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Rebekah King Rebekah King
Recommendations: 21

LAS II - Combatants

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For Fools

Lan and Sorraru first meet

Sorraru ran as fast as she could through the overgrown forest. Though she was no athlete, she was fit and the knowledge of her own death pursuing her drove her forward. She knew that if she came face-to-face with her pursuer, her combatant, there was no way she would survive the confrontation. She had no training. She knew nothing of weapons or how to use them. She had to run. She had to escape.

Lan could hear his opponent rushing through the woods. They had to be only on the other side of the trees to his left. He had tracked them for a long way and now it was time to act offensively. He could see a break in the trees approaching. Judging by the fact that all his opponent had done was run since they knew he was chasing them, Lan assumed they were untrained and unskilled in the art of killing. Lan was a hunter, he knew how to kill. And here it was either kill his foe or die in this place.

As the break approached, Lan pulled his makeshift bow from his back and loaded it with an arrow made from animal bone. He would aim for the head – make it quick. The break was almost upon him now and he readied himself. He slowed as he came level with the opening in the trees, knowing he had a lead on his adversary. He kept his weapon ready and waited for a moment before he heard them approach his position.

Sorraru heard when her pursuer stopped running, but it only made her more afraid. This was it – this was the moment they would make their move. She noticed the break in the trees only once it was upon her. When she saw what was waiting on the other side, her eyes widened. She stopped dead in her tracks, and only had time enough to see her assailant pull back the string on their bow. Instead of trying to run, she covered her face with her arms.

“Please!” She screamed.

Lan did not release the arrow. In the instant he had seen his opponent’s face, something had made him hesitate. It took him a moment to realise what that was. She was just a girl, no older than he. He thought he knew this girl. Perhaps he had seen her before. He would have still steeled himself and sent the arrow flying, but something else stayed his hand. It was her scream, her beg for mercy had made him stop.

As Sorraru stood there, stunned and covering her face in fear, Lan hesitated. Something he knew he absolutely must never do. But he had not expected an inexperienced and clearly terrified teenage girl for an opponent. Were these even the kind of people The Man usually took? Now he wasn’t so sure.

“Would you please just do it quickly?” Sorraru begged. “I really hate being kept in suspense.”

Lan wondered, should he do her this kindness? It was what she asked. But he knew that it wouldn’t really be a kindness, just a better way for her to die. Death wasn’t kind.

“What are you waiting for?” She demanded. “I can’t fight you, and only one of us leaves here alive.”

She was right, of course. That was the rule. Everyone in the Tribes knew it well. Always two were taken, only one returned. And it was obvious to Lan that this girl couldn’t fight him. She had no weapons, and it was fair to assume that had she a weapon, she wouldn’t have known how to use it. She hadn’t tried to run once she saw him, just hid her face and waited for death to come. She can’t have been very courageous. Though she was brave enough to run from him in the first place, rather than just laying down and letting him kill her. Perhaps she had some drive in her after all.

His sustained indecision intrigued her, it seemed, as one of her eyes suddenly revealed itself through her hands. Lan looked straight at that eye, trying to see the person behind it. Why was he doing this? It would only make it that much harder for him to kill her. Her eye did not move, her gaze unwavering, locked with his. She was afraid, but courageous enough to take this opportunity to see her killer before he ended her life.

“You’re scared,” Lan stated.

She seemed taken aback by his addressing her. “You’re going to kill me soon,” She pointed out. “Should I not be afraid?”

Lan thought this girl a remarkable creature. She had done everything that Lan had been warned about his whole life. She’d made him hesitate by pleading to him, using her helpless appearance to appeal to his sense of humanity. And now here she was, conversing with him, causing him to procrastinate further. And she didn’t even know she was doing it. As Lan looked at Sorraru, standing not ten feet from him, frozen by fear, his resolve shattered. And he knew he had no intention of ending her life today.

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