Two months passed after I first started living and training at Glenn's. During that time I had learned that the year was 589 AD.
If anyone I knew from my world were to see me now they would not recognize me. The two months of hard work has built up my muscles, especially in my arms, shoulders, and chest, and caused the thankful loss of the fat around my waist. My skin was considerably darker from so many days of working out in the sun. I had decided to let my beard grow out to add to my new rugged appearance. I did notice, though, that my beard did not grow as fast as it did when I was in my home world, but I paid little mind to it. As far as I was concerned it just meant that I didn't have to trim it as often.
Once a week Cyrus would ride to the cabin to check on how I was doing. He seemed disappointed that I had not started training with the sword, but trusted Glenn's techniques completely.
One morning Glenn walked out to where I was finishing chopping wood. He was carrying two wooden swords. "I think it's time to start your training," he told me.
I set the axe against the stump and took one of the swords from him. I stood facing him with my feet flat and holding the sword with my right hand.
"Is that how you should stand in battle?" he asked me.
"I guess," I responded. I didn't know.
He held up his index finger. "I bet I could defeat you with just one finger." With that said he pushed me to the ground with his one finger.
I got up and brushed myself off. "Okay," I said, admitting my ignorance, "how do I do this, then?"
Glenn stood in front of me with his left foot forward and right foot just behind him. With his permission I walked around him, studying every part of the battle stance. He stood with his feet shoulder length apart and on the balls of his feet. He held the sword in front of him at an angle.
"Never stand flat on your feet like you were," he instructed as I studied his stance. "That places your weight on the back of your heels, and thus makes it quite easy to knock you down, as you have just experienced."
I nodded at what he told me, and once I had completed my circuit I took my place standing before him, mimicking his stance. "Like this?"
Glenn nodded. "Good, but you won't be needing this for a while," he said as he took the sword away from me. "Until you have mastered your feet your sword will be useless to you." He threw the mock blades to the ground some distance away. "Now, spring up and down on the balls of your feet." I obeyed. "See how much easier it is to shift your weight from side to side."
"Yeah," I said as I bounced from side to side. "It makes me feel lighter."
"Good. Now follow my lead. As I step backwards, follow me forward two steps and get into your stance." Glenn stepped backward, and I followed him two steps, a little stiffly, and managed to get back into my stance. Glenn grinned a little as he watched my form. "Keep your elbows in, boy. You look like you're trying to fly.
I heard a snicker from the sidelines. I glanced over to the gate as saw that Sir Cyrus had chosen this of all day to pay us a visit.
"Pay attention now, boy," Glenn thundered. "The lesson's over here."
I jerked my eyes back to Glenn. Again, Glenn stepped backward, and I followed. This time I felt a little less awkward and less like I was trying to take flight.
"Good!" he proclaimed. "You'll get it with practice. Now backward"
Backward was much more difficult, and I tripped over my own heels often, but after several attempts I started to get it.
"Excellent! Now let's go from side to side."
Both Glenn and I stepped from side to side, right to left, left to right, like mirror images. All the while, Glenn called out the drills as we moved.
"Left to right," he called out. "That's it. Into your stance. Now, right to left. Good. Without sure footing the warrior is a cripple. He is not prepared to go into battle to defend his own life nor that of those around him. Left to right. He is worthless to all concerns. Better a weak woman with sure feet in battle than a strong man with weak feet! Into your stance. Again."
After several minutes of this drill, Glenn said, "All right. I am not going to give you any instructions. What ever I do, you do. Forward, backward, side to side, and do not lag behind. Understand?"
For the next several minutes Glenn moved in each of the four directions, slowly at first to make certain that I got into my stance properly, and I mimicked him. Then he sped up the drill as I was getting the choreography down. "Look into my eyes, not your feet! Forward!" I had not realized that I had been watching my feet. "My eyes! My eyes! Backward!" I looked into his eyes, and in them I saw the warriors he had trained before, each moving moving side to side, forward, backward, to Glenn's rhythmic cadence and precision, and now I was apart of their numbers.
Again and again we drilled, until quite some time later Glenn must have noticed that I was becoming too weary to keep up, and thought it best to take a break. Cyrus dismounted and walked over to us.
"I was not aware that you taught dance class here, Glenn," Cyrus joked as he and Glenn clasped each other's forearm.
"You know how I train soldiers," Glenn said with a chuckle.
"Well, if he never holds a sword in battle, at least he'll be able to entertain his guests," the knight proclaimed with a hearty chortle. He turned to me and greeted me as he did Glenn. "Honestly though, Wallace, that was pretty good. If you continue to learn at that pace, you'll become a fine warrior in no time."
For the next five months Glenn schooled me in sword play. Cyrus said that I had to be one of the best men that he had ever sent to Glenn, and Glenn agreed with him.
Also, during the latter months, Glenn had the blacksmith in town teach me how to forge my own sword. It was difficult work, but I learned it with eagerness.
I woke up one morning after the fifth month before dawn. I looked out the window. "Snow," I said under my breath as a devious grin crossed my lips.
I was outside chopping wood when I heard Glenn exit the cabin. I set the axe down and grabbed one of several snowballs I had sitting on the stump.
"I see you're off to an early star OOMPH!" Glenn started to say, but was interrupted by the snowball I had just thrown at him and hit him in the chest.
"Top of the morning to ya, Glenn!" I said in my best, yet pathetic, English accent.
Glenn brushed the snow off his front. "Are you challenging me?" I said nothing, but responded by throwing another snowball at him. He dodged it, and bent down and grabbed a handful of snow. He threw the snowball at me. I made to dodge, but was too slow and it hit my arm. "I accept thy challenge, Sir Wallace!"
The morning passed with us throwing snowballs at each other and laughing like schoolboys.
That afternoon Cyrus interrupted our fun. He tried to get our attention for several moments, but was unable to get it until he yelled, "Atten'hut!"
Both Glenn and I stopped and faced Cyrus at the gate, who was still sitting on his horse. What Cyrus didn't see was that we both concealed a snowball behind our backs.
"I arrived expecting to find two warriors training, but instead I find to schoolboys playing in the snow."
Glenn and I looked at each other. He nodded, and we both launched our snowballs at the knight. Glenn's hit Cyrus in the side of his face, where mine hit his arm. Glenn and I couldn't help but laugh.
Cyrus brushed the snow off his face. "Funny," he said with a smile on his face. "Very funny." He got down off his horse. Glenn and I prepared ourselves for retaliation, but none came. Cyrus walked over and greeted us both. We started heading toward the cabin, with Glenn and I at Cyrus' sides. Before we reached the door, though, I saw Cyrus trip Glenn, who fell face first into the snow. Cyrus spun around and I was the next to go down. I, too, landed face first in the snow. Glenn and I lifted our heads up and looked at each other. We deserved that, and we knew it.
Inside, after we had cleaned ourselves off, we sat down a the table to talk.
"How is his training coming along?" Cyrus asked his longtime friend.
"Well," Glenn answered with a look to me. "I've taught him about everything I know." He looked out the window to the snow on the ground. "But we will have to put the training on hold until the first thaw."
"I suspected as much," Cyrus said. He turned to me. "Then you shall return to the castle with me and winter there. The scholars there have been eagerly awaiting your arrival."
"It will be good to do some studying," I told him. "Hopefully there I will find the answers I seek."
Glenn nodded. "I hope you do."
For the next three months I wintered at Guardia Castle, spending most of my waking hours studying books and questioning the scholars as I tried to find a way home. By the time the first thaw arrived I was no closer to finding my way home than I was when I first arrived there.
After the first thaw I returned to Glenn's cabin to continue my training, but it would end sooner than either of us had expected.
I woke up one morning a month after I returned to Glenn's and started about my morning chores. As I was outside chopping wood I heard a horse approach the gate. I turned and saw Cyrus waiting at the gate.
"Hail, Sir Cyrus!" I called out.
"Hail, Wallace!" he called back. "Is Glenn about?"
"Yes, inside preparing breakfast."
Cyrus dismounted his horse and went inside without another word to me. As he walked by I noticed he had a very grim demeanor on his face. I could hear Glenn and Cyrus talking inside, but I couldn't hear what they were saying. Shortly afterward Glenn called me in for breakfast.
I went in and sat at the table. Cyrus' face still betrayed what ever dark purpose he had come here for. Glenn set three bowls of porridge down on the table, one in front of each of us, and then joined us at the table.
Before he even began eating Glenn looked to his friend and asked, "What is bothering you?"
Cyrus sighed. "The Mystics' attacks have begun again, and they are becoming more fierce than ever."
Glenn nodded. "Then why are you here and not on the battlefield?"
"I am going to search for the legendary sword Masamune, the only weapon that can defeat the Magus, and I want you to come with me."
"Do you not have soldiers who can accompany you?"
Cyrus nodded. "I do, but this is going to be a difficult journey, and I need someone there who I can trust to watch my back."
"Wait a minute," I interrupted. "Who's the Magus."
Both of them looked at me as though I had just asked the stupidest question in the world, which, in their minds at least, I had.
"You really aren't from around here, are you?" Glenn asked.
"No, I'm not," I answered, "but that's beside the point. Who's the Magus?"
"The Magus is the leader of the mystics," Cyrus answered me. "He is a powerful sorcerer who can use arcane magiks. It is rumored that only the legendary sword Masamune can defeat him."
"I see," I responded as I pondered his words.
Cyrus turned back to Glenn. "Will you join me?"
Glenn nodded. "I'll join you."
"I'll go, too," I offered.
Both Cyrus and Glenn shook their heads. "You have become a skilled swordsman," Glenn explained, "but you are not quite ready for something like this."
I stood up. "You know as well as I do that three people are better than two in a battle." I was almost yelling.
"I'm sorry, Wallace," Cyrus said as he stood and placed his hand on my shoulder. "You are a stranger in this land, and this is not your war. And Glenn is right. You are not ready for this."
"Wallace, you may have been trained to be a warrior, but your heart is that of a scholar," Glenn tried to explain in an almost paternal fashion. "Return to the castle and study. Mayhaps you may find some new way for us to win this war if we are unsuccessful."
I sat back down. "Very well."
The next morning I stood at the front gates to the castle with two horses. I waited there until I saw Cyrus and Glenn exit the castle. They both walked up to where I waited.
"I'm glad you decided to be here," Cyrus told me as he clasped my forearm. Glenn greeted me in the same fashion.
"You two are my only friends here," I told them. "I had to see you off."
Glenn and Cyrus mounted the horses. "Farewell, friend," Cyrus said to me.
"A favor if I my, Wallace," Glenn requested. I nodded. "During your stay here until we return or you continue your journey, which ever may be first, protect the Queen with all you can."
"It'll be an honor," I responded, and it was. "Good journey to you both."
Glenn and Cyrus nodded their goodbye and rode off. I fingered the hilt of the sword that hung at my side as I watched them enter the forest surrounding the castle and out of sight.