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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 65: Slade 189
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When Slade stepped outside for his morning practice the next day he was surprised not to find an avian contingent awaiting. However, as he got started, he saw them approaching, and stopped to await their arrival. As near as he could tell, it was the same group that had visited him the last few mornings. This time when they were spitting distance, they stopped, bowed low as a group, and laid their swords on the ground.
What were they thinking? Was he to fight all of them at once? No, they weren’t positioning their swords for combat; they seemed to be surrendering them.
Anticipating that someone was going to say something, he found a language link. Then he decided it was up to him to open the conversation.
There was a twitter of laughter, but all heads remained bowed. He wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, but made a guess.
“Please, rise. What can I do for you this morning?”
“If you please, sir,” one said--Agile, he thought--“we would be most honored if you would train us to fight as you do.”
Train them? He had never been a teacher. On the other hand, he had at times worked with soldiers to improve their skills, both his own and those at Filp’s castle. And it would give him a workout against reasonably skilled opponents.
“I would be quite happy to train you. We’ll have class here, every morning that you can come, at this time or as near to it as I get here--I don’t have an alarm clock. We can start today, if you like. You’re going to have to bear with me on names--your names don’t translate into my language, so I’m probably just going to call you things I can remember. For now,” he said, pointing in sequence to the two he had already fought, “You’re Swifty, and you’re Agile. I’ll come up with names for others as we go. Good?”
The birds seemed excited at the prospect.
“O.K., first I need to get some idea of how you fight and how well you fight. I want you all to pair off. Find someone you think is about the same skill as yourself, and I’m going to watch you spar with each other. Swifty, Agile, help them with this. People can have really wrong ideas of their own ability, but you to probably have some idea of which ones are best and which ones need the most work. Any questions?”
There was a pause, and then a hesitant voice asked, “Are you going to teach us how to use two blades?”
He smiled. “Indeed, I will teach you how to use two blades, and how to use something other than a blade, like a mace, and what to do if you somehow wind up without a blade. But first things first. You have to be able to control and wield one blade before we can talk about what to do with your other arm.
“And if we can get some firearms, I might even teach you how to shoot. But let’s get started with the simple stuff. Pair off, and you’ll take turns showing me something of what you can do.”
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #443: Versers Acclimate. 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: