The sword clattered as it skittered across the stone floor.
Shortly afterward, a figure in armor followed it. With a grunt of pain, the armored individual slides to a halt.
The voice is hard, it is not a request, but an order.
"Get up, Heather. You are not finished yet. You are not even close to finishing the hour."
Already breathing heavily, Heather was wearing out. This was her third hour of training today. And after she was done with this hour, she would have just enough of a break to get her breath back and have dinner before she was put back in her armor and forced into another hour of "sparring" with her father, the Lord Harrington, ruler of the Benelain province of the Kingdom of Celes. And knowing her father, the last hour of the day would be the hardest of them all.
"Get up, Heather. The longer you stay down there, the harder I will make this for you."
With an effort, Heather started pushing herself to her feet, but before she could get up off her knees, her father's booted foot kicked her back down.
Heather fell back with a squeak. Her armor clanked and she felt the air leave her lungs with a whoosh as her armor clattered on the floor once more.
"Faster! You think your enemy will give you time to rise to your feet when you are in combat? Stupid girl, if you weren't my own flesh, I would strip you of your armor and send you away. But you are what your mother gave me, and I will not have it be weak. Now... Get. Up."
And so it went for the rest of the hour. No matter how Heather tried, no matter how fast she moved, no matter how well or poorly she managed to try and fight back, it was not enough. It never was. Her fater would never allow her to be seen as acceptable. No matter how muscled she became, no matter how well she learned to carry a sword, no matter how much she tried...
Not good enough. I will never be good enough...
A servant rang the gong, signalling the end of the hour. With one last attack, Lord Harrington bashed the chest of Heather's armor in with the pommel of his sword, cracking the armor under the ferocity of the attack and sending her to start crashing to the ground. Again. But instead of letting her simply fall, Lord Harrington crouched, spinning as he did so, and with an outstretched leg, swept Heather's feet out from under her. What would have already been painful and humiliating was now humiliating, painful, and enough to draw yet more scorn from her assembled family. Her siblings, who long ago passed her in skill and ability, claim that sparring with her was an embarrassment and refused to train with her anymore. With a scoff of dissapointment, Lord Harrington strolled out of the chamber, as though the sight of his daughter being sprawled on the floor of the room where a normal occurrence.
Which, of course, it was.
Her mother, with a casual gesture of her hand, had servants haul Heather up to her feet, and begin the process of removing Heather's armor. With each piece of armor removed, the form beneath the armor is revealed.
Long slender legs and full hips appear as the plate and padding are removed from her figure. Her arms had, over the course of years of training gained a decent amount of muscle mass and are incredibly lean, the definition causing every muscle in her arms to gleam with reflected light off her sweaty skin. The plate covering her chest is removed, revealing a massive bust, heaving from heavy training. The sticky gambeson is peeled away, exposing a white shift, stained red with blood from where her father's last attack broke her armor. Another attendant comes forward with water and bandages, the items already been known to be needed. But at a sharp word from Lady Harrington, the servant bowed and retreated. With steps accented by the heels of her boots, the Lady Harrington was at her daughter's side in four strides.
Heather was bowed over, her hands on her knees, her dark brown hair, in a messy disarray and shiny with sweat, dangling down to the floor. And so it was that she did not see her mother draw her fan and use the ivory stick to lift Heather's face up until it was pressing under her chin, the edge sharp enough for Heather to feel her skin give way to the fan. Heather stood on her toes with her chin up looking into her mother's face, not daring to sag even an inch with the fan pressed into her chin as it was.
"You are a Harrington," the Lady Harington said with a voice cold enough to make ice feel a chill. And also with a edge sharp enough to cut steel as easily as her fan was cutting Heather's chin.
"You will be a Harrington. And we will make you into a Harrington. I do not care how you get there, but you will get to the study. Do you understand?"
Not daring to nod, Heather forced the words out of her throat, her voice barely more than a croak from the screaming, crying and sobbing as her father used her for weapon practice for the last hour.
The fan snapped out from under Heather's chin, and the teenaged girl collapsed back onto her feet.
And so, blood still soaking into her shift, Heather practically ran through the halls of the Harrington Estates, her bare feet snagging on the stones that made the floor and tripping her. By the time she reached the study, her knees, shins, elbows and forearms were scraped and bloody, and the blood from the cut on her chest had soaked the entire front of her shift, and red rivulets ran down her thighs from where the blood started dripping from the stained cloth.
Heather burst through the door, and was just starting to slow down to try and catch her breath before her mother arrived, when she ran into something that wasn't supposed to be there. Her speed was still high enough that she bounced off of this strange thing and landed flat on her ass.
Looking up to see what she ran into, she saw a figure in deep violet robes, the hood pulled up around the wearer's face cast a shadow so deep that Heather could not see the face of the one wearing the robes.
The hooded figure looked down at the mostly naked and bleeding girl, and then with a voice that sent chills down Heather's spine the figure spoke.
"Are you prepared to die today, Heather Harrington?"