“You want my help? Alright, here’s some advice. You’re too skinny. You should eat more. And you should stay away from my brother.”
Meadhbh sheathed the blade she had been sharpening, turning her gaze upon the thin, blonde girl in front of her. The girl had guts coming to her at least, and Meadhbh couldn’t say that she disliked Addiena verch Cadern, but Bradan was difficult to deal with, and she wasn’t sure the girl knew what she was getting herself into. Still, Bradan had sent Addiena with specific orders to learn how to fight from his sister, and Meadhbh knew she would have to relent and take the hopeful one under her wing. Hopefully she could scare Addiena away before the girl got herself killed.
“Why should I stay away?”
“He’s an arse on a good day.”
“So is Owain, and I handle him fine.”
Meadhbh snorted, then stopped herself. She noted the determined set of Addiena’s jaw. The same determined look she often gave those who got in her way. There is no way she is going to back down. Meadhbh stepped swiftly within arm’s reach and gave Addiena a long, intimidating look. She felt somewhat satisfied as Addiena instinctively backed away, her resolve seeming to falter ever so slightly. “Are you certain you want to do this?”
But, after a moment, Addiena pulled herself together and she replied, “…Yes. Yes, I am.” Her eyes flickered away from Meadhbh’s intense, golden stare and over to a rack of practice swords. “Which one should I use?”
One second later, Addiena was hunched over on the floor, holding her gut. “Wh-what…” she wheezed between wracking coughs.
Meadhbh flexed her fingers and snorted. “You’re dead. When you’re in battle, you have no time to react and wonder to yourself, ‘Hmm, I wonder which weapon I should use today.’ It’s not like picking a dress for a feast. It has to be fast. It has to be instinct. And I’m not going to waste my time teaching you how to use one of those if you’re just going to be dead because you didn’t know how to get out of the way. Now get up!” Meadhbh leaned over and hauled the girl to her feet. “First, you learn how to move. When you can do that, then I will teach you to fight back. Now, when I punch from this direction, you step this way to get out of the way. Got it?”
Two seconds later, Addiena was on the ground again, reeling from a brutal kick to her right leg.
Meadhbh sighed. “Well, you dodged the punch. That’s something at least.” This is going to take a while.
Two hours later, Addiena was covered in new bruises from repeated failures to dodge the onslaught of punches and kicks. But Meadhbh noted with approval that the girl was getting faster, even as she landed a jab that bloodied Addiena’s nose. Meadhbh called an end to the practice, and began mopping her hand of Addiena’s blood. “Go clean yourself up and be back here tomorrow at the same time.” As Addiena tottered away gingerly, Meadhbh shook her head, thinking to herself, She won’t be back.
Meadhbh was surprised as the next day, Addiena was waiting for her in the training area. And the day after that. Never late, never complaining. What the girl lacked in ability, she made up with tenacity, and as the days went by, she became faster and more confident. Meadhbh grudgingly admitted to herself that perhaps she had misjudged Addiena. Maybe she would be able to handle Bradan after all. Meadhbh chuckled as she realized the foolishness that had just crossed her mind. Addiena still had a long way to go.