“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
As her sword-staff began to return to its original form so that she could once again use it in battle, Gytha noted that Brutus' fairy wand, as well, once again returned to its original mace form. She began to wonder if it was even possible to save the man's soul... or if he even desired it. How long had he fought against evil? How badly had he been corrupted by the tragedy that befell his order?
As she pondered this idea, the demon of decay that she recognized from her previous fight against the panther man made his way into the arena. Truly it was a much more dangerous threat than she was... a demon that should be slain by a noble paladin. So why didn't the paladin strike the creature down? It didn't approach very quickly, thankfully, and before he could get into striking distance, the demon dissolve into a bazaar flaming puddle. Something the Lancer would need to avoid, for certain... but perhaps something she could use to her advantage, as well.
The woman frowned as Brutus called her a wrench (sic). She was being as polite as possible, so why did the man insist on being rude? Weren't knights supposed to be honorable and noble, especially towards ladies? She knew that there were plenty of cruel knights in the world... but for a soldier of God to behave in such a manner towards a Sister of the Faith was something she wouldn't expect from an honorable order of paladins.
As he finally introduced herself, she thought of where she might have heard the name. It was definitely the name of a Scotsman, but she had already come to this conclusion based on his accent. As she pondered this, she watched him warily as he put his weapon away and opened his hand to her. This gesture confused the Lancer... though she had read of an old Roman custom that involved a man grasping the forearm of another man so that they could see they carried no hidden knives, most knights in England used an open hand salute to show that they carried no weapons, instead. But where she was from, a formal bow with a curtsy in response was the proper way for a knight to greet a lady.
As the paladin took a step forward, the Lancer instinctively took a step back, keeping the distance between him. He had just recently stated that he had no intention of fighting honorably, and thus she had every reason to suspect that he was merely feigning a proper introduction in order to draw her close enough to grapple her... and a grappling match with a man so much stronger than her was exactly what Gytha didn't want.
"Mine oath forbids man's touch,"1 she said to him, both as an excuse to avoid being drawn into a grappling match and because she was still bound to the vow of chastity she had sworn when she joined the Order of Saint Ursula. The fact that she stepped away from him as he attempted to draw her into a grappling match allowed her the extra half second she needed to see what he was doing.
She had expected he would use the sack of dirt he had collected at some point, in a similar manner as he had attempted at the beginning of the fight. Throwing dirty was truly the oldest trick in the book... a dirty trick used by bandits and ruffians, which she had seen countless times before. When she was much younger, she had actually fallen for it once... though she was thankfully rescued by one of her sisters in arms at the time. But it was the sort of clumsy trick that only worked once in a lifetime, and she had already had her turn.
As the dirt was thrown in her direction, the girl simply stepped to the side to avoid it. The paladin then followed up with an attempt to smash his shield into her face... though the fact that she had already stepped off to her right meant that she would not be taking the full force of the hit. Instead, she allowed the blow to glance off her helmet, though she was still somewhat staggered by the hit. Had she not been wearing her helmet, or had she been struck by the flanged mace instead of the shield, it definitely would have knocked her out cold, glancing blow or not.
While she normally would have avoided it completely... she had taken a calculated risk in this situation. In the brief period of time in which the paladin was close to her, she grabbed the mace at his side and ripped it free, swinging it heavily at the back of his head in an attempt to knock him out with a solid blow. As her own weapon wasn't particularly useful against armor, using his own weapon against him seemed her best chance at victory, as he not only refused her offer of peace, but chose to fight more like a bandit than a knight.
She knew how to fight bandits. She killed bandits for a living. If this once noble paladin had turned blackguard ruffian... then she would deal with him as she dealt with so many bandits before him. "Hast thine fytes 'gainst monsters turned ye into one?"2 She asked this question sadly, as she could think of nothing more tragic than a hero turning into a villain. Keeping in mind the flaming puddle of Kozzar in the middle of the arena, the Lancer took a few steps back towards it, pausing as she felt the heat behind her. Would the paladin do the predictable thing and charge once again, or would he attempt some other trick? Holding a sword-staff in one hand and the paladin's mace in the other, she gazed at him with a mixture of pity and remorse.
1. "I can't touch the hand of a man because I've sworn an oath of chastity."
2. "Have your fights against monsters turned you into one?"