He jumped back and laughed. “Whoa! That was close.” A thin mist of dust settled around the knight’s hollow severed hand; Victor crouched and lifted the gauntlet with both hands. “Good grief, that’s heavy.” As he turned the gauntlet to try it on, a pang shot through his left shoulder and he dropped the armour; he jumped, landing with his feet well apart, and for the second time in as many minutes narrowly avoided having his toes crushed. After a moment to rub his shoulder and rethink his strategy, he knelt and slipped his right hand into the huge steel glove. It was as heavy and awkward to lift as a sack of potatoes. He managed to raise it one-handed, but struggled to hold it: in order to keep the oversized glove from sliding off, he had to keep his forearm pointed upward, which placed the bulk of the weight on the thin folds of metal digging into the soft skin between his uncomfortably wide-spread fingers. The rear part of the gauntlet, meanwhile, extended to Victor’s elbow, where the narrow rim of its opening pressed sharply into his biceps. He soon lowered his arm and let the knight’s glove slide off and crash to the floor again. As he stretched his right arm and wiggled his fingers, he looked back at the knight, and the gaping black hole just below its right elbow. He put his hand inside the armour and reached up as far as he could; though the steel was cold, the air underneath was warm. “Weird,” he said to himself.
His brief tangent of curiosity satisfied, Victor returned his attention to the knight’s sword. He gripped the pommel in one hand and took hold of the remaining gauntlet in the other. To his surprise, the gauntlet loosened its grip and its fingers spread with little resistance: one short tug released the sword. Victor eased the heavy weapon away from the knight and laid it on the floor. “Have a look at that,” he said, shaking his head in admiration. “You could shish kebab four men on that blade.” He knelt and stretched his hand against the steel; at the hilt the blade was almost as broad as his handspan. He tapped the edge with his fingertip. “Jeez that’s sharp.” Wrapping both hands around the hard leather handle, he stood, lifting the sword, but before he could raise himself fully upright he dropped it. The clang rang out in the hall. Victor doubled over and held his left shoulder. “Ah, damn it!” he yelled. He raised himself up and paced back and forth, cradling his left arm. After a minute he stopped pacing, and exhaled slowly. His face cringing, he unwrapped his right hand from its opposite shoulder, and then tried to raise his arm; a pained half-groan-half-curse rushed through his clenched teeth, and he tucked his left arm back at his side like a chicken wing. After a few deep breaths his stressed expression untwisted itself, and he looked down at the arm clinging uselessly at his side. “Well, that shoulder’s f***ed,” he said. He sighed and looked up the hall. “Just win the next point.” His head bowed a little, and he rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefinger, then straightened himself up and gave a little nod. “Come on.”
He stepped back over in front of the now one-armed knight, where the sword lay on the floor. Squatting next to the weapon, so the blade stretched behind him, he lifted the handle with his right hand, while his left arm remained locked in at his side. Once upright, he held the handle against his hip and adjusted his grip. “That’s better. Thanks for the sword, big guy,” he said, looking up at the knight. For a second he paused, with a curious look. “Huh.” The knight’s lion helmet was angled down toward him. Victor turned and walked toward the middle of the room, the hefty sword scraping the floor as he dragged it behind him. The knight’s helmet turned and watched him go.
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