At age thirteen, carving knife in hand, I killed beasts for the amusement of the filthy. At fifteen, they thought me worthy to fight a fellow man.
A butcher he was, twice as big and twice as stupid as I. I butchered the butcher and many like him, earned my way, kill by kill, out of the offal pit and into the Grand Arena.
I thought I would find wealth and glory in the arena. I was wrong. I found something far more precious. My Lady Merveil.
I knelt in the sand of the Grand Arena, awaiting the killing blow. I raised my eyes to look upon my death.
Instead, I saw her. Merveil. Her beautiful eyes met mine, and I knew that she saw me too. I turned my opponent's strike and killed the man with his own dagger.
Fighting had always been about survival. The primal instinct to kill or be killed. Now the fight became about something else. Love.
The previous King of Swords was a giant of a man, both faster and stronger than I. Yet I needed only look up at my Lady Merveil to know that I had no choice. I could not die this day.
I made him shiver under every parry, striking with all my might, so that my arms felt they might snap with every impact. All the while, I studied his face, watching for that moment when he began to doubt. It took an hour, but finally it was there.
Burning with pain, empty with exhaustion, I stepped inside his faltering swing and I slit the giant's throat.
I did not take my victory bow. I knelt in the sand, looked to Merveil, and cried out for my Lady's hand in marriage.
From that day forth, I wore the Crown of Swords upon my head and a ring of eternal love upon my finger.