They left the boring stone room behind and descended the stairway of the tower of this keep until they reached the entrance hall, a long corridor with towers on either end and the entrance to both the building and, in front of that, the main hall. They took the door out of the Keep and into the courtyard.
                Edaran stopped for a moment, taking in the cool weather. It was never too cold here, being in the south of the Kingdom. Even winter’s were only mild compared to the more northern cities. Or so he’d heard.  
                Devlin had still been moving, and then turned around, a look of mild surprise and curiosity on him.
                Only now did Edaran notice that his brother was breathing quite hard, his long chestnut hair sticking to his forehead with sweat and covering one hazel eye. Edaran was reminded then, of his brother’s age. Just eight years lay between them but it may as well have been eighteen. Where he was short and skinny, Devlin was tall, lean and graceful, with long wiry muscles and the start of stubble on his chin. Where he wore a simple silk tunic that hung a little from his slight frame, Devlin’s light leather clung to his strong chest and arms. Though he still had red cheeks just like himself. And standing there, thinking, he realised just how much he admired his older brother. He had the sudden urge to rush over to him and hug him.
                But that wasn’t why Devlin had brought him, he assumed.
                “Come on little fish.” He called, and he continued. Once he reached the centre of the stone ring, surrounded by grass, he bent down. Edaran hadn’t noticed the wooden swords on the floor until his brother tossed on over to him.
                He just managed to catch the thing, the held it and entered a stance.
                “Ah, I see your form has improved a lot.” He came over to inspect his grip on the sword and the way he stood. “Just—“and he took the same stance, but shifted it slightly so that the sword was more centred. Edaran copied him. “Yes, that’s better.” His brother moved back to where he had been and face Ed. “So what was the last thing you learned, Ed?”
                I considered it for a moment. It had only been a day, but Gadfrey, his master-at-arms, the castle’s sergeant, had taught him—“the parry and riposte.”
                “Ah, excellent!” Edaran could see his smile from here. “I once killed a Barbaran Warchief with that move, fool ran right into my blade and I barely had to move.” He laughed lightly then. “I hope you learned it well little brother, it saved my life.”
                “Gadfrey said I learn fast.” Edaran stood up a little straighter, the warm glow of pride filling him with more confidence.
                “Sir Bowden is a good teacher. He taught me well.” His brother inched forward, just enough for Edaran to notice. “Listen to all that he has to say.”
                And then Devlin lunged, faster than anything Edaran had ever seen.                                      
                He didn’t have time to do anything, so frozen with surprise and admiration.
                The tip of Devlin’s wooden sword poked him in the stomach.
                “Come now, what was that?” his brother shook his head. “You didn’t even move.” But Edaran couldn’t say anything, only let out his surprise. “I want to see what you’ve learned, show me!” and this time, he whacked Edaran on the shoulder. He gasped in pain and swiped at thin air.

The End

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