I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, New Years, and holiday season! I’m excited to begin this new year
This is a first scene from a short series of extras I’m working on set in the world of Erdemen Honor. It’s not a complete story or anything, just a little snippet. I’m also making good progress on Book3 and the new urban fantasy novel, tentatively titled Invisible. You can check out the Kickstarter project for Book3 here.
Chavo ran his hands over his face and through his hair. He’d arrived only the night before, barely in time for dinner. He was tired from the long ride and had stayed up late unpacking and organizing his papers in preparation for the day. He’d never taught before. It didn’t come naturally.
But with his wounded leg, he wouldn’t be fighting again. Aside from the ache that never really went away, the loss of friends and career was still fresh.
He didn’t know his fellow teachers. Didn’t know whether he wanted to. He longed for the squad he had left behind, part of the Second Kedani out of Ironcrest. Of course, some of them would swing through Kesterlin on occasion, and they’d eat and drink and reminisce together. But it wasn’t the same.
He was up early, stretched and exercised and ready to teach. But he didn’t know the routine of the school, and he was too early. The boys also exercised in the morning, and his class wouldn’t begin until they were done. He waited in his classroom. He didn’t want to watch them exercise, wanted to put off his career as a teacher a little bit longer.
After an hour, he limped to the canteen for breakfast. Bread and cheese and hot tea that he nursed morosely, staring at the table by himself. Finally, after a very long while, he decided that he’d waited long enough and limped back to his classroom. The exercise ground was silent and empty, and he hurried then, realizing he’d taken too long.
He rounded the corner of the hall and slowed as he neared the room. It wouldn’t do to look flustered on his first day. The unevenness in his steps irritated him, and he tried to make them equal, but it didn’t quite work.
The boys sat at long tables facing the front of the room. Backs straight, they watched him enter in disciplined silence.
Chavo had wanted the older students first, but the headmaster had scheduled them for later. This class was the eight and nine year olds, and they didn’t have the grasp of strategy that the older students would. He knew it was unfair, knew they hadn’t had time yet to learn, but still he expected their ignorance to annoy him.
“How far can a horse travel in one day? Assuming a good horse and adequate provisions.” He looked at a boy in the front row.
“Thirteen or fourteen leagues?” His voice was hesitant.
“What is your name?”
Chavo looked at another student.
“Ten leagues?” he guessed.
“Seventeen?” asked another student.
“And you?” He nodded toward the dark-skinned boy, the only one who wasn’t fair and blond.
“It depends on the terrain.” The boy was quiet.
“You are all correct.” Chavo smiled, willing himself to be fair to the boys. It was not their fault they were young. “But Kemen brings up a good point. A good horse, bred for distance and in good condition, with good provision and an experienced rider over relatively easy terrain, could go as far as thirty leagues in twenty four hours.”
The boys’ eyes widened.
“But that’s assuming a lot. It requires rest stops with water. It requires a good rider. It requires easy terrain. For the sake of discussion of tactics, we will assume no more than fourteen leagues a day, as Yuudai said. That’s a stiff pace for a group of suvari, because you have to consider the weight of the armor, weapons, and provisions as well. A less hurried pace, if you’re not trying to surprise the enemy with your speed, would be more on the order of ten or twelve leagues.”
He turned to the black slate board on the wall and drew with a piece of chalk. The rough outlines of Erdem took shape, with Stonehaven marked as a large circle near the center, Kesterlin just south, and Llewton a little to the east of Kesterlin. Pirketa was on the western coast, and Ironcrest near the northeastern border. He drew lines between them and marked the distances.
“Now then. If you want to travel from Kesterlin to Pirketa, and you want to arrive by the sixteenth of Kugatsu, when do you need to leave?”
He watched the boys as they tried to do the math in their head. The dark-skinned boy, Kemen, stared at the map, his lips pressed tight together.
The boy looked at him. Chavo tried not to recoil at the eerie green gaze. He was just a child, after all, and Chavo chided himself for being so disconcerted.
“On the fifth.” His answer was almost inaudible.
“Close. On the third or fourth, unless you plan to ride hard.”
The boy stared at him expressionlessly.
“That’s all for today. Tonight read the first forty pages of Ardgiter and we will discuss the implications when we next meet on Pajda.” This class met only twice a week, and he needed the reminder as much as they did.
“Yes, sir.” The boys bowed their heads as they rose.
Chavo watched them file out of the room. Thirty nine students. It was the largest of his classes, but not by much. At least they were not unruly.