Fiction Friendship Inspirational

“It doesn’t count if you’re already planning your defeat! “ Floyd deflected my sword and swiped it from my sweaty palms.

He then kicked my legs from under me and I flopped onto my back and laid there, panting with my eyes closed. The sour air of the swamp withheld itself from reaching my lungs and my poor heart was on the verge of springing from my chest. I basked in misery as the cold grime of the damp, forest floor soaked into the dirty shirt which I was forced to wear.

“Get up, girl! “ I was kicked in the side; hard.

But still, I didn’t move. I didn’t think it was possible. Not possible to move, or scream, or cry and curse. I was certain that Master Floyd was making a try on my life – by making me train until my heart eventually failed me and left me to rot. There was another rough kick to my leg and another command to upright myself, but this was it. I was drained of all my energy. I didn't have the strength to continue.

"What happened to your desire to fight? Hm? Now, that is a warrior I can work with! “ I opened my eyes just as slowly as his words processed in my mind. My previous actions had truly been a mistake; a whim that I had acted upon when I saw my brother sparring with Floyd to prepare for the battle that was to come. What a silly girl I was to request lessons for myself.

Before my eyes could drift back down, my arms were pulled away and I was lifted up. Suddenly, I was face to face with the handsome man who tortured me endlessly for the past two months. He grasped my arms tightly in his hands, but I could barely feel my body at all. It felt as if my legs would give out under me at any given moment. And frankly, I didn’t feel obliged to try staying on my feet.

Floyd however, didn’t care for my justified laziness. He held me up by the arms and looked me straight in the eye.

“You’ve been doing well, your highness. You can’t give up now. “ the use of my title made me wince as I had not particularly felt like royalty these past months and Floyd had not treated me as such. Of course, on my own orders that he treat me like any other student of his...

To prepare myself for the war that was coming.

However, I was stupid to believe that I could be like my brother or Floyd. Perhaps my father spoke wisely when he suggested that I be married off to another kingdom, where the battle would not reach me and I could worry for my family from afar. It would be much easier to seduce a simple-minded prince than to charge onto the battlefield where brawny men would roar at and fight and kill me without the blink of an eye.

I was only a woman; a princess who has not received a sliver of training until not long ago, when we heard of my uncle, Isaac’s betrayal and treason. Even if I was angry, I was also exhausted and yearned for a better path. A more comfortable path where others fought my battles for me. It would be easier, and it was what I was used to.

The pressure of Floyd's hands on my arms suddenly left me and so did the little strength in my legs. My knees collided with the ground and became soaked with the same grime that covered the rest of me. The sour air burnt my eyes and I squeezed them closed. I was ready to tell Floyd to go and fuck himself and that I was leaving.

"I can see that you're giving up. You shouldn't. " a scoff left my lips. The man was mad with misplaced hope. Anyone could see that I was not ready to fight a sheep, much less multiple grown men, "When you came to me, you asked me to turn you into a warrior, " I opened my eyes with much difficulty when I heard him crouch in front of me and I stared back at him, "somone who was willing to fight for her family and kingdom- "

"I'm not. " I bit back at him finally, venom in my words, "I don't want to fight for anyone. " I croaked and only then, I realized how dry my throat was.

Floyd's lips pressed into a thin line that seemed belittling and disappointed. I needed to look away as he continued.

"Princess, I can teach you to fight, but I can't teach attitude. You're going to need to learn that by yourself. " he said lowly, his voice grave.

I sighed, "I'm tired. And sore. "

My complaints sounded pathetic even to me. There really was no way for Floyd to teach me how to believe in myself, but all of that faith was beaten out of me during my training. I didn't have enough conviction to continue.

I hung my head low in shame and self-pity. The smell of the swamp was making me dizzy and nauseous. I wanted to curl into a ball and shut myself away from my failure. Although it wasn't possible, because Floyd was here to remind me of just how much a disappointment I was.

"What of your kingdom? Your brother and father? "

I scowled at his persistence, "They didn't want me to do this in the first place. "

"No. I meant the battle field. "

This time, I rolled my eyes and grunted loudly as I pushed myself up from the ground. My legs wobbled and I could almost taste the bile which rose from the depths of my stomach.

"My father and brother will have hundreds of other men, much more qualified to fight for them. " I argued as I started trying to wipe away the caked remains of the grime which clung to my clothes and armour. I knew that my hair would only return to the vibrant blonde it once was if I went home and washed it.

"Hm. Hundreds of men are willing to die for their kingdom and royal house, but the princess is not. " he taunted loudly as I started stomping away from him, but before I could pass him, he kicked the back of my knee and I cried out in surprise as I almost face planted into the mud that seemed more green than brown.

"She will only save herself. "

A fury came over me and I grabbed a handful of the green mud that already coated my hands. I twisted around and chucked it at his face as hard as I could. I heard him growl out words I couldn't decipher, but by then, I had scrambled to my feet and sped up the pace to leave the forest and return to my mare.

However, I didn't make it very far and Floyd's hand grabbed my arm again. He spun me around to see his face which was smeared with mud and I would've laughed if he didn't seem so angry.

"You are in your right to leave, your highness. " he spoke through clenched teeth as if he was scared he would scream at me, "But I don't believe that you want to do nothing. You didn't train for two whole months to walk away now. You're better than that. "

I took my arm from him, but I didn't run. It wasn't as if I feared for my life; only my sore muscles.

"Everything hurts and I'm tired. " that sounded more whiny than I wanted it to, but it was true. There was nothing more I wanted than taking a long, warm bath and climbing into my bed.

I couldn't picture myself on the battlefield. How could I protect others if I couldn't stand firmly on my own two feet?

"It will be worth it. Just change your attitude and the rest will follow. I promise. "

I shook my head, "You shouldn't promise things like that. We could fail; all of us could die and this will have all been for nothing. "

Floyd crossed his arms and despite all that I'd done and said to him, he gave me a warm smile.

"We could also win. One person can make all the difference on the battlefield. " he said, knowingly.

I stayed still and thought about his words for a very long moment. The stench in the forest still made me want to vomit and my body felt like there was an ox weighing it down, but after glancing at the expecting look on Floyd's chiseled face, I groaned loudly and threw my head back, something my father would've called extremely unladylike if he saw it. I turned my back to him and stomped away.

"Fine, I'll continue training - but I'm not coming back to this bloody swamp! " I exclaimed as I tried to trek my way to our horses without slipping; and I scowled once more when I heard Floyd cackle loudly.

November 04, 2020 10:59

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RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

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