Wizard's Sword - a Contemporary Fantasy Novel by C.M. Lance


It was just as well that he'd run out of people with whom he could discuss assignments. He had fifteen minutes before his appointment to meet the blond Amazon, Arianna, for a Karate match.

The address she gave turned out to be a small warehouse a few miles from campus. After parking, he grabbed his gear. Two women carrying gym bags climbed the short flight of stairs and entered ahead of him.

Inside, he looked around. The familiar sounds and smells of workouts filled the space. Metallic clanks and grunts sounded from the weight-lifting area. Wooden swords and staffs clacked as some sparred. The sound of stamping, scraping, and slapping came from a group engaged in hand-to-hand combat.

However, the familiarity stopped there. In small-town Minnesota, the gym would be full of guys. Here, there weren't any males in the room filled with over a dozen Amazons. The scent was a lot better than his memory of the high school gym.

Women stopped to look at him. Sig felt like a spotlight illuminated him. He wanted to run. Instead, he looked around for a familiar face.

Arianna sauntered up wearing karate gi; a black belt wrapped around her waist. “You made it, good. We're next on the mats in about five minutes.”

Sig hefted his bag. “Where can I change?”

Arianna's eyebrows lifted as if surprised. “Change? We usually come dressed or…” She gestured over to where the two women who preceded him had stripped down to their underwear and now donned workout clothes.

Sig wrenched his eyes away, trying not to stare. Tall, muscular, and shapely, they were staring material.

“We use the facilities at the gas station down the block if you have to go potty. We keep the women's side clean. I don't know what the men's side is like. Or you can change by that bench over there.” Arianna looked at him with a challenge in her eyes then smiled. “Do you go commando?”

Sig blushed. “No, the bench will be fine.”

Not wanting to seem prudish, he sat down, untied and pulled off his boots, then stood and dropped his pants. The spotlight intensified. He quickly removed his shirt and donned his karate gi. He wanted to cover up the flush that suffused his body.

He turned toward the sound of quiet clapping. Giselle, the redhead they met last night said, “Nice, I like the jock strap and cup. I bet Arianna didn't mention the storeroom where men change.”

Sig's head swiveled to look at Arianna. She smiled. “Storeroom? I guess I forgot about it. Well, no one got injured during the process.”

Giselle smiled broadly. “Don't let her get into your head. She'll go for every advantage she can, not that she needs it.”

Sig gritted his teeth, nodded, and smiled back. “No harm done. Good trick. I'm learning the rules.”

Giselle laughed. “Honey, there aren't any rules.”

She and Arianna looked at each other and laughed. Sig noticed several nearby women smiling.

While they shared a laugh at his expense, he noted that Giselle's hair was the same red-gold color as the witch's that buried him alive. Giselle didn't have the voluptuous beauty that Madeline possessed, but her chiseled, broad-shouldered frame came with an adequate compliment of well-placed curves.

After a quick warm up, he met Arianna on the mats. Sig noted that she appeared to be at least two inches taller than his six feet and he guessed she massed as much. Her legs were longer than his, but he thought he had longer arms.

They met in the middle of the mat and bowed. Before he straightened, she dropped and lashed out with a leg sweep. Half expecting it, based on previous actions and Giselle's warning, he sprang into the air and blocked the upward kick to the groin that followed. He landed spinning and slammed a foot into her side that she partially blocked. He just managed to pull his leg back before she grabbed it.

He began the match thinking he would have to ease up, but quickly realized he could get hurt if he didn't give it his all. She had better leg reach and surprised him with her strength.

After almost five minutes of a very even match, he panted from exertion. It felt good pressing hard like this, but he knew he would ache in the morning.

He needed to end the match if he could. He decided to try passing strikes, his best move. She managed to avoid a kick at her thigh, but he raked her knee on the return. She lost balance. He whirled and kicked at her head. She leaned to the side to miss the initial kick and unbent just in time to catch his returning heel in the back of her head.

Stunned, she dropped to one knee. He grabbed and twisted her wrist, pulled her arm straight out, and kicked her twice in the side with his heel. If he'd applied full force, it could have broken her ribs. He spun and drove his knee against her extended elbow, pulling up short so he didn't break it.

He stepped back, put his hands together, and bowed. She shook her head groggily as she stood and bowed back.

Sig heard applause and turned to see Rick with a group of ten women who stopped what they were doing to watch. They appraised him seriously.

Rick stopped clapping. “Now that you've beaten their number one in hand-to-hand, they'll want you to come back and teach them how you did it.”

Several of the Amazons nodded.

Sig shrugged and winced. “I'll be happy to. I need the workout, but first I need to ice these bruises. I feel like I lost. That was the toughest fight I've ever been in.”

Arianna punched his shoulder. “You charmer. I bet you say that to all the girls. Let's plan to do it again, but right now, that ice is the right prescription. If you feel like you lost, just imagine how I feel.” She rubbed the back of her head.

Rick asked Arianna, “Who owes who?”

Arianna rolled her eyes, walked over to a pile of clothes, pulled out five dollars, and handed it to Rick.

Sig wrinkled his forehead and looked between them.

Rick smiled. “You didn't use the gas station down the street to change. I won.”

Arianna shrugged and smiled.

Sig rolled his eyes, grabbed his bag, and pushed Rick toward the door.

He could feel the flush of embarrassment warming his face and neck.

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