“You’re entitled to nothing, boy,” Warlund said in a scathing tone. He stood just inches from the young man’s face, knuckles whitening as they flexed against an opening and closing fist. “Now hit me again!” The boy reared back, closing in suddenly with a soft right hook. Warlund parried it easily, following up with a quick jab straight to the lower ribcage. Crack! The boy yelped, falling to one knee. “That’s it! I can’t take anymore!” Bruising had already formed from a flurry of recent hits, all targeting the boy’s weaknesses. “You leave yourself too exposed,” Warlund said, circling the squire. Quentin wasn’t but fifteen, and he was as soft as they came. He had a winning smile and flowing brown hair, but he couldn’t fight for shit. From behind, he looked more girl than boy.
“I can’t do it!” Quentin pleaded, clutching his cracked rib(s). “You can’t do it?” Warlund questioned, moving towards him with purpose, “Bullshit, boy. When I was your age, I took down a wild boar with nothing but a heavy rock.” It had been a heavy, heavy rock, and it was already half-dead from an arrow sticking out of its throat. “Quit whining, get up, and hit me!” The boy nodded, taking a few shallow breaths before raising to his feet. “That’s it,” Warlund said, “Now hit me!“ Quentin sneered as best he could, prepared, and charged! He landed face down in the dirt, a tiny stone acting as the boy’s chief obstacle. “We have a lot of work to do,” Warlund muttered in realisation.“You’ll be fine,” Mara said, nursing Quentin’s broken nose. “It’s nothing,“ the boy said. Suddenly, he was fearless in the presence of an attractive blonde. “Just another battle scar.” Warlund entered the room laughing, having overheard Quentin’s final words. “Oh, yes, that was a ferocious beast you tangled with and won,” uttered Warlund, sarcastically. The boy gave him a ‘please don’t ruin this’ look. It only made Warlund laugh harder, to the point where it was contagious. Mara shook her head, smiling. After a moment, the healer gathered up her things and left the men as quietly as she’d arrived. Quentin watched her go.
A hard smack across the back of his head startled him. “Hey! What’s that for?” Quentin asked. Warlund needed only to narrow his eyes. “She’s pretty, that’s all,” the boy added, rubbing where Warlund’s hand had landed. “Temper your expectations, boy,” Warlund said. He moved to open up a heavy brown tome, bloodied knuckles wrapped. “Why?” Quentin blurted out, growing defensive, “I’m more than ready. I’m old enough. I’m nearly a man.” Warlund huffed out a laugh, “You don’t have what she likes.” The boy’s face went from anger to confusion to a dawning of realisation. “Oh,” he said. He sounded defeated. Quentin sighed, feeling of his bandaged ribs and recently corrected nose before standing and moving to Warlund. “What’s this?”“My mother’s journal,” Warlund admitted, flipping through the pages. Quentin glanced down at it, as to not be rude. “Where… Where is she?” He landed on a particular page before answering, “Somewhere, I suppose. But not here.” Warlund seemed more determined than anything else, not bothered by the boy’s questions. “What happened to her?” With a sudden motion, a page was torn free from Adelaide’s journal. It was crumbled up and thrown into a nearby hearth. “She killed herself,” Warlund said. “O—” Quentin began, “—Oh.”
“‘Oh,’ indeed,” Warlund commented, tearing free a second page, then a third. He crumbled them both up and sat them aside. Quentin was now at a loss, so he rocked back and forth on his leather-heeled boots. He started to whistle, which immediately annoyed Warlund, but he was too focused on finding any mention of Kimberly to care. Adelaide’s journal was eventually closed, with an additional three or four pages ripped out beforehand. They all sat to the side, one by one being picked up and tossed into the nearby hearth. A subtle climb of the flames met each crumpled up, torn out page.“Tomorrow, I’m not going easy on you,” Warlund stated. “That was you going ‘easy’?” Quentin asked, having to look up only slightly. The boy was tall for his age, standing at an early six feet; lithe, too. “Yes,” came Warlund’s only reply as he ushered the boy to the door, a light push sending him out into the hallway. “So get an early night.”