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The sickening sweet sound of flesh hitting flesh was the only thing that could be heard throughout the room. A man whose face had seen many battles, many lives and had the scars to prove it swung the blunt sword at his opponent. The man was known as The Bear, for his great height and savagery in battle, rained down more blows against his opponent.
A girl no more then thirteen faced The Bear, her cheek bloodied her breathing labored, her determination unmatched. This wasn't the first of these “lessons”, as her mother would call them, nor would it be the last. While girls her age were sewing, cooking, tending fields and baring children she was learning the art of being a warrior. Many of nights her mother came to her in the darkness and spoke of how women of there world were treated as if they were nothing. Her mother would tell the tell how men thought women are weak and stupid and that she refused have a daughter that was either one of those things. That women were never going to be nothing and were worth nothing.
“But, how could you be nothing my child.” She would say often.
“You are iron and lace.” She would say so righteously.
Iron and lace, what did that mean to her, she was just a girl who still played with dolls and dreamed of marrying her Prince Charming. How was she supposed to be as unbending as iron and as delicate as lace. How was she so different then any other girl her age, how was she supposed to be better?
The Bear could see that the as he and the girl faced off against each other, she was getting tired with each blow, each counterstrike each and every little decision a warrior must make in battle. The Bear could see that she had enough, they would always be tomorrow or the next day for her to learn to fight.
“My lady, she’s had enough for today,” came gruffly from The Bear.
Her royal highness queen Integra de Leon was the third queen of the great King Athelstan of Arcadia. Tall in stature and dark in looks she often attracted men to her beauty. Some say her beauty was unmatched by anyone in the kingdom, when the king saw her in his court he had to have her. King Athelstan was a man who demand the very best and anything less was not good enough for him. His first wife princess Surine of the Blacktower had the voice of an angel and looks to match, but soon the king tired of her. After her third misscarriage he cast her off for her inability to bare him princes. His second wife Ravenna of Vertias was mouse of a woman who wasn't gifted in looks or intellegience but made up for it wealth. The second year of thier marriage she died in childbirth, she gave birth to a stillborn daughter. The king wanted one thing above all else and that was prince to bare his name like all the other kings that came before him. With the birth of his daughter he has been denied his one true desire, if the queen did not produce a son it would not bode well for her.
"Unfortuntly for her it will never be enough, she has to suffer this life inferior in the eyes of men."
The queen would not let her daughter be weak, not in mind, body or spirit. If her husband found out what she was doing he would likely kill her with his bare hands. Fourtenly for her, he was off in some far land conquering its people and stealing its riches. Integra made her way over to The Bear and her only child, leaning down to whisper in her ear she spoke sofly.
"You are iron and lace."
Standing straight and just as poised as ever the Queen spoke one simple word to the The Bear.