∴ A Martial Standard∴
“One. Five. Three. Four. Six. Two.”
The sergeant barks his orders down the line as blades whorl and return in unison.
Ten days, they said. Ten lessons to make a solider of you. You can’t say you feel much different to when you started, but tomorrow you’ll be off to fight all the same. Grimly, you wonder whether it matters much. You’ll die a soldier’s death either way.
Consumed by gloom, you barely notice the chanted numbers as they fade into rhythm. You look on as if abstracted, your body leading the way. Steel meets steel in synchronicity before snapping back to safety, speed increasing to match your master’s calls. You catch your opponent’s eye and see him grinning in disbelief as the commands come faster and faster.
Despite everything, sweat streaming down your face, you find yourself smiling back as you lean into another lunge.