The Contest of Blades Part 5 Drakenhof Castle – Antechamber
Winter – 1962 IC
Nicoletto walked back to the antechamber after his match, it had been longer and more challenging than the last with his opponent wielding a scimitar with devastating effect.
“These von Carsteins sure are a varied lot.” he thought to himself.
Still, in the end Nicoletto's superior reach and skill had allowed him an easy enough victory.
Opening the door he was surprised to find the man in black silks still speaking with Simon.
Instead of entering the room the Lahmian surveyed this man in black, his clothes were plain but elegant enough to be considered fashionable if not for the colour choice. He had long hair with the ponytail hanging over one should, it was of a tone matching his garb and he wore the fringe strangely as it came down one side of his face completely hiding one side of his face.
Nicoletto frowned at the sword hanging from the man's waist, it was a curved longsword of a kind that he had never seen before.
Turning the man noticed the Tilean's return and with a slight nod he turned and strode out the door. As he passed Nicoletto the Tilean saw a glimpse of red shining through his fringe
Waiting until the Stranger had left Nicoletto shut the door and strode over to sit across from the blonde vampire.
Nicoletto frowned seeing a look of worry on the von Carstein's face, it was an expression ill-suited for the poet.
“What is the matter Simon?”
The handsome man suddenly grinned, banishing any outwardly sign of concern.
“It's nothing, a personal manner only.”
Nicoletto leant back in his chair, unconvinced but also sure he would find no answers so instead he asked another question.
“Fair enough. So who was that?”
“Hmm? Oh him? That was Akarin he's a servant that serves directly under the Count. He works as an advisor mostly, deals with financial and economical matters which most of the family couldn't care less about.”
“An Immortal Accountant...sounds fascinating.”
Simon nodded but didn't seem to be paying attention causing Nicoletto to sigh with annoyance and change the topic completely.
“Well I won by the way, I thought you'd have wanted to watch.” the Tilean said pretending to be hurt.
Simon laughed his usual humour returning “I apologise, who was your opponent?”
“I'm not even going to pretend to pronounce his name, he was Arabian and was quite handy with a scimitar.”
Simon nodded “He's one of Hans' lot, not awfully fun...they seem to like being all mysterious but they're not particularly dangerous.”
Feeling annoyed the Tilean glared at Simon, he hadn't even watched the match! “Well this one was deadly enough, trust me.”
Simon shook his head still grinning “That's not what I meant. They're not dangerous at court, Hans is a terrible schemer and they have no political strength, his entire focus is caught up in the games played between the 2nd Generation.”
Nicoletto was particularly sure why Simon was telling him any of this, he had no interest in politics afterall. “I see...”
“All I'm saying is that you don't need to fear retribution.”
The Tilean looked startled, the thought hadn't even occurred to him. “Why would anyone want retribution? Well except Karek and his mistress for being sore losers.”
Simon looked at his new friend strangely “Really? You can't possibly be that naive.”
“How is that naive? It's just a game.”
Simon sighed “To you maybe, for the von Carstein family it's all about status. Losing to an outsider? Not something they're going to be pleased with. Even the spectators may get...annoyed.”
Nicoletto cursed “Great.”
Simon waved his concern aside “We'll worry about it after the matches are done. I've already taken some steps to secure your place at Drakenhof but there's only so much I can do. You'll have to find a way to make them either respect, need or fear you, preferably all those things.”
The Tilean grimaced “Can't I just be nondescript? Maybe they'll ignore me?”
Simon shrugged “After this tournmament? I doubt it, besides it'd be better to be someone at court rather than a hanger on.”
Standing the blonde vampire walked towards the door “A matter for another time either way. I want to go watch the other matches.”
“I didn't think you were overly interested in the fencing?”
“Actually I usually am, besides...” Simon give the other vampire an amused smile “I want to show you how to successfully be an outsider in Sylvania.”
Intrigued Nicoletto followed the von Carstein as he walked out of the room.
"Besides" he thought to himself "It's probably a good idea to see the competition."
I think that pretty much sums it up! That's what you get for having a jack-of-all-trades bloodline, I suppose. And interesting conversation. A little ironic a Lahmian isn't diving into intrigue. Then again, if I recall correctly he was sired for a specific purpose and then forgotten about as long as he keeps a low profile, and is just wandering around looking for something to do?
Karl stood tapping his cane on the ground as he waited for the next match to commence. “Who's next?” Emilie asked.
Karl turned to look at his beautiful mate, Baroness Emilie von Teuf, she stood at his side holding the hand of another vampiress. “Akimitsu and Sir Hans I believe.”
Emilie's eyes lit up “Now that will be interesting.”
Karl chuckled, aside from his own father, those two were likely the most skilled vampire swordsmen in Drakenhof at this moment. “Dragons of the East and West do battle.” Sariah said with a giggle.
Karl smiled faintly at the vampiress which Emilie had offered to look after for Isabella, Sariah was the mate of Isabella's favourite, a young boy called Simon.
Karl himself didn't have much time to socialise sadly but Emilie spent more time at Drakenhof than their own Barony these days and had grown fond of the seemingly insane woman. Karl himself had met her a few times and he had to admit that she was somewhat endearing although he had yet to be properly introduced to her husband despite his favoured position at Court. “We should return to our table my love.” Karl reminded her gently.
Emilie shook her head “I'll stay with Sariah until Simon arrives.”
Karl nodded his understanding, despite Isabella's favouritism the table had been reserved for Vlad's children and their chosen partners. “Very well, then please excuse me ladies.” Karl said with a courtly bow which caused Sariah to break into giggles again before turning and striding towards the top of the hall.
Nicoletto followed Simon into the hall and immediately lost him in the crowd when the the other vampire suddenly sped up at the sight of something or someone.
After a few minutes of shoving and muttered apologies the Tilean swordsman finally found his friend standing with two women, one of whom he was embracing with a cheerful laugh. Both were quite beautiful, although that wasn't a rare trait with their kind...after all who wanted to have an ugly immortal following them around for eternity?
The more aristocratic looking of the two ladies noticed Nicolleto first, luckily for him he knew her well. “Baroness von Teuf.” he said with taking her hand and kissing it with a bow “It's a pleasure to see you again.”
Emilie smiled “Master Nicoletto, how are you enjoying Drakenhof?” she asked, her voice carrying the distinctive cultured accent of the Sylvanian upper class.
Nicoletto grimaced “I wish I was back in Teufhof.”
“Really? Not enjoying the capital?”
“Not enjoying the politics...or the attention in general my lady.”
Emilie give a musical laugh “Karl knew you wouldn't.”
“Then why did he submit our friend here to this Contest?” Simon asked joining the conversation with his arm around Sariah's waist. “The Baron has his reasons, the prize for winning the Tournament for one.”
Simon frowned “Prize? I didn't think it was announced yet.”
“Well not to the lesser members of the family.”
Simon looked momentarily annoyed until he saw Emilie's amused expression at which he only shook his head before turning to Nicoletto. “Ah I haven't introduced you to my wife yet. This is the lovely Lady Sariah.”
“You're very pretty.” she said looking up at Nicoletto. “I...uh...thank you my lady.” The Tilean said after the initial shock of Sariah's words wore off.
Simon smirked at his friend's obvious discomfort before nodding towards the ring. “So Akarin's boss is up next, right?”
Simon looked over to Emilie for a response when another voice rang out from behind Simon. “He's not my boss, he's my teacher, master, my sensei if you want to get multi-lingual.”
Simon cursed as Sariah let out a slight yelp and the two spun around to see Akarin grinning at them.
“Damn it Akarin! You need to stop sneaking up on people! Or you'll need to start wearing a bloody bell!” Simon stated with annoyance as he turned to see Nicoletto and Emilie grinning, clearly surmising that the other two vampires had seen the sneaky von Carstein behind them “And a little warning next time please.”
Akarin grinned and joined the others, giving a respectful bow to Emilie before turning to look at Nicoletto. “I apologise for leaving so abruptly earlier, I had a meeting to attend. My name is Akarin von Haulf, financial advisor to the Count, it is a pleasure to formally make your acquaintance Master Viggiani.”
Nicoletto found his gaze drawn to Akarin's fringe remembering the red glow he'd seen earlier. “The pleasure is all mine Lord von Haulf.”
Akarin frowned for a moment before smirking and touching his hand to the right side of his face “Curious?”
Nicoletto stammered an apology for staring which Akarin waved away and instead pulled back his fringe to show a glowing red right eye which he covered up again in a moment “I've had it for a few years now, it's stuck that colour I'm afraid. A little distracting, thus the hair.”
“I didn't mean to stare.” the Tilean apologised.
Akarin just shook his head “There's no harm in curiosity Nicoletto.”
Akarin nodded “Master K-...Chishio-Ryuu is up next against the current leader of Sylvania's Blood Knights.”
Nicoletto frowned, he had no idea who they were talking about. “Akem-what now? Is that some sort of Cathayan name?” The Tilean asked after giving up trying to say the unfamiliar name. “Akimitsu and it's Nipponese...also he would consider it disrespectful to hear you speaking about him on a first name basis so be careful.” Akarin responded with a chuckle.
Akarin looked over to the tournament ring where Thomas was standing with a few Templars making gestures. “Looks like they're getting things ready, Emilie should we get going?”
Simon frowned “What? Going where?”
Akarin tilted his head slightly and with a slightly bemused expression he pointed towards the Throne and the table where Vlad's gets were sitting. “You can't go up there!” Simon said sounding outraged.
Akarin grinned “I'm afraid you can't go up there, I however can and indeed must.”
“Even Isabella couldn't get Vlad to give me a seat up there.”
“Well luckily Vlad got Vlad to get me 'up there'.”
Simon glared at Akarin until the other vampire finally give in. “Well I don't have a seat...you know as his 'advisor' I have to stand beside his throne...all night...silently, it's really quite boring. Close enough to Vlad's kid's to hear them bickering...” he paused to glance at Emilie “Karl excluded of course, but too far away to beat them into silence.”
Nicoletto glanced over to Vlad's children, his eyes locking on the huge brute that Karl had told him was called Konrad. “You would strike him.” he asked disbelievingly.
Akarin looked over to the table. “Sure I would...from behind...with a dozen or so friends in a dark hallway.”
The advisor grinned again “But we really must be going.” holding out a hand he bowed with an over the top flourish. “My lady.”
Rolling her eyes Emilie took Akarin's hand. “Very well.” she nodded to the others “I'll speak with you all later.”
Akarin give a quick nod to the others and after hooking his arm around Emilie's the two set off towards were Karl was sitting with his brethren.
Simon sighed and with one last envious glance at the leaving vampire and vampiress he turned back to Nicoletto “Well the match should be starting soon at least.”
No sooner had he spoken than Thomas, standing in the centre of the ring, held up his hands. “Brethren! Quiet down please!”
The hall fell to relative silence before the Templar Grandmaster spoke again “The next match will be Master Akimitsu no Chishio-Ryuu of Nippon, Champion to the Count.”
At this Konrad half-stood only to sit down heavily in his chair whilst grumbling angrily.
The crowd clapped politely as the Nipponese man walked out, he was tall and muscular with his hair tied up into a top-knot and a rough beard. To Nicoletto's surprise the warrior only wore some sort of black eastern style robe with no armour and at his waist hung the same sort of longsword that Akarin had been wearing earlier although he had a matching shortsword. “And his opponent is Sir Hans Hector, Master of the Sylvanian-sworn Blood Knights, formerly of Blood Keep.”
At that the hall broke into rapturous applause as the grey haired elderly looking man strode in, taller than Akimitsu although slightly leaner wearing a crimson courtier's garb. At his waist hung a knightly full-length hand and a half longsword.
“Clearly a favourite.” Nicoletto thought to himself.
Akarin's boss! (Yes I'm playing on his line 'He's not my boss, he's my teacher') And it's convenient to be able to carry through characters from other stories.
And these stories are quite well wriitten. I'm still not convinced I've quite accurately protrayed canon characters in my own stories, and I wouldn't dare use another person's character for more than passing/setting reference (like referencing Simon in an early Pale Web scene to show it's in the TVCverse). But you...let's just say for portrayal.
Akimitsu is actually pretty annoyed that he missed the whole war with Nagash due to being in a different country at the time.
But yes he's the sort of honourable warrior type on the surface but underneath he's more the "Be honourable but also win at any cost" type, he's solely based on a historical character, that being said he uses no magic or sneakiness although he does rely on psychological warfare when necessary.
But yes he's the sort of honourable warrior type on the surface but underneath he's more the "Be honourable but also win at any cost" type, he's solely based on a historical character, that being said he uses no magic or sneakiness although he does rely on psychological warfare when necessary.
“The contestants will salute each other.” Thomas proclaimed.
Sir Hans Hector unsheathed his blade, held it before him and turned to salute Vlad with his sword before turning back to Akimitsu to salute his opponent. Meanwhile the Nipponese swordsman merely bowed to the Count and then the knight.
Nicoletto saw Thomas hesitate seeing that Akimitsu had yet to unsheathe his blade and then with a slight shrug he shouted “Begin!”
The Lahmian smirked as Hans took an uncertain step forward and then stopped as the Nipponese man just stared, unmoving. He raised his blade into a high guard, sword held above his head but still Akimitsu didn't move. The moments stretched on and the crowd began to mutter impatiently, clearly unhappy with what should have been a bloody spectacle.
Suddenly Hans seemed to have had enough and leapt forward in a vicious down cut, despite knowing that the Blood Dragon was an undead immortal it still surprised Nicoletto to see an old looking man move with such speed and grace.
Akimitsu moved with shocking agility, he shifted slightly off the centre line so that the longsword passed him by mere inches, his right hand flashed up to grasp the knight's wrist and his left hand crashed into Hans' jaw. As the Blood Knight reeled from the sudden strike Akimitsu swung him around to send him stumbling away.
Without waiting Akimitsu stepped after his opponent and slashed at his head with a draw cut but with supernatural ability the knight recovered and deflected the curved sword at the last second.
The two warriors paused, both seemingly surprised at the other's skill.
“Impressive.” Simon murmured.
Nicoletto turned to look at Simon whilst still trying to keep the two contestants in his sight.
“I didn't realise there were people who could fight like....well like this.” he admitted.
Simon chuckled seemingly finding that amusing although Nicoletto had no idea why.
“Well I hope you're watching carefully if you want to learn.” the poet said.
Nicoletto turned back to the ring to see that both men move to be just outside of engagement range. The foreigner had his strange blade held in a centre stance, the tip aimed at the knight's throat meanwhile Hans had his sword held over his right shoulder, tip angled backwards in a stance that in Tilea had been called Posta de Donna Destraza.
The two men simply stared at each other, then Akimitsu moved his feet so that they were completely parallel and dropped his sword to hang slightly below his waist but with the tip pointing at Hans.
“What the hell is that? That's no fighting stance, there's no stability.” Nicoletto muttered.
“It is rather...open.” Simon agreed.
“Perhaps he wants to play that way.” Sariah sang softly as she looked around the hall, completely uninterested in the match.
Before either men could reply the fighters moved. Hans took a slightly step forward to move back into range and then swung the blade straight down.
The next few movements happened so fast that barely half the vampires in the hall could follow.
Akimitsu sidestepped and blocked the blow, allowing the longsword to run along his blade and off the end, Akimitsu then twisted and brought his sword up above his head and then attempted to slam the base of the hilt at Hans' forehead.
Hans took a step back and caught the attack by the pommel in the palm of his hand and swung his sword, one-handed at the Nipponese vampire's ribs.
The blow was blocked as Akimitsu withdrew his curved short-sword with his left-hand, Akimitsu capitalised on Hans' shock and drove a boot into his chest to drive him back.
The Eastern swordsman raised his longer sword above his head whilst keeping his shorter sword at a centered position. Meanwhile Hans recovered swiftly and this time leapt forward as quickly as he could, thrusting his blade at the other vampire's throat.
Akimitsu sidestepped and crossed his swords into a X-block which he used to catch and push aside his opponent's longsword out of the way, he swiftly uncrossed one of the blades and swung it in a single smooth horizontal cut, stopping it only a sliver away from the other man's throat.
“Halt!” Thomas yelled.
Akimitsu stepped back, lifted away his blade and holding them vertically whilst Hans stepped back and lowered his blade to his side. The Nipponese vampire bowed whilst the Imperial saluted.
“Master Chishio-Ryuu is the winner!”
The room broke out into sporadic applause which took a few moments to pick up, most of the spectators having been caught unawares at the match's sudden end.
“Amazing.” The Tilean breathed as he clapped.
“And that, my dear friend, is how an outsider survives at the Drakenhof Court. Neither of those men are von Carstien or Sylvanian but one is the Count's own Champion whilst the other leads the second most powerful group of warriors under Vlad. Neither has to sully their hands with politics nor do they have to fear frequent attacks from the famly.” Simon explained.
“Because they're respected?”
The blonde von Carstein smiled “Respected? Yes respected but also feared.” he glanced at his friend “Come, let me introduce you.”
Nicoletto strode back towards his room, whilst the Nipponese and Imperial Blood Dragons had been pleasant the Lahmian had not found the experience to be so. Akimitsu had been overly formal, seemingly getting offended by the slightest attempt as casual conversation whilst Hans the too Honourable deeply needed to learn how to relax.
The Tilean sighed, Karl was about as stuffy as Nicoletto could stand and those two made the Baron seem like a party animal. Speaking of Karl perhaps they could have a talk soon, perhaps he could even convince the von Carstein to allow him to return to the Barony and pull out of the tournament.
"Doubtful." he thought to himself.
Slowing down Nicoletto stopped and glanced around.
"...where the hell am I?" he muttered and then after a few moments he realized he was lost "Stupid castle!"
Nearly half an hour later Nicoletto finally managed to find his way back to his quarters. The Lahmian's head had begun to ache slightly, even in this unholy fortress he could sense the sun rise.
With a yawn he pushed open his door...and froze.
Lisette looked up from where she sat atop the lid of Nicoletto's coffin.
Nicoletto's hand flew to his rapier and he tore it from his scabbard in a clumsy motion that lacked the sort of grace he would have liked.
"Oh stop that!" the Handmaiden snapped with annoyance and hopped from her perch.
She walked straight to the other vampire until the point of his blade touched her.
"Well?" she demanded.
Nicoletto suddenly felt rather silly pointing his sword at this beautiful noblewoman who stood staring at him with her hands on her hips.
"What do you want?" he growled as he sheathed his weapon "Why are you in my room?"
"These are von Carstien rooms, you're just a guest here." she reminded him condescendingly.
"And you're a stuck up bitch!"
"Watch your mouth Lahmian!"
"Or what? You'll ambush me again with your buddies!"
The two glared daggers at each other for several unpleasant moments before Lisette practically stamped her foot angrily.
"No, no, no! This is all wrong! I didn't come here to fight you!" the Handmaiden cried in frustration.
"Then why are you here?"
"To thank you!" she yelled "You idiot!"
Nicoletto stared in shock at her before replying. "You...wait? What? Why?"
"For not killing me? For not killing Karek? For having Simon heal me! You have noticed my face isn't a ruined mess, right?"
Feeling rather uncomfortable at being thanked by this quite unpredictable woman was made a little worst by now noticing how perfect and unblemished her features now where.
"Lisette really is quite beautiful...if insanely murderous and perhaps a little mad." he thought to himself.
"Right...not a problem, glad Simon was able to fix it." he replied awkwardly.
"Yes." she murmured running a hand over her cheek "I was rather surprised the boy had the skill truth be told." she lowered her hand, frowning at the rapier master with sudden confusion. "Why did you not kill me? Better yet why did you make a deal with Simon to undo the damage?"
"You heard that?"
Nicoletto walked around the woman to sit in one of the chairs in the corner. Once seated he looked up at her. "Ah...you wouldn't happen to know what he'd want?"
She smiled looking amused "Know any good poems?" Nicoletto shook his head slightly "Then I've no idea. We're not exactly friends as you might have noticed the other night? It did take you twisting his arm to save my life from that hateful blade of his. Then there was the fact he attacked me with no provocation."
"You mean when he saved my life from your murder attempt?"
"Yeah, same thing." she said casually.
Nicoletto raised an eyebrow "I see."
Lisette took a seat in the empty chair near the fencing master and leant towards him. "Don't change the topic, why?"
Nicoletto sighed softly and relaxed more into the chair taking a moment to seriously consider the question. On the surface of it the answer could be "to save a life" but then again, when had he ever been concerned with taking a life? Especially when it was to save his own?
After a moment he just shrugged and smiled faintly "I suppose I just didn't want to mar something so pretty." he answered jokingly.
Despite the Tilean clearly not being serious Lisette looked quite pleased by his reply.
"Well...can we forget this then?" she asked hesitantly.
"I'm afraid not, you tried to kill me." he said.
Shockingly the vampiress looked quite disappointed.
"But..." Nicoletto continued with a smirk "I can probably forgive you though...you're not the first woman to try and kill me after all. Just don't do it again."
Lisette nodded and beamed at him "Thank you."
She leapt to her feet "I won't keep you up any longer." With a courtesy she smiled beautifully at him "I wish you a pleasant night Lord Viggiani."
Nicoletto sat in the dark for several minutes after she'd left. That had been...odd to say the least. Still at least it meant he was no longer in any danger from angry and jealous members of the von Cartein House.
Straightening up the Tilean was thankful that there were no matches tomorrow although Simon had requested he meet him after sundown. After remove his sword belt and changing into a less expensive garb the vampire climbed into his coffin.
Within moments of closing the lid he slept the sleep of the dead.
Nicoletto had left his coffin just as the sun set but still feeling groggy, unused to rising so early, he had forgone changing clothes and worn the lesser garb he'd went to sleep in.
Still thanks to being dead and sleeping as a corpse the clothes always looked completely fresh.
"A win for the walking dead!"
The Tilean reached the hall he had described to see Simon doing some, in Nicoletto's opinion, poor lunges with his sword as he attacked an imaginary opponent.
"Busy?" he asked making Simon spin around before relaxing as he saw his friend.
"Nicoletto! I'm glad you made it!".
Nicoletto strode in and looked around the huge hall realising it was a Salle d'armes, with targets, practice weapons and protective gear.
"You certainly must get up early." he said to Simon still looking around.
"Yes, I woke before sunrise and made my way straight here."
Nicoletto blinked "You can rise before the sun...I didn't know that was possible."
Simon smiled "When you're older you may learn."
"I'm older than you!"
The poet chuckled "Seriously it can with time although not everyone is capable of it. Now!" he exclaimed changing the topic "I'm cashing in that favour."
Nicoletto gulped nervously "Y..yes?"
"Teach me to fight like you do."
"What...wait you want me to teach you to fence?"
"Yes, the art of the rapier."
Nicoletto laughed drawing a frown from Simon but the Tilean held up a hand before the other vampire could speak "You didn't need to make any sort of deal for that! I'd happily teach you what I know, it's been some time since I've had a fencing partner who practices with the rapier."
Simon looked relieved. "That's a rare thing my friend, most of our kind are a little to paranoid to teach each other how to be better at killing."
Nicoletto smirk "I figure if you wanted me dead you could have managed it by now. Well then, let's get started."
So, a Vampire slept the sleep of the dead? And this is where his position as a fencing master begins...And interesting Lisette apologised. I'd never trust someone who just happened to be sitting in my bedroom...
Nicoletto side stepped and counter-thrust with contemptuous ease, his blunt foil jabbing Simon in the side.
“That's enough for now.”
Simon looked disappointed as he lowered his identical practice weapon.
“But I didn't even get one point.” the poet said miserably.
“I'd like to think not, if you managed to outdo me after a few hours of practice I'd be rather demoralised.”
“No fear of that then.” Simon muttered rubbing his ribs.
“The art of the sword takes some time my friend.”
“Well if you can call those little twigs swords.” a new comer said in a strong Estalian accent.
The two fencers turned around to see a tall broad chested vampire with a sword as tall as a man leaning against his shoulder.
“Who the hells are you?” Nicoletto demanded.
The stranger turned away “The master of these halls.” he said walking over to the opposite side of the hall.
Simon leant in towards his friend. “That is Afonso...something, something De Barros...I think, he's from Estalia and we never really could get his name right, eventually he stopped offering to correct us.”
“That's because you Imperials speak in a terrible growl that butchers the finer languages of the world.” Afonso said from the far side of the hall as he turned and strode back towards them.
Simon grimaced “And he's got excellent hearing.”
Nicoletto nodded to the man “So...your halls?”
“Yes my halls.” Alfonso replied, up close the Tilean could see he had bright blye eyes which seemed to glow with some kind of inner light. Nicoletto couldn't help notice that he was also strikingly handsome, in that "perfect Demi-God" sort of way, the fencer didn't like that...
“How your halls? I thought the position of Court Fencing Master was vacant?”
Afonso glanced around the big hall and smiled “Ah...I see how you could think this is the Drakenhof Salle, no this is the personal training area of the Count's Greatsword Regiment.” he paused and turned his gaze on Simon “But the young Lord is aware of that.”
Simon refused to meet Afonso's gaze “I'm sure Dieter wouldn't mind, we're old friends you know.”
“I think you're stretching the term 'friend' a little, but as much as he's in command of the Greatswords I'm in charge of their training.”
Nicoletto felt shock at that, he knew of Vlad's Greatswordsmen although he hadn't met them. A group of master swordsmen Blood Dragons who bore the Imperial Zweihander into battle...if this man was their trainer.
Alfonso turned to look at Nicoletto and chuckled slightly at his expression. “Don't be so impressed, I'm only one of their trainers, they have swordsmen from the Empire, Bretonnia, Kislev, the Border Princes and Tilea. I'm just their Estalian trainer, the good Captain likes his men to be diverse with their killing ability.”
“Then surely you share this hall between you all?” Nicoletto asked.
Simon laughed softly “They had a fight.”
Alfonso give Simon a dark look before turning back to Nicoletto “We had a serious discussion and my fellow fencing masters agreed that I should be in charge of the halls. They all use it to train the Greatswords but when the soldiers aren't here they go elsewhere if they wish to ply their trade.”
Nicoletto nodded slightly, he was guessing the two statements were not mutually exclusive “You must be pretty good then.”
“I've got enough skill to be useful to Vlad's people.”
“You're not von Carstein?”
“No, like you I'm an outsider although one from a different lineage.”
“Are you competing in the tournament too?”
A look of disgust flashed across Alfonso's face “Gods no! I like my beatings to be given to me in private.”
Nicoletto smirked “I can't say I disagree, my own participation started off as somewhat involuntary.”
Alfonso nodded “I can understand that but at least there's a day of rest until the next match.”
Alfonso glanced at the door and then back at the others. “I'm just about to go find something to eat, would you like to join me?”
Simon grinned “I'd love to go for a hunt.”
Alfonso shook his head slightly “Not a hunt, there's nothing worth hunting around here for miles...I don't feed on farmers.” he said in disgust “However there's plenty of criminals in the dungeons, they'll do until a worthy prey is available.”
Simon didn't seem to like that idea but it did put a smile on Nicoletto's face, Karl had taught him that they shouldn't feed on those they rule...thus they would have to leave Sylvania to feed but using criminals as a ready blood supply was an elegant enough solution.
“I'd be happy to join you.” he said putting his foil into one of the wall mounts and grabbing his sword belt, followed the huge vampire out of the room.
After a few moments Simon sighed heavily. “Wait! I'm coming!” he yelled throwing his foil against the wall, grabbing Animessor and chasing after the others.