Practicing forms grew tiring after twenty years. Estelle was only 25, quite young by elven standards. Most of the members of the conmunis were around her age or younger, with maybe thirty or forty true adults. They preached constantly about the final battle that would come with the end of times. Their constant harping on the coming Day to End Days was starting to grate on Estelle’s nerves. Was it even coming? Her father seemed sure of it, though a bit confused on the actual date. But her mother just sighed quietly when asked, telling her to just listen to her father. Not a great answer. It instilled little confidence.
But disobeying would get her in serious trouble, and while she was the best swordsman among the young elves, she couldn’t hold a candle to the adults. So she practiced her forms calmly, breathing evenly, avoiding trouble as best she could. It just wasn’t worth rocking the boat, as it were.
“Again!” Barked her father, Chul. His gaze dropped on his daughter, and he appeared unimpressed. “Your lives and the loves of those you love will depend on you! Put your entire soul into it!”
Estelle thought that was a tad dramatic for the man who had predicted the Day to End Days not once, but five times without it coming to pass. But she said nothing, instead readjusting her stance and beginning her forms again. Her father watched her impassively, showing little emotion at her demonstration of skill.
Estelle knew that she was what her mother called “naturally gifted”, but that never seemed to matter to Chul. He was strict and nothing was ever good enough for him. Estelle was never good enough for him. So she devoted herself entirely to training, to strength building, to improving her endurance.
With each swing of her sword, Estelle focused solely on her breath and body. Sometimes closing her eyes improved her concentration, but she knew her father hated it when she did that, so she refrained. Estelle knew, with a sinking certainty, that she would never be enough for her father. But she was excellent at pushing down her feelings. One had to be, to survive life in the conmunis.
And if there was one thing that Estelle could do, it was survive.