[P] When I was a young boy
#1




Brannon looked forward to days like these. No, not because of the heat, nor the sun, nor the gentle breeze, nor the buzz of the set up of the Olympics... But because he got to have some time alone with his mom. No other siblings, relatives, or pack members to get in their way. Just the two of them for once.

He was going to practice using his father's short sword today, now that it was getting close to his First Blood. While he trained on his own and with Aldora, he wouldn't say he felt comfortable with the weapon quite yet. He usually used a wooden sword for safety, and even Aldora had suggested that he branch out his learning. He knew what that meant; He was no good at fighting.

That didn't stop him from trying. He knew that being a warrior was essential to being a Cavalier and that he could gain trust through defending the pack. It wasn't that he wanted to fight or even liked training with the sword, but he knew it was what made him fit in. To be a warrior, like everyone else.

Including his mom. 

He knew his mom was a fierce warrior and had even fought against his father. He had heard the story many times growing up. It was all the more important to him that she acknowledges him as Cavalier, that he was worth being part of the family and part of the pack. No matter what, he wanted to win his First Blood, and that meant tireless training.

"Ready?" He politely asked Armani. He didn't want to rush her, but he was anxious to get started. He fidgeted awkwardly with the pommel of his sheathed sword as he waited. 



OOC: Set June 5th
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#2
She had set the day up to spend time with her most quiet child. Ever since their mentor ceremony he’d been ever more quiet. Honestly it worried her, deep down she wanted all her children happy and she wondered if he just wasn’t happy. Had she done to him as she did to Nilda force him into things he hated and applied too much pressure? Did he know they loved him? She rubbed her knee as she applied a salve made by Cerberus. She hadn’t told Dawn yet with puppies on the way there was no time for her to be slowing down. Dawn also didn’t need the added stress. Her children didn’t need to know either because they might let it slip and worry Dawn.

Slipping on her rank cloak and sword she stood. Taking a deep breath the cool feeling of the mints was nice. Just on cue Brannon appeared. “Yes, sorry to keep you waiting.” She spoke as she flecked some dust from her forearm. “Why don’t we train outside the fort.” Armani suggested. She wanted to be away from all the commotion. She also found it much easier to be away in case her knee acted up with less eyes to see. She had no intention of showing anyone weakness.

Moving to wrap her arm around Brannon she gave him a smile. “I know a small clearing outside the fort. We can train and you can tell me all about your plans for the future.” She spoke. Honestly she wanted to know what he was thinking and maybe if she could get him talking she could get it out of him. Their walk wasn’t long past Howland and in the opposite direction of the Hushhowl dens. The forest had a few spots like this that lacked trees and gave a nice hiding spot for training.

Taking a breath she readied herself. “Spar first one to three light contacts wins.” She spoke looking at her son. “Unless you want a lesson in specific techniques or just general help. You pick, I’m ready for whatever you throw at me.” She finished as she gave him a playful smile.
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#3



The smell of mint on his mother was overwhelming. His nose scrunched up at the overbearing scent and quickly headed to the door outside. "Yes, that sounds like a good idea. Somewhere outside." He couldn't hide the slight disgust in his voice. Once outside, his nose felt a little relief from the cool burning.

The relief did not last long as his mother wrapped an arm around him affectionately. The scent of mint clung to her and wafted to his own nose with each shift in the breeze. He pretended not to care about the smell, nor the sign of affection, but secretly the closeness made his heart feel a little lighter. His tail wagged slowly as they made their way towards the gate.

As they approached the clearing on the outside of the fort, he paused a moment at his Mama's question. He hadn't really thought too hard about his future as he had been focusing on preparing for his First Blood. "Well, of course I want to be a strong warrior like you," he replied as he fiddled with the sword on his hip. At the same time though, he couldn't picture himself being a guardsman. The burden on his father still clung heavily to him.

He shuffled his feet awkwardly as they got into position. "I have been enjoying my time at the library. I've been learning a lot from Jacelyn and Borya. Being in that space has made me feel... happy. But at the same time..." he let the rest of his statement hang in the air as he shrugged. He didn't want to commit himself to anything just yet, and just because it made him happy, didn't mean that would be his job in the future. He would do whatever was needed of him to benefit the pack.

He pulled his sword from the scabbard and looked back at his mother who was all ready to go. "Spar. Light contact. Three points." He repeated slowly as he focused on the task at hand. He shifted the sword in his hand slightly to feel a better balance of the weapon.

Brannon always felt weird holding his father's sword; It was a reminder of the past, both the good and the bad. The hilt burned in his hand with possibilities. Would he be a killer? Would he be a protector? How much of his fate was predetermined by his lineage? By having this item in his possession? His breath quickened as he looked at the blade reflect the sun’s light.

Thinking about all of this wouldn't help him. Maybe if he just started, he would forget his thoughts. Gritting his teeth, Brannon lunged forward, his blade swinging in a wide arch.  

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#4
Armani had noticed his slight dislike of her current scent but there was little she could do to cover the strong scent of mint. She gave a soft chuckle as she slowly put space between them. Holding her son while not of her flesh she had given him a chance at life. She had bonded to them and she just couldn’t be without them.

Once in the clearing she was able to really look at him and get to see what a young man he had become. “As much as I feel honored you’d want to be like me I’m not sure that would make you happy.” She spoke. Her children might think she wasn’t the most loving or devoted. Unlike mama Dawn who fawned over them adored them and at any moment would be at their side Armani watched. She watched how they talked to each other, how they interacted with themselves and with the pack. “You do know being a warrior only has to be a tiny part of who you are.” She added as she gave him a half smile. Advice she probably herself needed to heed. Being a warrior shouldn’t define them but Armani let it define who she was.

“Both are very good teachers. Don’t get too caught up in what job you want. I’m not asking you to plan your whole life right now. I just never ask enough about what you all are thinking. Did you know Nilda wants to be a puppy sitter? She wants to aid expecting mothers with delivery and rearing the youth of casa. Kinda mind blowing for me I didn’t realize how much of a softer side your sister had.” Honestly who would have thought. Nilda was an explosion of energy and she was a true brute. Working with puppies and mothers was just not what Armani expected.

As Brannon chose their direction Armani noticed his expression change with the draw of the sword. Her own sword in her right hand she looked at him with deep green eyes. He lunged forward as she blocked him and she took a breath. “What were you thinking when you drew that sword?” She asked, pushing back against him. The sound of metal on metal ringing in her ears.
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#5


Of course she would say that; That he didn’t need to be a warrior. Every time Brannon heard a variation of that phrase, he couldn’t help but think that others were saying that he couldn’t be a warrior. That he should give up and do something easier. He knew his mother didn’t mean it that way, but it was just that so many others had said it to him recently that it was an unavoidable thought.

Nilda wanted to be a pup sitter? That was news to him. His head cocked to the side as he considered it. He supposed it made sense with Dawn being close to giving birth, but he didn’t see that fitting in with her other plans. Maybe he didn’t know her as well as he thought. “It’s hard not to think about the future when that’s all anyone talks to us about,” he tossed out. The older members were especially bad for it, hounding for every detail like the youths could see their own future. Perhaps she was only saying what she thought they wanted to hear.

Armani blocked his attack with ease. His ears flipped back with the clashing of the metal; The sound was still so shocking every time he started a spar. “What… what was I thinking?” he puffed, already tired after his first swing. He stepped back, giving a bit more space between the two of them. They could chat, but he still had to remember that it was still training.

His eyes fell to the heavy piece of metal in his hand for a moment. “Just… Papa.” At the name, tears rushed to his eyes. I don’t want to be like him,” he said through a cracked voice. His arm fell limp as the emotions flooded over him, spar momentarily forgotten. I want… I want… t-to be like you.” His words came out in between his snivels. I want to... make you p-proud.” His free hand went up to his face to wipe away the tears that were flowing freely now.

After a few moments, the wave of emotions was over. He took a few deep breaths to steady himself as he wiped the snot from his face roughly. He stared to the side awkwardly, embarrassed as his show of emotions. He had forgotten one of the important rules to never lose focus during a fight.

“Again?” he asked timidly, before raising his sword and lunging again. Maybe he could pretend that his outburst never happened.

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#6
He was always the softer one. The one who really thought things through, not that Lyall or the others didn’t but the boy was in his head more often than not. She’d like to say she had at least one child she hadn’t screwed up raising but here lay the proof that she had failed each child differently. Her ears pinned back as she watched him and her usually dark eyes seemed to lighten.

This wasn’t all her fault no this was partially due to a man she had sorta loved. A man to this day she still had a strange ache and anger over. He had killed him, he had been the villain, but she raised his children. She let him lay in their furs snuggled into them, she had thought of carrying his children or Dawn carrying them. He’d ruined it all; he should have stood on their side, because that was what she wanted.

She finished watching him, her foot sliding back as she readied her sword. “You are not him, Maisie is not either. Your sire, your dame, they do not make who you are. They should be thanked for the gift of life they gave but who they are and the misdeeds they have done are theirs alone to bear.” She spoke as she looked at him. Their swords crossed and she held her defense as she began to speak again.

“My son, I am so grateful for the gift of you. I’m sorry you are an innocent victim in this whole thing. I’m sorry I never knew your mother to pass on her strength to you.” She smiled softly. “You are Brannon not Jamie. Carve your own path under the light of Fenris. Don’t allow a shadow to make you question the true strength in your heart.” She stepped back and looked at him.

Her fighting stance caused her only mild irritation. She this time made the first move cutting upwards from the ground as yellowing teeth peeked from her grin. “You make me proud Brannon each and every day you try something new or dust yourself off and try again like right now. No matter how great a warrior, a scholar, a cook, herbalist, or whatever you chose to become, anything you become I will be proud of because you chose to do it for you NOT” she put a lot of strength in the word as she abruptly brought her sword down and stepped in to elbow him in the chest. “Because you think I’ll be proud.” Green eyes had now darkened again as she focused on keeping herself solid to the ground.
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#7


“You are not him...”

His head was still foggy from the tears he had shed, but the clash of metal still rang loudly in his ears. His mother’s words echoed in his head as he tried to focus on the fight, their swords temporarily locked. Brannon’s arms were already shaking as he tried to push against her defense.

“...Carve your own path under the light of Fenris…”

They broke apart, and his mother stayed back, offering more words to her son. There was a pain in his heart, but he pushed it down. Then the woman made her first move, lunging out towards the youth. Brannon’s heart skipped frantically as he lifted his sword in time to protect himself.

“You made me proud Brannon…”

Tears welled up in his eyes again as his mother spoke. The feelings felt heightened as the adrenaline pumped through his body as they fought. Her sword came down, which he barely blocked, but left his side vulnerable. And just like that, the wind was knocked out of him, his chest burning from the blow. He fell to one knee, clutching his sword in his hands as support.

Eyes and chest burning, he looked up at his mother. She wanted him to choose his own path; Not hers, not his father’s. A path where he was happy. In a perfect world, that is what he would want too.

But that was impossible. As much as he wanted it, as much as his mother wanted it, he was still privy to the discrimination of the pack. Their eyes have always watched him carefully, watching for anything that made him like his father. That was a connection he would never be able to run away from. He was stuck as the son of a murderer.

Brannon was exhausted, mentally and physically, but he wasn’t ready to end the spar just yet. He used that anger for his father to funnel the last of his energy into what would hopefully be a surprise attack. As quickly as he could manage, still using the sword to balance his weight, he swept out his leg to try and topple his mother.

“I still want to make you proud Maman,” he whispered.

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#8
Armani hadn’t really expected this to be the way she’d be chatting with any of her children but for some reason it just felt natural. Armani smiled at the contact as it knocked him down. Between the mint and being careful of how she placed her feet she was feeling good on her knee. She looked down at Brannon and as she reached down to help him up he moved.

Armani tried to back up but not being sure footed she didn’t move far as Brannon took her out. Her legs coming out from underneath her as she met the ground. Her brain reeling as she tried to suck the wind back into her lungs. She had not expected that. A smirk dared to grace her maw as she took in a breath.

A new fresh pain radiated in her knee as she shifted to roll over. Internally she screamed from the pain she couldn’t let Brannon know she had to get up had to continue their spar. Using her sword like a walking stick she began to stand. Applying pressure to her leg slowly, green eyes glistened while looking at him. “I was not expecting that.” She huffed as she held her sword out, “come on boy finish this fight.” Armani taunted as she tried to ignore the throbbing in her knee. She needed to be strong, she needed her children to see nothing but strength when it came to her.
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#9


A smirk graced his mother’s face before it twisted into a grimace. He always felt bad hurting his partners in spars, especially if they were someone he loved, but it was a reality of the activity. It was a reality of this pack to raise many strong warriors.

They both took a moment to stand up from their spots on the ground. The young boy got up a bit faster, already having his feet underneath him along with the advantage of his youth. He watched with his concern as his mother pulled herself up, using her sword to help. Had she always moved this slow? Or had he injured her? His brow furrowed into a hard line.

Exhausted, Brannon lifted his sword to meet his mothers. His arms trembled slightly with the weight. Yellows eyes searched for an opening in his mother’s stance, but he saw none. Frustrated, the boy swung his sword, the two weapons crashing together in the middle, temporarily locked.

In battles of strength, the boy knew he would not win, but he so wanted this to be over. He just wanted to crawl into the den and fall asleep. Tears began to brim his eyes again as he clenched his teeth into a grimace. Finish this, he unspokenly begged. The score was one-to-one, but with fatigue rushing across his body there was no way for him to gain any more points.

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