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 two conduits stood at varying angles inside of the kitchen. Brandt realized that their insistence to stand at positions that defied the natural laws of this realm bothered him. There was an ever growing list of characteristics that bothered him about them. It would be easier to amass a list of traits that he was at least tolerant of. There were none.
He winced as they spoke. “Bring the girl,” Lef said. The sound reminded Brandt of a poorly tuned accordion being pushed through a blender.
“She’s not ready, troll,” he snorted back. “I will not be able to handle whatever the hell is out there and keep her safe. You still haven’t been able to tell me why Hannah attacked me and why I had to kill another of us after I was attacked by a damned Ammit!”
There was silence. Brandt slammed his fist into the counter. A cracking sound shot through the room matching the crack that appeared in the granite.
“Anger will not seek answers,” Krag cackled.
Brandt gripped the troll up and a pop suddenly carried the conduit out of the mortal realm. Lef spoke in a rough approximation of a cat howling through a nasty throat infection. “Take the girl. She will be safer with your presence,” the small creature said before following with a pop, leaving the realm as well.
Brandt’s fists clenched tight as he ground his teeth in frustration. He was as scared as he was frustrated. He feared coming across Hannah again while trying to also defend Agnes. Knowledge that Agnes was powerful enough to hold her own didn’t change that she was grotesquely unpracticed. She had no time to hone her skills to anything over novice.
He breathed deep, pushing the emotions back down. He looked at the window at the young girl. She was again practicing with a hand-and-a-half sword. Her movements were jerky and too wide. She was still trying to put strength into her swings rather than relying on the weapon. She needed to keep the weapon closer to guard herself, to retain control. Even if she were to gently slice across a demon, she could channel her strength in a way that would harm it far more than were she to get a clean, strong swing.
It’s her youth, he thought to himself. Only Cadence had ever not tried swinging wildly from the start. And though that girl had always preferred a fencing style using Iliad, she was a near master in any blade she picked.
But even more than most, Agnes felt as though she had something to prove and fought even more furiously than was necessary. It only furthered her frustration with the progress she failed to make. No matter the number of times that Brandt would remind her of her age, of the fact that she was young and had years yet to master the craft, none of it mattered. She desired to know it immediately.
There was another swing and he noticed Agnes go off balance. It was subtle but noticeable. One who hadn’t been trained in swordsmanship likely would have never noticed it. After a few more similar to that, he grew tired of watching her.
Had he not been instructed to take her along, he would not have been overly concerned right then. So she couldn’t swing a sword properly? Had her parents not given her training? He thought back and had remembered that she had been trained. So why was she unravelling like that and going backwards?
Brandt stepped out loud enough that Agnes would recognize his presence.
As soon as she heard him, she paused. “I know I’m doing it wrong,” she said. Her intention was to divert any possible criticism that Brandt had been thinking to dispense to her. She knew it was likely to not work, but she tried.
“Then why do it that way?” He stepped up just beyond sword’s length from her and tried not to cross his arms. He wanted to and felt uncomfortable otherwise.
Agnes looked at him pleadingly for a moment as though his questions would torture her. She just wanted to swing the sword and be left alone. “I am frustrated,” she stated slumping her shoulders. “Cadence told me when I am frustrated I could swing a sword.”
“Ah,” Brandt said with a faint smile. “And here I was afraid that you were naïve about swinging that. Why don’t you come at me,” he said. “First do it the way you were just doing it, then how you were trained.”
She glared at him inquisitively. “Why?”
“You wouldn’t ask that if you knew what I am about to show you. Come at me.”
Agnes stood still as the sword dangled loosely at the side in her hand. She was honestly afraid to go at him, but she couldn’t see the obvious nature of his lesson.
“Attack!” he urged. “Don’t worry, you won’t hit me. I won’t let you.”
Agnes knew that she wasn’t going to touch him. She knew that given her little training, Brandt would easily take her down, even without a blade in his own hand. Relenting to his instruction, she brought her sword up in a high guarded position, but then, just as she had been doing earlier, she lunged at Brandt placing as much force into her swing as she could. The swing was not quick enough that Brandt easily side-stepped it. Before she was even aware, Agnes was on the ground.
“You put yourself off balance when you swing like that. Shall we try again?”
“NO!” Agnes yelled as her face flushed red with the anger of her age. She realized exactly what he had meant to teach, and it frustrated her more.
Brandt’s lips pursed together as he fought the urge to lash out at her in return. His own anger would only worsen the situation. “I will not knock you down again. I just want to show you the value of never swinging too widely in a real fight. You can’t make that mistake while you and I are on our mission today.”
Brandt watched as Agnes’ face turned from anger to confusion as though she wasn’t sure that she heard what he said correctly. A moment lingered as she looked at him quizzically. “What?”
“You are coming with me,” he said sternly despite knowing that the information would instantly change her mood. “I cannot have you unable to at least defend yourself. So I want to show you why not to do what you were doing, no matter how angry you are.”
Agnes leapt up off of the ground and hugged Brandt. It was about the belief that he trusted her. Her being taken with him meant that she was less of a burden. She had no idea that his hand was forced, but it wouldn’t matter anyway. “Thank you,” she whispered. “Don’t thank me yet, apprentice. We have some work to do.”
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.