The gong sounded, signaling the end of their meal. Everyone rose to their feet and filed out. Riki and Evadna parted ways as Evadna headed to her private session with her superior. He was one of the few at the Follows who was a witch too and the only one who stayed at the camp to instruct. The others were always out and about on missions. Still feeling like she’d been trampled by a team of horses, she wasn’t sure how she’d get through the next training session.
They were supposed to be working with weapons this time, so she entered the training arena and found her superior going through his exercises with a pair of swords. She liked to watch him move. He was so good it looked like a moving piece of art. She could only imagine how many years it would take to be able to move like him.
They weren’t the only ones using the training arena. The noise of combat filled the room interspersed with the shouts of other trainers trying to be heard above the din. This was one of her favorite places to work. However terrified she was in the beginning of her combat training, she found it exhilarating now.
Her superior finished his exercises and lowered his weapons to turn his sharp gaze on her. “How are you feeling?”
Evadna shrugged in answer. Smiling, he approached her. “That bad, eh?”
Evadna said nothing, watching as he scrutinized her face, eyebrows furrowed. “Every witch has their limits. But every muscle can grow stronger and our magic is the same. We found your limit today, but with exercise, we can change that. You’ll find you can do more.”
“For now, so that your body can recover, we won’t do any more magic today.”
He handed her the hilt of one of his swords. As she grasped the hilt, he said, “Are you entering the tournament?”
Without another word, he swung his sword and she reacted instinctively to block him. They practiced with swords, knives, daggers, and the staff for the next couple of hours. At the end of it, covered in sweat and exhausted, he grabbed her shoulder.
“Well done today. You almost got the better of me a couple of times.”
“Only because you were taking it easy on me.”
“But I wasn’t.”
Skeptical, Evadna stared up at him. Reading her expression, he grinned. “Perhaps you will believe me when you win the tournament.”
Evadna held back a disbelieving scoff. Instead, she said, “I appreciate your confidence in me.”
“Always so serious with you.”
Uncomfortable, she asked if she was dismissed.
“Certainly,” he replied, an unfathomable expression in his eyes. “I will see you tomorrow.”
Feeling puzzled, Evadna turned to leave. She was halfway out of the arena when Jack appeared, walking alongside her.
“Methinks you have an admirer.”
Frowning at him, Evadna said, “You Jack? I’m flattered, but it’ll never do.”
Jack feigned a wounded expression. “As heartbroken as I am to hear that and I think you are making a mistake, I was talking about Superior Blue Eyes. I swear he was attempting to flirt with you. You, however, were cold and oblivious, as usual.”
“You’re delusional. Superior Ranis would never flirt with the students.”
“Well, I did say that he was ‘attempting’ to flirt. He doesn’t seem to be very good at it, but I give him full marks for effort.”
Evadna shook her head at him, a lopsided smile on her face. “You’re ridiculous.”
“You know very well all the girls who would be fainting in their boots to have him look twice at them. You are to be envied.
Uncomfortable, she attempted to change the subject. “What did Superior Tanor have you working on today? Still trying to master the mysteries of the axe?”
“You jest, but the axe has many nuances. It isn’t as simple as you think.”
“Sure it does.”
Jack’s response was to launch into a detailed description of the several techniques used in wielding the axe. Evadna let him ramble on as her mind carried her to the upcoming tournament.