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A Hero's Journey: Squire

by precious_katuch14


Chapter 6: Will

     “He said he wasn’t good enough to be my squire,” said Rohane, burying his face into his hands. “I knew equipping a squire was a bad idea. If anything, I’m not good enough to be a knight-master!”

     “Whoa, whoa, you’re not a stinker anymore, so quit acting like one,” Jeran answered, rolling his eyes. “What makes you think you’re not good enough?”

     “I’ve been patient with him, and I can see that he’s improving a little, each day. But he’s still…”

     Jeran shook his head and cut him off with a wave of his hand. As he shuffled some papers off his desk and unceremoniously stashed them into a drawer, he said, “That’s one of the hardest things to learn as a knight-master. You can’t change everything about your squire, and some parts of him…” The Blue Lupe let out a breath. “Some parts of him may never change, no matter what you do.”

     “I understand that. But…”

     “And,” Jeran went on, “considering who you are, most folks would have high expectations for Cavall. The international champion and swordmaster, Sir Rohane of Trestin, teaching a squire? That squire must be at the top of his class!’”

     Rohane groaned and threw up his hands. “You sound like Duke Justin. See what I mean?”

     “That doesn’t mean you’re not a good mentor!” Jeran retorted, slapping the surface of his table. “It’s just the way Neopia sees you, and it rubs off on Cavall. Poor kid winds up with too much pressure on his shoulders…”

     “I thought we already talked about this after the Discovery of Meridell banquet,” the White Blumaroo said, placing his elbow on Jeran’s table sullenly. “Everyone makes mistakes, that’s what I told him. I even told him about that food fight during King Skarl’s birthday.”

     Jeran chuckled. “Heh, we may have gotten kitchen duty, and we may have been idiots, but it was worth it just to take you down – “ He was interrupted when Rohane lightly punched him on the arm. “Hey! What was that for?”

     “Shhh, I haven’t told him that I lost to you that day.”

     After clearing his throat, the Blue Lupe said, “That was one thing. That’s over and done with – the Discovery of Meridell incident, I mean. But the pressure has probably been building in Cavall, and it bubbled up today. We can’t change how others see him, but we can help him see himself differently. Help him find the will to succeed.”

     * * *

     “Sir Rohane has always been good to me,” said Cavall as he slid into the seat in front of Will. The two boys had sought solace in the library, and even though the Purple Bori had opened a book and a scroll, he paid far more attention to Cavall’s story. “I was the last squire to be picked. Probably because I’m terrible at swordsmanship. But Sir Rohane took me in and started teaching me, and…well, he makes sense, I understand what he means, but it’s so hard to put it all in practice. When I try to copy what he does, I trip all over my own feet.”

     “Becoming a knight sounds hard. I think I’d be the same,” Will commented. He fingered a corner of the page of his book. “I don’t even have any experience fighting because my father wouldn’t let me become a knight.”

     “Why not?”

     Will furrowed his brow. “My family funded the knights during the past wars. We nearly went bankrupt, and he hasn’t forgiven the knights since.” Then the Bori made a face and added, “He’d look at me and be all, ‘Wilfrith, I forbid you from becoming a knight.’” He gestured with a flourish, nearly sending his scroll fluttering to the floor.

     “Wilfrith?” Cavall repeated. Any further questions were silenced by a claw to his mouth.

     “Just ‘Will’ is fine. Oh, sorry, you were telling your story, right? Was that why you were looking sad? Because the lessons are hard?”

     Cavall glanced away and saw Joanna exiting the library with her knight-master, Lady Colleen. The Green Zafara was eagerly carrying books and chatting away in hushed tones with the Royal Blumaroo. He noticed that the sword Colleen carried was not like the broadsword Rohane preferred; it was sleek and thin and had a delicate beauty to it despite being a weapon. He turned back toward Will after seeing Colleen clap with delight at something Joanna said.

     “Everyone expects me to be good at everything just because I’m Sir Rohane’s squire,” Cavall mumbled as he sank slightly into his chair. “I…I tried to prove that I could be his squire, but he had to save me, and the worst part is, everyone saw me climbing out of the sewer and just…ugh, I couldn’t even unclog the sewers.” The Blue Cybunny folded his arms on the surface of the table and rested his chin on them.

     After not turning a single page, Will closed his book with a snap.

     “You know what? I bet Sir Rohane saw something in you that made him decide to get a squire,” the Purple Bori remarked.

     “Or he picked me because he felt sorry for me,” said Cavall blearily.

     “No!” Will gasped and clapped his claws over his mouth when quite a few heads turned toward his direction. Dropping his voice, he said, “He wouldn’t have let you become his squire without a very good reason. He believes in you!”

     “How do you know that?”

     “Well, isn’t he still teaching you?”

     “He sounded mad when we got out of the sewer…”

     “Because he was worried about you!” Will leaned forward. “He was worried something would happen to you. He cares about you, and I know that because once upon a time, he and Sir Jeran saved my life!”

     Cavall stared at him. “W-Wait, he did? They did?”

     “They did! I wandered away from the castle, got lost, and they found me, and I got to see them fight and take down bandits who were trying to kidnap me!” Will sounded cheerful, Cavall observed, for someone who nearly became a kidnap victim. “And they took care of me, made sure I had food and water and a place to sleep…that’s why I believe Sir Rohane cares about you, just like he and Sir Jeran looked out for me years ago!” He paused. “Wait, Cavall, why did you want to become a knight? Did you want to be a hero, just like Cavall the Cybunny hero?”

     At first, the Blue Cybunny was silent, choosing to pluck at his sleeves while his mouth remained a taut line. He saw Theodosia in his mind’s eye, telling him that he could study at the castle, maybe become a knight one day, just like the legendary Cavall whose name he had taken when he threw away his old name.

     “Mmm, I want to help others, and Theodosia believed in me.”

     “Who’s Theodosia?”

     “She’s…er, she found me on the streets and adopted me. I didn’t have any parents before I met her.” The lie was practiced, but it still gave Cavall a mild pang in his stomach, realizing how automatic it had become. “But she died…before I moved up to becoming a squire.”

     “Oh.” Will reached out to touch Cavall’s shoulder. “I’m sorry. But I bet if she could see you now, she’d be so proud of you.”

     Cavall could imagine the Red Elephante’s kind smile, and how she was so supportive of everything he did. He looked at the Bori’s claw on his shoulder.

     “You’ll become a great knight for her, won’t you? You can do it. I know you can! Especially when you have Sir Rohane mentoring you!”

     “But how do you know?” the Cybunny asked. “We just met today. How can you be so sure?”

     Will merely grinned – a grin so infectious that Cavall couldn’t help but smile wanly back.

     “Heh, trust me! You’re already on the way!”

     “Cavall, there you are.”

     The two boys craned their necks to see Rohane striding toward them.

     “Ah, I’m so sorry, I was supposed to clean your sword and – “

     “Sir Rohane!” Will leapt up from his chair and hurried over to give him a big hug. At first, the White Blumaroo was caught off-guard, but he merely relaxed and patted Will on the head. “How’ve you been? I finally got to meet your squire, and he was telling me all about you and how you’re teaching him!”

     After Will finally broke away from him, Rohane shook his head at Cavall. “No, that’s all right. I already cleaned it up.”

     The Blue Cybunny let out a strangled yelp that earned him a shush from a Vandagyre on a nearby table. Dropping his voice, he said, “I’m really, really, sorry, Will wanted to talk to me and I thought it wasn’t going to take long.”

     “Oh, was he supposed to be somewhere?” Will asked. He winced. “Sorry, I did just want to talk to him, I wanted to know what it was like to be your squire and all.”

     “B-But it’s okay!” Cavall said, facing Will and raising his hands as though in surrender. “It…um, it was a good talk.”

     “It was? Really?” That’s great!”

     “Y-Yeah…thanks, Will.”

     “No problem!”

     As the two boys babbled and other library patrons watched them in varying degrees of annoyance, Rohane would glance from one to the other, his mouth twitching to conceal an incipient smile.

     * * *

     Become a great knight for Theodosia…

     Cavall grunted as he tried to lift the sword that he was swinging to block Joanna’s incoming strike. However, the Green Zafara was quicker; she leaned away, dropped down, and kicked at his ankles. Caught by surprise, he toppled over onto the grass and could only sit there as she pointed her blade at his throat.

     Colleen beamed as she stood up from the bench. “Well done, Joanna. And of course, that was a valiant effort from young Cavall.”

     He sighed as he used his sword to pull himself back onto his feet.

     “Are you okay?”

     Once he was standing up and breathing hard, he gripped his sword tightly and stared hard at his knight-master.

     “Please, let me do that again.”

     “You mean the parry?” Rohane asked. “Don’t you want to take a break? You’ve been practising with your fellow squires.”

     Cavall shook his head even though his face was scrunched up with discomfort and he tried to lean on his sword again. Sweat beaded his face, and he filled his thoughts with Theodosia, and seeing Rohane proud of him, and Will, the Bori who was so optimistic for him…


     The Cybunny gasped. “S-Sir?”

     “I said, you should probably take a break.”

     “But I can still practice! Watch!” Cavall raised his sword and braced himself before drawing back – and the sword flew out of his grasp. Before he could control himself, he groaned loudly and dropped to his knees, willing himself not to cry.

     Rohane shook his head but looked from the fallen sword to his squire thoughtfully before reaching out to help him up. “Why don’t you do your homework for the magistrates first, after your break? I heard the math and etiquette masters have been merciless lately. Do your stretches first so you won’t wake up aching all over like last time, by the way.”

     “R-Right.” While Cavall began stretching his arms and lunging on the grass – though not without his ankles trembling slightly – the White Blumaroo walked over to the sword and picked it up, hefting it in his hand. It was a regulation sword, albeit lighter than a broadsword, which he preferred. He scrutinized its blade, tried a few passes, and replayed Cavall’s exercises for that day in his mind before following them with Cavall’s sword, demonstrating such perfect balance and form that Lady Colleen had to pull an enthralled Joanna away.

     Just as Rohane was finishing the routine, he saw Cavall waddle toward him, hands clasped together in supplication and brow furrowed in determination.

     “Please, sir. I did my stretches, but I want to do the passes again. Just one more time. I think…I think I can do them now.”

     “Cavall, even I need to rest and cool down.”


     The Cybunny so rarely asked Rohane for anything, let alone as passionately, so the knight let out a sigh and handed the sword back to him.

     “All right, but after this, I am ordering you to rest.”

     Cavall nodded and gripped the sword, aware of the weight in his hands. This time, it felt like everything else around him was muted and distant as he raised the blade and began swinging it the way he had done so many times before. For a moment, he thought he was going to complete the passes, left and right, down and up –

     The sword suddenly felt like it weighed as much as five swords in his grasp. He wavered, feeling his legs turn to jelly beneath him, and he would have fallen over if Rohane hadn’t reached out to steady him, his hand against the side of the sword.

     The squire deflated, lowering his weapon. “I guess I still can’t do it.”

     “Not yet,” said Rohane. To Cavall’s surprise, his knight-master was smiling. “But I think I know what you need.”

     “You…you do?”

     “Yes. But I’ll have to ask permission to bring you to Trestin.”

To be continued…

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