Yes, Dyce, he did it man to man, but there was no challenge ... the captain was ordered to fight Tarl as the Lady Constance felt she was insulted ... she didn't understand the consequences of her actions ... the captain had mo option but to fight and his honor was on the line ...
If you want context ...
"Forgive me, Lady," said I, "but my need is much upon me."
The two slave girls, bare-armed and veiled, quickly glanced to one another.
"I do not understand," said the graceful figure in the sedan chair. She was free.
I grinned at her. "I have food," I said. "I have water. But I have not had for four days a woman."
I gestured to the two girls with the free woman. One of them slightly lowered her veil.
"I will pay well for the use of one of these slaves," I said to the free woman.
"They are my personal slaves," she said.
"I will give a silver tarsk for the brief use of one, either that you might indicate," I said.
The warriors looked at one another. The offer was quite generous. It was unlikely that either of the girls would bring so much on the block.
"No," said the free woman, icily.
"Permit me then to buy one," I said, "for a golden tarn."
The men looked at one another, the draft slaves, too. Such a coin would fetch from the block a beauty fit for the gardens of a Ubar.
"Stand aside," said the free woman.
I inclined my head. "Very well, Lady," said I. I moved to one side.
"I deem myself to have been insulted," she said.
"Forgive me, Lady," said I, "but such was not my intent. If I have done or said aught to convey that impression, however minutely, I extend to you now the deepest and most profound of apologies and regrets."
I stepped back further, to permit the retinue to pass.
"I should have you beaten," she said.
"I have greeted you in peace and friendship," I said. I spoke quietly.
"Beat him," she said.
I caught the arm of the captain. His face turned white. "Have you raised your arm against me?" I asked.
I released his arm, and he staggered back. Then he slung his shield on his arm, and unsheathed the blade slung at his left hip.
"What is going on!" demanded the woman.
"Be silent, foolish woman," said the captain.
She cried out with rage. But what did she know of the codes?
I met his attack, turning it, and he fell, shield loose, at my feet. I had not chosen to kill him.
"Aiii!" cried one of the draft slaves.
"Kill him! Kill him!" cried the free woman. The slave girls screamed.
Men shouted with rage.
"Who is next?" I asked.
They looked at one another.
"Help me," said the captain. Two of the men went to him and lifted him, bleeding, to his feet. He looked at me, held between his men.
I stood ready.
He looked at me, and grinned. "You did not kill me," he said.
"I am grateful," he said.
I inclined my head.
"Too," said he, "I know the skills of my men. They are not poor warriors, you understand."
"I am sure they are not," I said.
"I do not choose to spend them," he said. He looked at me. "You are a tarnsman," he said.
"Yes," I said.
"I thought it would be so," he said. He looked at me. "I give you greetings of the caste of warriors," he said.
"Tal," said I.
"Tal," said he.
"Kill him!" cried the free woman. "Kill him!"
"You have wronged this man," said the captain. "And he has labored within the permissions of his codes."
"I order you to kill him!" cried the free woman, pointing to me.
"Will you permit us to pass, Warrior?" asked the captain.
"I am afraid, under the circumstances," I said, "that that is no longer possible."
He nodded. "Of course not," he said.
"Kill him!" cried the free woman.
"We are six now who can fight," said the captain. "It is true that we might kill him. I do not know. But never have I crossed swords with one such as he. There is a swiftness, a sorcery, a savageness in his steel which in a hundred fights to the death I have never encountered. And yet I now stand alive beside your chair to explain this to you, who are incapable of understanding it."
"He is outnumbered," she pointed out.
"How many will he kill?" asked the captain.
"None, of course!" she cried.
"I have crossed steel with him, Lady," said the captain. "Do not explain to me the nature of swordplay and odds." He looked to his men. "Do you wish to fall upon him, Lads?" he asked, smiling wryly.
"Command us, and we shall attack," said one of the men.
I thought their discipline good.
The captain shook his head ruefully. "I have crossed steel with him, Lads," said he. "We shall withdraw."
"No!" screamed the free woman.
The captain turned, supported by two men.
"Cowards!" she cried.
The captain turned to face her. "I am not a coward, Lady," said he. "But neither am I a fool."
I honestly do not see a challenge ... I see a man commanded to the orders of a foolish free woman ... it also shows Tarl's appreciation of the situation ... all he wanted was a piece of ass, not to be drawn into a fight ... when it came to that, he took control of the situation, and not only prevailed but turned the circumstances around and took charge of the situation ...
I'll overlook the "high and mighty" insult ... that is not my intention ... I do know the books, and, like the Tarl and Kazrak incident in which you were mistaken, I am just taking exception to the challenge in the situation above ... I won't argue against people who fall on name-calling and patronizing insinuations but I can debate the facts ...
"There are no mere points of honor." (24:63)