Result 13 – Part 4

The captain’s face is neutral but his glare is intense. You steady your breathing and wait. After a moment, Cedric counts down.


At the call, you surge forward in advance, your sights locked on your target, your goal to strike him before he has a chance to respond. However, even as your blade hovers millimetres from his side, you feel the dull stab of his own blade as it catches you in your shoulder, forcing you back a little, and leaving you with a dull throb.

OK. He wins that one.

You hop back, shaking yourself out. He’s quick. Of course, he’s experienced; he’s the teacher. But, you were close; you can do it; you just need to focus. Will you try an even quicker offensive this time? Or perhaps, try defending first, then looking for an opportunity to attack? Yes, you should see how well he can turn the tables when he’s wide open. Well, assuming he leaves himself open at all… Before that, though, you must avoid his attack first. Then you can see about any openings.

You stand apart and take your stance, steady yourself and your breathing, and then wait. He counts down once more and calls to engage. You advance a little but do not move to strike, instead watching him closely. You barely have time to see him approach; he bursts forward, taking the opportunity to attack again. He goes for your side this time; you dodge back and away, then lunge forward, going for his side again. He reacts quickly, attempting to jump back, but is only just too slow and cannot avoid the strike. He concedes and goes to stand in his original spot.

You exhale. You realise your heart is pounding now, along with your head. Steady. Be calm. You’ve got this.

You take your stance one more. A win for him, a win for you. Now? Another win for you, if you have anything to say about it.

He counts down and gives the call.

You decide to try attacking again but are extra on guard to defend. You aim high, going for his chest, a quick, decisive slash. You almost see him lean away from your blade in slow motion, your sabre now flying miles away from its target. In the blink of an eye, he has brought his blade up to parry, sending your sabre even further off target. Now, he shifts again and swings his blade firmly towards you, and a jolt of pain runs through your arm as he strikes it directly; you automatically crumple slightly and feel your grip on the handle weaken and with a second, sweeping strike, he bats the sabre from your hand entirely, sending it clattering to the floor. You’ve no time to follow it with your gaze; your focus quickly falls to the tip of his sword, which is now pressed against your chest, just below your throat.

He pauses there for a moment as you attempt to get your bearings, then he relaxes and steps back, moving to his original position.

You stare at him for a moment, though he motions for you to collect your sword by pointing at it with his own. You hurry over and pick it up, the act of bending down causing your headache to flare. He… is very fast. He did all that in about a second. Did you just get lucky when you scored against him before? You must’ve done, or he wasn’t trying hard the last round.

You take your stance again and face off once more. However, what follows is a thorough thrashing. Of the 8 rounds that you do, 2 of them are simple defeats while 4 are total defeats that would probably kill you in a real dual. You do manage to get 2 wins, though they are both just barely simple contacts and would possibly, maybe rip his shirt or cause a small nick if the blade was metal.

Maybe it’s time for a different part of the lesson, (or maybe he’s disgusted by your performance, or has decided to take pity on you), but he decides to call it there. However, he looks at you thoughtfully.

“You’re too slow”.

You’re too slow? He’s too fast!

He continues “Too slow in general speed, but mainly in your reaction times. But, you have potential. With consistent training, you can push past your current limits. Where you go from there will be up to you.”

With that, he calls for everyone to stop sparring and come together so he can get back to teaching them new disarming techniques.

You attempt to pay attention for the rest of the session, but find it hard to focus. It’s too loud, your head is pounding and your fights are replaying in your mind. Are you really that slow? You’ve always managed to do well so far; you always through yourself quite speedy. Raynard was just letting you get used to things, but the captain quickly stopped pulling his punches. If either of them really wanted to win, they’d do so easily. But then… You’re not in the best condition right now; surely that has something to do with it? If your head wasn’t imploding, you’d have had much better results for sure. Hmm…

That must be it; today’s just a bad day. You’re normally faster and more capable, and despite what the captain said, you did still manage to get strikes on him. Your speed is fine; you’re just impaired right now, and not experienced enough with the techniques yet. You’ll see; attend at least one more lesson and just maybe you’ll prove Cedric wrong.

You return your focus to Cedric; you’ve not been listening for the last 10 minutes and have missed everything he’s said. He’s currently standing at the front and demonstrating a technique on one of the other students; for some reason, he’s holding the student’s outstretched sword by its guard, apparently in the process of stealing it from the student during his attack and telling everyone else how to do this. Glancing around, the other students watch and listen dutifully, paying full attention. Meanwhile, Ameronis watches flatly.

Ameronis. She beat you twice. You never thought that she was more skilled than you, but somehow she won. What if it is speed or reaction time in her case? Perhaps she outclasses you in that one area, but is otherwise your equal, or less? That’s probably it.

You nod to yourself. You’re average or better when it comes to speed and reactions, but are at a disadvantage here today, so lost against the captain and Raynard. Meanwhile, Ameronis just about out-speeds you, but not by much. If you were just a little quicker…

How is she so fast, anyway? She’s like, 90 years old… On some days your knees feel a little stiff, so by all rights, she should not be gracefully sliding around the way she does. You’re going to have to figure out what the’s been eating and doing for all these years and get in on that before it’s too late for you…

A flurry of movement around you draws your attention. Apparently, it’s time for a little bit more practice before the lesson wraps up. With barely any idea what you’re supposed to be doing due to missing every single instruction, you bumble your way forward until you can get the gist of how it’s supposed to work by stealthily observing the others. You’re paired against another student who is no comparison to the captain, so practising against him is easy overall. Still, the technique itself is tricky; avoid the strike, parry the sword, grab the hilt. By the time the lesson is over, you’ve got a pretty good grasp of it, though would not be confident enough to try that against captain Cedric. One day though.

The captain barks out instructions and tells you all to remember the steps and practice them at home; you’ll be practising them first thing in the next lesson. With that, the students gather their belongings and disperse, some hanging around to chat whilst others leave right away.

Duelling with Captain Cedric

(Ai-generated image produced using Stable Diffusion)

You feel a little… aimless. You remain where you are, idly trying to gather your thoughts until Ameronis sidles up to you.

“C’mon, let’s get out of here.”

She heads towards the door. You hesitate, then gather up your things and follow.

A little after 11 now, the two of you stand outside in the courtyard. The cool breeze is nice, though you’re gasping for some water. Ameronis is making her way towards the entrance, though you look towards The Warrior’s Hearth. You can get some water there. You call Ameronis.

Inside, you sit on a bench and down a glass of water, then refill it and drink half of this one before coming up for air. From then, you take measured sips as you idly chew on a raisin muffin you bought from the teahouse.

Ameronis also has a muffin and a cup of hot tea. You ask her what she thought of the class and Cedric and whether she plans to attend more classes. She immediately laughs out loud, which catches the attention of a few others in the room.

“Ha! Certainly not! Whatever you may think of me, I haven’t lost my mind yet.”

What? Why? What’s wrong with the class? She continues to chuckle to herself, seeming mildly amused, but very annoyed. She sits regally at the table, resting one hand over the other as she looks at you with a smile.

“It would be rude to… criticise… at a time, and place… such as this.”

You regard her for a moment, then let it go. Alright. You won’t press. Not now, anyway. You ask her later, then the risk of Cedric, or anyone else who might not appreciate harsh criticism, is no longer present. Instead, you ask her about how she managed the sparring in general. She thinks for a moment.

“Average, I suppose. Not as well as I would’ve liked. I think I won half my matches? What about you?”

You begrudgingly tell her about your experience. You won less than half against the captain, but around that much against Raynard, though only just in some cases. You’re not sure what your real ability is, so plan to try again when you’re feeling more up to it.

She chuckles. “Fair enough, Just be sure not to party so hard next time!”

You groan in exasperation. You did not party too hard! At least, you think you didn’t. How and why would you; the circumstances don’t add up.

Ameronis attempts to placate you. “It’s OK, It’s OK! I’m just kidding. We’ll get to the bottom of it. Though you probably did just have too much to drink either way…”

You sulk a little. Even that seems unlikely. You know better than to get blackout drunk alone and in an unfamiliar place.

“What do you think? Should we go see if Stardust is open and ask around?”

You stare at the clock. No. The main hall was closed and you only got in via the back because Omon specifically allowed it that one time. No reason to believe you can just waltz back there at any time even if you do have a VIP pass now. No, best to just wait until evening and go there then. Perhaps you’ll go back to the hotel and sleep off this headache until then…

“Aren’t we supposed to be going to give your beggar friends their bread?”

Oh, right, yes! That’s still on the schedule. OK. Beggars first, then sleep.

The two of you finish your food and drink and, feeling a little better from your hydration, you show Ameronis the way to the beggar’s camp. Once you’ve finally left The Warrior’s Edge, you ask Ameronis again for her opinion about the duelling class. She snorts.

“That Cedric is such a jagnard! I’ve no time for someone with someone with their head so far up their own backside like that!”

You raise an eyebrow. How so? He didn’t seem that bad.

“Really? He’ll ‘handle’ me? Hmph! Yeah, right. And he’s definitely a sore loser. He no doubt chose to partner against me because he expected me to simply roll over and be pathetic. But I wasn’t, so then he spent the rest of the time sulking. I’m sure I offended him by not losing, but that’s fine by me! I’ll leave him with those losses to remember me by and will put my money to better use. As far as his duelling techniques go, he wasn’t that difficult to counter; there are certainly better teachers out there.”

Wow. That was vastly different to what you experienced. His attitude was fine with you and he didn’t seem to be sulking after he left Ameronis. But she beat him more than once? Your mind goes back to the speed issue. Maybe Cedric is slow compared to both of you when you’re in good condition. Even more reason to test this theory later.

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