17. The Little Drow Elf Can Kick Your Ass

Soundtrack and Video: Fatboy Slim, Weapon of Choice

Inglorion is pleased but unsurprised when he ascends easily to the top of Lucius Junius Brutus’ classes. Collatinus has trained him well, and he’s made his living from swordplay for decades. The book work comes easily to him, too — he’s longed for formal instruction in military history, strategy and tactics, and he eagerly devours everything he’s taught. 

Pecking order in combat is mostly settled in class, through sparring. Within a few weeks of enrolling, Inglorion has soundly beaten all the students in his cohort, and many of the more advanced students. He’s a natural target for resentment: new, delicately built, handsome, a bit of a pet in the master’s house. Inevitably, a few of his classmates are reluctant to accept that he’s beaten them. One dwarvish thug in particular starts muttering about finding Inglorion outside of class and whipping his faggot ass. When Inglorion hears remarks like this, he fixes the speaker with a pale gaze and says, “You’re welcome to try.” It’s a dangerous game — unarmed, Inglorion is sure to lose, and lose badly.

Matters are settled on one of the first half-holidays, when Inglorion visits a dance hall in a shady part of town. He’s there to meet a girl, of course. It’s the only reason he’d go. He’s noticed that the dwarf is drinking at the bar. When Inglorion walks by to go to the men’s room, the dwarf lets off a wolf whistle and some kissing noises. Inglorion walks right up to him and says coldly, “Shut the fuck up, or I’ll spank you with the flat of my longsword.” The dwarf is momentarily silenced, but of course a couple of toughs nearby overhear the exchange and start to hoot and holler. Inglorion’s gaze doesn’t waver. He’s waiting for a reply. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees the bartender signaling for a bouncer. It doesn’t suit his purpose to get thrown out, so he says, “If you have a fucking problem with me, finish your drink and meet me in the stable yard to settle it.” He turns away and walks out the side door and straight into the yard.

Inglorion is carrying longswords and a bullwhip; the other guy had a couple of hand axes. To win, Inglorion will have to draw weapons. He stands in full view of the door, then, in the center of the small yard. He doesn’t want it said that he jumped an unarmed opponent.

A moment later, the dwarf steps out. Inglorion draws and attacks, closing the distance between them in four quick paces, and landing three nasty blows with the flat of his blade, two to the head and one on the shoulder. The dwarf is shocked — he was betting on a few more rounds of insults, followed by a fistfight. He draws an axe, swings two-handed, and misses. 

A few more rounds of combat establish that the dwarf is prepared to take sharp blows to the head until closing time, and possibly until sunrise the following day. It’s tough to disarm an opponent who’s got a firm, two-handed grip on his weapon. He’s short and solid and his center of gravity is low, but he’s had a couple of drinks, so Inglorion starts to force him to maneuver, and to take broader swings. Once he senses the dwarf is off-balance, he aims a swiping kick at his front knee. The dwarf goes down hard, but still keeps his grip on his weapon, so Inglorion closes fast and smashes the flat of his longsword against his elbows and wrist. That loosens his grip enough so that Inglorion can kick the axe out of immediate reach. The dwarf makes a grab for Inglorion’s ankles, but his hands are too numb to get a good grip, and Inglorion’s able to jump back.

From here, the fight is entirely Inglorion’s. He uncoils his bullwhip and serves up a nasty crack right across the eyes. A hit there is painful to the point of nausea, and will incapacitate any fighter for a few seconds. During those seconds, Inglorion lashes out with horrible speed and precision, landing blows on his jaw, throat, ear, and shaved scalp, drawing blood and raising nasty welts. 

A bullwhip is meant for precisely this kind of work — humiliating and demoralizing an opponent without killing him. The dwarf is quickly blinded with his own blood and in real pain, but he still looks pretty frisky — if he can draw his second axe, he’ll probably take a swipe. Inglorion closes one more time to slam the butt of the whip into his nose and jaw. It’s too light to knock him out, but seems to take the fight out of him.

Inglorion steps back again, asks in a cold, loud voice, “Had enough?”

No answer. The dwarf might not hear him, or might be playing possum.

“I’m just warming up, motherfucker. Do you want more?”

The dwarf spits, coughs, tries to wipe the blood out of his eyes. “No.”

“No? You haven’t had enough? You want me to keep going?”

“Stop. I’m done.”

“Wise choice.” Inglorion takes another step back, looks around. By now the fight has drawn a ragged semicircle of onlookers. He recognizes two guys from class, and the toughs who were standing around the bar. “Anyone else want a piece of my Drow faggot ass? No?” He sheaths his sword, coils and stows the bullwhip. “Then I’m going to go back in and meet my date, and try to get laid like a rational creature. I’d suggest you gentlemen do the same.”

Soon after, Inglorion’s amused to discover that the dwarf and a few of his other classmates have developed a side business, similar to hustling pool, where they’ll slyly taunt visiting champions and new students, saying, “You think you’re tough? Two silver pieces says the little Drow elf can kick your ass.” The little Drow elf is happy to play his part, and to put a few silver pieces in his classmates’ pockets.

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