditative.

“Not so, m’lord. Just… common fighting. Low-born fighting. Survival,” Matt hastened to explain.

“And you count this honorable,” Suresh stated. The arrogance that Matt had heard in the noble’s mind was slowly transforming, its tinge of anger becoming something else. A sort of drive, a strange desire.

Matt only nodded, uncertain to say more.

“I am not the best swordsman in the country, because you can beat me,” Suresh said, as if working out a puzzle. “My teacher has not taught me everything I need to know, because I do not know how to beat you. Therefore, I cannot count myself the best in the country unless I can defeat you.”

Matt’s mouth dropped open as he heard what Lord Suresh was going to say next.

“You will teach me. I will come here every morning, and you will teach me everything you know about your low-born fighting until I can defeat you in honorable combat,” he declared, with the finality of a death decree.

Matt’s heart sank and his vision swam.

“I have never taught a noble, m’lord,” he protested. Surely it would only be a matter of time before he said something else he should not know, and then Suresh would see him whipped or pilloried for it. Or, gods forbid, Matt could hurt him by accident in the teaching, and the penalties for harming a noble were even steeper.

“Regardless,” Suresh said sternly, “I will be here in the morning.”

Head bowed, Matt resigned himself to his fate.

~~~~~~~~~~

In the early morning, feeling as if his heart were made of lead, Matt drug himself from his bed and walked downstairs as if to the gallows.

“You’re not dead yet,” Jessica said, as he passed the kitchen. He stopped to look at her, and she pressed a quick breakfast of bread and milk into his hand. “Lord Suresh is there even now. Arrogant he may be, but no one has ever said he wasn’t diligent about learning his sword tricks. Don’t teach him too well, Matt. I don’t think I could stand it if his head got any more swelled.”

The bread was ashes in his mouth, but Matt ate anyway, only because he knew he needed his strength. Walking outside, he paused by the cover of the stable to watch Lord Suresh move through one of his sword dances. And he was transfixed. Matt did not consider himself a man of refinement, but suddenly he wished he had a gift for poetry, for he could find no common words to describe the play of blade, silk, and dancing feet. Lord Suresh might not have had a scrap of practical experience, but he moved like a dancing bird, blade flashing in the sunlight, movements swift and sure, creating a symphony of color, light, and metal. Not even sunrises and rainbows could compare to such a thing.

“Mohinder, you’re beautiful,” Matt whispered, not even realizing he’d spoken Lord Suresh’s given name out loud. His magic carried to him Mohinder’s love of the dance, his dedication and drive to perfection that had given him his arrogant bearing, and he felt his heart softening in the face of the new knowledge.

Finally the dance came to an end, and Matt shook himself from his reverie and walked to the paddock. This was no time for idle dreaming!

“Ah, the teacher approaches,” Suresh said with an off-hand laugh, tossing back his curls. “What do we do first?”

“Show me what you do,” Matt asked without thinking, only wanting to see more of the sword dance that had held them both in its thrall.

Lord Suresh shook his head, firming his chin. “You’ve beaten me every time. What respect do you have for my craft? I came to learn yours.”

Matt looked down at his broad hands, calloused and dirty, and at his blade, plain and honest. Then he looked up at Suresh, clean, bright, and bejeweled.

“What I do is not beautiful,” Matt said. “It’s… practical. Honest. Like a clay pot, or a wooden spear. I can fight any man, and beat many of them. I’ve done it most of my life. But it is not beautiful. You’re beautiful, Mohinder.”

He clapped his hand over his mouth in the next second, color draining from his face. Matt prayed for the gods to strike him down for his rampant stupidity, but as usual, they declined to deliver him from his misery.

Lord Suresh gaped at him for a long moment, mouth opening and closing, mind a turmoil of shock, outrage, and surprisingly, amusement.

“If I had known you could have been swayed by a pretty sword, I would have beguiled you from the first and saved myself a humiliating defeat!” Lord Suresh said finally, noble’s pride unbending at Matt’s praise. He then affected a sterner mien. “Do not address me so familiarly again without permission.”

“Of course, m’lord,” Matt said, shaking in shocked embarrassment. Lord Suresh sheathed his sword and looked Matt up and down as if assessing him for flaws.

“Well, I suspect you’ve never worked with nobility before, considering your lack of proper manners,” Suresh said, dismissing the moment long before Matt was ready. “I will work hard, but do not assume you can reprimand me as another commoner.”

Matt swallowed and nodded. “I will try to remember m’lord, but I am a simple man. Forgive me if I forget. I was taught using… harsher measures than you were used to.”

“I may be beautiful,” Suresh said, eyes dancing, “but I am no wilting court flower! I came to learn how to beat you. Have at it, man!”

~~~~~~~~~~

“Everything can be a weapon, m’lord, not just your sword. The fist, elbow, knee, foot, even the rocks at your feet and the sun in the sky…”

-----------

“You are fast, m’lord, but you must be willing to strike with power when you can! I have fought up to four men at once; I cannot dance with one when three others might slice me open. Strike to kill, and have done with it.”

----------

“Gods of blood and fire, man, you outweigh me by half and half again! How am I supposed to get you off of me?”

“I hate to point it out, m’lord, but your knee is free…”

Suresh blanched. “You can’t be serious. That’s hardly honorable!”

“Dishonorable it may be, but any man curled around his privates can hardly stab you in the throat.”

----------

“It is far too cold to fight today-.”

“Lord Suresh, you cannot pick the days you choose to fight. An enemy could come for you at any time, even in the cold and snow. Besides, m’lord, you wear a fur cloak. I do not.”

“Tease me for my lack of manly endurance, will you? Were you not such a good teacher of fighting, I should have you thrown in the stocks!” Suresh’s eyes danced with laughter, and Matt could tell he enjoyed the joke.

---------

Matt cursed as Suresh darted in under his guard, cat-quick, and slammed his sharp elbow into the middle of his chest. Robbed of breath and rocked back on his heels, Matt dropped one hand off his sword and grabbed onto Suresh’s shirt as the smaller man twisted, throwing him off-balance and making him trip backwards. Grip still firm on Suresh’s clothes, they went down together, and Suresh laughed as he brought a dagger up to Matt’s throat.

“I have beaten you. Yield to me,” Suresh said, eyes bright and mouth smiling.

Matt had to remember how to breathe as he looked into Lord Suresh’s face. It had been over half a year since Suresh had demanded to be taught, and each day Matt had tried to imbue a lifetime of survival into a noble’s mind. Suresh had been eager, willing, and dedicated, more tolerant of Matt’s unintentional truths than anyone he’d ever met. He’d taken Matt’s brutal, common form of fighting and married it to his beautiful style, creating something as strong as it was lovely. Wrought iron, instead of blown glass, as Suresh had called it.

Matt had been entranced, seeing beauty being created from his ugliness, and had fought like a man possessed to keep from being beaten, shamelessly using his magic to anticipate Suresh at times. Because the moment Suresh defeated him was when he would stop their lessons, and leave him behind. Matt wished it didn’t have to stop. Arrogant Lord Suresh might be, but he was as close to a comrade-in-arms as Matt had ever had. As close to a friend as he’d ever had. The charming Charlie couldn’t compete with Lord Suresh’s demands on him; indeed if he hadn’t worked evenings at the inn, he might never see her in the course of a day.

It made him laugh inside. He who had never been in any kind of permanent service because of his too-truthful tongue and wayward magic, found himself devoted to this beautiful, arrogant lordling, who demanded nothing of him but the truth of his skill. And as quick as Matt’s magic had been, quick as thought, Suresh was quicker. His win had been the pinnacle of his skill.

“I yield,” Matt said softly, feeling as if something were dying inside. Suresh pulled the dagger back and stood up, shaking off Matt’s grip.

“Ah, you have worked wonders. No one will be able to defeat me now at the tourney, thanks to your skill,” Lord Suresh said, sheathing his weapons. “You’ve done well. A moon hence, I shall receive the laurels as the King’s Champion.”

“There was never any doubt of that m’lord. I only taught you to survive,” Matt said, his voice low.

“Indeed! And I shall not forget it. I am a nobleman, I do not forget my debts,” Lord Suresh said, plucking his hat from the railing. With a nod in Matt’s direction, he was gone.

For long moments, Matt stood in the middle of the paddock, alone and uncertain as to what to do with himself. He should still be teaching Suresh at this very moment; he wasn’t sure now what he was supposed to be doing…

A blot of color caught the corner of his eye and Matt’s head snapped up, a greeting to his lord on his lips. He stopped himself in time, seeing a much older man, hair as gray as iron, a strong-featured face lined by years and sun, but dressed in the silks and gems of a noble. He, too carried a bejeweled rapier with the air of a man who knew what he was about.

“Parkman,” the man said in greeting as he reached the fence.

Though Matt had never seen him before, suddenly he realized there was only one person he could be.

“Swordmaster Thompson,” Matt said in reply.

“So, you’re the wonder-worker that turned my pretty marionette into a regular hellion, eh?”

Wisely, Matt didn’t answer. This man’s mind was like a steel shield, closed and hard. He was giving up no truths easily.

“I tried for years to tell Lord Mohinder that there was always more to learn than the tricks of a sword dancer. But he could master anything in any book I put before him, and in the employ of his father, I could not thrash the heir into understanding. Thank the gods they answered my prayers and put you in his way.” Thompson crossed his arms over his chest and looked Matt up and down, disconcertingly like Lord Suresh. Finally he nodded and untied a pouch from his belt, setting it on the top of the fence. It clinked.

Matt opened it up, and nearly dropped it when he saw the golden gleam inside.

“One hundred gold. The price of the heir’s training. You earned every bit of it, Parkman.”

Thompson turned to go, and Matt clenched the purse with a heavy hand, feeling as if beauty and color was leaving his life forever.

The Swordmaster turned back and saw Matt standing.

“Well, are you coming? The future King’s Champion needs a trusted entourage. Do you think I’m fool enough to let the finest, most arrogant, egotistical fighter I’ve ever taught loose in the world without some kind of restraining hand upon him? I’m certainly too old to go adventuring anymore.”

“Lord Suresh… wishes this?” Matt asked, unwilling to force himself into unwanted company, no matter how much he wanted it.

“Lord Suresh needs this. He needs someone who will tell him the truth. I am told you’re the man for that job.” The Swordmaster smiled, eyes crinkling with amusement.

“I am, sir!” Matt exclaimed, joy filling his heart as he saw a new life unfolding before him, filled with beauty and light that he would not allow to be snuffed out.

“He’s waiting for you, whether he realizes it or not. Go,” Thompson said.

Smiling, truthfully happy again, Matt went to prepare to meet his lord.

---------

And on to the sequel - A Marvelous Adventure

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
tiptoe39
Oct. 6th, 2009 01:43 am (UTC)
D'awwwww!! So much love!! Beautiful boys and swordfighting. This made me happy in a way I can only begin to express through squeedom. What a lovely, lush AU!
jaune_chat
Oct. 6th, 2009 11:37 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it! I was at a RenFair a couple of weeks ago, and I'm a huge, unabashed fantasy fan, so this was fun to write. Thanks for commenting!
kethni
Oct. 6th, 2009 05:25 am (UTC)
Thank you!

That was wonderful. I love the characterisations of Mohinder and Matt with their constrasting lives/social status reflected in their fighting styles. I loved the integration of Matt's ability into the medieval world as well, so neatly done :D

Great story, thanks again!
jaune_chat
Oct. 6th, 2009 11:44 am (UTC)
I'm so very pleased you enjoyed it, kethni! I've been reading a lot of Sword and Sorceress books lately (collections of short fantasy stories, always with a prominant female character) so I was really in a fantasy groove. The "spell in the blood" I adapted from a similar idea in the short story "Unbinding Spell" by Andrea Chodan, in S&S XV. I like that magic, in whatever form it takes, cannot always be constrained by us mere humans.

eternal_moonie
Oct. 6th, 2009 09:56 am (UTC)
LOVE this story!!!
jaune_chat
Oct. 6th, 2009 11:44 am (UTC)
I'm so terribly happy that you do! :-)
(Deleted comment)
jaune_chat
Oct. 6th, 2009 08:59 pm (UTC)
I'm quite pleased you enjoyed it! Thank you for commenting. :-)
(no subject) - jackvelvet - Aug. 27th, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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