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As defined by Merriam-Webster, "1 : a combat between two persons; specifically : a formal combat with weapons fought between two persons in the presence of witnesses 2 : a conflict between antagonistic persons, ideas, or forces; also : a hard-fought contest between two opponents". Needless to say, in the Poe-verse, there's a bit more to it than that.

Elves have a particular affinity for duels, it seems, and consequently, practically everything we know about dueling in the world of Errant Story is learned from Sarine Elle in one of her more wordy moods. Her first reference to the practice appears here, when she's telling Jon, Meji and Ellis about the golden age of elvenkind. As she continues yarning, she explains that humans entered the dueling picture, as surrogates for "elves who were too lazy to go through the bureaucracy and paperwork required to set up official duels..." Sarine herself played a part in this, through her membership (since abandoned) in the Viradior, who trained human gladiators and duelists, among other things.

As time goes on, we learn more about duels from various of the violent encounters that Sarine keeps finding herself in:

  • In the aftermath of her big battle with Melrin, we learn that certain types of weapons (specifically, Durus Flamma weapons) are only supposed to be used in duels, which makes it very poor form for Melrin to try to disembowel her with one.
  • During the even bigger battle with Warrel, she implies that the Ensigerum are descended from the humans that she and her fellow Viradior trained for dueling. Seeing that Warrel is equipped with a Durus Flamma weapon, she then whips out one of her own, consistent with the formality of the whole thing -- in other words, this big fight takes on some of the aspects of a modern-day duel.
  • When, having dispatched Warrel, she takes Sara along on her journey with Jon and Ellis, the ensuing fight reveals that she doesn't think highly of using a Dolon in an actual duel -- "Those damn staves were never meant to actually be used as weapons, they're just suppose(d) to look impressive and showy when swung around." This fight takes on some of the aspects of a duel, while in other ways it resembles a sparring bout.
  • During the climactic, devastating fight she has with Sarna in the Far North, she asks Sarna whether she wants to make the thing a duel. Sarna declines, saying she "hate(s) those damn crystal swords" that are de rigeur for a proper duel. Of course, the fight ends tragically anyway -- terminally so for Sarna, although the blow to Sarine's psyche is almost as severe.

Sarine's mate met his end in a combat that involved a fair bit of hand-to-hand combat, jumping around, and flashy martial-arts moves. Whether this combat was, in fact, an actual duel, and with whom and why, is not disclosed. The much later sparring bout between Anita and the Anilis-possessed Ian Samael also has some elements of a duel about it, although it's more in the line of a martial-arts lesson and test of Ian's self-control -- which, in his present state, isn't much to write home about.

See also the notes at the end of the Durus Flamma article for more of Michael Poe's observations on duels, weapons, and so on.

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