Ch14: The quick lesson
Once the meal was over, the troop again assembled outside. They marched to the training field where she again saw Instructor Hamelfoot. He issued an order to gather staves and form a combat circle. As the young troop compiled Magdaline found herself between Sarros and Elizira. Both looked at her and smiled.
Hamelfoot called out two names, and a boy and girl stepped forward. With another command, they started the fight. Magdaline watched intently as they dueled. The girl seemed to be on the attack, she struck more than the boy. He was weaker than her. Blow after blow he blocked as much as he could. As time went on, she could see the girl was getting impatient. Her blows were quick and she gave little thought to defense. She charged the boy and with a swift action, he dropped to the ground letting his staff fall straight in the pit of her stomach, lifting her off the ground.
What happened next was odd to Magdaline. After falling to the ground, both the girl and boy lay there, just laughing.
Hamelfoot again called out two names. “Tylenyphe and Nerifaen.” The former was one of the girls that had put her in the trough this morning stepped forward along with a boy. They took a stance and started at it. Her strikes were true and the boy was immediately on the defense. A stroke, a swoop and suddenly the boy was on his back. The whole fight lasted only seconds. The girl returned to her spot. She could see that she stood beside the other girl from this morning.
Name after name was called until she finally got her chance. “Damon and Magdaline!” The shrill instructor yelled. She wound up face to face with a human boy. He was lanky, just like the rest of them, but he was tall. She held her staff up, waiting for the command.
Within moments of the instructor’s command, the boy was on the attack. He swung his weapon from her left. As she watched the weapon, she moved her staff to block it. Taking a slight step backwards. The strike was not fast, and struck her staff almost in the middle. The boy swung the other way, again she blocked it, stepping back. Strike after strike, they boy landed blows on her staff, a simple pattern of left to right. Each time she would step backwards and brace for the blow. The whole time she was aware that the circle was chanting, screaming at her to do something. They called her names as she simply avoided combat.
The final blow came, but it was not even as she had expected. Suddenly she felt a foot in her back as one of the children kicked her. She fell forward onto the ground dropping her staff. Her first thought was to just lay there. It was over. She could not fight these kids, they were all taller, all faster and stronger.
“Get up.” She heard Damon say. “Quickly.”
Her body moved, she scrambled and picked up her staff and got to her feet.
“Strike.” The boy said. She did, landing a blow onto his staff that deftly blocked it. “Again.” The blow was blocked, but it was harder. “Again.” She swung as hard as she could. “Again.” The boy’s tone was louder, stronger and enticed her to action. Her blow landed hard against his staff.
The crowd’s jovial murmur subsided as they watched the boy give Magdaline encouragement.
“Block.” The boy yelled and she watched as his staff came in for a slow, deliberate blow. She held hers up and blocked the incoming blow. “Block.” He yelled again. She again watched as the staff came in slowly, this time from above. She shifted her arms up and blocked it again. “Don’t watch the staff, girl. Watch the body. Understand the weapon, and watch the movement.” The boy picked up pace, as he deliberately articulated his movement so she could see.
Strike, block, block and strike. She watched closely.
“You fight like a kobold!” she heard someone yell. She turned to look. It was Tylenyphe. When she regained where she was, she heard the instructor halt the fight. She turned back around to see the boys staff inches from her face. His eyes focused but kind.
Many of the others in the circle laughed. Tylenyphe and Phayefine were among the loudest.