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Revision of Chapter Two

Note

Sorry about the delay in Chapter Two.  I have been busy with work but here is Chapter Two and I have also written more today.  I added a lot of content and changed some.

Chapter Two

When Alexander woke up in the morning Kat was already up and dressed, polishing his armor.  His sword lay on his bed, freshly polished.  Either he was really ambitious or had something to hide; Alexander didn’t know which one yet but he had the feeling that it wasn’t something bad, Kat was good people.  Alexander quickly polished his armor and got dressed.  As a pair they headed down to the practice fields where their first class was to be held.  Arriving at the practice fields Alexander and Kat joined in with the rest of the pages who were told to do laps by a waiting instructor who was average height with short black hair and medium skin.  Alexander figured that this first instructor would be their combat and fitness instructor.

For the first half of the run Kat kept up with the rest of the group fine but at about half way through he started to slow and fall to the back of the group.  Alexander slowed down to run next to Kat. It would lessen his speed on the run but Alexander had always been taught to help your friends is to be an inspiring leader.  Plus he didn’t want to go through page school with a partner who envied that Alexander could out preform him.

Alexander had practiced running when he was living with his father.  Every morning he would go out and run with the King’s Guard who were required to maintain their physical prowess.  They were also the only knights that had a mandatory retirement age, once a member of the King’s Guard turned fifty they were either retired or sent to work somewhere else.  The majority of the time they were retired, working for the king was a long and tiring job.  The knights who worked for the king had to protect him against any attacks and constantly put their lives at risk for the king.  When the king travelled he would have at least two of his own guards with him who would discretely scout ahead, watch for enemies and even test his food.

“Why are you slowing down Kat?”  Alexander asked, trying to add a tone of concern to his voice so that Kat didn’t think he was being mean to him.

“I am not sure I was ready for this.”  Kat said, panting.  “I can do the fighting; I can do the reading, but the running. .. that is another story.”

“Come on, you can do it.”  Alexander encouraged.

Kat’s speed picked up just enough to pass the next person and hold his speed.  The two came in tied third to last in the run, and while it was not officially a race Alexander knew that the instructor was using it to decide who was going to stay and who was not.

“Good run boys, let’s talk for a minute while you cool off from the run.  My name is Sir Ivan, I have been a knight for twenty four years.  I have studied fighting and weapons for a big chunk of that time.  I have gone from here to several of the other continents studying from masters.  If anyone decides to try and deceive any of the instructors I will be able to tell, I didn’t get around where I didn’t belong not knowing how to deceive people and ever since I started teaching here I have caught page after page hiding something from an instructor.  Most of the time it is leaving the school without permission, don’t try it.  Now we are going to start the combat training with fighting with our hands.  Later on we will learn with different types of weapons.

Hand to hand combat is the most important training a knight will ever receive.  What happens if you drop your sword in the middle of battle?  You fight your way out with your hands; by far you are more likely to survive losing your sword if you know how to fight with your hands.  Also there are more classes than just fighting that come along with learning how to use a sword.  You need to learn how to polish your sword since it is different than polishing your armor, it would be a shame for you to cut yourself, and you also need to learn how to sharpen your blade.  Weapons other than swords require you to be in tip top shape and the way you boys ran out there there is no question that you need more condition before you learn how to fight with weapons like axes or maces.  Let’s put Alexander in the ring with… you.”  Sir Ivan said, and then pointed to another page.

The boy that Sir Ivan pointed to had short blond hair, grey eyes, and was of average height.  He had a look on his face that showed that he was not Alexander’s biggest fan.  Jumping into the arena the boy that Sir Ivan had pointed at turned towards Alexander who followed him into the arena and squared himself off.  Alexander got the impression that his opponent was an eager page but was also eager to show Alexander up, for if he did that he would be best friends with all of those pages who didn’t like the King’s son.

“I am Oliver.”  Alexander’s opponent said through his teeth ready to fight.

As Alexander courteously tried to shake Oliver’s arm, like any man who believed in being honorable would, but Oliver threw a sucker punch at Alexander’s stomach.  Alexander bent over from the sudden pain and Oliver punched him in his face making his nose drip blood.  The punch snapped Alexander’s brain back into functioning and he stood up, putting his hands up to guard his face.  He couldn’t believe that he had offered a friendly gesture and another page had pushed it back in his face.

Oliver came in for another punch to the stomach but this time Alexander was ready for him, he grabbed Oliver’s wrist.  Twisting Oliver’s hand he kicked at the lower part of Oliver’s leg trying to knock Oliver off balance and to the ground but missed.  Alexander released Oliver’s wrist and stepped back.  This time Alexander went on the offensive feigning a punch to Oliver’s stomach but doing a reverse back fist to Oliver’s face.  The fist made contact and there was a small cracking noise, Oliver’s nose now started bleeding too.  Alexander couldn’t help but smile a bit, hurting people you were supposed to be training with was not the goal but it felt like he had finally scored one for his honor.  When Oliver had been winning most of the pages had been rooting for him.  Now that Alexander was winning though the only voices he heard was Kat’s, the loudest, and a couple of people from the table he had eaten lunch and breakfast at.

As he stood there in the arena waiting for Oliver to shake of the shock of the fight completely turning against him, Alexander thought about how the other pages might not warm up to him right away because he was the king’s orphan son.  Not a pure blood royal.  He planned to change everyone’s opinion of him by proving his ability as a knight.

“Enough.  Everyone break into twos and practice fighting.” Sir Ivan boomed, finally deciding it was time to start the fight.  The pages had obviously taken the practice fight from a practice to a fight to way for the two pages to try and show off.  Alexander wished the fight had started off with some honor so that he would be able to get a little more respect for his fighting abilities.  “Split up and practice fighting.  Oliver of Loastly go to the healers and get that fixed.”

“Sir, I am fine.”  Oliver said.

“A page that is too distracted by an injury does me no good.  It also does me no good to have a knight who is acting cocky.”  Sir Ivan said with the tone that he used Alexander, and probably everyone else, could tell that Sir Ivan thought that Oliver’s behavior with the prince was undesirable.  Oliver didn’t argue. Everyone knew that you do not argue with an instructor at page school, it was a great way to get kicked out.

The first year pages split up and practiced fighting in pairs.  Alexander paired off with Kat who fought well and was surprisingly strong for his small frame.  Sir Ivan went around from arena to arena correcting people and giving people challenges.  When he reached Alexander and Kat’s arena he didn’t say anything for a while, he just watched.

“You Alexander will have a lot to prove.”  Sir Ivan finally said then walked away.  Boy did Alexander already know that.

Not long after Sir Ivan walked away then class ended with the sound of a loud bell.  The pages had thirty minutes before the next bell rang and they had to be in their next class.  Alexander and Kat walked off to their room and changed into fresh tunics and pants, Kat doing so in the washroom.  They left their dirty clothes in a basket at the door.  A maid would come by later and pick them up to be cleaned, the pages came from royalty plus they had busy days, washing clothes isn’t something they had time for.  Plus being a servant in Parthi was not as bad of a thing as being a servant in any other kingdom.  King Ethan’s father King Lott had instituted a minimum wage, when King Lott had died Alexander’s father had raised the minimum wage a little.  This was a significant thing for the kingdom as it made sure that there were far less pore people than there had been before King Lott’s reign.

Alexander didn’t know why they had been told to bring their swords to class because they had not even used them and apparently they wouldn’t be for a while.

“Why did you change in the washroom?”  Alexander asked Kat with curiosity in his voice.

“I just prefer to, I don’t like sharing a room.”  Kat said obviously not wanting to talk about the subject.

“You don’t have to be shy.”  Alexander assured Kat, pushing the subject.

“I told you, I don’t like sharing a room.  I am not shy.  We only just meant yesterday.”  Kat said, leaving the room

That was true, Alexander thought, he knew some of the other pages but not all of them.  Being the king’s son sometimes he had to sit in court when important enough visitors came.  And even than he didn’t really know them, he had met some of them a couple times and his father had talked about some of their families.

Alexander grabbed a small bag the size of a very large book and left the room following Kat.  Kat carried a similar bag that was far more warn.  Alexander did not completely know why the bag was worn, Kat’s family made a fair amount of money by running some of the biggest lumber industry in the kingdom.  Most of their money though went towards working on the city and paying loans from years ago.  Chesire was a fairly new city; it was only about seventy years old.

“So why do you think we were told to bring our swords to class this morning?”  Alexander asked once he had caught up with Kat.

“Isn’t it obvious?”  Kat asked with a bit of sass in his voice.

“No.”

“They want us to get used to keeping our swords with us all the time.  As knights we will be required to carry them with us all over to protect those in trouble.”  Kat answered.  Alexander guessed it made since, the sword added some weight to one’s belt and dragged behind them as they walked.  Maybe he would see the advantage of it once they were working in the field.

When they got to the classroom Alexander found a couple of spots open next to Philip from breakfast.  Philip waved at Alexander and Kat.  Kat sat behind Alexander while Alexander sat next to Philip.  Out of the bags they produced parchment, a fountain pen, and an ink well.  Taking the lids off the ink wells and tapping their pens on the side of the well after dipping them in the ink to make sure there was not too much ink on them they were ready for class.

A short older man in instructor’s clothes came in and sat behind the desk in the front of the room.  The man set his spectacles on his slightly crooked nose and wiped a hand through his short white hair.  He looked like he had not seen battle in quite a while, looked more like a scholar than a warrior.  Which, thinking, Alexander guessed he kind of was.  There were other schools in the kingdom and the teachers at those schools were not required to continue doing what they taught.  All though in some ways not as many lives depend on the other schools’ students as they did at page school, the other schools taught things like alchemy, architecture, and history.

“I am Sir Kaunt.  Welcome to first year tactics instruction.”  Said the instructor in a monotonous tone that seemed to drone on.  The only reason Alexander was going to be able to pay attention in Sir Kaunt’s classes was the fact that he wanted to learn tactics, how to plan and strategize, it was the only thing he hadn’t been taught while living at King’s Castle.

Alexander and Kat sat through the class.  It was completely boring.  Alexander hoped that that was only because it was the first day of class and didn’t have any knowledge to connect to the class with.  The rest of the day was more classes.  After tactics class they had customs class, and language class.  Each class was taught by a different instructor but they were equally as boring as the first one.  The classes would change a little bit every half year, there weren’t enough customs to take up three years of instructions let alone one.  Also classes like languages had the same problem, only two other continents spoke different languages, and they didn’t need to be fluent only know the basics.  When fighting with another country you did not need to know how to have a polite conversation.  The only time they would need to know how to conversate with people is when they were trying to blend in.  Typically knights didn’t participate in spy missions though because they weren’t trained in spying, those knights and soldiers who participated in spy missions got special training at various schools around the continent on how to fit in, continued language classes and concealment.  Plus the only continent they were on shaky grounds with was Altrea, and they spoke the same language just with a different accent.  Like a couple of other continents Altrea had been founded by people who had left Parthi around five hundred ninety years ago.

After the last bell, that signaled the day was over all of the pages headed to the dining hall for dinner.  Alexander grabbed food and found his two friends at a table in the far corner of the dining hall.  The room wasn’t too big, in total there were fewer than two hundred pages.  At the table that was big enough for eight there was one new page that Alexander had not met yet that was within his talking distance and wasn’t acting like Alexander was a disease.

“Alexander, this is Kelly of Holrand.”  Said Kat, referring to a boy of medium height with black hair and green eyes.

Kelly stood up and he and Alexander shook arms.  Alexander sat down in the empty seat next to Kat.  The group talked through dinner then went back to their rooms.  When they got back to their room Kat slammed the door and turned to face Alexander with an angry look in his eyes.

“Why the hell were you pulling your punches and going easy on me?”  Kat yelled at Alexander.

“You are smaller than me, I wanted to keep it a fair fight on the first day.”  Alexander answered.

“I do not need any special treatment from you.”  Kat said still angry.

“Then you won’t get it anymore.  I didn’t want anyone to see you get defeated by me.  It is our first day and that wouldn’t go over well.”

Just then the door started to rattle.  The door didn’t lock so someone was just pounding on it.

“Come on out little prince.”  Oliver’s voice called teasingly.

“Lean up against the door.”  Alexander whispered with a tone of urgency.

Alexander and Kat leaned up against the door so that Oliver and his friends could not open the door.  As they sat there the door continued to rattle so Kat and Alexander just continued to lean up against it.

“Fine maybe I won’t give you any special treatment in fighting if you do something with me in return.”  Alexander suggested.

“What could I possibly do for you?  And do you really think this is the best time to continue that conversation?””  Kat asked.

“Do you have any better ideas of what to talk about right now?  And I think my proposal might please you.  Do some extra running with me.  Sneak out in the mornings, stretch and run.”

“You are asking that while we sit against the door?”  Kat asked.

“Can you think of a better time to ask that here?”

“No, and it can’t hurt that much.  Why not? Let’s just make sure that no one sees you helping me, if they do I might not live it down.”

“Okay, not tomorrow morning though, starting the day after.”  Alexander said, as he closed his eyes, propping his feet against the floor to keep himself there if he fell asleep.  And sleeping was sounding like a good idea to Alexander right about now.  The first day was definitely long and it was going to start all over again tomorrow.

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