117 Smallest of Saplings Pt.2

    With his sword raised, Jimin taunted the burly man, "I would like to see you try."

    The burly man belted out a loud battle cry as he charged at Jimin, his heavy steps, graceless and wild like an enraged beast. Jimin readied himself as the burly man swung his sabre like an axe.

    A clash.

    Metal grated against metal as the two swords collided. Despite the burly man's evident inexperience with the sword, his blows did not lack power. Jimin winced as he tried to maintain his ground. Like a colossal wall, the burly man towered over him, his stocky frame eclipsing the sun. From up close, the putrid stench of stale alcohol and body odour was overwhelming, but none of that mattered to Jimin since all he could focus on was the eyes of his opponent.

    They were brimming with bloodlust.

    Breaking free from their deadlock, Jimin pounced back to create space between them. Come on, Chim. Do not hesitate now. He could almost hear the elderly monk's voice ringing in his ears. He smiled wryly at the thought. Even now, you are still in my head, Teacher...

    "You're finding this fight amusing, eh?" the burly man gritted out while he flared his nostrils. "Why don't you actually fight properly instead of dodging my blows like a coward?"

    "Yeah! You weakling!" one of the burly man's companions jeered.

    "How cowardly!" another added.

    Jimin's expression was unreadable.

    "You really must be all bark" the burly man scoffed. "I guess all the emperor's dogs are like that."

    Low murmurings overlapped as the growing crowd whispered amongst themselves. Only then did it occur to Jimin that his unplanned duel with the burly man had become a spectacle.

    "You imperial guards really are useless" the burly man spat. "The tithe that people pay puts clothes on your backs when it could be spent on feeding the needy instead." He bellowed, "Why does the emperor employ cowardly men like you to protect him when it's clear as day that even peasants like us can do a better job?"

    More murmurings were heard as the crowd began to doubt Jimin's credibility.

    The burly man raucously laughed. "It seems that to be an imperial guard, all one needs to do is wear a fancy uniform and wield a sword." He raised his sabre once more. "Well, then. Once I'm done with you, I can prove to His Majesty that he hired the wrong man." But despite his taunts, Jimin remained silent. The burly man scowled. "Not much of a talker, eh?" He hmphed as he searched Jimin's narrowed eyes. "Well then, let our swords do all the talking instead."
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