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Old 11-27-2008, 05:51 PM   #344
Flame of the Ainulindalë
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Sack-fight, part II

As the crowds had settled a bit Lithor’s loud voice was heard once again. “The next pair to find out who’s the one to go forwards is Stigend and Dan! Give them a big hand!” The crowd cheered again but Lithor interrupted the cheers soon enough: “And to end the first round we’ll have a thriller between Erbrand and Harreld!”

The crowds exploded with this one.

“And the winners will meet in the semifinal…” Lithor continued. The truth was hammered into the people at this point. There was some murmur but also some delighted laughs and overall chatter.

After all sack-fight was fun and not like a serious test of manhood like a sword-fight would be – and through ages women and children had partaken in it in the markets and other festivities. So a general feeling of acceptance ran through the crowd as they started anticipating the match between Stigend and Dan.

It was an interesting pair: the other was short but looked powerful, the other was much taller and leaner but in his skinny way muscular as well… and they both were masters in balance. It was the longest match there was that day as it took almost ten minutes. And the people were really living along the fight hit by hit and manouver by manouver.

There was no anticipation period or things like that but both men went on after each other from the moment Lithor whistled them free to start. A mighty blow followed each other and the way they both managed to balance themselves to hit back just raised a series of accepting and admiring “Oohh’s”, “Eehhsss” and “Wooow’s” from the crowd. Both men managed to balance themselves from downright impossible situations to swing the sack at the other making the other to struggle with balance and gaining time to reach his own. It was pure acrobatics!

But finally it came to an end. Stigend was turning around imbalanced by a blow by Dan with only one foot on the log and managed to give a blow to Dan, but this time it didn’t hit as well as he would have wished. Dan wavered and had to correct his standing but he was quick enough to give a blow back when Stigend was just reaching balance and trying to deal Dan a second blow. The sacks met in the mid-air and with both contestants both tired and already somewhat imbalanced they both fell down.

Stigend hit the ground first followed immediately by Dan.

“Rematch! Rematch!” Garstan and Harreld howled and the crowds cheered to the suggestion and the performance they had just witnessed.

“Sorry, the first to hit the ground loses. Plain rules talk. And I don’t think these two wish to have a rematch for some time… Let them rest now. Dan is the winner!” Lithor announced. The crowds were partly murmuring but Lithor’s next call changed the attitude in a wink of an eye. “The last round one match is between Harreld and Erbrand! Please welcome the heroes!” A huge cheer followed as the last pair climbed up to their starting positions on the ridgepole.

That match was much anticipated. So much indeed that after Lithor gave them a go the crowd fell silent just waiting for what was to come. Looking at the earlier performances this was in a way the moral final after all, or so many people felt it was.

Garstan and Stigend remembered the last meters of the task-race and were filled with pride of their fellow-craftsman. “You won him once already! Make it two!”, Garstan shouted when the two were just eyeing each other and the crowd was silent. “Soldiers fight the war, craftsmen stay on board!” Stigend added half aloud, gaining a few short-lived laughs. It was tense not only on the ridgepole where the two were feverishly thinking how to proceed but everyone was waiting for the first move.

Finally Erbrand moved. He raised his sack up and rolled it over his head a few times leaning forwards as if to gather force making a charge. And then he dashed towards Harreld.

That bold move got Harreld by surprise as he hadn’t anticipated that someone would charge on him that determinately. Sure they knew he was bigger and stronger? But he had to react immediately, and he did so with waving his sack from left to right and rushing forwards with full speed to meet Erbrand in the middle of the pole.

But Erbrand had bluffed it all the way. As soon as Harreld got into motion and charged forwards Erbrand he let the sack loose and dived forwards as fast as he could.

Harreld had no chance to stop his movement and his sack only met with thin air while he stumbled on Erbrand laying low and keeping a tight grasp of the pole. Harreld tumbled over Erbrand and fell down while Erbrand tried to keep his grip of the log after the impact with both his arms and legs. He managed it just as long as it took for Harreld to fall down but then also his grip loosened and he fell as well.

“Erbrand is the winner!” Lithor called and the crowds cheered once again even if they were a bit disappointed that the match had ended so soon. Stigend and Garstan were not too happy about the outcome as they were close friends of Harreld, but they acknowledged the sheer cunning of Erbrand’s plan and gave it it’s due cheer as well. This was entertaining after all.

"So the semifinals will be Kara against Cnebba and Dan against Erbrand!" Lithor called and the crowd seemed to be happy about that... even if a bit confused still.
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