Azamon drew his blade and smirked. He was larger and faster than his opponent, with far greater reach. His salute was so lazy it could only express contempt. Idien's blade was smaller, shorter, and more apt to bend than her foe's. So was she. "Must we?" Her smile was sad but genuine.
"Make ready," Azamon said. "I am the best swordsman in the land, and soon the only one."
"I don't think it works like that," Idien said, but she saluted just the same. Nervous bystanders watched, quiet.
In the first pass, Azamon's rush knocked her to the ground, and she barely rolled away from his follow-up thrust. She was barely back on her feet when Azamon attacked again. Idien's last-second parry left her sword chipped and her on one knee, her ankle twisted.
Azamon loomed over her. "I deliver books faster and cheaper with greater selection than you could dream. Why should I let you live?"
"You? You shouldn't." Idien nodded at the crowd. "But they will." Azamon stood back as the crowd helped her to her feet and stood beside her.
"Why?" he roared. "I'm cheaper, faster, better! Why?"
She paused in thanking those around her. "I'm nicer."