Lamya El-Amin shook her head, snarling at the hapless recruit – “That’s pathetic! I’ve seen grannies put more effort into kneading bread than what you’re doing to that dummy! Divines, boy, are you trying to bruise him or decapitate him?! You disgust me! Hit it like you mean it, recruit, or did you need more time at your mother’s teat-?”
The boy couldn’t have been older than fourteen, and was clearly flustered beneath the imposing woman’s hard stare as she stalked a circle about him, snarling and spitting at his lack of effort – though the sweet that beaded his dark skin and dampened his tunic showed he was doing his utmost. Iyah watched from the shadow of the pillars at the edge of the courtyard, trying not to smile in sympathy; Lamya was hardly known for being a kindly soul when it came to the breaking in of fresh recruits.
As if aware she was being observed, the grizzled old woman turned, eyeing her watcher with a brief flash of teeth – whether it was a snarl or a smile was up to one’s imagination. “Ah! My wayward daughter returns to visit her old, beaten ma – you, worm! Keep hacking away at that dummy – maybe someday you’ll hit hard enough to bruise him, ha!”
The recruit nodded mutely, brows ridged as he hacked and slashed, and Lamya shoot her head, stalking toward the cool shadows of the covered walkway.
“Remembered I’m still alive and kicking, eh? Come to pay pity to your old lady after all these years?” – And indeed, Lamya looked rather worse for her wear, a ripe old bird at sixty four and a known champion of the Fighter’s Guild in her own right. She seized Daniyah by the shoulders, crushing her in a hug and kissing one cheek, then the next – seeming not to care about the vicious scarring that mutilated her left cheek. Iyah returned the gesture with a low snort of derision, slapping the older woman on the shoulder affectionately.
“Oh stop it, ma – it’s been six months if it’s been a day, and you know I was off tending father’s estates in Skaven!”
“Huh! Like that old buzzard needs any tending? He’s soft as a rotting melon, all that coin – a bad influence, not fit to be a Knight’s father!”
“Hush, ma – he’s kind to me, even if he can’t acknowledge that you two had an affair all those years ago. You know how it is with those Crowns… besides, I may not be legitimate, but he’s made it very clear that he values my services, and that he’s proud of what I’ve become.”
Lamya’s eyes rolled hard, lips blowing ridiculously as she waved a dismissive hand. “Ha! As well he should be proud – look at you! A proper Anseiswordswoman in your own right – even if you do have those queer Breton ideas. Should never have fostered you out to Danill… a Breton, huh! Should’ve known better!”
Daniyah laughed, tugging one of her mother’s thick braids playfully and slinging an arm about the older woman’s waist, dragging her inside the Fighter’s Guild compound. “Now ma, I couldn’t be just like you – where’s the fun in that? Besides, I knew the Fighter’s Guild couldn’t handle two El-Amin women working routinely in it… we’d run out of jobs too quickly, aye?”
Lamya chuckled, a savage smile furling about her lips as she bared her white, even teeth. “Damn straight we would, girl – damn straight. That old buzzard was the best mistake I ever made, even if he is a Crown!”
Iyah shook her head, still grinning as they strode to the mess-hall, half draped about each other. Her mother never did have much time for her, when she was young – too busy chasing the next challenge and roaring at the mountaintops for a worthy fight. And her father, of course, could never acknowledge that he’d gotten a child on a Forebear mercenary – it was hardly proper.
Still, somehow, she’d always been well loved by both – though they showed it in such different ways…