It was nearly three days before Arcan conceded that Sekkyro' was back in fighting form, and even then only because the young drow was nearly ready to leap out of his bed and throttle the weaponmaster for the driving need to do something. The lessons continued after that, between patrols and beatings until one day, Sekkyro' had mastered every weapon Arkan could challenge him with. Even the crossbow and the assassin's blade, weapons that grated against his every instinct with their underhanded, backstabbing ways, even those he learned to use with as much skill as any other. But he returned always to his preferred style - two swords against Arkan's one, discovering quickly that his talent for wielding the two blades far outmatched his tutor's.
One day, finally, he found himself stalking down the corridors on his way out to a patrol, a secret smile on his face. The expression seemed almost to inspire more fear than his customary scowl, and somewhere in the back of his mind he found it amusing. The swords swinging at his sides - one silver, one black, hilts chased and wrapped in the opposing colours, long and slim and graceful with their fine, slightly curved blades - were almost as useless to him as a pair of bundles of wheat. Only he and Arkan knew that small fact: that he had been given the swords by a sneering weaponmaster to teach him a lesson in humility. Alone, in two hands, he could handle a single one of them with something approaching his usual skill--and even that had taken weeks. The challenge laid before him, though, was only half-complete by his mastery of one of the two.
"Teach you something new, pup?" Arkan had laughed. "Give you a challenge to learn? Why? So you can kill me and be sure you won't be toted off to the Academy like the insolent cur you are?" His voice was dry, sneering. "You might be good enough to teach the beginners' class; you are no master yet. Not by far." The words were no different from Arkan's usual chivvying; a compliment from the man came almost never. Sekkyro' had long since learned to discern the true meaning of Arkan's words, and he knew the weaponmaster had one more trick for him to learn.
"Give me a challange, because I'm running out of ways to defeat you, Arkan," he responded with a matching sneer. "If I am not your equal, prove it to me." Arkan smiled tightly.
"Try these, pup." He crossed to the weapons cabinet and drew out two long, slightly curved swords. He sighted down the blade first of one, then the other, drawing them and laying the sheaths aside. One was black adamantite, with the midnight glitter of the metal, its hilt wrapped in silver cord. The other shone with a mithril gleam, a metal truly rare in an outpost as far removed from the wealth and privilege of the drow cities, in a family whose only hope of nobility would be if Lloth opened up her mouth and swallowed all of the ruling families up--and took a half-dozen others with them, as well. The black-wrapped hilt of the mithril sword only seemed to emphasize its shine and glitter. Arkan lifted them, moving smoothly through the two-sword forms as he spoke.
"The katana, pup. A rare weapon of the surface. I took them from an elf many decades ago, before you even knew how to tell the hilt from the blade of a sword. I took them, and him, and forced him to teach me their use. You will not be so lucky." The blades spun and circled, offence and defence changing sides with a fluid grace. They were much longer than Sekkyro' was used to seeing used in a two-handed style; he was more accustomed to the long and short swords; long on offence, short on defence. He knew he could use either hand for either purpose, and Arkan had drilled him for hours on the change of swords, taking advantage or Sekkyro''s natural abilities until his own long training could no longer surpass the combination of drive and innate potential the younger drow displayed. Already, Sekkyro''s mind was working through the changes needed to use two swords of equal length. No more tosses to change offensive and defensive hands; he would have to make the shift only in his mind.
"I will not teach you," Arkan spoke again, coming to the end of the sword forms, "until you have mastered these on your own. You know the one- and two-sword forms; you will perform them all for me with these katanas." A tight smile. "Then, you will be through with the lessons in fighting I have for you, and be ready for others. There is more to war and survival for you to learn, pup." He sheathed the swords and held them out to Sekkyro'. "Learn the forms, Sekkyro', and return when you are ready to learn something more than force as your weapon."
It had been weeks, now, and he had barely mastered the single sword's basics. The flow of forms from one to the next was interrupted time and again by the unusual balance of the sword, its unfamiliar weight. In one hand, it was worse still. They were so strange, despite his ceaseless work in training with them. Too strange, and not for the first time he wondered, how long Arkan planned to be rid of him with these useless swords.
Taken from a surface elf, indeed. One could never actually fight with the damned things; they were another of Arkan's little tricks, a way to prove his superiourity over Sekkyro' once more, maintain the leash he tried to desperately to keep short.