Chapter 1 - Nyss
I shot bolt upright in the bed mere moments before the morning bell begun to toll, a cold sweat running down my back.
I sighed heavily, wondering for the thousandth time what had caused such a restless sleep. If only I could remember anything that happened in the dreams, it was only ever vague, fleeting images and sensations, dancing away right when I was on the edge on consciousness and vanishing completely as soon as I was aware I was waking up.
On the bright side, I've not been late to morning drills in months.
I rolled out of the small, wooden military bunk and kicked the sleeping mound on the bunk below mine.
"Rise and shine, lazy. It's time for your daily butt-whooping!"
The blanket decended a few inches to reveal a single bleary eye, blinking in the light of the weak 5am sun peeking through the cracks of the shutters.
"Fuck off, Nyss. You beat me one time."
I snorted, pulling on my tunic and boots.
"One time yesterday, yes. And one time the day before, and the day before that, and the one before that actually, I.."
"I am begging you to fuck off"
"Alright you miserable wretch. I'll see you on the field"
With that, I abandoned my dear friend for the promise of breakfast. Leana would regret not heeding my advice to get up, breakfast was the most important meal of the day after all, and skipping it is probably one of the reasons she didnt last 5 minutes against me in sparring. Then again, if she hadn't learned after the 3 years we'd been bunkmates, she wasn't going to learn now.
After a delightful meal of lukewarm stodgy oats and some fruit, I made my way to the armoury and grabbed my weapons from the racks. Leana was there too, looking like she'd been dragged through a hedge backwards, sporting a grouchy look on her face.
"Nice of you to join us, you look delightful,"
I caught a scathing glare.
"Brought you some brekkie, maybe this time you'll win", tossing her an apple I'd pulled out from under my tunic. The glare softened slightly, still annoyed, but from the sound her stomach just made, I could guess she'd sorted out her priorities.
"You're lucky I like you, brat, or we'd be sporting matching eyepatches."
I grinned and winked. Leana rolled her eye, biting into the fruit.
Once we'd strapped our armour on, we picked up our spears and wandered out to the meet point for the drills. The brisk spring morning still featured mist rolling over the sides of the hill our grounds were on, seeping into the valley below that contained the majority of the city of Dermast. Across the valley sat the Royal Estates, the large complex of tall stone buildings encompassed by the iron wall, where the chosen gentry and the royal family resided.
Leana sniffed next to me, looking out at the glorious sunrise behind the King's towers.
"What a view aye. Not so many get to see that!"
"Ooh aye. What an honour to see that instead of being in bed, cosy and warm like a normal person." the sarcasm heavy in my voice.
Don't mistake me, I loved my job. But I'd been raised in the army lifestyle, I was born here. My Father had been the Quatermaster, and I'd lived and breathed this routine my whole life. And I would've relished the chance to sleep in for a whole day, sunrises be damned.
Alas, twas not the hand I drew. We trudged on to the meet point where the serjeant awaited us, ready to ruin our day with some new exercise based horror.
We eventually progressed on to sparring, my favourite part of the day. I ended up handing Leana her arse on a platter but I felt bad about the ribbing I'd given her this morning so I let her get a few jabs in and pretended they hurt. She seemed satisfied.
"Well, if it isn't the resident prodigy."
I spun on my heel, surprised to hear the smarmy voice of Dendric Spralt, who was quite possibly the worlds most persistent rodent and my long time, nay, all time biggest irritant. He once declared himself my biggest rival, which, I suppose he was, if I or anyone else in my cohort considered him a threat. Which we don't.
"Dendric," I pushed out in greeting, "thought you'd finally met your glorious demise on the eastern front. The gods are not smiling on me today."
He scowled. "I'll have you know I almost died, but skillfully and nobly thwarted the enemy's traps and completed a very important mission. I'm getting awards later. You'll be there too, won't you, now you're in the Kingsguard? Can't wait to rub that in I'm sure."
Gods he was a snotrag. I'll run a sweepstake later on whether or not his Very Affluent Father bribed him his medal or not. Can't see it having great odds. I sighed heavily, not enjoying the thought of having to socialise with him later on in the day.
"Wonderful news Dendric. Not bragging at all I see, I'll see you later then." abruptly ending the conversation and turning back to my current sparring opponent, some poor lad of 16 who was looking a little confused but somewhat relieved when the session ended right after.
I scarpered over to Leana as quickly as I could to avoid Dendric catching me and telling me more of his very clever exploits.
"God's above, Lee. Dendric is getting an award today. Dendric. He barely knows the pommel from the point of his sword. How do you reckon that's happened?"
"If I were to guess, Lord Spralt probably paid someone to have him sent him out with a bunch of veterans on a low risk mission just to say he'd done something and bring him back as soon as possible. I can't blame him, its rotten luck to get sent to the east on your first go."
"Rotten luck he came back if you ask me."
She smacked my arm. "Like him or not, he's one of us. Play nice. Try not to cause a scene at the ceremony later."
I huffed. I'm not promising anything.
Low and behold, when I arrive for my Kingsguard duties at the Iron Gate, I'm greeted by the Head Guardsman and informed of the awards ceremony that afternoon. I would indeed have to be there. Joy.
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