Level 25 ~ Naomi cont’d

“I’m not trying to pick a fight with you!” Taecendar had his silver staff raised defensively between him and Andrew, “But, yeah, I do think I could take you!”

Vixie and Naomi arrived with the rest of the people on the ship with nothing critical to do. Taecendar and Andrew were squared off against each other with weapons drawn, and while it wasn’t clear what started it Naomi was pretty sure Andrew had picked the fight like he tried to with her back in the marsh.

“Your inexperience makes me sick!” Andrew spat back, “You think you know what’s best for her? You don’t even have the slightest clue what she’s been through in this last year alone!”

Before Taecendar could retort, Vixie stepped in. “Both of you! Stop it!” Vixie still needed comforting, but in her intervention mode it wouldn’t work to hold her hand, “What exactly are you trying to prove?”

“Nothing.” Taecendar stood up from his defensive stance and spun his staff around to rest on his shoulder, “Conversation just took an awkward turn.”

“Don’t walk away from me, coward!” Andrew tightened his grip on Banisher, “You’ll never be good enough for her!”

Naomi felt Taecendar tense up, but then he relaxed again and just shook his head. “You can say whatever you like; I’m not fighting you.”

Then Andrew smiled and it sent a chill down Naomi’s spine, “Wait, I’ve heard the term for people like you in Viura… Monster bait, isn’t it?”

In a flash Taecendar was back down in his fighting stance with staff pointed at Andrew.

“Cen, please!” Vixie reached out toward Taecendar, but this time he wasn’t going to be swayed.

“Don’t worry, Vixie, I won’t hurt him too bad.” Taecendar smiled.

As Andrew stepped forward Vixie shook her head, “I’m not worried about him!”

Naomi winced when Vixie said that; now Taecendar had something to prove. Everybody gave the two fighters their space as Andrew advanced with powerful swings for Taecendar, which the lighter man easily redirected with his staff. Both were feeling pretty confident right now, and Naomi couldn’t tell which was the better fighter. Andrew seemed to think he was toying with Taecendar as his attacks kept being deflected, but Taecendar seemed to think he was setting up a rhythm for completely shutting Andrew down. Then Vixie was watching with a tired horror, no longer with the strength to try and stop it… And it was definitely Taecendar she was worried about.

“You’ve got power,” Taecendar laughed as he parried another of Andrew’s attacks, “But it takes a lot more than that to actually be a good fighter. Maybe when we get to the mountains I can show you what real monster bait looks like.”

Before Taecendar could register it, Andrew switched tactics and in a single powerful cleave cut Taecendar’s staff in half—extinguishing its glow. Taecendar stared in shock at his broken weapon a moment, but just managed to raise the halves in time to deflect Andrew’s next blow. Taecendar recommitted himself to fighting with the broken halves of his staff and put on quite an acrobatic show—but now Naomi could tell who was going to win. Quickly enough Andrew managed to quarter the halves of Taecendar’s weapon, and from there planted a kick to the other man’s chest that sent him sprawling to the deck.

“Thanks.” Andrew swung Banisher back to its hanger, “I think I know what monster bait looks like.”

Taecendar was still clutching his chest, his eyes unfocused with disbelief, when Vixie dropped to her knees and wrapped her arms around him. When Vixie turned her eyes to Andrew with angry tears, the Demon Hunter lowered his head and walked away.

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