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Finding Balance

Edvar alGiven

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After showing him to the Barracks the Dedicated left him. It seemed he had done well after all and would be staying around for a while. He now had mixed feelings about this. In all truth though, he knew this was his only real option. He had to learn to control it. That was the only way to survive. He would learn nothing more of that today though. The short period of training had left him with a growing ache in his head.


He entered the Barracks and eyed the black coated men warily. How many of them were going insane? How many already were? Trying to keep his distance somewhat, he found an empty cot and set his uniform on it, then went looking for a wash basin. After washing off his hands and his face, he returned and began to put on his new uniform.


As he buttoned up the black coat, he noted how good it felt. Somehow, just wearing the coat made him feel stronger and more prepared. He decided to go out and explore his new home.


The place, which Sereth had called the Farm, and also the Black Tower, was a considerably sized town. Considering all the men in black coats however, he decided that the Black Tower was a much more fitting name. If this place had once been a farm, it could no longer be considered one. Sereth had said that wearing a black coat meant that you could channel here. If that were true then there were literally hundreds of men here that could channel. He had never imagined that so many men had escaped the notice of the Aes Sedai.


After wandering aimlessly for a while, he came to a much more familiar site. A group of men practicing the sword. This was something he knew. Being a guard for various merchant trains in the borderlands, he had come to know the basics of sword fighting. He had never thought to advance farther though, but for some reason, the idea of possibly becoming a blademaster seemed more appealing than ever. He studied the men for a while, fascinated by the way they moved. The sword play he had learned was effective, but hardly graceful. These men moved as if dancing, though this dance could be quite deadly.


After watching for about ten minutes, he decided to start practicing himself. He went over to a rack filled with wooden practice swords and chose one. Giving it a few test swings, he decided that it was serviceable. He went into the stance he knew as Leaf Floating on the Breeze. It was a horizontal guard position with a form similar to The Falling Leaf. It was very versatile, making it an ideal form for beginners. After holding it for a second, he snapped into the technique called Lizard in the Thornbush, then returned to his original stance. Then he moved into Lightning of Three Prongs, once more returning to the stance. He repeated this process for several minutes until he noticed a man standing nearby watching him intently.


Stopping and turning to regard the man, he noticed a small smile on the mans face. As soon as he turned the man slowly started shaking his head and let out a small chuckle, then approached him. "Good basic form, but no where near quick enough. You have to push and pull on the handle at the same time." the man grabbed a wooden blade of his own and demonstrated the technique. "The idea is for the tip of the blade to move faster than your arms or your wrists. This adds not only speed, but power as well." Edvar nodded his head as he considered the mans words. It made sense to him. He gave it a few tries and noted the increased velocity of the practice sword. He grinned as the tip of the sword began to whistle through the air. Then he turned and thanked the man for the help. The man shrugged it off and asked "How many forms do you know Soldier? Not just those three I saw your practicing I hope?" Shrugging uncomfortably, he answered that he knew a few others.


The man looked up to the sky briefly, attempting to hide an exasperated smile. When he looked again at Edvar, he said "Show me what you know then." Eying the man warily, he began to demonstrate what he knew. Was the bloody man making fun of him or trying to help him? When he had shown the man all he knew, he stopped and waited to be told what to do next. The man was nodding to himself though, he seemed to be considering something. "Good basic techniques." he said. "With a little practice, they should serve you well for now. Your biggest problem right now is your balance though. And you need to work on quickening those wrists." He's trying to help out then Edvar decided.


"And what would you suggest I do to fix these problems." The man wore no black coat, so he wasn't required to defer to him, but he seemed to know his way with a sword, so he decided to see what the man had to offer. "For balance, The Heron Wading in the Rushes is always good. Just remember not to use it in a real fight, it may get you killed." The man chuckled, but stopped at the slightly confused look on Edvars face. With a sigh, he assumed the stance himself, balanced on one leg with his sword overhead pointing down. "This is the heron stance." He put his foot down and considered Edvar a moment, then hefted his wooden blade. "You can practice that later though, for now, I want to see what you've got."


Edvar lifted his own blade, assuming the stance he had been practicing earlier, Leaf Floating on the Breeze. As soon as he was set, his opponent charged into him, swiftly beating his guard aside and kicking him in the stomach. Edvar collapsed, coughing and trying to force air back into his lungs. It only took him a matter of moments to recover, but it had seemed like an eternity. His opponent waited for him, unhurried and unworried. Edvar rose to his feet and lifted his sword back up, this time assuming the stance called Lion on the Hill. Once again, the man flowed towards him, but this time Edvar met him, and managed to hold him off. The man was good, it was all he could do to just defend against the man. And it didn't even seem as if the man was trying. Then, the mans blade slipped past his guard again and struck his shoulder, throwing him off balance slightly. His opponent took advantage quickly and redirected his swing, striking him in the side of the head.


Edvar stumbled back, losing his balance and landing on his rear. Shaking his head to clear it, he realized for the first time that his earlier tension from using the power had faded. The physical exercise must have helped out. Balancing the mental workout with the physical. He smiled at the thought and stood up once again, a wide grin on his face as he faced off with the man once again. As the man had said, he needed to work on his balance, though not entirely in the way he had meant.

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  • 2 weeks later...

He was tired. Not exactly physically tired, but mentally. He had pushed himself this day at boulder training. He had quickly learned to blow things up, something he had never done before. He had channeled until he couldn't channel anymore. Then they had let him go. He was restless though, so he had come here.


Balancing on the ball of one foot in the stance called Heron Wading in the Rushes, he could feel his leg shaking slightly from the effort, even wrapped in the Void, though it was almost as if it were someone else's leg shaking. When he could no longer hold himself up, he dropped into the fighting form called, a Falcon Stoops and immediately went back into the Heron stance, only on his other leg this time. He repeated this until he could no longer stand on either leg for more than a few moments. Then he took a short break, dropping down to rest on the balls of his feet.


He studied the others working in the area, their quick, flowing movements. He recognized many of the forms. Others, he didn't know of. These he studied even more, trying to commit the patterns to memory. It was difficult. He found that his mind was too tired for that sort of mental exercise. After a few moments, he stood and started pacing the area.


Finally, he found someone else practicing by themselves and approached the man. "Care to spar?" he asked. The man eyed him for a moment before shrugging and saying "Why not, I ain't got nuthin better to do right now."


Edvar frowned slightly at the mans uncouth speech, but had no time to consider it as the man charged him immediately in an all out attack. He defended as best he could, but after a few passes the man cracked him on the side of his face and kicked him hard in the gut, knocking him back. Dazed, he picked himself up off of the ground, wooden blade held carefully in front of him. He eyed the man warily. Despite his unkempt appearance and uncivilized accent, the man obviously knew how to use a sword. "You sure ya wanna go at it again?" the man said as he stood, preparing to face off with him again.


He didn't even bother to reply as he strode forward, though he was more cautious, better prepared than the last pass. He attacked the man, using the Boar to bear down on the man, but he easily beat aside the attack and struck the back of Edvars leg. As he lost his balance and began to fall, his ooponents blade swept around at struck him in the chest, slamming him into the dirt. "Is that all ya got?" he said mockingly. "We fight hard here, we fight with everythin' we got. If ya ain't prepared ta do that, then get yer self gone."


Edvar flushed in shame, but stood again, and set himself. "I am not leaving yet." he said. With a malicious grin on his face, the man once again charged him. Edvar stepped to the side, countering the attack, the man recovered too quickly though and met him, renewing his offensive. Gritting his teeth, Edvar held his own, staving off attack, after attack, after attack. It went on for several minutes, and the fellow lost his grin, the expression replaced by one of concentration. Finally, the man managed to strike his wrists, he immediately followed with a strike to his legs, then his face. As he stumbled back, the man stepped forward smoothly and smashed the hilt of the wooden sword into his face. His vision went red and he dropped his sword, clutching his face in pain.


Through his blurred vision, he saw the man step forward, as if to finish him. In a panic, he realized that he no longer had his own blade to defend himself with. He was defenseless. No! he thought. With a silent snarl he sought the one thing with which he could still defend himself with. He saw the mans sword coming down towards him, but it was too late. He seized saidin and suddenly, a sword appeared in his hands. A sword made from Fire. The mans wooden sword the sword of Fire and went right through it. The top half of the sword fell harmlessly, but the part the man still held continued its downward momentum and his face flashed with pain as the newly sharpened edge scored a deep mark on his face.


The man stumbled back in surprise and he roared with rage, springing forward to take down his opponent. The man dropped what was left of the wooden sword and in his hands appeared a fiery sword of his own. He met Edvars attack as he stumbled backwards, but Edvar was lost in a haze of anger which surrounded the Void, enveloping him while leaving him untouched by it. For the first time in the whole fight, he went on the offensive. He could see the man beginning to sweat underneath his onslaught. No blade touched skin however. The man was good. Edvar knew that eventually he would wear down and then the man would take him out.


Then, out of nowhere, something struck him from the side. It was like an invisible hammer. Dazed, he picked himself up from the ground, looking around in confusion. Saidin was gone. An invisible wall blocked him from it and he beat against it, trying to protect himself. Then he spied his practice sword lying on the ground nearby, but as he dove for it, it flew through the air into his opponents hands. The man was eying him warily now. Without taking his eyes off of him, the man turned and went to pick something up. It was a black coat, like the one he still wore. Only, when he put it on, Edvar noticed that it bore not only the silver pin marking him as Dedicated, but the other one as well, the one Sereth had called the dragon pin, marking him as an Asha'man.


Edvar quickly dropped his gaze in embarrassment. "I apologize Asha'man. I was out of line. I....had no idea. I....didn't know." He shut his mouth. He was in trouble and he knew it. He feared he would be put out of the tower for a moment, but then he felt a strange warmth that quickly became an unbearable heat inside him. Then it was gone. He reached up, feeling at his face in amazement. His wounds were gone. He looked at the Asha'man, wondering what was going on, then, the man spoke again, his accent clearer now, his tone slightly respectful. "I must apologize for that. I had to push you, to see if you had the fighting spirit. You did well, though you still have much to learn of the sword. Now, go and rest. I Healed your wounds, but I'd imagine that you are quite fatigued after that. Perhaps we'll see each other again sometime."


The man calmly walked away, and for the first time, he noticed that many of the others that had been practicing, were now looking at him. How long were they watching? he thought. Putting his head down to hide the redness that suddenly stained his cheeks, he hurried away from the training grounds toward the Barracks. He was indeed tired after that, and quite sore, despite the strange Healing.

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