It was before the break of dawn when Rebekka awoke. All other cadets were still snoring away in their bunks just as they should’ve been. Though tired, Rebekka clambered from her bunk and shuffled to the dressing room. She dressed herself in the uniform she was issued yesterday and slipped on the leather boots that were also supplied. After lacing the boots up, she shuffled back to her bunk to wake Mason.
“Mason, get up,” she said gently shaking her arm.
Mason cracked open her droopy eyes heavy with fatigue. “Wha?”
“Get up. We have training to do.”
Mason moaned and turned so that her back was facing her. “No, we don’t.”
“Yes, we do. If you don’t wake now, you won’t like it later.”
“Don’t care. I’m not waking.”
“Alright, can’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Rebekka took a corner of Mason’s blanket and snatched it all away.
Mason simply moaned.
“How did I know that was going to happen,” Rebekka heard her mutter. She sat up and looked back at her. “You’re just like Jude, you know.”
Rebekka placed her hands on her hips matter-of-factly. “I wouldn’t say exactly like him. I am a woman, and he is not.”
“You know what I mean.”
Rebekka chuckled and said, “Come on. We’re wasting time.”
Mason slipped from the top bunk to the floor. “Why do we have to wake so early?” she asked yawning.
“Well, you were the one who crafted the wonderfully enchanting tale of us going for an early spiriting run yesterday morning.”
“It’s always my fault isn’t it?”
“Well, you did do so. Uniforms are it there.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know.”
Rebekka watched her slouch off and sighed. It would be probably about an hour or two before the rest of the garrison was up and about, not including Yorin and Matina. Hopefully, she wouldn’t have any trouble out of those two.
“Left foot… step-side… now double back… No! I said double back! Again… Left foot… step-side… double back…. Good.”
The two were out in the square practicing a few drills Rebekka had pieced together. The drills weren’t exactly of a complex nature; they were mean to strengthen reflex and improvisation. So far, Mason had yet to master reflective skill. But Rebekka wasn’t one to complain. From what she had learned, Jude had taught Mason the basis of self-protection, which proved to eliminate the need to teach her the very fundamentals of fighting. What she had been taught was a simple and methodical form of self-defense, but Rebekka planned to build from that point.
“Jude taught you well,” Rebekka said. Mason wiped the sweat from her brow and smiled gratefully. “But your slow.” The smile flattened into a frown.
“In a war you won’t have time to think. You can only do. Enemies surround you at all sides and each one is there to strike you where you stand. If you cannot move faster than they think, then you are already as one of the fallen…dead.”
“Hm… unless the battle is in your favor,” Yorin commented.
Rebekka sighed and frowned. For over the last few drills, Yorin would ever so gracefully bestow upon Rebekka his words of wisdom. Yes, his words were wise, but at the moment, weren’t needed. It annoyed Rebekka, but she patiently didn’t show her annoyance. She was fortunate he and Matina had agreed to participate rather than unauthorize the entire session.
“If the battle is one that is three-to-one or perhaps four-to-one, with your side being the larger of course, this would mean instead of there being more of them surrounding you, there are more of you surrounding them.”
“Yes,” Rebekka cut in before he could say more. “but in this moment, we are the smaller army.”
“Always the most unfortunate. Tsk, tsk, tsk…”
“As I was saying–”
“Couldn’t I use magic instead of my hands?” Mason blurted.
“No, you cannot. I am not saying it is impossible, but instead I’m telling you that you aren’t experienced.”
“Shouldn’t I be experienced enough to use both my hands and my magic?”
Rebekka shook her head. “No Mason, you cannot use your magic. Before using any two techniques as one, you must master them individually. To try and use both when you haven’t mastered either, will only lead to distractions. Distractions lead to death.”
“I couldn’t have said that any better.”
One would have thought Yorin might have spoken those words, but it wasn’t. It had been Commander Bastōn. She stepped in through the stone entrance into the square.
“Ah, Bastōn,” Yorin said jovially. “Good morning.”
“Good Moring to you too, Yorin.”
“Did you sleep well dear?” Matina asked.
“Yes, I did, thank you.”
“Your always welcome.”
The commander turned her attentions to her cadets.
“Rebekka and Mason, isn’t it?” she asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” they replied.
“Oh, ah, they were practicing a few drills,” Yorin informed. “I wouldn’t say that they were exactly orthodox but sufficient nonetheless.”
“Yes, I saw,” Commander Bastōn replied. “I was watching just as the other commanders were.”
Rebekka glanced around but saw nothing of where the commanders were or could have been. There was a balcony at the farthest end of the Sect, but it looked much too lavish for Commanders.
“Never mind where we were cadet,” Commander Bastōn said. “Just know that we were watching.” She paused for several moments. “What is your military standing cadet?”
“I have none,” Rebekka replied.
“But you have some military training, yes?”
“So, you would have some type of military altitude.”
“No ma’am….. I was trained by my father.”
“And who was that?”
Rebekka went silent. She didn’t want to say, but she knew she had too. She stayed silent for too long because the Commander had to ask, “Cadet?”
“The retired Senior General Pien,” Rebekka replied quietly.
Yorin’s expression became troubled as he cut a quick glance to the commander. Matina noticed it but didn’t said nothing. Commander Bastōn, however, said nothing, neither was their any hint of emotional change on her face.
“As I thought,” the commander said. “You and I will have a discussion after First Meal.” She turned on a heel to leave the square. “Yorin, I leave it to you to bring her to my quarters.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Yorin replied and looked to Rebekka with that same troubled look.
“Yorin what is it?” Matina asked a bit worried.
Yorin looked from Rebekka to her and made and effort to smile. “Nothing I would want to explain now,” he replied. “How about later?” He turned his bare smile to Mason and Rebekka. “Let’s get you two back to the garrison. I guess you can help us get the rest of them up again, aye?”
With that said, they began their return to the garrison.
(to be continued…)
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© 2020 Alison Bankroft