Berit was complaining. He had been complaining for the last twenty minutes. Khalad hadn't been expecting him to be so moany about this and it was really starting to get on his nerves.

"And apart from the whole 'I can not move' thing why does it have to be so heavy! How are you meant to run in this thing?"

Khalad was buckling Berit into his armour for the first time. He was due to be knighted at the end of the month in a ceremony with as much pomp as the Order could cram in, which meant of course that the graduate would wear his armour in public for the first time.

"You don't, at least not fast." Sparhawk was sat watching in some amusement as Khalad adjusted the various belts and buckles, which was always time consuming at the beginning as they found the right position.

"That's stupid." Berit exclaimed, "This whole thing is stupid, this stuff is stupid."

"This 'stuff' is centuries of tradition, and engineered to protect you from crossbows and lances. Now. Hold. Still. So I get this right. Or do you want to fall on your face?"

Few men took instantly to wearing armour. You had to learn a new way of walking, of moving, even of breathing and it took some time to do it well. So to avoid the embarrassment of have a new Knight tripping over his own feet they had practiced first.

"Now I know why you all fight in such a ridiculous way. You can barely move your arms!" Berit gestured in demonstration, earning him a rap on the breastplate.

"Stay still. Or I will tighten certain straps you definitely want left loose." Khalad warned. "And quite your whining."

"This is not whining." Berit barked. "This is pointing out a serious tactical disadvantage. And you are just in a bad mood because Sparhawk is finally going to put you through this."

Sparhawk had at last followed through on his threat to enroll Khalad and Talen in the Order, only this morning in fact. He gave Berit a steady look, not bothering to ask how he had found out. He had his ways, layers of secrets as thick as his scars.

"So we are, in fact, both annoyed with Sparhawk." Berit suggested, a small smile as he highlighted a common enemy.

"Annoyed doesn't come close." Khalad muttered, moving on to check Berit's new gauntlets. Sparhawk just grinned as he watched the two young men, both now deeply enmeshed in the Order.

"You do know I'm never going to put this on again, right Sparhawk? Genidians manage without armour after all." Berit took up a different tack, and Khalad heard Sparhawk sigh, saw him pinching the bridge of his nose.

"The armour is required for all ceremonial occasions Berit. Please don't argue with me on this. I can't handle you starting a revolution on me right now."

"Fine. Ceremony. But I get to choose whether to wear it in a fight." Berit bargained.

"Some of the novices practically hero worship you after all that Legionary business – which I know is not your fault – but the last thing I need is them deciding they can do without armour."

"I won't say a word against it. In public. And I'll wear it when commanded to, but other than that..."

"You are not going anywhere near a fight unarmored Berit. I don't care what sort of title Sparhawk has conjured up for you I will not let you." Khalad surprised himself at the depth of his feelings on this. In the past months he had come to deeply respect Berit for his quick wit and amazed at his strength of endurance. They had spent more than one night drinking till dawn and Berit had shared some of his experiences with the Brotherhood. Khalad knew enough to know why Berit sometimes still woke shaking, and enough to know there was still more that hadn't been mentioned.

But despite this Berit had a deep moral streak and a profound sense of justice. He also felt he had something – a lot of things – to atone for so was diving head first into his new life. There was much to admire. Not so much the thought of him riding off into a battle against swords and bows in just a cloak and shirt.

Berit gave him an amused look, a deep stare that Khalad had gotten somewhat used to. It gathered information, evaluated it, stored it, in case it came in useful later. "I could be persuaded about the chainmail, but the armour..." He shook his head. "I like to be able to move. And see." He added, as Khalad placed the helm on his head.