Webmistress's Drawing of a Sculpture.  Artist Unknown.
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Derry's Wedding



Chapter  15

The Way of Humility

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 detected.

"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 you."

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 embarrassment.

"I only meant that you have so much more experience than I have that Geoff would learn more from you."

"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 place.

"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, "Yes, sir!"

"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 stance correctly.

"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 please."

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 to Geoff.

"Shan Hi!"


"Bow to the sun; now bow to the Master"

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 stance, HOI!"

San Te cried as Derry assumed his rigid stance.

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 food."

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, Sean."

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 have, Sean?"

"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 dispirited accounting.

"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 around, Dacia."

"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 its rim.

"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 yesterday?"

"Aye, more or less. I'm to learn the Way, it seems."

He blinked in surprise, obviously taken aback.

"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 balance."

"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 dancer--"

"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 embarrassment.

"Well not in skirts, of course! I'll wear what I use for the armory yard, naturally."

"Armory y–what are you talking about?"

"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 at that."



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