Castle Roland

Sands of Time

by Roland

In Progress

Chapter 11

Posted: N/A

Thane sat in the room alone, thinking back over the conversation he just had with Xavier. He didn't understand how Xavier could have said what he did, but he knew one thing above all else, he trusted Xavier. According to Xavier, Rumeck was not the person that Thane thought he was. There was something going on inside the boy's mind, that did not equate to the boy he saw, that was trying to harm the two young ones.

'It is not that I do not believe you Thane.' Xavier had said reassuringly. 'His own mind speaks to the truth of what you said happened. However, I can tell you that young man is not what you think. I do not know all the details, nor would I unless I dug more. My scan of his mind shows an honorable person, and one that can be trusted. I do not know what else to tell you other than the one thing I am certain of, is that young man can not be a slave nor a servant, and will fight viciously to keep his freedom as you very well know. I would think long and hard about your actions. While what he did, or tried to do was very wrong, Rumeck is, in his heart, an honorable person.'

Thane did just that, sitting in the room, looking over his new armor and thinking. All too soon though a knock came to the door. "Enter!" He called out, and stood up as Garnet led Rumeck into the room. The teens eyes were lowered as he was brought before Thane. Garnet nodded and backed off to stand in the corner. After the fight that the teen gave earlier, Garnet was not about to leave these two alone.

The first thing Thane noticed was the slave collar around the boy's neck. He hated those damned things. He took a deep breath, decision made, then spoke. "Rumeck. You fight like a Demon, and I can not help but respect that. Your father just left."

Rumeck's eyes widened, and he started to look up, but then quickly cast his eyes back down again. "Hold out your hand." Thane said, and immediately Rumeck did. Thane dropped a small key into the teens hand. Rumeck looked at the key, then finally raised his eyes to meet Thanes. "Take off the collar. Your father has purchased your freedom. His price was low, insultingly low, however, I have no need nor want for a slave, especially one that fights like you do. It would break your soul to be a slave, and then you would be good to no one."

Rumeck's shocked eyes met Thane's who simply nodded. Slowly, with hands shaking badly, Rumeck reached up to the small lock that was attached to the collar. It took him several tries, but he finally fit the key into the lock and turned it, releasing it. He then carefully undid the latch, and slipped the collar from around his neck. He looked up to Thane with tears in the corners of his eyes. Thane held out his hand for Rumeck to shake, which the boy hesitantly did. "You may leave. Perhaps this will teach you to be a better person. You can never really tell when someone is watching, or when someone will react to your actions. Keep your deeds pure, for everything, including your life can be taken away from you, however, your honor and dignity must be given away."

Rumeck nodded hesitantly, then turned to leave. When he reached the door he stopped and spoke. "I have my freedom now?" He asked without ever turning around.

"Yes." Thane answered simply.

"Does my freedom including staying, and traveling with you if I so choose?"

Thane's eyes went wide, as did Garnets. Finally Thane answered. "If that is what you choose, although as I said to the others, we may not see this land again. However, what I did not tell them is that our travels will probably involve a great deal of danger."

Rumeck, still speaking to the door in front of him smiled and nodded. "In that case, I do wish to join you. I will return after I have gathered my belongings, and have spoken with my father." He then opened the door, and walked out, his head held high, and shoulders squared.

Thane looked at Garnet, the surprise still evident in his eyes. The top of Garnets eyes were also opened wide, wide enough to almost touch the horns on the top of his head. Neither spoke for more than a few moments, then finally Garnet said. "That was unexpected. However, there was something else I noticed."

"What was that?" Thane asked.

"The way he spoke. It was proper." Thane's eyes showed his shock again, as he realized that Garnet was right. There was more to that young man that was readily apparent.

Tillcor was leading Malachi around the market, looking for items to load their two trade wagons up with. As Xavier had explained they would use the trade wagons as cover while they came up with a plan, and searched for what they needed to do.

However, Tillcor was getting a bit frustrated with Malachi. Almost everything that Tillcor spotted that he thought would be good, Malachi merely turned his nose up at. It took Tillcor a bit to work up the courage, but finally, when he saw Malachi pick up a beautifully crafted short sword, look it over for a moment, then drop it back down on the table in almost disgust, that Tillcor had to speak up. "Sir, What be wrong with dat one?"

Malachi first sighed in annoyance, but picked the sword back up. "At first glance, the blade looks good. Real good actually. But then if you look closely you will start to notice the flaws in the blade. First off, look here, close to the base of the blade. If you follow the tang, the base of the blade, as it enters the hilt, you will see that it becomes very thin. That will make it easy to break. When you are fighting someone, you not only have to look at the person, and how they fight, but also the weapon they choose to use. You need to look for weak spots, what type of metal it is made with, the strengths and weaknesses of the metal, how it was made, how the person handles it. All of this will tell you more about your enemy than they would ever want you to know about them. Someone who was wielding this blade would say to his enemy, 'I have more coin the brains'.

"This one didn't know there be so much thought in fighting." Tillcor said in amazement.

Malachi stopped, looked at Tillcor and smiled. "Indeed there is. The man that taught me the art of combat often said 'Combat is more intellect than muscle'." Tillcor nodded, although he still didn't really understand, everything he had been taught so far made him believe that a swordsman didn't need to be bright, just needed to know how to fight.

Seeing the lad was still confused, Malachi smiled toward him. "I see you still do not understand. Let us lower our standards, get the two wagons full, then I shall take you to the Swordsman Hall, where they have many different weapons to choose from, and I shall show you what I mean." That got an excited nod out of Tillcor. While he may not have been highly educated, he was always excited at learning something about his Primary field.

Malachi's standards were still high, and it took them till the afternoon, but they finally got both wagons filled. After delivering them back to the Inn, Malachi and Tillcor made their way to the Swordsmen's Guild hall. As they walked in, Malachi spoke to Tillcor softly. "Please ask them if we may rent the pit for a short time."

Tillcor walked up to one of the Teachers of the school, and spoke briefly with the man. He then turned to Malachi and spoke. "Teacher say it will be 5 silver to rent the pit, however he want to watch. I tell him you no speak Northman, and only Dragon. He said that be fine, he know it."

Malachi nodded then led the way into the pit. Off to one side another teacher was working with a class of new trainees, so Malachi went off to an empty section of the pit, and started to look at the weapons that were on the rack. He went right over to the real weapons, and not the practice ones. He picked up a long sword, looked at it for a moment, then spoke loud enough for both Tillcor and the watching teacher to hear. "As I said, being a Swordsman is more about knowledge than muscle. This is proven by the smaller races having swordsmen as well. If it were all about brute strength, then only those who had lots of muscle would be able to be a swordsman." He handed the sword to Tillcor. "So, what can you tell me of this blade?"

Tillcor looked it over for many moments, then stepped back, and gave it a few test swipes and swings, he looked at Malachi confused before he spoke. He knew that Malachi was looking for something, but he did not know what. "The sword look fine to me."

Malachi snorted. "That blade is one step up from garbage."

"What?" The teacher exclaimed. "That be one of our best swords."

Malachi shook his head. "The best thing you could do with that sword is melt it down and use it to make nails. It would be better suited for it."

The teacher came down and grabbed the sword from Tillcor and looked it over. "The blade be fine!" The man insisted.

"How much is that blade worth?" Malachi asked him, making the man confused for a second before he could answer.

"Ten silver at least."

Malachi brought out fifteen silver pieces, and handed them to Tillcor. He then pulled out his own axe, the one he just purchased the day before. He looked at the Teacher and spoke, as he stepped back. "Please attack me with the sword. The Silver will pay for the blade after I break it."

By now the other class was watching, one of the kids actually translating what was being said. The Teacher looked at the silver pieces in Tillcor's hand, shrugged and took a ready stance. He then came at Malachi with a traditional overhand blow. Malachi waited, at the last moment, he sidestepped, letting the blade pass harmlessly to his side, then came down with the blade of his axe right at the weak spot he noticed earlier. He timed the strike to hit just as the blade hit the ground, and watched in satisfaction as the blade snapped in two.

Most of the kids, and both teachers gasped in shock as Malachi stepped back, and the first teacher looked at the broken blade in shock. "How..." He stuttered out.

"Who ever made that blade left a week spot right in the center of the blade. If you look closely at the 'blood lets' in the blade, where the blade is indented to allow blood to flow down the blade, the one on the left of the blade was cut too deep. It was also in the same spot as the blood lets on the other side of the blade are, making that area significantly thinner than the rest of the blade. The blade itself was also tempered poorly, meaning the metal was never as hard as it should have been. My guess is that they sold you the blade, thinking that students would not need a quality blade." Malachi explained as he picked up the broken shard and showed it first to the teacher, then to Tillcor, then even passed it amongst the other students.

"I assume you teach your students to size up their opponents before combat." The teacher nodded, as now everyone was fully engrossed in Malachi's lesson. "As well you should, because that will show you much about how the enemy will fight, but do not look past the weapon they use. If you have a Steel weapon, and your opponent is using Bronze, you have a clear advantage. There are times when it is better to attack an opponent’s weapon, than it is to attack the opponent themselves. However, in order to do that you have to know how each weapon works, or at least be able to figure it out, and also look at how the weapon is made, what it is made from, and any weaknesses there in."

For the next hour, Malachi became the 'teacher' as he went through every weapon in the school, teaching everyone, including the teachers what to look for, how to spot weaknesses, and how to take a weapon that someone had never faced before, and figure out quickly how it was used. By the time the dinner bells were ringing, both teachers had a newfound respect for learning about metal, and many more broken weapons, all because one of them said it was fine, after Malachi said it wasn't.

As they left the pit, one of the teachers moved up and spoke in a very soft voice. Tilcor's eyes went wide, "Him want to knows why you not test more higher. Ya be too gooder to hold pin you have."

Syth woke up early, and stretched. Yesterday had indeed been full of hard work, but he also found that yesterday was a lot of fun. He was really beginning to like Killian. They both worked hard at learning the other’s language, and more than once Mablin had to step in to help translate. Those were often the real funny ones, because both boys were usually way off, from what the other was trying to explain.

Of course, now Killian was going to be fighting in the arena with Syth, and that was a cause of concern for Syth. He would have to find some way today to see just how skilled the boy was so Syth would know if he needed to defend the boy while trying to take on the guard.

Syth dressed in his simple clothing and walked out into the common room of the Inn. He spotted Mablin and Killian already eating breakfast. The sun had yet to even make its presence known, but they had much to prepare before the first customers arrived. Syth sat down after grabbing his own breakfast, and spoke to Killian and Mablin in Northman. "Good morning." He said slowly, and with a thick accent, but the words were understandable.

Mablin grinned and nodded, while Killian laughed. "VERY GOOD!" The boy exclaimed, sat back, thought for a moment then spoke in badly accented Drow. "Juice good in the morning." Syth nodded and corrected him slightly, till Killian said what he meant to say, which was "The juice is very good this morning."

All throughout breakfast, the two boys were picking something up and explaining how to say what it was in their native language. When they got done eating, and made their way to where Mablin had his table set. He spoke to them saying, "Tomorrow you will both fight side by side in the arena. I have placed a large bet on the two of you, and I do not wish to lose that coin. To this end, I want you both to help me get set up, then I am giving you the rest of the day off. I would suggest you learn how the other fights, and how to work together. Syth, I have asked if Xavier would allow you to have one of the necklaces today so that you two can communicate. However, I expect you to only use it when you can not explain what you are trying to say in the normal way. I will be checking in to make sure that you two are indeed working at getting to know each other, and if not I will make life very difficult before the arena match. Do you understand?"

Shortly after the sun rose, and after Mablin was satisfied that everything was set up properly, Syth and Killian walked into the barn that Xavier had rented. Syth pointed over to where there were several hay bales stacked up. They moved over, and sat down while facing each other. Syth put the necklace on, and they started to talk to each other.

"If we wish to win the day tomorrow, we must know how the other fights, and what each of us brings to the table.." Killian nodded, suddenly getting very serious. "I know Mablin said that you are an Earth Sorcerer, but are still in the Training Echelon."

"Yes. Many people fear Sorcerers so I hide my training. Most people felt I was still in step one or two, but I really think I am step four or five." Killian said easily.

"Sorcerers do not need proper training like the rest of the fields. So you have learned on your own, if I may ask, what is your subfield, and do you have any combat training?"

Killian blushed for a moment, trying to decide how much to tell Syth. Finally he decided to let the boy know everything. Not only did Syth deserve to know, since they were going to be fighting together, but in the few days that Syth and Killian knew each other, Syth had become the closest friend that Killian had. "I have never tested, since the being that trained me said I could not until I was away from my home. I met him outside of the gates one time. Since I could not practice where others could see me, I spent much of my time outside the gates. I used to find bandits that were wandering around looking for an easy mark. I would watch them, until I could get one, or maybe two of them alone, then I show myself, and allow them to attack me. I never went after anyone who was trained, since I had no hope of taking a trained being down. One time though I misjudged someone, and things ended up turning very bad, that was until someone else stepped in.

He was one of the Ferret Sect, he saved me. From then on, I would spend three nights a week learning from him. It was two weeks before my father sold me that he disappeared, leaving me a note saying he had done what was needed to set me on the path of a Ferret, and he would teach me no more."

Syth was grinning. "So you are a Ferret. That will make things interesting. Would you mind if we did some sparring. While I am not a Ferret, I do have some unarmed training. I have never had the honor of sparring with a Ferret, and would like to see what you are capable of."

Killian blushed, but nodded and stood up. "I am not very advanced."

Syth shook his head as he prepared himself to spar, stripping down to just his loin cloth. "You are a Ferret, even if you are not very advanced, you are probably more advanced than many others at unarmed combat. Ferrets by their very nature are masters of hand to hand combat, and have learned to do things with their bodies that many others would never think about. Even being not very advanced, any Ferret should be able to take out the 'wench'."

Killian grinned, and they began to spar. It quickly became apparent that Syth was not exaggerating, and Killian was beginning to realize that he was actually much better than he thought.

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