Friday, June 28, 2019

Serialization: "The Arcane Warrior’s Apprentice" by Roberta Downing: Chapter Eleven

The Arcane Warrior’s Apprentice
Novel by Roberta Downing
Cover artwork designed by Jerry Langdon

Chapter Eleven

Clef and Satyr were four years into their training at Katana’s Home. The place was hidden by enchantments and unless you knew exactly where it was, there would be no way anyone would find it. Katana’s Home was like an empire unto itself and ran independently from any of the rules and laws set forth by any King or Emperor. Lady Katana herself was in fact the Empress and she alone set the way it would run.
It was a very hard life for a Katana. The combat training and testing were the most strenuous for the recruits. The recruits only had one weekend free per month in order to unwind, catch up on rest and read and send mail and have portraits or drawings made to send home.
From the time the recruits arrive, Katana’s Home holds a war every year and new recruits are expected to participate. It was not uncommon for novices to die and as a matter of fact, it didn’t matter what grade or rank one was in, life was never guaranteed. Death was something that all of them had to learn to accept.
Clef and Satyr would work on their battle plan to lay siege to the city of the dead on their weekend off and this was often the dream of every young Katana. For thousands of years every combatant from around the world had at some point in their life contemplated waging war on the unholy place.
Satyr spent time going over the letters that Bell had sent during the month. She had a tendency to write him at least twice a week. One letter was helping him with his common and the second letter was keeping him informed of her training and of course professing her love for him. She was good about sending two portraits to him each year while she only sent one to her brother a year.
The Katanas were now entering into their classes on war, even though they had all participated in many of them before. They were now learning all the intricate ins and outs, how to lead, how to identify the dead, how to use siege weapons, how to use their stealth to enter and exit with information that would help the side that they would be assigned to. They learned how to lead, how to follow and how to command.
These classes only fueled the two blood brothers in their resolve to one day lay waste to the damned city but it also raised suspicions that with the war waging in Windmere that they may be called to participate in that war as the Duke was just not willing to give up lands he unjustly stole from a Marque.
Upon mail call and Satyr opening up his mail, Clef became aware that there must be something going on between his best friend and his sister. He snatched the letter from his hand and read it. Clef was enraged and punched his blood brother. Satyr did not defend himself and took the full blow and then laughed.
“What are you laughing about? That’s my sister!” Clef said.
“You always were the slow one between us. I thought it would take you a little longer to figure it out.” Satyr replied.
“Just how long has this been going on?” Clef asked.
“The last two and a half years” Satyr replied as he laughed. “Like I said, you are the slow one.”
The two of them were brothers, not just in arms but blood brothers. It had been that way since the first day they met and now it seemed Clef almost let a rift come between them over his sister.
“I don’t know why you are angry. You are after all the one who pushed me to write to her to help me learn the common tongue instead of me losing my one weekend a month for a tutor. Now you get all pissed off because I am in love with your sister. What is it? You don’t think I’m good enough for her? Is that it?” Satyr said.
“I…I didn’t mean it that way.” Clef said.
Crossing his arms he said, “Then just how did you mean it jackass?”
Clef contemplated his actions and the reaction of his best friend. He didn’t respond because he knew Satyr was right; he was a jackass. He had been to hell and back with his blood brother and knew that his friend was loyal to a fault, lived and breathed a code of honor, was first in the division and saved his ass and life more than once. If there was anyone in this world who was worthy of his sister it was him.
“What? No snarky come back? Not going to try to assonate me while I’m sleeping or put poison in my food?” Satyr asked.
Clef laughed. Part of their training was assassination and counter assassination and one of their current classes was in herbology. The two decided to go to the gym for a work out.

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