13th of Summer, 505 AV
Barholomew took in a deep breath. After his first few seasons of training, after all the days spent learning how to read a foe, attack, redirect, and defend, he still was not prepared for what was about to come.
"Are you ready?" A hardened voice, terrifying in nature, boomed from behind him. Bartholomew recognized the voice, and hated it. After all, it belonged to his father.
Taking in another deep breath, Bartholomew stared at the opponents in front of him. Two children, the same age as Barth, carried giant wooden sticks that resembled a bastard sword. They were in a fighting stance, one that'd been drilled into Bartholomew and them by Barth's father. Together, all three children learned how to read a foe, attack, redirect, and defend; so why was Bartholomew being treated differently?
"Attack," the voice from behind boomed again. This time it was a lot more stony and demanding. Without hesitation, the other two descended on Bartholomew. The young Dicey did everything in his power not to fall as he was pounded with strike after strike of the wooden sticks. Of course, he had a wooden sword of his own, a weapon made to represent that of a longsword and a bastardsword. Bartholomew and his two opponents learned the style and technique of the latter sword, and now they were using what they knew in a mock exhibition. The two Bartholomew faced were supposed to learn how to work together and rely on each other, Bartholomew himself was supposed to learn how to rely on no one and work alone. Somehow, the young Dicey felt that his father's special treatment of his son wasn't very special.
"Keep up with your enemies," the older Dicey yelled into Bartholomew's ear. "Don't think. Read, redirect, act."
Bartholomew tried his best to 'keep up' as his father demanded, but each blow he had to face was hard to manage. The most he could do was react and defend any attack given. However, when he defended against one, he would take a beating from the other.
"Ugh!" he let out as a blow landed on his side. "Ah!" he screamed as the other landed a clean strike on his leg. Soon, he was leaning against his own wooden sword to stand up straight. By the time the sword lessons were over, he'd lost his will to stand.
"You did well," he heard his father say. He was on the floor, panting up a storm, so he couldn't see who his father was talking too, but he didn't have to. He knew that his father would rather praise others than his own son, he'd come to terms with that long ago. Even still, for a child not to be awarded by the man that gave him breath was heart wrenching. And, although he wanted to, Bartholomew fought to hold back his tears.
Finally, the great Paladin Dicey addressed his son. "You survived longer than I thought you would, but you still have a lot to learn." Bartholomew bit his lips, trying to hold back the frustration his father just gave him. Was that all the man had to say? His son fought two of his equals and gave it his all, and the only complement this man could give was that?"Since you are the last to leave, be sure to clean up and turn off the lights when you've recovered." Paladin dicey left his son to lie on the floor, and after a couple ticks Bartholomew finally moved.
His body felt incredibly heavy and ached in the spots where he was hit. The worst of his pain came from his arms, where he received blow after relentless blow the most. No matter how safe they said these wooden sticks were, when the landed they still hurt like hell. Bartholomew's father once said that every hit you took made you strong enough to take it again, but he doubted if he could ever take this kind of torture again.