Chapter 9 (22nd of Iecanaon in the year 6199)

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And the rolling clouds of darkness will cover the islands of Fimmirra

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And the rolling clouds of darkness will cover the islands of Fimmirra. Fire comes from the sky. None shall be spared the wrath of the beasts and the evil from the east.

-Prophecies 15:90

-Prophecies 15:90

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"C'mon Sheala." Reane encouraged the young thief as she fell backwards and under the lunge of her adversary's blade. "Keep your feet under you."

Sheala's blunt practice sword met that of the man sparring opposite her, turning aside his strike and sending it out of harm's way. Her opponent was a thin, but muscular man about her uncle's age. Still, he moved like someone in the prime of their life and his loose-fitting shirt with open sides swayed with every step and stroke. "This would be easier-" She dodged. "If you weren't-" Then another. "Running your mouth so much. Or if I wasn't wearing all this damn padding."

An apparent opening in her opponent's defenses presented itself and Sheala's more aggressive instincts kicked in. She jumped at the chance to end the match, just once, in her favor. But the window of opportunity closed quickly. The next thing Sheala knew, the balled tip of his weapon was against her chest over her heart. She understood if the sword and her rival had both been real, it would have been the death of her. Sheala let out a disappointing sigh as her weapon slipped from her fingers and she yielded.

The man who had beaten her nodded his acceptance of her surrender, drew his sword back, and shook his head. "Twelve weeks." His complaint was always the same. Only the number of weeks changed. "Twelve. And you've learned what?" He returned his sword into a rack along the wall with several others and a slamming thrust that rattled it and punctuated his words. "Nothing."

"I wouldn't say nothing."

"I mean other than the difference between a fruit fork and salad fork. I'm referring to your studies with me. Well, I guess you lasted longer that time. Your problem is that you're too eager."

"Yeah, yeah." Sheala slumped to the ground. "This is stupid. I'm not getting the hang of this fencing thing. Who fights like this anyway?"

"It will help you learn timing. It teaches you to control your stroke; the art of attack and defense."

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