“Here.” Jasper grinned and pointed to this throat, teeth gleaming in the dark. “Although I would prefer if you didn’t actually hit my throat tonight. They might not be sharp, but you could still do some damage. But in all seriousness, most of your targets are going to be bigger than you. You’re going to want to aim for the easiest spots that do the most damage.” He pointed to several spots on his body. “Throat. Armpits. Stomach.”
I nodded, taking the details in. “What about the back?”
Jasper shook his head. “Too many bones. Stay away from it. You probably won’t have much time to aim.” He dug in his bag again, coming up with two Bokken of his own. Jasper swung them around in the air expertly a few times, looking like he was born fighting with them. “Okay, you ready?” My stomach tightened, but I could do this. I knew I could. These blades felt like an extension of my arms already.
We started out slow. “Stay close to your opponent.” Jasper was speaking so easily he could’ve been at a party, not in the middle of sparring. “Your size will be your advantage. If you stay close, they won’t have the range to do as much damage.” I nodded, not enough breath left in me to respond. Soon, the talking stopped, and the pace picked up by an unspoken agreement. I found my blades easy to use, but I felt clumsy and slow compared to Jasper. It didn’t take long before Jasper had one of his swords at my neck. We were both breathing heavily, caught up in the moment. “Get out of your head Green. Don’t focus on my strength, think about your speed,” he told me, pushing me a few steps away to start again.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. He was right. I wasn’t going to beat him with strength alone. My instincts were good, and I had to focus on that. I could do this. Turning off the logical part of my brain, I went on my instincts alone and dropped into a defensive stance.
Jasper mirrored my movements. “Now we’re talking.”
I focused on matching his blows with speed instead of strength. Jasper’s smile dropped, and the only sound in the dark night was the cracking of wooden blades as they met each other. I found myself beginning to outpace Jasper’s moves, and I could see him concentrating as he tried to stay on top of things. There was nothing in my current world but me, these blades, and Jasper.