Chapter Seventeen

The afternoon’s training session was even harder then the morning’s run so Daniela was grateful for the thirty minutes of rest Garrett had given her.  The beginning of the session was awful.  The men who hadn’t turned up to serve their punishment in the stables were singled out by Garrett.

“If you weren’t prepared to do what was asked of you then why are you here?”  He asked them, his expression hard as stone.  “I give an order, I expect it to be obeyed.  Orders aren’t obeyed and it might end up in the death of one of your comrades.  Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir,” the men replied.

“You’re lucky that I’m in a good mood today so you will only be given kitchen duty on top of the work you were meant to be doing in the stables.”  There was an audible groan from some of the men and Garrett swung round with fire in his eyes to where the noise had come from.  “I suggest that I never hear that sort of sound from you again or the punishment will be severe.  Anyone have anything else to add?”  When this question was greeted by silence he said “good.”

Once the punishment had been dealt out the training session could finally begin.  Yet again Daniela was handed a sword, along with the rest of the men, and Garrett demonstrated the correct way to hold it.  After he was satisfied everyone was doing it right he began to move the blade, expecting the men to mirror his movements.  

They repeated every action over and over again until Garrett was satisfied that they were all performing it correctly.  By the time they had mastered the first move, Daniela’s arm was screaming and her back and shoulders were beginning to ache.

But that didn’t signal the end of the session.  Once they had learnt one move, Garrett began to teach them another, each more complex than the last.  By the time he began linking the moves together into a sequence, Daniela thought she was about to die.  When they eventually finished she didn’t think she’d be able to move.  Every muscle in her body felt like it had been worked to the point of exhaustion.

“You did well,” Garrett told her as she began to stagger away to find something to eat before she collapsed.

“It doesn’t feel like it,” she replied without thinking, prompting a laugh from her Captain.

“The pain goes in time.  There will come a day when you won’t feel the ache at all.”

“I’m sorry if I have a hard time believing you at the moment.”

“If you want to get past the pain barrier then the key is to practice as often as you can.  When I was training I would get up earlier then everyone else to practice before breakfast.  It was hard work but the skills I practiced have saved my life more than once.”

“Thank you for the advice,” Daniela replied.

“If you ever need anything, you know you can come to me,” Garrett said reassuringly, putting his hand on her shoulder.  “You’re a good boy, Danny, better than most of the guys here.  It’s obvious that many of the men here have either been enlisted or had no other choice but to fight.  You are different, I can tell.  You have something to prove.”

“I want to protect my country,” Daniela replied as coolly as she could manage.

“That’s good to hear.  I wish more of the men here felt the same.”  Garrett sighed and patted Daniela lightly on the back. “Go eat, then rest.  Tomorrow will be another hard day.”

Daniela groaned inwardly at the thought of repeating the day she had just experienced but tried not to let her exhaustion show any more than it was already.  Instead she smiled at Garrett and watched him as he walked away.

“Becoming the Captain’s favourite?”  A snide voice commented from behind Daniela.  “I expected as much.  Or perhaps he’s fallen in love.  Poor little runt.”

“Shut up, Adan,” Daniela said tiredly, turning to face the lord.  “I’m not in the mood.”  She walked away, doing her best not to react to the taunts that followed her.

Once she was inside the mess hall, had collected her food and spotted Ronan sitting at a bench with a spare seat beside him, the taunts began to fade from Daniela’s mind.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur.  She was so tired she didn’t hear half of what Ronan was saying to her, only nodding occasionally to pretend she was listening.  The food on her plate didn’t taste of anything as she spooned it into her mouth.  The moment she dragged herself back to the barracks and into her bed, Daniela was instantly asleep.

The End

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