The Adventures of a Knight and His Disciple
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The Adventures of a Knight and His Disciple

Chapter 1: The meeting




The great Claudius did not expect that day to be walking deep into the extended caverns of Hoofstad. He felt a strange pull that led him to supervise that area specifically. Perhaps there could be some dangerous creatures lurking around that could pose a threat to the village, or maybe a human could have gotten lost while returning from a hunting trip. That is what he finally decided to choose as his motivation.

He briefly took his time to sharpen his sword against a rocky surface and that's when he suddenly heard a call for help. It was the voice of a woman, who was clearly panicking and afraid. Without wasting time, he ran to the source of the voice.

"S-Stay away from me!"

A woman with dark skin, brown curly hair, and light brown eyes was frantically swinging a large stick in front of her. She was trying to fend off a large, quadrupedal creature that was trying to bite her arm off. It was rabid, angry, and probably also hungry.

It only took an instant for Claudius to annihilate the aggressive creature to nothing — just one slash of his sword turned it into pieces. Once again, he was able to save a life.

The woman he saved looked shocked from what just happened. After several seconds of silence, she looked at him with a grateful expression before throwing herself in his arms and embracing him.

"You saved my life! I would have died if it weren't for you! Thank you!"

Claudius stood very still, incapable of comprehending the purpose of an embrace. The customs of human beings have always confused him, though it felt quite nice. He has vague memories about how humans express gratefulness, but this was new.

"It is merely my duty as a warrior — to save and protect those who are innocent. You needn't to thank me."

The woman let go of him; she now had a big smile on her face. The glimmer in her eyes suggested that she was admiring him dearly.

"You are a real knight?! That's so cool! I- I was trying to train in the caverns to become strong like one… Please! Teach me your skills!"

This human woman was truly odd, he thought. He never had any of those he rescued act in such a way. They often just thanked him briefly, sometimes they gave him a piece of bread or meat as a gift and went back on their merry way. Just what was this girl even thinking? Did she truly endanger herself by coming all the way there just to become a strong warrior?

"You could have been seriously injured, woman. The caverns are extremely dangerous when alone. You don't seem to have any hunting experience either. Do not return here on your own ever again or you could end up dead."

He did not answer her request. He wouldn't want to involve a fragile human being in a tough lifestyle. He wants to bear the burden of being the protector of all life on his own. Human beings have an already short lifespan, but adding such a tough job would only shorten it further.

The woman didn't seem to be any less determined; she accepted the scolding with an understanding chuckle. She felt like a person being lectured for having accidentally broken a precious vase, yet, she wanted to prove him wrong,

"I am strong! I may have failed this time, but I've been working harder to gain the courage to fight. Please! Allow me to prove myself to you!"

She pleaded with such determination that Claudius' heart almost softened for a second. However, he quickly regained his stern attitude, not wanting to risk putting her in danger.

"You risk death with the things you wish to do. You must focus on living a peaceful life, instead. The life expectancy of humans is short, becoming a warrior is also a heavy burden. I don't wish for your entire life to be known only by the countless scars that would tell of all the foes you had laid waste to; it is not a thing that you can bear without full dedication."

Even with the perspective of the life of a warrior being described in a crude and realistic manner, the woman seemed to not be deterred at all. She instead continued to stand her ground, her eyes still had a strong fire of resolution in them.

"I want to become a warrior so I can protect my village and the people around me. Do you think I don't know how tough it is to be one? Even then, despite all the hardships I will face… I know that this is the path I want to follow.

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be able to fight this way for the sake of others. So please, give me one chance!"

Claudius was puzzled, though, his confusion quickly turned into a brief hint of respect. He noticed her bruised and hardened fists, that probably were used all day to train, her scratched and patched-up knees that witnessed many falls for the same reason… She must truly mean it, to want to become a warrior, especially if she dared to venture alone in such a dangerous place.

He stayed silent for a minute before he made his final decision.

"Nevertheless, I will give you this opportunity to become my disciple, but you must not do something so reckless without permission ever again. Understood? From now on, you must listen to my instructions in order to not risk your life so frequently. "

She was now enthusiastic, she reached out for yet another embrace, which made Claudius feel strange. It was not a negative kind of oddity, but it was still quite a mystery to him. Nonetheless, he allowed her to do so.

"Thank you! Thank you so much! I won't disappoint you!

Ah! I almost forgot! I'm Shani! Please help me become your great companion! I can also teach you some things in exchange!"

That marked the beginning of his new task, to train his disciple and turn her into a powerful warrior. He wondered if it would be difficult; he had never trained a human after all.

The first few days were difficult for Shani. Claudius was trying to teach her how to wield a weapon; she ended up picking a spear for herself and was able to move it pretty smoothly.

Fighting-wise, she was learning the basics, attempting to do clean and quick attacks with the tip of her spear. She was still a beginner, but he admired her dedication. Although, she was quite clumsy.

Shani took a deep breath as she let herself sit down by a wall, she was extremely sweaty and tired since she was training with Claudius for over two hours.

"Claudius, could I have something to eat? I'm very exhausted."

Ah, right, food. He had almost forgotten that human beings need nourishment to survive. He excused himself for ten minutes, then he returned with a few animals he personally hunted and skinned. Far too many, perhaps. He was carrying them all with ease.

Shani gasped in enthusiastic shock.

"You did not need to hunt so many for me! One is enough to feed a family of four!"

She quickly started a campfire with wood and stones and, after enough attempts, started the flames. Neatly cutting some meat and placing it into a pot, she placed it above the fire to cook it. Claudius watched her cook, but he didn't help. Since it was a human thing, he'd keep himself out of it.

"Ooh! It already smells delicious!"

Claudius glanced at the sparkling fire, the smell of meat was not so unpleasant after all. His companion truly got excited over such little things.

"Is there a particular reason why humans need to eat?" He asked. He was never against learning new things from time to time; this could be helpful in the long run.

"Oh! Well, we human beings digest food and turn it into energy! That is how our body functions. Water helps it stay hydrated, too. Without food, our body wouldn't be able to survive."

Claudius nodded in acknowledgment, now watching his disciple gleefully gobble up the cooked meat. He didn't think humans could eat so quickly; she truly must have been hungry. He feels guilty for not knowing about this earlier.

"I'm full, Claudius. We can continue!"

This new task proved to be more intriguing than he initially thought. Since the first week he spent training and wandering with Shani, he had learned many things about human beings that were completely unknown to him before. For example, the time he learned that humans need sleep.

It happened when they were on their way back from slaughtering a few pests that were devouring the resources of the humans. It was the first time the two actually ventured together on a long journey, which meant Shani did not return to her village to sleep.

"Claudius, could we stop for the day? I'm afraid I cannot proceed further without some rest."

Claudius stopped his marching, he turned to stare at her. His expression was obviously covered by his helmet

"What is sleep? Is it another human requirement for survival?"

Shani nods rather slowly. She sat down against a big rock while shivering from the environment's cold.

"It keeps us alive. Sleep helps to regain strength and put the body to rest…"

The warrior in shining armor sat by her side, turning on a small fire to help her warm up. She truly seemed to appreciate it.

"Then I shall let you sleep for as long as needed."

Shani thanked him before slowly shutting her eyes and leaning against his shoulder. Soon, her quiet breathing led to a deep sleep.

His armor must have been an uncomfortable place to lean her head on to sleep, so he gently moved her head to rest on a sack full of soft feathers that they were going to carry back to the village. It was probably much softer.

Sleeping humans were so intriguing to observe. He never knew that they could have such peaceful looks on their faces. He wondered how relaxing it must be to be able to rest that way. Despite that, he knew he had to stay on guard and make sure to watch her back.

From that same journey, he learned that humans suffer in extremely cold temperatures. He took note of that and brought a warm fur coat for her to wear in future missions. It surprisingly worked.

At a certain point in time, Shani completely learned the basics of spear fighting and dodging. Her movements were like elegant dancing. He never thought fighting could be elegant, or graceful since his own way of fighting was crude and blunt.

"Focus, Shani, observe the way I move. This is the first time you directly challenge me, so pay attention."

This battle was far more different than any other he had. The training grounds he usually used felt more radiant somehow. He felt a true burning excitement and anticipation for what was about to come. Only Shani was ever able to create such feelings in his heart. She was an opponent that he truly enjoyed challenging, even if she was just a human being.

Shani held onto her red-coated spear with a determined gaze. Claudius restrained his strength to the minimum in order to not harm her. He slowly attacked her with his sword. However, to her, it still felt like the hit of a powerful giant. She was able to block with the shield she held in her other hand.

Her companion retaliated, attacking with a more decisive slash. She counterattacked with her spear; it almost managed to hit him. This back-and-forth proceeded for the following twenty minutes, until Shani was able to connect with her spear.

That exact act made the two turn entirely silent. It felt like there were no other distractions or things around them. It was just Shani, Claudius, and their battle. It took a while for Claudius to break the silence, after his initial surprise. He disarmed her soon after, since she was distracted by the moment.

"Great job, it's the first time you've managed to hit me. You are learning extremely diligently."

Shani lit up as she heard his words, cheering on the spot before she hugged him. He had gotten used to it at that point, it was a daily occurrence. For the first time, he focused more on the hug, observing her more than usual. She had a slight scent of herbs and wood that lingered around her—something he hadn't noticed in the past.

"I'm so glad that I came this far! It's all thanks to you! You're the best companion I could ever have!"

She let go of him just as quickly as she hugged him. She then started running around happily, probably to let off some steam while also expressing her enthusiasm. Claudius found it quite amusing.

She stopped running around after a while. She sat by his side with a more serious look now. She wanted to show him that she was professional and ready.

"Does this mean you'll bring me to fight by your side in more dangerous missions? I want to help!"

That question once again caught him off guard; he did not expect her to want to take a step further and perform such a difficult task. So far, she only helped the village people by eliminating smaller threats, but she now desired to face the same foes he had been carefully handling for decades? He was concerned that she may get hurt. However, letting her watch him would be a new learning experience.

"You won't fight with me, but you can observe me fighting a more difficult foe, yes. That would help you learn many new tactics. Just promise you will not be reckless about it."

"I swear on my life! I will wait safely until you have finished!"

She was being truthful, so he felt somewhat relieved. He wanted to see that she was capable.

The deal was settled. At the start of the following week, Claudius and Shani ventured to a distant level. It had a few scattered villages that were being plagued by a "beast" hiding in the desert sand. The beast had already taken quite a few victims, but it was time for its reign of terror to end, at last.

Reports confirmed that it lived inside of a vast temple, deep into the desert. Its camouflage abilities allowed it to move undisturbed through the sand, and it possessed limbs that would stretch to abnormal lengths.

"How much longer will we need to walk? Are we close?"

Shani was carefully following the warrior, she liked to observe the soft sand moving under their feet as they walked on it.

"We are almost there, Shani. It will be dark; light up the torch you brought along."

She quickly lit up the fire on the torch and then handed it to Claudius. He held it steadily and stopped at the entrance of the temple.

"You must stay behind me at all times. If I tell you to hide, you hide. If I tell you to stop and wait, you do that. Understood?"

Shani looked at him and then she solemnly nodded.

"What happens if you get hurt and disarmed? Will you allow me to help you then?"

Claudius did not answer her.

"I said what I said, Shani."

It could never happen, for he was war itself. War can never be defeated so easily, no matter how dangerous and unpredictable the foe is.

The two ventured into the temple. It smelled of blood and minerals. The dimly lit torch was able to help them figure out their surroundings. The rooms would be spacious and oddly empty… if it weren't for the skeletons lying around, scattered like rocks.

They reached the entrance of another room; Claudius could sense that the beast was nearby.

"Stay here and do not come in. I'll slay the beast while you learn my tactics."

"Understood. Just please, be safe!"

With that, the mighty warrior entered the beast's lair. He could faintly notice it slithering on the sandy terrain. It almost looked invisible and it was very large. It was almost translucent upon sight, perfectly blending in with the background. There was no sound that could be heard in that room. How could there be? It was a deadly assassin that lurked in the shadows.

"Reveal yourself, serpent of doom."

He unleashed his sword and began a bloody fight. The creature was now uncontrollably moving all around the room's walls, its limbs distorting and stretching to try and squeeze him to death. Claudius promptly attempted to slice at it, but it was difficult to do so since the creature was so quick.

Each hit only led to the creature's retaliation. He was sturdy, but being tossed and thrown by the creature was making him grow weaker. It was far too fast to deal any significant damage at first. It took at least a good hour to wear it down slowly.

He could not recall how much time had passed. He only knew that he had been brutally fighting the beast for a very long time. It was weakened. Soon, it would fall and die. That's what he believed until he noticed that Shani seemed to be preoccupied with fending off a few creatures that crept up on her. He did not think that they'd come out while the beast was present…

What will happen to her? He could not supervise her while he was fighting. She risked to get severely injured!

That trail of thought betrayed him. His distraction was enough to warrant a painful attack that threw him right at the opposite wall. He then fell, attempting to regain his bearings as he did so.

"CLAUDIUS!"

That is when Shani, after eliminating the pests that were bothering her, rushed to defend him from an upcoming attack with her shield.

"SHANI! GET OUT OF HERE!"

Truth be told, if Shani hadn't defended him there, he would have gotten seriously hurt. However, now she was at risk of getting brutally attacked, his worries came to fruition. The beast managed to grab Shani and squeeze her with its sharp lower body. She screamed in pain before Claudius tossed a large rock at it to distract it.

She was dropped to the ground; blood was oozing from her stomach. She soon fell unconscious.

Claudius now could not even think properly. The sight of an injured Shani made his entire mind blow up. How dare that beast to harm her? That was all it took for him to lose it. The immense heartache and rage took over him.

His body grew at an abnormal rate, full of newfound strength and rage. Rage, the greatest source that powers war… He lunged at the creature and began tearing it to pieces with his sword. Brutally stabbing it and hitting it with his hardened fists. The serpent tried relentlessly to get him off its body, but its fate was sealed. No amount of tossing and turning could stop his rage.

Then it was over. He was back the normal, and the wretched thing was dead. He tore it to pieces, there was nothing left.

Now, he needed to check on Shani. He rushed to her side and held her close while checking her vitals. Her wound was not mortal and so, he utilized a few herbs and bandages that she had brought with her to treat the wound. Once the blood stopped dripping, he took a breath of relief.

"You're a reckless woman, Shani… You could have died."

His tone softened. He truly felt fear when he saw her hurt. The first time he ever experienced such a powerful emotion; he could not describe it. Was this the kind of attachment that humans always spoke about? He did not know yet, he would never admit it.

His hands lightly ran through her hair, although, they retreated quite quickly. He opted to merely continue holding her close. He reasoned it was solely for the purpose of guarding her properly. Shani's breathing was now stable, she seemed to search for his warmth in her unconscious state.

He brought her outside, then set up a campfire to sit nearby. It was starting to become cold, so he needed to make sure to keep her temperature stable, while he did so, he observed her.

After a few seconds of silence, he removed his helmet carefully and placed it to the side. His face remained obscured, but that did not matter. He lightly pressed his forehead against her head, it only lasted a few seconds, but he needed to calm his fear in some way or another. He could not feel if she was warm any other way, he reasoned, heat would not pass through the armor. That act put his heart at peace at least.

He didn't have the heart to scold her when she would eventually wake up. He was too focused on her fragility as a human, so he would put that aside to focus on her recovery.

He sighed. This woman managed to throw his brain and heart into a panic. Yet.. he did not dislike it. His heart felt oddly warm as he held her, a kind of warmth that only familiarity could produce. He allowed himself to close his eyes as he relaxed thanks to it.




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