This flash fiction is a peek into Clarity’s thought processes. It takes place in the Farseen Chronicles world nearly seven thousand years ago, and describes events when Clarity, Saffron and Fauna come into their majority, meaning they entered their childbearing years.
Sorbus stood on the field. Never had he disliked a task so much. If he held back in the fight with Lady Clarity everyone would know and Lord Ellwood would not be pleased, resulting in unpleasantness, or death, for Sorbus. If he took her down immediately, something he had no doubt he could do, both Lady Clarity and Lady Temperance would lose face and become the subject of ridicule.
To make the match a true test he had trained Lady Saffron away from where Lady Temperance trained Lady Clarity and had been vocal that none could speak to him of their progress. This at least he could do. If Lady Clarity had learned a trick that could surprise him, even for a second, it should be a surprise.
He knew from the way the attendees stilled Lady Tempest and Ridge entered the stands. He wondered if he was the only one who noticed Lady Tempest was a greater source of apprehension to the Northern Realm subjects than Lord Ellwood. She was the one ruling fae that might replace him one day, and she was a half-breed. He looked up at the couple and saluted. They replied in kind, as did their son, Layton. No one worried about Layton’s fighting abilities; both Ridge and Lady Tempest trained the boy daily.
As the rest of the court filled in the stands, Sorbus kept his eyes focused on Lord Ellwood’s box. When Valiant entered the box he shook his head slightly. Sorbus sighed. He had hoped Valiant would have been able to change Lord Ellwood’s mind about this contest.
At the appointed hour Lady Clarity walked out in her leathers, carrying her walking stick and wearing a sai over each shoulder. As this was a sparring session between a trainee and an experienced warrior, she could use whatever weapons she wished. Sorbus, as the experienced warrior, was allowed only his tapered walking stick. It was more than he needed.
Lady Clarity walked with purposeful steps to the center of the arena and bowed. Sorbus returned the bow and waited. He would make no move until she did. Just when he thought she had developed stage fright in her first open contest, she dropped her walking stick, pulled a sai into each hand, and charged. Aggressively, she attacked, but she was still growing and her muscles were not fully developed. Sorbus took a half step back and swung his stick in an arc, sending one sai flying. The other sai she grabbed with both hands and lunged for his left arm.
Sorbus blocked the strike and smiled grimly. He had a small wound to his left shoulder that didn’t heal properly. It didn’t bother him much but he was a fraction of a second slower with his left arm than his right. Not much, but a weakness to be sure.
She came around with the sword again and he dropped to the ground, using his stick to bat the sai away and his legs to knock her to the ground. Clarity rolled and grabbed her stick and they spent a few seconds batting at each other. With this weapon, Clarity showed some skill. Not surprising, since the walking stick was Lady Temperance’s best weapon. Sorbus blocked her next strike with enough force to disarm her. A second later a small dagger flew through the air and embedded in his walking stick. He smiled. She had put on a good show and the hidden dagger would be enough to allow her to hold her head high. He faced her, ready to disarm her, and accept her yield.
Clarity shifted into a wolf, and pounced. Tilting his walking stick, he sent her flying, thankful that he had sparred with Lady Tempest and Valiant in their wolf forms so he would not harm her. She rolled with the fall and turned to attack again.
“Enough!” Lady Rayna called from the stands. “What say ye, my husband? Has our daughter proven herself worthy of the weapons you shall bestow upon her?”
At Rayna’s command, Lady Clarity and Sorbus bowed and walked over to Lord Ellwood’s box.
“Indeed, her skill was most impressive.” Ellwood looked over at Temperance, “When did you learn to wield a small dagger? I have never seen you use one.”
“Lord Ellwood, I believe the fault is mine,” Ridge admitted.
“Yours?” That one word was said with enough venom to scare lesser men.
Ridge smirked, “Valiant gave each of the triplets a small dagger when they attained their majority. I decided to teach them to use it properly, since both Milady and Valiant are a bit too wild in their throws.” Tempest and Valiant exchanged looks that said Ridge would pay for that remark. “I believe you will find Lady Saffron and Lady Fauna wield the small daggers in their boots with equal ease.”
“Daughters mine, is this true?”
In answer both Saffron and Fauna pulled their daggers in practiced moves and threw them at the center of a practice box. Both landed near the center of the mark.
Those in the stands applauded. Clarity looked over in surprise. Apparently, Ridge trained them all. She was a little disappointed that she wasn’t the only one to receive special training from the Realm Advisor.
“Sorbus, was my daughter’s fighting acceptable?”
“Indeed, Lord Ellwood, Lady Clarity twice surprised me with a move I would not have thought her capable of at this point in her training.” He turned to Clarity, “Your skill will only improve as your strength grows. Congratulations on your shift.”
Ellwood looked down at his daughter, “And who assisted you with your shift?”
“Mother. I hoped to surprise you with my chosen form,” Clarity bowed.
Ellwood laughed, “You did indeed. Lady Saffron, Lady Fauna, have either of you another form to show me?”
“No, Father,” they replied in stereo.
“Ah well, maybe next full moon. Come Lady Clarity I have weapons to gift you.”
Clarity ignored her aches and pains and walked back to the residence with her father, feeling like an adult for the first time. He had her walk by his side as an equal, something he rarely did with his children. She smiled as the crowd offered their congratulations, basking in the adoration. One day she would be stronger than Tempest. She would be the daughter all would respect… and fear.