Viola leaned back against the wall in relief. Around her, she could hear all the other paladins changing out of their armor, but she kept her eyes shut. She could feel herself still red after Kurama helped her get out of the armor. Although, it didn't seem quite as bad as it was that morning.
Kurama had spent most of the afternoon training her with the very basics of swordsmanship. She now understood the difference between a jab and a stab, a parry and a block, and so much more. To ebb away the feelings of embarrasment, she focused firmly on the many types of moves she saw and learned.
"So, are you ready to go?"
Viola opened her eyes and saw Kurama was out of his armor as well.
"Yes. I can't wait for dinner, I'm starved."
"And this will be your first time in the mess hall."
Kurama began to walk towards the exit of the locker room. Viola followed.
After a while, when they left the locker room, Viola called out to Kurama.
"So, how does the mess hall work? Is there any special things we need to do or wait in line?"
Back at the orphanage, they were arranged by age to receive their food at meals.
"Mainly, it's first come first serve. After that, everyone forms a line and we get served when we get to the front."
"So its not that complicated then. But what happens if someone tries to cut in line?"
She remembered those few fights between children at the orphanage.
"We don't. There's always plenty of food and we know we'll be served soon anyways. It never really crosses our mind."
"Plus, the whole 'paladin' thing too, right?"
"Well yeah, that too."
The mess hall was slightly larger than the locker rooms. Scattered around were many tables and chairs that anyone could eat at. They had waited in line, gotten their food, and ate by themselves at one of the tables located in a corner. Viola spent the time eating to look around at everyone gathered there. There were people of many different ages all around, but the main focus of the ages were around the teens.
Once they were finished, they headed off to their rooms and quickly got ready for bed. This time, Viola tried changing in the room with Kurama there to try and feel better about having to do this everyday. So that night, she fell asleep once again red for the day. But Kurama was right, she was slowly getting use to it.
The morning was almost as uneventful as what happened the previous night. Almost.
They woke up, changed, went into the mess hall, left the mess hall, and started changing in the locker room. When Viola had just gotten her chest plate on, another paladin approached her and Kurama.
"So, are you Viola?"
Viola looked up and saw a female paladin that was just out of her teens.
"Uh.. Ya, I am. Who are you?"
"I am Rabbonita, but everyone just calls me "Rabbit" for short. Anyways, it's nice to meet you."
She held out her hand.
Viola nodded and shook it.
"Well, it's nice to meet you".
"So what are you doing here, Rabbit? You're already changed. Shouldn't you be waiting outside for the new training leader?"
Kurama had emerged from behind his locker. He was fully dressed in his armor, too.
"No need. I'm the new training leader here. Mordokai came to me last night and promoted me to the job."
"You're... the training leader?!"
His voice sounded a little fearful for some reason.
"Of course. I'm one of the veteran paladins and have a pretty strict training schedule."
"Oh, how we all know that."
Viola could hear the sarcasm in his voice, but Rabbit either didn't hear it or didn't acknowledge it and instead turned back to her.
"So anyways, since you're the new recruit still, I'm suppose to help you master the basics. Make sure you stay behind after everyone else goes off on their own. Then I'll come over and start teaching you."
"Okay. Thank you."
Rabbit turned and walked off.
Kurama closed his locker door and was shaking his head.
"Well, it was nice knowing you Viola."
Viola looked at him, raising an eyebrow.
"Why? What's wrong?"
She closed her locker door too.
"Well, she's nicer than Grim, I'll give her that. But it's her crystal that really poses the problem. You see, her crystal's power is perfection. She can learn things really quickly and perform them just as well. Also, she can do things so complex with a sword that no one can match her."
"Well, that doesn't sound so bad."
Yeah it wouldn't, but except she expects everyone else to learn things as quick and to do it perfectly as well. Just wait and see."
They gathered outside and in no time Rabbit appeared to announce that she was the new training leader. Viola could here several other people groan in the audience gathered. After she started dismissing people, Viola stayed were she was.
"Good luck. You're going to need it."
She saw Kurama disappear in the crowd and Rabbit hurried over to her.
"Alright. So lets start at the beginning. Right now we need to get the dulling crystals so we can put a protective barrier over the blade. You see, in your sword there's-"
"It's alright, I already know. Kurama taught me yesterday."
Rabbit seemed to be taken aback.
"What else did he teach you?"
"Some of the basics. How to hold a sword right and what stances to take."
Well, I need to see and make sure he did it right. Follow me."
They managed to find a vacant rope circle to themselves. Viola took the stance that Kurama had showed her, but Rabbit quickly started criticizing her.
"No, no. That's wrong."
"What? This is how Kurama showed me how to take the starting stance."
Not quite. Your left foot is 1/2 of a centimeter to far forward and you're holding the blade 3/4 of an inch too low.
She started moving Viola's body to the places exactly.
"There, now hold that. Alright, I want to see you make a overhand swing."
Viola was in the process in making one when Rabbit grabbed her sword arm by the wrist.
"Too slow. Someone experienced would have parried that by now. Also, you're leaning too much on your right foot. The person would use that to trip you with that swing."
Viola tried to protest.
"But I only just started using a sword yesterday! I'm still trying to remember how to do everything!"
"You're not suppose to think when you're fighting someone. It requires too much time to decide things and that could lead to death. You have know things instinctively and make the right decisions faster then a heart beat. Come on, lets try this again."
In only 5 minutes, Viola infinitely preferred Kurama to Rabbit. She always complained on anything that wasn't perfect. It was well into the afternoon before the first time Rabbit said Viola did a swing perfectly. However, the one after that was unsatisfactory again and there was more preaching and practice.
Rabbit held her there for a long time, well after all the other paladins had gone in. Viola was starving, but couldn't tell Rabbit this. Not from lack of trying, but because she simply wouldn't listen. Finally, Rabbits own stomach growled and that gave her pause.
"Wow. Have we really been out here this long? Time sure moves quickly, doesn't it?"
Viola was brooding over the point that it felt like forever since she had got up that morning. Sweat was pouring down her face.
"Well, I guess we'll continue in the morning then. You still have a long way to go before you master the basics."
Viola struggled into the locker rooms and changed slowly. She spent a long time in one of the bath tubs, resting in the water. Every part of her ached and the voice of Rabbit was still yelling in her mind.
Drill, drill, drill. Remember, you shouldn't have to think to do any of this.
Finally she managed to crawl up to her room. She made her way slowly to her bed and crashed down on top of it. She was there for several minutes before the door opened again.
"Oh good. I see you got along well with Rabbit and got back in one piece."
Viola groaned from her pillow angrily.
"Well, whatever the case, when you didn't make it back for dinner I assumed the worse and brought some food back. It looks like I guessed correctly."
She heard the sound of a plate being put down on her nightstand. She groaned out two moans that sounded a bit like "Thank you".
"Now you know why we all were a bit fearful when she announced she was training leader. You were all that kept her from unleashing her perfection wrath on the rest of us with how much focus she had on you. And for that, most everyone here is both grateful and sympathetic to you. However, she's a lot better than Grim."
Viola managed to gather the strength and pull her face away from the pillow.
"How is Grim worse then her? She always criticizes you when you doing something wrong and immediately tries to correct it."
"Well, Grim's the same way. Except he doesn't try to correct you. He just sneers about how you're just doing it wrong and you have to figure out on your own what he means. Trust me, someone was watching over you the first night for Grim to disappear the next morning."
"Yeah, but they've forsaken me now."
"Or they want you to learn quickly. One thing about Rabbit is that you do learn quick when training with her. Anyways, you should eat and go to bed. You still have to face her tomorrow and the next day and so on."
Viola looked up at Kurama in horror.
"What?! When do I not have to train with her?!"
"When you pass the first test and get your crystal."
"But...But when will that happen?!"
"When Mordokai comes and tells you about the first test, and that could be months. I can't tell you what it's about though. You'll find that out from Mordokai."
Viola collapsed again on her bed. Training with Rabbit was going to kill her.