Alanna sized up her adversary, aware that she was doing the same. She wondered if she could win; Katsa looked like a tough opponent. Then she shook her head. She was the King's Champion! She was the first female knight in more than a hundred years! How could she NOT win?
Katsa spoke. "Well, let's get to it, then. I think we'll be pretty well matched."
Alanna said nothing, taking a defensive stance.
Katsa leapt forward, thrusting her sword. Alanna whipped Lightning up to block it, grinning. Then she aimed a striking blow to the Graceling's head. Katsa parried easily.
"Is that the best you can do?" she asked. They started to fight for real, swords darting every which way. For a while all you could hear was the sound of the two women breathing, but finally, there was a small moan from Alanna. Katsa had struck on her collarbone.
"First blood goes to me," Katsa said triumphantly. Alanna shook her head, hefting Lightning in her hand. Suddenly, she was on the offensive. Her sword moved so fast that it was a blur. Katsa could barely keep up. Eventually, Alanna had also drawn blood, on Katsa's forehead right over her eye.
Katsa started to drop her sword. "Wait," she began, expecting Alanna to lower hers as well.
But Alanna didn't. George had taught her that much, with his tricks and attacks when she turned her back in their fighting practices.
The Graceling sighed. "Look, I can see I was right when I said that we're pretty well matched. The YA Fantasy Showdown rulebook says we don't have to fight to the death. Let's decide on a winner for the audience, and then take this fight somewhere where we don't have everyone reading. It bores me."
"Great," said Alanna, speaking at last. "Then how about I win?" Katsa barely had enough time to raise her sword again before Alanna had disarmed her.
Katsa grinned. "Could you teach me that move?"
Predicted winner: Alanna
(written by Mercy Vaughn)