Note: I will be posting a chapter from The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle each day until the book has been fully posted. I am doing this as a way to entertain those who have been coping with the new life of social distancing, social isolation, and quarantine in the world right now in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once complete, I will hold the book on in full on my site until 1/1/2021. On that day, it’ll no longer be accessible for free.
I ask people to share links freely while the book is available, but please do not copy or do anything else without expressed permission from me, the copyright holder.
If you would like to skip ahead, you are always welcome to purchase a copy, just click the link HERE (or click up top at the menu bar) to go to the book’s page where there are links to where it is available in both print and ebook. Enjoy and I hope that you and your family are doing well!
The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle
by Jeremy C Kester
(c) Jeremy C Kester – All Rights Reserved
The following morning Brandt was out still on a mission. Was it the same mission? Had he come home at all? Cadence admitted that it was weird, but without the trolls coming by to tell her that anything happened, she knew he was OK.
“He’s been out a lot more lately,” she remarked walking into room with Agnes. “He used to only go out once or twice a week. Now it feels like every day.”
Agnes was sitting on her bed looking longingly out of the window. She was watching everything and nothing at the same time just trying to distract herself from her own memories. Briefly looking up, Agnes frowned. “I feel something is coming.”
“I can feel it too,” Cadence replied, although her sense of it all wasn’t in the same way Agnes felt. She had only observed the changes in Brandt’s attitude with the more frequent comings and goings of her master. Agnes could truly feel it. Especially after her parents’ deaths, she was becoming more emotionally aware of her senses. “Something has changed,” Cadence continued.
“Can we train again?” Agnes asked. She couldn’t explain the need, but something about wanting to be able to stay alive was a large part of it.
“Sure! I was thinking you wouldn’t be up to it.” A smile grew on both the girls’ faces.
“I really want to be able to swordfight like you can. You are so graceful,” Agnes said wishfully, but hiding her true reasons. “I know that I am OK at it, but I want to learn to be able to fight like you. I don’t want the basics like he’s been making you show me. Brandt said that you were the best with swords he had ever seen. I want to learn from you, not him.”
“He said that?” Cadence asked, surprised by the statement but in turn not believing it at all. Agnes smiled as she nodded. Cadence leaned back with an are-you-pulling-my-leg look to her face.
“I swear he said you were better than he’ll ever be.”
Cadence laughed with an uncertainty hanging around her throat. Nothing about what the girl was telling her made any sense, but she was willing to at least go with it.
“I am sure that you’ll be even better than me.” Cadence tried to sound as assuring as she could. The statement sounded more believable to herself than she believed it would have been to Agnes.
Agnes said excitedly: “do you really think so?”
“Absolutely! You just need to practice.”
Agnes’ head sunk. “I thought you’d say that. I still hate practicing.” Conflict reigned.
Cadence laughed. “It’s how you get better at anything. C’mon, you’ll be fine.”
Agnes grumbled as the pair walked outside.
“Yeah, practice isn’t always fun, but it can’t be avoided,” Cadence said.
At the weapon rack Agnes picked up the Scottish broadsword that she had been using. Cadence stepped in placing her hand on the hilt. A sign that she should another. Agnes put it back.
“Maybe that broadsword won’t do you well right now,” Cadence mused as she examined the weapons racks. She eyed a rapier and picked it up. It felt clunky, but the sword would serve her purpose better. She handed the blade to Agnes who took it careful not to cut Cadence as she lifted it.
Metal filled the air as Cadence unsheathed her own sword. Cadence held Iliad gently in front of her as though she were sparring off against Agnes. Agnes tried to match the stance with the other rapier. She was off balance and held the sword awkwardly. Her face strained as she compared her stance to her instructor’s.
“Don’t think about holding the sword,” Cadence began. “It should feel as natural as though it were just another finger of your hand. Relax your wrist.”
Agnes could feel that the sword wasn’t well balanced. It made it difficult for her to follow Cadence’s instruction. “It’s not balanced,” she admitted aloud.
“You won’t always get to use a well-balanced weapon. Try to ignore that for now. Let it become a part of you. This style of fighting is a dance. You shouldn’t spar, you dance with the enemy.”
“I can’t dance,” Agnes admitted again. Fighting was one thing, dancing another. Dancing was just not something she was interested in. How could sword fighting be like dancing? Seriously?
Cadence swallowed her patience. She was excited to be a teacher herself, not realizing the patience a teacher has to have for the students sometimes. Am I like this? she questioned herself. Continuing still, Cadence replied: “You don’t have to know how to dance. It is all about fluid motion and balance.”
Agnes tried her best to ignore what felt wrong. Even if things don’t go that well, she can still get past it. A few moments in, and Agnes could feel herself being able to release the sword just slightly.
“Each move the attacker makes should be matched equally by the defender. It is leading the dance.” Cadence stepped forward; Agnes matched the movement backwards. “Very good!” Cadence exclaimed with a smile.
Agnes smiled in return.
Cadence continued, “focus on the eyes. Let the rest of your vision show you where to strike. Use your peripheral vision to watch the blade. Your opponent’s eyes will admit far more though.” She stepped forward again now swiping her sword forward. Agnes matched the movement and the swords met with a clang of metal. “Very good. You need to keep the focus on my eyes though.”
Agnes blushed. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it. It’ll take some time to get used to it.”
The two dueled albeit slowly for a short while before Brandt appeared again. He looked at the two briefly, saying nothing, and then went back into the house. The two girls looked at each other and followed. The trolls were inside the house with him as soon as they entered.
“Another is gone?” asked Krag.
Brandt sighed. “Barely anything was left,” his voice sounded distraught.
After fighting Artyom and Hannah, he was sent to another realm. He had been given no time to recoup from the fight. The results were not to his liking.
“I knew him. He was a good friend.”
Krag asked, “how is the girl training?”
“It’s been a few days. She’s barely able to hold a sword without dropping it,” Brandt dismissed. It was a lie, but he didn’t trust them. “She’s just not ready.”
Lef laughed appearing next to the other conduit. “I told you she was not ready.”
Hiding around the corner, Agnes shrank back. What little confidence she gained through the day was washing away. Part of her wanted to go and show him that she was far better than that, but that part lost out. She sensed the fear Brandt had, and the sorrow. Cadence could not.
Brandt’s mission was to investigate another Sentry’s death. No sooner had he finished with the two dark Sentries was he then sent elsewhere. It was a young Sentry, the one he had trained before Cadence. Cadence knew him too as the three of them often found themselves on missions together. “I am hearing that this is happening all over the world,” Brandt explained. “How can this be?”
“There are increasingly fewer left of your kind,” Lef responded.
Brandt shot the conduit an angry look. “No shit, troll.”
“The barriers are becoming weaker,” Krag continued. “And the dark realms are growing in strength.”
“What do you expect me to do?” Brandt reasoned.
“Train the girl. She is hope.”
If you would like to skip ahead, you are always welcome to purchase a copy, just click the link HERE (or click up top at the menu bar) to go to the book’s page where there are links to where it is available in both print and ebook.