“Breanna, watch that drop at the end of your swing. Your target will come in over the top of your sword and stab you,” Marta shouted. “Owen, up! Make sure that you swing up at the end of the cross-over. You must keep the rhythm or a thrust will get through.”
Breanna, Owen, Cameron and Evan had been practicing with Marta twice a day for a week, trying to accomplish as quickly as possible what would normally take two or three months to master. They were all exhausted but worked doggedly to learn the battle skills they would need to fight the Demons they all knew were coming.
“Everyone take a break. We’ll meet again after mid-meal.” Marta dismissed her charges and followed them with weary steps into the Keep. Food had been set out on the head table for her little band.
Mid-meal had been over for a candlemark for everyone else. Each of them slumped down onto their chairs. They quickly drained the mugs of water that sat at each place. Each of them forked cold meats and vegetables from platters in the middle of the table on to their plates.
Marta was fourteen and the youngest of the Halorans. She took stock of each one of these children who had grown into the younger brothers and sisters that she’d always wanted. All of them needed more than a break for mid-meal, including herself. She decided to free everyone for the afternoon.
“All of you, I think we should take the afternoon off. Make sure your blades are cleaned and sharpened and then go do what you want.” She smiled. “I’m going to take a nap.”
The cousins looked at each other and grinned. Cameron said “Oh yeah. That’s a good idea. I’m going to sleep, too.” The others nodded in agreement.
Owen was the first finished, cleared his place and moved to the fireplace to clean HeartStriker. Cameron and Evan soon followed, with GhostWalker and ShadowSworn.
Breanna continued to sit at the table, drooping tiredly.
“Come on, Breanna. I’ll help you clean SunWalker,” Marta said quietly. “I need to take care of HellScream.”
“Thanks Marta. I really need it,” Breanna whispered. “My hands hurt a lot.” She pushed back her chair and cleared her place, then followed Marta to the hearth.
Tomorrow, the Swords of Light will help you set your muscle memory. SunWalker spoke into all of their minds. When that is done, each of you will not need to think of every step you take when fighting. We will strengthen your bodies so that you do not tire so easily. We have waited this long so that you would at least have the basics down. You all have done well. Marta, you are an excellent teacher.
Eyes opened wide as the children listened to proof that somehow the swords they carried were alive and knew what was going on.
Owen spoke what they all were thinking. “Can you help us during the battle?”
Yes, we can, and we will. Each of you holds within yourself the seeds of greatness. We will help you nurture those seeds until you and they have matured.
“Do you know what kind of Demons we will face?” Cameron questioned in the silence that followed.
I only know those we fought in the far past. We will learn together and defeat each one. Do not fear.
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