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Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 9: Slade 156
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 8: Hastings 174
After just a few days with Lauren around Slade noticed that their stories had changed. They were the same stories, and the facts were the same, but the telling was changing. Some of it was that Lauren asked questions that indigs such as the Caliph wouldnít know to ask, like what magic worked and didnít work. Part of it, too, was that Lauren had the background to understand concepts like computer-targeted artillery and aseptic technique, so these were naturally included in the stories when she was part of the audience, despite the blank stares of the confused locals.
That wasnít the only thing that changed. She practiced, and she engaged everyone else in practice, honing her own skills but also training them. Slade was a remarkably good swordsman, but she gave him a run for his money, particularly when she pulled those chain-like weapons and used one to keep him at bay while the other flew in from unexpected directions to tag him. He didnít always lose, but he always took more hits than he would have wanted.
She also dragged Joe down to the archery range. He had acquired a very nice crossbow some worlds back, but never really used it that Slade had seen. She persuaded him that this was a good time to learn how to shoot it if he was going to carry it with him from world to world. (Sladeís own crossbow wasnít really designed to be a weapon, but to fire a grapple to the top of a wall for climbing, so he did not get dragged to the archery range.)
She also engaged Shella in practicing magic, and Derek in practicing psionics. She said you never knew what you were going to need to do next, and the better you were at everything the more likely you would be able to do it. Only Zeke seemed to escape her insistence on training. Part of that was that he seemed to be in awe of her, and tended to watch her from a distance. Part of it was that she didnít seem quite sure what to make of him, or how to approach him, or exactly what his relationship with Joe or any of the others was.
Slade didnít so much mind. He liked the workout, the challenge of facing an opponent he couldnít easily beat (and he had already proven that he was more than a match for any two members of the royal guard, including the Master at Arms). She was a team player when trouble came, and he was glad to have her here.
He only worried a bit about what kind of trouble was coming that Odin thought he was going to need Lauren aboard.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #319: Quiet Worlds. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: