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Sybil shook the vial and watched the blood iron ore bounce about. Ira Knut was still processing the rest of the tainted beast carcass, but this had been sent her way to keep. It was large, nearly a third the size of the coin that was in the scabbard of her sword. Four or five mist raised cows would be needed to make something of a similar size.

“It’s massive.”

“Blood iron increases in size with tainted beasts,” Oceans explained. “It’s high quality and will make for a superb item if you can find a proper smith for it. The bones have been cleaned, and the leather will tan quite quickly with a bit of magical encouragement. Small portions will be as ready as soon as tomorrow.”

She looked up at him. “I’ll write up a work order and have it delivered to Mister Knut.” Sybil already had an idea of what she wanted to be done. “I need to talk with my squad to see what we need, and hopefully we’ll be able to give Moontear something decent.”

“Not needed.” Oceans shook his head. “Your kill, your keep. Tainted beasts are rare enough as it is. It may be years before you have the chance to have such materials available for your use again.”

“Those guys probably feel terrible right now... I know I wouldn’t still be alive without this sword, and I still ended up like this... Your squad is meant to be out there in the wild, and it’ll make me feel better to know that they have at least something they can use to protect each other and themselves.”

“Much appreciation in your sentiments, Sybil.” Oceans gave a bow. “I will pass on the news.”

Her eyes followed him out the door. Afterward, she picked up her notebook and rifled through the loose papers that were stuffed into it. She wrote down a list of items for Chickadee to consider. The two had already discussed it the previous day, but now she had a better idea of what she wanted.

There wouldn’t be much leather, not if they were doing armor. The bones, horns, and claws should be enough to enhance the weaponry among both her squad and Moontear. Its skull, once cleaned, should be given to Lady Till, as it was a tradition at Braytons to give the skulls of large beast kills to the resident headmaster. Anything they didn’t want to use should be sold off.

The barracks didn’t provide them with an allowance unless it was to help pay for travel expenses. They were allowed to keep extra money earned during missions, but it would be some time before the first years were sent out. As a result, none of the three from the core had much spending money. Horses and mules could be borrowed, but they may eventually need their own. Uniforms were provided, but they would soon be in dire need of cold weather clothing for personal use.

Thinking about it hurt her head. Seeking a different project, she picked up Vincent’s bracer and compared it to her notes. The designs on it were done by her father, which wasn’t surprising. He never had a problem with helping the Cully family with intricate arcane writing or complicated designs. Sybil occasionally helped out Caitlin as well, and the shield that Alton used was partly her engineering design, though her father had done the majority of that as well.

At a glance, there didn’t seem to be anything inherently wrong with Vincent’s bracer. Caitlin had already fixed the damage the mist charge had done with it. Now what they needed was an alternate power source. It was made with a collection of Vincent’s blood iron as well as what had been gathered from livestock, which was low in quality.

They had already drawn more blood iron from Vincent and adjusted how the enchantments drained his mana. Sybil had also reworked how the spell worked, placing emphasis on Vincent’s subconscious to handle the brunt of operations. There wasn’t much else she could do other than tell Vincent to practice more with it until it became easier.

Despite being allowed to do some work during her infirmary imprisonment, Sybil’s days dragged on slowly. Iathday was spent working on runes for Caitlin. Eathaday, she was allowed to sit in on morning classes but spent the rest of her day within the infirmary again. Time was spent either reading assigned books or doodling yet more runes. It was starting to feel like she had never been accepted into Braytons and was living out the life her father had wanted for her.

On Triaday, she was allowed to sit in on Stonetoe’s morning class out by the dueling field but wasn’t allowed to participate in any fights. Stonetoe was in a foul mood. He didn’t like getting up early. Triaday was the only day he wasn’t allowed to sleep in, and he would take his annoyance out on his squires.

“Ugh…” The swordmaster rubbed the bridge of his nose. He took another swig from his flask before staring at the squires with a set of bleary eyes. “Alright, uh… Highland.” He gestured to the paladin with his flask. “Roll call or whatever.”

Vincent stepped forward. “All squires present, Sir Stonetoe!”

Stonetoe winced. “Not so loud…” He took a step back and leaned against the fence. “Cully, Reese, Compton. Head over to the library and join up with Sir Pegasus. Fletch, Byers, Penvil. Elderberry Squad is running archery today. Go join them.” His eyes followed them as they left. “Highland, how many left of you are there?”

“Eleven, sir,” Vincent said in a quieter tone. “Nine if you consider that Twist is still on medical leave, and Tuton is prohibited to participate in combat training.”

“Doesn’t matter. How many of you Carapace lot still need weapon modifications?”

“Krogastein, Toval, and myself still haven’t had our weapons properly tuned yet. I believe Tuton’s staff is still within the forge, and Nox has put in a request to have her sword maintenanced, but she is still able to use it for the time being.”

A hand was waved about the air. “No fighting this week then. We’ll do it next Triaday. Captains, pair off whoever is left into teams of two. Don’t expect the archers or mages to be with us then either, and spend the next week preparing for it.” Stonetoe pointed his flask at Veximarl. “Spear training next week. You're banned from magic until you learn how to hold a weapon right.”

Vincent was quick to point out a flaw in this plan. “Sir, if Twist and Tuton participate next week, we will have an odd number of squires.”

Stonetoe let out a huff. “Bother Grimhawk about it. He’ll get a third or second year to fill in for you.” He dug a finger into his ear, scraping some wax out of it in the process. “No one bother me until the afternoon. You’re all dismissed.”

They watched him trudge off, and Tish was the first to speak up after he was out of hearing range. “I suppose without Penvil here, it wouldn’t be a problem for Thistleweed and Dew to partner up?” She looked over and the two from Moontear nodded. “Good. Myself and Cress will be fine together. There is an even number of Grimstone members, but Baron has three.”

“Nox and Hewitt, apologies, Ivy and Gwyn,” Vincent was having trouble remembering to use their first names, “I would encourage testing out new tactics, but I also hesitate to separate the two of you so quickly. My concern is that whoever is paired with Tuton would be the one given a disadvantage.”

Veximarl looked down at his feet. He shuffled back and forth while muttering to himself. “I am afraid that I am unable to do much without my spells. Sybil, you should consider pairing with Highland.”

“Who said that Sybil was going to be paired with you in the first place?” Alton growled out. Zaniyah squeaked out something unintelligible at the same time, her eyes darted back and forth as her hands wrung in front of her. “... What?” Her face went pale as she stared at Alton, expecting him to understand her. “I don’t want to partner with Vex either.” Zaniyah began to tug at her hair in frustration.

Tish began to clap her hands to gain their attention. “We’ll have Tuton pair up with whoever is added to the class next week. That should make the teams even.”

“Did any of you have preferences?” Veximarl looked over to his squad. “There is still time to adjust our pairings. I’m certain that the others wouldn’t mind the opportunity to practice new skills with someone outside their squad if none of you are willing to pair with Highland.”

Sybil raised a hand. “I’m fine as long as I’m not paired with Toval.”

Gwyn also chose to interject. “Mister Highland and Mister Toval were known as the elites of their academy. It is wiser to form teams based on our previous experiences. As such, it would be best for Miss Krogastein and Miss Twist to partner together as well. As you stated before, Captain Highland, it is too soon for us to separate any of us from our past squadmates.” Ivy immediately began to bobble her head in agreement.

“I guess that works. It’s been a while since I’ve trained with Sybil,” replied Zaniyah. She was clearly disappointed to be agreeing with Gwyn, but couldn’t argue with her logic.

“That will not work.” Vincent looked off to the side, tapping a knuckle against his chin as he did so. “A part of this exercise is to use strategy to form teams that balance each other's weaknesses. Neither Krogastein or Twist have strong defensive capabilities. They are forced to rely on their agility or Cully’s magic in order to survive.”

Zaniyah pouted at the thought. “Chi is the best at what he does, but I guess the both of us do need to learn how to play nice with others. I mean, I don’t want to mess up any other squad’s plans either. It’ll just be easier if I paired with Alton, right? Him and I are already buddies.”

“... Right,” replied Alton. He didn’t mind pairing with Zaniyah, but his own goals needed him to be with Sybil. His jaw tensed as he tried to think of a way to get himself out of this.

Vincent once more shook his head. “I spoke Toval earlier this week, and he reminded me of the importance of trust within a squad. Our very lives will one day depend on each other as we depart on our missions, and nothing good will come from discontent among the ranks.” He kept his eyes averted, aimed at no one in particular as he spoke. “I believe that Toval and Twist should spend this time working out their differences. As for previous experience, I have already dueled Krogastein several times, and we have a well-fitted partnership when it comes to dueling.”

Alton couldn’t believe it. Vincent had somehow come through for him. His face strained as he looked off to the side. “That sounds like a pain.” Play it cool. Don’t let the others see your joy.

Tish smiled at the idea. “That sounds like a wonderful solution, Highland. I’m impressed with your abilities as our class leader,” she replied. This lead to Ivy shooting a death glare at her. “But I do feel bad for Vexi. He’ll be all alone with some stranger.”

“Vex.” Sybil gave Veximarl her big-eyed puppy dog stare. He was her friend. They had a connection. Anti-evil buddies for life. “It honestly won’t bother me at all if you wanted to pair up. We’ll do just fine, won’t we? Don’t you remember our victories in the swamp? Our teamwork was undefeatable! We shouldn’t do something stupid like break that up, right?”

Veximarl couldn’t bear look at her. “Sybil, I-I…” He folded his arms behind his back and tensed up. “I-I am afraid I have to agree with Highland. As captain, I find it stressful that the two of you appear to despise each other.” He could feel the guilt twisting up in knots within him. “And you always state that there should be a better connection between the core and the outerland of Carapace. Perhaps this arrangement of Dogfall and Starsons squires may assist in your personal endeavors.”

Betrayal. Sybil took a step back, finding it hard to believe that he would stab her in the back like this. “V-Vex..?” It was hard to breathe. Her world was spinning around her.

“I will apologize, Sybil, but I must side with what is ideal for the group. Our personal feelings are ill factors when it comes to achieving a proper education here,” Veximarl muttered quietly. Not only had he failed to heal her when she was on death’s bed, but he had tossed her at that wolf of a man while claiming it was for the best. He truly was a horrible friend.

Everyone else stared at the pair.

“Are you two alright?” Basil asked. He looked over to Zaniyah. Her face had gone a bright shade of red, and she had letting out a series of unintelligible squeaks again. “... Are you alright?”

Vincent sought to gain their attention. “Sir Stonetoe has delayed our class for a reason. This is not a break. Use this time to break up into your teams and discuss your strategies.” He was completely dense to the tense nature hanging in the air. “Twist, you are still on medical leave. Only discuss your strategies now. Tuton, locate Sir Grimhawk and discuss your options with him. He will be with the second years in the outfield. Is there anything else, Maplehammer?” He glanced over to Tish.

“Oh my…” She placed a hand against her cheek and tilted her head. “I suppose Moontear and Macestar can handle ourselves. Oh! But I suggest that dear Alton attempt to be a little less himself. I would feel nervous being in his squad too, especially after seeing him in the library with that third year yester-”

“I get it!” Alton cried out. “That’s nothing to worry about! It was all in good fun, I mean, she needed some advice on- Never mind!” He turned to Sybil. “Twist. Don’t you dare listen to what she said. Would you like to go on a walk together? Surely that wouldn’t be too stressful for you.”

Sybil’s face scrunched up. “Well, not now, no… What about a third year?” Alton’s jaw dropped. “Tish, what was that about a third year?”

Alton looked over to the group and then back to Sybil. He leaned in and quietly whispered. “Should I tell them about our agreed upon contract?”

“Never mind! I’m sure he was honest in his intentions, whatever they were!” Sybil spoke through sealed teeth. “A walk sounds lovely, Toval.”

“Fantastic!” Alton waved at the others. “Good luck with your plotting! We’ll be back before lunch!”

They left together, choosing to go to the stables in order to fetch Bibi. After a few minutes of convincing Sybil that riding a horse wouldn’t break her ribs, they rode out of the barracks. Alton explained that he had gotten some high-quality alcohol during his last visit to Tilrey. He spent the night talking with Stonetoe and getting him drunk so he could get on his good side.

There were all sorts of secrets around Braytons that few squires knew about. Most interesting was how there was a town hidden within the caverns below Braytons, but no one knew the exact location. More importantly, there were dozens of caves nearby that had been used for an assortment of mischief, and Alton had bribed Stonetoe into telling him a few.

They dismounted near one and carried on by foot. Squires weren’t allowed to go spelunking on their own due to the dangers of it, but this one was supposedly safe. Alton took Bibi just within the entrance, so she would be safe from any possible wolves, and he and Sybil walked further in.

The thin corridors quickly spread out into smooth walls. At some point, an elementalist had taken the time to make the cave safe from possible collapses. It led to a cold cavern, illuminated glowing crystals identical to ones found in the core. They allowed for a variety of herbs to grow at the edge of a deep pool, which had pale fish swimming around within it in.

Off to the side was a wooden hut. It had become covered in moss and was leaning to the side. Alton went to examine that while Sybil approached a wall. Her finger tapped one of the crystals repeatedly. She had thought they were geologically unique to the Crimson Range, but perhaps she had been mistaken. They could have also been transplanted here. Much of this place appeared to be artificial.

“Stonetoe found out about this place when he was a squire. Apparently, a hermit lived here or something, he wasn’t all that specific about it.” Alton put his foot against the wall and attempted to shake the building. It seemed stable enough, not even budging from the pressure.

He walked inside and Sybil followed him. It was warmer here. There were a cluster of crystals that had been piled up in the center of the room that were radiating heat. Aside from that, there was no evidence of someone living here. No books, clothes, or anything to suggest anyone had been here in some time.

Lydia followed, as she always did, looking around with a frown. “It feels like only yesterday since I was last here.” She folded her arms as Alton shot a glare at her. “... Oh, am I intruding again?” A sarcastic gasp escaped her lips. “Forgive me for believing that a teenage boy would bring a girl here with the purest intentions in mind.” Alton’s eyes shot between her and the door. “Fine, fine. I’ll be outside by the pond. Let me know when your plans fail again.”

“A doll...” Sybil knelt down and picked up a wooden doll. It appeared to be a teething toy, but it hadn’t been used at all. She rotated it about in her hands before setting it down again.

“It needs some cleaning up, but I think it will work.” Alton looked around with a grin. “Much better than I expected.”

“What are you going to use it for?” Sybil’s face once more contorted with disgust. “No, don’t answer that. I know you’re going to bring girls here, and I don’t need the details.”

Alton frowned at her. “No.” His hands fumbled in front of him. “I mean, yes, but it’s you. Only you. Look, I want us to trust each other, alright? You’re going to be my wife someday. That means that maybe there are times while we’re at Braytons where… We might want to be alone. To talk and such. Especially on Satyrdays if we choose to skip church.” He wasn’t particularly religious, so he planned on skipping whenever he could.

Sybil’s face scrunched up all the more. “I should leave.” She turned and started walking to the door. “I’ll walk back on my own. I’m not well enough to ride, so don’t bother to offer.”

“I’m not trying to sound perverted!” Alton fumbled again. “I mean, yes. Maybe... Someday...” He waved a hand through the air like he was tossing an invisible object. “Someday far in the future. Very far. But for now, it’s just a place for us where we may speak freely. The fort rampart or the classroom might be good places, but you never know who may be watching.”

“So a haunted cave hut is better?” She raised a brow.

“It’s not confirmed haunted. Ghosts aren’t even real,” he said with a roll of his eyes. “Don’t worry about it. Besides, I thought you liked caves.” He sat down and leaned back against the corner wall of the hut. “Come here.” He opened his arms for her. “Stop stalling. We have a deal.”

She groaned and sat down in front of him. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her in with her back to his chest. “Happy now?”

“Not even close,” he muttered. His nose was buried into the crook of her neck, inhaling deeply. There was that scent of mist again. She tensed up as his bare fingers traced along her collarbone. The uncomfortable shudder made him loosen his grip.

“What do you want to talk about?” Sybil stated in an annoyed voice.

Alton let out a sigh, making her tense up further as his breath hit her skin. ”Are you actually okay? I’m sorry none of us were with you when you fought that monster... I wanted to know if you were alright now or if you wanted to talk about it.”

Tyrtain. The dragon that possessed her thoughts in her dying moment. She still had trouble telling if that was the venom from the beast or something real. When she spoke with Rosethorn about it, she was left with even further doubts.

“... I don’t know.”

“Are you comfortable with talking about it?” He whispered in her ear.

Sybil turned her head, looking at him out of the corner of her eye. Alton had his eyes closed as he leaned against her. She looked away. Her fingers began to toy with each other, twisting about in an almost painful manner. “There was a moment that bothered me… It’s complicated.”

“You got hurt. You almost died. It’s okay to feel frightened.” He lowered his hands and intertwined his fingers with her own to get her to stop fidgeting.

“That isn’t it. I felt… Angry.” With Sir Dudley, with the necromancer, and with the tainted beast. “I felt so angry, and at the same time, sad. I was so overwhelmed with grief because of the death that was surrounding me, but that state of mind made me feel powerful. I don’t know what to make of it.”

Alton paused for a moment. “That sounds like revenge... It’s completely understandable. Something hurt you, and you wanted to make sure it understood that pain by giving it back to them.”

Revenge. That point where she was so angry that she could only think about killing. The emotion that allowed her to use the powers of her sword and defeat her enemies… It wasn’t something she was comfortable with.

“I see.”

“When I was young, I had long hair. My mother wasn’t able to have long hair herself, but she enjoyed braiding mine. I never minded. She would tell me stories about where she grew up and teach me the songs of her homeland. Out of everything from my childhood, it’s moments like those that I miss the most...

But my life there was lonely. There were other children I was expected to play with, and I was told to treat them like my brothers but… They were cruel to me. My cousin especially. I was too young to understand why at the time. When he found out that I was being sent away, he cut off my braid and that I was better off dead... I was being sent away because no one loved me, and I was the fool who believed him.

The Tovals may have been forced to take me in, but they saved me. Even though they were so kind, I was frightened of them. All I could think about was finding a way to go back to Fogbloom. How do I prove that I was worth keeping? How do I show that I deserved to be their family?” His grip tightened around her hands. He was trembling. “Some recent events have made those plans impossible. I’ve had to put a lot of thought into my past and future because of it.

What I’ve decided was that I did nothing wrong. I shouldn’t have to prove that I deserved to stay. A child shouldn’t have to fight for their family’s love. It should’ve been given to me freely. The best revenge I can have against them is to stay happy and do what’s best for myself.” Although deep down, he knew he was a hypocrite. Especially since his duty was to protect Sybil from now until forever. Happiness and freedom were fleeting dreams… “Anything else isn’t worth it.”

Sybil silently debated everything he had told her. “Thanks.” She meant it. “I think I needed to hear that.”

Alton nodded, giving her another squeeze as he did so. “Sorry. I know that was a lot.”

“No, it’s fine.”

He sighed again. “... On a different subject, Twist, do I disgust you?”

“No…” Sybil thought about it some more. “Wait, yes... Sometimes? You’re not so bad when you’re like this. Though from my understanding, you were like this with a lot of people. A lot, a lot of people.”

“I meant it when I said I belonged to you. I am your knight. Now and forever.” He pulled something out of his pocket. “I was going to have this sent to you anonymously, but it doesn’t matter if you’re not attending the dance.”

He slipped a ring onto her hand. It was silver, with an opal set in the center, and a set of quartz stones on either side. She examined it closely, frowning as she did so.

“Uhh…”

“Hold on.” He slipped a matching ring on his own finger, though his only had a single quartz embedded in the center. “Concentrate on the ring.” The ring became warm, and it began to both glow and buzz with a pulse. “I asked Chi to make these. They have our blood iron in them. I don’t want to know why he has spare blood iron from you, but at the same time, that does seem normal for him. I also had that good luck charm you gave me to cut up to make these because you are in some serious need of luck.”

“What is it doing?” The pulse wasn’t painful, but it was noticeable. She continued to rotate her hand about as she examined the ring.

Alton pulled her head back against his shoulder and gently pressed the side of his neck against his ear. “Can you hear it?” There was the muffled sound of his heartbeat, which beat in tandem with the ring.

“I think that this is the sort of romantic gesture that is more than what I’m comfortable with.” She went to pull it off, but he grasped onto her hand. “I’m not comfortable with any sort of romantic gesture from you.”

“I can’t always see you.” He rolled his eyes when she turned her head to glare at him. “I mean when we’re in a fight. You disappear. Zan and Chi both have enough experience to know when you’ll pop up again, but I’m supposed to be able to fight by your side too. I need to know when you’re next to me, and when you’re not.”

Which meant that his ring could sense her own heartbeat. Creepy. “I get it, but this makes it look like we’re a couple.”

“We are engaged to be married. I know we only agreed to do that two weeks ago, and there’s no official contract, but it still happened. We are a couple,” Alton replied sternly.

“Please don’t remind me,” she whispered.

“The rings only work within ten paces. Just wear gloves if you don’t want people to see it.” He hugged her again. “Speaking of people not seeing…” She tensed up and prepared for him to say something terrible. “I was up late getting Stonetoe drunk, and still had to pull double duty on the stables this morning. Do you mind if we take a nap? If I take one when I get back, I’ll get yelled at for slacking off.”

“People are going to spread rumors if we’re gone for to long.”

“Are you that eager to ride Bibi again so soon? I thought you said it was painful.” It was agonizing. Sybil was upset at him for reminding her of it.

She rested her head against his shoulder and closed her eyes. The night before, she had stayed up late to study. Missing the first week of classes had given her a pile of homework to go through. This must be some sort of retribution for her barely making it into Braytons. Why not be late starting classes when she was several weeks late getting accepted in the first place?

“I don’t want to be here long,” she whispered. But it wasn’t all bad. Even if she disliked him a great deal, Alton was a handsome guy… Even if that was the only thing he had going for him, at least he had that.

“Shh…” He began to hum in her ear. The tune was familiar. It was the same song he had hummed for her shortly after she had failed the entrance exam. Now that she thought about it, it was the same melody she had heard him play while she slept in the infirmary.

“What is that song?” There was something soothing about it. “It’s nice…”

“... Don’t worry about it.”

He added words to the melody, singing them softly in her ear. She suddenly felt more tired than she had before. Whatever he was saying, it sounded like a completely different language. Her body went slack against his and Alton fell silent. Zaniyah stated that Sybil had a problem with passing out at a moment’s notice when there wasn’t anything to keep her attention, mostly due to her habit of staying up all night, but he didn’t think it would be this quick.

Lydia’s head peeked through the wall, and he nearly had a heart attack. “I heard singing, is it going- … Did you knock her out with your spellcasting?”

“I didn’t.”

“You must have tried to say some rather bland things,” muttered Lydia. She ignored the glare Alton rewarded her and hovered in for a closer inspection. “Poor thing must feel worse than she’s letting on. Shame she has to worry about you doing something to her while she’s so vulnerable.”

“I’m not going to do anything,” he hissed back. He then went to check his pocket watch. “I’ll wake her up before afternoon classes start.”

Giving a nod, Lydia settled into a nearby spot. “I thought it was funny when Stonetoe mentioned this place. I was the hermit who lived here when he was a squire.” Alton stared at her suspiciously. “Oh, don’t be surprised. The war hadn’t happened yet, and I wasn’t famous until after that. I needed a bit of a breather, and Nita offered me a job here. I didn’t feel like staying here for a full three years and settled for raising herbs for the infirmary.

You see, I had a bit of an argument with Stallis during that time. More specifically, it was with his wife... I was content to be his bodyguard, but Meredith...” She frowned to herself. “It was for the best that I took a year off, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that Carapace was where I needed to be.”

Alton gave a nod and rested his head against the wall. “Did you ever regret going back?”

“No. I needed to return. Even if I ended up running off several times after that due to my own fits, I always ended up returning to Carapace. I may have spent the last few years of my life arguing with Duke Rubire and his stupid nobles, but seeing those children’s smiles always made it worth it. I could never bring myself to be away from either Stallis or Sybil.”

He closed his eyes and settled himself in. “... Would it make you mad if I said I wanted to keep her?”

Lydia smiled in a saddened manner. “As long as she’s happy, I’m content. But I think you like her more than you’re willing to admit. That would be the biggest flaw when it comes to your plans.”

“You’re imagining things.“ He laughed to himself and yawned. “Damn, I really do need a nap.” His voice came out in a low hum, mulling over the melody as he did so. He wanted to sleep, but he couldn’t trust a ghost to wake them up on time. Then again, he didn’t want to let go of Sybil yet. Best let her sleep for a little while longer.

They returned to Braytons towards the end of lunch hour. Alton went off to help clean the stables again, and Sybil walked around to watch what the other squires were doing. The squads were sitting separately from each other in different places of the barracks, quietly discussing fighting strategies.

Sybil thought she could always get by on her own skill. That’s how things worked in the core. It’s how most of the squire programs worked as well. Individuals were driven to defeat others and prove their worth above others. Braytons was the first place she been to that taught teamwork, and it appeared that others were struggling with the concept as well.

Except for Moonstar, who were slacking off and talking to each other while sitting on one of the walls. She worried about those guys. If it weren’t for Veximarl, and if Chickadee and Zaniyah didn’t have Alton, none of them would have the urge to talk to anyone else. Hopefully, those guys would come out of their shells soon.

Alton wasn’t that bad of a fighter as long as he stayed with a short sword. Since being forced to use a rapier, he had gotten worse. Even then, she would only need to keep fighting how she always had. It always worked before, and she didn’t see why it wouldn’t now. As long as she coordinated with Alton, they might be alright.

They met together again at dinner. Zaniyah was zoned out and staring at nothing in particular. She appeared to be contemplating some internal issues. Sybil grabbed onto one of the apple butter rolls and bit into it, raising a hand so she could ask her friend what was wrong. The words had almost come out of her mouth but they were interrupted by a knock on the door.

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About the author

Adelaide West

Bio: Author of the Grimstone Series and Duck and Wolf.

I have a Twitter. I check it often, so I guess tag me anytime you want. I just don't post very often. @AdelaideGWest

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