While Anna reflected on her current situation, Shireen stared in wonder at a bruise of her own. Today, Anna had finally landed a solid blow and it hurt!
Shireen smirked as she rubbed the bruise, it might sting a little but it was worth it.
Shireen had initially been surprised when her mother had instructed her to train Anna with a spear. Despite her best efforts, interacting with the human girl had not gone that well, at least at first. Anna reminded Shireen of a school of small fish, skiddishly darting away at the slightest movement or sign of danger. It had taken time and effort to earn her trust.
If Shireen was anything, she was a shark. Quick, aggressive, and dangerous.
Anna had turned a ghostly pale when she was told that Shireen would be sparring with her.
On the first day of training, Shireen showed Anna a basic stance, the best way to grip the shaft, and a few very basic attacks. It had all been stuff that Shireen learned when she was a young child and figured it was as good a place as any to start.
She was wrong.
"Drop into that first defensive pose I showed you," Shireen said, turning her back to walk to the other end of the sparring mat.
Shireen had intended to start slowly, running a few rudimentary attacks and getting Anna to deflect them.
When Shireen turned around, she found Anna, knuckles white, leaning on the spear for support, trembling.
Shireen's first instinct was anger. Combat was life or death and training was to be taken seriously. To be completely passive, completely weak like this in the fey-realm would certainly lead to one's demise.
Shireen began to swing her spear, intending sweep the trembling girl off her feet, to prove this point. She stopped short.
She doesn't know our world, be gentile with her. Shireen could hear her mother's voice echoing in her head.
Shireen laid her own spear on the mat and gently placed a hand on Anna's shoulder. "Are you allright?" she asked.
Anna lifted her head, her face tear streaked. Her body shook with sobs, "I... I can't do this...I go to church....I read books...." Anna trailed off.
"This is to help get you home, " Shireen said. "We are going to be travelling in some very dangerous areas and you need to know how to defend yourself."
Anna continued to sniffle and sob. "I know," she said softly. "I just need a little time."
Shireen led her over to a bench and help her sit down. "I'll be over there if you need me."
Shireen walked back to the mat and lifted her spear. Seemingly ignoring Anna, she began to run through her daily practice routine.
The spear whirled and twisted through the air gracefully as Shireen danced about the mat, landing blows against imaginary foes and warding off unseen attacks.
About halfway through her practice routine, Shireen noticed that Anna had stopped sobbing and was watching her intently. Spurred on by this, Shireen added little embellishments to her attacks and leaps, none of them particularly useful in combat, but they looked impressive. She took training seriously, but she wasn't above showing off just a little.
Anna clapped when Shireen finished her routine.
"Feeling better?" Shireen asked.
Anna nodded, wiping away her eyes with the back of her sleeve.
Shireen motions for Anna to join her on the mat. She walked her through the basic stances and attacks again, this time a little slower, a little more deliberate, a little more patient.
When Shireen turned around the next time, Anna was (more or less) in the pose that she had shown her. It had been slow going from there, but slowly and surely Anna was becoming more competent with the weapon.
Things really began to pick up on the forth day of training. When Anna had arrived in the sparring room that day, her eyes were focused. She stood a little taller, walked with a little more confidence, and began to listen to Shireen's instructions much more intently. Shireen wasn't quite sure what had happened, but she liked this Anna much better. She wasn't a school of scared fish any more - maybe not a shark, but definitely not prey.
Shireen smiled her toothy grin. It was almost time to leave the nest.