Potentially chapter 5 of a novel I am in the (very long) process of writing
|Vai had just finished training with his tutor when the ex-slave girl approached him. She had a request.
"Vai, I know you have done so much for me already ." She began. "I know that I probably made things more than slightly awkward for you the night your brother died by assuming you just wanted me for my body." she blushed. "But you funded my way into the nobility. You are the reason I am engaged to Asdoe, yet I still feel I need to ask more of you…"
Her voice trailed off with her reluctance to ask more of the boy she looked upon as a brother.
"What do you need?" he replied as he grabbed his bow and quiver, heading to Vaikeep archery range. He wondered what was happening with his friend, what she could possibly need him for. Though he didn't care, really, he knew that almost anything that she would ask of him he would do his best to achieve, she may not be a blood relative but she was the person he was closest to since Kai had left.
Relieved to hear the light-hearted curiosity in the crown-prince, Mai continued: "I want you to teach me how to fight."
Vai wasn't exactly shocked she wanted to know how to fight but he was mildly surprised that she wanted him to teach her. "Shouldn't you ask someone slightly more accomplished than I to teach you such a skill? Nobody bar a senior knight or my father could refuse you the right given your engagement." Was his reply, not registering the shock outwardly as they were walking through a public place and the future king mustn't be seen in a state of shock at such an 'insignificant thing' – or so Vai had been taught.
"I knew you were going to say that," chuckled Mai, pleased to see that she could still read her friend even though they didn’t see each other so often anymore. "I can tell that I've shocked you by asking you. That is understandable but the reason for asking you rather than Sir Karus is that I don't want anyone to know that I can fight." She smiled at how one of Vai's eyebrows raised unintentionally as he glanced questioningly towards her. "Those born noble look down at me as it is, your mother especially – no offence. If they knew that I, a lady, were seeking knowledge that would let me crush their husbands in a duel – should I need – then I dread to think what they would do."
Vai had to force his body not to laugh as he nocked his first arrow, drew the string of his bow and loosed it into the straw target 300 metres away. "Mai, you never cease to amaze me with your powers of foresight. When would you like to begin your training ¬– and what sort of fighting do you mean?" he said, barely glancing at her while he walked to retrieve the arrow and using it to pin a rolled up parchment piece, painted with the portrait of a recently hung criminal.
"Every weapon, including hand to hand, and today if possible," Mai said, wondering if she would ever be as good of a marksman as the growing man beside her, who – while she was speaking – had fired another four arrows into the parchment, one through each eye and two through the teeth.
"Weapons will have to wait while we have you your own forged. But sure – we can do hand to hand in a while. See me this afternoon. I have to get some things together first." Vai said, hugging his friend before picking up his bow. "It will be just like old times, except now I have a clue about what I am doing."
They were both laughing as Mai walked away.
So they became each other's primary partner for sparring. And Vai learnt that, regardless of who they are; if they were going to hit you – it is okay to hit back.