The taint of the burnt flesh was carried across the sea to the mainland, but the smell had long since vanished. The wind carried nothing but the sweet scent of the nearby rose gardens of the palace now. No one noticed the rosy smell on the practice yards, the only thing anyone noticed there were the men practicing on the grounds. Wooden practice swords lay in racks on the side of the yard along with other types of practice weapons. The wooden sounds of practice sword hitting practice sword echoed through the walls of the palace grounds.
The clang of metal on metal rang through the yard as a pair began a duel with real swords. Only the best could spar and not damage. Both men with the real swords were covered from head to toe in dark colors each wearing a long brimmed hat to keep out the sun from their eyes. The shorter of the two men was correcting and bantering with his opponent, holding a running dialog as their swords met and disengaged from one another. The other man didn’t appear to be offended by the corrections nor did he seem to mind the conversation. Although as the duel progressed, his end of the conversation began to lag.
Circling one another the taller man attacked, leaving his right side completely open to a forward thrust by his opponent, “You still leave your right side open; it’s hard to believe you are a Knight with that fatal flaw.”
“Nothing is ever good enough for you, Mat.”
“Not when it comes to the sword, Eric, you must be perfect of you will die, sooner or later. And in your present condition it may be soon rather than later.”
“Why thank you.”
The shorter man pulled off his hat revealing a flow of long golden blond hair. This man was not a man, but a woman. The crowd around the duelers didn’t gawk or awe in the face of the woman, they only turned to their own lessons and duels that had been interrupted by the clanging of real swords. The Princess on the practice yards was a familiar sight to all men who trained there. They had only watched to see the Prince of Watia against their beloved Princess.
“You are welcome. Come, we’ve a dinner to attend and then the Alliance talks begin, and I must unfortunately attend.” Matalina paused as she thought, then spoke to Eric, “You can join me if you like. It would prove to your father you are a worthy Heir by taking it on your own self to participate in the alliance talks.”
“I will only attend because you asked me to accompany you, not for my father’s sake, I’ve no interest in running the kingdom.”
Matalina nodded, “Yes, I know, it’s unfortunate that you don’t take the honor bestowed you, for you kingdom will soon fall after your ascension to King if you do not find the interest soon.” Matalina put on her hat to block her ice-blue eyes from the sun as they walked back into the rose gardens where they had entered the practice grounds. The Prince followed a little disgruntled by the Princesses comments, but he said nothing as they continued to their rooms.