The Book of Fawla
Kate’s lifelong difficulty with sleeping in new beds meant that she was up before the boys and long before Gwelweil met them. Kate knew that the girl was doing her a favor by showing her the way but she couldn’t bring herself to be polite when Kreelan was giving Gwelweil enough attention for the both of them. Kate made sure to memorize the route so that she would not have to depend on any member of works family again.
Romion lived in a modest home not much larger than the visitors’ hut where they had stayed the previous night. “Romion, you have visitors.” Gwelweil knocked on the door.
“Why did you waste their time when new I would just turn them away?” Came a voice from the other side of the door. The voice was hoarse and cracked. It reminded Kate of the expression from home, someone who smokes cigars and drank whiskey for twenty years.
“Sir,” Kreelan spoke up we’ve come a long way to meet you. We need your help. Kate needs to learn how to take on the goblin when they return to Zanor”
“You are having goblin troubles in Zanor? Well, welcome to Fawla. Now go away. I can’t help you.”
Kate clenched and unclenched her hand. The half dead flowers in his front garden quivered. She stepped forward and pounded on the door. “Look, I didn’t ask for any of this. I’m just somebody that lost and found myself in over my head. But now the elves of Zanor need me, and I’m not going to turn my back on them. I’m not a coward like you who fought but then ran away to be a hermit.” She turned to the others. “Let’s go, we really did waste our time here.”
Kate turned and walked towards the path. The door behind her clicked and she stopped. She turned as the door creaked open. An elf with graying hair and scars covering the exposed parts of his body stood at the door. But what Kate noticed out all the damage to his body where his eyes. Milky white cataracts covered his brown irises.
“You really have a lot of nerve coming to my house and insult me. I got half a mind to do the goblins’ work for them. Get out of here before I teach you some manners.”
“Like I really need to be worried about a blind man. What, do you use your sword as he came?” She turned her back and started walking off.
He was in front of her before she even realized he had moved. He drew his sword and knocked her down with the pommel. “Draw your weapon and I’ll show you just what I can do with this sword.”
“I’m not going to attack a blind man.” She sat up and began to push herself off the ground.
He kicked her in the chest and sent her sprawling again. “Why, are you afraid you’re going to lose to me?” He laughed.
Kate gritted her teeth and reached for her sword. “Look, old man. I’m getting tired of your games. You want me gone and then you challenge me. I may be new to fighting, but you can’t expect that I could really lose a sparring match to a blind elf.
She stood up and pointed her weapon at him. This time he let her get all the way up. She willed the he blade to a dull edge. She wasn’t going to kill him just because he was being a pain.
She lunged and swung low. She wanted to knock him to his feet the ground had done to her. Besides, she would be less likely to injure him that way.
He side-stepped the attack and pushed her to the ground a third time. She pushed herself up, gripping her sword and attacked again.
This time he met her blade. Her arms collapsed under the momentum of her body. He held ground, and she felt like she had hit a brick wall, albeit one with a point the edge that cut her blouse. She looked down at the tear exposing rather more cleavage than she wished.
Her mind drifted from their fight, and he took advantage by twisting his arm and knocking her sword from her hand. She bent down to pick it up but he grabbed her arm with his free hand. He sheathed his own sword and picked up hers. He pinned the grip to his side with his elbow, bringing her closer. She struggled against his grip as he examined her blade with the hand that had picked it up.
“Well, the first thing you need to learn about fighting is that a wooden a wooden toy will do you no good.”
She stopped struggling. “Does that mean you will help us?” She looked up at him.
He let go of her and threw her sword into the street. “Of course not. The only lesson I’m teaching you is that you don’t want to mess with me. I may have lost my vision but I can still defeat anyone who annoys me.” He pushed past her and went back inside, slamming the door behind him.
The other three stared at her. “What? I’d like to see any of you do better.” She dusted herself off and retrieved her sword. Kreelan went to her, but she pushed him away. “Leave and me alone.”
Kate made it back to the hut and went straight to her room. She stripped off her ruined shirt and examined her body. A boot shaped bruise filled most of her stomach and her wrists were purple from where he’d held them. She hated admitting it, but the blind Romion had kicked her butt. If one disabled elf could do this to her, she wouldn’t stand a chance against the goblin army if her armor’s magic failed.
She needed to go back and beg for a chance to train under him. But not right now. Right now, she needed to soak in a bath of hot water and self-pity. There wasn’t a magic pond nearby, but at least the people of Wanco had heard of indoor plumbing. She locked the door. Regkor and Kreelan could fend for themselves for an hour.