YA Fantasy Showdown

Photo courtesy MGM


He's Westley
Very smart/cunning
Has (mostly) died once
Expert sword fighter/hand fighter/iocane power taster


Very sporting
Thinks he can handle more than he can (the "machine," anyone?)
Peevish when waking from being dead
Photo courtesy Greenwillow Books


He's Eugenides
Very smart, can do far more than he ever lets on
Expert sword fighter
Has the support and communication of the gods
Doesn't reveal his secrets


Short tempered
Has only one hand
Really doesn't like killing people

How we think the fight might go...

Eugenides walked through the hot desert of Attolia, smiling openly for the first time in what seemed like months. He had finally lost his attendants. So what if he couldn’t ride a horse? He could still lose them any time he wished. But as he looked up, he stopped. Dust puffed up around his boots. In the distance, there was the strangest figure he had ever seen.

A man, dressed from head to foot in black, walking through a desert hot enough to kill a tortoise. The man-in-black stopped when he felt Eugenides’ gaze on him. Eugenides approach, giving a slight swagger to his walk to give the appearance he might be drunk. He tucked his hook under his sleeve to be less noticeable. As he approached, he noticed the man-in-black had no water.

“How can I be of service to you?” he said. It was always best to be cordial.

The man in black’s gaze flicked first to his sword then his hands, his stance, and finally his eyes. Shrewd one, this one, he thought.

“I am hunting someone, but I seem to have lost their tracks momentarily,” he said, looking back to the ground. Eugenides smiled and crossed his arms, his hook of a right hand resting lightly over his left. Eugenides saw the sword he carried. It was unlike any in Attolia, and he did not hold it like a novice, even though the grip was casual.

“Why do you wear that mask? Isn’t it hot?” Eugenides asked.

“Oh no. They are terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future,” he said. He moved oblivious to Gen’s presence, but Eugenides saw the man-in-black was watching his every move. He was seeing through Gen’s lie. It impressed him, because he could fool almost anyone. He glanced at the ready sword hand again. A thought strayed on his tongue, one he could not believe he was thinking.

“Would you like to fight me, just a practice,” he amended quickly. He couldn’t believe the words had just come out of his mouth. Costis must be getting to him. He rolled his eyes. His father would be so proud. Besides, he could use the practice. The man in black considered.

“All right. I have a feeling you are more challenging than you appear.”

Gen smiled wickedly.

“An interesting assessment considering I have only one hand. You don’t mind, do you?”

“Oh no,” he said lightly. “Actually, I have odd propensity to running into people with  interesting hands.” He didn’t elaborate, though the comment made Gen curious.

Gen unsheathed his sword and they faced off, ten feet apart. The man in black did the same, placing the blade in his left hand. Then, they attacked.

Their match in skill and strength was incredible. Eugenides was immediately on the defensive, something he had not been in for a very long time. He tried his trick in third, keeping the point high, but the man-in-black saw through the feint and contacted it with a thrust Gen had to duck to avoid.

“You’re good,” the man-in-black said.

“I’ve worked hard to become so,” Gen said, smiling. He spun, the swords rang against each other and sent shocks up his arm. But it felt good to try things he had only practiced in secret with Ornon or his father.

Then somewhere amidst the blows, it became something serious. Gen had a feeling this man did not lose often, and did not like to. The blows came in earnest, little by little. A flash of fear coursed through his gut and spine. He blocked a particularly hard blow. He did not think this man would kill him, but he certainly didn’t want to get cut. That was painful and required stitches, an experience he’d rather avoid again.

Gen ducked low and stepped into the man-in-black’s guard, slipping his hook across the base of the blade and over the hilt of the man’s sword. He twisted his arm down one way while spinning his body in the opposite direction. The man’s sword went flying and put him in a position behind the man-in-black for a moment. A moment was all he needed. He hit the masked man with his right hand, admiring the leather casing around his hook for softening the blow.

The man crumpled. Eugenides checked if he was breathing. He didn’t want kill anyone. He was. Relief began to loosen up his muscles and tight nerves. Kill him? Never.

“I would sooner destroy Hamiathe’s Gift than a master like yourself,” he said quietly. As he walked away, he tossed the man in the mask his own water skin for when he woke up, probably with a very bad headache.

Predicted winner: Eugenides

Westley is from William Goldman's The Princess Bride and Eugenides is from Megan Whalen Turner's the Queen's Thief series


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