Kiera's Moon (Chapter Six, page 1 of 20)

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Talal shook her awake far too early. She lifted her head from her desk and blinked, the first fingers of dawn rendering the light of the room grainy and grey.

"My brother awaits you," Talal said. She was glowing and refreshed, her clothes neat and her scent that of one who had recently bathed. Kiera groaned softly as she shifted. She ached as much from her workout the day before as falling asleep sitting with her sketchbook.


"He is to train you," Talal said as she crossed to the clothing unit. "You shouldn't keep him waiting."

"So early?" Kiera asked.

"He will be occupied today," Talal chided. "He favors you with his time."

She was cheerful as usual and brought Kiera a set of clean clothing. Kiera grimaced and rose, changing slowly before leaving her room for the training area. The morning was cool, the sky lightening. A'Ran awaited her with two swords looking alert, as if he'd been up long enough for his first cup of coffee to kick in. She felt sluggish in comparison. A'Ran's eyes didn't leave her as she tied her hair in a knot at the base of her neck. She dropped her arms and gave a long sigh, meeting his gaze.

As if he sensed her irritation at the early hour, a look of amusement crossed his face, visible in the shift of his eyebrows. He wore light colors this day of tan, a shade that brought out the depth of honey in his skin. He handed her one sword. She accepted it. It felt heavier than usual already. She stretched again before settling into an awkward stance across from him.

They sparred lightly until her body grew warm and her mind engaged. Kiera concentrated on her movements rather than the silent form across from her, intent on not looking like a fool in front of a master warrior. When concentrating on the weapons, it was also easier to keep from concentrating on him. Sparring lasted until the sky was clear of night's blue, at which point he took the sword from her. Kiera watched him lean both weapons against the side of the dwelling before he returned.

"Fighting stance," he instructed.

She shifted herself in compliance. He moved behind her, keeping within arm's distance. He tested her balance and adjusted her stance before taking both wrists and moving her hands over her head.

"This is the starting position for this form," he told her.

He released her and moved before her, back toward her. Kiera watched as he assumed the same position and shifted his stance into a new position. He waited, head twisted over her shoulder to see her. She echoed the movement. A'Ran turned to adjust her stance before returning to the same pose.

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