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It takes two to dance... [Attn: Myth]


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Cenn was finding that he was beginning to relax after his long steam in the tent. He met a few people, which was a nice change. He even smiled on the rare occasion. The person that really perplexed Cenn was a young Aiel who hailed under the name Cor of the Dragonmount Clan. It had been over a week since Cenn had danced, and he decided that he could use some touch ups from his new sept.


Cenn had talked to Cor long into the night, and had realized that Cor was actually one of the few, genuine, Aielmen that Cenn could stand. With his new found respect for the warrior, he had asked Cor if he would dance with him in a later date. Cor hesitated for a bit when Cenn had asked, but eventually accepted graciously.


It was long into the night of the third moon past the sweat tents where Cenn had met Cor, and they were scheduled to meet by the river a few hundred yards away from the camps. It would just be the two of them. Cenn had gathered his clothes and his two spears and began to make his way down to the river. As he approached it, he noted that Cor was still not there. He began searching for the ground where he could dance the best. Being Hama Na'Dore, he had thought about doing to the tip of the river! But that idea was passed quickly, as it would give him to much leeway. Cor was from the Stone Dogs, and it would be a impressive spar for sure; defensive versus balance.


He had found a flat spot near the river bank that would seem to suit him fine. He dropped his water canteen and took the two spears off his back. He juggled them for a moment, finding the right grip and his position of his feet. He looked up to the camp and noticed that no one was stirring. Maybe he's not coming... no, he will come. He gave his word


Cenn was sure that the other Aielmen he knew kept their word, but he couldn't be positive. He waited for near an hour, and finally saw Cor begin his way down the grassy slope. As he reached the bottom, Cenn began his obligatory formal speech.


"I see you, Cor of the Deep Shade. I am Cenn of the Blood Pool sept of the Dragonmount Clan. Do you wish to dance, my brother?" His voice remained calm throughout the speech, as if he had practiced it in his head for a while. It was not the first time he had sparred with a fellow Aiel, and he was sure Cor was just as ready as he.

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It had been a long day, but it still wasn’t over.


Cor loped through the darkness of Cairhein as soundlessly as a shadow. Perhaps flowed was a better word. He had spent most of the day helping the Red Shields keep the peace, and then had done the same for the early hours of the evening with the Night Spears. Laughing softly to himself, the young Stone Dog thought he might be the only warrior in Aiel history who could make a claim of belonging to three Societies. Still, his hectic schedule was necessary.


If he had too much free time, he usually spent it brooding on the strange game called politics that the Car’a’carn had to play with these wetlander nobles. It was a much different dance than he was used to, although no less deadly in its own way. Of course, these convoluted policies were the reason the Aiel were camped here in the last place they’d choose to be, protecting the last people they would ever want to help. He spent a lot of time wrestling with those thoughts, and the Wise Ones had often threatened to send him to Rhuidean because of it. They said he thought too much for a stone-headed Stone Dog.


That’s why he was up so late tonight. He needed to keep his mind off the problems he couldn’t solve, so he had promised a Mountain Dancer that he would spar with him. Even if it was past midnight.


Nei’din padded along silently beside him as they meandered through the Aiel tent city toward the river. He had become accustomed to the ever-present flowing water, but when he paused to think about it he still was in awe. There was so much water! He entered the open area near the vast water source, and saw Cenn waiting for him. Nei’din didn’t bother trotting down the hill, and instead just found a likely spot for a nap and plopped down with a growl in the dark shadow of a large rock.


"I see you, Cor of the Deep Shade. I am Cenn of the Blood Pool sept of the Dragonmount Clan. Do you wish to dance, my brother?"


“I see you Cenn, and it seems you have no need of either water or shade this night,” Cor added with a slight grin, as he stopped a few paces away. He recalled from their first meeting that Cenn was more reserved and formal than was usual for an Aiel, but Cor couldn’t help making jokes. It was just his way. Besides, laughing was another way of keeping his mind off the struggles of his people.


Part of his decision to spar with the newcomer was because Blood Rocks was such an outlying hold that few other Aiel ever visited its people. This session was an attempt to learn more about this warrior who had assumed leadership of the Hama Na’Dore when he arrived at the Treekillers’ city, and maybe about the people of Bloody Rocks, as well. “I am always ready to dance. Let’s see how well I know the steps.”


Dropping to a defensive stance, a spear in one hand and his buckler in the other, Cor noted that Cenn was going to fight with a spear in each hand. This will be interesting, he thought with a smile.

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Cenn's face remained tight and the same as it had when he had met Cor. He was to uptight, some would say. He followed orders to the pint, and it seemed he didn't joke around much.


"I am always ready to dance. Let’s see how well I know the steps."


Cor dropped to a defensive position with his spear and buckler, whilst Cenn gripped his two spears and went into a offensive position. It was dead silence and Cenn's motionless body stared Cor to his soul. It seemed like forever, and when Cenn finally broke his free form he thrust his spear towards Cor. Cor easily blocked it, for Cenn was testing his strength. He went into an attack, slowly alternating his left and right spears from slashing to thrusting.


Cor was blocking them mostly, with an occasional thrust that he'd throw after a decent block. Cenn parried it with his left, and did a quick turn-around slash to the offhand side of Cor. Cor parried it but staggered for a moment, and this is when Cenn decided to nearly unload. He went left and right, single stroke by the other. Cor was off balance, but was still blocking and parrying the attacks; with minor difficulty.


Cenn was still on the attack, and jumped in the air to announce a downwards thrust. Cor saw an opening and jabbed towards it, and Cenn was nearly stuck between the sky and a spear. He rolled out of the air, nearly lost his balance, and didn't even get his attack in. He knows the dance well. Good.


Cenn shifted and went towards the onslaught again. Unrelentless he held a more defensive position now. Blocking and parrying with his left, he jabbed and thrusted with his right. After a seemless time of the most perfect attacks from both sides, Cenn swept to the feet of Cor. Though Cor was a Stone Dog, he jumped over the spear and nearly put it into the chest of the Hama N'Dore.


Cenn went in one more time, with his more defensive stance of one spear on parry duty and one spear on thrust. When Cenn saw that he could find no openings in Cor, and Cor saw he could not find a opening in Cenn; Cenn stepped back for a moment.


"You dance well, brother. It has been to long since I have danced with a Stone Dog." Cenn had said with a straight face, and as hard as it had been as always. Catching his breath, Cenn replied once again, "Shall we continue our dance, my brother?"

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Cor smiled, his blue eyes twinkling mischievously as he answered. “Of course. Tell me, where did you learn the steps?”


As his words left his mouth, his spear sped toward Cenn.


Up to now, the young Stone Dog had been content to remain mostly on the defensive with only a few attacks mixed in when he saw an opportunity. Cenn danced well, and his unusual style presented a welcome chance to hone his skills. As he had observed the Mountain Dancer’s two-spear attacks, he had noted that it offered both advantages and disadvantages compared to the more typical Aiel techniques. With a spear in each hand, Cenn could attack from multiple angles and attack either flank with equal effect. Cor quickly learned that the second spear meant Cenn didn’t have an easy flank to exploit, and could launch strikes twice as often which meant he could kill twice as frequently.


At the same time, wielding two spears limited Cenn’s effectiveness in other ways. The Mountain Dancer’s balance was extraordinary, as was the norm with his society, but in order to maintain proper balance he couldn’t strike nearly as far as was possible with the more familiar techniques. His range was limited, because if he fully extended one arm or the other with a spear thrust, it left his body wide open for a counter-strike because he had no buckler to shield it. Having to pull his thrusts also meant that Cenn couldn’t strike as powerfully as he might have otherwise.


So far however, Cor hadn’t been able to exploit the weaknesses because Cenn’s skills were very impressive and, because he had been mostly content to feel out his opponent. Despite the unusual style, Cenn’s body seemingly never got out of balance. Very impressive indeed.


In Cor’s head, the music changed and so did his strategy. It was time to attack.


The young Stone Dog followed a left-handed thrust of Cenn’s as the older man pulled back his spear, getting inside his attack zone. Blocking the left spear with his buckler, he turned his body to thrust his own spear. Momentarily, the older warrior was wide-open for a strike as the unexpected change of tactics took Cenn off guard. Cor hesitated for a heartbeat suspecting a trick, and Cenn recovered before Cor could kiss flesh with steel. Somehow the older warrior reached awkwardly across his body with his right spear and deflected Cor’s thrust just enough to send the spear point wide of its target.


After the brief exchange and briefer opportunity, Cor separated and began ritually probing and retreating, always circling to his right/Cenn’s left, trying to get Cenn to over-extend his attack or get his feet crossed. If he did, then Cor would strike again and this time there would be no hesitation. Then they’d start a new song to practice to.


Until then, he would be patient as only an Aiel can be.

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The two warriors managed to hold conversation throughout putting in perfect maneuvers. "Of course. Tell me, where did you learn the steps?"


As Cenn dodged a spear to his right and went in for an attack with his left, he withdrew for a moment;; then re-pressed the attack to Cors waist. He had tried going for the legs and upper body, but his buckler promptly deflected his blows every time. He had a few chances of skin puncture when he went for the waist. It was always a good strategy, his balance was perfect that he could block from nearly any directly without flinching an inch of space. But other societies, though their balance was great, had a hard time covering the middle and sides of the lower torso.


But for some reason Cenn couldn't pierce his brothers defenses. Cor was a great dancer; indeed, but his defenses kept Cenn on the outside every time. Cenn knew he would come for the attack soon, for he was trying to wear Cenn down. He softened up for a moment, trading blow for blow to parry to block. "My family; they were all of the Sha'mad Conde." His attacks began being fierce again, and nearly broke the Stone Dogs balance and structure. But of course he was of the Stone Dogs, so his defense was back up before Cenn had even finished his blow. "I was brought to a few of the Shadowtwisted dances." He seemed to spit the last few words out. Cenn hated Shadowtwisted. More then anything, he hated Shadowtwisted. It's how he was raised.


As the two danced on in the night, Cenn kept note of how the fellow dancer would move. He saw a few weaknesses but he could never react fast enough to take advantage of them. Whenever he could parry an attack with his left spear, he saw an opening in the middle of the chest; just above where the buckler stood. But before he could strike the spear was back at the ready infront of the Stone Dog.


As the night droned on, Cenn noted one thing within Cor. His eyes. As soon as Cor would move for an attack or defense his eyes could almost.. shift. This allowed Cenn to be more prepared when he was to attack. The last time, though, Cors eyes flared dominantly. Cenn knew it was his turn to go back on defense. It wasn't his specialty, but he could deflect a few blows. Cor raged forward and thrust his spear, which Cenn easily parried to the side. Several times this happened, until Cenn thought Cor had given up.


Oh but he was wrong. Cor moved back and began the traditional hit-and-run attack. Cenn stood in the middle, being circled by Cor like a ravaged dog. He wasn't sure how to react, but he knew whatever he was doing was what Cor had thought he would do. Cor circled him, jumping in and thrusting every few moments. Every time he jumped out though, it allowed Cenn to regain his balance and prepare for another attack.


Cenn was sure not to throw his arm out to far, for it would lose his balance. He kept his legs crossed, so he could keep his balance standing still. He make sure his body stood within his defenses to disallow a stray spear. For several minutes Cenn simply parried the onslaught of the Stone Dog. He had no time to react. Finally Cenn saw an opening, Cor had left his buckler down farther then what it usually was. As soon as Cor jumped in to strike, Cenn parried it with his right. It seemed this almost confused the young Stone Dog, for Cenns left was always his 'parry' weapon when he could. With his left hand he thrust it to the bare chest of the Stone Dog....

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As Cenn thrust with his left hand, Cor sprung his trap.


He turned his torso and brought down his left elbow into the crook of Cenn’s spear arm. This turned the spear point out of line and brought Cor in close to the Mountain Dancer, his buckler arm twisted around Cenn’s left arm, holding tight to prevent an escape. With a smile, the young Stone Dog plunged his spear to within an inch of Cenn’s throat.


“You lose, friend.”


Before he lowered his spear, Cor felt a tap on his chest. Looking down, he saw Cenn’s spear tip pressed gently against him, poised to dive into his heart. Very, very impressive. I forgot the other spear.


Laughing out loud, Cor stepped away from the older warrior who was remaining very stoic. “Well done. You have an unusual technique, but it is very effective. We must do this again, Cenn.”


Cenn replied formally, “You dance well, Cor of Deep Shade. I look forward to crossing spears with you again, or perhaps fighting alongside you.”


Dismissing the formalities, Cor paused to look up at the stars to judge the time. “It’s pretty late, and I think we’ll have to do this again on another day. I think I’ll call it a night. There’s a party going on with a few lovely Maidens, some friends of mine, and lots of oos’quai that I want to make it to. Until we meet again Cenn, may you find water and shade.”


Cor began to walk off and Nei’din rose to his feet with a stretch and a great yawn, his large canines gleaming in the moonlight. On impulse, Cor turned to look at the older warrior who seemed terribly alone standing there on the riverbank, so far from the Threefold Land and surrounded by strangers.


“Do you want to join me?” Scratching behind the great lion’s ears, he waited to see if the formal warrior would accept his invitation.

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The dance had gone askew in the final moments. He lost his way with his balance and his left arm was taken prisoner. But as he was raised, he was taught how to slay the last thing that had given him death. It would of been his dying moments; to plunge the spear into the man across from him.


Conversation flooded between them; well, it was conversation for Cenn. That was quite possibly the most amount of words he had exchanged with any one person since he arrived... Or where I came from.


Cor, the younger warrior of the two, had seemed so energetic throughout the entire dance. Even after when they both had grown weary, he had desire to go a party and to drink this oos'quai. Tales from his hold told him that the oos'quai was a poison to slow the thoughts and actions of a person. Though Cenn had learned differently since arriving on the wetlander lands. It was an alcohol, something they drank for past time. He knew not of it's effect, though.


He thought for a moment, What is Cor trying to do? Does he wish to kill me? No. Cor is a good brother. I would stake my life for him. In his home hold, it was considered a 'sin' to be caught with a Maiden. The Blood Pool were such a different hold, even in the eyes of the Aiel. Mating was only offered on necessity and when it was truly needed. Desire, lust; all were words unknown to a warrior of the Blood Pool. Seldom children were born; and even more seldom had someone wed. His parents were one of the few that had wed; a wise one and a 'Blight Raider,' the wetlanders called them. Thunder Walkers, nearly his entire village was part of this society. Except he.

But it is not my hold any more. I have broken my bonds to my home. I have chose a different path. One that is not set for me.


He had never been with a Maiden, he had never even seen a drop of oos'quai. Perhaps it was time, he thought, that I have changed my customs as well as my family.

"I would like that, Cor." He announced the last words and smiled to himself. He never said Cor of the Deep Shade. It was his first time ever announcing one of his brothers without proper formality. He did not think it would come to other people. He trusted Cor, he trusted Cor more then Cenn trusted Cenn. Perhaps it was not healthy; but he was not raiding the blight any more. Well, for now.


The pair walked up the hill, side by side but seemingly not speaking. Cenn was deep in thought, but Cor seemed to be free of all emotion what so ever. Noises could be heard from ahead; in the camp. Cenn, almost on instinct, pulled his spears out.


Cors smile stayed on, and turned to look at Cenn who was beginning to pin his veil from his shoofa. He nodded, and explained that this was what the party was. Cor must of known, then, that Cenn was not accustomed to what Cor was accustomed to. Cenn nodded, and nearly laughed at himself. He was on the verge to dance with someone; when all someone wanted to do was, quite literally, possibly dance with him.


He left Cor there for a moment, and his lion; who Cenn had seemingly unignored the entire night. He didn't want to think of a lion near him. Animals were as much as a brother of a spear to some people, so he left it out in the mere conversation they had held. He jogged to his tent, and almost threw his spears inside. He looked like a gitty girl, running around as if she chased the man she would marry. But even without his spears, the gracefulness and dominant stride of Cenn could send a shiver even to an Aiel. Even an Aiel.


He jogged to catch up to Cor, who looked at him bewilderedly. He probably thought Cenn was insane. But he merely shrugged it off and led him towards the commotion in the middle of the Aiel tents. For the first time, in what seemed forever; which was quite possible, Cenn held a hearted chuckle and a grin so wise that you could camp inside the crevasse.


"I would like that very much." He repeated to himself, but Cor seemingly overheard it and let loose a wry chuckle.

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