'Again!' Bellowed mighty Eliat, first among the hosts of Baz'Auran. The spirit of war flew at Carolinus, his sword a shimmering blur. With a great clash like celestial cymbals Carolinus brought his shield up and deflected the spirit's attack. To his left and right Eliat's subordinate spirits flew up practice dummies. Neither hit their marks. Carolinus deflected the spear of the one to his left with a tiny projection of his power, the exact required amount to deflect the spear's shaft so it missed the dummy's head by inches. The spirit to his right was harder, for it carried a two handed axe, he blocked it with a blunt warding, matching it strength for strength.
He jumped back while doing this, narrowly avoiding Eliat's second strike. When the third came he wrenched it aside and caught hold of Eliat's swordarm. To his left the battle spirit had dropped his spear and pulled a sword from his back. His mistake was to lunge, once again it was easy to deflect the jabbing point aside. To his right the wicked axe swept down again but with the scant seconds he bought for himself by grabbing Eliat's arm he was able to block the attack more gracefully, a small sharp edge of a warding set before the sweep of the axe's haft sent the axe head spinning into the ground.
Eliat dropped his sword and twisted his hand about, somehow Carolinus found himself sailing through the air. He twisted and landed on his feet, just in time for Eliat's charge. By diving aside at the last second Carolinus bought himself the split second required to glance at the dummies and their attackers, once again he threw up the weakest wards he could to stop the incoming weapons.
Then he spun back to Eliat, just in time to block another thrust and launch a counter with almost got him disemboweled by Eliat's riposte. Eliat was so fast Carolinus usually had to block three of his strokes for each of his subordinates' attackers. When the third came Carolinus twisted Eliat's blade and disarmed him, behind his back both spirits found their swords once again confounded, leaving them wondering how he did it with his back turned.
'That took you too long.' Was all Eliat said as he retrieved his blade. 'Five!' Another three war spirits approached another three dummies 'Begin!'
Eliat looked and spoke as if he had been walking amid the gardens as he intoned in damning words 'You're distracted godling. On the battlefield that will kill you.'
In contrast Carolinus was covered in sweat and sucking in great gasps of air 'I'm not distracted, I'm angry. But I take your lesson Eliat, that too can kill me.'
'You managed no more than eight today, normally you master all thirty. Your anger will not kill you, it will kill those you would protect.'
'I will think on that.'
'Why are you angry?'
'Many reasons great Eliat. I am angry because I only managed eight today, because a score of godlings soon depart to the disk yet there is not space for one more, because others were permitted my great gift without price, because Cireo was not permitted to learn the martial arts, because this is the only time I am separated from her yet I cannot argue the necessity.'
'It cannot be for you as it was the others. You are your Father's White Knight, the purity of your fidelity must be total.'
'I know, yet I am angry because I must leave Cireo, that among all things. There are many reasons, all of them good and that one most of all, but all are irrelevant because you are right Eliat. My anger will break the fidelity of my oath, so I must also put anger aside, I must face what it coming without its purifying fire.'
His face was a mask as he walked pass Shirvan and Nieve's embrace. Inwardly he seethed with jealousy and grief.