Chapter Nine; Respite
I sighed gratefully as I lowered myself into a hot bath, the water unwinding muscles bound tight by the last few days' exertion. I dunked my head underwater, and sat back in a small niche created for this purpose, turning my thoughts inward.
The lords wouldn't reach the castle in anything shorter than three days' time, and all but killing their horse at that speed. The information I'd found was urgent, and I could only hope that the lords would see that and actually agree on a course of action.
I shook my head and hauled myself out of the water, slipping into a short nightgown before flopping onto my bed, groaning as I realized how wonderful it felt to lie down. I never did figure out if I actually fell asleep before my eyes were closed.
I forced myself awake relatively early in the morning, dragging myself out of the warm, cozy bed, and shuffled my way onto the balcony, gasping as the cold stone came in contact with my feet. Early spring was still chilly, and I figured the cold would wake me up a bit.
After a few moments, my feet went numb, and I minced across the stone back into my room, pulling the curtains across the doorway and pulling open the drawers of my dresser, selecting clothes and pulling them on. A sensible white shirt, slim grey pants, and my black boots.
If I was going to be a general, I might as well learn how to use weapons.
I purposefully exited the tower into the main courtyard, heading for the left-hand entrance, where the Royal Guard's barracks were. After wandering around for a while, I found my way to the main office, where the captain sat at a heavy oak desk, writing on a small slip of paper.
I rapped my knuckles on the open door, and the captain jumped, startled. "Princess!" he gasped. "What are you doing here?"
I smiled, trying to put him at ease. "Well, I figured that I'd learn something about weapon use."
He glanced me over. "I'd say a bow is your best bet," he started, but I was already shaking my head.
"I want to use a sword," I said stubbornly, setting my jaw.
The captain glanced me over again, this time more appraising. "You aren't the first warrior of small stature wanting to use a sword," he murmured thoughtfully, and nodded to himself.
"Right, come along, come along. What sort of sword would you like?"
I looked at him blankly. "Type...?"
The captain sighed. "Oh, here we go. I might as well tell you the different sorts of weapons there are." He kept up a steady stream of information on swords, bows, maces, and axes as he led me to the huge weapons shed, a building normally kept under guard. The huge doors stood open, and the two Guards saluted as we went past, then bowed hurriedly as they realized their captain was leading me.
"Anyways, what do you think would be the best weapon for you?"
After thinking for a few moments, my eyes lighted upon a neat rack of longswords. "Longswords?" I asked hopefully, and he smiled slightly.
"We can always try."
He motioned towards one end, where the swords looked lighter. I pulled one out of the rack, wrinkling my nose. "It doesn't feel right," I said after a moment, and the captain nodded, smiling again.
"Well, I'm glad you know when something's not right for you instead of trying to be all bravado and fight with something you don't want to use."
He led me around the shed, trying out short swords, bows, maces, flails, and even axes. With a sigh, I replaced the two-bladed axe, shaking my head. "It's still not right," I growled, somewhat upset.
The captain had a thoughtful expression. "We do have another weapon, but not many people are able to use them." He led the way to a corner, where a small rack held a handful of two-bladed swords. Sure I wouldn't be able to use any of these, either, I selected a light - looking one at the end, and gasped.
The grip perfectly fit my hand, the weight was perfect, and even the length was just...right.
The captain nodded. "With the proper training, the wielder of a two-bladed sword is dangerous."
I smiled, swinging the sword experimentally.
Oh, yeah. I'm gonna have fun with this.