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the centre circle and the irrepressible figure of Durhan, waiting patiently for his student. Vance approached as silently as his training would allow him. Before he got within twenty feet, Durhan tilted his head in recognition. Before Vance could speak, Dur-han's denn'bok extended and the Minbari rushed toward him.

Vance was momentarily flustered as he tried to ascertain if Durhan was really closing for an attack, but the look on his face left little doubt. As Durhan closed the distance, Vance fumbled in his robes for his training pike. After a split second of panic, his denn'bok was out and extended, his body adopting the defensive stance Durhan had taught him the day before.

Just in time he parried his tutor's blow. Its power rocked him backward, and Vance was hard pressed to retain his footing. He skipped back to avoid Durhan's reach, but the denn'bok master was deceptively quick for his size. Two more blows rained down, and Vance struggled to match them.

Durhan suddenly stopped and gave a curt nod, his fighting pike collapsing into itself. 'Good,' he said. 'You should be ready for combat at all times. A bit of a shaky start, but it will suffice. It would have been disappointing to send you to the healers so early in your instruction.'

Vance was unsure whether to accept Durhan's calm. He kept his own weapon up and ready. 'I thought we only fought in the fighting circle,' he said warily.

'That is for everyday tutelage. Our liaisons are in secret and with the express purpose of, I think the earth phrase is, "raising your game". The normal rules do not apply. Besides, the tricks I need to teach you require that you step outside the bounds of normal training. Another human phrase, I believe, is "think outside the box".' Durhan smiled. 'I am quite fond of that
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