This is a story about the imporatance of paractice, with a medieval/fantasy setting
|The sweat rolled down his cheeks. It dripped off the edge of his chin, dampening the otherwise parched earth. The dust rose in the billowing clouds, making the sun appear hazy. The sun was nearing its noontime apex. It beat down on him unforgivingly. His palms were slick with sweat, making it hard to grip the leather that wound around the handle of the sword that lay a few feet away.
"Wipe your hands and pick up your sword, child," said a gruff, older man leaning against a rock. The man had once been strong and handsome, as his bone structure and posture showed, but age had taken its toll. His skin hung loosely from his bones and was covered with age marks. His eyes gleamed with a fire, showing that age had only weakened his physical appearance. His spirit remained strong.
The boy struggled to lift the sword. He dragged the tip of the sword along the ground as he made his way back to the practice dummy.
"You lose your sword in a fight and you can expect to go home a head shorter," the old man quipped.
The boy shot a glare at the old man.
I know that, the boy thought, does he not know that I know that? Isn't it obvious?
He could not keep his gaze on the man for very long. The old man's stare burned right back at him. He swung the sword harder than he had before.
Everyday the man and the boy would meet in the field. The man would come from the forest beyond t he river that bordered the west side of the field and the boy would walk from his home beyond the rocky east side. The boy wanted to learn the art of the sword from a real knight like the other boys in town, but his father made train with the old man, and promised him that he would be better off for it. The boy was beginning to doubt his father. All the old man had taught him to do were basic strikes and blocks. This is all he would practice. He would go through hundreds of repetitions a day. The boy would hack away at the training dummy while the man critiqued him. The boy had begun to wonder whether the old man knew anything more than just basics. Neither of them knew much about the other. What they knew happened in the field. The old man didn't care much for names, so they never exchanged them.
The boy swung harder and the sword slipped from his grip again.
"Swing faster, not harder. A quick accurate strike is more devastating than swinging as hard as you can and missing," the old man said emotionless, his demeanor unchanging.
Frustrated, the boy stomped off to pick up his sword.
Why can't he ever pick up a sword and show me, the boy thought, he probably doesn't know anything.
"Go home. We're done today. Maybe tomorrow you'll be able to focus, child."
The old man headed toward the forest. The boy cast a dirty look at the mans back, and headed for the town to the east. Everyday they parted like this, in opposite directions.
The boy meandered through the tall weeds, not paying any attention to where he was going; his mind busy cursing his teacher. He passed by a boulder at the edge of the field, it's smooth gray surface giving no forewarning of the danger that lurked beyond it. The boy turned the corner of the stone and before him was a man hunched over in its shadow, picking the pockets of a fresh corpse. The man crawled around, searching everywhere on the body. His movements were quick and rodent like. He caught sight of the boy and in one fluid motion, like a wolf defining it's slaughter, he drew his dagger from the body and hurled himself towards the boy. Fear seized the boy in its grip, unwilling to let go. His mind was paralyzed.
The rodent like man was dead, impaled on the sword of a child. The boy’s sword was wet with blood. His heart was racing. He hadn't thought of anything besides his own death, but his boy took control, drawing his sword and striking. No thinking, no effort. The boy fell to his knees and was taken over by relief. His mind was at ease, no longer cursing his teacher, but thanking him.