Chapter II - Page 3Mature

She smiled at him. “I am not some foppish courtier, Sir! I fight with what suits me best, not what goes well with my drapes.” She took the haft in both hands and kept the weapon close to her stomach.

“Why do you want to test our ability to fight?” Toikem asked.

“There is much to be learned from the way people fight, young man,” Aleander said as he awkwardly descended from the platform to join them.  The seneschal walked lamely, but there was nothing clumsy about him when he drew his sword.

Toikem felt it would have been best to use practice weapons, but he apparently was the only one to care. His sister’s eyes told him to move away after she’d gauged the man she was to fight. They didn’t bother with the theatrics of gentle duels. Aleander offered Kayla the opening blow. She swung her axe and swiftly dodged his counter-attack after he parried. They traded blows, neither of them equipped to survive if they happened to be too slow. Thankfully enough there were no wounds. They stopped once the tip of the seneschal’s blade reached Kayla’s flank. The sword left a mark on the leather, which only bothered Toikem apparently.

His case was made much faster. Aleander disarmed him in a matter of seconds. Bertel laughed when Toikem’s sword clashed on the stone floor. Toikem had no pride when it came to arms, but he picked up his weapon after the seneschal gestured towards it.

“You have used a sword before,” Aleander commented. “But you’ve no passion about it. Who tried to teach you?”

“The army.”

“They did a piss-poor job at it!” Aleander seemed the kind of man to laugh with people rather than laugh at them. In that respect, he was bound to enjoy the company of Kayla, but he must have had a hard time living at Court.

Toikem abandoned such consideration when the man hacked at him once more. He blocked with his shield losing sight of his opponent for a brief moment. It was long enough for the lame fighter to reverse his blade and strike Toikem in the shin. The dark steel protected the young man, but it didn’t prevent him from losing his balance. He staggered forward and would have fallen if Aleander had attacked him once more.

“They didn’t bother too long, in their defense,” he finally told the seneschal.

The man patted him on the shoulder. “From what I’ve heard, the two of you have dealt with things I wouldn’t want to face in a nightmare. I’m sure you make up for your weak sword fighting.” He sheathed his sword. “Which of you is better with a bow?”

Kayla answered with a smile and proved it well. By the end of the day they had toured the Blue Tower, demonstrated their combat skills with many weapons and without, discussed war tactics, and eaten a roasted boar.

The End

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