There Are None So Blind
The floor creaked noisily as Alys Brangwin walked into the bar in the Hunter's Guild tavern.
"Garn, you really need to fix that floor. It sounds like I'm gaining weight."
The bartender polished a glass while checking Alys's expression carefully. One did not jest with Motavia's most capable hunter about her weight without being very sure of her mood.
"You're sounding chipper today, Alys."
"Well, I got back in town after a successful job, and found that the Guild has a new handfighting tutor, Miyama-style, no less. I really need a good brush-up; my footwork is getting sloppy." She grinned and added, "You should have seen the apprentices asking her to break boards and bricks. Little kids love that kind of show-off display."
The voice boomed through the bar like the echo of doom.
"Wait until you see what I've learned!"
It was Joss Howland, her very own personal Nemesis. Tall as a tree, broad as a mountain, strong as a bull, and dumb as slug spittle, he was unable to comprehend that hooking up with him was not Alys's idea of bliss.
"You've learned something? Are pigs flying in Aiedo these days?"
"Blind-fighting!" he exclaimed, impervious to sarcasm. "Just test me! I can block anything you throw at me!"
"I doubt that."
"Oh, yeah? Well, I bet you can't hit me. And if you can, I won't ask you out even once for a month!"
"This is an offer I can't pass up," Alys decided, and hopped down from her bar stool.
"But if I can parry your attack, you've got to go out for dinner with me!"
She hesitated, then shrugged.
"Worth the risk."
Joss pulled out a strip of thick fabric and offered it to Alys. She checked that it wasn't see-through, then tied it around Joss's eyes. He dropped into a handfighting stance, legs apart, balanced on the balls of his feet.
"I assume I can't use an edged weapon?" she teased, not meaning it... much.
"How does this work?" Garn asked.
"You listen for sounds, feel the movement of air," Alys explained. "Some people say there's a kind of sixth sense that operates to detect the presence of other people around you, but..." she shrugged... "I'm not an expert at the mystic stuff. It's pretty impressive for someone who knows the skill."
Alys slammed the heel of her boot down on the loose board. The other end snapped up, catching Joss squarely between the legs.
"Not so impressive for those who don't. A month, did you say?"