There were five male shifters standing in a fighting circle. The tallest one was in the center of the circle. He was eight feet tall, stripped to the waist and looked human except for his amber eyes which were glowing slightly. He wore a pair of loose fitting pants; his feet were bare, and he didn’t hold a weapon in his hands. He slowly pivoted in the circle and kept a wary eye on the four partially shifted lion weres who prowled about him.
They charged him at the same time, and he was confronted with four fighters coming at him from different directions. At the last moment he leapt straight up and kicked the head of the man who rushed him from the front. There was a crack and the shifter dropped to the ground in a boneless heap. The shifter to his right tried to slash him with his claws but he twisted in mid-air and the shifter’s attack missed its mark by inches.
He dropped back to the ground, landing on his feet and grabbed the one who had missed his chance and used his body to shield himself from the other two who pressed the attack. He slammed his forearm and elbow into the back of that shifter’s head and he also dropped to the ground.
He faced the remaining two shifters and smiled wickedly. The sun reflected off his bald head and his ebony skin glistened with sweat. He turned slowly so he continued to face the two left standing but rather than wait for them, we went on the attack. He rushed the one on his left and inflicted punishing blows to his abdomen and ribs. Before the other fighter could attack, he lashed out with his right foot and caught him in the throat with a backward kick.
Turning his attention to the shifter who was trying to rally to attack him he blocked a punch by grabbing the shifter’s wrist then calmly broke his elbow with a punch from his other arm. The shifter screamed but his pain was soon cut off by an uppercut that tossed him off his feet and he was unconscious before he hit the dirt.
The victor examined the shifter who couldn’t breathe due to a crushed larynx but kept walking to a woman who was seated on a golden throne in the shade.
“My Lord, if you continue to damage your playthings in this fashion the healers won’t be able to put them back together again,” she said.
“Bah, Kudanganya, what is the point in sparring if I don’t treat it like a real battle. If these warriors of mine aren’t strong enough to survive a little friendly practice, they don’t deserve to live. If they die, they die.”
“Of course, dear,” she said as she kissed her husband. She looked over at the shifter with the frown on his face who stood near her throne. “What do you think, Joshua, do you think Lord Carmanor is too hard on your soldiers?”
“Lord Carmanor knows my feelings on this subject. I believe it is unnecessary to inflict such physical damage on those who are loyal to his lordship and the Kingdom of Carnivoria,” Joshua said in disapproval.
“Lighten up, Josh,” Lord Carmanor laughed as he watched the shifters he defeated being treated for their injuries. “Don’t make me question your training methods. As Captain of the Guard I expect better from you. Well, since I don’t have anyone else to spar with, I guess it’s your turn,” Lord Carmanor smiled wickedly.
“As you wish,” Joshua intoned as he shifted into his half form. As a were-rhinoceros he was almost as big as Lord Carmanor.
“Don’t hurt him too badly dear, he is your most loyal subject,” Lady Kudanganya trilled.
“I’m not making any promises, I’ve got to get ready for Prince Alister’s visit. He’s going to have to defeat me in a physical battle before I’ll submit to his authority.”
“Run along Joshua, I’ve been looking forward to seeing my husband give you a beat-down for a long time.”
“As you wish,” Joshua bowed his head and made his way to the battle circle.