It was now I who made the first move. Echoing my opponent's earlier battlecry, I did lunge forward. My spiked buckler held before me, at eye level, while my falchion I held above and behind me. As if to cleave Laphrianides' skull in twain, helmet and all!
He, too, lunged forward. And, when he was within range, he did lash his net towards my right ankle, seeking to entangle it within the mesh. Yet, this is what I wanted him to do! For, I did evade it to my right. Thereby allowing me to strike downward with my falchion. Pinning one end of the net to the ground, while simultaneously ripping the other end free of Laphrianides' right-hand grip!
I then sprang back on to my feet. Using the momentum of that spring to spin from left to right and aim my buckler at his eyes, yet again. But, now, it was the Captain-General who did evade to his right. Spinning full circle so that the handle of his trident was introduced to the back of my helmet. And, as a result, I fell to the sandy floor of the arena, face-first. My ears ringing like a churchbell!
By the time I had rolled over, on to my back, I did see Laphrianides standing astride me. The visor of his helmet now raised, so that I did see him smiling, most fiendishly, down upon me. While his trident he did have raised overhead in a two-handed grip. His intent clearly being to implant its tines in my heart!
It was at this moment that he made his fateful mistake.
For, as with every other warrior I had ever faced, who was ten years my junior and who had fought too long a string of lesser-skilled opponents, he had come to love savoring the look of terror in his enemies' eyes, during their last moments of life. Thereby making him o'er-confident!
Consequently, when he did finally lunge downward with the trident, I did roll to my right. So, that the tines did miss me, entirely! And, his astonishment at this did stun him long enough for me to reverse-roll to my left.
Thereby allowing me to implant the spike of my buckler in the exposed calf of his left leg!!
His scream continued as I sprang, yet again, to my feet. Using the momentum of the subsequent spin to lodge my falchion, horizontally, within his mid-ection. Only then did his screaming cease.
Nor did it resume as I disemboweled him with the violent removal of the falchion from left to right. A retraction which did literally bring him to his knees. I then raised the falchion above my right shoulder. Following which, I did bring it back down, in a curving arc, from right to left. Thereby slitting Laphrianides' throat!
And, so, it was he who now fell, face-first, into the dirt.
In the stunned silence that ensued, the only sounds one could hear were the last gurgling breaths of the Captain-General. So, it was I who ultimately broke that silence.
"I have won! My opponent is dead. Thus, in keeping with the bargain we made earlier, I respectfully ask that you release my three fellow prisoners."
Whereupon, Ovaria did grin, most fiendishly.
"Oh, I shall grant them release, alright. Starting with this one."
Following which, she did lift the shrunken Svyatogor to her open mouth...and swallow him whole!
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Skogul and I did scream together.
But, with as much anger and anguish as that base and horrifying betrayal did fill me, it had much greater effect on the Valkyrie of Jomsborg. For it did enable her to throw off the effects of Ovaria's magic fruit juice. Allowing her to once more assume a height of fifty English feet!
"NOW, WE END THIS, YOU VILE WITCH!!!"