We, the students, were all young women, pleased by our strength and eager to test it. After our exercises, we would often gather to relax and chat, discussing rumors we had heard from the lowlands. We had just heard about the fall of the Olympian Dictatorship, and the tumult that was following.
"Couldn't we help?" Arbella was saying, "We may not be masters, but we know how to fight."
"We could take bandits, I'm sure. Not much, but it would be better than nothing," Yen agreed.
"Or beasts. I've heard several geneticists had their workshops destroyed and their wares escaped and have started breeding. We could help a lot of people by hunting them down," continued Arbella.
Our teachers seemed ageless, and infinitely patient. They never raised their voices in anger, but only as a means of focusing our attention. So, when the voice of Teacher Scythe suddenly cut across our chatter, we immediately stopped talking and listened.
"Do not fool yourselves. What we do is not practical. You would not survive real combat."
"Surely it cannot be useless," objected Arbella, but was quickly overruled.
"You have learned how to fight unarmed against other unarmed humans. That is all. Do you think you could even survive in a fight with a man in a hoplite suit? A manticore? A sentient weapon? We practice to keep tradition alive, nothing more. We are monks, not warriors."
He paused, seeing that some of us still weren't convinced.
“Tomorrow you will fight a boar. It will be given no means of escape, and that will make it desperate. It will attack you however it can. It will not care about pain. It will not fall for feints. Few of your techniques are of use against a four-legged animal. I do not expect you to win. I expect you to learn."