Chapter Twenty Four

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Chapter Twenty Four

Early morning found Aurelia and Kailen in the field outside their hut, Kailen teaching her the finer points of stabbing someone to death.

"This is what you will use," Kailen said, handing her a dagger, hilt first. She accepted it, eyes on the sharp blade and worn leather pommel, testing the weight of it in her hand. "Not a sword?" she asked.

Kailen smiled at her. "No, no sword. It's incredibly heavy, even for a seasoned warrior. Too cumbersome for a novice, the weight will tire you fast and make you clumsy. You need to work on improving the muscles in your arms before we move you up to other things."

Aurelia could hardly argue with that logic, she was sure she would look ridiculous trying to swing a sword that was two thirds her height. Besides, the dagger was formidable in itself. It was as long as the tips of her fingers to her elbow. It could easily gut a man, she thought with some respect.

"It's a weapon the warrior women of my tribe favour," He explained. "You use it in a slashing and stabbing motion, it's lethality is in the quickness the user can wield it. Women are naturally faster as they are not encumbered with the body mass of men or having to use heavier weapons. That is your advantage in battle."

Aurelia nodded her understanding. "That's until a man lands a blow and then his higher body mass and bigger weapon takes the advantage."

Kailen conceded the point with a tilt of his head. "True, but if you keep your wits about you and you end the combat quickly so you don't tire, you should be fine. The aim is to not get hit."

"Is that the aim?" she joked but it fell a bit flat. She took a deep breath. "Alright, i understand."

Next, Kailen fitted her with a tough boiled leather jerkin to go over her dress with a boiled leather breast plate, along with wrist guards and shin guards wrapped with thick strips of twine. It was all adjusted to her size by strings at the sides and tightened. "It's perhaps not as hard wearing as what the Roman soldiers wear, but it will protect your vital organs from shallow slashes of the sword or axe." Kailen told her.

"Even from a broad sword?" She questioned as Kailen fussed with the ties to make it just right.

Kailen shook his head. "Nothing Can protect you from such blows, whether they are an overthrow or they are stabbing at you, but it does coffer protection from shallow hits or the impact of fists and sword pommels. And it is light enough not to slow your movements down."

Aurelia tested her level of movement to find he was right, particularly as the dress had been put aside for a full sleeved shirt and wool trousers. It was a strange feeling to be dressed like a man, even slightly comical, but wearing a dress into battle was just plain idiotic. The trousers had to be taken up off the bottom and the waist line cinched so they didn't fall down and bear all.

Kailen took a step back to survey his work with a serious face and nodded curtly. "Perfect. You are good to go."

"Do you still find me attractive like this?" She teased.

Kailen stepped back towards her and enveloped her in a tight hug. "I would find you attractive even when you're covered in mud," He promised her.

"That's good to hear." Her answered was muffled against his chest.

He pulled away slightly so he could look down at her face. "And now comes the hard part."

"I learn to stab people?" She asked.

"Exactly."

It wasn't simply about thrusting the dagger into someone else and success, they die. She had to have the strength behind the blow to sink through leather cloth and flesh, and the presence of mind to pull it back out again so she was not left weaponless. If Aurelia was going for a slashing blow, she had to time it right so it wasn't blocked by the enemy's own weapon and to make sure it didn't go wide. If she put all of her strength into one swing, it often made it clumsy and her recovery time was longer, which gave her opponent a much needed chance to cut you down.

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