(This story takes place after ”Outrageous Fortune”. For other "Stories about Trolls", see the listing.)
"Again!" little Ingot cried out, youthful eyes wide with enthusiasm.
"All right! All right!" Bladesong laughed. "But just once more. Momma's next class starts soon, and she has to be ready."
Her six-year-old son held up his wooden practice-sword in his right hand and shifted into a fair approximation of the ready stance. Right leg forward, the other behind it, chest at an angle, left arm curled in back, right arm out with blade aimed at his teacher's chest. It was a pose that would give an opposing swordsman as little to strike at as possible.
Bladesong began as she would with any older student, by calling out blocking positions. "First! Eighth! Eighth! Seventh! Second! First!" Ingot obliged with a series of motions that set the blade to protect strikes against the lower half of his body. His moves were wide but not wild, and a year's growth of mind and muscle would give them focus. She then ran him through the upper half. "Third! Fifth! Fourth! Fifth!" She stopped, and corrected the way he held his hand on the overhead stance. "Remember the point is to guide the other fellow's sword away from you." She pantomimed with a finger, her hand sliding along the top of his blade and far away from his shoulder. "Keep your sword where you had it and the enemy will just push your own blade into your skull. Then we'll have to stop calling you Ingot and call you In-Half!"
The boy giggled and set his sword to the ready position again, but she waved him off. "Away with you, now. Go practice with your siblings." She watched him bound out of the practice room's back door with a lump of pride in her heart. Any child of two members of Tactics and Arms could handle a practice blade. But hers with Redpike, her Ingot, had taken to the sword best and fastest of any child she’d ever tutored. He'd soon earn a real, if blunted, shortsword of his own. And his proud mother had made sure to sneak away enough coin to buy it.
She took a moment to marvel at how well the boy's name suited him. Something raw and new that would in time be molded into something great. Then she opened the room's front doors to welcome the next batch of raw cadets, wondering how many of them couldn’t handle a blade half as well as her boy.