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Happy Inspirational Adventure

“Again.” 

Repeated more than 20 times in the past hour, Caelin was sick to her stomach of hearing that word. Theon rapped his wooden staff on the stone floor when she paused to breathe, she’d sprinted so many laps around the room that she’d lost count.

“Did I say stop?” He growled. She gasped for air as nausea overtook her stomach. She didn’t even have time to warn Theon before she vomited all over the stone. 

Theon clicked his tongue and called for a servant to begin cleaning the mess. He approached her and smacked her back with his staff. 

“You are not ready, weak one.” He whispered, as Caelin retched. 

She fought tears that were determined to leak from her eyes and it wasn’t until Theon had left the training arena that she collapsed to the floor beside the contents of her stomach. 

Hot, angry tears rolled down her cheeks. She cursed at Theon but no one was there to hear it.

It took Caelin a moment to regain enough strength to get back to her quarters. She didn’t have much of a place in the castle, but Theon was able to give her a room. 

Caelin reached her bed and promptly collapsed. She was drained of any energy she had before, which wasn’t much. She had training with Theon every day, but today was one of those days where he was extra cruel. 

When she woke, it was dark outside. The clock hung on the wall told her it was not an appropriate time to be awake, but hunger clawed at her stomach. She needed food. 

She was still dressed in the tight leather training suit, gifted from Theon when they first began their sessions. Their relationship had hardened so much that he doesn’t bother to even speak to her when not required.  

Her mouth still lingered with the sour taste of vomit. She rinsed it out with water from the sink and ran cool water over her face. Her cheeks were still flushed from training and though her body was becoming more defined everyday, purple circles hung under her eyes. 

She changed into a tunic and pants, finding it even more inappropriate if she was spotted walking the castle with nothing but a flimsy nightgown on. Of course, the royal family resided in a whole other building. Theon, as a trainer, lived in the servant’s quarters. Why does that include training grounds? She wouldn’t know. When Theon took her in off the streets, she was instructed to ask no questions or be thrown back out. 

The marble floors were cold on her bare feet, she cursed at herself for not remembering slippers. The kitchen wasn’t too far from her room, luckily. Before Caelin could reach the kitchens, she heard muffled voices emitting from one of the many doors she passed. 

She knew one of them all too well. 

A light shone from under the crack in a door and Caelin immediately pressed her ear to the cool wood. Sure enough, Theon was inside, speaking to another. 

“She’s not ready, I tell you. She can’t even reach the quota for running. We haven’t even started swordsmanship.” He said. 

Caelin bit her lip. There was no doubt he was talking about her. Theon only trained a few other people and she was the least skilled of them all. 

The other voice spoke up. Caelin didn’t recognize it. 

“Theon, you must continue. Think of the girl you found that winter night. Wide eyes and a frail little body? That is the girl you’ve made a woman. She’s weak but you can make her stronger.” The voice was female. It was tender and sweet. Caelin wondered if it was Theon’s partner. She shoved that thought away fast. Theon was too cruel to love. 

A sigh sounded from inside. She heard footsteps shuffling to the door. She slid to the wall, her back pressed against the smooth stone. It was harder to hear from her new spot, but she heard well enough to get the last part of Theon’s sentence. 

“She is my purpose.” 

Caelin’s rib cage shook from holding in a whimper. She was his purpose? His purpose? If so, why was he so unbelievably terrible to her? 

She dashed the rest of the way to the kitchen. There on the counter sat a sliced baguette and in the cooler was a fresh jar of jam. She’d be able to make a sustaining enough meal with her findings. 

She was slathering jam onto a slice of baguette when she heard the click of footsteps just outside the doors of the kitchen. All she held in her hand was her dinner and a butter knife, which was pathetically dull. 

A woman slipped into the kitchen, her head turned to stare out the door where she’d come from, and at first didn’t see Caelin. Once she turned she let out a small gasp and pressed her hand to her heart. 

“What are you doing?” She peered at the baguette in Caelin’s hand. 

“Making myself something to eat. What’s so wrong with that?” Caelin puffed her chest slightly. 

The woman chuckled softly, holding up her hands in mock defeat. “My fault for questioning you. You’re right, nothing wrong with a lady eating like a man at three in the morning.”

Caelin scowled at the woman, but she could feel baguette crumbs all around her mouth and maybe even a hint of jam stuck on her lip. 

The woman took a few steps forwards and leaned her arms on the table. “I know you overheard me and Theon, weak one.” She said the last part with a sly smile pulling at her lips. 

Caelin threw down her baguette. “I’m not weak.” 

The woman held out a slightly aged hand. In fact, upon taking a closer look at her face, she seemed much older than she acted. 

Her hair was graying at the temple, though the rest of it held its chocolate brown color. Crows' feet and smile lines were permanently engraved into her sunspotted mocha skin. 

“My name is Pauletta. I am Theon’s adviser.” She said, smiling warmly. Caelin stared at her in awe. She didn’t know Theon had an adviser. He seemed so independent that he’d be able to do anything by himself. She watched Pauletta carefully. She seemed so carefree. As if advising Theon was the easiest job in the world. It then occurred to Caelin that Theon may fear Pauletta. She nearly laughed. Theon didn’t fear anything. 

“I’m going to give you a piece of advice, Ms. Yarrow. Theon has been through hell and back. He may not like to braid hair and talk about feelings but it’s the little things that show he cares. Do not downgrade them.” Pauletta’s tone changed so fast Caelin wondered if she’d imagined the nice woman who’d walked into the kitchen not 5 minutes ago. 

Caeline wondered what Pauletta meant when she’d said Theon had been through hell and back. He certainly acted like he had a stick up in a not so comfortable place. 

She went to ask Pauletta this exact question, but when she looked up from fiddling with the string on her pants, Pauletta was gone. All that remained in the kitchen were her measly dinner and Caelin herself. 

She promptly finished her food and snuck back to her room. As she lay in bed and forced herself to sleep, she wondered about Theon. 

She pulled herself to slumber thinking about her trainer and his scowl. She wondered what it would look like if he tried to smile. 

The next morning Caelin woke too early. Her clock read: 7:30. Only four hours since she’d been sneaking around the castle and speaking with Theon’s adviser. 

She dressed in her training leathers and headed straight for the training room, skipping breakfast. Theon sat on the stone floor, dangerously close to where her lunch had been just yesterday. 

His head snapped up from looking at the ground when Caelin walked in. “You’re early.” 

Caelin shrugged. “Skipped breakfast.” 

Theon hauled himself up using the wall and his staff. Straightening his long tunic, Theon shot Caelin a sidelong glance. 

“You’ll get tired quicker. Go eat.” He ordered. Normally Caelin would have been halfway to the kitchen by then, she knew it wasn’t wise to go against Theon’s wishes, but she stood her ground. 

“I skipped food for a reason. I’d like to start training.” She said, keeping her voice leveled. It didn’t seem to bother Theon, which bothered Caelin. 

“Fine. But when you quit halfway through because you feel faint, don’t expect me to feel bad.” His voice was masked in a snarl. 

Caelin strutted up to the swords rack, choosing a bronze one with some heft. Theon simply watched her, not mentioning that they hadn’t even started on swords yet. Caelin swung the sword through the air, her movements slow. 

Theon slammed his staff on the floor. Caelin fought a grin. “Put it down. Who do you think you are, weak one?” 

Caeline tossed the sword aside and it hit the stone with an ear splitting clatter. “Fight me, old man.” She said, bowing her head and spreading her arms. 

Theon narrowed his eyes at her. “You want to fight me? I will break you in two.” 

Caelin took her fighting stance, and Theon nodded. “If you wish.” 

Theon approached with such grace that Caelin didn’t see it coming. He swept her feet out from under her and in a moment she was on the stone floor, her back aching from the impact. She forced herself to regain her footing and held up her fists again. Theon shook his head. She could tell he was surprised she hadn’t tapped out yet. 

She threw a few punches, all of which were blocked with painful slaps to the side. “Come on.” She muttered. 

Caelin saw a millisecond of a moment where Theon faltered. She took her chance and went for his gut. Her foot made contact with his stomach just before he went to block her. The breath was knocked out of him and he stumbled backwards. 

At this time Caelin swept his feet out and once he was on the floor she slammed her foot into his chest. Theon yelped in pain before rapping his palm on the stone. 

She’d won. 

She’d won against Theon Bolderain. She held out an arm to help him up and he took it. 

They packed up their training supplies in silence. 

It wasn’t until they were leaving the room when he finally spoke. 

“I think I need a new name for you, weak one.” 

Caelin nearly skipped with joy back to her room. 

She’d finally seen what it looked like when he smiled.


October 28, 2023 03:14

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6 comments

Shirley Medhurst
09:25 Nov 10, 2023

Yay, I love it when the underdog wins 😁 This reads like an extract from a longer piece. Or if not, it definitely could be???? On another note, I think this sentence could be improved by changing the word order : “Her mouth still lingered with the sour taste of vomit.” - how about ‘The sour taste of vomit still lingered in her mouth’ (Of course, that’s just me, so do feel free to disregard…) Keep up the good work, Malaika 👏

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Malaika Shaikh
22:19 Nov 11, 2023

Thank you so much for your feedback, Shirley! I build off of these comments and always appreciate constructive criticism! Thanks again!

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Tom Skye
21:16 Nov 09, 2023

Brilliant story about grit and determination. Got me pumped! Thanks for sharing

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16:42 Nov 05, 2023

A great story. I enjoyed Theon's advisor telling Caelin about Theon helped encourage her a bit, which resulted to getting Theon to smile. I would like to know what Theon meant by his purpose, but the more important part of the story was Caelin showing she was stronger than Theon thought!

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Malaika Shaikh
19:08 Nov 05, 2023

When Theon said “She is my purpose” it was meant to imply that though Caelin was the weakest, she was the trainer that interested Theon the most, and he was set on making sure she became the strongest she could, even if it infuriated him. Thank you so much for your feedback!!

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Trevor Berndt
10:31 Nov 05, 2023

I really enjoyed this story; thank you for posting! You gave me a protagonist I was really rooting for!

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