I had walked a hundred leagues to reach Manour's tower and Keep. The large town next to the Keep had looked very busy with more people than I had ever seen. I went through it and towards the huge camp of the soldiers. There was an open call for men and I was answering it. Zern had began gathering dark sorcerers so the white council was answering him.
I stood at the end of a long line to sign in and was directed to a field. I set my pack down at a gesture from a soldier with greying hair. There were several men on the field sparing with different weapons. The man watched me and snorted at the heavy iron sword over my shoulder, "first we will see how you do without weapons."
I nodded, "I was told to warn you."
He sighed, "okay farmer I am warned."
I opened and then closed my mouth and moved towards him. I shifted and he lunged and reached for me. I slid to the side and caught his right wrist with my right hand. I turned as I twisted and bent it and snapped a kick behind his right knee. He jerked as his arm was straightened and went to his knee.
I spun the other way as I pulled and he went straight down onto his face. I bent the arm and cleared my throat, "normally I would snap the arm and then stomp on the back of the neck."
He turned his head and stared at me, "I think you pass."
I let him go and bent to help him up as he cradled his arm. He looked at me and shook his head, "go to the tall slim man at the end."
I looked and nodded and walked towards the man he had told me about. He moved smoothly and his eyes flickered over my sword, "pick a practice blade farmer."
The rack was full of weighted practice weapons and I looked at a few before I pulled one out. I looked at a man in a officer uniform with a grey robed wizard beside him. I returned to the tall man and he lifted another practice sword, "attack me."
I shrugged and moved into a stance and slid closer while watching him and around me. I knew how he would react by the way he moved and swung. I slipped my off hand onto the sword as he blocked high and started to slid in. I had twisted the blade and snapped it down as he lunged with a practice dagger.
He twisted and tried to avoid the long blade of my practice sword but it was to late and I pulled it at the last moment. It still struck his right shoulder beside the neck. He dropped his sword and went to his knee in pain. I spun the heavy practice sword and stabbed it into the ground.
I moved forward and moved his hand and pushed mine under the practice padding, "I am sorry. I thought you would catch it."
He snorted, "you are very fast kid."
I closed my eyes as I thought of how the muscles should be and whispered. I felt the magic come and the heat and healing power flowed in and under my hand and he stiffened. I opened my eyes and looked at him as I pulled my hand out, "better?"
He was staring at me and I blushed, "I do not have enough magic to be an apprentice so..."
He stood and gestured, "see the bow master."
I tried to ignore the wizard and officer as I went to put the practice sword away. I crossed to the archer lanes and waited. The men had mage create soldiers charge them from a hundred paces and had to shoot as many as they could. When it was my turn I tied the quiver with a dozen arrows to my right hip.
I nodded and the bow master gestured and I pulled an arrow. I slipped it between the bow and string and nocked it. I pulled it back, aimed and released and reached for another arrow to do it again. The last target fell five paces away and I relaxed and looked at the bow master who was staring at me strangely.
I grinned, "I hunt birds with blunt tips."
He grinned and gestured, "see the..."
He stopped and I turned as the officer gestured and I moved towards him, "sir?"
I glanced at the wizard and the officer cleared his throat, "go to the armory and draw weapons and armor."
I nodded and went to get my pack and headed to the Keep. Several men gave me directions until I was standing in the doorway looking at dozens of men being fitted with chain. Something drew me to the left side and an empty arch. I placed my hand on the wall and it began to turn and open to show another armory.
When I stepped into the large room it began to grow brighter until the room was full of light. I looked at racks of chain and scale and plate armor and slowly undressed. I touched each set as I walked the racks and stopped at a set of silvery scale. I looked at the thin silver chain at the neck and lifted it.
In the middle was a crystal tear inside a silver cage. The tear glowed gently as I unhooked the end from the shoulder of the scale and put it around my neck. It settled in the hallow of my throat as I reached under the shirt and pulled out the pants. It was not normal for chain or scale to have pants but I did not think about it.
When I put them on they shifted as if adjusting and then I was putting the shirt on. Like the pants it shifted and molded itself to my body. I felt much stronger and somehow knew I would be faster. I put my clothes on over the scale and began to search the room. When I found the black bracer I felt it before I put it on my left wrist and arm.
I moved towards the weapons and touched daggers and long knives. I took a long knife in a left handed sheath and a sword breaker and then a small double edged dagger. I found a black metal belt that almost looked like it was a serpent. It even had a black metal scale purse and I started putting weapons on.
The long knife had a green hilt with a lion's head with two glowing green eyes on the pommel. It went on my left thigh and felt as if it belonged there. Next was the sword breaker, the hilt was a light blue that was almost grey. The pommel was in the shape of a wolf head with two bright blue eyes.
It went across the back of the belt with the hilt to the left. The small dagger had a white milky hilt with the pommel shaped like a hawk. The eyes were clear gems that could only be diamonds. I looked at the waist high bench and found boots like the belt. They did not have a solid bottom like most and felt supple.
When I put them on they shimmered and shrank to fit my feet and I slipped the dagger into the top of the right boot. I moved to the swords and looked at each before touching. I slowly lifted a slim silver one that had a slight curve. The pommel was in the shape of a dragon's head with red glowing rubies for eyes.
I took the chain belt and put it over my right shoulder and attached it to the left hip. I slipped the sword back into the sheath and started to leave. I froze when I saw the bows in one corner. I moved to them and a white one that reminded me of bone drew my eye. The string looked like braided silver chain and there was a quiver with a dozen white arrows.
I lifted it and weighed it in my hand before unwinding the string and bending the bow. I attached the quiver to my belt on the right hip and then pulled the string back to test the pull. I was more than pleased and grabbed my pack and turned and walked out. I did not even notice when the room darkened behind me or when the wall closed.
I was walking out of the Keep and started back towards the field to find the officer. I lifted the scale hood and it shifted and adjusted to fit my head and everything seemed sharper. I was almost to the field when things seemed to jump out at me. I stopped as my right hand automatically reached for an arrow.
Three men with bows were to the right by a tree and they were looking at the wizard and the officer. To the left were four men in long cloaks that did not hide the naked swords in their hands. Across the field a man in a black robe almost seemed to shout at me. I pulled an arrow as one of the men with bows lifted it.
He pulled and fired and time was suddenly very slow as I changed aim and fired. I pulled another arrow and aimed at the man beside the first bowman as he lifted his bow. I fired and pulled an arrow and fired at the third and then pulled another arrow to shoot at the first man. My first arrow struck the arrow heading for the wizard and knocked it out of the air.
My second, third and fourth took each of the men in the chest. I shifted as the four men in cloaks charged with the swords out and began to shoot them. Time was still creeping as I let the last arrow fly and spun and lifted my left arm. A spell from a teenage girl struck the bracer and it sparkled as I felt my whole body tingle, "not me girl!"
I spun as I pulled another arrow and aimed across the field. Everyone was reacting as the man in the back robe was gesturing and I knew he was doing a spell. I released and watched the arrow streak into the air and over the field. It was a long shot but it slammed into the man and he was suddenly engulfed in flames.
I looked back at the apprentice girl as time started moving again. Her eyes were huge as I shook my head and turned to head for the officer. I glanced at my hip and the quiver and blinked when I saw it was full. I stopped when I reached the officer, "are you okay sir?"
He snorted, "you are very good lad. How did you know?"
I glanced at the wizard who was chanting and felt something moving from the burning sorcerer across the field and to him. I pushed the scale hood off, "I saw the bowmen first and they were not watching the field or what was happening. The four men with swords wore long cloaks but the blade tips of the swords were exposed."
I gestured across the field to the sorcerer that was slowly turning to ash, "he was wearing a black robe which seemed to shout what he was."
.... There is more of this story ...