Euphrasia had been riding for hours through the wasteland and still hadn’t found a rebel scout. She eventually came to a forest and decided to stop there for the night. She tied her horse to a large, gnarled oak tree and lay down there with her cloak spread over herself. She fell asleep to the sound of the trees whispering and the wind whistling quietly.
When she woke she was next to a blazing fire and under a soft, woollen blanket. She smiled and snuggled into her sheet. Suddenly she realised that this wasn’t where she was supposed to be. Her eyes shot open and she jumped up. “Hello?” she called loudly. A handsome young man entered the room and Euphrasia calmly walked up to him and asked him who he was.
“My name is Calamintha. We saw you last night. I checked if you were one of us then brought you in. We knew that you were ours because you had weapons and a battle-gown. Girls aren’t allowed to fight in the elven army, so it stands to reason,” said Calamintha. Euphrasia looked at him.
“Alright then, I’ll join you, if you’ll have me,” she said confidently. “My name is Euphrasia,”
“I know that. I’m a mage. I knew your name as soon as I touched you.” Euphrasia stared at him in amazement. He laughed, his shining blue eyes narrowed in amusement. He took her to a small bedchamber which contained a sturdy bed, a chest and a weapon stand. He left her there to change into her short, armoured battle-gown.
She took a small mirror from the bag that she had brought with her and looked at her reflection. She was pretty, she thought, but not beautiful. She had long, ebony hair which she liked to coil up at the back of her head. She did so then, and put on her sturdy leather sandals.
Euphrasia came out of her room and was told to go downstairs to the training hall, where she was issued with a heavy iron sword and an oak longbow. She crossed the hall to where Calamintha was standing and was about to address him when he turned round. He led her to a straw dummy and told her to hit it with her sword. She swung the heavy weapon with ease and chopped the dummy clean in half.
Calamintha looked at her in surprise. She grinned at him triumphantly and her pointed chin rose slightly. He cast a charm to repair the dummy then told her to do it again. She did, and he smiled happily. He told her to keep practising and left her there. She glared at him but fought the urge to argue with him and attacked the dummy with all the effort that she could muster.
Soon Euphrasia realised the purpose of this experiment; he was trying to see how committed she was to him. If he gave an order in battle she couldn’t question it, so he was trying to train her to do what he said. She kept on hitting the dummy until she had blisters on her hands and was almost collapsing in exhaustion.
Finally he came over and told her to stop. She looked at him, her skin pale and damp. He put his hand on her head and smoothed down her hair. “Well done,” he said, “Now go eat something before you faint.” She nodded with some effort and shuffled off to the kitchen to get some bread, then retired to her room.
The next day, after being served breakfast by a bright blue fairy, she went to the hall again to resume her training, and this time was shown three targets. It was the same again; she was made to shoot at them until she got a bull’s-eye every time and her arms ached. After she was allowed to stop, Calamintha brought her some soup. She sat down and ate it right there on the floor of the hall. He chatted to her as she ate and she noticed the relaxed attitude between commanders and common soldiers.
Later that night she was sitting on her bed in her nightclothes thinking of Ira when there was a knock on her door. She got up and opened the door. It was Calamintha. “Sir,” she said. He told her to call him Cal. “Cal, then. Yes?” she enquired. He lifted up his left hand; he was holding her bow. “Oh,” she said.
“It’s alright. Try not to forget it again though, Euphrasia.” He said. He started forwards slightly, as if to move towards her, but turned round and walked away. Euphrasia sighed and went back to bed.
After weeks of training, she was finally allowed to fight another person. This was generally the trainer. Euphrasia spent the morning practising, then in the afternoon got ready for the fight. She walked over to her normal spot in the hall and waited for Calamintha to appear. When he did he looked calm and cool.
They bowed to one another and began the fight. Cal swung at her legs and she jumped. She lunged at him and he dodged her. She swung again and hit him in the side. He began to bleed but kept fighting. He tried to hit her but the weight of his sword brought him over. He lay there very still.
Euphrasia began to panic. She knelt down beside him and turned him onto his back then removed his shirt and wrapped it round the wound in his side. She called for help and a human and a mage came running over. The human tried to get Cal to respond, but when he had no luck, the mage began chanting a spell.
Euphrasia watched in horror and amazement as Cal’s skin began to knit itself back together. She held his hand tightly. Soon the wound had disappeared and Calamintha’s eyes flickered. He opened them fully and smiled up at her. She bent down and kissed him and his mouth dropped.
Her hands shot to her mouth as soon as she realised what she had done, but he soon began to smile. He sat up as if nothing had happened and hugged her. “You’re ready for the battlefield,” he said, and he stroked her hair gently.