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A distant step-brother returns home.
"You thought the lass would best me!" Bjark__ exclaimed.
"I've seen you fight, weapon's master," Cyrus said. "You're good. Better than I ever was and I was considered decent in my youth. But I've fought with both Isobel and Ailene and only Frang would have a chance against them now. I've never seen lasses work harder for anything than those two. I imagine Isobel will have to give it up as she gets deeper into her pregnancy. Too bad. Perhaps we can develop some protection for her belly." He paused. "It seemed Ailene's point was near your heart the first five times she stuck you. How close was she?"
Bjark__ pulled his shirt open and showed them both the five coin sized bruises around his heart. "Damn close. It pains me to think I was dead five times over before I had my chance, and only then by sacrificing my arm. Might have contributed to my exuberance when I hit her. I'm deeply sorry for that."
"Frang has created some deadly women and any man who thinks otherwise will greatly regret it," Cyrus said. "I believe it was the entire point of their learning, was it not?"
"It was," Frang replied.
"Do you think it would be worthwhile for all of us to learn this new blade?" Bjark__ asked.
"It's kind of funny, but think about the way we fight in pitched battles," Cyrus said, "faces and bodies painted up and charging with our huge swords and axes, bringing terror to the hearts of our enemies as we rush towards them."
"Yes," Bjark__ replied.
"Picture we're all holding these wee swords instead," Cyrus replied.
Bjark__ did and then he laughed. "It doesn't create the same sense of terror, does it."
"Not in my mind's eye," Cyrus agreed, "but warfare is changing. The musket will see to that, as soon as someone figures out how to reload one in less than a minute. I suspect all swords will be gone sometime in the future. I can see the younger lads and older gaffers like me learning the new weapon so we can still be useful, and definitely the women, so they can protect themselves from morons like McTavish, but for the most part, stick with what we know. I wouldn't be learning a new weapon if I could still wield the old one, even if I see the benefits of the new. The footwork is so different. I'm having to unlearn everything I thought I knew about a blade. With a big sword or axe, you can take down two or three enemies at a time. Still good to have on a battlefield. Nor do you need to be an expert. Even raw strong lads can do damage. The point of the rapier confines you to dealing with one enemy at a time. I see it as more useful for duels and smaller fights than armies rushing at each other."
"You're a canny man, Cyrus. I'd like to pick your brain about how best to use our new weapons and soldiers."
"Aye. Anytime you want," Cyrus said, taking Bjark__'s arm and heading towards the training field. "I see the new swords useful in tight places like doors, halls, anyplace you can't really swing something big around, where you can be approached by only one or two men at a time..."
Their voices dissipated as they moved farther and farther away. Frang shook his head. Cyrus was right. The smaller swords would look silly in massive armies charging together. He'd never really thought about it before. He'd never been in pitched battles, only duels and perhaps a bar fight or two. Sometimes, he only considered his own history and circumstances when considering the effectiveness of various weapons, but there were other ways of looking at it. He went to find Mr. Craig to see how well Lady Luck Farm was shaping up.
"Laird Frang, your wife says Lady Ailene is ready to accept visitors now and there was a meeting you needed to have," a maid informed him. "She said you should meet in Ailene's bedroom. She's prepared to greet visitors now."
"Thank you, lass. Has Bjark__ been informed?"
"Yes, Laird. You're the last of those I was told to fetch."
"I'll be right there. Please inform your mistress."
"Aye, Laird. Right away."
Frang closed the books, and ended his conversation with Mr.