20 Apr 1999. After the day's adventures, Delta Lance has stew for supper.
(Rephidim Countryside) (Rephidim) (Zoltan)
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Gathering Hall
This wooden structure is nowhere as old or as formidable as the Sanctuaries … let alone Golgotha itself … but it is more than capable of housing a large number of warriors and providing them a place to have a meal, morning, noon or night. The "kitchen" area is open to the main hall, and meals are served cafeteria-style … but without the selection. The food is wholesome enough and plentiful, but this is not for finicky palettes.

At one part of one of the long dinner tables, Delta Training Lance is seated, with their wooden bowls of stew … heavy on potatoes, with a touch of kyootcumber, and a token few chunks of meat floating in there. Still, it smells pretty good … and tastes great to those with empty stomachs.

Across from Delta Lance is the Magenta Lance – minus the Champion of Roses. While the Lancers may be able to set aside their masks to eat in the main hall – with only other Lancers and Squires to see – the requirements placed upon Champions are far more stringent, and they only eat in private.

A black Vartan dressed in squire's robes looks hungrily at his bowl of stew. He picks up his spoon and then puts it back down again, remembering something. Quietly sticking his hands under the table he bows his head and signs a small prayer to the Star under the table as unobtrusively as he can. After he's completed, he snatches up the spoon again and tucks in, looking at the other Lancers in the room. He'd seen one of the Magenta Lancers out of her suit once, but had never caught her name and never bothered to ask which one was a black Khatta. "You were greats out there, Arita," he scrawks between mouthfuls.

"I means, Training Sergeant Arita, sir," Zoltan corrects himself, grinning.

"Thank you," says Arita. She takes care not to look at the faces of the Lancers across the table, but one of them is clearly a black Khatta. One has markings of a Siamese, the other is plain white, and the other looks somewhat lynxish, though none of them have bobbed tails.

Zoltan suddenly realizes that he's gawking, and drops his head back to the bowl of stew. "So what bring you all to Golgotha?" he whistles to the other members of his 'lance', scowling as a chunk of potato tumbles off his spoon and splashes back into the bowl.

Tor pipes up, "My mama is a Den Leader, and my papa is a distinguished Guard. I'm going to grow up to be a Black Lancer!"

Cryptic, the white tiger-Sphynx, mrowls, "To be honest, you have been my inspiration, Squire Cambio. It was an honor to fight against the Death Goddess with you on Paradys, and I would take another fiery dart if it would mean a chance to finish her off once and for all." He taps himself on the chest – if there's a scar, it is hidden under a squire's tunic.

Arita scrawks, "My homeland is gone, and I desire to help defend against enemies who would do such a thing as drop an alien weapon on unsuspecting and innocent people."

The black Vartan's eyes light up and he suddenly grasps Cryptic's hand. "You were one of those who took a Babelite dart on the Silver Bell? I feared you all had died! It is an honor… a great honor to be serving with you, Squire Cryptic." He gives the Sphynx's hand a slightly more than gentle squeeze and then turns to the other two at the table. "Who is your mother, Tor, if I may ask?" And to Arita he smiles and nods, "I'm sure you'll be a Champion some day, if that is your wish. I was honestly impressed with how you acted today out there. Was an inspiration to me." His words are genuine, as seeing Arita suffer through the process of the one-handed pushups and armor polishing with only a few grumbles was an impressive act indeed.

It seems as if all three are going to compete to answer the Vartan, but Tor manages to pipe up first, "My mama is Den Leader Danae Sapphire!" He beams proudly, then rubs his nose. "And Pouncer packs a mean gish."

Cryptic looks fairly embarrassed, and foregoes anything he had to say in response, deferring to Arita.

The gray-plumed Vartan scrawks, "Thank you, B – Squire Cambio. I really think you should have been Training Sergeant."

Zoltan laughs at Tor, "So does your mother." He winks at the Jupani cub and then looks back over to Arita. "No. I think you was best choice. I not come here to learn to be a leader. I need to learns to follow and trust other people's orders more. It was hard to bite down on shoutings orders to all of you when arrows started to fly. I been leader much too much lately; it make me have to relearn how to be a follower, and if I ever end ups as a Lancer serving under a Champion then I goings to have to learn to accept beings a Lancer and not shouting orders when I shouldn'ts be."

The Siamese-marked Khatta nods her head, though she does not look up. She finishes her stew, then puts her mask back on. So attired, Lancer Thorn says, "There are far more things to learn than martial skill, or the ability to command. Humility is another lesson to learn as well." At this, the black-furred Khatta drops her muzzle just a bit.

"And a hard lesson to teach sometimes." Zoltan nods. "I also learning lots about teamworks. And I have to say that I think I luckiest person here to have been put in with such a team." ( We all have lessons we can teach each other, I think. Ones we might not even be aware of yet. )

A couple more of the Magenta Lancers finish their stew, and replace their masks. The black-furred Lancer is last.

"You came in third place," purrs Lancer Thorn. "That is admirable for a team just put together. I commend you."

The black-feathered squire forces himself to not gawk at the black-furred Lancer. He senses that something more is happening than he guesses, but doubts it would be polite to pry, especially into something as private as the Lancers' lives. "Arita is the one to commend! If I had been in charge I probably would have scattered the group and went for covers. She keep us together as a team and saw an opening for the kitchen. Was amazing!"

"Well done, Training Sergeant Corban." Thorn nods to Arita.

Zoltan grabs his bowl of stew and drinks down the rest of the broth as cleanly as he can. He scrubs at his chin with a napkin and picks off a few chunks of potato from his clothing, idly wondering if it's potato from the stew, from the bags, or from the peeling.

Thorn says, "You will have a lot of hard work ahead of you. You will have to learn beast-riding … yes, even if you can fly. Of course, you will have to learn how to use a lance properly … and how to ride in formation."

Zoltan winces inwardly. He's come home with headaches from having his head boxed around, sore arms from carrying heavy weights, sore legs and feet from marching, a sore back from sit-ups… the Lancers would find the one spot left that's yet to be abused properly. "Ahem. What sort of beasts?"

Thorn says, "Drokars, at first. We'll save vanderats and rakhtors for later. Don't worry. You aren't likely to be asked to ride a wyrm anytime soon."

"A wyrm?" squeaks Tor. "What's that?"

"They really amazing. I saw Champion of Ashes riding one once. Is like a big flying Gooshurm that no slurp foxes." The Vartan folds his napkin up on the table. "If you going to be a black Lancer you probably goings to get to ride one eventually."

"Ewwwwwww!" says the cub, but then his expression brightens. "Oh? A Black Lancer? Okay!" He smiles. Wyrms seem much better now.

Zoltan licks a few remnants of stew from his fingers and grins. "I hope I no breaking any rules by askings this, Lancer Thorn – but does my progress in my trainings meet you approval? I just want to know if I doing a good jobs or not."

Thorn says, "You are not disappointing." She folds her gauntlet-encased hands together.

"I very glad to hear thats," the Vartan smiles. "So, is beast riding going to be next thing in our trainings?"

"Correct," answers Thorn. And then she gets up. "Have you any experience?"

"Not a hair." the black squire responds. "You goings to get to see me fall on my backside many many times tonights."

Thorn says, "It happens to even the best." The rest of the Lancers stand as well. "A good evening to you, Delta Lance. Take good care of them, Training Sergeant Corban."

"Yes, sir!" Arita proudly scrawks, firing off a salute.

Zoltan salutes as well and then turns to the others in his lance. "Any of you had any riding experience or am I goings to be falling on my backside while rest of you ride circles around me?" He winks.

Tor keeps his head low as he shakes it in the negative. Arita and Cryptic shake their heads together.

"I suppose we fall together then," says Cryptic with a smile.

"Just these bruises I no thinks we can show off to everyone like we do with sparring marks." Zoltan chortles and gives Tor a small nudge. "You probably end up riding better than the rest of us I bets, no wings to get in you way."

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GMed by Greywolf

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