Against all odds the two have met on a dark and stormy night.
“Here we are,” says the first one.
“Yes,” says the second one. “After many feints and sleights and cunning devices.”
“On a high and windswept plain.” (A bolt of lightning crashes against a tree a mile distant. Drops of water spatter the two.)
“In the dark of the moon. Beneath the proper stars.”
“It is time that things were decided.”
The two watch each other, slantwise. They do not blink. Suddenly! A crack of thunder! Forked lightning! The two men are blind! The sound of running footsteps, a muffled cry; the feet step more slowly.
“Hahhh,” says the first one. “Good work.”
“Yes,” says the second one.
They are both still again. Lighting flashes, but distant, but fading. Both move swiftly, then slow and circle like wolves. The first one pushes its hand against its side.
“You are hurt,” says the second. “You are bleeding.”
“Yes,” says the first one.
“Yield,” cries the second one, and for an instant there is a wish in its voice. “It might not be!”
“No,” says the first one, and its voice is deep and bitter as the roots that spread throughout the marshes.
Bats burst squeaking from the dark top of the mountains. Both flinch and then they are moving swiftly again through the storm. A clash in the night! The ground is muddy; one falls to the ground, one trips and falls into the mud. They are fighting like cats, locked together, and teeth and claws and knees and fingers jam together. A cry in the night! A slow rattle! One is dead, and shall not rise again!
The first one climbs slowly to its feet and drags itself toward the path. Its front teeth are missing, its nose is broken, great scratches, deep bloody runnels, maze over its face. There is no triumph in its walk, no victory; only survival.