Brothers Should Always Support Each Other and Do Things for Each Other
“Hey, you know what stupid shit Ty told me?” Robby asked, fiddling with a button on his coat with his free hand. His other hand was in Edwin’s as they walked down the road.
“What?” Edwin asked, thinking about Ty, who’d left the city a few hours ago on a mission to fight goblins somewhere. Edwin had meant to go see him off, but they’d left while he’d still been on duty.
“He said that on your first day in the training school they strip you naked and make you fight the best guy there. Isn’t that stupid?” Robby laughed.
“That’s really stupid,” Edwin agreed. “They let me keep my smallclothes on.”
“I figured, since that’s how wrestlers usually dress. Speaking of which, Leo told me that they kick you out at the end of the first week if you don’t go out and hunt a wolf and bring back its skull.”
Edwin snorted. “That’s true, but most of us just go down to the market and buy a dog’s skull.”
“Also I think they did away with that one because it’s racist now,” Erik added, on Robby’s other side.
“Oh good, I wouldn’t want Grey Rain to be sad. I think he’s going to enroll in the school too but between you and me I’m not sure he’ll stick with it.” Robby sighed. “Twig says they bring in gladiators from the Empire to be your sparring partners, and don’t give them blunted weapons.”
“Please, you think the order can afford that?” Erik asked, patting Robby’s back. “They just use convicted murderers, they’re free.”
Robby nodded, looking at the building they were approaching, which didn’t have any signage or anything on it. But it was obvious what it was. “Obviously I know it’s all bullshit,” he said. “Just teasing to make me nervous. I don’t really believe any of it, don’t worry.”
Edwin stopped walking, brought Robby’s hand up and kissed it. “I know you don’t,” he said. He’d believed all the stories he’d heard before joining the school. “But if you did, nobody would blame you. There’s nothing wrong with being nervous.”
“I know,” said Robby, blushing. “But I did literally kill a god a while ago, so it would be a bit dumb to be nervous about making new friends and practicing a new skill.”
“I don’t think it would be dumb,” said Erik, kissing the top of Robby’s head. “I think it would be human.”
Robby shut his eyes, a small smile on his face. He hugged Edwin, then Erik. “Thanks,” he muttered. “Let’s go in now.”
Edwin nodded, and took Robby right to the front archway, which opened into a courtyard wider than the one in the fortress, filled with training dummies, straw targets, racks of weapons and of course students working with all of them, a few knights patrolling around, telling them what they were doing wrong.
Sir Eustace was standing there in the middle of the yard like he always had been, and for just a second Edwin was transported back to when he’d first walked through these doors, terrified and sure that he was going to be sent home without even being allowed to prove himself. But Sir Eustace wasn’t just old enough to be Edwin’s grandfather, he was also just as kind, even if he had to be bald and stern, and stood straight as a whipping pole.
Edwin took a breath, reminded himself that they were equals now. “Go on,” he said to Robby. “Sir Eustace there will get you sorted out.”
Robby nodded, and he gave Edwin another hug. “Thank you,” he said. Then he took a breath of his own, and walked in. Eustace had already turned to watch him come. “Hello, sir,” said Robby. “I’m here to enroll.”
Sir Eustace looked down at Robby, looking unimpressed, which he always did. “You got a name, son?”
Robby was doing such a good job of not shaking. It was so hard for Edwin not to run right over and explain to Eustace all the reasons why Robby would be a better knight than any of them. Eustace nodded. “You have any prior training?”
“Yes, sir! My brother and his friends have been training me a little.”
Eustace looked over at Edwin, who waved. He got a nod back, that weird upwards jerk of the head that old people thought was the same thing as human communication. “Well, your brother was the hardest worker in his class, so I guess we’ll see if that’s in the blood or not. He sure wrote you a glowing reference letter.”
“He…he did?” Robby looked over his shoulder, pouting. “Edwin, you weren’t supposed to do that!”
Edwin shrugged. “First lesson of being a knight is that your superior officers can do what they want.”
“Not quite true, and you’ll listen to me, not him.” Eustace gave Edwin a look. “At least until we get him to come in and do some teaching. Over there to the sword racks, pick one and let’s get a look at your form.”
Robby beamed. “Yes, sir!”
As Robby hurried over to the weapon racks, Edwin backed out of the school before anyone could ask him to teach anything. Robby didn’t look back, and that was okay, because he’d be home tonight.
Outside, Edwin took Erik’s hand now. “He’s going to do fine,” he told Erik.
“Of course he is. He’ll be at the top of his class.”
Edwin nodded. “And he’ll make lots of friends, too.”
“Ed,” Erik teased. “Don’t start doing the nervous thing that he was doing literally ten minutes ago. Or do, because it’s just as cute when it’s my middle little brother, but let’s be honest. He’ll be fine. We both were and Cal knows he has his shit together more than we did at his age.”
“Yeah, I guess so,” Edwin said. He sighed. “God, what the fuck? Why would Sir Eustace say he wanted me to teach? That’s awful.”
“Probably because you’d be a great teacher,” Erik suggested, kissing Edwin’s temple.
“No,” said Edwin, shaking his head. “Putting my foot down on that, shutting this down right now. Even if it were true, I’m too busy to be a teacher on top of everything else. I already missed Ty leaving as it was.”
“Yeah, sorry about that. He’ll be back in a month or two.”
“I know,” Edwin muttered. “And I also know that when I went away I was gone for longer. But still.”
“Yeah, having a job sucks,” Erik agreed. “We should just all retire and go live in the woods.”
“Why would we do that when we have a keep?” Edwin muttered.
“True, I don’t think Robby would like to go back hanging from branches when he’s just finished renovating the sex dungeon. Hey, did you notice the other students?”
Edwin shook his head. “To be totally honest I wasn’t watching anything but Robby.”
“Fair enough. There was a werewolf with them. A dragon too. I guess now that Gavin and them have done the whole interspecies thing, the order was quick to get on the bandwagon.”
“Oh,” said Edwin. How had he not noticed that? “So Robby will make friends very easily, then.”
“Exactly what I was saying. So stop worrying.”
“I stopped worrying when you told me the first time.”
“Sure you did,” Erik said, bumping Edwin’s shoulder. “Come on, it’s cold. I bet Nikolai made something good for lunch.”
Edwin shrugged. “Might be kind of fun to go out to eat somewhere.”
“Hm,” said Erik. He kissed Edwin’s cheek. “Let’s eat lunch at the keep and go out for supper.”
“And go out again?” Edwin wasn’t going to want to go out in the cold again once he’d gotten home.
“Yes. That way Nikolai’s food doesn’t go to waste, and we can take Robby out to celebrate his first day of training.”
Edwin thought about that and decided it made sense, even if he would have to put his boots back on later. “Okay,” he said. “Sure, let’s do that.”
“Cool,” said Erik. They walked the rest of the way to Gavin’s house, where the closest portal was, and used it to get to Stag Keep.
Which was bright and noisy when they stepped into it. “What’s going on?” Edwin asked Nigel, who was cleaning the entry hall. “Who’s here?”
“A party of knights, sir,” said Nigel. “They asked to rest here for the night, and Sir Erik said…”
Erik coughed. “Everyone knows that keep owners can’t turn away knights seeking shelter. You did the right thing, Nigel. Let’s go offer them our hospitality.”
Erik led Edwin into the main hall by the hand, and inside, there was Ty, and Percy and Stan and the rest of the knights in their party. They were here. Erik had brought them here. “You didn’t have to do this,” Edwin said, quiet.
Erik shrugged. “You were a good big brother to Robby today, Ed. What kind of big brother would I be to you if I let your best friend leave without saying goodbye?”
Edwin kissed him for a long minute, hand on Erik’s ass, before breaking off to face their guests. “Welcome to my keep,” he told them, formally. “I know you’ve travelled a long way, so please feel welcome to my hearth, my food, and my home. Everything that’s mine is yours.”
“Awesome,” said Ty, standing up and coming over to Edwin. He hugged him tight. “Because I’m about to go away for a long time and who knows how long it’ll be before I sleep in a warm bed again.”
“Well, mine is always open to you, good sir,” said Edwin, kissing him.
“Good. Now, I’ve been riding all day and I could use some comfort…”
“It’s barely noon.”
“Are you denying me my rights as a guest? Rude.”
Edwin laughed. “Not at all, sir knight. Let me get you comfortable while you eat lunch, so that we can send you on your way fully satisfied…”
Being a big brother was a lot of work, and Edwin loved it. But being a little brother meant that he could just kneel here and enjoy the gift his big brother had given him, and properly say goodbye to his friend at the same time. And Edwin loved that even more.
2 thoughts on “Knighthood, 94”
Divinities everywhere beware, the godslayer is getting actual combat training.
Yeah, all those gods who (probably) said “well whatever, he killed a weak god” when he killed Lyren should probably be concerned that in a few years he’s going to really know how to fight. They thought they were safe when the Catechism War ended, but the remaining gods had better take note…