Sarah's Phoenix: Learning to Fight (Part 1)

They set off again very shortly after breakfast and a beer.

‘Beer at breakfast?’ Sarah asked, eyeing the mug set in front of her.

‘It’s a tradition,’ said Mike, ‘Scout’s honor, it’s not a trick.’

Sarah laughed, thinking of how little Scout’s honor had meant to her brothers. ‘Sorry, I’d rather have water. Beer before lunch is just,’ she looked at the mug again, ‘weird.’

‘Suit yourself,’ Mathew said, taking her mug and chugging it.

‘All right men,’ Jason stood, ‘time to move out.’ He picked up his pack and shouldered it. Everyone else did the same, except Sarah. At least she had a pouch for her herb collecting, she thought as they made their way quickly through town. Once again they fell into routine. Travel all day with three stops for food and drink. Camp at night, eating whatever the men caught and Sarah cooked. Funny, she thought, as she washed the dishes on the fourth night, how one could easily fall into a gender role without even thinking of it. The funniest part was that it had been her dad who’d stayed home to take care of the kids and farm.

‘Sarah?’ Jason interrupted her thoughts.

‘Hmm?’ she asked, wiping the last bowl clean.

‘Did you keep up with your sword training?’

Sarah stood up and looked at him. She shook her head. ‘No, you stopped teaching and my brothers weren’t interested.’ Jason frowned. ‘Do you think I’ll need it?’

‘It would be good to know how to use the sword you carry.’ Sarah looked at her left hip. She’d finally gotten used to carrying it. ‘Just in case,’ he added.

‘Okay,’ Sarah picked up all the dishes, ‘are you going to teach me?’

‘We set up camp tomorrow night. Brad will be keeping watch. He will begin your lessons.’ Sarah looked at Brad as they entered camp. He nodded to them. ‘Go get some sleep. I have first watch,’ and Jason faded into the shadows of the deepening night.

So camp was set the next night and Sarah’s lessons began shortly after the men left in pairs to scout in the morning. She barely made it through one hour before feeling overwhelmed.

Brad looked at her puzzled. ‘Phoenix said you’d used a sword before.’

‘Yeah,’ Sarah leaned on her sword, panting. It seemed much lighter when it hung from her belt. ‘About ten years ago.’ She looked up at Brad, ‘and I’m sure Jay knows a lot more about using a sword now, than he did then.’

‘Have a drink and sit,’ Brad handed her the canteen. ‘When you’re ready we’ll go back and start with the basics.’

Sarah complied. Though she was tempted to never say she was ready, she only gave herself a very short break. After all, there wasn’t much else to do, she thought, except collect herbs and do macramé. Sarah sighed and stood. ‘Ready.’ And so she began to learn the basics, all over again.

Amazingly, like riding a bike, it did all come back to her. But it also made her realize that Jay had only scratched the surface of what there was to know. At least by the fifth day she felt she could hold her own. Well, defend herself against one opponent she thought. That afternoon the pairs began to filter back in to camp.

Sarah only half listened, as they all gave their reports. She wasn’t sure how much would be considered proprietary information. She figured the less she knew the better, right. Shivering at that line of thought, she focused back on the group. They had just concluded that the enemy was doing extended scouts. There was a long pause while Jason stared into the fire. It wasn’t till Sarah started to bank it for the night that he spoke.

‘Get your rest boys,’ he said standing, ‘we will travel for seven days before our next scout.’

The End

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