I couldn't blame the lord for pushing me though. We had been working on this combination for more than a week and I still had not mastered it, even with Dalton pulling his punches. I looked across the small courtyard at Lord Edmond who sat on a small stool watching us. His face was grim and severe as he studied my movements.
When Dalton and I did not immediately engage he yelled at us again.
"When in a true battle there is not time for hesitation. Now again!" Dalton sneered at the man. He never liked the lord but I couldn't blame him this time. He looked back at me catching my eye before he spoke.
"Don't worry Artie. I know you have this. Don't focus on the moves so much. Your muscles should have memorized the combination by now. Just trust it." I gave Dalton a nod letting him know I heard what he said. He gave me a moment to reset and then put up his hands readying himself to attack.
In a moment he charged at me throwing a fist. I anticipated the attack and blocked his wrist with a sideward thrust. Immediately I went to step on his foot to push him back followed by a kick with the other leg. Step by step I maneuvered through the fighting combination hitting every jab, strike, and kick. I couldn't believe I was actually doing it. Maybe I wasn't a total failure.
I was so thrilled in my success that my concentration wavered and I overstepped my foot widening my stance too much. I tried to quickly recover but only slid further out of position which led my face to be lined up right where Dalton's fist was flying.
I'm thrown to the hard ground by the impact and don't get up. Hearing my groan Dalton immediately drops his fighting stance and lower himself to help me.
"Shit! I'm so sorry Artie. I should have been able to stop it in time." Dalton knelt down to help me up.
"It's fine," I assured him. "It's my fault. I had my foot in the wrong place." As I was helped up, I heard a grunt from across the courtyard.
"We'll try again tomorrow. Dalton see that she gets back to her duties after she cleans up." Lord Edmon then stood up and walked out of the courtyard without so much as looking at me. That made it hurt more. It was like he didn't care. Dalton never missing a beat picked up on my sour mood.
"Hey," he tried to calm me. "Forget what that old geezer says. You are doing awesome."
"I feel anything but awesome right now" I responded now holding my cheek.
Back in the laundry quarters I was folding tea towels. It was the place I was assigned to since arriving almost a month ago and to be honest I didn't mind. There was something calming about mindlessly folding fabric and I could use more calm in my life.
Since I had left the Ever Green Pack my wolf has been more restless. I could always feel her there deep in my mind but since she was called forth she has taken a more active part in our lives. I've snapped at Dalton more than once for no reason not to mention some of the other maids. She did not like being told what to do.
It was strange. Almost like I had another person in my head that was the complete opposite of me. Dalton kept assuring me this was normal. Most werewolves went through this when they are first going through puberty but because my wolf was dormant for so long I was playing catch up. Lord Edmon on the other hand had no empathy. Anytime he heard of one of my incidences he would lecture me.
"You need to learn to control your wolf instead of letting her control you."
I don't know what to say. I was trying! It's not like I would pick it up overnight. And I was getting better. The last time I went on a run with Dalton I could actually remember most of where we went. It was fuzzy but it was there.
"Hey Artie?" Mrs. Harris the laundry manager called out to me.
"Yes ma'am?" She gave me a nod of approval at my answer. Mrs. Harris was stern but fair. She always kept her gray hair neatly up in a bun. The laundry facilities were always in tip top shape thanks to her management.
"After you are done with those towels you can take them to the kitchen. They are running low again."
"Of course ma'am." I returned to folding the towels with a little more determination. It seemed that everyone at the palace drank nothing but tea.
After I had competed the task I headed for the kitchen with the basket full of clean towels.
If I wasn't working in the laundry facilities I would have chosen to work on the kitchens It was always warm there and the smells were almost intoxicating.
I was always amazed by what the different cooks could do. The flavors they put together were surprising. They even had one person who did nothing but make sculptures out of chocolate.
I walked slowly along the edge so not to interrupt anyone. My limp had improved significantly since finding my wolf but it would still be noticeable if I tripped from moving too quickly. I was setting the towels in the designated cabinets when I heard something large spill and shatter followed by a scream.
I turned to see a poor lady’s maid standing staring at her hands which were bright red and on the floor laid the remains of the tea tray she must have been holding. Before I could think I rushed over and pulled her towards the nearest sink and dowsed her hands in cool running water.
"Goddess! I'm such and idiot!" The poor maid called out. "I can't even carry a tea tray without making a mess"
"Oh hush now. It's not that bad," I tried to comfort her.
"No you don't understand! If I don't deliver that tea they'll sack me."
Around the corner a petite older woman with angled features came barreling towards us. Her face was set in a stern look, obviously upset by the situation she saw in front of her. After she took in what happened, she began to talk to the maid in a stern voice.
" Mary, what an earth have you done." The woman's voice was cold and unfeeling.
" I'm sorry," the young maid replied back. " I don't know what happened. One minute I was carrying the tray and the next moment I had tripped and dropped it on me."
The older woman rolled her eyes obviously annoyed more by the loss of the tray then by the well-being of the maid.
" Well what are we supposed to do now? That tray is expected at once." The woman then looked at me seeing that I was helping the young maid.
"You there," she called out to me. "are you able to carry a simple tea tray." I looked around me for someone else to give me an answer. "Are you deaf?" The woman asked.
"No ma'am," I quickly answered. My wolf growled at the rudeness of the lady, but I clamped it down.
"Good. Mary help the girl set up another tray and send it up immediately." My heart sped up in a panic. The old woman began to walk away and I rushed to her to stop her.
"Pardon me ma'am," I called out to her. " I'm from the laundry facilities. I'm only here to deliver the towels." The old woman narrowed her eyes at me in annoyance.
"Look, I don't care if you're from some backwater town who uses tea cups as hats." Her voice was quiet but firm. " I am short a maid and all out of patience. Just grab the tray and serve it. We can figure out where you belong after you're done." She looked at the poor maid once again." Mary be sure that it's set up right before she goes. If it isn't, it'll be on your head." The woman stomped away without so much as a backwards glance leaving both Mary and I to stare at her in shock.
OK. I can do this, I thought. Just deliver the tray, and you can get back to where it's safe. I turned back to look at the maid. Her face was shocked realizing that I would have to take her place. Oh boy...