Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 9
Leonard had long ago lost his sense of direction in relation to the staircase when Wilhelmina slowed and halted before a locked set of double doors. She reached into a pocket on the right side of her skirt and produced a set of keys. After a brief glance, she selected one and used it to open the door.
“We have a variety of weapons. Thankfully, I had the forethought to change the locks when Etta disappeared. I kept the only key,” Wilhelmina said as she brandished it before replacing the set in her pocket as she entered.
“Select anything you feel comfortable wielding, and can carry,” she added, glancing over her shoulder at Leonard, who was still in the doorway, scanning the walls glinting with a cornucopia of weaponry. She then proceeded to the far right of the room and what looked like a table laden with different types of knives.
Leonard wasn’t sure where to start, or what he would feel comfortable with. He wasn’t trained much in anything when it came to combat, though he did have a talent for wrestling, in high school. He’d also boxed, but neither of those long ago skills had much to do with the various weapons arranged around the room. He’d never dreamed of a situation where he’d need such skills.
Wilhelmina, on the other hand, looked at home with the items in the room. She examined and selected a wide array of weapons from their stands or tables, piling them on a large oak table that seemed placed there for exactly such a purpose. Looking over, Leonard saw a couple of sharpened daggers, a short sword with a simple, sturdy hilt, and what looked to be short, blunt swords that he was relatively certain were called sai. He also saw a quiver accompanied by an impressive, carved bow and a staff that was at least two inches taller than Wilhelmina.
Leonard had never felt so out of place in his life as he did standing there among the expertly forged arms, utterly lost. Wilhelmina seemed to be nearly finished with adding to her pile. Leonard wasn’t sure if she was planning to actually bring them all; he was having a hard time imagining her carrying all of them, or even using most of them. The again, he had seen stranger things today.
“What are these?” Leonard asked, leaning over a display case of what looked like antique pistols that had been given a run through a Steampunk convention. The aroma of water lilies wafted over him as Wilhelmina joined him, her shoulder against his.
“Those are still experimental. Some of our scientists and sorcerers designed firearms that utilized the power of a portal shard, shooting out particles of intense energy. Etta took one the night she disappeared, most likely imagining she would have time to return for the rest, “Wilhelmina explained, pointing towards an empty space in the case. Leonard felt a chill in his spine as if Jack Frost had breathed down his neck.
“Nothing to your liking?” she asked, noticing Leonard’s lack of armament.
Leonard smiled sheepishly and scratched the back of his head absentmindedly before saying, “you see, I’m not really, uh, trained to use much of anything. I can wrestle and box a bit, some bare hand fighting, but not with a weapon. So, I’m, well, I’m not sure what to do and wouldn’t know where to start.”
Wilhelmina’s mouth opened in surprise before she snapped it shut, turning her shock into confusion. “I see…that is a bit unfortunate, but we’ll make do. You need to learn. So, which would you prefer, ranged, hand-to-hand, or both? Defensive, offensive, or both?”
She gestured towards parts of the room in the direction of various displays as she spoke. Leonard followed her hands with his eyes, feeling more uncertain with Wilhelmina’s every question and movement.
He tried to imagine learning to use them when another question entered his mind. “Who’s going to teach me? And when?” Leonard didn’t imagine his lack of skills with a weapon would deter or slow Wilhelmina’s plan to leave for Krosis in the morning.
“I will, of course. It’s unfortunate we don’t have the time to properly train you, but we’ll find opportunities as we go. And there’s every hope we won’t need to worry about putting these to use at all,” Wilhelmina said, her voice becoming softer at the end with a dubious wave of her hand towards the nearest display.
Leonard made no comment about being trained to fight with a weapon by Wilhelmina, who had so far seemed more suited for being tucked away in a library or study. It wasn’t that he necessarily doubted her skills, but he couldn’t imagine the woman before him sweat streaked and panting after a fight. He reminded himself again of how many things he’d experienced today that had been unexpected.
He also didn’t comment on attempting to proceed with this training while they traversed pond or portal to a world that neither of them were personally familiar with. Leonard shook his head and tried to tuck away the doubts worrying the edges of his thoughts.
“With any luck, you’ll only need to use one as a last resort,” Wilhelmina continued as she brushed past Leonard in the direction of a display of swords. “Would one of these work, or do you have another preference?”
She took one of the swords from the wall, testing the weight and balance of it as she held it at various heights before swinging it in a graceful arc from one side of her body to the next, creating a figure eight in the air before her.
Leonard watched her in awe, his eyes following the moving steel. When Wilhelmina stopped the sword, she nodded at it before holding it out to Leonard, hilt first. “Give this a try,” she said, her eyes flashing like the blade against light.
He looked down and extended his arm to take the sword from her. It felt surprisingly natural in his hand after Leonard had closed his fingers around the grip, testing the weight himself. He could wield it with one hand easily enough, and Wilhelmina continued to nod her approval as he moved the sword slowly into the air and then from one direction to another.
“How does it feel?” Wilhelmina asked, watching Leonard’s infantile-like movements as he practiced.
“I think it will do,” Leonard answered appreciatively, a boyish grin enveloping his face.
“Here’s its scabbard, you can adjust the strap if necessary. How’s your aim, and have you ever tried a bow, before?” Wilhelmina offered Leonard the sheath, which he took and, with a little reluctance, housed his sword in it before slinging it over his shoulder. Its weight comforted him.
“I have decent aim, but I’ve only ever shot a bow at a summer camp when I was ten.” Leonard had felt like Robin Hood, aiming at a target with a bow among the trees. He’d also had a BB-gun as a boy and often shot cans or bottles in various backyards and woods. He’d been the best shot of the neighborhood boys, anyway.
“Then you should learn to use a bow as well,” Wilhelmina asserted, moving to the other side of the room lined with quivers and other archery necessities. She picked up and replaced two different bows before finding one she deemed worthy for Leonard to try.
He took and tested the bow, holding it as Wilhelmina had demonstrated before handing it to him. She corrected the grip of his hand holding back the string and asked how it felt. It didn’t feel as natural in his grasp as the sword had, but he nodded as he continued to hold back the bow string.
Wilhelmina handed him a full quiver after Leonard lowered his arms. “I think we’re done here,” she said, turning back to the table littered with her own chosen weapons. Leonard watched as she arranged all but the staff on to a blanket before rolling it up.
She slid a strap attached to the staff over her head and one of her shoulders, scooped up the roll of weapons into her arms, and proceeded to exit the armory. Leonard followed suit with his quiver, putting it over the opposite shoulder of his sword, then grabbed the handle grip of his bow and hurried after the sound of rustling skirts.
Click here for Part 11!