The week passed far faster than Julen had any right to hope. By the end of it, his arm muscles no longer required nightly healing from Railtus, and Julen felt that he’d achieved a decent level of competency with all three weapons. If given a choice, he preferred the spear -- in part because it seemed the most natural to him, like a rake or a hoe, and in part because it allowed him to keep a decent distance from his foes. But he knew what to do with a falchion and dagger as well.
Still, Julen was far from cocky. It had not escaped him that the next time he drew a blade, it would be a real one, and his opponent would not be attacking him with wood.
During the first few days of training, their activities had drawn little more than passing glances from the gnomes who inhabited the Industrial District. But apparently word spread about the two strange humans who hung around in a vacant lot whacking each other with fake weapons. Towards the end, they’d acquired a small, and usually respectful, audience. A few gnomes even agreed to play roles in the training itself, allowing Railtus to better demonstrate group tactics like supporting pairs and suppression. It didn’t give Julen a chance to practice against full-sized combatants, but it was better than stabbing at phantoms.
And now, finally, it was time to go home. The training weapons had been returned to the Fighter’s Guild the previous night. Julen’s few possessions had been organized and packed. Rosemary’s locket once more hung from his throat, suspended on a leather cord salvaged from the arming coat. And a surprisingly reluctant goodbye had been said to Effie.
She’d gone on about how she couldn’t possibly hold the room for him, and that it would be unfair of him to expect her to lose that addition to her meager income, completely ignoring the fact that Julen hadn’t asked her do any such thing. Then, to his complete surprise, she’d thrust a loaf of bread into his hands. Not one of the stale leftovers that she usually gave him. But one of her best, filled with plump raisins and swirls of cinnamon, its brown crust covered with a light icing. “Take it to your wife,” she’d instructed. “That poor, poor woman...” Julen tried to thank her. However, Effie turned away from him, and refused to say any more.
Julen’s eyes scanned his room one more time, making sure he hadn’t forgotten anything. He hadn’t. He was ready to go.