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Zane was back on the ridge walking away from the pile of rocks that marked a grave. His face held slight signs of pain that were quickly extinguished when he stared down at the alpine meadow below. He watched the green surface ripple like a wave as if meadow was an ocean. While the sun began to rise over the mountain range on the other side reminding him of the day he first ran into the empirical scouts. Zane remembered the day perfectly...

"Come on."  A younger Zane hissed through the woods as the orange light from the sun began to filter through the evergreen trees while an older figure with long greying hair trailed after him. 

"Zane!" The man said harshly after him trying to keep quiet.  The younger Zane stopped over a shallow precipice, grasping the hilt of a sword looking back at the man before drawing his sword and leaping at the man who expertly deflected the blows without even drawing his sword.  Zane rethought his strategy and toyed with the greying man faking a few slashes before going for a real on this time the man drew but blocked with the sheath. His blade came from above, but Zane was quick enough to roll out of the way. 

"We don't have time Zane! We need to head back to camp!" The older man said pushing Zane  back as he attacked again. 

"What do you mean?" Zane questioned using his momentum to launch off a tree at the man who once again deflected with the sheath and sword slicing Zane's arm this time as he feel through the air. 

"I spotted an enemy patrol not to far from here, we must leave immediately." The man hissed. 

"Leave?" Zane said dumbfounded," We should fight them before they find the hideout. We still have some traps, arrows, and rope?" Zane said with an excited smile. 

"I don't think we even have time to set traps."

"Then we definitely don't have time to run." Zane reasoned looking behind them as voices began to fill the woods, behind them. 

"Zane." The older man pleaded. 


"Dammit!" Zane shouted into the wind punching the moss covered ruin before looking away from the alpine meadow. " I haven't changed." He muttered before heading down the set of stairs, with the feeling that he was being watched as headed down them. When he reached the dining area Sonja approached Zane with a look of concern. 

"Hi Sonja is something wrong?" Zane said doing his best to mask his wound that Jasper had inflicted on him a few nights before, he had done some self treatment to avoid raising suspicion yet the pain still hadn't completely faded atleast it was healing nicely though.

"For now nothing is wrong, but Zane I know my husband has asked you to train Layla, but I need to ask of you to take things slowly. I know who trained and his methods, but Layla has injuries, so take her training slow, understood?" 

"Yes Ma'am." Zane replied with the utmost respect. 

"Good, and good luck Zane, don't be too afraid of teaching. Ceri is not a man who just makes random decisions. He truly does beleive you can teach the art of sword fighting, don't feel that it is a punishment but an opportunity." Sonja said putting her hand on his shoulder reassuringly almost as if she knew what was going through his head. 

"Thanks!" Zane said with his usual grin returning.  

"You’re welcome Zane, see you around Zane." Sonja said walking away. 

"Bye." Zane said before turning around to see Rin standing behind him," Hey!" He said slightly startled. 

"Getting yourself into more trouble?" Rin said his eyebrow cocked. 

"No, I've been behaving quite well in this rock; even if it's beginning to drive me nuts." Zane smiled.

"Your own damn fault. Although I'm starting to miss that go lucky kid who recklessly did anything and made all the other members of the squad get their act together." Rin said directing the two of them to the nearest table, “When is Ceri putting you back on duty?" 

“I don't know, he wants me to teach the girl I found Layla to fight. I might not even be rejoining the squad for a while. How are the guys anyways?"  Zane said sitting down. 

"They're alright but we've been working extra hard. since we haven't got a replacement for you and Ceri is having us do double the amount of patrols. We haven't seen anything but, Morg's patrol reported that they found some imperials at the foot of the mountain's and since those two other arrivals showed up with imperials trailing after them Ceri has been on high alert. So we've been worked ragged. In fact I would love to be teaching a young woman how to hold a sword." He smiled, " She is fairly beautiful isn't she?" 

"You could say that; many men have stolen glances from her, she's even attracts Jasper's eyes." Zane said glancing around to make sure neither Layla nor Jasper was around.

"Ha, ha it’s about time that man has shown some life in him. Anyways, Zane, It's been nice talking to you, we should grab a drink next time. I will keep you posted, something is brewing out there, and its best if everyone knows even if Ceri want's to keep it to himself." Rin said, leaving the table. He almost took it with him while as he did. Rin was not a small man by any comparison: he was a six and half foot giant as broad as a whiskey barrel but  agile as a cornered animal when he wanted to be.  Zane half laughed to himself while he steadied the large wooden table.  

"Yes it is , and definitely a drink would be nice. Also hearing the goings on out there would be wonderful gossip and drama does not suit me." Zane replied," Goodbye Rin."

"Bye Zane, train that girl well." Rin said before vanishing into the crowd of people that surrounded the breakfast bar.  Zane sighed, wishing Rin hadn't told him about the goings on outside these walls, he already knew something was up but more imperial patrols on the foot of the mountain was never a good sign.  He pushed his hand through his hair trying to clear his mind as Layla came around the corner stiffly.  Zane shot her a glance of concern, what had happened to her? 

"Are you okay?" Zane asked. 

"I'll be fine.... It's nothing really." She said quietly before saying, " I want to fight. I want to fight alongside the resistance and put an end to the cruelty!" Zane smiled at the strength in her words something that he had not heard in her voice before. 

"You've made your mind I see. Do you want to start today? It will be form and stance and basic sword etiquette so nothing too strenuous." Zane replied. 

"Sure." Layla replied more quietly now. 

"Alright meet me in the training area in an hour I need to prepare a few things." Zane said seriously abandoning his usual grin for a moment looking off towards blacksmiths corridor. 

"See you then." Layla replied. 

"Alright one hour sharp." Zane said before heading off to Erik's shop. 

"Erik!" Zane shouted from the door making sure not to surprise him this time.

"Damnit Zane! Come in, what do you want?" He said his usual spiel making Zane grin. 

"I’ am sorry to bother you so often. I was wondering if I could take a dagger, a shortsword, gladius, longsword , a katana, a greatsword and bastard sword?"  

"Why do you need all of that?" Erik said looking fairly sucpicously at him. 

"I'm training Layla I’m not too sure what kind of blade she wants to use so I thought try all of them. At the most it will be only a few days and she will choose one of them so you can have the rest back. Promise! Promise! Promise! Here I'll even leave a security deposit." Zane said reaching for his money. 

"No no don't worry about it. I have a few spares. Be nice!" Erik warned, “Also bring her to me when she has chosen her weapon, I think I have enough metal to make her a nice sword." Erik said already going into his storage room. 

"Will do. Thanks man, I'll take good care of them." Zane said grabbing the bundle of weapons. 

"That's not all that I'm worried about Zane don't go to hard on her!" He called after him. 

"Why does everyone think I'm going to be harsh? I'm not mean am I?" Zane said smiling back at Erik, “See you later!" 

                                                                       ******

The training room was small one for private sessions but that was fine since Zane had no intention of getting Layla to swing any of them around today. Well atleast to to much. "Alright so here we have a dagger, a shortsword, gladius, longsword ,  katana,  greatsword and bastard sword. For starters I want you to hold each one of these, while keeping your feet shoulder width apart with your knees bemt and holding it firmly in your hands. Give it a few slashes across, vertically, and perhaps even swinging it like this." Zane demonstrated by picking up the great sword and swinging it down with one hand while spinning it up with his wrist. " you don't have to it that quick though, were just trying to get a feel for what your comfortable with, I tried to get a large range of blades to try but that's not everything. Afterwards I will teach you how to take care of you sword, because in battle your weapon is going to save your life and the sharper those edges are the better, plus cutting yourself on your own weapon is not helpful." Zane said smiling," But first lets see what your comfortable try the dagger first."  He said watching Layla gingerly grab the hilt of the dagger before wrapping her hand around it, holding it front of her, before swinging it  a couple times but Zane could see she was putting to much force in it from shoulders indicating to him she would probably do better with something longer. 

"How does that feel?" Zane asked. 

"Alright." She said unaware she threw herself off balance a few times.

"Alright well I think that the dagger is a bit short you seem to put a lot of force behind those swings, lets trying something longer. This time you pick, what do you want to try next?" Zane asked his voice echoing against the surfaces of the rocks.

The End

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