Grimface Sadpants scowled at his students, watching as they held their swords by the hilts.
“What are you doing? Don’t you realize you could put someone’s eye out with those things?”
Deidre and Mull’Et, her indentured cabana dancer, looked at each other in confusion. Deidre lowered the tip of her weapon, moving it closer so that she could grasp the sharp blade with her hand. Grimface nodded.
“There, that’s better, isn’t it? That sharp tip is under control now. No chance you’ll accidentally stab some wandering drunk with it.”
“How is this teaching me to be a better fighter? I’m supposed to be the last chosen daughter of the Puffyshirt Duchy. How am I supposed to fight off the dirty poetry of Lord Lecherous if I’m always worried about hurting someone with my weapon?”
He reached down to his side, pulling a huge axe from his hip. He ran his hand along the thick plastic safety cover that ran along the steel. “If I ran my finger along your sword, I’d have cut myself, and would be bleeding right now. I might have lost a finger, or who knows what. I would be dead in a matter of minutes, and all because I was more worried about fighting people rather than my own safety. Defense is the best offense, and the best way to defend yourself is to make absolutely sure you don’t accidentally disembowel yourself with your own weapon.”
Deidre tried to take a practice swing with her sword, but only managed to twist herself up. In frustration, she let go of the sharp edge and swung the weapon by the hilt, cleaving through the thick wooden target with one stroke. Grimface rubbed his temples, loosing a sigh.
He looked into the sky. “I told you I couldn’t train her, old friend. She is much too hotheaded and thirsty for blood.”
Deidre followed his gaze. “Who are you talking to?”
“A friendly spirit, one who guides my righteous hand.”
A naked old man peered out from on top of a pillar, cackling. “Chickens make the best slippers, but you’ve gotta sneak up on them first! One solid kick and your feet are warm!”
Deidre glared at him. “He’s not a ghost. He’s just an old drunk.”
“That ‘drunk’ up there just happens to be the best swordsman in the land. He’s the one who trained me in the safe arts.”
The old man surged to his feet, a wooden cane in his hands. “Doubt my skills, do you? Have at you, child!”
He knocked the empty whiskey bottles from his perch as he leapt down, promptly landing on his neck and killing himself. A single tear dripped from Grimface’s functional eye.
“He died a great death.”
Mull’Et whispered in Deidre’s ear. “The powers of my giant belt wane, and my girth will soon require release with the oncoming of the hunter’s moon. We musn’t tarry much longer.”
Deidre felt a bead of sweat roll down her forehead. “Your girdle? Now? At this crucial time?”
“My curse doesn’t observe or obey the will of any man. It comes as it pleases, enveloping all in its path with its boundless rolls of flesh. And don’t call it a girdle, you’re hurting my feelings.”
Grimface clenched his weapon in both hands, looking up from the fallen drunk. “You! Insensitive wretch! You don’t care who you hurt with your blade or your tongue! Even your own friends and allies fall before your careless attitude! I’ll teach you to be cautious!”
He stepped forward very slowly, watching the ground under his feet for rocks or twigs that might make it uneven. He held his weapon at arm’s length to make sure he didn’t cut himself, twisting his head away just to be completely safe. He could only just see her out of the corner of his eye.
She lowered her sword, tapping one foot while she waited for him to come to her. She got sick of it after almost three minutes had passed, marching over and driving her weapon into his stomach. He fell to the ground, blood trickling from his mouth.
“Master, I go to you now.”
A tremble passed through the drunks of the land, and they knew they were no longer safe.