Panting. Gasping. Sweat dripping. Soaked skin glimmering in the scorching sun. Dust, kicked up into eyes, settling in the crevices to chafe and rub with movement. A metallic tang in the air, of battles old and new. Gazes locked. Stillness sets over them. Cynicism gone, replaced with mild annoyance and bruised pride. Unable to show fear. A young warrior. Determined. Back hunched over, face twisted. Unable to back down. Locked.

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