Chapter 84: Teaching the Art of Death

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The Eight are known to manipulate the affairs of mortals to turn them to their side at most, or warp their destinies in order to turn them into tools.

-The Necromancer's Notes, Vol. 33, Arteris Collection


Skaria had another job this time. But unlike most of her jobs, this one didn't involve killing people.

She stepped into the manor for the second time this month. "Hello?" she called out. No one was in the atrium. The guard who had let her into the courtyard, through the gate, had seen half-asleep, focused more on the fire he sat by then the fact that he had just let an unknown woman, armed to the teeth, into the manor. "Hello?"

A door to her left opened. "Are you the new instructor?" a servant, wearing a plain blue dress and soot-stained apron, asked.

"Instructor?" Skaria frowned. "I'm just here to teach Kyra-"

"Good. You're the instructor." The servant cut her off. "And in Lord Solstael's presence, please only refer to her as 'the young lady.' Such informality isn't tolerated."

"Alright." Skaria hoisted her bag farther over her shoulder, adjusting the leather shoulder pad so it lay more comfortably on her. Training materials, it turned out, were heavy. "Where is the young lady?"

"In the fencing salon." Fencing salon? What in the world was that? "This way please." Skaria followed the servant through the door she opened and through the hall.

The manor was much more luxurious than anywhere Skaria had spent her time. The hall was decorated with paintings, masterfully done, and obviously expensive. House Solstael was a family of discriminating taste, and deep pockets.

They approached a door. Skaria heard something from behind it, something that sounded oddly familiar. The clash of steel, the beat of heavy footsteps, the rhythm of steady staccato commands... this must be the fencing salon the servant had mentioned. Well, enough was enough. Skaria grabbed the doorknob and threw it open.

The room was well lit, mostly by natural light flooding in from the floor-to-ceiling windows along one wall, and it was long enough to have a fencing track inside, and plenty of room to spare. "Again! Double-step, and launch!"

Skaria watched as two figures, dressed in what looked like quilts sewn into trousers and tunics, advanced up and down the floor, blades flashing. They both wore identical masks, vaguely similar to a knight's helm, but the visor, instead of being removable and providing a slit to see, had a facepiece of metal wire mesh. The smaller one stepped forward and thrust forward with her thin rapier, before her opponent parried it with a swirl of his blade. "Again!" he barked from behind his mask.

They continued their dance, advancing one way, retreating the other way. Well, this looked like it would be going on for a while. Might as well make oneself comfortable. She dropped her bag on the floor and sank into one of the comfortable chairs.

The smaller fencer -Kyra, most likely- was clearly the lesser of the two in skill, but by no means was she weak nor unskilled. Her movements showed a precision that only came from training and rigorous discipline. She wasn't some spoiled kid who took up fencing as a hobby to impress her naive circle of equally spoiled friends. This was a woman, a young woman, who had found a discipline that she could apply herself to.

In other words, she would be a willing and capable student.

Unfortunately, Skaria wasn't a teacher. She was skilled, no bloody doubt about that. But did she have the temperament to teach? Highly doubtful. Most of the people she interacted with, she wanted to beat. Not in a disturbed way, like some men and women who had some madness in them, a madness that compelled them to kill or to hurt. No, she just got frustrated, and the best way she fixed that was by beating someone repeatedly until they stopped frustrating her. Might not be the most productive method, but it was Skaria's method.

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