You know the saying. "When it rains, it pours." In South Carolina that's true. We're getting soaked. Well, the good news is, my Muse Bubba, has sent me so much my brain is almost soaked!! I'm not complaining. It's better than a Writer's Dry Season. I've got more! I can only get it down so fast. Daniel is probably encouraging him to go faster. I love you, Daniel. I love those that love my children.
Sparring With Creids
“I didn’t imagine it, Seth,” I said and called into the air. “Demetrius!”
“You shouted?” Demetrius said behind us. It was again the “he wasn’t there and now he was” trick again.
I turned to him, “You just spoke to me, but weren’t here, didn’t you?”
“I did!” Demetrius answered happily. “You are the first one of the Children of Eve I tried that with.” He said proudly. “I learned it from Martha.” He started waving his hand and said, “She does all that blocking and seeing stuff. She taught me how to speak to just one person and they are the only one that can hear!” He looked at Seth. “You didn’t hear me, did you?”
Seth was smiling in spite of himself, “Not until you appeared behind us.”
“Excellent!” Demetrius smiled bigger. He was a big kid with a new toy, “I think I’ve got the hang of it.” He looked at me and shook me happily, “You were my first test subject!”
There were times Demetrius bordered on annoying me, but I loved his antics. They were now just part of his charm.
I smiled, but said, “So, you didn’t put it in my head.”
Demetrius looked puzzled, “How would I do that?”
“I don’t know!” I said back to him loud, “but you knew what was on my mind.”
“Please,” Demetrius said flippantly. He must have picked up some of Max’s colorful words, “It was written on your face! Like I told Seth,” he glanced at Seth and threw his arms around our shoulders. “I’ve known you for more than a decade. I could tell what you were thinking because how you looked at Toby and Tom. You ARE Toby’s parents. It was so obvious!”
I nodded as I smiled, “I guess you can.”
“”Where did you all go?” Seth asked. “After breakfast you vanished.”
“You know us,” Demetrius said in a somewhat bored voice, “We don’t hurt or heal. We don’t really fight even among ourselves much, but don’t worry,” he looked at me, “Since we met, I’ve seen every fight from the two with Darius, the standoff with Candor when the boys were sick, your challenge with Yannick and even the sparring with Darrin.” He grinned at me, “That was some pretty fancy moves and footwork.”
“Thank you,” I said, “You were right. We are Toby’s parents. I can’t even think about letting him fight.”
Seth’s eyes widened, “It never occurred to me. It isn’t a possibility! Of course, he won’t fight!”
I waved at Thomas who was talking with Reese and laughing about something. “You’re right about Thomas. I do still see him as a little boy. I know he’s trained, but I’ve never seen him fight.” I saw our family in him. Christian and I were brothers with the same parents. We shared a lot of features. Those features I now saw in Thomas. He was a younger version of his father. I had said before, Thomas was in great shape but still had the thinner frame of youth. He was in his last year as a teenager. I was married by then and was King Consort to King Seth. Could I restrict him from fighting?
“We have a little time to prepare,” Demetrius reminded me. “Why not see what he can do? He shares your blood. Does he possess the fight skills?”
I had seen Christian spar a few times as we grew up. He was very good. He was agile and moved quickly. It made me want to be just as quick and agile, too.
Thomas, other than his father, mother, Seth and I were the only ones that called him Thomas without the word Prince in front of it. Your Highness, of course, but he viewed people like his father, mother and I did. People were just as important as he was. Protocols were followed, but he had friends and wanted them to use his name, not his title. He was born and raised for a job and he would do it. Friends called him Tom.
“Do we start?” Max asked, coming over to us. “Your swords are right there.” He waved his hand toward two swords I knew well. My swords are what I preferred and I will remind you, I often used both when I fought. The longer broadsword I used every time. It originally was a sword used by the Vikings and was two and a half feet long. It was called a Carolinglad. The second was a shorter sword, a little bit longer than a foot in length called a Gladius. Roma’s soldiers carried them. Often, you had your opponent putting as much force against your sword as you did on his. That happened with Yannick, only I didn’t use a Gadius. That’s when I kissed him. Well, I won. Don’t forget that part. The Gladius was used during those times. We kept the short sword and made them our own. A’Dore’s had a man that forged and made many military weapons and he was also a craftsman. The family crest was on the hilt of the handles showing I was a prince of A’Dore. Yes, I was a prince of Blethos, too. But Seth and I were now business men. We had a vineyard and winery. I was seldom ruling anyone. Neither was Seth. We knew our business and no one in Royal Valley used any of the titles Seth and I had. We were in charge because of our knowledge and ownership. Before, when we had to take horses and carriage, there were people there that knew what to do. Hell, a lot of them knew as much if not more than we did. As bad as Arthur Thorne was as a pseudo king of the vineyard, winery, and the town, there were people that worked both all their lives! Arthur was a bad boss and a bad and criminal Human Being. He had people that knew what they were doing in spite of himself. Right this moment with the two of us in See-ahisih there were people that were trusted and educated running Royal Valley’s business. It belonged to nearly all of them. We had set some new policies they followed. All those who worked the vineyard or winery were working their business and shared portions of the profits. It was an incentive! They knew what worked and didn’t, so they made new policies themselves!
Yes, I would watch Thomas spar. I was too close to the situation with Thomas. I would naturally worry when he did, but wouldn’t get too hurt. I hoped.
Toby. I said it before, there was no way in Hell Seth or I would approve of him in the fight. He was ten years old! No rational adult would approve of him fighting. I remember what Demetrius said. He would protect both Thomas and Toby, but warfare like this was bloody. Toby still had some of that childhood innocence. Exposing him to the probable gore would take that away. No matter how smart he was we couldn’t let him. Wouldn’t! Won’t!!
“Hellooo,” Max said to me. “Do you want to start?”
My attention returned. “Sorry. I take it you don’t warm up?”
Max gave a side shrug, “You might for a few seconds, but you can’t ask your opponent to wait for you to warm up.”
I grinned, nodding, “Good point.”
“I’ll be watching,” Demetrius said, “Just not from here.” Then he wasn’t here.
My first opponent was Val. I saw Max was going to be with Seth. He assured Seth he would take it slower with him to see what skills he had. Thomas was going to be Reese’s opponent.
Toby enjoyed watching me spar before. Now he had several to watch.
The Creid did not hold back. For instance, I had just picked up my sword and without the usual invitation to start, Val was heading for me. No usual test thrust, his sword was out and heading for my midsection. The Creid sparred to be battle ready. I used my sword to deflect his sword to my right, using his momentum against him. At the same time I used my right leg in front of him causing him to stumble and did a fast spin to the right pushing him further and faster in that stumble. He hit the floor, where he did a fast roll away from me with his sword up ready for any strike I would make. Yes, this was much more realistic and said Creid tactic loudly. He was on his feet instantly. The artistic way many aristocrat sons looked good, but Creid learned to really fight. Jason, my trainer did, too. Val was lunging quickly again toward me. This time it was not a surprise for me. Jason’s lessons about using body stance and language to know what was coming really paid off. The fact that I hadn’t done it often in a while never entered my mind. I fought to keep being hurt. The Creid didn’t use shields often. Neither did I. We did when we didn’t know the enemy, but usually we knew if they used spears or arrows. The shields were good for deflecting anything used that came at you. Those paladins could deflect the throwing stars. If they knew about them. They were coming, but why? So many of them, someone had told them something. What had they been told? About the magic and Wahkooha? We’d find out.
Creid were tricky. It was soon clear to Val I knew what he was doing next by reading him. He began to give false stances.
He almost got me in the side by doing that. “You son of a bitch!” I said to him.
Val’s reply was a toothy grin and shrug and he came at me again.
The sound of metal hitting metal was echoing in this big room. It had several fireplaces, but only two of the closest to us were lit. It had been cool, but we were all sweating now. I did a little faking of my own and sent his sword flying, which I quickly got and held both his and my points to his throat.
“Damn, you are GOOD!” Val smiled. “No wonder you beat Yannick. I bet you’ll beat Beau!”
“So are you,” I said trying to regulate my breath.
“Not good enough,” Val said.
The truth? I was winded and I knew I would be sore later. These Natives had hot baths. We would need them. When I sparred with Darrin, I knew we were sparring. Val would hurt me. It was the adrenaline that made the fight more intense. When you fight for your life, you find energy. “Am I fighting Beau now?”
Val looked for Beau and shook his head, “No, he’s talking with your son.”
Beau processed things differently and was a little slower that normal, but what was normal? He was a good man. That opinion was confirmed by the Children of Lilith. Ceto said he had a pure soul and a good heart.
Toby retained a bit more childhood and was talking with Beau like he was his best friend. I’d say he was...after Dennis. Dennis was his brother and best friend like Christian and I were. Dennis and Beau were best friends just because! If you ever hear a child use that word like this, that because it is something that could not be described in words. It just was just because. There was laughter from both and even light punches in the arm. Beau must also have been told to be careful with that kind of punch. I knew he could easily knock a man out with his punch on full force. He’d never hurt a butterfly even by accident!
“Good,” I said to Val. “He looks rested. Has anyone won a fight with him?”
Val nodded, “Max did.” He thought, “Twice, I think. I don’t remember anybody else.”
Great, I thought.
I admit it. Thomas surprised me. He used Jason’s style of fighting, but made some moves all his own such as he stopped Reese’s sword with a simple spin to the left to successively block Reese’s sword and immediately spun right to use his right elbow to knock Reese almost off his feet. Thomas could have sliced Resse well with his sword, but he was having a good time. His smile said so. Hurting Reese would end the match. That made me chuckle. Thomas had good reflexes and the stamina of youth. What he lacked in experience he made up for with those reflexes. I saw him in one motion take his shirt off due to the heat he was giving off. When I say this, I would never touch or hurt him in any way. He was a third son to me. Edward, too. The chronological order of children we had, first was Thomas, then Ada and Ana, Edward, Toby, and Dennis. Of course, Sam’s and Theresa’s Micheal and Kristine, but we didn’t see them often enough. It wasn’t fair that I saw my side of the family more, but it took two weeks just to get there and back. Sam and Seth were close, but...we needed to make more time with them. If we survived. The homing pigeons were good for messages, but we needed to change that. You know Toby and Dennis were the most important to me, and Seth! They were part of me. Thomas was in excellent shape. His pectoral muscles were honed and would in time be more protruding. His biceps were also fine turned and would also get bigger as he aged. His stomach had the ridges. He’d be breaking many hearts, I knew that when he was small and he was taking after his father and would become the new Prince Charming. I had seen him eat. Jason had told me to eat slow and only eat as much as you needed to feel full. “You may carry around heavy weights, but one of those weights shouldn’t be you. It will slow you down.” I followed that advice. On the few occasions I did eat too much, I couldn’t couldn’t fight anybody off.
I watched as Max fought with Seth. Seth was doing pretty well, but it was clear Max wasn’t doing it as fast as he could. Max was holding back with Seth. I felt the need to coach Seth from the side. I had to bite my tongue. Distracting Seth could prove harmful. Max trained while sparring with Seth, he would tell Seth how to block better and fend off the assailant’s blade. Much of what I would have coached Seth, Max did. He would advise Seth to hold his sword higher or block his sword backhand to knock the advisory’s sword off target.
“You did well, Dad!” Toby said happily as he hugged me.
I hugged him back and then backed my head so he could see my words. “Thank you, Toby! The knowledge of what to do is there, I just got used to counting inventory and accounting. I neglected to exercise my body, too.” I looked at Seth again, “Your Daddy has the strength, but needs more skills.”
Beau nodded, “That’s why we spar. He has time to learn.”
I nodded, smiling at Beau, “You are so right, Beau. I couldn’t shoot an arrow as well as he can.”
“You have a fighting face,” Val said out of the blue.
“I do?” I asked. “I didn’t know that.”
Val was nodding as I said I didn’t know, “Well,you do. It’s not scary, but…” he stopped, “then again it IS scary. It’s so serious. It’s kind of a scowl that told me I was in a world of trouble. There was this determination on your face that said I was going to lose. That was scary.”
I looked at Toby and then Val, “I don’t know if I say thank you or not to that.”
Val laughed, “I’m just telling you to make you aware of it. It’s very effective. You must be Creid. I don’t care where you were born.”
I chuckled back, “For that, I do thank you.”
“Whatever it takes,” Val shrugged.
“Words every warrior needs to take to heart and onto the battlefield,” I said. “Wait, don’t you use those helmets that are masks, too? How does the mask help?”
“Yes,” Val nodded, “We use those masks often, but if you are close enough, you can see the eyes.” He pointed to his own eyes, “The emotion can be seen in the eyes. There are incidents that are to control our targets, not to kill. We don’t necessarily use them.”
We did spar again. I did spar against Beau. No warning. No one said to go or now, he just lunged at me. The “enemy” usually didn’t say go or now. Well, there was Darius and Yannick. Those three fights were more “civilized.” They were to make a point. The ones that weren’t civilized had a point, such as the unsuccessful one on Royal Valley. They wanted what we had and would not accept “no” as an answer. We said no! We said it in a language they understood.
I was mentally ready to have to work for a victory with Beau. From the first swing I found that true. His rage face on and he was damned scary! No test thrust, but a full on attack with every fiber of his being. At first I was all about stopping his strikes. The sound of metal hitting metal rang as our swords hit each other. The swords clashed and criss crossed each other and it had become almost music to my ears. Those strikes and thrusts of Beau’s were him using all his strength and rang many times rapidly. That power hit my sword very hard. I could use his momentum against him just like I did with Val, but I had to know his pattern. My timing had to be precise. I was getting winded again. I didn’t want to hurt Beau! He was tougher than Yannick was! After three rapid swings he gave from over his head, using both of his hands gave more strength! There was hardly a second or two between blows. It was clang, clang, clang!! If I didn’t stop him, he would hurt or even kill me!!! The floor was stone and level. They had taken care to be sure there were no raised edges and smooth. You didn’t want to lose a sparring match because you tripped. Not while training. I stood in place as he was thrusting his sword straight at me. Thomas may have had his moves, well, I had mine. Beau swung his sword high while doing a horizontal swing. Falling back to make the sword miss me. I could do the backward flip in the air, but a mistake could hurt on this floor. I fell on my butt and continued going back. I rolled over on my back and head in a tight roll and rose on my feet. This happened in what I perceived as split seconds, but I was ready. With his forward momentum on full, he couldn’t stop! I felt his sword against my side. Not into my side, but the tip of the blade touched my side. As a dance partner often did, I spun into him and the direction he was going as we would be chest to chest. I quickly grabbed his wrist and pulled him even more the direction he was going and pulled his arm toward and against my body and twisted his wrist backward and farther to the right. His footing was lost as he overshot his center of gravity making him stumble and he cried out as I bent his wrist farther in a direction his bones would not allow naturally without breaking. It was a pressure point and I saw his hand let his sword go and hit the stone floor with a loud, ringing clang. I bent forward, putting my hands on my knees and rested standing to catch my breath.
I bent down and pulled Beau around, “I didn’t hurt you badly, did I?”
Beau’s raging face he used, which I have to say was pretty terrifying. It just got worse as he exerted himself and turned red, but I knew him. That face was gone. He looked tired but his usual happy and content face had returned it. That compartmentalizing thoughts thing worked damned well. He was caressing his right wrist, but smiled at me with his usual happy smile. “Nah, I’m fine.”
As I helped Beau up I heard applause, whistles, hoots, and in men shouting “attaboy,” “way to go!,” and things in languages I didn’t know, but I assumed they were along the same line as everyone else, so I didn’t care. Max put his thumb and a finger from his left hand in his mouth and let out a shrill whistle that hurt my ears! If whistling was an art, he was a great artist. Toby and Seth were clapping.
“You fought good!” Beau said smiling as I hugged him.
“You did, too,” I patted his arm as Seth grabbed me and kissed me hard.
“You were amazing, Dad!” Toby said hugging us both.
“You were two blurs for a while,” Seth said in our hug.
My time perception was always faulty when I fought. “How long was the fight?”
Peter shrugged, “An hour and half, maybe two hours.”
My eyes widened, “Two hours!?” I moved and my body didn’t like it, “Oh, yes, I believe it now.” I pressed on the sore place on my lats. (That’s the Latissimus Dorsi, if you must know.) I had over extended it. I think it quivered and then the intense pain of a major muscle cramp hit. “Ow, ow, ow!” It was the worst I ever had.
Seth looked very alarmed. “What is it?” He grabbed my arms to look at my face. “What!? Are you injured?”
I was in great pain! “Muscle cramp,” I managed to say as I was grimacing, “A really big one.” I moved Seth’s hand over the cramp.
Seth’s eyes widened, “Jesus Christ! I can feel it throb through your deerskin top!”
I couldn’t help it, “YOU can feel it!?”
“Sorry,” Seth began kneading the muscle, “Sorry.” He began to help me to the side where there was a long seat.
Toby’s face was also full of concern, “Dad?”
I forced a smile to my face, “It will be fine, Toby.”
“Your Dad’s always helping me with my muscle cramps,” Seth smiled at Toby. Seth lowered me down. “I think I can give as well as I receive.”
“I’m sorry, Erik,” Beau said worriedly.
“You didn’t do this, Beau,” I said. “It’s my fault. I didn’t exercise enough while in Royal Valley. Accounting doesn’t work the muscles.”
The others were gathering closer to see what was wrong.
“You lack an element in your body,” Dakotah said, “It can be found in herbs. We have something that will prevent others, but…”
“No need,” I heard Ceto’s voice as she pushed through the guys. “I have what he needs right here.” She held up a green vial. “It will ease the pain and prevent them in the near future.”
“The last time we were given a vial of stuff,” Seth began testily as kneaded the muscle that still throbbed, “Erik had to add his blood to the juice from the Forbidden Fruit. What else is it? Is that from the Garden of Eden, too?”
Ceto smiled at Seth and me, I was in pain so I barely noticed. “It is from a garden alright. My garden. There is condensed and ground banana seeds, beans, and apricot seed. That element you are short of, you get from eating these fruits. This has more of it.” She waggled the vial. “It also has aspir-willow and mullein for pain. It might even make you sleepy.” She said to me brightly.
I took the vial and drank it all. It didn’t taste bad, “How long before it works?” I asked.
“Fifteen to twenty minutes,” Ceto said. “Those Little Warriors you have will have it fixed soon. You just need the muscle to relax.”
“Step aside!” I heard and saw Demetrius order everyone, “It’s time for a little magic from his GodFather.”
“But you can’t use the magic to heal!” Seth said helplessly.
“Not that kind of magic,” Demetrius raised his hands. “This kind.” He wiggled his fingers. “Remember, I was married to a man for thirty some years,” his eyebrows waggled, “The one that looked like the Statue of David in Italia? Before I met Dara, Except for you know where…” he lowered a hand over his crotch. “He was beautiful, but he would get muscle cramps in those beautiful muscles. I learned how to relieve it. Should I use my thirty years of hands-on training, or do we wait for Ceto’s cure to work on the pain?” He wiggled his fingers again. “Ario,” he smiled at everyone and looked at me, “that was my husband’s, my living version of the Statue of David’s name, by the way,” He looked at me, “He swore I had magic in these fingers.”
“Were you all talk with Ario?” I growled, “I thought you were a man of action. I’m in pain here!! No offense, Seth, but if he can help get rid of the pain...”
Seth nodded, “No offense taken.” He waved both hands at me to Demetrius, “Do it, damn it!! I can feel it in my hands. He’s hurting!”
Demetrius patted Seth’s on the cheek gently and lovingly, “Not for long.” His tone was it’s usual happy and jovial tone. He waved at me and my skin shirt or top or whatever vanished. The sweat on my body made the air cold. “I see the problem.” Demetrius said.
He reached down and touched my back and instead of the throbbing pain, I felt like a dagger went in my back! “Ow!” His finger moved and again a new dagger of pain hit. “OW! Ow!”
“You’re making him worse!” Seth shouted in panic, “Demetrius!!”
“Hang on,” Demetrius said calmly and moved his hand on my lower back and pressed hard. With his other hand his finger pressed on the ligaments that attached my throbbing muscle to my spine. His fingers did as a hard walk down the ligaments. “This will help the blood flow and those Little Warriors to be there in bigger numbers.
“Oh,” I said as the pain slowly eased and then stopped. “Oh, my,” I said in happy relief. The pain was replaced by a pleasant, relaxing feeling, “I can see why Ario loved you.”
Seth breathed normally and touched my sweaty head.
“What does Ario mean?” Toby asked. “Isn’t it Greco, not Italiano?”
“It is,” Demetrius chuckled and nodded. “It means belligerent. Believe me, he was a good man, but he could live up to the name at times.” I lost track of his hands, fingers and where they were on me, “What Ceto gave you and this, you should feel pretty good.”
He wasn’t kidding. He could do this nonstop the rest of my life as far as I was concerned. I even felt a little sleepy as I was told I would. “Oh, yes. Very good.”
Demetrius chuckled again, “I’ll do for you what I did for Seth after his accidental injury.”
I suddenly felt clean and like I’d had a hot relaxing bath. Then Seth let out a sound of surprise and looked at himself. He was clean and his clothes were clean.
“Knowing you,” Demetrius grinned, “and I do. He’ll want to stay with you. You know I can’t transport you, but you will rest a few hours.” He waved at Seth, “He needed to be clean, too. Now, off to bed.” He looked at Seth, “I think you can handle that.”
“I can and will!” Seth hugged Demetrius, “Thank you.”
My deerskin shirt was back on and clean.
“Come on,” Seth said and helped me sit up. He looked at Toby, “Can you help me with your Dad?”
“Sure!” Toby said and hurried to my side.
My husband to my right and our son on the left; who could ask for better?
Sympathy and light pats were given and then I saw Beau. His eyes were swollen, red and his face was wet with tears.
“Beau,” I said smiling, “I assure you. You didn’t do this.”
He nodded, “But you were in pain!” He said, his voice still had emotion in it, “I get…” he lifted one of his legs, “Charlie Horses here.” He pointed at his calf. “I got them a lot. Val tells me you had a very bad one in your back. Mine hurt. I know yours did.”
I nodded, “Yes, but you didn’t do anything to cause mine, just like you didn’t with your Charlie Horses.”
“I know,” he replied, “my friend, who I love very much was hurting. I couldn’t help it.”
He was upset because he loved me. He wasn’t IN love with me. He loved me as a person. A person he cared a great deal about.
My smile grew, “That’s the nicest thing a person can say to another person. You are more than just a friend.” I went to Beau, bent his head down and kissed him gently on the cheek. “Thank you, Beau.” Ceto was right, he was a kind, caring, and gentle soul. He was very sensitive. “I love you, too.” I let myself be guided away. “Don’t worry. You’ll see me again.” I said to Beau, “I’ll be fine and maybe we’ll have round two!”