The White Knights were denied of a home and hearth once they had taken their oath to Saradomin. The idea of love could not be entertained. To do so could potentially cause a lapse of judgment at the wrong place at the wrong time, especially in the battlefield. So when our grandfather had told us this, we were confused. How was it that he had us as a family then?
Ella sighed softly as the howling winds of Ice Mountain woke her. Thin streams of light filtered through the shutters at an angle onto the floor, enough to indicate how late in the morning it was. She rolled over slightly in her bed, not wanting to get out quite yet and instead bask in the warmth of her lover.
Who now wasn't in the bed.
Ella grumbled in frustration as she sat up, wrapping the blankets around her tightly to shy off the cold air. Apparently Payton had already woken and stole away some time ago, leaving behind a covered tray with her breakfast and a note saying he'd come back again that night. With another grumble, she began to dress, wishing Payton had at least woken her. Now she had to deal with the wizard's lecture about being on time. Still, last night was worth it.
Just as she finished braiding her hair in her off-side manner, a hard knock sounded. She opened the door, surprised to find Lord Wymer in the doorway.
"Uncle, I did not expect to see you today."
"Yes, I suppose you didn't. Are you ready for today's training?"
Ella nodded. "Do I still need to train under that stupid wizard?"
"No, not today, but I think you might benefit from someone who has been under our service for a while. You won't be training your magic, today, however."
Ella frowned. "I thought you wanted me to be a mage."
"Yes, but I want you to be well-versed in other arts as well, in case magic does not prove to be practical in certain situations." Lord Wymer pulled his cloak back to remove something from one of the pouches on his belt. It was a worn, leather-covered journal with her mother's initials on it. "Your mother was well versed in herblore, and knew how to create a variety of potions to aid our knights." He handed the journal over to Ella. "Lensig will be waiting in her quarters for you. Go see her as soon as you are ready."
"Yes, Uncle Wymer."
"Good." Lord Wymer hesitated slightly. "Ella, about Payton… Are you planning anything serious with him?"
Ella smirked a little. "He entertains me, at best. Unlike the others, he is respectful and does not leave his jaw hanging at the sight of me."
"Just be careful, Ella. I don't-"
"Want my emotions to cloud my judgment," Ella finished. She looked at her uncle and realized how sorrowful his face was. "I'm old enough to understand what lies ahead of me, Uncle Wymer, and what your worries are. I won't make that mistake. I have not learned to care for Payton in that manner."
Lord Wymer nodded. "Very well. I will not keep you from meeting with Lensig any longer." He nodded a farewell to his niece and soon left.
Ella sighed loudly in annoyance as she sat down on her bed, thumbing through the journal that she was given. She recognized the clear and elegant handwriting that detailed a variety of potions, their ingredients, and their effects on the human body. Her eyes widened with interest when she came upon recipes for potions to aid one's magic abilities temporarily and wondered if she would be able to create such potions once her training was done.
Outside in the hallway, Payton bit his lip slightly. He had heard what Ella said, and wondered if he was becoming a distraction by caring for her so much when she seemed to care for him very little. He shook his head. Only last night during their intimate embrace she told him she loved him. At least, he thought she did.
Familiar footsteps soon entered the hallway and he quickly stepped back into the shadows, watching as Ella headed towards one of the towers. As soon as she was gone, he hurried downstairs, fighting back the confusion that was beginning to build up inside him.
Hadwin raised his wooden shield as a squire's sword came down towards him. The impact nearly knocked him off his feet as he fought to keep his balance. His breathing was labored as he regained his stance, but he still managed a grin.
"You nearly had me there, Aiden."
The older peon nodded. "But you nearly lost your footing as well. Try not to keep your feet so close together."
"Good, let's try that set again."
The two peons resumed their training as the others watched from a safe distance, chatting among themselves.
"Aiden has the advantage over Hadwin."
"'I'm sure Aiden knows how to control himself to allow Hadwin proper and adequate training."
"Aiden isn't much himself, isn't he?"
"Orphan just like Hadwin. One of the youngest merchants Falador has ever seen before things went bad."
"Got greedy. His father died a little after he sold the forge to make ends meet. He's regained most of what they've lost since, but has more or less donated a majority of his wealth to the poor."
"So how did he end up here then?"
"Eh, Sir Vyvin took pity on him and convinced Sir Amik to take him in."
"Little old to still be a squire though, isn't he?"
A shout interrupted the conversation and the peons turned to look as Aiden narrowly dodged the wide arc of Hadwin's sword. He lightly tapped the younger boy on the shoulder with his sword. "Got you!" Hadwin's face twisted in frustration, but held out his hand to shake with Aiden. Aiden shook his hand firmly, giving him a few words of advice before returning their weapons to the nearby rack. Hadwin sighed as he went to join the other peons, declining the flask of water held out to him and instead grabbed a towel to wipe the sweat off his face.
"That was a good try, Hadwin," said one of the peons as he patted his shoulder. "You'll get him next time."
Hadwin nodded, watching as another peon stepped up to face Squire Aiden. "I'm lasting a few rounds longer each time. It won't be long now."
"Couple more years until we're just like him, serving one of the great White Knights of Falador."
"And a few more after that we'll be just like those great knights, swearing our lives to Saradomin as we fight to protect the weak and those who serve Zamorak," Hadwin added. He removed his leather armor, grimacing at the smell of dirt and sweat that he had not noticed earlier. "I better go get this cleaned up before our next training session later today."
His fellow peons watched as Hadwin turned to walk towards the armory, then turned their gaze back to the current duel in the courtyard.
Lensig was frustrated. She had expected Ella to be inexperienced with the art of herblore, yet here she was already working her way quickly to making restorative potions. At least she wasn't wasting precious ingredients though.
"Your uncle said you were training to be a mage," Lensig fumed slightly. "I was expecting someone with less skill."
"I learn fast," Ella replied as she cleaned off the dust from a harralander leaf. "I don't have time to waste lagging behind on the basics."
Lensig nodded, going over her inventory of herbs. "I suppose by the time the day's over you'll be making poisons."
"You can bet on that."
"And I suppose you'll want to learn how to make potions that give warriors a temporary boost of strength?"
Ella gave an irritated look at the witch. "I suppose you know what it is you need to teach me or my uncle would have never sent me here to begin with. Do your job."
"Ah, the little princess seems to believe that her teachers are here to serve her. Believe me, child, you're hardly noble enough to have people do that yet. Drake and I are only teaching you now under orders of your uncle, not because of you."
"I will tell my uncle you said that."
"By all means, go right ahead. I'm sure he'll like to hear how much of a spoiled brat you-" Lensig gave out a screech of surprise as a piece of coal flew past her, narrowly missing her head and striking the wall in a shower of sparks. She turned angrily at Ella and found her holding a small pair of tongs, smoke still clinging onto it.
"What did I tell you about wasting materials?" Lensig shouted.
Ella merely looked at her innocently. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize that applied to the coals heating your cauldron."
Lensig raised a hand, ready to strike Ella, then thought better of it. "Get back to work on making that combat potion."
Ella shrugged as she went over to pick up a pestle and mortar set, pouring some grayish powder from a jar into it. "Your goat horns aren't ground fine enough," she told Lensig with a smug look on her face. "So you're using up a lot more than you should be."
Lensig continued to glare at Ella angrily, watching as she mixed the potion before returning to her cauldron. It was going to be a long day.