Chloe and Lillith sat at the breakfast table, eating in silence. They eyed each other, each wondering what the other was thinking.
Lillith wondered if Chloe would show up to the gymnasium for practice as she had promised, or if she would forget and wander into the city like she had the day before.
Chloe wondered if Lillith was doubting her, if Lillith believed her word, her promise at all. They had both come to the agreement that she was to train from morning until early afternoon.
And so they sat in anticipation. Chloe’s eyes darted to Lillith’s plate. She tried to pace herself so that Lillith finished first. Lillith didn’t notice at first, but eventually it was clear that Chloe was eating at an extremely leisured pace. And then Col re-entered the room. Having finished serving the meal, he sat down between them and, oblivious, began to speak.
“No, no, I told him, I don’t own the building, I just live here, and work here! I told him. And he looked at me suspiciously! I can’t tell if he was stopping me because I don’t look like the kind of person who would live here, or if it was my missing teeth, or what. How would he have seen my teeth from where he was? I wasn’t talking, my mouth was closed. So I guess wasn’t the teeth, huh. I just don’t understand. I tell you, the officers around here are getting more and more paranoid. It’s like they’re looking for something. Or maybe they’re just looking to pick a fight? I don’t know, I don’t know.” Col shook his head and then began to eat.
Distracted, Chloe had unconsciously finished her food. She gave a half frown, stood, said thank you, and then exited. She stopped in the hallway, looking left and right. She couldn’t remember where the gym was. She thought, maybe I should have stayed at the table and waited? That would have been polite too.
“Ah,” she exhaled. Too late now.
Chloe went to the ground floor to look for the room. She tried a few doors and eventually found the right one. She opened it and peered inside.
“Ah, so you found it,” Lillith rounded the corner, “well, don’t just stand there, go in, let’s get started.”
They entered the gym, and Lillith headed to the left wall on which hung her sword collection. She took a couple of thin, edge-less swords off the wall.
“These are training swords. They have no edge, and weigh less so that cutting is safer. And they flex more and have this roundly folded tip, so that thrusting is safer. We’ll use them while you’re learning so that we don’t have to call for the Servant of Duels every time, but still don’t cause too much accidental injury.”
“We’re going to start with some exercises, because I don’t think you’ve enough strength to wield a sword properly.”
“Well, I fought okay on my way here…” Chloe said.
“Was it a quick fight?” Lillith asked.
“Quick? I fought a whole horde of wild Riley people.”
Lillith tilted her head to the side, “consider how many cuts you actually threw.”
Chloe thought back and tried to form an estimate, “I guess around seven or eight.”
“Right, and you said they were wild, which I’m assuming means untrained. Should we have to retaliate against an army, or battalion, or whatever is thrown our way should the situation in the city turn dark, you’re going to need to be able to throw out more than seven or eight. And, since we’re expecting trained guards and officers, you’ll need the strength to pull your weapon back.”
“Pull it back?”
Lillith handed Chloe on of the training swords, and then stood beside her.
“Throw out a cut, and then pull it back. At the same time as me, ready?”
They both swung forward. Lillith’s sword cut down faster, but she waited for Chloe to finish cutting. Then, she returned to her starting position. The gap between the two women’s return was noticeably larger than the gap between their cuts.
“Hey,” Chloe said, “that’s not fair, you have more training than me.”
Lillith nodded, “You’re absolutely right, but that’s not the kind of argument you can make against an enemy. And, I didn’t show you this to compete. I’m showing you that you need to build a kind of strength that most people haven’t.”
“Strength in your forearms. A lot of hand movements are controlled by the wrists.”
“And the wrists is controlled by tendons attached to muscles in the forearm. And swords are heavier than everyday objects, so those muscles need to have more strength, right?”
Lillith nodded, “Err, right. Yes. So, what you need to do is exercise those muscles. For today, that’s all we’ll work on. Then I’ll start adding more in training.”
So, under Lillith’s instruction, Chloe spent a few hours throwing her weapon out and pulling it back in. Lillith made her focus on the speed of her pull back.
“You want to have your sword in a position to defend or cut again as soon as possible. It’s easier to attack, both through your thought process and by how muscles work, so for today we won’t focus on that.”
As she made cuts with the weapon, Lillith added diagonal cuts, and made her alternate. The work seemed to be easy at first, but eventually it began to wear on Chloe. She began to sweat, and her arm started aching. Lillith allowed for some breaks, and gave her water, but they kept going until Chloe started to feel pain.
“Al right, we’ll pick up tomorrow.”
“I think I can keep going through the pain.” Chloe panted.
“That’s admirable of you, but if you damage yourself, then we have to wait for you to heal. You still need to come back tomorrow.”
“Well, we stopped early today, but that’s fine. I’ll get Col to prepare lunch. We can eat when it’s ready. And don’t forget, you’re going to feel this in the morning.”
First draft disclaimer: This narrative is a first draft, and is therefore subject to grammar errors, repetitiveness, lack of clarity, repetitiveness, weak character voice and other issues. Later drafts will smooth such things over, but for now they remain.
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