Twilia faced her sword instructor with intense concentration. The cold autumn day made the full armor cool to wear, yet Twilia was still sweating under her gambeson. Her war sword was held in a high middle guard position as she slowly circled to her left. Sabatons were not part of training armor, so her heavy cavalry boot soles slide over the sand of the training circle.

She observed her instructor down the length of her blade side, which was held up horizontally right before her face. Twilia’s sword instructor was holding her own blade in a low mid guard position, the point aimed upward toward Twilia’s chest. The instructor’s grip was loose and one handed, held at her waist. Her other hand was low and to the side. Previous experience had taught Twilia to watch that off hand carefully. If their blades became bound up in defense, the instructor would not hesitate to shift the fight from melee to grappling.

While Twilia had been studying her instructor, debating the best line of attack, the other woman moved with blinding speed. Where Twilia had expected a blade binding attempt, her instructor dropped into a well balanced crouch and sliced at her ankles in a rapid cut. Twilia was caught off guard by the sudden maneuver. Almost by instinct Twilia hopped to avoid the blade slicing at her feet.

As soon as her feet left the ground, her instructor allowed her sword point to drop into the dirt, aborting the low cut. Then the other woman surged to her feet with a powerful push of her legs. Twilia’s jump had hit its pinnacle and was starting down when her instructor’s left shoulder slapped into her diaphragm, knocking the wind out of Twilia. The shoulder blow into her midriff also knocked her off balance so she did not land on her feet, instead crashing down onto her back.

Twilia blinked rapidly, trying to clear the dust from her eyes, as she gasped for breath. Lying on her back she could look up and see the point of her instructor’s sword just inches from her nose. With a gasp she thumped the ground with a hand and wheezed out, “I yield.”

Wendelin snorted down at Twilia, “What do in an infernal hell do you call that stunt?!?”

Twilia sat up as the sword in her face was moved out of the way, “An evasion attempt?”, she tentatively offered.

“You try that stunt again, and I will cut you hard as a lesson. Young lady, get up, pick up your sword, and get ready to go again. “ Wendelin walked back to the others side of the training circle and took up a guard position.

She sighed to herself, and struggled to her feet. Twilia keep her actions slowed, delaying for a few extra moments to catch her breath. After picking up her war sword, she reluctantly raised the sword into a guard position, and prepared to begin again.