Young Ashelia finds that lessons can be fun, given the proper tutor.
Elocution: The study of formal speaking in pronunciation, grammar, style, and tone.
She had hated these studies, had always looked out the window while her tutor, the same one that had trained her brothers, would drone on and on about the proper way of speaking, the proper way of eating, but never the proper way of ruling. No, she was not meant to ever rule, that was going to be her brothers' job. Instead, she was to marry someone of high status, produce an heir, and live happily ever after, like in the fairy tales her nurse would tell her when she was young, the ones where the princess all lived happily ever after in a palace with their husbands and produced children after children.
Such a simple life, princess Ashelia B'nargin Dalmasca, decided, was not for her. It would never be for her, not now, and not ever, and when she was being taught elocution, having to repeat word after word, sentence after sentence, useless idiom after idiom. She would have to stand up in front of the tutor, hands behind her back, and speak in a clear, concise tone, speech after speech, until he was satisfied and would let her go, to do whatever she wanted.
As she grew older, she was given even more lessons in the art of speeches, the theory being that she would be the one to give them, along with her future husband. So instead of being allowed to play in her room as she once used to, with her dolls and puppets, pretending to play sword fights and play historic battles that she read about in the ancient texts, she had to stand in the stuffy, hot room and recite speeches she had read, or ones she had written herself.
When she was around eleven or twelve, she realized one thing: maybe she didn't have to take all of those lessons. In fact, maybe she could perhaps...forget about a lesson, and sneak her way out to the battle yards. In fact, if she thought about it hard enough, she still could remember all of the speeches that she was forced to memorize, and not even go to the lesson.
It was then that she decided that lessons were not for her, and Ashe wanted to do something else, something she found a lot more fun. So everyday, ducking away from her chaperone when her back was turned, she would head out to the armory and watch the guards practice their skills against each other. She would watch as they put their skills to the test up against the elite, the Knights, and she would watch as they left their swords and shields up against the wall, leaving them behind for her to explore.
She would run her hand across the shields, marveling in their shine, or their adornments, eyes hooded as she imagined herself holding one. She would watch her reflection, twisted and distorted, in the helms that hung on the sides. And then she would move onto the swords, which hung by the helms, sharp and gleaming, so sharp that when she put her hand against one, she pricked her finger.
"Ow!" she said, quickly sticking the bleeding thumb into her mouth to suck away the blood, and moved away from the offending sword.
"Her highness should not be playing with swords that are larger then herself," she heard behind her, and whirling around, she noticed one of the Knights standing in the hallway, her breath catching in her throat. He was taller, much older then she was, most obviously, and she wavered for a moment before standing her ground, like she had been taught in lessons.
"I will eventually grow, so the swords will not be so big," she replied, startled at how grown up she sounded, amazed that maybe he lessons had actually worked. How ironic that she was using the one thing she hated in the one place she loved.
"You should not be playing with things that can harm you, you should be in lessons," the Knight said, and she realized that if he knew so much about her, he was one of the Knights that helped her father, and she blushed lightly, knowing that he must have a knowing smirk on his face, one that was hidden by his helm.
"Maybe if I was taught how to use one, it might not hurt me so much," Ashe said, with her chin held high despite the flush on her cheeks, knowing how bold she sounded. How dare she even suggest such a thing? She could already tell she was going to be shot down, and prepared herself for the arm that would lead her back to her lessons. Once a few minutes had passed, and no arm came to grip her own, she looked up at the Knight and could see that he had taken off his helm, light blond hair brushing across the top of his forehead.
"If that is what milady would like, then it would be my honor to teach you," he said, then a little smirk appeared on his face. "I would rather see you learn by a Knight's hand then by your own, and see you hurt once again," he motioned to her hand, setting his helm on one of the pegs high on the wall, and then bent down, his large hands grabbing two of the wooden swords that were near the daggers.
Once Ashe had a look at the wooden swords, she bristled in her little girl way that she could. "I don't need to use a wooden one, give me a regular sword," she said defiantly, and the Knight just chuckled, handing her the wooden one anyway.
"Milady, I do not think you have the strength to even lift one of those," he said with a dry smile, as they both lifted their swords, and he taught her the steps, taking it slowly so that she could follow them through, and then repeating them. They were almost like her lessons in elocution, she thought, and listened with a smile as the sound of wood against wood hit her ears.
In later years, the same Knight would teach her even more, even more complicated steps, and they evolved from using the wooden swords, to using the metal ones, light, but still able to make a clashing sound that was delicious to her ears.
Irony had its way of showing up at the strangest times, Ashe thought bitterly, now widowed, now without a kingdom, or brothers, a father, the lessons that she had been taught, useless, save for one.
What she did have was her Knight, now branded a traitor, despised by everyone, including her at times, but he was still her Knight.
Yes, her lessons in elocution would be useful in times to come. For now, her other lessons, taught on the sly, would do her more then those ever could.