One Final Lesson

Eruviel remembers . . . .

“Get up.”

Rainion’s words sent air rushing into her lungs, and Artis used the pillar behind her to pull herself to her feet.

“Pick up your sword.”

Her eyes never leaving her brother, Artis stepped over to pick up the curved, Elven blade. “How much longer wi –” Her words were cut off when Rainion flung out his arm, sending a wave of wind out to knock his little sister off her feet. Flying back it was the pillar that once again brought her tumbling to a halt.

“Get up.”

“Stop helping,” grumbled Artis with gasp. At least she hadn’t lost her sword this time. Anticipating his attack, she spun around and hid behind the pillar as a force of wind rushed past.

“How am I helping, Moriquendë?”

She took a second to steady her breathing. “You say this is preparing me for the future,” she said as she stepped back out into the open, “and I heard Ada telling you not to go easy on me. Stop giving me air when the wind is knocked out of me.”

One corner of Rainion’s mouth curved up. “Do not lose your sword. We will not stop till you start landing on your feet every time.”

Setting her feet as he had taught her, she nodded. “Go.”

The force slammed into Artis, and the world spun as she fell backwards to roll through the dirt of the training yard. Panic shot through her as she gasped frantically for air. Sliding to a stop on her knees she forced herself to breathe, rose to her feet, and moved into a jog to attack Rainion head on.

Again he flung out his hand, and again she was thrown back. Once, twice, three times she rolled across the ground.

“You are not a sack of wheat. Get up!”

Artis got up. Her head spun, but her sword remained in hand, and with each fall she more quickly recovered. Land on your feet. Land on your feet.

Reaching a hand into the leather pouch hanging from his belt, Rainion waited for Artis to get within striking distance before throwing his hand out at her. Catching the force of the blow with her chest, Artis sailed back through the air, but this time she had prepared for it. Flipping around she reached down and caught the ground beneath her with the tip of her blade. Slowing, she landed on her feet, slid to a stop, and launched herself forward towards her brother.

“Again!”

Rainion grinned, and attacked. She had figured it out. His strikes were never the same, but no matter which way she was thrown Artis used her weight, weapon, and surroundings to land upright. Each time she got faster, and each time she got a little closer to him.

Landing sooner, Artis attacked before Rainion had a chance to recover. A swipe of her blade forced him back, and as Rain cast out his hand she took hold of his wrist. In the blink of an eye he had twisted out of her grasp and extended a dagger to her throat.

“Not quite fast enough, Moriquendë. Took you a few days –”

“And a few beatings,” chimed Artis to reminded him.

“Ah, yes, and a few beatings, but you have improved.”

Artis’s mouth slowly curved up into a grin, and she tapped the flat of her blade against his side.

A look of realization passed through the tall Elf’s grey eyes, followed by a gleam of pride. “That’s my girl.” Withdrawing his blade, Rainion took a step back. “My last day home, and my little sister beats me.”

Frowning, Artis gave him her most stubborn scowl. “We tied. You will know when I beat you.”

“I look forward to it,” Rainion said with a chuckle, reaching out to tousle her already messy bangs. “I hope Milloth is there to see it when you do. He becomes rather childish when reminded of his many losses.”

Fixing her bangs, Artis could not help but smile a little as she moved to walk with him. “I will train hard while you are away.”

Rainon did not speak for several paces. Draping an arm across her shoulders he nodded as he led them back to the main house. “Pray that I will not be gone long.”

Handing her sword off to an attendant waiting at the door of the yard, Artis glanced to Rainion’s hand that draped over her far shoulder. “I will. Naneth . . . Naneth does not want you to go.”

“Neither does Eilianniel.”

She could feel his shoulders sag. “I know,” responded Rainion quietly. “I wish none of us had to go, but when there is evil someone has to stand in it’s path.”

Pursing her lips as she frowned, Artis nodded. “I saw her packing earlier today.”

“I do not have to report in for a couple weeks. Eilianniel and I will be spending that time together.”

What could only have been jealousy twisted a little inside of her. Swallowing, she looked down to the smooth stones set into the ground beneath their walking feet. “Is it difficult? To be away from her?”

“Very difficult,” said Rainion. Looking down to the top of her head he smiled softly, and gave her a one-armed hug. “I forget sometimes how much you’ve grown. Perhaps you will finally be wed by the time I return.”

Scrunching up her nose, Artis lifted her chin to look to the path ahead. “Do not get your heart set on it. I just have a few more boring, arrogant, and passionless options to check off Ada’s list, then I will be free.”

Laughing, Rainion placed a kiss atop of her head before moving to take them up a stair that lead to the kitchens. “So long as Ada is on this side of the sea, dear Moriquendë, you will not be free of what he sees as your duty.”

Artis frowned. “Is that supposed to make me feel better?”

“No. Just promise me you will be our good Artistuion while I am gone? As much as you two clash, you can still learn a lot from him.”

Nodding, Artis stepped inside the door he held open for her. “I will do my best.”

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