I spot her on the field again. It's been several months since our first encounter and I've learned her name is Edith.
It's kind of weird, a redheaded witch's daughter named Edith. It's too elegant for an irreverent tomboy.
"Hello," I greet, hiding my extra-small sword behind my back quickly. But, she sees it and raises an eyebrow.
"That's for kids, you know," she remarks.
I sigh, bringing it out from behind my back. "I know."
"I'm not bringing potions every day for you," she lilts. "You'll have to learn to manage things yourself."
"How do you expect me to do that?" I demand, hotly.
"Grow up, Audric," she chides me. She holds up my skinny arm. "I mean, literally. You need a proper diet. Potions aren't proper diet and you're bony. What, do you have toothpicks for breakfast? You are what you eat, remember?"
"What are you, then? The whole cuisine?"
Edith glares at me. "Are you calling me fat?"
Even though I am perfectly sure she knows it isn't true, I still can't help but flush red. "I meant...."
She waits for a long second for me to continue, but I purse my lips in defeat, having nothing to say - nothing that makes much sense anyway - and she bursts out laughing. "Oh my god," she breathes, between giggles, "you are such an easy target, Audie."
"Don't call me Audie," I insist, just to change the subject.
"I know you secretly like it, Audie," she says, smiling widely.
"No, I don't," I lie, snappishly.
"Well, you should've told me earlier," she says. "I'd have called you that more often, Audie."
I groan. "You're incurable."
"You're derpy," she retorts.
I frown. "What does that mean?"
She shrugs, pushing on her helmet that conceals her face, much to my disappointment. But, her gorgeous green eyes spark from the space on the steel, giving me something to stare at.
"Be careful, Audie."
"I'm always careful; I try to be," I respond. I don't always try, but on the field with a sword, I'd have to.
She shakes her head. "Be more careful."
She turns to a warrior with a helmet and gestures at him to fight her. He obliges and they draw their swords to fight.
For a long moment, I watch Edith skillfully dodge and strike. The other knight is older, taller, stronger, but she is quicker and much wittier.
I tear my eyes from the heated sword-fight and look at Beau. He's holding his sabre, pointed to the ground. A tuft of messy hair falls onto his lashes. Obviously he never cuts them from the front.
"What?" I yell back, walking over to him.
He grins when I reach him. "Your trainers aren't here."
"I noticed," I reply. "Maybe they took too many drugs and died. At least, I hope so."
"You wish," Beau says. "But, no. They're having lunch with the King today. I'll be training you."
"Really?" I brighten. Beau is much better than my trainers. They don't even like me. And their sense of humour revolves around picking on the incapable.
Not that I'm incapable.
"Have you learned to lift your sword, yet?" Beau asks. It's something I like about him - he questions my lack of skill like he would question my strength.
I raise my sword, gripping it from the hilt this time. "So," I ask, "are we going to do all that again? Defensive moves? Or are we going to carry on from the offensive ones the trainers told me to practice?"
"Nope," Beau responds. "Today, we're going to do one thing that's easy. No offense, Audric, but we both know you're hopeless."
I can't deny it, but I scowl. "I'm not hopeless."
Beau laughs. "Whatever," he says. "I have the solution to your problem."
My eyes widen. "You do?"
Personally, I do feel like I'm hopeless. The amateur who can't do anything, who can barely hold a sword. Nobody would want a warrior made of straw.
Edith was right. I am bony.
"Somewhat," he responds. "The best way to learn is to do and make mistakes, as stupid is that sounds. Fight me."
"Don't worry, you just have to try to severely injure me," he says, simply. "It's not that hard." He holds up his sword, as if waiting for me to lunge at him.
I do. I swing my sword at him and he blocks my strike easily.
"A tip," he says. "Make the first move count." He swings his sword beneath me so quick, I jump back, thinking he's about to slice my legs off.
"I'm not going to kill you, Kiddo," he assures me.
Fueled by adrenaline, I charge at him. He blocks three more strikes, but then, I lash quickly at his head, using my leg to shove him at the same time.
His knees buckle and his eyes widen in surprise. He doesn't dodge this time. I end up with the point of my blade under his chin.
At first, I'm too breathless and adrenaline-filled to do so. But, a few seconds later, I grin in celebration.
"I did it."
"Yeah," Beau agrees, shakily pushing back my sword, careful not to cut his fingers. "Nice one, Kiddo."
"Thanks," I say.
"Let's try again," Beau offers.
"But, hey, I won," I respond, cockily. "I can do it again, but later."
Beau shook his head. "Don't get cocky," he advises. "Nothing is as easy as it seems. But, nothing is as difficult as it seems either. On the contrary, though, I think you need a break."
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