His mentor was lunging. Massive silver head of a bearded axe held by the haft with both his hands. It caught the shining rays of the morning sun. By the way it was being gripped, he already knew there was massive power behind it. His mentor was close enough that he could see his deep golden eyes squinting at him through the eye hole opening of an angled polished helmet. Long, fine black braids of his hair trailed behind. They followed his flowing momentum. The glare from the rest of his form fitted armor was threatening to blind him as feet left the ground.
It wasn't him he was truly worried about.
His older brother was perpendicular to his mentor. Already launched into the air. Gold lined armor shone just as bright. Curved triangular shield hid half of his body. He could hear his solid square war hammer thrumming through the air. His hand had it at the apex of an arc. The spell he cast on lit it up like the initial spark of a bomb. It left a trail of white light in it's wake. The impact that it would unleash would blast ten fold.
Twist of his hips. Flex of his feet and toes. A flick of his wrist. The leather strap attached to his battle axe whipped. It smacked the haft into his palm. He calculated the axis of collision. Throwing his weight, he set the head of the axe at an angle. Taking into account that his mentor would quickly follow, he set the second axe in his other hand in motion. Solid stance. Braced for connection.
Metallic sound waves shattered the air. Hammer hit and slid off the broad side of his axe. Violent vibration rippled down his arm. In the same moment, he felt a tug at the other axe. With a yank and a twist, he had his mentor's axe deflected with the haft of his. It put him in the perfect position to land a blow on his brother, whose direction was still tumbling towards his hammer's original destination. Axe head hooked into the lip of the shield. Another forceful pull. Sliver of space pried open. Another slinging of his axe. The centripetal had it flying towards his target.
He barely heard his murmur through his own breathing and echoing sound within his helmet. In that moment he knew he was done for. A crack of light, and golden flakes burst above his brothers helmet. Fraction of a moment turned them into a rippling wave that began rushing down. Like sheer, glittering fabric it drifted between them. He already knew what was coming next. Holding his breath, he tensed his muscles just in time for a solid wall of air to knock him off his feet.
The world and gravity were spinning. Over and over he tumbled. Like rag doll thrown about by the wind. The sky, his armor, and the ground flashed repeatedly. His body dragged through the terrain when the rolling energy was spent. The smell of fresh earth and moist grass hit his nose when he finally lay to rest. He didn't bother to get up. There was no point. In a real battle, his enemies would have him beheaded by now.
The sinking feeling of this realization made exhaustion sink in. His lungs gasped for air. Body fully became aware of how it ached. As he recovered, he stared at the blades of grass. Mind was already running through his every movement. Trying to find the fatal flaw that lead to his defeat. In frustration he couldn't isolate his tactics.
Light clicking approached from either side. With a groan he shifted. Bright glaring sun hanging in a blue sky blocked by a bent figure. A hand clad in articulated plate metal was held out to him. With effort, he reached out to take it. Combined strength and he was lifted to his feet. Taking both straps of his axes into one hand, he used the other to ease it off his helmet. He blinked a couple times to get his eyes used to the extra illumination.
His brother mimicked him. Shield strapped to his forearm, and hammer in the same hand, his helmet came off. Short wavy black hair was ruffled and matted over his forehead. Green irises bordering on almost sea foam honed in on him. Just a hint of stress wrinkles on his brow. Thick full beard hung just under cheek bones and ended at where his clavicles would be. It too was matted and disheveled. The shape of it rounded out his lean, square face.
A thin smile appeared on his lips.
“Not all together bad, John,” His brother said through a heavy breath, “You almost had me.”
“I would've if it weren't for your spells.” He huffed.
“Thaddeus is correct…” Added a deep baritone voice.
Both their attention turned to his Mentor. Ebony skin glistened. Sweat dripped into his crispy shaped goatee that bordered full lips. His gaze steadily held his. The neutral expression of his face always gave off an air of intense seriousness. Thick brows on a high forehead always slightly knitted. It was only his eyes that gave away his inner thoughts. Right now he could just barely see a crinkle in their corners. The Command Master Berserker was pleased.
“…had you aligned your footing, you'd have dealt a blow, spell or no.”
He heaved a sigh, “I will take note, Josep.”
A gentle pat to his shoulder.
“Don't take it to heart, there's always room for improvement.” Thaddeus said.
That provided no consolation.
“Would you like to attempt once more?” Josep asked them.
Thaddeus shook his head.
“No, John and I should prepare. Councilmen will be arriving soon. Ambassadors are sure to follow.” He replied.
They all turned. Walking side by side, they crossed the lawn. It stretched before them. Enclosed by towering stone walls. The sound of those training around them echoed off their height. Soldiers and officers paused drills to give them bows of respect. Both he and Thaddeus nodded in kind. Josep simply gave further orders to those who were under his division. They paused in walking every time he did so.
A squat and long brick building at last lay before them. It was incredibly plain. Even the towering double wooden doors that gaped open held no design. The barracks they were approaching starkly contrasted the castle that scraped the sky behind it. It's solid square profile was broken up into tiers. There was a distinct design difference between levels. Each was easy to decipher. Parts of it's majesty were newly constructed, and others weathered through centuries.
More soldiers passed by as they stepped on to uneven paved floors. The main corridor they walked down split into smaller ones. Soldiers weaved in and out of them. Some clad in armor, some still in their under garments or civilian clothes.
“I may not see you this evening,” Thaddeus said to him as he broke off towards a hall, “So please send me that report as soon as you can.”
“It's already complete. I'll have it to you by this afternoon.”
“Of course, give Father my regards.”
A thin smile and he was gone. He and Josep continued on. Down a side hall and through a maze of more walkways. Their designated room was empty. Lamp light aided by dingy sky light lit up the space. Open door wooden lockers lined the four walls. Names and ranks adorned each space. Every alcove had all sorts of personal items, weapons, and armor.
Setting a foot on the chipped and worn wooden bench in the center, he began to loosen and remove the armor on his legs. Without a word, Josep began doing the same.
Halfway through a sound caught his attention. Airy crisp notes of a wavering whistle made it's way through the air. It's cheerful melody drawing ever closer. He half smiled, half sighed to himself. He knew who that whistle belonged to. The clearer the sound got, the more complicated the tune became. As if a predator was closing in on it's prey.