After discovering that she is part of a prophecy, Liora becomes determined to be able to learn skills that would better prepare her for the troublesome, dangerous world outside the protective walls of Demor. She knows that many won’t allow her to learn how to use a weapon but with the help of her best friend she hopes to learn some skills that could help her defend herself if needed.
Here is the section where Cáel is trying to teach Liora how to throw a knife.
Liora and Cáel headed down to the training grounds. The late noon sun was behind the castle allowing for enough shade to cover the grounds so they wouldn’t get too hot in the open area surrounded by dummies and targets. The cool spring breeze danced through her hair, moving the strands across her face while she stared at the target across the field. Its wooden slats punctured and dented from previous attempts to hit the red painted center of the board. The dirt was torn in patches from her previous attempts as she slowly breathed in through her nose.
Her palms were sweating, her arm aching from trying to position her aim just right as to hit the target. She licked her lips following by pressing them together tightly in concentration. She felt a gentle hand on her arm lower her aim by an inch as Cáel used his foot to slide hers farther in front.
“Follow through with yar knees,” Cáel breathed, moving his cheek against hers to see if she was properly aligned with the target.
“You’re a little close, aren’t you?” Liora muttered; glancing at the boy whose cheeks reddened as much as hers.
“Sorry,” Cáel croaked, taking a step back, moving his hands to her hips. He gently turned them to be parallel with the target. “All ‘ight, fingers light on the handle and throw like a ball with one swift movement.”
Breathing in through her nose, Liora threw her arm forward letting the dagger fly as she watched it skip across the ground like a pebble on a lake.
“Gods damn it!” she hissed, stomping her foot.
“That was closer,” Cáel hummed, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Not close enough to hit the bloody thing,” Liora sighed, picking up her dagger that wedged itself into the dirt.
“Well yah can’t be perfect at everythin’,” Cáel smirked, as the girl glared at him with her steel grey eyes.
“I’m not!” Liora stated, looking at the blade that rested in her hand. The ivory handle was speckled with dirt, as the blade was caked in muck.
“Obviously,” he pointed towards the board.
“I mean more than the board, Cáel,” Liora reiterated, “I work hard to be good at what I’m good at… I’m not perfect at anything.”
“Healing?” Cáel stated.
“I still have a lot to learn from Caldor,” Liora answered.
“Painting?” he said.
“My people look like blobs and the clouds too,” Liora replied, using her dress to polish the blade. It was pointless since it was only going to get dirty again, but she needed to do something. “I just want to be good at something that can help me.”
“Yah will, I mean we’ve been at this a few times. Ya’ve picked up on the defense fine – throwing is just one of those extra perks,” Cáel shrugged, taking his dagger out from his belt and with a quick flick with his wrist it flew flawlessly into the target board.
“A perk you can do with your eyes closed,” Liora grumbled, when Cáel flashed her his goofy grin.
“Hey, let me have somethin’ I can do better than yah, eh?” he teased. “Come on, line up and we’ll try again.”
Liora kicked the dirt sending small puffs of sand into the air. She didn’t like not being able to learn something quickly. Maybe this was her weakness? Maybe she couldn’t fight after all?
Standing before Cáel, she moved her foot in front and squared her hips with the target. Cáel held her arm, moving it in the movement she was to follow. His hands were warm as he tightened the satin ribbon that kept back her sleeve so it wouldn’t get in the way.
“Breathe, relax, focus, follow through,” he instructed.
“Breathe,” she took a breath. She narrowed her eyes as she glared at the target. She was going to get it this time. She knew she was. She could feel it in her gut.
With a quick throw, Liora heard a thunk as the dagger skipped across the ground wedging itself into one of the barrels along the wall.
“Bloody hell!” she seethed, her hands balled into fists as she stomped her foot.
The woman shouted from the steps to the garden, as the girl turned to see the flustered expression on the Detress’s face. Her curls bounced when she descended another step. The woman’s shadow loomed over her, as the sun blared behind making it difficult for Liora to focus.
“Hello… Marcia,” Liora rubbed her upper arm. Cáel ran to pick up the dagger. He cleaned the blade on his trousers before tucking it into his belt.
“Don’ Marcia me, what do yah think ya’re doing?” The Detress placed her hands firmly on her waist giving the girl a narrowed glare. “Yah know girls aren’ to be in the training grounds.”
“It’s my fault, Marcia. I suggested she try it since she wanted to–,” the boy stopped when the woman raised her hand.
“Cáel, yah know better. Fighting is for boys, not for young ladies. Now, Liora come. I’ve got some weeding to do and ya’re gonna help,” Marcia turned to return to the garden.
“Later?” Liora whispered, seeing her friend nod.
“Li, now!” Marcia’s voice was shrill as Liora ran up the steps to meet with the Detress who held a basket in her crossed arms.
The woman turned without saying a word as Liora followed her to the other side of the garden closest to the steps leading to the stables. The sun shone, but there was enough shade from the stables and small silver birch to keep them cool. The woman gathered her cotton dress before her as she knelt in the garden getting right to work with the weeding.
Liora had expected a lecture. She had expected Marcia to go on about how she shouldn’t have been learning to throw daggers… even if she was doing a poor job. The Detress did none of those things. All Marcia did was weed in silence, her back facing Liora while the girl rang her hands.
Her stomach churned, as her shoulders felt heavy. She didn’t like Marcia upset with her. Normally, Marcia was the one that understood her actions but not of late.
Taking the leather string from her wrist, she tied back her hair to keep it out of her face. The shorter strands fell in front of her eyes as she tucked them back in hopes they would stay in place as she worked in the garden. She knelt beside the woman. The damp grass seeped through her thick cotton dress. The black soil of the flowerbed was cool to the touch as it imbedded itself deep under her nails while she dug out the roots of a large thistle growing between the rosebushes.
They worked in silence as the minutes passed. The heaviness she had first felt was growing more as the moments passed. She preferred the woman to have yelled at her than give her the silent treatment. Nothing felt worse than knowing someone was angry but no one spoke.
“Are we going to talk about why you’re angry… or are we just going to pretend everything’s fine?” Liora whispered, resting her hands on her lap. The black soil left handprints on the tan material as she picked at the dirt under her fingers.
“What is there to talk about? Yah weren’t supposed to be down there, now yah know,” Marcia explained, placing a dandelion in the wicker basket between them.
“But why? Because I’m a girl? It’s not like I’m training for the front. Cáel was just reviewing what he was learning with me,” Liora stated, hearing the woman sigh.
“That there is bad enough. Cáel knows better than to do that. He’s to be a soldier just like his da’ and yah a proper lady,” Marcia explained.
“But what if I don’t want to be a proper lady?” Liora stated, her hands clenching the material at her knees.
“Li,” Marcia turned to look at her. Their eyes meeting just for a moment before the Detress looked back at the garden. “Yah not a lil girl. Yah a young lady now and young ladies don’ go running around getting all covered in muck or throwing things. It is time you realize yah place here will be different from Cáel. He can be yah friend but he will be doing things yah won’ be able to.”
“Because I’m a girl,” Liora added.
“Yes,” Marcia replied.
“I don’t agree with that,” Liora stated, turning back to digging out weeds. What did Marcia know what kind of lady Liora wanted to be?