• Kelly Blanchard

Hathal trains with Talion

Hathal’s back slammed onto the ground after Talion swept his feet from under him. Hathal just lay there for a moment, staring up at the sky. This wasn’t the first time he found himself on the ground, but it was probably the sixteen-hundredth time just this morning.

He didn’t want to move.

A shadow fell upon him, and Hathal saw Talion standing over him, offering him a hand up. Hathal just shook his head. “Why do I bother? You’re just going to throw me back to the ground again.”

“So that’s it?” Talion raised his brows as he crossed his arm. “You’re just going to lay there and take the beating? If that’s the case, you might as well go back home.”

Hathal chuckled when he heard this. “Can’t. It’s been destroyed by the kelliphs, remember?”

Talion frowned. He had forgotten that Hathal’s homeland of Adanalom had been lay to ruin by the kelliphs, but from what Talion had heard, the ice spell had been lifted after Rykeldan met his demise. “They’re rebuilding. It will take time, but eventually Adanalom will return.”

“But it’ll never be the same.” Hathal sighed as he finally pushed himself to his feet. “The land is ruined, even without the ice encasing it. Burnt and salted—nothing will ever grow there for a long time unless magic users somehow manage to reverse the process. Still though, Adanalom is gone. It’s just…easier to accept that fact than to hold onto hope.”

“Well, if you want to stay and continue your training as a Thymord Knight, you need to be ready.”

“Ready for what?” Hathal gave Talion a perplexed look.

“Anything.” With that, Talion struck Hathal across the side of his face with a staff.

Hathal stumbled then lifted his hand to touch the side of his head. He then shot Talion a glare. He wanted to ask why he had done that, but Hathal already knew the answer. Talion was training him. That was why they were out here in the training arena in the first place, but it didn’t mean Hathal had to like getting hit.

Tightening his grip on his own staff, Hathal yelled as he charged at Talion.

The knight waited for a moment then sidestepped the attack and watched as Hathal hurled past him, almost stumbling over himself. Talion just gave him a look. “Never rush into a situation.”

Hathal spun around, readjusted his grip on his staff, and then sized Talion up.

Talion nodded when he saw this, and he began to walk around Hathal—an action the young man mirrored, so they circled one another. “Good. Measure up your opponent. Wait for an opportunity to come. If the opportunity doesn’t come, create it.”

“So tell me this, how old is your sister?”

Hathal’s question caught Talion off guard. “What?”

And Hathal struck at him.

Only Talion’s trained muscles kept him from getting hit in the chest by Hathal’s staff by instinctively bringing his own staff up to block Hathal’s attack., but it was close. Talion stood there with only his staff pressed against his chest, barring Hathal’s rod from hitting him, and Talion still looked confused by the question Hathal had asked.

Seeing the confusion in his mentor’s eyes, Hathal chuckled. “You said to create an opportunity.” With a smirk, he stepped back, swirling his staff. “But really, how old is she? Sometimes she looks barely old enough to be considered an adult, but other times she looks so much older. I’m not sure what to think.”

“She’s eighteen as of this year.”

“Eighteen?” Hathal raised his eyebrows, surprised. “So that means she was…” He paused to do the math. “Sixteen when she killed King Vekmen?” Then he let out a low whistle as he shook his head. “Wow…I had no idea.”

“Why the sudden interest in my sister?” Talion jutted his chin toward Hathal then lifted his staff again, indicating that they should return to sparring.

Hathal shrugged. “I’m just…enamored by her.”

And suddenly Hathal found himself on the ground once more, this time tackled by Talion, who pressed his knee into Hathal’s chest and gripped his throat with his hand. Hathal widened his eyes, but Talion leaned down to warn him in a low voice. “My sister—our queen—is off limits from you, do you understand?” He tightened his hold on Hathal’s throat

Hathal’s eyes widened anymore, and he began to tap on Talion’s had, wordlessly requesting him to release his hold. “I…under..stand!” He choked out, feeling his face turning red.

Satisfied, Talion nodded and finally released his student. He rose to his feet and nodded. “I think we’re done for today. Go back to the castle, wash up, and then meet Dathithea for another lesson in history.”

“Where are you going?” Hathal asked when he turned to leave. It wasn’t like Talion to just leave so abruptly in the middle of a training session.

Talion paused then looked back at Hathal. “I have my own duties to attend for our queen.” With that, he left.

Hathal watched him go. After their journey together to warn the southern kingdoms of the coming threat of the kelliphs, Hathal came to view Talion like a mentor, and he truly respected him. It was only because Talion had vouched for Hathal that he had been accepted into the Thymord Order, and Talion had taken it upon himself to train Hathal to the best of his abilities. Hathal owed him a lot, and he knew that. He hoped he hadn’t just ruined what they had by mentioning Elleden.

The thought of the young queen caused Hathal to smile. For the longest of times, Hathal imagined Elleden was far older than him just because of her rank, but now that he realized they were close in age, he wondered if he had a chance. Would she ever notice him, a lowly Thymord Knight? Or would he be invisible to her?

He wanted to hope that one day she would take notice of him, but he knew to impress her, he would have to focus hard on his studies, so that was what he intended to do.

© 2019 Kelly Blanchard


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