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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
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Sam

Advanced Training Arcon

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Mr. Sweeper was awake before Captain Redpath. No. This was a lie. The only way anyone aboard The Merry Pauper could do that was to exploit a little trick called ‘not going to bed’. Mr. Sweeper had done so on this particular day, spending hours planning his next assignment for his students. He was very proud of this lesson and excited to see how it would turn out. There was going to be pain, sure, but if he could get a spot of blood then he would really feel as though he’d achieved something.

 

When the sun rose above the horizon, and his charges (after taking their daily dip in the frozen ocean, which we cannot forget) filed onto the deck dripping water and shivering they were faced with one of his most inspired obstacle courses. The ship was incapable of moving this day, for most of its working parts were in use, or would be very shortly.

 

Mr. Sweeper explained, unnecessarily, that what the recruits (no longer new) were seeing was an obstacle course, and yes, the man at each station equipped with a lathe was indeed going to oppose their passage and they would need to work their way past them. One of the ingenious innovations, however, was the numerous wooden training weapons placed throughout the obstacle course. They represented weapons from daggers and short swords, glaives, bill staffs, axes, maces, spears. There were not many common weapon types not in wooden form upon the deck this day.

 

Mr. Sweeper further explained that his men were under orders only to make clean strikes; at no other time would they do more than block progress. If they, the students, were smart they could avoid taking any damage. Not that this was likely. Each of the trainees had five minutes to make it past one of the stations, and there were six of them. They would be given three attempts each. It was going to be a long, entertaining day.

 

The first station was a long corridor created by wedging boxes along the bulwark. There were three men, one at the beginning, one in the centre and one at the end. The object was simply to get past them by any means thought of. Or they could cry like babies and run home behind their mother’s skirts.

 

The second station was a circular corral created by wooden crates around foremast. In one of those crates lay an object, a stone that was bright red and impossible to miss that that needed to be found and removed from the enclosure. There was, naturally, a man there with a lathe to make life complicated.

 

The third station was down the ladder and into the cargo hold, where the stone was to be placed in the well marked location. Honestly it was just a red-chalk circle around the top of a piece of drift-wood. The difficulty came in getting back up that ladder, as there may or may not have been more than one sailor lurking about down there.

 

The fourth station was just before the shrouds. The shrouds would need to be approached from a specific angle, which, naturally enough was guarded like a fortress by three very large men with very large wooden hammers. Part maliciousness and part humour on Mr. Sweeper’s part, that was. In order to succeed they only needed passed.

 

The fifth station, the hardest was on the shroud walk. Along the jackstays sat another sailor with a wooden long sword. His job was to knock anyone who came up back down the shrouds. A net had been placed conveniently for the purposes of this exercise. Five minutes would not be a lot of time for this station, so he would allow ten. Five minutes, six minutes, ten minutes, all of these was a lifetime in combat.

 

The sixth station was the prow. And the trainee had to get there in any way possible, while the guards of the other five stations did their level best to make sure it did not happen. Now this was entertainment!

 

 

OOC: whether you fail, succeed, get brutalised or don’t take a shot will be again, up to you.  Now would be the time for your character to discover that dual wielding with a dagger and long sword is more profitable for him than the long sword alone. Have fun, and this one will easily be big. I’m thinking at least ten paragraphs. Fifteen for extra credit!

 

 

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Arcon could have swore, wishing Sweeper would make up his mind. Was he going to leave Arcon with his jaw clicking or not? Judging by the latest popping noise, Arcon was betting on yes. Still, compared to other injuries, a musical mandible  was far from the top of his complaints. Looking at the obstacle course; neither was a missing eye. His eye examined every inch of the refitted Merry Pauper, all six of the stations guarded. He'd learned a valuable lesson in his little spar with Mr. Sweeper; he was far from the strongest man. So, he had to rely on more than the strength that some others might get by on; at least until they got to the hammers. By the Great Lord, were those men or shaved Trollocs? With Mr. Sweeper as his instructor, he could never be sure.

 

He eyed the weapons rack thoughtfully, longer than any other part of the course actually. He knew he'd take a sword, but which one? Longsword seemed the most balanced, and the combination of being fairly light weight and a bit longer would help the small man. Still, he didn't think it'd be enough. Then the Carhieren part of him kicked in, specifically the scheming little bastard part. Oh, how father would be proud! Except for the part where his son was a channeling darkfriend aboard a pirate ship, not to mention about to wield weapons among brutes. Still, the idea in itself, that he'd like. He toyed with his shirt and coat sleeves, adjusting the laces on his shirt, as a smile crept over his face.

 

He watched as Sweeper called off names, and to Arcon's dearest surprise, and eternal gratitude, he was in fact not first. Instead, it was an Andorian, tall, wide of shoulder; a former blacksmith's apprentice. Arcon was hardly surprised when the wide man chose a hammer; a big one. He approached what Arcon had affectionately deemed the Corridor of Pain, and entered; and immediately got jabbed in the stomach, and then chopped on the head.

 

He glared at Sweeper as he called his name. So, that was his game? Show the difficulty of even the very first challenge, and then call Arcon. He approached the weapons wrack from the side, running his hand over weapons, and picked up a long sword in his right hand, and flourished his left. He had no doubts that some of the men saw what he'd done, but those whose views were blocked would be in for a surprise. With this done, he walked over, and stood twenty paces from the entrance to that Corridor of Pain. Then, time started.

 

Arcon 'sheathed' the blade on his belt, and then he full on sprinted towards the boxes; yes, the boxes. Not the corridor, and jumped. The Acolytes fingers barely wrapped around the top, and he scrambled to climb up. His boots hammered into the crates, trying to supply the power to get up there. As he kicked his fist leg over, a hand reached and grabbed him by the coat. Arcon felt himself being pulled down and growled, throwing his lower arm out, and slamming the larger man's fingers into the box. He heard a satisfying yelp, and ran atop the crates. He leaped down at the end, rolling to ease the fall. He flexed his already sore hands, and willed the pain of supporting his entire, admittedly small, body on just the last two sets of fingers away. They worked fine, and that was good for the Dreadlord. He could have thanked Sweeper for forcing him to climb the shrouds every day; instead he thought he'd do his damnedest to make sure the man never reproduced.

 

Now, station two. Mission: get that bloody rock. He didn't have a daring feat of agility to get past this one, no, he knew he'd actually have to swing the lathe at his waist to find the rock. So he drew it in that practiced manner he'd been taught. Arcon advanced, throwing the first controlled, head splitting, slash. It was blocked squarely, and laughed; perfect. Arcon continued to press the attack, rotating his blows in predictable fourths of a semi-circle. Each blow blocked with a solid thwack as the lathes collided. Now, on the blow before the pattern restarted, the man countered; perfectly baited. Arcon sidestepped as the man lunged, and swung at the man's lathe from the outside with a one-handed downward chop. His left pinky pulled the lace of his shirt, and a dagger with a loop around the hilt appeared in his hand. Arcon got cocky; he actually drew his hand back and slapped the man across the face with the wooden instrument. Arcon knew he wouldn't be the only one with a popping in his head after that one. Quickly, he searched the crates and found the red stone. Now came a hard part; he didn't have a plan for the below decks, as he didn't know what to expect.

 

He eased himself down gently, the dagger stowed again in his shirt sleeve. Instead, he cradled the red stone in his left hand, and his sword in his right. The first man appeared, wielding dual shamshirs, and laughed. "Come here little boy..." Arcon grinned, "No." The pirate's head cocked, and the Acolyte pitched the red stone and got him in the groin. As the man fell, so did the hilt of Arcon's longsword. To put him out of his misery, of course. Its not like he got any satisfaction out of hitting the man. With this, he fished out the stone, and found the drift wood, placing it gingerly.

 

He turned, and two more faced him. Arcon let out a sigh, and dashed behind a crate the wall. He thanked the great lord for small mercies, as he noticed the slight gap between the ship, and the crate. He squirmed his way through, trying to be as silent as possible. This extra path let out by the latter, and he quickly ascended, leaving Sweeper's goons to wonder what exactly just happened, while the Carhieren brushed off his outfit of black woolens. Now came a rather difficult part, station four. Hammers of Hell.

 

Okay, now, he was faster, and judging by the fact that it looked like each of these men's grandaddies had hooves, probably smarter. Plus, they were close together; that gave him an idea. He wish his old man was here, to kiss him for dragging the boy that the dreadlord had been out to those shows. He rushed at the men, keeping his eyes out for how they'd hit the charging target. As he thought, at least one oaf was prepared to chop Arcon down like so much oak, and his arms raised into a horizontal slash. As the blow was swung, Arcon ducked down into a roll, and then sprung back up. As he did so, he heard perhaps, the most satisfying sound of his life. Crunch He didn't have to look back to know that Trolloc A had just slapped Trolloc B in the face with his hammer. He even resisted the urge to turn, he was too busy flying towards the shroud and climbing like the spider he once fancied himself to be.

 

Once he reached half way, the Acolyte stopped to catch his breath, panting from the exertion, and looking up. It was one of the bastards who'd shot him with all those blunt arrows. Oh, Arcon was going to make him pay for that one... He climbed up, and as soon as his fingers went to shroud walk, they were crunched by a wooden sword, and retracted. He suckled them, and shot the man a death glare, then he realized he was in range. Right around the time he got jabbed in the head by the wooden sword. He fell a bit, but managed to get his leg tangled to stop himself, and do a sit up before a hammer hit the air where his head had been. Using those strong legs and toned abs, he even managed to get vertical again, and reascend the bloody thing.

 

He sat, just out of reach, plotting. "Oh, look at that angry look in your eye, why don't you come up here and do something about it." Oh, that was the final straw. The man shot at him, hit him (twice), and now wanted to poke fun at him? Now Arcon didn't just want to beat him, he wanted to humiliate him. So, he quickly brought both feet up, only a single rung beneath his hands, and flung himself up; his sword aimed for the man's stomach. He heard the thud as his momentum was transferred, and those spidery arms lashed out to grab the rope again, laughing as the man fell. Pulling himself up, and looked down. Time for station six.

 

Going over the other side, he took a few steps, and noticed all of the remaining obstacle crew in between him, and the bow. Arcon looked around, no cover. He'd have to actually fight his way through. His dagger drawn, and unhooked. For once, Arcon Dadread had absolutely no idea how he was going to get through this. Seven on one. The first one came at him; a simple long sword in hand. Arcon blocked it sword to sword, giving quick thrusts where he could with his dagger, but the man was just out of reach. The second was approaching, so Arcon had to finish the first up quickly. When the next attack was launched, it was going for Arcon's left, and so, he blocked with the dagger and slapped the man hard in the face with his long sword. The Pirate stumbled a few steps away, disoriented. To Arcon's great disappointment, he wasn't out of the fight.

 

He felt the sting of wooden blade on his right arm, and gritted his teeth, willing his fingers to hold their grips. Perhaps his cockiness had prepared him for this, because his fingers did indeed hold their grip. Still, it was numb, and for a second he couldn't raise it. He brought over his dagger, and parried while he felt his sword arm's strength returning, giving ground as he did so. Desperately, he crossed blades squarely instead of deflecting, and launched a kick. His barefoot caught the man in the midsection, knocking the wind out of him. The all to familiar hilt-to-skull came down. This one, he was confident, would not be getting back up.

 

He knew he couldn't continue like this; he was winded, sore, and out-numbered. Still, he hadn't any idea what to do. The last six closed in on him in a semi-circle. He held up his blades defiantly, and waited, his mind racing. Arcon took a deep breath, and did the only thing he could think of. He charged straight forward, catching the center man off-guard. Still, there was far to much ground to cover to take advantage of it, so he threw his dagger. It flew true, but instead of hitting a vital area, it hit the man in his arm. No doubt it'd leave a nasty bruise, but the real treat was that his hand involuntarily spasmed.

 

As the man fumbled for his sword, Arcon rushed past, laughing as he thought he'd make it. That damned old man had tried to torture him at every turn, and he'd conquered his greatest challenge to date! Defeating a large chunk of the man's guards, and finally making it to the end of this damned obstacle course! Using wit where muscle wouldn't work. All of these thoughts ran through his mind, when he realized his idea had caught on. Trolloc C's hammer whirled through the air, and hit him flat in the back. Arcon Dadread tumbled head over heels, rolling and bouncing around like a rag doll. He slammed into the front of the ship, and lay there.

 

When the dreadlord woke up, he wondered if that had counted as a win.

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It did count, as a matter of fact. Not that this is important in any way to this new post but I knew you were all curious and wondering and I just couldn’t leave the thought unanswered. So now that we have that out of the way I will cast a few more useless facts and we can move on. Less than ten percent of the recruits managed to pass on their first attempt, only sixty percent passed by the end of their fourth, there were six broken bones in all and a lot of bloody noses. Yes. I made that up. Sorry.

 

Mr. Sweeper was happy with the way it turned out. He was surprised by the level of competency his snivelling-worm recruits displayed and told them so. Word for word . . . almost. There is, lamentably, a PG13 rating on this website and what he actually said would have minors’ mothers burning torches and lynching members quicker than you can say, “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” We did have to give them enough time to get on the phones, yes. No, no, I agree, they didn’t have to burn down your porch.

 

This next lesson, by relation to the one before it, was short. Again it involved ‘live combat stimulation’ with those dastardly painful, wooden weapons. That way, no one got cut so much as bludgeoned. The probability of losing a limb was a million to one thereabouts (forgetting for a moment that one in a million probabilities turn up eight times out of ten) and the most you had to worry about was some precious part of your anatomy shattering like a yard glass. Mr. Sweeper didn’t care, and frankly, neither do I.

 

There would be two opponents, average ability sailors, used to working in concert. No ‘cheap tricks’ would work against them. They were instructed, as before, to only take clean shots, if one could not be found they were ordered to parry, block and give the recruit experience trying to batter, or sneak, his or her way through defences. This sounds altogether easy, I know, and you’re waiting for the other foot. Here it is. Size nine and a half, by the way.

 

The recruit would have four ropes attached to his or her body: one around each wrist and one around each ankle. These ropes would be held by four rather hefty sailors whose idea of a recreational pursuit was seeing who could turn the mast the quickest. Single-handedly. This involved grasping a very thick heavy rope and pulling on it until the courses swivelled around the mast. Normally this would take every available crew member. I think you know what their job is already, but I shall tell you. Their job was to yank certain vital limbs out of the way at opportune and rather vital moments. They were very good at it.

 

OOC: You know the drill. Have fun.

 

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