Stera and Lety, Rube's stepsisters, are secondary characters and I didn't waste time explaining who trained them. They played bit parts and though what they did was important, at the end, this scene didn't need to see the light of day - until today! Enjoy:)
"They're still in bed." Chal gave an evil grin.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Shanika asked, looking up at the ceiling where, above them, two unsuspecting girl's were still wrapped in sweet dreams. That was about to change.
"Spin the wheel time!" Chal reached inside the silverware drawer.
The cook of the Ha-mah smiled indulgently. "Don't forget to bring back my knifes!"
"Can I keep the cleaver?" Shanika asked, running her finger along the edge. "My cook needs one."
"As long as you place an order with the blacksmith for another."
"Done!" Shanika put the cleaver in her apron pocket and followed Chal up the stairs.
The two lumps beneath the thin blankets weren't stirring, other than soft snores.
Shanika opened the window, gathered up the Stera, blanket and all, and dumped it outside, aiming (mostly) for the pile of laundry the girls were already supposed to be working on.
Chal followed her example.
The screaming got everyone's attention, but, as usual, one look at who had done it and they all went back to work.
"Do you think they broke something?" Shanika asked, looking a bit worried.
"Nah, it isn't that far. The most that could happen is a sprain or two."
"Just so you know, Stera might have a concussion before the end of the day," Shanika said in a hard voice. "And it won't be because I threw her out the window."
They made it outside just as the sisters scrambled out from under the pile of dirty laundry looking cross as two spoiled little brats could possibly be.
Chal walked up and shoved two fingers up Lety's nostrils and led her to a contraption known to the trainees as "the wheel." She released Lety's nostrils and pointed at the wheel, which was lying on the ground. "Lay down!"
Lety, with eyes streaming screamed, "NO! You can't make me! Mari said..."
Chal kicked the girl's feet out from under her and stepped on her neck. "Shanika, they don't know how to fight!"
Her co-conspirator had Stera's arm up behind her back and was applying pressure, making the girl tiptoe over the ground at a fast pace until she stood in front of large planks. "Get on."
The girl, after seeing that her sister was being strapped down, climbed onto the planks which had a series of pulleys, ropes, and chains that somehow were connected to the wheel.
"Listen to me, you Vael-brained wonders!" Shanika barked. "You two were late getting out of bed, didn't help with morning dishes much less finished the wash. So, you get no breakfast or lunch and you will finish the wash as soon as you finish volunteering for eye-hand-coordination."
The girls looked at each other in question.
Chal clapped her hands together - four measured beats - and looked at Stera. "Start walking to this rhythm. If you stop your sister dies."
Stera's face bled of color and she began to walk in place while the planks moved up and down and she held onto two long poles that glided back and forth.
"You better go faster than that or your sister will never make a whole revolution and she'll suffocate," said Shanika with a disinterested tone.
"Got the knives ready!" Chal said with an eager grin.
The wheel which had been on the ground, was slowly rising as Stera tried to keep the beat that Chal had given her. Her face was red with the effort and she was already sweating.
Shanika faced the wheel and Chal stood with her back to it. "On four?"
"Yeah, and let's descend this time and then go on odds."
The women began to count... "Four...three...two..." a knife was thrown by the backwards-facing Chal. It slammed into the wood near Lety's head. The girl howled.
"Hey, Stera, you better keep the pace or your sister won't make another round."
Even as the women spoke, they were throwing knives back and forth, catching them by the handle, and changing places. Other girls were now gathering around, no one saying a word, but all watching with keen interest.
"What are you looking at you freaks!" Stera yelled angrily, puffing as her sister, strapped to the wheel, screamed again as a knife missed her outstretched hand by inches.
A cleaver sprouted next to Stera's foot. "Go FASTER!" Shanika warned. She turned to Chal, "I don't think weak-knees has the strength to make the wheel do one revolution. Lety may suffocate."
"Let's see how much Stera loves her sister."
Both women, still throwing knives, watched as Stera strained, the blood vessels on the girl's forehead bulged and threatened to burst.
"I...I...CAN'T do it!" screamed Stera, falling to the ground and stretching one hand out toward the wheel as it sank toward the ground. "NOOOOOOOO!"
Chal calmly looked at the group of girls. "Volunteers? No, not you Pidey, you broke your wrist yesterday. Mari wants you to wait a day...anyone else?'
The wheel had come to halt - upside down. Lety's screams were faint, but definitely audible.
"LETY!" screamed Stera, jumping off the non-moving planks and rushing to the wheel, trying to lift it.
"It's too heavy, silly," said the injured Pidey with a sniff.
"No one wants to help?" Chal asked.
"Will we get into trouble?"
"Who said that?" asked Shanika, looking disappointed.
All heads turned to a small brunette with a club foot. All the girls backed away, leaving space around the girl.
Chal smiled. "Not if you can take this knife away." She displayed the weapon.
Before she could blink, the girl disappeared and reappeared - with the knife.
"Well done sister mine!" Shanika crowed and she gave Chal a wink.
Shanika's sister worked the planks and Lety, covered with sweat reappeared - unconscious, but still breathing. Stera, sobbing, pulled away the straps and then pulled her sister off the wheel.
Chal turned to Shanika with a smile. "Mari is absolutely right."
"She always is," Chal agreed. "But about what this time?"
Shanika retrieved her cleaver from the plank. "This is no such thing as a permanently unmotivated person!"