“Clothes first,” Tamhas said, shoving a pair of leggings and a tunic into Elijah’s arms. A few of the women in the crowd hissed at Tamhas while Elijah laughed. He dressed quickly, wanting to test himself against a demon and a Fae. What did they hide beneath their human masks?
“Do you have any weapons I could borrow? Mine are stashed in the woods. Thought someone might see me as a hostile threat if I had them on me,” Elijah paused before adding, “Not that it stopped some of your people.”
“I’m sorry about that. Some of them were a little too eager to test Elijah the Bloody. Now let’s get you a weapon and see how well you fare against these two. Caymus is one of our better fighters. Jestin is still learning.” Tamhas spun on his heel and walked deeper into the courtyard. Elijah trailed after him, assessing the castle and its weaknesses.
While the illusion gave it the appearance of broken and useless, it was anything but. Thick slabs of stones, tall turrets, high walkways, and archers stationed every five feet. Wards protected the castle from magic users, although it wouldn’t protect the inhabitants from him. Elijah could walk through most wards unscathed, even those meant to keep undesirables out.
They entered a large room filled with racks of weapons. Swords, glaives, morning stars, and so much more. Caymus strode confidently to the rack containing long swords and slid one from its grooves. He tested the weight with a few flicks of his wrist before moving to the center of the room.
Elijah grabbed a long sword and a rapier. With two opponents, he’d need to defend against both. A shield could help with the blocking, but he didn’t want to lose a chance at striking. He examined both weapons for imperfections and found several. No matter. They would do for now.
Jestin, shoulders slumped, timidly approached the rack containing flails, morning stars, and maces. Elijah’s eyebrows shot up in surprise when he grabbed one of the flails. It required an intimate knowledge of how the spiked ball moved on the end of a chain. Novices did not use that weapon. A sword or a club was straightforward and the choice of those who didn’t fight.
A half-smile quirked Elijah’s lips. Perhaps Jestin had a few hidden talents. This might be an interesting battle after all.
All three stood in the training circle, a flattened area of grass where someone had scored the outer part with a boot heel. A small crowd gathered around them, pressed against the wall to avoid combat. Several more people mashed against each other in the doorway, necks craning to see the action.
Without waiting, Elijah snapped out a quick thrust, testing the Fae’s reaction time. He didn’t disappoint. Caymus’ sword blocked, pushing Elijah’s sword to the side. Jestin stepped to the side, trying to find Elijah’s blind spot. He let the demon disappear from his sight. Elijah didn’t need to physically see his opponent. His innate sense found the other man with ease.
He brought the rapier forward, no longer keeping it ready to block Jestin. Instead, he made another quick jab forward, distracting Caymus. The Fae jumped back and swept wide with his long sword.
Slight movement from behind alerted him to Jestin’s intent, and Elijah flipped forward, keeping his weapons out to the side to avoid hurting himself. Landing on his feet, he swiftly whirled around and brought up both swords to defend himself.
Using just his wrist, Jestin spun the flail head in lazy circles, proving his level of comfort with the weapon. Glee and a hint of malevolence crossed his features. The plain human mask flickered for a moment and an almost unbearably handsome man stared back at Elijah. Bloody hell, an incubus. Why was he at this camp, pretending to be human?
His inattention almost cost him as Caymus pressed forward, his sharp blade missing Elijah’s stomach by inches. Elijah danced out of the way, bringing his rapier up and blocking Caymus’ next attack.
Cursing himself for such a stupid move, Elijah stopped toying with his opponents and fought to win. Slashing, stabbing, parrying, and blocking, he pressed his advantage. While these two practiced within these walls, Elijah had been on the fields, determined to survive.
Jestin swung his flail, expertly maneuvering the spiked ball. Elijah brought up the rapier to block and, with a quick flick of his wrist, Jestin had the chain wrapped around the blade and yanked.
Elijah tugged, trying to maintain his hold while still blocking Caymus with his long sword. When Jestin pulled again, Elijah released the rapier, and the demon stumbled backwards. Elijah quickly followed him and punched him in the nose. Bone crunched.
Whirling around, he slashed at Caymus, forcing the Fae to bring his sword up. Elijah rushed in and landed several solid punches to his opponent’s gut before slamming his elbow into Caymus’ cheek, whipping the other man’s head around.
Caymus growled at him, a feral sound no human would ever make, and his glamour dropped for a moment. His peeled back lips exposed sharp, pointed teeth, and his green eyes seemed to glow. A Faery, one of the more powerful Fae beings.
“Peace!” Tamhas shouted, although he wasn’t dumb enough to step between them.
Elijah grinned at Caymus, an unfriendly stretching of his mouth. “Shall we continue at a later date?” He slanted a glance at Jestin who glared at him. “With our friend, of course.”
Caymus stepped back, his human guise in place, and he nodded. “I look forward to it. Without an audience next time.”