For the first time in more than a week,
Derry woke from a sleep not racked by nightmares. He saw that it was
still early, the sun not yet up, and was pleased that had wakened in
time to see the sun rise over the orchard wall–pleased and a little
surprised as well.
He had spent the bulk of the previous
afternoon writing out new patrol schedules for the other nine patrol
leaders after Lord Michael had reshuffled the pattern to leave Derry
and his patrol at Caer Dinan. Derry was still not sure he had the
schedule straight, but he at least had the master plan to refer to.
San Te had finally rejoined them in the late afternoon while Derry and
Lord Michael were going over his duties as garrison commander for the
castle in Lord Michael's absence. They had discussed but decided
against placing wards around him while he slept. Using such protective
wards, San Te had pointed out, would alert Henrik that he had been
"Let him think instead that he has
so disturbed you that you dare not lead a patrol outside the walls
here," the little man had advised. So instead, Derry accepted
Dacia's sleeping draught that night, and he slept without any dreams
he could recall and woke at first light to slip down the stair and
into the orchard.
He had expected to find San Te there,
but it was Geoffrey who waited on the stone bench beside the clearing
where they trained.
"Good morning, m'lord," the
boy said rather tentatively.
Derry laid a hand on his shoulder.
"Good morning, Geoff. I--I'm truly
sorry about yesterday. I meant to tell you so last night, but I was
sent to bed with a sleeping draught and I forgot."
"That's all right, m'lord. Lady
Dacia told me you weren't really angry with me and that I should come
this morning to training. Is it all right?"
"Yes, of course. I'm glad you're
here. I hoped San Te would be as well. He can teach you so much more
than I can, Geoff."
There was disappointment in the boy's
face and voice.
"Do--do you not want to teach me
any longer, m'lord.?"
"It's not that at all, Geoff. It's
just that I know so little, and he knows so much. Ah, good morning,
Master." Derry bowed as the little man approached silently.
"We were speaking of you just now."
"I heard this. Do not worry, young
sir. I will not allow your lord to give up his promise to teach
San Te smiled at Geoffrey, giving Derry
slightly disapproving look.
"He has asked to become my pupil
once again, and I have agreed to teach him. I do not allow my pupils
to shirk their own responsibilities. To prove that he has mastered
what I will teach, he must pass the knowledge to others. So part of
his learning, you see, is to teach you."
Derry felt like a small boy being
reprimanded in front of others and felt his face flush in
"I only meant that you have so
much more experience than I have that Geoff would learn more from
"I know this. But passing on the
knowledge you have is to learn it again yourself, and this time with
understanding, not mere repetition. So you will teach your squire and
I will observe to see how well you have learned your own lessons.
Seeing what you know will show me what you must relearn yourself, and
also what new knowledge you lack. So, begin please. "
He sat down on the bench and motioned
them to move into the open space.
Derry looked at San Te as if he were
joking. When the monk did not move, he realized that he was looking
foolish just standing there. "Well," he thought to himself,
"here goes." He walked to the center of the grove, facing
east. He gestured toward his right side, and Geoff took his customary
"Remember always to bow to the
East, Geoff," Derry began, but was interrupted.
"He is your student, Sing
Hi," said San Te, referring to Derry's title as older student,
"Address him correctly if you will."
Derry's face went a shade redder than
before. He turned to face San Te and bow. "Yes, Master. Thank you
for correcting me."
He took one step in front of Geoff and
turned to face him.
"From now on, your title is Shan
Hi, or beginning student. Shan Hi!" he cried.
Geoff responded with the requisite,
"Face the East, bow, and return.
Ready stance, HOI!"
Derry cried the last loudly and Geoff's
feet spread quickly apart, hands fisted at his hips. Derry nodded,
keeping a serious face, but inwardly happy that Geoff had assumed the
"Today we will work on the first
section of Shi Na Ro. I want you to be careful of your down blocks and
your side kicks. Make them sharp; show me the ending of each move
before you move into the next. I want to see good execution of each of
the moves. You are doing well, Shan Hi; continue to do so
Derry was standing with his feet spread
shoulder width apart, hands clasped behind him. He straightened his
posture and pulled his feet together saying, "Shan Hi! Shi Na
Ro!" He bowed as Geoff pulled quickly into a low bow, open hands
at his sides.
"Teacher! Shi Na Ro" Geoff
said as he moved quickly into the first part of what he had learned.
Derry stopped him from time to time to correct a stance or to pose as
a target to give a more real sense of where Geoff was in the form and
what it was designed to do. He felt good as he heard a voice behind
him say, "Sing Hi!" Derry turned around, bowing to San Te,
as Geoff immediately stopped and bowed to the man as well.
San Te's face betrayed no emotion at
all. It made Derry very nervous as San Te spoke to him. "Dismiss
your student to practice; I see that you have more to learn, if you
are going to be a teacher." Derry bowed, red faced, then turned
"Bow to the sun; now bow to the
As Geoff did both, his eyes going a bit
wider, Derry dismissed him for the day with a small smile. He took a
deep breath and bowed again to San Te.
"We will begin with Shi Na Ro, my
student. You missed several things in your lessons I can see....Ready
San Te cried as Derry assumed his rigid
It was a long session; Derry wasn't
sure how long, but he knew he felt as if he'd been "ridden hard
and put up wet," as his father had often said, when San Te
finaally released him from the work. The session had involved not only
exacting physical work and a number of new instructions, but partway
through – he had no way of judging just when–he had become aware
that Dacia was sitting on the bench observing the lesson as well.
Since San Te was correcting just about every stacne and move, Derry
felt even more like that small boy being reprimanded. He would have
preferred no one to watch, but he could hardly ask her to leave. He
was the pupil; if the master did not object to her being there, then
he had no right to.
After what seemed eons, San Te at last
called a halt. "Sing Hi! It is enough for this time."
Grateful for the release, Derry bowed
to the East, then to the Master.
"Go now, Sing Hi. Eat. Refresh
yourself. We will meet in the armory yard once you have taken
So saying, San Te turned, bowed to
Dacia, and left Derry to collect his shoes and vest. He raised his
eyes to meet Dacia's sympathetic ones.
"Come and eat, Sean, do. How long
have you been out here, anyway?"
"Well--" A rumble from his
stomach interrupted Derry and he had to grin. "Long enough, it
seems. Since before sunup."
She glanced up at the sun, which
already stood high in the sky.
"You must be starved."
She turned back toward the hall, and he
fell into step beside her.
"You're right, I am," he
agreed, then groaned. "Oh, no! I am starved, and I can't have
what I really want to eat!"
"You can have whatever you like,
He shook his head, looking glum.
"No, I can't, either. Just before
I noticed you were here, San Te was giving me a list of things I was
not to eat or drink for the duration of my training."
"Not to eat? But why?"
"Purification of the body and
spirit, he said. Sort of like a ritual fast."
"Oh, I see. What is it you cannot
"Meat, eggs, cheese. Fermented and
distilled drinks. All I can eat is grain, fruit, vegetables, and a
little fish. And to drink, only water and some sort of herbal tea he
wants me to drink at least four rimes a day. I have no idea what that
is, but I suspect it will taste like medicine of some sort."
Dacia could not help laughing at his
"Well, can you at least have some
honey in your porridge, Sean?"
"He didn't say not. But no butter
or cream." He made a face. "The only things that makes
porridge even halfway tolerable I can't have."
He sighed and gave her a pathetic look.
"I'm feeling abused all the way
"Poor Sean," she sympathized
as they entered the hall. She signaled a servant and ordered food for
Derry, while he sat down at the high table. He accepted the cup of
water she brought him with a sigh, sipping at it and watching her over
"What is it, Sean?"
"Have you found out yet why San Te
was also seeking you, Dacia? Did he tell you when he went off with you
while your father had me slaving over the revised orders
"Aye, more or less. I'm to learn
the Way, it seems."
He blinked in surprise, obviously taken
"You mean the spiritual
aspects," he said after a moment.
"That as well; as I understand it,
it's all part of a whole: spiritual, mental, and physical
"Well, yes, but–Dacia, you
watched us this morning. You can't do the movements."
She raised an eyebrow at him.
"Whyever not? Oh, some of what you
were doing, especially there at the last looks difficult enough and I
daresay will take a good bit of practice, but I'm a good
"But Dacia! You can't! You say how
you have to–jump up and kick out. You'd get all tangled in your
skirts and end up falling and hurting yourself, not to mention the
impropriety of it all."
Her laughter was all the harder for his
"Well not in skirts, of course!
I'll wear what I use for the armory yard, naturally."
"Armory y–what are you talking
"Sean," she said patiently as
the servant set his food before him, "here's your breakfast. Eat
now, do. You're tired and hungry."
"I told you father taught me to
handle a blade, Sean. Not without some resistance, but he did. You
surely don't think I practice swordplay wearing skirts, do you?"
She shook her head and rose. "Eat, Sean. I've work to do, and so
have you. Didn't Master San Te say he wanted you in the armory as soon
as you'd had your meal?"
She left him sitting at the table still
grasping for words to express his shock at the idea of her in
breeches, moving in the positions of the forms. He knew his face was
flaming, for he could feel the heat in it. It had been a rough
morning, and San Te had mentioned something about more training in the
armory after he had eaten. He had done only a little weapons training
with San Te at Coroth, but it had been sufficient to convince him that
he was in for a particularly grueling session there as well. He
wondered how many more shocks his system could take, especially
without recourse to wine to dull them. He sighed and picked up the
spoon, eying the dish of porridge glumly before he took a mouthful of
the disgusting stuff.
"The condemned man eats his
last meal," he muttered to himself. " And a bad one