05.16.3014: A Squire is Heard
Summary: Klaudea brings Phelan to be tested by Anabethe's knight. Anabethe listens and discusses the squires ideas and thoughts with her.
Date: 7 January, 2103
Related: The Doghouse
Anabethe Klaudea 

Barracks Volkan, The Crescent
At the base of the Blackspyre are several floors of barracks, training facilities, armories, and cafeterias, all built to house the defenders of House Khournas in rough comfort. Soldiers are bunked in rooms each large enough to sleep 50, with lockers and desks alongside each bed. Deep within the barracks levels, close to the training areas, are communal bathhouses, some set aside for single-sex use and others open to members of both sexes. There, the soldiers and nobles of House Khournas can soak away the aches of a hard day's labor. The corridors are all narrow enough that two soldiers could hold them against a tide, except those leading from assembly areas to great doors that open to the exterior surface of Volkan, allowing the soldiers of House Khournas to march out already in formation if need be.
16 May, 3013

There's a light chatter from the hall as two figures approach, the squire Klaudea, and a youngster who has the gangly limbs and spare face of one who's just gone through a few inches growth spurt. Even with her lack of height, though, he does still have to look up a little to speak with Klaudea.

"So, you know Morrigan and Blue Sister?" he asks curiously as they walk.

Klaudea's head inclines once as she walks with her hands clasped behind her back. "I do," she replies. "Morrigan is a very good friend of mine, and he asked me to help keep a promise made to you to try and find a knight. He assured me that you were serious in your yearning to be a knight. Was he telling true?" The hazel eyes look to the stripling, seeking contact with the other's blue ones to read the veracity. "Sir Virlan will not want to find his time wasted."

The young shoulders square at the questioning, and the lad looks her straight back in the eye. "I am sure. Blue Sister told me about the Six, and how it's more than just fighting, that you serve the people of Haven in many ways."

Giving a nod, Klaudea continues on. "Best of luck to you, then young Phelan."

Sir Virlan is an older man, into his sixties, but he's kept himself in good shape. A man from a military family, he's been in service to House Khournas for most of his life, and has a no-nonsense attitude about him, as unflappable as the mountains. He's also roughly the size of a mountain, six and a half feet tall, with broad shoulders that would look as much at home in a blacksmith's forge as in the training ring. It serves him well at the moment, sparring with Anabethe in one of the training areas. Though he's not so quick as the heir, he shrugs off most of her blows, offering staid commentary on her technique.

The two new arrivals stop at the edge of the training area, waiting to be acknowledged. Phelan glances sideways at Klaudea's shoulder width stance and hands clasped behind her back in an 'at ease' fashion, and does his best to emulate it. "He's… huge!" he whispers in awe to Klaudea.

The squire gives a little grin and nods. "He is."

Note only is he huge, but he knows what he's doing. As Anabethe overextends herself, he reaches out with one paw, lightly tapping at her hip and sending the Khourni heir sprawling with a grin that splits his craggy face. "Every time," he chuckles in a deep voice, offering a hand down to help Anabethe back up. "Every time," she agrees ruefully, brushing herself off and looking toward where Klaudea and Phelan wait. "Ah, and here are our visitors," she says, raising a hand to the pair.

Smiling at the banter between the two, Klaudea stands a little straighter as they are addressed. "Good morning, Young Lady Sir Anabethe," she replies, giving the proper bow, which, surprisingly, young Phelan seems to know as well, as he doesn't so much copy it, but completes it almost simultaneously when he hears the name. "I have brought young Phelan Travers to meet with Sir Virlan," she turns her attention to the older man and nods appropriately to him as well. Once more, Phelan follows suit.

"Hmmm, looks a bit scrawny," Sir Virlan chuckles, holding out a hand toward the boy.

Anabethe steps back, making room for the pair to get acquainted while she moves toward Klaudea. "He'll give him a fair testing," she murmurs to the younger woman, looking back at the knight with a small, fond smile. "He's a good knight. Doesn't waste his time, not a lot of flash, but he's competent. And he doesn't let anything but what needs to be done figure into his training. Part of why Da sent me his way, honestly," she explains. "He knew he'd make sure I didn't get too full of myself."

The boy is definitely awed by the man, and it takes him a moment to take the hand extended to him but then he nods once. "Thank you for giving me a chance Sir Virlan. I grew three inches last month, I'm hoping I'll be tall like my father." He doesn't look back to Klaudea, and she gives a grin as she watches him.

"Sir Anabethe, I am grateful that he's been given a chance," she replies earnestly, moving off with the woman to let Phelan show his worth on his own. When she glances towards the knight and heir, there's a suspicious shine in her eyes, but it definitely has a happy cause. "This means more to me than I can tell you, and of course I trust that he'll get a fair trial."

"He's been talking about retiring," Anabethe cautions. "But Da and I've been trying to nudge him into more of a training role. I'm sort of hoping the kid reminds him what it was like," she admits, watching the pair with a small smile, full of her own memories. As boy and knight go about their business, she turns back toward Klaudea more, looking her over. "How's your training been lately?" she asks, arching a brow. "Thalo seemed…a bit short the other night."

The squire bites her lip and turns away, unconsciously resuming her at ease position. "Sir Thalo has been away a lot. He leaves training for me to do, and I complete it." Klaudea pauses. "Sir Anabethe, I don't know if he or your sister told you, but it was me that went into the factory to try and disarm the bomb. He's been… upset with me since that night. I've never fully understood why, but I've tried my best in every way to prove myself to him." She momentarily glances down to the ground between her feet. "I don't think… I understand Sir Thalo very well, and I seem to be doing the wrong thing every time I do actually get to see him."

"Sir Thalo is…" Anabethe takes a deep breath, considering her words. "He's The Wall. He's an institution. I'm not sure I really expected him to take on a squire," she admits. "But I can see where he might have gotten a certain impression. And I can see where he wouldn't want to really budge on that." She reaches up to rub a hand at the back of her neck, pensive. "I'd offer to talk to him, but I've got a feeling that would just make things worse, honestly."

There's a quick shake to her head. "No, please, Sir Anabethe," she says urgently turning towards the woman. "I don't want anyone to talk to him for me. Lady Reena offered the same, and I asked her not to. I want the chance to explain how things are to him myself… if he'll let me, but I'm not sure he will." She pauses. "He seems to have… a very fixed opinion, and doesn't want to be budged." She glances over to the two males, then shakes her head once. "I never understood why he took me on. He told me to get into the ring five minutes after he informed me of Sir Urik's death. Said he would test me, and then he would assign me to a knight based on the test. I don't think I could have fought too well, I honestly don't remember any of it. Just him telling me to report to him the next day when we were finished."

"I'd say your key, then, is going to be finding out why he decided to take you on himself, then," Anabethe muses, shaking her head. "But I'm not the one to tell you how to get that information. I've always been a straight up and ask sort of girl myself. Thalo's one of the best, as far as knights go," she adds, letting out a slow breath. "If you want to learn how to fight, you aren't going to find many who could do it better."

Klaudea nods, and is quiet for a bit. Finally she asks, "Sir Anabethe, something Sir Thalo said… it makes me wonder." There's a quick exhale from her nose, "does Sir Thalo have anything on his mind /but/ fighting?" She pauses. "I know, it may appear differently, with what happened in the bar, but I don't wish to be disprespectful, but… I want to learn more than just how to fight. Sir Urik was teaching me that there's more, he was teaching me /to/ teach. He said knights need to be able to pass on what they know, they need to be able to inspire others, to treat all Havenites justly. He told me if all I wanted was to learn to fight, I could go be a soldier. His way of teaching was different. Not necessarily better, just.. different."

"If he does, I'd say he keeps it to himself," Anabethe snorts softly. "I think Thalo's a fighting knight. Sir Virlan," she nods toward the big man, "He's more of a teaching knight. There are political knights, too. Religious knights. Ones who inspire others on the field. We may say our oaths to all the gods, but we can't all of us be everything. Sometimes we just have to be the best we can be."

A little smile manages to find it's way to Klaudea's lips, the girl seems to be relaxing a little more. "Perhaps that's part of the reason we are having difficulties," she wonders. "Maybe I fought well enough that he thought I would be a good fighter, and so he's focused on that. But, it's not the reason I became a knight, Sir Anabethe. I became a knight to fight for the people of Haven, yes. But I also became a knight for people like Phelan." She nods towards the boy. "A teaching would be wonderful for him, he really is a sponge. Everything I've taught him, he just soaks it up, and he's managed to keep his nose clean in a place where a lot of kids give up."

Anabethe nods, quiet. "Different skills for different people. Just like the rest of Haven," she points out, looking over with a small smile. "Each of us has different strengths. Using them is what matters. If you were still a kid?" She looks back to Phelan, shrugging. "Maybe Thalo could change that. But I think you're sort of at a point in your training where you're more or less the person you're going to become. All you need is a little finishing work."

Dipping her head to look at the ground, Klaudea sighs. "I do consider it a great honor to be chosen to squire for Sir Thalo," she says quietly. "I think you are right, though. I think, sometimes, Sir Thalo is trying to mold me from scratch, and that I'm not exactly fit for the mold he wants. I thought, though, it would be considered a cop out for failing to be a good squire. I thought a squire is supposed to be what their knight wishes them to be."

"A squire is supposed to be a knight in training," Anabethe shrugs. "That means taking orders, sure. And there's some molding that goes on. But what it means to be a knight has been spelled out in the oaths. That's what a squire has to achieve. More than that? Well, that's a preference. And everyone has their own area of talent. I've always been a fighter," she explains. "But in the last year or so, I've had to be more than that. I've had to be a planner, and an organizer. I've had to do more teaching than I'd usually expect. I'm not great at it always. But it's what Haven needs."

Klaudea nods as she listens. Her hands flap a couple of times behind her back as she flexes her wrists. "Sir Anabethe, may I make an observation? About something you and Sir Thalo were discussing?"

Anabethe's brows rise as she looks back to the squire. "Sure," she answers, nodding once. "Hit me with your best shot."

Taking a deep breath to compose before she speaks, Klaudea gives herself a nod. "It's about how knights aren't very good at working together?" She glances once around the barracks. "I do not think it has as much to do with being noble born or citizen born. If you look at the way we train, we're assigned to a knight who is entrusted with teaching use. Until recently, I'd only ever worked with Sir Urik. Then, we go to a chapel, hold vigil on our own for a night, and then we receive our spurs and are sent out to teach a squire to become a knight. We're raised with the idea of being honorable, being all that a knight should be." She looks over to Anabethe. "Everything about that philosophy is individualized, even isolating, if you will."

She loosens one of her hands, and waves it at the barracks around them. "Soldiers, on the other hand, are all thrown together in a large group from day one. From the first day they're doing their exercises in unison, their drills in unison… they even speak and walk in unison. They're taught from the first day that they are /part/ of a whole, not to be /the/ whole." She pauses. "Perhaps the reason knights find it hard to work together is because they've been seperated out from the beginning as something better, more special than a soldier. Perhaps if more training took place in larger groups, with squires learning from the beginning to work with other squires, then they'd be more attuned to how to work together when they become knights."

Anabethe listens, a small smile curving at the conclusion. "You're not wrong," she agrees. "Although I think it depends on the knight. When I was trained," she nods toward the pair still trying each other out, "It was with the understanding that I wasn't just training to be a warrior. I was training to be an officer. That meant I'd need to work with the people I was commanding. I'd need to understand them. I'd need to be an example to them. And I'd sure as hell need to understand their training. Because a battle is a big picture. It's not about one knight's deeds."

"It may," Klaudea agrees, a light that is more than just relief at not being told off for impertinence in her eyes. "As you said, some knights are teaching knights, and you had a very good one." Her lips part slightly, but they don't open all the way to form any words. Instead, she just gives a little smile and turns to see how Phelan is doing. He's a quick lad, although sometimes the new length of his limbs can get in the way.

Sir Virlan is a patient knight, and to judge by the exchange in progress, one who enjoys teaching. Phelan's prospects are looking promising. "It's cultural, too," Anabethe adds. "Khourni knights are less prone to fucking around on the field. The bulk of our strength is in our foot soldiers, and we get trained to command that way, too. It's different with the Valen and the Arboren. Their strengths aren't things that rely on working together so much. Problem is, they don't seem to know how to adjust to an actual battlefield."

Klaudea nods. "Cultural difference like that didn't matter so much when there wasn't a common enemy. And, it's possible that some of our foot soldier tactics wouldn't work in The Spine," she allows. "But now, we can't afford too many differences. Everyone needs to start working together, or at least learning some of the same basic formations as everyone else, so that when we have to band together, we're all speaking the same language on the battlefield." Her throat moves visibly as she swallows. "Is it really as chaotic as I've heard out there?"

"I don't know what you've heard, but probably more," Anabethe answers honestly, rueful. "It's noisy. It's not clear on the ground. In the aftermath, from a distance, you can see how troops moved, how forces maneuvered. When you're in the thick of it? All you know is the Hostile in front of you. If you're lucky or good, you can at least keep track of your allies around you, know who needs help."

The description is listened to with head tilted slightly sideways, Klaudea's hands now safely behind her back again in at ease stance. "Have you had any luck discerning patterns in the Hostile's movements?" she asks, taking full advantage of not being silenced to ask all the questions she can while she can. "When you look at the feed after, that is?"

Anabethe laughs, shaking her head. "I wish. But it all seems pretty standard so far, except they have some vastly superior discipline. If you really want to talk about Hostile tactics, you ought to talk to Vic. He's sort of our in-house expert on the details of the Hostiles. I'm still gathering intel myself."

A whisful yearning flashes across Klaudea's features, the squire too easy to read, and she turns back to watching again. "I would love to learn more about tactics and… a lot more." The bleak look tells clearly that she doesn't believe that can be in the cards for her right now. She takes a breath, and then manages another smile. "Thank you for talking with me Sir Anabethe. I appreciate it. And, for Phelan's chance. He's a good lad."

Anabethe arches a brow. "You're old enough to have some say in your training," she says slowly. "If you want to learn some new things, you've got free time. Hit up the people who know. Vic'll talk your ear off about the Hostiles," she adds with a slight roll of her eyes. "He'd be glad to have the excuse to talk to someone, bounce ideas back and forth."

She's silent for a long moment, but then she gives a shake of her head. "I do not believe Sir Thalo shares that view with you, Sir Anabethe," she says quietly. "He has already made it clear how he feels about me challenging his lessons and orders. He runs a tight ship, as they say." She pauses. "What does that saying even mean?"

"What you do with your free time is your own," Anabethe shrugs. "So long as you keep your mouth shut when you're on duty. Which…" she trails off, grimacing. "Well. It's none of my business. But I'll put it out to the Drakes that they're welcome to talk with you if you want to explore some of the other aspects of being a Knight. We're a diverse group."

Klaudea's brows knit together, troubled, and she opens her mouth. But then she shuts it and nods. "Thank you, Sir Anabethe," she says quietly. Her jaw closes a little tighter when she's finished speaking, as if holding words in.

Anabethe eyes that look, but doesn't interrupt. Instead, she reaches out to clap a hand to Klaudea's shoulder. "I've got a meeting to get to," she says quietly. "But this seems to be going well. Don't give up, okay?" she urges with a squeeze. "It might suck balls sometimes, but it could be worse. You could be pregnant, and married to a complete douchbag," she adds cheerfully.

Nodding mutely, Klaudea takes a moment, giving a bite to her lip. "I won't give up. I admit, though. I wish I could talk to Sir Thalo the way I can talk to you, Sir Anabethe. I feel… grown up, for once." Then she bites on her words again. "I'm sorry. I did not meant to sound as if I was criticizing Sir Thalo."

"Relax, Klaudea," Anabethe laughs softly, shaking her head as she steps back. "I'm not going to tattle on you. Besides, bitching is an honored pastime among knights and soldiers alike. I'd be worried if you didn't have anything to bitch about," she winks.

Klaudea is perplexed at the response. "Oh," is all she can think of for the moment. "Well, I do still wish Sir Thalo was more like you. And that I /could/ do what I wish with my free time. However, I don't think talking with Sir Victor is something that Sir Thalo would object to me doing. If you're sure he won't mind my questions, I would like to do that."

"Sounds like Sir Thalo's not busy enough, if he's got time to worry about you learning from people," Anabethe drawls, stepping away and picking up a towel on her way out. "Offer's open," she says simply, smile flashing. "And I'd wager there'll be another one," she adds toward where Sir Virlan and Phelan seem to be getting along swimmingly.

"Or too busy," Klaudea murmurs to herself as she turns to look. A true smile lights her face at that. "I haven't seen Phelan in almost five months. He has shot up a lot. I really hope you're right." She blinks and glances over. "What offer?"

"The one to talk to people other than Thalo," Anabethe clarifies. "You decide you're ready to chance it, then we'll be around. I've got to catch that meeting," she says, checking a device on her wrist. "But tell the kid congratulations for me, okay?" She grins, and then she's headed back out into the Blackspyre.

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