I'm NOT Overreacting

Chapter 8

"Halt?" Gilan asked, glancing up from where he was oiling his saxe knife. There was heavy wind and rain outside, but inside the neat little cabin, Halt and his apprentice were quite comfortable next to the warm, crackling fire, with Gilan inspecting his weapons and Halt reading the latest happenings on the fief.

Halt grunted in reply. Gilan took the noise as a sign to continue. "I've been thinking a lot about this..."

"Always a dangerous pastime," Halt replied in a distracted fashion, turning the page of the report. Inwardly, however, he was smirking to himself as he often did after saying one of his favorite lines.

Gilan sighed. "That line is getting old, Halt," he mumbled, before continuing in a clearer voice. "It's about the double knife defense."

At this point, Halt's dark eyes look up. "What about it?" The Ranger asked, dropping the disinterested pretense. He had yet to discuss the subject with his student, though it was perfectly logical for Gilan to have learned about it in the Battleschool.

"They taught us how to block sword cuts - side cuts, overhead cuts, under cuts. We practiced deflecting thrusts using only the larger blade." Gilan's forehead creased in thought. "But that was all. They didn't teach us how to defend ourselves against anything else."

Halt paused, then made a rolling gesture with his hand, sensing that Gilan had more to say.

"Well, not all attacks are from swords," The boy finished in a matter of fact tone.

Halt raised an eyebrow. "That's true," he said carefully. He wasn't quite sure where his student was headed, but he was growing rather suspicious.

Gilan sheathed his saxe knife and began working on his throwing knife. "I asked Sir Gerron what to do if I ran into, say, an axeman. He went very quiet for a moment, then got rather gruff and told me to be quiet and finish the drill."

Halt gave an exasperated snort. "And of course, that wasn't the first time that he told you that." Indeed, Halt himself had told Gilan a good number of times to stop talking and do his practice.

Gilan bit his lip. "Well, he had, I suppose... Anyway, moving on, what do I do if I run into an axeman? Will the two knives work then?"

Halt paused, still suspicious that he was being drawn into a trap, then answered, sarcasm weaved into his words. "If you ever bring your archery skills up to mediocrity, no axemen will be bothering you."

Gilan looked affronted. His archery skills were actually very decent. He acknowledged the fact that he still had a long way to go, but Halt was being rather harsh. Sarcasm, however, was a game that Gilan knew only too well how to play. "And if my skills never do reach mediocrity?" The boy replied, his voice dripping with as much sarcasm as Halt's.

Halt's sensed the challenge. "Your unseen movement skills aren't entirely cringe worthy." Halt said snidely.

Gilan smirked in a decidedly triumphant way. "I'm cornered against a cliff, and my archery skills are appalling. What do I do then?"

Halt glared at his apprentice. Gilan could be too snarky for his own good. "In your case, you have a sword that you could swing blindly around and hope it hits something."

Gilan shook his head, the smirk that Halt was beginning to despise still on his face. "Can't. The axeman already sent it flying out of my hands before he cornered me. And," Gilan added before Halt could stall anymore, "my strikers got lost over the cliff edge. In that situation, what do I do?"

If looks could kill, Gilan would have been dead several times over. "Then you use your overly large head to think your way out of the impossible situation you created!" Halt snapped, ready to be done with the conversation. "I wonder, what ingenious idea would you come up with?"

Gilan paused, then answered in a dead serious tone, all signs of banter gone. "I suppose... I suppose I would choose the cliff."

Halt raised an eyebrow at this. "You would jump off the cliff?" He said skeptically. He hadn't considered that.

Gilan nodded, warming to his answer. "It would be neater, cleaner, faster. Altogether less messy then getting split in half by an axe."

Halt rolled his eyes, turning back to his papers. Apprentices and their ideas, Halt decided, could be thoroughly exhausting. "And if someone approached you with a similar conversation, that is how you would answer?"

Gilan nodded. "Yes. I think so. Anyway," Gilan continued, sounding rather pleased, "I'll be better prepared then you. I'll probably be approached with this conversation at some point."

Halt gave a long suffering sigh. "Not likely. No single person could be as annoying as you."

Gilan opened his mouth to protest, then stopped. "That's probably true."


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