Alix started showing them how to use their new weapons, since he already knew the basics on swordplay. He made sure each of the new wielders understood how to properly carry the swords, and showed them ways to wield them with as little strain on the arms as possible. They knew it would take some practice to get used to the awkwardness of using a blade, even though the swords seemed to adapt to each person‘s particular strength. They all found this strange, including Alix. That made the training easier, however.
Alix had been worried about Megan, since she had not liked the idea of touching a weapon. She explained it as something a woman should not do at first, but Alix ignored the comments and continued to train her. She eventually decided she like it after a few days.
They all seemed to be getting more comfortable with the swords by the end of the week. They each felt a special bond with their sword, almost like an addiction. They were having some trouble with the powers at first, but the more they handled their swords, the more the powers seemed to merge with the blades. However, every so often, Mark felt that same darkness connected to his blade. It made him nervous, but he tried to not let it bother him. He figured it was just the sentient part of the sword connecting with him.
Luke and Alix seemed to have a major personality clash, both being dominant people. Close to the end of the week, Alix had given up training Luke, since they seemed to argue about everything, including technique. That made Alix angry, because he knew he had more knowledge about swords and fighting. Luke just did not want to listen to him. Alix also seemed to have a problem with Luke assuming the lead. He saw it as him wanting to control them and the whole situation.
Luke and Jackie, on the other hand, were much more comfortable with each other than they had been before. Their friendship seemed to be returning to how it had been before. They were both very happy about it, but Luke also noticed that Mark was keeping a close eye on the two of them. It annoyed Luke, because it seemed as if Mark didn’t trust them.
Alix had not planned on staying in this particular place for this long, but he had figured it was the best place to train them. He knew that was important, in case they happened to get attacked. Alix had told them all about a man named Bordekai, who wanted their swords and knew where the cabin was located.
The three men had been taking guard duty shifts every night, for safety precautions. Jackie had insisted she could take a shift, but Alix did not like the idea if a woman being out alone. When he mentioned that she could help him watch, Luke got angry, and shut Alix up with a stern look. Luke then explained that it probably would be a better idea for her and Megan to not watch.
One particular night, Luke had first watch and was very alert. He was a night owl, so he had no problem staying awake from 10:00 to 2:00. The only problem he had was that his mind started to drift. He was just thinking about home and how many ways McDonald’s was going to kill him, when he caught a movement out of the corner of his eye. Tensing up, Luke pulled out his knife. He concentrated on where he had seen the first movement, and noticed the shadows shift slightly. Moving closer, he made out the form of a man of average height.
"Don’t move," he ordered firmly. He was ready to pounce on the man at the first sign of trouble. "Who are you?"
The man turned slowly, cautiously glancing at Luke. "I’m not here to hurt you," his eyes fell on the sword attached to Luke’s belt. He stared at the sword for a long moment without speaking.
Luke stared back at the man, losing patience quickly. "Hello! I believe I asked you a question."
The man smiled, his eyes returning to Luke. He didn’t even seem to mind the knife pressed to his side, and stood calmly. "I’m sorry. I had just never seen one of them before," his eyes flicked briefly back to the sword.
Luke glared at him. "What is it with people around here and evasive answers? Who are you and what do you want?"
"I’m from the Wizard Council. They would like very much to meet with all of you."
Luke frowned. "How did you know where to find us?"
The man smiled again. "The Council could feel the magic as soon as you all came through the portal. That’s part of what they want to speak with you about."
Luke rolled his eyes. The way this man was talking in evasive circles was really starting to get on his nerves. "What does your Council want with us?"
The man glanced at the cabin. "May I come in? I promise I will explain everything as much as I can. I am just a messenger."
Luke sighed. "Alright, then. Give me all your weapons before you come in." He held out his hands.
The man offered a small smile. "I have no weapons. Magic is enough to protect me."
Luke was about ready to strangle the man by now. "Come in, then," he said, after he had checked him over for any obvious weapons. "If you’re lying, you’re a dead man."
"Of course," the man looked him in the eye. "But I am not lying."
Luke nodded and opened the door and stood back to let the other man pass first. Once they were in, Luke locked the door.
"Alright, we’re inside, so spill. Who are you, and what’s going on?" He motioned to a chair, remaining standing himself.
The messenger smiled at Luke and sat down. "You have no need to fear me," he glanced around, pausing at one of the corners. "I am not here to hurt you. My name is Corren, and I am from the..."
"...council," a deeper voice answered from the corner of the dark room. Luke was alarmed until he realized it was Alix. Looking over at the corner, Luke could now see the other man standing there. He was actually glad he had the other man there, for once. He could help explain why this crazy guy had come up to them.
Alix walked into the light, watching the man warily. "He is from the Rotievan Wizard Council. I can tell by the silver band on his arm," he glanced at Luke. "There is no black lining the silver, so he is not of importance in the Council."
Luke frowned, then gave Alix a small, dry smile. He was surprised to see Alix up this early, since he had not had a shift. "So he is from the Council, like he says. You said you had a message for us, so what is it?"
The messenger was surprised Luke was still being so suspicious. He had figured he would have lost most of his wariness by now, and it made him edgy. "Yes, I am a messenger from the Council. I have a message I would rather tell all of you together, if I may. It would be easier that way."
Luke thought about it, then nodded. "Okay, we’ll wait. Would you like anything to eat or drink?" He glanced at Alix. "I’m sure Alix can help you with that, if you do," Luke noticed with satisfaction that Alix was bothered by the implication of being delegated as a servant. He smiled at Alix again. "I need to go wake Mark up for his shift."
Alix glared at Luke, but addressed the messenger with forced politeness. "Is there anything I can get you, sir?"