Akira, Rodger, and Marc had been living in the capital city for a little over a month due to Brutus's work during the fall months. The king had prepared luxurious guest rooms in the castle for them to stay in.
It was currently a cool early morning, which meant that the three boys were training alone with lead-filled wooden practice swords inside the elite guard training grounds.
Every other day the three young boys would train alongside the king’s elite guards. It was brutal training for the young Akira and Rodger while Marc loved it, thriving off the joint training.
Akira was sweating from repeatedly swinging his practice sword, over and over again. Rodger and Marc were training next to him.
He had swung the practice sword nearly a thousand times today and nearly 40,000 in the last month. The exercise was for building strength and muscle memory. It was extremely tiring.
Their normal sword instructor was not in the capital city as he had to train the soldiers at the fort.
They were forced to train under Silias an old soldier who was the commander of the elite guard. He had been in many of the past wars including the second great war.
The training was a part of the process Rodger, and Marc had to go through, in order to be recognized as provincial nobles by the king.
Brutus was a high-ranked provincial noble. His family had earned the land they now owned during the first great war. Brutus had participated in the second great war and had earned more land due to the large amount battles he had commanded on the front lines without a single defeat.
Akira was allowed to train along with Rodger and Marc but due to the fact that he was not the son of Brutus, by law he was not eligible to be promoted to a provincial noble.
At the very most, if he worked hard he could be promoted to a knight and work under either Rodger or Marc.
In the kingdom of Beorin knights were divided into three classes.
The most common knights were the Imperial capital nobles. Most of them lived in the capital city and were paid a small yearly wage by the king to guard the city, take care of large-scale monster attacks on cities near the capital, and clear dungeons.
The second was the provincial nobles. Who were either old rich noble families with land and titles from ages past or capital city noble knights the king had recognized and promoted due to outstanding feats during battle.
These provincial nobles were loyal to the king but were not paid a yearly wage. Instead, they were allowed to keep what was left over after the tax was collected by the king. Many capital nobles prayed for extreme battles in order to earn the king’s reward of land and people to rule over.
The third type of knights was the elite guard that were paid large amounts of money each year. Their only job was to protect the king and his family.
Silias was currently watching them swing their swords from the side of the training field.
“That's enough for now, you can take a short rest. You all trained well in the various exercises I gave you over the last month. After you finish resting, we can start the second phase of training. I will spar with you and determine what weapon and fighting style best suits you,” said the hardy old man Silias.
Rodger, energetic as always, gave out a shout of happiness and ran over to the well to get some water. Marc and Akira both walked over casually and drank some water.
Akira splashed his face with some water and then poured the rest of the water over his head and onto his shoulders to cool down and wash some of the sweat away.
After a few minutes, Rodger stood up and walked over to the old man, eagerly waiting to be tested.
“Figures you would be the first to want to be tested. Very well, we can start whenever you're ready,” said Silias.
Rodger swung his sword from the side with both hands as if he were trying to clobber Silias to death. With each of his attacks, he put all his strength into them, using brute force while swinging his sword like a madman. Each of his attacks were skillfully blocked by the old man.
“That's Enough,” said Silias after a minute of fighting. But Rodger wasn't listening and continued to swing his sword, trying to hit the old man.
In a flash, the old man's sword leaped out and knocked the sword out of Rodger’s hands and quickly smacked him a few times on the shin, leg, and arm, before finally coming to a rest on his shoulder next to his neck.
“I said that was enough. Let me warn you now that fighting like a berserker and ignoring everything around you is a good way to get yourself killed. You will do well to remember not to lose yourself in battle,” said the stern old man.
“Sorry,” said Rodger as his face turned red with embarrassment.
This wasn't the first time Rodger had been scolded. Akira still remembered the first day of training. The two had been dueling when Rodger threw his sword at Akira's head, which ended up bouncing off his helmet after stunning him.
This led to Silias yelling at Rodger for a long period of time, telling him in many different ways with colorful words that only idiots threw away their weapons in the middle of a battle.
“Now, as for what weapon and fighting style you should train in. Hmm... I would have to say a two-handed sword would be best suited to your fighting style. I will get you a larger two-handed practice sword for you to use in training from now on. So you can get used to it, and build up your strength. Next person, hurry up,” commanded Silias.
Marc was the next person to walk forward and be tested. Both Akira and Rodger admired Marc, not only because he was the oldest at the age of 15, but also because he the strongest of the three. He was even able to duel the adult soldiers at the fort that were far older than him and sometimes win or have it end in a draw.
“I have already been training in the sword for many years. What will change from just a spar?” asked Marc.
“Everything. If you train in something that you’re mediocre at for 10 years that's 10 years wasted. I'm trusted by the king to judge the qualities of a soldier and train the elite guard of the king’s army. I'm ready when you are.”
Where Rodger had been using brute force Marc was using his sword to strike quickly and skillfully. Left, right, up, down each attack was blocked with a loud crack of the wooden practice swords.
“Enough,” ordered Silias. Marc immediately stopped, “Yes, I was right. You would be better suited to using two one-handed swords. You need precise movement and good timing to use two swords at once. Unfortunately, your left arm will probably be weaker than your right. To remedy that you will have to start using a second heavier practice sword to build up the muscle in that arm. Akira, you’re the last one. Get over here so we can finish training for today.”
Akira kept muttering to himself 'Don't mess up, don't mess up' and then began the match by thrusting his sword forward as if to stab a hole through the old man. The old man blocked it, causing a loud thwack. The force of the thrust surprised the old man.
Akira tried to swing the practice sword to the left and hacked at the Silias' calf and was immediately blocked. He repeatedly tried to thrust and swing the sword at certain vulnerable areas of a warrior, which were each blocked by Silias.
“Enough, hmm, yes. You seem to be suited for one-handed sword and shield. I will acquire a shield for you to use during the next training. Training is finished for today. Clean up and go to the classroom for your lessons,” ordered Silias.
Rodger gave a groan. Of the three of them, he hated the lessons the most. They quickly rinsed themselves off and used some towels near the well to dry off.
Marc led the way to the classroom. When they entered the room, their regular classmates were already in the room with their own tutor who was an old female tutor.
The other classmates were the king’s two daughters. Jezebel was the youngest at the age of six, the same age as Akira and Rodger, while Ruth the oldest was 10 years old.
The three boys sat down and waited for their own tutor to start class. He was currently sorting through papers, which turned out to be tests.
The boys spent the rest of the early morning working on a test for all their subjects.
After all the tests had finished, they had to wait until their tests were swiftly graded and handed back.
“UGGGHHH, I'm dead,” said Rodger as he sprawled himself onto his desk after looking at his test.
“I saw it all happen, sir. The cause of death was Math,” replied Akira and flopped onto his desk too.
A few seconds later, Akira and Rodger decided to compete to see who had the worst test score, showing each other their test for each subject. Some of the scores were so bad they were in the single digits.
Marc, who was watching the two idiots show off their test as if they were trophies sighed while watching them.
“What? Did you get a worse score than us?” asked Rodger.
Both Akira and Rodger looked at Marc's test which were even harder than theirs. They saw he had almost 100% or near it on his first try.
“What am I going to do with you two? You're always failing your test. You’re just going to have to do more makeup tests until you get a decent passing score,” said the tutor who gave an exasperated sigh while looking at the two troublemakers.
“Alright, that’s enough for today, but your make up test will start tomorrow. You can have lunch and the rest of the afternoon to do as you like,” said the tutor.
The princesses’ tutor also finished the girls’ lessons and released them at the same time.
Over the past month, Akira and Rodger had spent their afternoons playing games and wandering the castle and its gardens with the two princesses. Marc always said he didn't have time for childish games and went off to do more training.
Jezebel the youngest was always quiet and followed her older sister around, while Ruth was the bossy type who ordered Akira, Rodger, and Jezebel around to play whatever she wanted.
As the group walked through the gardens to the kitchens to receive lunch, they met the king and queen, who greeted them. The king was of a sturdy build and had fire-red hair and beard, while the Queen's hair was pink.
Ruth's pink hair took after her mother’s, and Jezebel’s fire-red hair rivaled her father’s.
“You all are not going off to cause trouble, are you?” asked King Titus with a laugh while fiddling with his beard.
“You're not funny!” Ruth shouted at her father.
“Leave the children alone. We have other duties to take care of. Like making a younger brother for our daughters,” the queen joked.
“You’re worse than father,” shouted Ruth as she ran away from the two embarrassing adults.
The three boys hurriedly bowed to the king and queen before running after her with Jezebel following slightly behind them.
After they had grabbed something to eat Marc stood up.
“I’m going to train some more,” said Marc, before separating from the group.
“Boring,” said Rodger.
“Let's go to the city!” shouted Ruth, pointing in the direction of the city while tearing through her sandwich. The other three followed her outside the castle with four bodyguard escorts.
Ruth led them from one shop to another, weaving her way through the large crowds and past tight alleyways.
“Slow down, your highness!” shouted one of the guards that were falling behind.
Ruth picked up the pace and after a few minutes succeeded in escaping the bodyguards as they were unable to keep track and lost the kids in the crowded streets.
“Good, now what should we do since we lost our nannies?” asked Ruth.
“Won't we get in trouble for leaving them behind?” Akira asked.
“Don't worry, I do it all the time,” said Ruth.“I have decided. Let's all go to the park. There should be other people to play with there.”
Ruth led them through the maze of streets and alleyways which finally ended at the park.
The park was a large open area with a few trees to give shade to the people who came to picnic, watch actors perform plays and listen to the bards singing songs and telling stories.
It was a favorite place for the children as they could hear many stories of adventure and love.
As they walked closer to the main stage, someone called out to them.
“Well, look who it is. The Musclehead and crybaby princesses,” said a young boy in a mocking voice.
Akira looked to find two well-dressed boys whose age seemed to be close to his and Rodger’s.
“Hmph, pay no attention to them, they're just sons of low-rank imperial knights.” scoffed Ruth.
“So what if we're sons of imperial knights? We are still nobles. Don't look down on us!” shouted the second boy.
“Yeah, whatever,” said Ruth dismissively,“ It's annoying here, let's go find a better spot.”
One of the boys threw a tomato at Akira. It missed his head.
“Wahhhhhh!” Jezebel's crying voice rang out.
Akira turned around and saw Jezebels' face was covered in tomato juice and bits which had been thrown at her. It wasn't hard to figure out who the culprits were as the two boys laughed while pointing.
“What are you doing, throwing stuff at her!” shouted Ruth as her temper exploded. With a shout, she charged at them, punching and kicking them repeatedly.
As they were losing the fight, they pulled wooden training swords from their scabbards and swung at Ruth.
Both Akira, and Rodger intercepted the two boys with their own wooden training swords they carried around with them.
By now, there was a crowd gathered around them, whispering to each other and questioning what was going on, while staring at the still crying Jezebel. They did not recognize the princesses as they were in regular clothes for playing.
Rodger was trading blows with his sword, protecting Ruth from the first boy who was the bigger of the two.
“So annoying, will you shut up, you crybaby,” shouted the boy Akira had blocked. He tried sidestepping Akira to swing his sword at Jezebel causing her to wail even louder.
Akira blocked his attack while asking, “What are you attacking her for? Don't worry, Jezebel, I will protect you.”
“Because it might shut her up,” he spat out while swinging his sword at Akira’s head.
Akira ducked under the swing and counterattacked, landing a hit on his arm.
“What is going on here? Move out of the way,” ordered a captain of the city guard as a large group of city guards pushed through the crowd.
“The princesses are over here! They seem to be safe,” shouted a guard.
Akira and Rodger were to busy fighting the other boys to notice the guards approaching them until they were all yanked apart from each other by the guards.
“What do you boys think you're doing? Causing a ruckus in the middle of the park and in front of the princesses. Lord Brutus won't be pleased at all,” said the captain of the guards.
“It’s not their fault,” protested Ruth.
“We were protecting the princesses,” said Akira, trying to plead their innocence.
They were taken back to the castle to stand in front of the king and Brutus, who were waiting for them.
“What were you doing, escaping from your escorts and getting into fights? Your escorts are there for this very reason, to protect you and make sure you don't get into any trouble,” the king scolded them.
After both Akira and Rodger hurriedly explained why they had been fighting with the other boys, the king became enraged and ordered for the fathers of the boys that had been fighting with them to be brought to him immediately.
“You boys should have stopped the princesses from this foolish behavior, letting them do this put them in danger, it's your duty as future nobles to serve and protect the royal family. You are to go to the training grounds and train with Marc for the rest of the day. So you don't cause any more trouble for me,” said Brutus sternly while looking at both Akira and Rodger.
As they left the room, two flustered middle-aged imperial nobles who had been in a meeting at the castle, where escorted into the room they had left.
The enraged shouting of the king could be heard through the thick doors.
When they reached the training ground, Silias motioned them towards him.
“I heard what you did from the captain of the guards. I'm glad my training isn't going to waste. You acted correctly in protecting the princesses. You can be proud of that. Lord Brutus is also right that your duty is to also make sure you don't have to fight. Now let us start the second round of training today,” said Silias with a warm smile on his face.
Thus they began the hellish training for the rest of the day as part of their punishment.
Thanks for reading.