One – Kelvin

A cold fall wind howled off the ocean, up the cliffs, over the high stone walls and into the courtyard biting through Kelvin’s heavy armor and sweat soaked undergarments , chilling him to the bone. His older brother Seth paced around a few steps from him, deriding Kelvin’s sword fighting tactics. Kelvin didn’t care and wasn’t even listening to what he was saying, he knew Seth would yell at him for another minute or so and then attack again. Little did Kelvin know that after all the years this would be the last time he would ever have to suffer through his brother’s training in the yard.
“Security training,” Seth called it. Kelvin referred to it as sibling abuse but the rest of his family either tacitly or explicitly approved of it. Kelvin noticed, however, that in the past few years Seth’s “Security training” seemed a lot more in depth in the fall and winter when they would traditionally focus on heavy weapons and armor. There had been a full month last summer when Seth had disappeared and Kelvin had to train with little or no armor and lighter weapons with other trainers.
Seth’s diatribe was winding down, he was talking about personal security and how important the family was and how Kelvin had to always be on his guard.

Kelvin stopped pacing and readied himself for the next assault, raising up the massive sword in two hands. Seth continued to ramble and Kelvin glanced around the courtyard. As always, whenever he was training with Seth it was surrounded by soldiers’ dressed in purple and black. Kelvin’s family maintained an army of soldiers to deal with what armies deal with, but it also maintained a much smaller group of highly trained men and women who were responsible for the security of the family. Ten of them were gathered around now, fully one third of their total number, only three of which were actually on duty. Two were always with Seth and one with Kelvin at all times. Kelvin knew all of them and disliked most of them. Seth, among his other duties, commanded them.

Almost too late Kelvin realized he had lost focus and let his line of sight drop just two steps behind Seth and he was on him. Kelvin just picked up the sound of chain mail moving quickly toward him from his left. He jumped quickly to his right and spun away just as Seth’s huge dulled blade swung by him. Kelvin took two more steps and Seth moved in. Kelvin’s tactics infuriated Seth; he would rarely engage or go on the offensive even when openly baited by Seth. This style of fighting was just not suited to Kelvin, the armor hung off of him; the heavy blades were slow and quickly tired his arms. He preferred light armor and long thin blades. While Seth was strong, Kelvin was quick and as much as Seth badgered him into bulking up and “becoming a man” Kelvin knew he never would be as big as strong or as big as his older brother.

Seth was determined to teach him his brand of fighting. He continued to close, spinning his blade above his head as Kelvin backed away around the courtyard. Seth kept coming and Kelvin suddenly lost his footing. As he fell to a knee he realized he had roamed too close to the edge of the training area and too close the Seth’s black guard. Kelvin didn’t have time to figure out which guard had tripped him, his brother was on top of him and he had little choice but to go on the offensive.

As Seth finished his last spin and started to bring his blade down Kelvin leaped up toward him, attempting to drive his shoulder into Seth’s stomach. But for as big as Seth was he was still mobile and used the momentum of his spinning blade to turn and Kelvin just glanced off his hip and was now completely off balance and sprawling forward. Kelvin kept his feet underneath him as long as he could but eventually his momentum and the heavy weapon pushed him to the ground at the feet of another group of guards.

Kelvin sighed, spitting dirt from his mouth, but even as he did realize he was being pulled to his feet and turned back to face Seth.

“Watch out,” Warrick said as he turned Kelvin toward a charging Seth.

Warrick’s boon gave Kelvin a couple of seconds to react and he resolved himself to beat his brother today. He gripped his sword hard in his hands and as Seth approached he moved the blade up in a defensive posture. As Seth began to slash down on Kelvin he spun away and brought his sword all the way around him in a low cut which Kelvin hoped would catch Seth behind the right kneecap.

But Seth was instinctive enough to know what was happening and tried to turn away. Kelvin’s blade still caught him in the right calf. Seth grunted and turned the opposite direction away from Kelvin.

As the brothers spun in opposite directions, Kelvin coming up from a low attack and Seth coming down from a high line all of the witnesses could see what was about to happen but only one managed to shout.

“Seth!”

Kelvin didn’t hear it, but rose up, hoping to catch Seth in the back when the left side of his head exploded in pain. In a now deathly quiet courtyard he dropped to one knee and heard his helmet land some seconds later.

His left eye refused to focus and went blood dim. He became aware of a rapidly expanding red pool forming beneath him, staining the dirt.

Seth was next to him in an instant, his left arm around Kelvin’s back. Kelvin turned too look at him, Seth was yelling something. In a rage, Kelvin gathered his feet underneath himself and rose, pulling Seth up with him. He turned and with his right arm shoved Seth away with all the vitriol he could muster. Seth stumbled back a few paces, a look of shock on his face.

Kelvin tried to take a step toward him but his legs would no longer support him and the courtyard dirt raced up to meet him.

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