Talyc marched to the Grand Arena with Fane by his side. When they reached it, Fane took his hand and squeezed gently. He wished him luck and kissed him on the cheek.
‘See you on the other side,’ he said, and left.
The arena was immense, and filled with tall and wide, rounded pillars. Decorative engravings marked some of the walls, which were all lined with statue busts of who Talyc assumed had been former Jedi masters. High above were seats that fanned out, though he could not see most of these.
Talyc took a deep breath. He didn’t know why he was so nervous. He felt almost as nervous as he had when he had followed Fane out of the tavern and expressed his true feelings to him. His heart was pounding. He wanted to do well, he wanted to impress the Jedi, he wanted them to approve.
He realised he already had their approval. He also realised he didn’t need it; Fane had made his choice and had let the Order know it. This had been Fane’s way of telling them he had chosen Talyc and that if they wanted him to choose them, they had to accept Talyc as his partner, even if he did not possess the Force.
Talyc rolled his shoulders back, bringing them down, letting out one quick breath and shook his arms to loosen them up. Garbed in his armour, his helmet clipped to his belt, he entered the arena. It was empty, but his keen eyes noticed movement up above and he knew many were watching.
A voice reverberated throughout the arena, as though coming from all around him. It was the voice of the Grand Master.
‘Talyc Kandera, you have fought many duels in your life. You have particular unique skills. But if you were to fight a duplicate of yourself, would you be able to defeat your doppelganger and be victorious? Duel now with one who has the same set of skills as you, one who has learnt from you.’
Talyc saw Knarf emerge from behind one of the rounded pillars. Knarf wore his armour, helmet and all. Although he couldn’t see his face, by the manner with which Knarf moved and momentarily bobbed his head, Talyc knew he was amused. His friend nodded as though to wish him luck. Talyc nodded back and put his helmet on.
‘Sorry,’ said Knarf, ‘I don’t want to do this, but your armour might take a few nicks and grazes. I promise to pay for the repolishing if necessary.’
Talyc’s Second ignited his orange lightsaber and whirled it around in a circular motion. Talyc took his vibroblade out and held it out in front of him, holding it with both hands, bending his knees.
‘Come at me, Bes’laar.’
Talyc jumped as soon as he saw Knarf lift his leg, knowing he would pound the ground. He heard Knarf chuckle. Talyc took to leaping to Knarf’s flank. Knarf turned and struck at Talyc’s mid. Talyc blocked with the vibroblade, and ducked the next strike. He slashed at Knarf; the blade bounced off the armour, leaving a small nick at the knee joints.
‘Looks like you might need some repolishing as well, my friend!’ Talyc said.
‘I’m due for proper Mandalorian armour anyway,’ said Knarf.
Talyc bent low and rolled away, coming to a standing position a bit farther than an arm’s length away from Knarf. The two men stood facing each other, studying each other. Talyc swung at Knarf as his friend blocked and cut low. Jumping, Talyc angled himself to strike at Knarf’s back, though he knew it didn’t do anything to Knarf.
‘That’s twice now,’ Talyc pointed out.
Knarf hacked at Talyc’s head. He ducked and blocked but the lightsaber grazed the top of his helmet. He grunted. He was hoping to get out of here unscathed. Then again, Knarf was probably not the only one he would be fighting.
Talyc quickly bent and rolled towards Knarf, hoping that he would come up behind him by rolling under his legs. The problem was, Knarf did the same. The two conked their helmets together and fell backwards. Talyc couldn’t help but burst out laughing.
‘Why did I teach you that again?’
‘So that I could adjust the manoeuvre once I’d mastered it and kill Perce?’
Continue reading Chapter Seven
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