Marlena turned from the door to face him. She hadn't expected such enthusiasm, but it seemed contagious and even she felt some excitement at the prospect. Thinking for a moment, she smirked and stepped back to him.
How about teaching me that rather nice trick of scaling a building like you did the other night?
Marlena nodded, she was expecting magic to be involved. She had never bothered to learn, but the more she came across those that did, she became more and more intrigued. She may have to look through the manor's library at some time.
Watching him, she smiled and suppressed a laugh at his pose and behavior. Handsome. Very much so. Yet childish in the most endearing way when he was relaxed it seemed. Thinking on his question, she looked out the window, the wall around the building in sight.
The wall from the first night.
You saw me jump that gap. I can get by, but I could stand to improve.
Was listening intently now, his hands in what passed for pockets and his eyes following hers wherever they went. He was glad they got along and so quickly. He didn't much care to play body guard to arrogant librarians these days. Having her be his friend... if it were to happen... well that made it less of a job and more of a pleasure.
He was eager to make her happy at any rate and would teach her what he knew.
"Ok, well. The way I learned how to leap is simple. When I was two, each day when I woke I had two pots. Water pots. I had to squeeze my hand into them like so and then spread my fingers. That would keep the pots on my hands, see?
That helps you build finger strength. But then, when I had my pots, I had a series of steps from the cell to where the yard was. Large steps. I had to leap onto each one because I could not lift my foot high enough and the pots were heavy. If I was late, I would not get fed. So I had to hurry.
And each time I made it to breakfast on time, they put a handful of sand in each pot."
He looked a little lost for a moment, looking down at his hands and frowning... but then snapped out of it suddenly.
Marlena hid the slight shock she felt at hearing the tactics used to train him. They were extreme and the look on his face as she spoke made her want to reach out and wrap her arms around him. She stayed where she was though, the sudden change back to happy and excited made her dizzy, but it was nice to see that he didn't let it affect him so much. She wondered how many other people he'd told about such things. Speaking softly, her smile remained and her enthusiasm to learn never wavered, a quiet laugh coming from her.
That sounds like a fast way to break a nail or three... Any other tricks up your sleeve to learn?
"Well sure. When you got older, you had to sleep in a pit. A small hole. It wasn't much of a hole at first, maybe waist high. They gave you these iron rings that were molded to your ankles and your wrists too.
You had to dig the whole deeper every day. Not a lot, the day was filled with a lot of other training. And in the morning then, you would have to jump out of the hole. The weights would wear down too, but they would make heavier ones. The hole got deeper, always deeper..."
Again he thought for a moment, looking a little hurt. He swallowed and shook off those emotions.
"But yeah. So. It got harder to get out of that hole every morning. I don't know. Sometimes people couldn't get out. I remember the holes got deep enough you couldn't see anyone when walking past. You weren't allowed to go and look, but you would be lined up for morning training and could hear them crying, or yelling...
... it was worse when the crying stopped. The next morning the hole would be filled in again. Winter was hardest then.
You can feel very alone in a hole. You and the rain. I don't know what was worse about that though. The cold of the rain, the hole slowly filling, or the clouds blocking out the stars. Nothing to see...."
His hands trembled a little then and he suddenly noticed, which brought him back from those memories. Again, he snapped out of it.
"Well hey. How about you try plum poles! Gray taught me those and they work really well!"
Marlena mentally scolded herself. Unfortunately, she relaxed around him enough that it impaired her ability to think about her questions. Her original need of wanting to hug him was multiplied tenfold, but she didn't. She also managed, barely, to hide her disgust at such methods.
Breathing deeply, she looked out the window and tried to rid herself of the images his words placed in her head. She refused to pity him, though. Pity was something useless, especially so long after the fact. She would be a friend to him.
Looking back to him, she smiled, one that wasn't forced, but one that reflected his current mood. Or at least, the one he showed her.
Plum poles? You'll have to forgive my ignorance... All that I have learned is from teaching myself.