Cinnamon Bun

by

RavensDagger

Chapter One Hundred and Seventy-Nine - Learning About the Feet of the Master

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If you want more to read, consider joining my Patreon! Or check out my other original works:
Love Crafted (Interactive story about an eldritch abomination tentacle-ing things) - Completed
Stray Cat Strut (A cyberpunk system apocalypse!) - Ongoing
Cinnamon Bun (A wholesome LitRPG!) - Ongoing
Fluff (A superheroic LitRPG about cute girls doing cute things!) - Hiatus
Dead Tired (A comedy about a Lich in a Wuxia world doing Science!) - Ongoing
The Agartha Loop (A Magical-Girl drama!) - Ongoing
Lever Action (A fantasy western with mecha) - Ongoing

Chapter One Hundred and Seventy-Nine - Learning About the Feet of the Master

I decided that the reason that I felt so wobbly was because the ship was in the air and was swaying a bit as it cut through the winds. It was most certainly not because I was still weak and felt a bit dizzy.

I shot an arm out and slapped it against the wall I was falling towards. It stopped me on the spot, which was handy because otherwise I’d be stopping by banging my face against the wall and that wouldn’t be any fun.

Less fun would be spending another day in my cabin. Sure, I could keep it from smelling like a sick room with no problem, but it wasn’t fun to be stuck in a bed all day. It was boring, and I’d already spent half a day rifling through all the books I had.

The magical instruction book that I’d bought so long ago actually made a lot more sense now that I’d learned other magic-related stuff, and the botanical book was still as pretty as it ever was, even if I was aboard a rather plant-less ship.

Maybe I could get some planters? A little garden on the deck would be cute.

I shook my head and tried to push the cobwebs away. It was already well past breakfast time. Soon the others would be coming down for lunch, and I didn’t want to be caught in my room for another full day. If I could prove that I was able to stay up on my feet now, then they’d have no choice but to let me wander about and have some fun.

Plus, I was certain that being out and about would help me feel better. Fresh air and sunlight were important.

I paused before the door to Amaryllis’ room. There was a mirror standing in her little bathroom, and it was angled just right that I could see my face. My cheeks were rosey, and my ears flopped down as if they’d run out of energy to stay upright.

I frowned and strained until they moved back up straight. The second I started to relax, even slightly, one of them flopped back down.

One out of two was good enough.

I made it up a level by pulling myself up the rails next to the steps, and then pushed my way through the door leading onto the main deck.

The wind blasted my back for a moment before I caught my footing again and hugged myself to keep my warmth. A few blinks later and I could make out the deck properly.

Steve and Gordon were working on some ropes on the other deck. Clive was sitting on one of the steps leading up to the helm, a pipe in his talons, and Sally of all people was hanging onto the wheel and keeping it straight.

Further on the deck, Bastion was swinging an iron rod up and down as if there wasn’t a weight tied to the end of it that looked to weigh half as much as he did. And Awen was next to the Manatee with Oda, the entirety of the boat’s engine taken apart on a tarp before them.

“Captain,” Bastion said as I moved closer to him. I was trying to be quiet so as to not alarm anyone, and it seemed to be working. “I didn’t expect to see you up so soon.”

I shrugged. “I can’t stay in my room all day,” I said.

Clive’s mouth worked, and his ever-present pipe shifted from one side to the other. “It might not be a bad idea. You look... forgive me for saying so, but a little frail. Are you certain you’re ready to be up?”

“I’m fine,” I said. “Well, fine-enough. I can stand on my own two feet, and that’s enough for now, I think.”

“I do hope you’re not hoping to train in your current condition,” Bastion said.

“Well, I was thinking about it, yeah,” I said.

The sylph shook his head and lowered his iron bar down until it clunked onto the deck. “I don’t think that’s wise. As I said, I don’t mind training with you and sparring a little, but not if it means risking your health.”

I sighed. I couldn’t argue with him. If it was one of my friends in my position I’d be snuggling them into submission by now. “Okay,” I said. “But you don’t mind seeing me up?”

“I’d advise against standing near the rails,” he said. “It would be a shame for you to go overboard because of a dizzy spell. But some fresh air really can’t hurt. And moving around will limber up your muscles a little, get your heart pumping again.”

I grinned. “That’s what I was thinking! We’ll have to try sparring tomorrow then.”

Bastion smiled and shook his head. “Maybe we can start with some light exercise before that. I’ve been injured before, you don’t just bounce out of the sickbed that quickly, not even with far better care than what you got. Give yourself a few days.”

I pouted, but he was being concerned about my health so I couldn’t really be angry or anything. “You were injured before?” I asked.

Bastion nodded, then gestured to one of the seats built into the rails. “Want to sit for a moment? I’m due a few swallows of water.”

I nodded and moved over to the bench and was soon joined by Bastion after he picked up a canteen tucked away next to some exercise stuff.

“So, the first time I was injured...” Bastion took a sip from the canteen, then lowered it. “No, actually, it would be more accurate to say the first time I was injured on the line of duty. You might not know this, but Paladins are nearly bred for the job. There are some who are members of noble families, third-sons and so on, but a lot of us join very young.”

“Why do they hire you so young?” I asked.

“Oh, you’re not hired into the Paladins, you’re chosen. In Sylphfree you can join the armed forces at about ten years old. It would be unusual to join at such a young age, but if you can walk and listen to orders, you can join.”

“You have child soldiers?” I asked.

“What? No, of course not,” he said. “Accepting children is the state’s way of ensuring that there are few homeless and that everyone can get an education. It’s all very light work. Three meals a day. Some very basic training. A lot of those children, myself included, unlock their first classes in something useful. Messengers, Aide-de-Camps, Soldiers, Chefs... all classes that ensure that they’ll have a useful place in society. I was lucky, I started as a Combatant.”

“You were ten?” I asked.

“Twelve?” he said. “Somewhere around there. By the time I was fifteen I was asked if I wanted to join the order of Paladins. Of course I jumped on it. It’s a great honour, and a lot of us are chosen from amongst the more talented individuals in the military who don’t have ties to anyone else.”

“Okay,” I said. I didn’t know how I felt about all of that, but it didn’t seem to bother Bastion.

“What followed was three years of training, and a switch in classes.”

“They can change your class?” I asked. “I thought only dungeons can do that.”

“You’d be correct, and that would also be the most I could say on the subject,” Bastion said. “So, four years of training until I became somewhat competent, and quite certain of my own abilities. Most Paladins around my age were a full five to ten levels ahead of the average soldier. The training is a lot harder, and so we grow faster.”

I nodded. “Okay.”

“I got injured during training plenty of times, of course. Bruises were common, sometimes a broken bone or dislocated joint. Painful, but Sylphfree is known across Dirt for having the best medical knowledge, and the Royal Paladins are well cared for. I don’t think I can count those as real injuries.”

“I would,” I said. “I don’t think I could do that kind of thing. It just... I don’t know. Training is fun sometimes, but only in that it makes it more fun to do more things later.”

Bastion nodded. “I think a younger me might not have understood that, but I can sympathize a little better now. It’s a very...” He paused, took another swallow of water, then wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. “It’s not a civilian point of view so much as an adventurer’s, someone who wants to go out and see the world.”

“That’s exactly it,” I said.

“That kind of person, the sort who would rather stay safe and live a quiet life, doesn’t always fit into the mold in Sylphfree, which is unfortunate; they tend to be brave in a way that we need, sometimes. Regardless, we were talking about injuries?”

“Your first one you got while working?”

“That’s right. Paladins are linked to the Royal Inquisition, but technically our line of command starts and ends with the Royal family. It’s a way to ensure that no general can become too powerful and threaten the King or Queen.”

“I think I get it,” I said.

“So, my first mission. I was nervous, but I’d been training for long enough that I could hide it well enough. I’d done some guard duty things, but I don’t know if those really count. Standing in one place looking smart for hours isn’t exciting.”

“I couldn’t do it,” I said.

“I don’t doubt that,” he replied.

I narrowed my eyes and inspected him, but he kept a perfectly straight face. I couldn’t tell if he was poking fun at me or not.

“So, my first real, meaningful mission. One of the princesses was travelling from Goldenalden, the capitol, to Granite Springs. It’s a day-long trip. More time is spent preparing the ship than actually flying over. No real danger, though the path most ships take can be treacherous.”

“Why’s that?” I asked.

“Crosswinds from the ocean and a flight path that dives between a few mountains. Nearly all of Sylphfree is mountainous; it’s somewhat similar to the Harpy’s own lands, that way.”

“Neat,” I said.

“So, I arrive at the castle, and a senior Paladin goes to greet the princess. I decide to make myself useful and help some of the serving staff with these boxes. Next thing I know, someone’s poking at my shoulder.”

“Okay,” I said.

“So I turn around, and there’s the princess, looking rather unimpressed. She asks me what I’m doing, and I explain myself. She took it well enough. Then she pointed to this box I placed right atop this pile. Had to fly to bring it up there. She tells me she needs that chest with her in her carriage and in her room, and that her staff know what they're doing.”

“Oh no!” I pressed a hand over my mouth. “That must have been embarrassing.”

Bastion laughed. “A little. The princess... all of the princesses, can be a bit much.”

“They are like that,” I said. I could have sworn I heard a birdy sneeze from somewhere below deck.

“So, I reach up, grab this rather heavy chest, and proceed to trip. Chest comes down hard and lands right on my foot. The princess is screaming about her things, I’m trying not to scream at whatever broke in my foot, and the serving staff all lose their wits for a moment. Guards come rushing over, guards who are all Paladins that I know. They think the princess is under attack or something.”

I bit my lip to hold in the giggles.

“I try to explain that everything’s fine, but the princess--mind you, she was only a child--decides to stomp on my foot because I broke her box.”

“Oh no!”

“Oh yes. She got the correct foot too.” Bastion chuckled. “I swore. Soldiers tend to learn some very creative language, and the princess screeches at me. I’m not too sure what happened right after. One of the senior Paladins took pity on me and brought a pitcher of strong beer to my room that night to help me forget.”

“Did you go on your mission?”

“No, I got sent back to my rooms as if I was a child that was acting out of line. I stopped by the infirmary, of course. Ah, I was mocked for a good long time about that. Even the princess made a few digs at me later. She grew out of her hissy-fit stage, even apologised about stomping my foot some years later.”

“So... the goal of that story was that I should learn to take a break?” I asked.

Bastion snorted. “No, it was to distract you until lunch. Come, I’ll help you down to the kitchen.”

***

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About the author

RavensDagger

  • Someplace Cold, Canada
  • A bird that likes comfy and happy things, and also knives. Once ate a god’s eye and awakened the ability to see all that is good in the world. Known to steal shiny ideas and baubles. Currently forbidden from writing his own bios.
  • https://forums.spacebattles.com/members/ravensdagger.346063/

Bio: A bird that likes comfy and happy things, and also knives. Once ate a god’s eye and awakened the ability to see all that is good in the world. Known to steal shiny ideas and baubles. Currently forbidden from writing his own bios.

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