The knife was sharp, and it danced. Magnus tried to follow the blade, but when he blinked, he opened his eyes to the blade stopped just an inch away. He slowly moved his head back, while the young man holding the knife simply frowned.
“Don’t waste time on fear. Respond.” His brother started making the knife dance again. “Oh, and don’t blink.” The flashes started again, pausing close to various vital spots, never touching. “This part is mostly show. Ignore it. Watch for the change.”
Magnus noticed the change in grip this time, though he suspected his brother was slowing it down. He brought his hand up against the arm holding the knife, blocking the slash, smiling at his victory.
Lukas shook his head, “Still too slow.”
Magnus felt the cut then, a thin line of pain along his palm, fresh blood already spreading. He curled his hand into a fist, trying to stop the bleeding. Lukas tossed a strip of cloth to his brother. As Magnus bandaged his hand, he asked why Lukas had cut him.
“You don’t learn about a knife watching tricks. I’m not teaching you this so you can impress your friends and run your mouth. If you can avoid pulling a knife, I’ll have done my bit.”
“I thought the point was to learn to defend myself?”
Lukas snorted. “Pulling a knife escalates things. Pull one on a guy from another neighborhood who just wanted to punch you a few times, and he’s either going to pull his own or jump you some other time. Pull a knife on the wrong person down on the docks, someone from the ships, someone from out of town who doesn’t care who you think you are, they won’t think twice about stabbing you in the stomach. You really want to defend yourself? Don’t get noticed.”
Lukas put the knife in Magnus’s hand. “Small, light-weight, sharp, easily concealed. It only comes out if the other guy draws his. The blade doesn’t have enough heft or length to break bones or get through armor, so you want to slash or jab with it, at bare skin, or the gaps in armor. Cuts on the hand or arm can make it difficult for the other person to hold a weapon, but not always. Keep your knife moving.”
Magnus nervously tried a few motions with the knife, feeling the leather handle. He tried mimicking a few of his brother’s motions, but the movements were clumsy and awkward.
Lukas watched for a moment before continuing, “You can’t always hope for retreat or submission. Those times, go for the throat. Fewer inconvenient bones to deflect your jabs, and you don’t need to slash as deep. Attack when you’re ready.”
Magnus wasted no time and lunged.
Lukas grabbed the arm as it shot forward, twisting it aside while his leg kicked Magnus’s feet out from under him. “Most importantly, remember there are no rules in a fight. No second chances.”
Lukas helped his brother off the ground and took his knife back, “That’s enough for today. I have work. A ship came in from Nujel’m, and there are crates of spices to haul. You have your lessons with Miss Corrigan. Don’t be late this time.“