I stood in the training room with Celia and Matthew. Poor Matthew looked so excited to finally be able to train with ‘us’. He had finally passed all his physical and mental exams mother set apparently. Celia turned to look at me.
“You’re being so serious, Evey, It’s making me nervous.”
Ignoring her, I ducked and rolled out of the way. A knife flying past me. The two besides me looked confused. They were dead weight at the moment. My body moving as it was trained to do. I got up and ran to one of the walls. Grabbing the knife as a hand held I flipped up over a ledge and laid down flat. It was my job to become a smaller target and have a good vantage point.
“Celia, Matthew you two had poor reaction time and a poor understanding of the combat situation.”
The two turned to look at my mother. She was dressed in full combat gear- armed from head to toe.
“Evey, what made you think you could abandon Celia and Matthew. You were the experienced leader.”
I crawled a bit further over the edge. My father was also armed. However, he was still less scary looking than mother. I watched Matthew bow to my mother.
“I will do better next time, Institute Head!”
My mother shook her head no.
“In here, You will address me as Combat Instructor. Now then, as punishment for your first failure I want you to climb that wall while dodging my knives.”
The two of them looked shocked. I was not at all. My mother looked annoyed.
“The longer you make me wait the more knives I throw.”
Celia and Anthony ran to the wall. My gentle father was smiling at me in expectation.
“Shouldn’t you already be down by now? You need more room to dodge while throwing knives to help them.”
I wanted to cry. My father became a different man when he was around my mother.
“Yes, Combat Instructor.”
Ignoring the desperate looks from my two new trainees I climbed down. My father walked over to the side of the room where there was a lone door. When he opened it the five young warriors under mother’s command came out armed. They were not shadow hunters but they were all trained down worlders. There was a reason my mother had turned London into ‘the city supported by endless pillars’. I closed my ears to Celia’s and Matthew’s cries. Instead, taking a deep breath, I raised my shotel. My father smiling.
“Are you ready trainee?”
I nodded my head. The five warriors and my father coming at me. Without even turning around to look at me or stop her throwing my mother began to question us.
“What is the motto of this institute.”
Swing my shotel to block my favorite werewolf ‘s training sword I shouted,
“Potius Mori Quam Foedari, Instructor!”
My father smiled and asked the next question.
“Why is that this Institute’s Motto?”
I answered again. Nearly getting hit by a warlock’s fire spell. This was completely unfair to a thirteen year old!
“Because this institute has always stood on the forefront of our battles! Civil as well!”
I felt my arm yanked back by one of the fae’s in our employment. His shark tooth like smile sending chills down my spine. Something about those smiles I would never get used to. The werewolf from before coming around him to grab my other arm. My father was still smiling. I’m sure my mother would look disappointed if I could see her expression.
“How many people currently work at this institute?”
I saw my father walking towards me with his staff. He was definitely going to hit me. I yelled as loud as I could.
“93 inhabitants! 72 of which work!”
My father shook his head in disappointment.
“Helping your fellow trainees doesn’t mean answering all the questions for them.”
I could hear my mother shaking her head in disappointment. A knife flying by my throat.
A scream echoed in the training hall as Celia fell off the climbing wall. She lasted way longer than I thought. Longer than Anthony did his first time. I kicked my father back away from me. There was not even a slight twitch in his smile.
“How many down worlders work here?”
I struggled to get out of the grasp of my two captors. The other three warriors were now by my father’s side smiling. My mother’s voice of irritation growing.
“I’m waiting for an answer trainees.”
Taking a deep breath for motion sickness, I flipped backwards. A slight wince at the pain in my shoulders. Immediately afterwards, I headbutted the fairy and used my now free hand to pull the werewolf’s head into my knee. Afterwards backing up a few steps to catch my breath.
“32 Warlock Borough heads each with their own staff.”
I paused to take catch more air. A knife flew past me causing me to have to roll forward towards my father and his three subordinates. My mother’s stern voice echoing.
“Finish answering the question.”
Standing up to quickly run away from the group towards the climbing wall previously I shouted.
“One representative of the UnSeelie Court with twelve assigned aids. One representative from the Seelie Court with five aids. Seven vampires and ten werewolves on Institute assigned patrol duties. Four human soldiers!”
I hurriedly flipped over the edge to catch my breath. A soft chuckle brushed my ear as I found myself caught in a lock by my father.
“I told you to let the other trainees learn as well.”
He kept squeezing harder and harder. I heard Matthew fall from the climbing wall so I hit my father’s arm to tap out. He let me go with a laugh. The two of us jumping down to rejoin the line before my mother. She shook her head disappointed.
“What have the five of you been teaching these children.”
The five warriors looked away awkwardly. My mother looking at Matthew.
“Tell me, do you know why we exist?”
Exhausted, he barely nodded his head.
“To protect our world from Demons?”
She shook her head disappointed.
“That’s not entirely correct. We exist to keep the world at peace. Eliminating demons is only part of the job.”
My father pat Matthew’s head on his way to stand next to my mother.
“There is also things like managing relations between the species, protecting the public from all of this and ensuring the survival and happiness of all the residents of the world, Matthew.”
He nodded his head. My parents words were like laws from the angels to him. My mother crossed her arms in frustration.
“It has been four generations since we have left our homeland in The Cohort’s hands. All in order to uphold our duty. Do you understand that sacrifice Matthew?”
I looked down at the ground awkwardly. My Great Grandparents were part of the members of the Armistice Generation. Because of that armistice, shadow hunters gave up their ancestral homelands in order to ensure their duty to the angels was upheld first. My mother was of the it is time to take it back now faction. She did not trust the current Cohort and those confided to its borders.
We watched my mother walk up to him and put her hands on his shoulders.
“I want you to imagine this place stolen from you. All the walls marked in trophies an enemy won by killing your family and friends. Your bed making vile creatures comfortable. You having choosing to allow this so the rest of the city is safe. Can you imagine that Matthew?”
He nodded his head slowly. A look of resolved anguish on his face. A small smile briefly crossed my mother’s lips.
“This is why you were accepted Matthew. You must understand sacrifice to be able to protect the things you love.”
My father coughed a bit to change the target.
“Celia, do you remember what your parent’s said when they left you here?”
She nodded her head slowly.
“Fac Fortia Et Patere. It was their personal motto.”
He nodded his head.
“That’s right. Your father would tell me that everyday when we were growing up. He wanted to make sure that even when we failed I knew why I would stand up to try again the next time. He was such a brave man. Your mother as well.”
Celia looked tear eyed. Why do they get sentimental words for their training? That’s completely unfair. My parents turned to me. My mother looking at me coldly.
“Do you know what you did wrong today as a leader?”
My father nodding his head.
“As the only experienced warrior in your team?”
I nodded my head no.Whatever it was they would say it was wrong anyways. They both sighed.
“I expect you to write a seven page report on your reasoning by tomorrow.”
“You have to write one for me as well on your fellow trainees strengths and weaknesses.”
I could only nod my head again. This was normal for them. While loving, my parents were hard on us when it came to duty and honor. My mother turning back to Matthew.
“Your physical abilities have surpassed even what I expected of you Matthew. I doubt there’s a mundane able to keep up with you.”
A large smile appeared on his face. It was true. For a mundane, Matthew must be some sort of fifteen year old monster.
“From now on your new schedule will have you doing class work with Cricket alone from now on. Your physical training will be split with Aron and Lynx.”
Matthew smiled eagerly. He was going from basic education all the orphans got to private tutoring with a fairy and workouts with a werewolf and vampire. What a promotion for him. My father turned to Celia.
“You’ll be tutoring with Arthur individually from now on. Your physical training will be with either Lynx or myself alone.”
Celia nodded her head with a determined look. So Celia gets a High Warlock for her tutoring and combat time with Lynx and father. There is still no way I am positive at all when it comes to me. All my other siblings who were training to fight were out of the house now. My mother turned to me with no emotion.
“Your week will be split with individual training with the six of us, assisting the High Warlock of Sutton AND solo patrols of the Shadow Market four times a week.”
There it was… No fun for her children. All we got was hellish training and sleepless nights. We had to be like her, a perfect warrior.
My father turned to me with a soft smile.
“Don’t worry, Evey. The High Warlock of Sutton isn’t as bad as they say.”
Of course, not. How much worse could he be than the rumors of him being a bloody arrogant perverted narcissist of an old man. He was the only warlock I knew who was said to both act and look like an old man! My mother clapped her hands.
“Ella and Miriam have prepared snacks for everyone. Afterwards, you each have an hour break before individual combat assessment for the month.”
I nodded my head and walked out with everyone. Celia barely keeping pace with Matthew and I.
“Anthony wasn’t playing around when he said your parents were tough.”
I nodded my head.
“No, he wasn’t.”
Matthew smiled. He always looked so determined.
“It’s an honor, though. Your mum is famous. If I ascend under her I can get any post I want.”
I couldn’t help but pat his shoulder.
“If you survive that is.”
Celia seemed more concerned than Matthew at the comment. He was just filled with ambition and determination.
“I will. I’m your mother’s student.”
Groaning, I sprinted ahead of the two to the snack table. Miriam was there smiling at me. I gave her a big hug. Her laughter was one of the most beautiful sounds in the world.