Right step. Step back. Step forward. Lean left. Spin right. Swing the sword up. Block his counter. His side is open! Swing a fist up now!!

Elouise aimed for his lower ribs, determined to throw him off focus. But he was faster, and grabbed her wrist, bringing it up to her other hand which gripped her rapier. His bright eyes glinted behind the mask as he stared right into her ferocious glare. Shit! In this positionElouise was immobilised, but that didn’t shake her. She bent back, causing him to lean forward; and drew up her knee to his middle.

He gasped for air, but broke into laughter as he stumbled away. “Hoh! Hoh! Oh! How fierce!” he cried, a large grin on his face. “I appreciate virile independence in a lady,” he chuckled. “Mmm hmm? How about science?” she cocked her head at him.

Elouise used the opportunity of distance between them to crank the dynamo in her blade’s handle. Noisy electrical charges fizzed between the steel blade and copper terminals and a band wave of white electric ran up from the hilt. The masked man’s eyes narrowed. “Pulling out the toys now, eh?” he smirked.

With a snap, his cloak fell away, revealing a rather lean body clothed in a plain white shirt and simple long black pants. A red sash, as bright as the mask that obscured the top half of his face was tied around his waist. The corners of her mouth perked up. “What a shame. I’d hate to tear such a form apart,” she sighed. He pursed his lips together in a mocking smile. “You are very much welcomed to try,” he bowed slightly and re-entered an offensive stance.

Elouise lunged forward, but this time her blade was ready, Countering his angled strike, she flicked her wrist sideways, catching his blade just before it nicked her. With a sudden yelp, the masked man dropped his sword. An electrical charge had transferred from her blade to his upon contact, and without the additional insulation her hilt had, the charge went right through to his hand. She stepped back, extremely smug about her attack. He hissed in pain and annoyance, gripping his wrist. He dropped to his knees, doubling over.

“Feisty. I find that most ardent in a woman,” he praised. “And now for that mask. Let’s see if you are as handsome as that mouth,” Elouise taunted. She pointed her blade at him, intending to flick his mask off with it, but suddenly, he swung his discarded cloak at her.

She jumped back, avoiding her sword from getting tangled up in the cloak, but he jumped up and grabbed her wrist, using their combined momentum to push her against a nearby tree. Slamming her hands against its trunk, he made her drop the sword. Desperately, she tried to kick him again, but he pressed her back with the weight of his body. She rammed her head forward, hitting him right in the face. He stumbled away, exclaiming and clutching his nose, while she lurched forward, dazed from the impact her head had with his skull.

“Y-you! You. Are. So. Wonderful!” he gasped through gritted teeth. Elouise fumbled around for her sword. Realising that she intended to continue, the masked man tumbled and grabbed his. Their blades met again, and he braced for another charge, but the current had died and it was an ordinary sword once more. To prevent her from cranking that thing again, he kept in constant parry with her, not allowing her to get stationary enough to charge her blade again.

A little way away from the incredible sword fight, behind the carriage, Hugh was caught up in his own brawl; with the Red Hound’s two accomplices. But unlike Elouise, he was not as skilled in fighting dirty, and was facing a losing match. But damn him if he didn’t try. Damn him as a policeman. Damn him as a man! But his thoughts were cut short as a huge meaty fist slammed into his face and sent him practically flying to behind the carriage.

“Roxton?!” Elouise shouted, seeing him still, face in the dirt. Momentarily distracted from her fight with the Red Hound, she left an opening for the masked highwayman to cross her blade and hold it down. Before she could react, he kissed her on the lips. Her eyes widened and she froze in shock for a second. Furiously, she shook him off and tried to punch him again, but he spun away and caught her from behind.

“Be careful now. I might just fall incandescently in love with you,” he breathed.

“Eh! Hound! Let’s go!” his accomplices called. The masked man released her and ran off, snatching up his cloak. “Goodbye, sylph. May we see each other again!” he called as he disappeared into the forest. Elouise stared after him, stunned.

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