Shadows of Twilight - Chapter 3

After a few days, the Lord of Lorien had positioned Haldir on the training grounds, to observe the new recruits' swordmanship and archery skills.<br /><br />Haldir leaned against a wooden fence that served as the perimeter of the dueling ring. Within the barrier, one elf was hopelessly trying to disarm his opponent while the other was over-focusing on his footwork and not blocking with his blade. One was hit with the blunt edge of the other's sword and they began to quarrel loudly, throwing insults at each other. An amused smile spread across Haldir's face as he gazed at the sight. He jumped over the post to correct the faults in the trainees' actions. <br /><br />He pulled the disarming elf away from the other and told both of them, &quot;Don't be too eager to acheive that feeling of victory. Study the movements of your opponent before you strike, see if they use certain patterns. Also, master your blocks before thrusting. Defense is your best weapon.&quot; <br />Then Haldir had them practice the various kinds of parries, in hopes to strengthen the areas they were weakest. <br /><br />Haldir then returned to his earlier position outside of the ring. After a few hours, and hundreds of parries, he was satisfied with the work of the two elves. They were dismissed and Haldir was about to leave when he heard laughter. He turned and found Rumil, Orophin, and Vanmoriel walking past him. They stopped and the brothers exchanged greetings.<br /><br />&quot;Lady Vanmoriel.&quot; Haldir bowed.<br /><br />&quot;March Warden.&quot; she acknowledged him. &quot;I have been told that you are a master of the sword. Care to test your skill against mine?&quot;<br /><br />Haldir glared at his brothers for he knew from their embarassed faces that they had told. He did know like others to speak about him behind his back.<br /><br />He was about to decline the offer because he felt that she would not match his skill, but then remembered the clearing with the numerous dead orcs and her bloodied sword. Haldir paused and then answered, &quot;Alright, my lady.&quot;<br /><br />Vanmoriel smiled, looked around, and then asked, &quot;May I borrow your blade, Master Rumil?&quot; <br /><br />&quot;There is no need.&quot; replied Haldir. &quot;I brought your sword from the armoury.&quot; He picked up a leafsword which he had set against a post when he arrived at the field early in the day.<br /><br />Vanmoriel nimbly drew the sword, swung it, and resheathed it. She jumped over the fence and was followed by Haldir. Rumil and Orophin excitedly pressed against the wooden fence to see the fight.<br /><br />Vanmoriel drew her blade again and cast the sheath aside. Haldir did the same with the weapon on his side. &quot;Ready?&quot; asked Vanmoriel.<br /><br />The March Warden nodded. They circled a few times and then Vanmoriel struck. Haldir deflected the blow with grace. Their swords met and sparked. Both parried and thrusted several times.<br /><br />Other elves gathered around the ring to oversee this event. Many were filled with the excitement that was portrayed by Rumil and Orophin, and others looked down upon the two fighters in disapproval, but remained by the pen to watch.<br /><br />After a few hours, an angry fire glowed in Vanmoriel's eyes and sweat dripped down her face. Her voice changed from its normal melancholy tone to a harsh whisper powered by hate. &quot;You think this a game, March Warden?&quot; She thrust more often with more force.<br /><br />Both were panting from the effort and seemed on the verge of collapse. Haldir raised his sword for a final blow and so did Vanmoriel. Both blades were brought down. Silence surrounded the field. No one dared to speak and no creature dared to move. Haldir's sword tip was touching Vanmoriel's throat, and her's was at his.<br /><br />&quot;A draw.&quot; Haldir panted. <br /><br />A look of exhaustion fell across Vanmoriel and she nodded. &quot;A draw,&quot; she gasped. They withdrew their blades.<br />Vanmoriel fell to her knees.<br /><br />Haldir left after he reclaimed his blade's sheath. His eyes could not meet Vanmoriel's. She had acted quite violently in the ring, yet he did not know the cause of such behavior. <br /><br />On his way down the path to the main flet, he met Galadriel. She smiled at him and he weakly smiled in return. She stopped him and cupped his chin in her hand. She looked into his eyes and said with pity, &quot;You are troubled, my dear March Warden. Come with me and speak to me of the worries in your thoughts.&quot;
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