“Because Tarell doesn’t use a sword when he fights.” Endar snatched up his waterskin and guzzled half the contents.
“But Brindon is lame,” she reminded him. “You can’t humiliate him in front of the entire court like this.”
“Why not?” he demanded. He dragged his hand across his mouth. “You think he’s going to start his war because I hurt his pride?”
“Certainly won’t help matters.” She glanced back at the crowd, easily spotting Pennington where he leaned on the yard fence’s top rail. Her stomach lurched and she turned her back on him. She didn’t have time to deal with that right now. “This is a mistake.”
“Mine,” he said. “Not yours.” He tossed the waterskin on the ground and picked up a small leather-bound book.
Arianna eyed it warily while he turned it over in his hands. “What are you doing with that?”
He idly flipped through the pages. “I need a second wind. I’ve already had two duels, Brindon’s had none.”
“For good reason!” She moved to his shoulder, blocking the book from the court’s view. “If I can’t talk you out of stopping the duel, at least promise me that you won’t use magic.”
Endar met her determined stare. He wore an easy smile, but she noticed faint lines of strain along his jaw and around his eyes.
Slowly, he ran a finger down the page. As it passed each line, the sharp handwriting billowed and curled in its wake. His back straightened, the lines on his face disappeared, he seemed to thrum with new energy.
He snapped the book shut and handed it to Arianna with a smirk before striding back into the middle of the yard.
Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.