A Matter of Who I Am: Cp 14

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A Matter of Who I Am
Chapter Fourteen

(Jelnaya)

Dumourl and I both kept our promises to each other, although we both spoke of thinking that we could have used a few more hours of sleep. A few soldiers took to the challenge of taking us on separately, but they quickly bowed out. Neither Dumourl nor I had come out for a simple period of exercise, but we were preparing for taking on things much more threatening than a soldier.

Both of us had to give Irgamy credit for also rising at the early hour. The man looked at the setting, but made no comment other than wanting to start by taking on a woman. I did not take offense, but let him pick up a practice sword before setting myself upon him. He had a tight fighting style that I believe did indicate his years from battling others on board a ship with limited space. Both Dumourl and I however yelled out when we heard a crack from Irgamy’s weapon.

“Mistake of substance!”

Irgamy looked at his broken weapon to ask, “What?”

“Learn your weapon,” I answered. “A fault like that can cost you dearly in a real combat.”

“I have an enchanted weapon.”

“So do I, but I have learned not to become dependent upon it. If I find myself using something else, I make certain to recognize certain adjustments to make in my fighting style.”

“Okay,” he said tossing his weapon away and grabbing another. “I guess that means you have a point.”

Dumourl said, “What point? All points will be scored on our coming mission.”

I added, “Make it home, and we will total them for you.”

Irgamy said, “I will buy the first round while we do that.”

He set himself back upon me. I was impressed to see that he had some speed. It was my major advantage, as I really did not have strength. Irgamy however moved up a hand to support his blade as I struck, only to find me stepping back yelling at him.

“Show me your weapon! Come on! Let me see your weapon!”

He looked at me strangely, but when he turned to Dumourl and saw him indicate what I was saying Irgamy drew his sword and handed it to me. It was a lovely saber with a definite blue glow of some powerful aura. He however displayed another mystified expression when I had its back side strike my practice weapon.

“Okay,” I said handing it back to him, “I guess that you could make that move.”

Irgamy asked, “What was wrong with that move?”

I went to where I had hung my sword belt, and took my blade. It was also a highly enchanted saber, although longer and thinner in design. I did not grab the blade as he had done, but lightly had the back of the length of metal strike my practice weapon.

“By the song of the sirens,” Irgamy stated upon seeing the wood simply part.

“Yes. My father sells weapons of war, but even the worst of his customers respect the weapons that my grandfather will handle. I went and got this blade, proved myself with it, then went to grandfather to improve it. I then went to a priest of Fergush to enhance it further. If my unprotected hand or arm gets anywhere near this blade, I will get hurt. Even this back side that is not actually edged is dangerous.” To prove that point, I again struck a practice sword with the unsharpened section, and the wood separated. “I thus could not do the maneuver you just did.”

“Quite a blade,” came a strong voice that surprised all of us. “Does it have a name?”

I turned to Marekel to say, “I was named after a fruit, so went in search of an historic blade that also had such a name. Could not find one, but I did find myself liking the name of this weapon, which is NeverRose – always a thorn.”

“Sheathe that blade, dear lady, as I agree that we need not seek to seriously harm each other. Let me however say that the name of my weapon is Waiver. As long as its wielder does not waiver in his strike, it will strike true.”

I picked up a practice blade, and as Marekel gained one he asked, “Do you have enough around here?”

“Dumourl and I did not come out with any intention of playing nice. I told the soldiers to bring us twenty, but I am of the imperial family, so they brought more. Worry about yourself, and not these weapons. Trust me, they make them by the thousands. If grandmother finds there are too many in the warehouse, she fusses at the soldiers for not practicing enough.”

Most men deferred to my gender, so usually came out with simple attacks. One reason that I enjoyed sparring with Dumourl was that he knew me well enough that he was not afraid of starting out quick and strong. Marekel also made a solid and fast opening blow. Only my natural inherited speed enabled me to counter. Glad to have a real challenge, I skipped any simple attack routines and let him see my skills.

He and I both had a wide style of moving the blade developed from fighting a multitude of opponents. One person would be our target, but our blades would move to threaten those possibly coming to provide aid. Marekel did have trouble with my speed, but switched to a more defensive style that kept him able to protect his body from quick minor movements to simply draw blood. I then changed to a more proper fencing technique, and disarmed him. Instead of stopping to compliment me, he rolled, grabbed another weapon lying around, and moved back to continue the fight.

I laughed when our weapons met, and upon hearing the cracks saw Marekel spin while dropping his hand to pick up another practice sword. I spun as well, kicked another weapon with my foot, and caught it to meet the man as he rushed back upon me. He probably expected to tire me, but that just showed his ignorance with my family and its teaching. We do not stop when we are tired, but when the matter is fully settled. My grandfather set his reputation by going back for the treasure, and I was given this mission after wiping out a large part of an army and not just the dragon I was sent to kill. When I heard my weapon crack, I spun to enable me to pick up another, and laughed upon seeing Marekel’s face show his understanding that he still faced a threat.

The combat ended when he again spun to get a weapon, but instead stumbled and found himself staying on the ground. “You’re good,” he managed to expel between large gulps of air.

I smiled at Irgamy as I said, “By Fergush, I will best this mission.”

Marekel did not act as if he understood the comment, but only to support the philosophy. “Yes, you should. I am glad to have your support. This is a major expedition, and could force us to make a number of hard decisions. However bad things get, I however promise you that I will not ever fight against you. I do not know what we will face. I am under a vow not to tell you some things, but those I pray will be unimportant anyway. It has been over a decade since I was last where we are going, so what I could tell you will probably not be true.”

Irgamy asked, “Could we press you for hints?”

“Please don’t. What I fear is the unimportant becoming important. If that happens, we will all need to fear. Strangely, all is best if I am able to keep my vow and seal it for eternity. If you learn what I hope will never be revealed then that poem of this place could end up being my story as well. I do not want that.”

Thinking back over what my grandfather told me, I declared, “I am willing to take Baron Marekel at his word.”

Dumourl replied, “Then we will talk about something else. How about telling us about the terrain we will be traveling through.”

“Don’t bring a horse you love, as it will die. I rode mine to a lovely grotto, and left it there thinking it safe. I cut steaks from it to eat on my return. Whatever killed it ate its head, and left the rear flank. Bring rope and tools for climbing. Not really needed, but the support did provide a degree of safety in certain places. The monsters freely move on walls or water, so stay ever alert.”

Sephex asked, “How many days?”

“I cannot say. I do not know these routes. I hope to merely repeat the path back to my home. From there, if things are as I remember, it is fifteen days walking.”

Things went silent for a period, then Dumourl pointed to Sephex and asked, “Can you fight?”

“Not with a sword.”

I called for some poles, and soon both he and Dumourl were handed the same processed material as the practice swords in a different form. Sephex shrugged when the reptile said that he would use both. With an agreement about combat styles, the two entertained us as they tested each other. Sephex was not the best opponent, but Dumourl found himself put under pressure when Irgamy joined the mage. The reptile however switched his manner of fighting to take on two opponents, although found himself having a hard time as Sephex proved himself to be rather good at supporting the efforts of an ally.

We all turned when a strong deep voice said, “Yeah, I’m still drunk. Hair of dog got me up and here. Chering and others are coming.”

Dumourl said, “We agreed on supper tonight. No one said you had to be here.”

I said, “Yes, Vulge, but welcome.” I rose from my bench to say, “I’ll take you on.”

He looked around, then said, “What do you think is better for me, Princess? This adventuring stuff is all new to me. I can fight. All of us of Davelda fought in that war long ago, but the type of fighting that I will be doing is different.”

I turned to a soldier watching, and told him that Vulge needed to figure out what type of weapon he would be using. Soon a number of different simulated weapons were brought out. The men with me looked over the selection, then Marekel said that he would hand out a different weapon whenever Vulge called for it.

Instead of the man taking it easy on me, I took it easy on him. He had the muscles, and a good bit of speed, but he showed very little proficiency in the weapons. I believe that he wanted to use an ax, but found me to easily move around the wide swings. Irgamy told me to back away, then stepped into the circle with a simulated ax being held close to the blade. Vulge quickly duplicated certain moves shifting his hand up and down the handle to adjust for certain types of attack. The sparring was done in an easy fashion, but when Chering and another man showed up Vulge was promising to continue during the day working the techniques with an actual weapon.

None of those of Davelda showed themselves to have the level of skill of the rest of us. They did not gripe however, but accepted their defeats with the attitude of getting better. All spoke of being hung over, but hushed when Irgamy, Sephex, Dumourl, and I reminded them that we had been out late drinking as well. The men of Davelda promised to continue sparring even as the rest of us spoke of getting breakfast.

Grandmother met us as we came to the door to reenter the castle. “I will see that my men have good weapons. I will also spend time sparring with them.”

I replied, “Give them a hard time, Grandmother. They need to understand just how serious this challenge is.”

“They have all the reports of my own association with Terish and the omniverse. There are books and movies available to them to present the level of the threats that could be present. If they don’t understand what they are getting into, they deserve their fate. Still, I will do what I can for them.”

Marekel said, “My soldiers are probably no better than they. At least these came out to improve. I believe my men are still sleeping.”

“Your men are your concern, Baron. I will be concerned for my people. I will do all I can to talk some sense in them, or at least have them somewhat prepared.”

Marekel thanked the four of us, then reminded us that he expected to see us for supper. We all admitted that we would probably get some more sleep, but would otherwise be getting ourselves ready for the coming challenge. He again spoke of appreciating our mentality, then headed to do what he felt necessary. Dumourl and Irgamy escorted me to my room, said that they would be back to escort me should I have other destinations during the day. I thanked them while thinking to head back to bed.

Ulemai also wants to prepare for this coming adventure.