34th Trial, Saun, 718a
Outskirts of Westguard
Outskirts of Westguard
He didn't know exactly where the boy's head was at that moment - or those three, in particular - but from the look on his face, he was guessing it was not slaying scale-wyrms and in distant lands from atop a white charger. He wondered for a tick if he was old enough to envision the point of a ripe maiden awaiting rescue, then quickly dismissed the thought. He had enough on his plate that day.
It was their hill, so they'd decided. The boy because of the memory, painful and turgid as they could be, and the man because it was quiet, and they could see anyone approaching long before they got close enough to do them harm. So it was a mixture of practicality and nostalgia, and yet...
Kasoria had to admit, he liked the view. Not just of what he saw, Westguard sprawling before them as if they were hawks hovering above it. Not just the woods and neat fields and churned up roads and the vast civilized smear of Etzos on the horizon. Looking beyond himself, and the boy. Seeing the two of them, in his mind's eye.
Saving this moment. This time. This trill and bit and bell.
You won't get it again. So enjoy it all that you can.
This moment, for example, he was enjoying watching Martyn swing low with his wooden sword, aiming to slice through his shin-
-only for the shield in his left hand to lower quickly, blade hammering useless against it. But the boy was learning, and had been ever since they'd arrived a couple of bells ago. Before Kasoria could retaliate with his own sword, his son surged forwards-
-and slammed his shield into Kasoria's torso, driving him back like a miniature battering ram. He could have thrown him to one side. He could have slashed out in a dozen different ways. Even dropped both sword and shield and demolished the boy with his hands, and mayhap that might even teach a lesson. But that lesson wasn't the curriculum for today. Their first trial. Today was about the basics, and building confidence, and so Kasoria-
-grunted and backpedaled a few steps, letting his balance shift and wobble. He was rewarded with a feral look of delight in the boy, that fierce pride born only from victory in combat. Kasoria smirked back at him and readied himself for... for...
"... well? What're you waiting for, boy!" The lad paused, smile faltering. His feet were lead. His weapons were on guard but he seemed... frozen. "Oh, for the love of-"
Fine. Take it up a notch.
Kasoria charged right back at him, leading with the unfamiliar shield. Thank Fates and Fornications, he'd never had to practice often with those bloody things. The Blackguard were trained with them, of course. Riot duty, civilian militia, noble protection, all three and many more required a man to have a nice, broad, thick barrier between him and danger. But he'd never taken to them. He preferred to face his enemy without any impediment to his vision. Fill his hands with blades, or leave one free so his gift for barehanded brawling could be given vent.
But that wasn't the Army Way, which was where his son wanted to go. So he made do.
Martyn's face whitened the moment before Kasoria crashed into him. Knocking him back a half-dozen paces, only this time it was very real and without an ounce of pantomime. But unlike before, when the struck fighter was still getting his feet back under him, his attacker-
"Gotta take advantage, boy!"
-did just that, sliding in at the boy's sword side, his more exposed side. The sword thrust clumsily at him and he batted it away with his shield, following it up a moment later with a quick, precise rap of a wooden gladius against Martyn's thigh. The boy cried out and hopped back and back until-
He collapsed into the dry grass, dropping his new sword and shield. purchased just for him, that very morning. Kasoria held a matching set, only a little larger... and it was only a little. Thank Fuck his son had inherited some size from his mother's family. He was already almost the height of his father, and soon he'd reach that age where he'd sprout like moss on a wet rock. But now he was on his back and grunting and hissing and Kasoria rolled his eyes as he approached.
"Don't wait for him to get his balance back. Or get his shield back up. Or even worse, attack you! You knock him back, and then right away-"
With a roar the boy flung himself at Kasoria's legs. Skinny but strong arms wrapped themselves around him, snapping his legs together and with another roar the boy heaved-
"... oh, darn."
Until he realized his father wasn't moving. Until he opened his eyes, closed in his exertions, and found an unimpressed face with a neatly-trimmed beard staring satirically down at him.
"First of all, don't give up yer weapons. Second of all-"
Another little rap, this time across the forehead. Barely a tenth of what Kasoria could do with real steel in his hands, but enough to make the boy yelp and fall back, clutching and rubbing his skull as if his head was splitting open.
"Make sure y'know you can drag a man down, before you place yerself at his feet. A'right. Up yeh get and grab your arms-"
Even pained and sulking the boy managed to ask, "How am I supposed to grab them when-"
"'Arms' is another word for 'weapons', lad."
"Aye. Now, c'mon. Still plenty of time before lunch."