Centurion Cassius Severus paced along the ranks of his Century. He was a large Antillan man, who had served on the Shieldwall fighting the Icemen for over ten years. He had blond hair, shorn close to his scalp in Legion fashion, and cold grey eyes. While he regarded his Legionnaires with a look of contempt, he was actually fairly pleased with their progress. Each and every one of them was a new recruit to the Second Aleran, and had learned to march in formation in only a few days, something that is much harder than it actually sounds.
Severus believed that discipline was the only thing that held a Legion together, and that the Legions were the only things separating Alera from certain destruction. As a result, he took his duties very seriously. As his Century came to a halt, he called out in his loudest voice, "Congratulations, fish. Now that you've demonstrated at least some basic competence, I might be able to trust you with some weapons training now."
Severus extended his watercrafting senses, and felt a wave of relief coming from the ranks. They were sick of marching, and were ready, or so they thought, to begin the "real" training. He smirked, and made a motion to the wagons standing by on the edge of the field. As the valets brought the wagons closer to the Legionnaires, Severus said, "Alright, now I want each of you to take a wooden rudius, and get back into formation."
As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he was hit by another wave of emotion, this one of disappointment. "What?" He called out. "Did you think I would trust a bunch of flailing fish with real weapons on the first day? You'd kill each other."
The Legionnaires grumbled, as they picked up the heavy, wooden swords, and got back into their ranks. Severus demonstrated how to properly fight in a shieldwall formation, showing them to always keep their shield high, and to interlock with the man next to them. He watched as the fish made clumsy, chopping movements with their swords, and corrected them, saying, "No, no. It's more of a thrust, like this."
As he showed the correct technique, he overheard one of the Legionnaires whisper to the man next to him, "Why is he showing us this? I know how to fight."
Severus whipped his head around toward the hundred assembled Legionnaires. "Who said that?"
The men in the front rank flinched at the intensity of the Centurion's voice. A hand went up and said, "It was Flavius, Sir!"
"Flavius Benedictus! Get over here, now!"
A young Legionnaire came forward. He wasn't very tall, but had a lean muscular frame. Severus suspected that he was a Steadholder's son. He couldn't have been more than 16 years old, meaning that this was the first of his two required terms in the Legions.
"So, Benedictus, you think you can fight?"
Without hesitating, the young Legionnaire said, "Yes, Sir."
Severus dropped into a fighting stance, shield in front, and rudius in his right hand. "Show me."
Benedictus adopted the same posture, and the two men clashed. Within seconds, Severus and made a quick thrust into Benedictus' right side, in a weak point on his armor. The Centurion relaxed and said, "If this was a real fight, you'd be dead."
"No, Sir," said Benedictus. "I have some metalcraft; I would just shrug it off." He then made a clumsy thrust towards the distracted Centurion, who parried the stroke with ease.
"If you want to keep it up, fine." Severus delivered several more blows to the young Legionnaire, striking him on the side, in the same spot. The last time, he heard a rib crack, and Benedictus went down, gasping in agony.
"There's no way you're that good with metalcraft. Otherwise you'd be a Knight Ferrous. You're dead, Benedictus." Severus turned back towards the ranks, who applauded his victory. "Now, who was it who turned in Benedictus, here?"
Another young Legionnaire, this one looking to be a few years older than Benedictus, came forward. "What's your name, Legionnaire?"
"Antonius Cicero, Sir."
Severus smiled, and placed his rudius on the ground. Then he took out his Centurion's baton and struck Cicero across the bridge of his nose. "Legionnaire," he said, as Cicero clutched his bleeding, broken nose. "If you ever tell me another crowbegotten lie like that, I will develop earthcrafting, just so that I can beat you harder." Severus went over to the fallen Benedictus. "Come on, let me help you up." He helped the Legionnaire to his feet, and turned to the rest of his Century, "You lot, march circles until I get back. Cicero, that means you too. Get back in formation"
As Severus helped the wounded Legionnaire to the medical tent, he said, "That was a bloody brave thing you did, Benedictus. And in true Legion fashion, I'd say."
Through pained gasps, Benedictus said, "I was just doing what you said, Sir; protecting the man next to me, even if he wouldn't do the same."
The Centurion chuckled. "Believe me, if I do my job right, Cicero will do the same when it comes down to it. If not, he'll get Legionnaires killed. And if that happens, I'll kill the crowbegotten coward myself."
Silence fell until they reached the medical tent. Severus hadn't been there yet, but every Legion camp was set up in the exact same manner. If you could find your way through one, you could find your way through them all. He helped Benedictus remove his armor, and lowered him into a tub filled with water. Severus placed his hand in the water and felt Titus, his water fury, flow throughout the tub. "It's not that bad of a wound." He said. "I'll have you fixed up in no time."
"I didn't realize you were a watercrafter, Sir."
"I dabble in it, I'm better with metal. The fact that I have metalcraft is the only thing that lets me fight. I can shut out the flood of other people's emotions that watercraft lets me feel. Otherwise I'd just fall into a sobbing heap."
Benedictus seemed to be getting better. He was able to speak more clearly, as Severus felt Titus moving through the wound, mending the cracked rib. "Thank you, Sir."
"No thanks necessary, Legionnaire. I'm just doing my duty." He pulled his hand from the water. "That should do it. Just get some food and sleep, and you should be better by morning."
As he rose from the tub, Benedictus said, "Are you going to go back to the Century now?"
Severus shook his head. "Not yet. They can stand to march circles for a while longer." Both men laughed as they exited the tent.