Chapter XLIX

Beatrix hadn’t been there to wave Carla off for the simple reason that she’d clean forgotten. In fact, at that particular moment in time, she was standing in a large field watching two people bash each other with great long enormous swords. One of them was Jaques. The other was Keiran.

She’d met Rhea again just after lunch, and had been instructed to ‘tag along’ to a training session. Unused to ‘tagging along’ anywhere, it had been quite a feat for her not to decline politely. But she’d remembered that moment when she’d been completely and utterly powerless, back there in the raid. It felt like months ago! In reality, it was only a week. But if it ever happened again, she needed to be able to defend herself.

And so it was that she found herself in the field, watching Jaques and Keiran fight each other. They twirled and spun, kicking up the dust in great clouds. Neither of them wore any armour save for plain brown leather jerkins, much used, and leather wristguards. They didn’t have the thick chainmail, helms, greeves and shields of the guardsmen, but they didn’t seem to need it, either. They were both armed with shiny blades, and Beatrix blanched at the idea of holding such a weapon in her hands.

‘Don’t worry - we don’t start the newbies with sharps. Keiran and Jaques are real pros.’

Beatrix blinked. More and more she was coming to find that these peasants spoke in almost a completely different language to the one she was used to. Newbie? Pro? Sharp? It made no sense to her.

As they approached, Keiran took a great blow to his shoulder and he stumbled slightly, allowing Jaques to get the upper hand.

‘I yeild!’ Keiran said laughingly, and Jaques helped him back to his feet.

‘Well done, Jaques!’ Rhea shouted, and the pair turned, noticing the girls.

Beatrix suddenly felt uncharacteristically shy. The last time she’d parted with these men, it hadn’t exactly been on friendly terms. And although she had been making an effort not to be cold and unfeeling, she didn’t know how well it was working. And she found she wanted the good opinion of Jaques and Keiran. She’d never had to work for someone’s good opinion before, and so it felt strangely worrying to contemplate that she may not have it.

‘Rhea! Beatrix! Welcome! I’m afraid you caught me unprepared,’ he said with a twinkle in his eye. ‘No one fights Jaques and wins!’

Rhea coughed slightly.

Keiran laughed. ‘Apart from Rhea, of course!’

‘No, I thought you fought very well.’

Keiran looked her in the eye, all trace of frivolity gone. ‘Thank you.’

‘Beatrix wanted someone to teach her,’ Rhea grinned, breaking the moment.

‘I was wondering if you would, Keiran,’ Beatrix said before she’s even realised she’d opened her mouth. Where this request had come from, she had no idea - she would’ve much rather been taught by Jaques, or even Rhea. She had nothing in common with Keiran, they didn’t see eye-to-eye about righteousness, he hated all nobles, she pretty much felt the same about peasants - that relationship was going nowhere, probably not even onto particularly friendly terms.

But the deed was done, and although Keiran looked surprised, he nodded his head, and sealed her fate for the next week.

She was to learn to defend herself.

The End

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