A man and a girl faced each other within a small grove of trees nestled on the outskirts of one of Breeland's many farming communities. The man, who held a sword and rounded shield in his hands, looked to be no older than fifty with traces of white beginning overtake his sandy locks of hair on his hair and mustache. The girl - though she looked more like a young boy child in truth - holding a pair of semi-tarnished daggers in her hands, was no older than than twelve with eyes the color of clovers and freckles forming on her nose from exposure to the sun.
A moment of silence passed between them before the man came at the girl, swinging his sword at her in a downward slant. The girl blinked once and raised her daggers to meet the sword, halting the swing. Her young features screwed up in concentration as she used her forward momentum to push the man's sword arm up above her head.
"Well done, Finchley. But, you forgot about one thing." The man raised his shield this time, attempting to ram it into her. Instead he was blocked again when Finchley nimbly raised her right foot and pressed it hard against the wood of the shield. The man raised his brows and smiled a little as he pressed in hard with both his sword and shield. "Well, now what are you going to do? You've, quite literally, only have one leg to stand on."
Finchley frowned a little as she teetered one one leg, trying and failing to stay upright as he bore his weight and muscle down on her.
"Come on, Finchley. Think hard."
After another few moments of struggle, Finchley smiled. She allowed him to push her ever backwards, hopping on her left foot as she went, until falling to the ground. She tucked herself into a ball and rolled right between his legs as he fell forward onto his hands and knees, unable to catch himself or bring a halt to his own forward momentum. Finchley quickly pulled herself upright, turned to face him, and then her foot on the arch of his back, forcing him onto his stomach with no real protest from him.
"Do you yield, Mister Dewitt?"
Dewitt laughed and turned over onto his back as Finchley removed her foot. "Aye, lass, I yield! Very well done!"
"Thanks," the girl chirped brightly as she extended a hand to help the man up, which he took gladly.
"You're getting better at this," praised Dewitt as he set his sword and shield aside and dusted himself off.
"Really? Do you think I'll be good enough for the road someday?" asked Finchley, sliding her small daggers back into their sheaths on her hips and moving towards the bag Dewitt had stowed off to the side to retrieve his waterskin for him. She passed it on over to him and he took it with a nod.
"Aye, I daresay you will. If you keep at it and remember to be smart, you'll do alright for yourself." Dewitt sat down on a nearby boulder and took a deep swig from his water skin wiping the damp from his mustache afterwards. "But there's things you need to understand before then, lass. So, listen and listen well."
His young protegee nodded and took a seat next to him, pulling one knee close to her chest and resting a forearm upon it. "I'm listenin', Mister Dewitt."
Dewitt the explorer smiled and took another swig before continuing. "Whatever you will find out there, you're bound to come across less than friendly and pleasant things. With beasts of the wild I'm confident you know your way around 'em well. But sometimes, lass, it isn't the beasts you've got to worry about. It's people. You may come across those who wish to do you harm. If that happens, your first priority is to put as much distance between them and you. Don't try to fight your way out if you can help it. It's likely that they'll be stronger and bigger than you. Always try to get away first. You're a quick little lass when you want to be."
Finchley nodded and Dewitt barely managed to hide his relief. Another swig before he continued again.
"But there might come a time when you won't be able to get away. You'll need to defend yourself and be smart about it. The fight will likely not be fair for you. There'll always be someone bigger and stronger. So, you will have to use your head and make the fight more fair. Use everything at your disposal and whatever trick you come up with. Don't worry about being honorable or any such thing like that. You will be underestimated no doubt. Use that against your foes as well. Try not let them land a blow on you if you can help it."
"Aye, I'll do that then," replied Finchley with a serious nod, pulling her other knee close to her chest so that she could rest her other arm atop it. "But, Mister Dewitt, even if they'd want to end my life, I don't think I could ever bring myself to end theirs."
The adventurer extraordinaire smiled over to his young protegee and reached out to muss up her short hair. He chuckled a little when she pouted a little and attempted to smooth out the tangles he made.
"Then you won't if you don't want to, Finchley. Come what may, always be true to yourself. Whatever decision you make, do everything as you always do - with good intent and an honest heart. You can never go completely wrong with that. Think you can do all of that, lass?"
A bright smile appeared on Finchley's face again and she nodded enthusiastically. Dewitt grinned and pulled himself into a standing position again, stretching out his limbs and rolling his head a little. "Right," he said, moving to pick up his sword, shield, and bag. "Go on home then, Finchley. Your Grams'll be expecting you."
The boyish looking girl grinned as she stood. "What, are you still scared that she's gonna come after you with her cookin' spoon?"
"Lass, she may be blind as a bat but even I know I've got no hope if she finds out I've been teachin' you to fight with blades. You keep those hidden anyway, you hear?"
Finchley laughed merrily as she took the daggers from her waist and stowed them in her tunic instead. "Until tomorrow then?"
"Aye! Tomorrow we can work on disarming and such. I've still got a few days left before my trip down to Andrath."
"And when'll you be back?"
"Eager as always I see. No more than a month. Then I'll come right back here so you can pester me to teach you more."
"It's a deal! I won't forget it!"
"No, I daresay you won't! Now go on home, Finchley, before your Grams really does come at me with a spoon!"
Finchley grinned happily like a child during Yuletide and gave her friend and mentor a wave before trotting off home, zooming over hills and through fields of wheat and barely like a bird flits between branches.