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Isabeau's Drabbles
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Delayed Gratification

Written for the on-list Advent Mathom Challenge last year. This drabble was written for the 20 Gay Gondorians prompt.


Delayed Gratification

Twenty of Dol Amroth’s would-be finest strove mightily beneath the Armsmaster’s piercing eye. Six of the youngest, red-faced and sweating, labored at the pells, rhythmic cracking of wood against leather-covered wood. He smacked the rump of the nearest one with the flat of his blade.

“One hundred more strokes for you, Berlas, you’re shirking. I’ve seen women beat carpets with more force.”

Ten others were running through the rote drills. Not liking the imprecise manner in which they conducted them, he demanded two more sets to an accompaniment of groans.

The oldest four were sparring with each other. Here he was kinder, though he did hook Esteven’s legs out from under him.

“Stance, Esteven and balance. Do that again, and I’ll have you walking ship rails down in the harbor all afternoon.”

The noon bell tolled out from the castle tower. Everyone stopped in their tracks and looked at him expectantly.


Pells were smacked furiously once more, positions flowed swiftly one into the other, blades clashed fiercely. As bouts and sets and strokes were finished, one by one the twenty halted and stared hopefully at him. Finally, even Berlas was done.

He glared at them balefully for a moment, then relented at last, though there was disgust in his tone.

“Begone with you! I’ll see you again in a week. See that you don’t forget everything you’ve learned between now and then. DISMISSED!”

Whoops and shouting broke out. Lanky young forms leapt into the air, smacking each other on the backs. Laughing gaily, the esquires fled the lists.

A chuckle sounded behind the Armsmaster, from the only person who could walk up behind his back and not get a blade to the throat.

“Tssssk. Cruel of you to give them the extra practice, Andra.”

Andrahar snorted. “They needed it, the sloppy louts.” Then he chuckled as well. “They owe me a debt of thanks.”


“Their holiday will be all the sweeter for the delay.”


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