‘Right,’ said Keiran, holding out a plain stick in front of him. Beatrix was rather taken aback - she had at least expected something that looked like a sword. And maybe one each?
‘It’s not what you think it is,’ he said with a smile. ‘What you have to do is try and get this stick off me.’
‘Is that all?’
He laughed. ‘It’s not as easy as it seems. But - go ahead and try!’
Steeling herself, and wondering what catch there was, Beatrix placed both hands on the stick and pulled. Hard. The stick didn’t even move! Keiran’s smile widened.
‘I’m never going to get it off you! You’re ten times stronger than me!’
‘Then don’t use force. Try widening your grasp, too.’
She blinked. ‘I beg your pardon?’
‘Your hands - they’re too close together. You’ll never get it off me like that.’
Frowning slightly, Beatrix followed his advice and places her hands further apart on the stick. She gave it an experimentary tug, but it didn’t move any more than last time.
‘Try pushing,’ Keiran suggested lightly.
Gritting her teeth, she pushed with all her might, but he simply took a step back, moving his weight in such a way that threw her off-balance.
‘This is ridiculous,’ she muttered.
‘No, it’s not, actually. Once you’ve got this concept, you’ll understand its worth. This is what gives us the edge over the guardsmen.’
Beatrix, brow furrowed in concentration, attempted another push. This one, however, she directed over his shoulder. Suddenly she found herself sole possessor of the stick.
‘What? How did that happen? What did I do?’
Keiran laughed at the expression of delighted bewilderment on her face. ‘Well done! The point is that the human body can only bend so far. There are certain parts of the body that, if you gain control over them, you can make the person do whatever you want. The head, for instance. If I grabbed hold of your head, you wouldn’t be able to move much apart from where I directed you. Following me so far?’
‘I think so.’
‘Right. So if you can get your opponent in a position that forces their body to bend too far, you’ll win every time. It’s this getting control that’s the clever bit. That’s the theory, anyway. And it works. You never know - it might just save your life one day.’