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Face, Fist. Fist, Face. You'll Be Friends, I'm Sure (Hand to Hand: Banders)


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For the sixth time in as many minutes, Mehrin ignored the plaintive voice behind him saying, "Do I really have to do this again?"  A couple seconds later: "You know, I had thought that this was lost or destroyed or something.  Why the hell was it even in the carts?  It's not like anybody uses it."  Silence.  "At least, not since you left, anyway."


"Ah, Beleo, you look good in it.  Besides, you never complained before."  Even as he said it, Mehrin knew that it was the wrong answer to give.  "Yeah?  That's because it was the bloody Commander of the bloody Band that was giving me the bloody orders!"


Dropping his cloak, hat, gauntlets, and shirt onto a handy bush, Mehrin slipped into a set of warm-up exercises so ingrained into his mind that he could hold a conversation with no thought.  He only used it long enough to say, "Shut it, Beleo, and get back into the trees.  You don't want the poor lambs to make you a laughing stock before time, do you?" 


Over a decade of heavy combat and physical training had turned Mehrin's body into a sculptor's dream.  If the sculptor was also a sadist, that is.  A criss-cross of scars- many faded, many new- covered his visible body as if he had been thrown into a pile of swords.  Mehrin knew that there was an aspect of showing off to the display that he was making of himself, but a touch of awe never hurt when dealing with trainees.  He had seen some of the younger soldiers looking at him as he made his way through the Band's encampment from day to day.  They were sizing up the old man.  This was the perfect opportunity to make sure that they did not try anything foolish with him.


One by one, the students that he had been saddled with began to make their way to him.  With a day taken off from the march to rest the horses and pack animals, Mehrin knew that he didn't have to hurry.  They could do this all day.


He counted on it.


As the last of his students arrived, Mehrin greeted them with a simple, "So.  This is what the Band takes in now?  The standards have gone down, I see.  Oh, well.  At least you can learn how to be knocked unconscious like soldiers."  Standing back from the group, Mehrin openly examined each person standing before him, studying how they stood and reacted to his words.  "For those of you who have been beneath a rock for the past four days, allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Mehrin.  Used to be a big figure around here, now a civilian.  Which means that I can beat the living hell out of you, and command won't give a damn either way.  Makes for decent motivation, in my opinion.  Now, for the sake of everyone getting to know everyone that they will be beating on in a little bit, what are your names, and where do you come from?"

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Tevares arrived with some of the others in the Band whom he assumed were to receive training as well.  He stood watching the shirtless man wondering what his father had gotten him into.  Tevares wanted power and glory, not hand to hand training.  It was pointless, the only proper training was from horseback.  A calvary charge could devastate an army, send them running in every direction making them prime targets for being cut down.  All this was in theory, things he had been told by others as he had very little true experience except as a merchant guard.


Tevares rubbed his oiled beard as he studied the scars on the shirtless man.  What under the light had this man been up to, where had he gotten all those.  Tevares was still a foolish youth who thought battle was all about glory and reknown.  He barely thought on the fact that you could end up dead at the end of the day.  Still it wouldn't stop him, he was an ambitious youth and would get his due.


"So.  This is what the Band takes in now?  The standards have gone down, I see.  Oh, well.  At least you can learn how to be knocked unconscious like soldiers." Tevares rolled his eyes and let out a sigh.  He would not be insulted by this...this what?  His voice inside his head mocked him.  You who know very little will not be mocked by this man who has clearly seen hundreds of battles and lived!  Still the logical reasoning did not change Tevares' attitude toward the man.


Figures, the man used to be someone important.  So they were to be trained by a has been?  With all the self importance he could muster Tevares spoke "Tevares of House Altimar from Tear."  The sculpted man's assessment of Tevares seemed to find him lacking in many ways.  Tevares would show the fool.  While he was a calvaryman, he was no slouch!



a puffed up fool





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With a sly grin Zander smirked as Mehrin made his speech.  Ahh just like the old days.  Zander remembered the 1st time Mehrin had used his new trainee speech on him.  And there was another Zander making the same mistake, the same assumption.  Zander remebered as Drea told him that Mehrin wasn't so tough, that a young in shape lad like himself should have no problem showing him a thing or two about bare knukle brawling.  Zander barely remembered those first few sessions.  Only looking up at his opponent after the world went black for a bit.  Ahhh the good old days.


"Tevares of House Altimar from Tear."  reponded a younger Tairen with an oiled beard.  Zander watched as Mehrin looked at Tevares and assesed that there was no danger, only tough love.  Zander couldn't resist the chance to be on the otherside of the joke.  Zander put on his serious face and walked over to the young soldier. "Tevares is it?" Zander asked. "I've trained quite a bit in hand to hand and I've fought against Mehrin many times." It was hard not addressing Mehrin with his rank, just didnt feel right but Zander continued.  "He's a great fight unless you make him REAL mad.  Like just insult say whatever it takes to get him off his game.  I know its only training but think of the respect you'll get soldier!!"  And with that Zander looked him confidently in the eyes and patted his shoulder and walked away.


"Ahhh the good ole days eh Mehrin." Zander said walking past him.  "How about me next?" Zander was never accounted as being extremely bright but he always loved a good scrap.  Two swords, two hands, two kness and two feet.  Ahh it was good to be home.





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Well this should prove interesting, Elynde mused, running a measuring eye over each person who showed up for the latest training session. It would be a welcome break from the monotony of marching sunup to sundown at any rate.


She barely paid any attention to the disparaging introductory remarks from Mehrin. It seemed to be standard practice to greet trainees in such a fashion and no doubt, from an experienced soldier’s point of view, it was perfectly reasonable.


“Now, for the sake of everyone getting to know everyone that they will be beating on in a little bit, what are your names, and where do you come from?"


Having decided by his response to Mehrin’s question that the young man who named himself Tevares was a self important idiot, Elynde turned a dark eyed gaze on the other. This one didn’t introduce himself, being too busy mocking Tevares, but he looked like he knew his fists from his elbows at least and certainly laid claim to some experience. Ely had few worries on that score. She knew she lacked the finesse and control displayed by some of the Banders in hand-to-hand combat but she was no slouch either. Nobody growing up in the rough and tumble of the Rahad’s streets could be. You either survived or you didn’t and regardless of coming off worst several times, survival was what Ely was good at.


“Elynde Sidoro,” she replied finally, taking appreciative note of the numerous scars on Mehrin’s body. Clearly this was someone who knew his business. She inclined her head respectfully, “From Ebou Dar.”


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  • 1 month later...

OOC: Just a note that I haven't miscounted.  I'm padding the numbers a little bit for the sake of people having an option to train with an NPC if they wish, but it's probably more fun to work with another character.  It also lets latecomersAnd sorry for the long delay in posting to this.


IC:  Mehrin nodded as he listened to each soldier give his or her name.  He didn't need to learn them, per se, but it couldn't hurt to try.  Besides, he did receive some pleasant surprises.  Zander Cross had left the Band shortly before he had, something about personal business if he recalled correctly.  It was one of the few documents that Mehrin had actually signed.  A fond memory of all the paperwork that seemed to orbit between his office and Amon's moseyed across his mind before being banished back into the depths of thought.  Time to focus.


There was the usual collection in the group.  One of the soldiers, Tevares the noble, was the group's arrogant idiot; the bandy legs suggested that he was probably Cavalry, so his attitude was understandable.  Zander the prankster was in full force.  Ever since that time when Drea had goaded him into sparring with Mehrin, the man had been working to pull the same prank on others, with varying degrees of success.  Elynde, though, was a strange one.  She obviously knew a fighter when she saw one, and the nod of respect did not go unnoticed.  She'd go far, if she wanted to do so.


"Now, I handle my training a little differently.  A lot of trainers will tell you to fight with each other.  I don't.  It only enforces bad habits, like believing that there is such a thing as a fair fight."  Mehrin spat irritably, displaying his personal opinion on the subject.  "A fight is not meant to be fair.  Whether it is with weapons or with fists, your only task is to cause as much pain and damage to your opponent as you can."  Here, Mehrin couldn't help but begin to grin.  He had learned as much about the current training that the Band was undertaking as soon as he had established himself in the camp, and he knew what kind of hell some of these trainees had been put through.  "You are here to learn technique, and that is something that I can help you with.  Sergeant Ronas, if you please?"


The bushes behind Mehrin rustled as the sergeant and current trainer appeared.  From head to foot, he was dressed in a leather suit, thickly padded on the arms, legs, head, torso, and groin, but jointed with chain mail to allow for some freedom of movement.  It had been Mehrin's favorite training tool as a Bander, and he was glad to have found it again.  A few of the recruits smirked at seeing their tormentor dressed in such a way.  "Now, others use a dummy, and while I'm no different, I prefer one that can tell you if you're doing things right or wrong.  That's why I use the most articulate dummy I can find."  Mehrin feigned to ignore the rude and rather obscene gesture that Beleo used behind his back, instead locking his gaze on the arrogant lordling.  "Tevares!  I want you to hit Sergeant Ronas as if you were trying to hurt him.  Each of you will do this; I want to see if any of you know how to actually hit a man."


As the line moved, Mehrin gestured to Zander, telling him to hold back.  "Let them go; I know you can do it.  Maybe you'll spot some things that need fixing that I won't."


OOC:  Punch away.  Kick away.  Use your elbows, knees, heads, teeth, or whatever else comes to mind.  Be creative.  Have fun.  Remember, this is the guy who made some of you run endless laps of the Citadel...

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  • 2 weeks later...

A year had passed since Tris first was dragged to the Citidel and not much has changed. Everyday the Private she called Gramps ordered her around the camp, around which she alternated running and marching as specified.


". . . And so we believe Tris should learn some self-defence."


At this Tris made a strangled whooping sound, and looked anxiously at her two civilian-guardians. Frowning gravely, they began a predictable duet.


"Well, that's really very nice of--"

"If you're sure Tris won't be any trouble--"

"She'd certainly love to--"

"It would give us time to ourselves, but--"


"I'll be fine!" She was eager to learn hand-to-hand. Indeed, it would take more than a civilian teaching them to frighten her enough to run away screaming, even if he was made of scars. No, she had drawn back of the group when she saw the same lady who had spoken to Jehryn and had rescued her and Gramps from the tavern fight over a year ago. What was her name again? Elynde.


Tris pulled at her lip thoughtfully as she stood watching the other assault the "Serg", thinking in Tevares' boots she'd probably give a cross-chop to Serg's adams apple then bring her elbow down on the quatrain's head.

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  • 2 months later...

OOC: If anyone feels like actually continuing this, jump in with a post about hitting the dummy/sergeant, then go ahead and pair off amongst yourselves.  If you're still following this, Tris, have at it.


IC:  "Very good.  Now, I want each of you to pair off with another person.  I don't care who with, just with somebody else.  When you've got a partner, one of you will come over here and pick up one of these."  Mehrin lifted a burlap sack filled with straw off of a stack nearby.  Each sack was stuffed to near bursting, and each sack had two ropes attached to it like the arm straps on a shield.


"You will all get a turn punching and kicking the sacks today.  Sergeant Ronas will be going about correcting any foolishness he sees in the good, old-fashioned way: he'll have you try it on him, and he'll thump you a good one to show why it is foolishness."  As the soldiers began to split up, Mehrin began unstrapping the leather bonds holding the padding onto the sergeant.  Without looking over his shoulder he shouted, "Hey, kid!  Come here."


The girl had caught Mehrin's attention by being the youngest person in the training group.  Likely, she was probably the youngest person enlisted in the Band.  If one of the soldiers landed a punch on her, it would probably look bad for them.  But a non-Bander...


"Well, kid, you're stuck with me.  I'd rather one of the other trainees here didn't knock you on your arse," Mehrin said as he heard the girl approach.  "Don't be mistaken, though.  I'm not doing this to be nice to you.  Because you don't have an idiot for a partner, you'll be working twice as hard as the rest.  It'll be easier for you, in the long run, but for now..."  Mehrin let out a grim chuckle as he hefted one of the straw bags.  "For now, you're mine.  Start punching like you mean it, girl."

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Before she had gotten a chance to punch Serg, they were to pair up in another exercise. Tris moved quickly toward Elynde, figuring if the other woman hadn't recognised her as that misbehaving lad in the tavern she was gold. But she was intercepted by their trainer.


Her eyes flicked to the other pairs, bustling with activity. She turned to look at what she had gotten into. There were just the two of them and the bags that hung at eye level.


"This is how I would have punched Serg" the girl said impatiently, "give him an uppercut. Look."


She pulled herself up and with her eye on the target, her fist managed to connect with the straw rather than the undersides of the ropey straps. It swung up and smacked her in the face. Unbelieveable as it sounded, her last two knuckles hurt even more than her face, though that stung too.


Tris flinched away from the bag with a small whining cry. It was a lot harder than she thought, punching straw.

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  • 7 years later...

OOC: This is an old training thread that takes place before the DotNM arc, or rather during the march there. I'm just completing several posts for it in retro for a ranking requirement. Feel free to post as a spectator or interrupt if the mood takes you.



Ely could already tell this was going to be a long session. Mehrin was clearly a man who took his business seriously and right now, his business was them. Rolling her shoulders casually to loosen up the muscles there, she looked on as Tevares stepped up to the Sergeant to take his shot first. The lad hadn't got the first idea what to do.


Too fond of that needle he likes to carry around, she mused, and too sure of himself by half. It's not going to take Mehrin long to put him in his place.


Her thoughts were interrupted by the late arrival of a young girl. Something about the figure was familiar, tugging at Ely's memory; maybe the way she moved. Ely couldn't quite place it and her gaze continued to follow the girl as she walked to join the other soldiers. Ely's eyes widened as she realised the little wisp of a thing actually intended to participate in the training, more so when Mehrin made no objection. The child was going to take a beating if she was allowed to continue but it wasn't Ely's place to question it and her attention was pulled back to Sergeant Ronas as her own turn came round.


"Your turn, wench", Ronas growled. He'd never called her anything else since the day she first showed up for sword training but the tone of it had changed, marginally, from derisive to merely goading as her abilities had improved.


Ely had no interest in seeking revenge against the Sergeant, though she had little doubt that others amongst them would certainly do so. The man was only doing his job. One day, if any of them were responsible for training, they'd no doubt use exactly the same methods to achieve the necessary results. No, what she wished was to learn, to refine skills she already possessed; a determination and single mindedness that had marked every stage of her journey since she arrived at the Citadel. Narrowing her eyes at the Sergeant, Ely planted herself carefully, sideways on to her opponent so she provided less of a target area. Her feet were spread sufficiently for balance but close enough for mobility and her shoulders were visibly relaxed, giving as little indication as possible of her intentions. When she moved, it was fast, slamming her right elbow against the side of Ronas' head and following up with a sharp jab of her fingertips at his throat.  Her first blow landed but the Sergeant blocked the second easily, using his forearm to knock her arm aside before the jab reached it's goal.


"Straighter", he grunted, "and tighten them up. If you misjudge, you'll end with broken fingers."

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Whatever she did, Ely already knew it had to be smart. Stronger and more conditioned now after months of training, she still couldn't expect to outweigh most of the men head on. Luckily, she had other advantages; her height, speed, flexibility... 


...a brain, the voice in her head added sardonically.


Using the momentum of Ronas' shove against her arm, she spun in a circle and ducked slightly, clenching that same fist, tucking her fingers in and punching him hard, not in the stomach, but slightly off centre where it would catch his ribs. Not like she was going to do any real damage with all that padding on him but under normal circumstances that could seriously wind someone. Stepping back, she brought the heel of her right hand up under Ronas' chin and succeeded in slamming his teeth together with a crunch.


He could have been a rock for all the reaction he showed.


Ely continued for several more minutes, dodging, ducking, spinning, landing no further blows but steadily looking for weak spots to attack. As she completed a series of solid punches around his head, each one smoothly stopped in its tracks, the Sergeant suddenly moved back and put a hand up to forestall her next hit. He then resettled himself before barking a brief order. "Move less."


Ely stared at him, trying to work out what he meant and Ronas raised his eyes skyward. Before he could make any sarcastic comment, Mehrin's voice sounded behind her, elaborating on the Sergeant's words, "You're not fighting in alleys now, Elynde. Less space around you in battle. You move and weave like that and you'll tire quicker than will be good for your health."


She nodded her understanding, finally appreciating the sense behind this method of training. A dummy was all well and good but it couldn't point out what you were doing wrong. The Sergeant, on the other hand, was all too willing and ready to do just that. Her lips twitched with a half smile that vanished as quickly as it had come when Ronas' voice commanded, "Now, kick." 


Honestly, the man needed lessons to expand his vocabulary but this time Ely took his meaning. Swap fists for feet. 

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Considered objectively, growing up in the Rahad was a rough start in life. Considered from Ely's point of view, it had been absolutely normal and very happy. Her family weren't well off but they were more comfortable than most in those filthy warrens. Cairalle and Berslon had loved her, kept her safe and provided for all her needs. There was little more that anyone could require of their parents. Keeping her safe had included both parents teaching her how to defend herself effectively although the more significant part of that had come from mother as a native Ebou Dari. The first lesson Cairalle had drummed into her daughter was that her entire body was a weapon, not just her fists but her feet, elbows, knees, head and teeth; and anything else she could think of in between. So Beleo's instruction now made perfect sense. Don't rely on one tool when you have multiple tools at your disposal.


Of course, there were limitations to that. Ely might be tall but she wasn't going to be kicking anyone in the head if they were over a certain height themselves. Legs only stretched so far!


Moderating her breathing and settling into a balanced stance once more, Ely launched a sequence of moves that had worked for her in the past. She hooked a leg behind Ronas' knee, yanking hard and retracting quickly, aimed a swift kick at his shin with the side of her foot which, whilst childish could be sore enough to distract, and for good measure added a high kick intended to plant the sole of her foot against his chest. Her leg muscles were strong and it was easier to shove someone over this way than by pushing with her arms. However, Beleo was no ordinary opponent, and Ely found herself suddenly dancing around on one foot like an idiot as he grabbed her other ankle, securely trapping her right foot.


"Good thought, not quick enough", he stated, letting go once more. "Again."


Her temper flared slightly, annoyed with herself for being caught but also relieved that she hadn't lost balance and ended on her backside. Her mind raced, considering and discarding various avenues of attack. At least her feet were protected inside her boots, safer than her fingers during that earlier jab.  A distracting punch with her right fist at the Sergeant's nose was swiftly followed by a solid kick with her left foot towards his belly. He slammed his arm down to block but this time, Ely got her leg out of the way before he made any contact, turning slightly and planting it behind her as she brought her right foot up smacking it against the side of his knee, his hip and his shoulder in quick succession.


Ronas nodded slightly. Not approval but an indication that she was doing better. She kept the attacks up in short bursts, determined to find openings, for a good ten minutes more before he told her stop and called on the next person. Pleased to note that she wasn't even a little breathless after the exertion, Ely watched as the remaining soldiers took their turns, interested to see if they fared any better than she had.

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When Mehrin's next instruction was issued, Elynde was relieved to note that it was accompanied by an order for the young girl, Tris, to join him. She should have realised the instructors would have an eye out for anyone vulnerable. After all, there was tough training and then there was outright negligence and she'd actually never seen any evidence of the latter in the Band. She was just wondering about the girl's history and that familiarity that continued to tease the edge of her memory when a staccato cough at her shoulder dragged her back to the matter at hand. A sweeping glance around the area showed that everyone had already paired up and a somewhat raffish looking man was now watching her expectantly. What had Ronas called him? Oh yes, Tardyn. He lifted his left arm, indicating one of Mehrin's burlap sacks hanging there.


"Looks like it's you and me," the tone was as raffish as his look and Ely had to work at keeping the hard planes of her face expressionless. She recognised disreputable when she saw it and it was clear from the winks Tardyn exchanged with a couple of the other trainees that he'd angled for this match deliberately.


Blood and bloody ashes! The Light preserve me from fools. Does he think I'm blind? disgust coursed through her and she mentally prepared herself to keep her temper in check. Another bad fight was likely to see her in some hot water with the higher ups and Ham had already had a quiet word with her about the Citadel not being the Rahad. Twice. Alright, maybe three times. One day, someone among her peers was going to surprise her and actually take the measure of her before trying stunts like this.


"Looks like", she finally agreed sardonically, hoping the hint of mockery might register and bring Tardyn up short. No such luck. "I'll go first then?" He acquiesced with a leer that told Ely all that she needed to know and her patience ran out.  She was not getting into trouble over the likes of him but there were other ways.


The man planted his feet against the impact he expected to come and Ely let fly with some showy roundhouse kicks interspersed with volleys of punches at the straw filled sack. In a matter of minutes, deliberately allowing herself to seem thrown off balance by the routine she was pulling, Ely swung as powerful a punch as she knew how... right over the top of the sack and into the bridge of the man's nose. There was almost a grace in the way his head arced backwards, body following behind as if pulled by an unseen string and there was definitely a satisfaction at the thud as he landed on his back. Out cold. Ely looked up. Nobody had noticed. They were all too engrossed in their own training spars. Even the Sergeant was busy barking corrections at another pair of trainees. Glancing briefly at the man again, Ely then opened her mouth to call Mehrin's attention to the problem, explaining the 'accident' as briefly as she could. Loss of balance. A hit gone astray.


Mehrin didn't question it. Clearly didn't consider it worthy of note. They were soldiers, they got hit, accidents happened. He sent Tris off to fetch a bucket of cold water and had her pour it over the man at Ely's feet. Tardyn came round, spluttering and outraged, to be greeted by laughter from the onlookers. Felled by a woman. That would be fodder for some merciless ragging later. The glare she got from her recent spar partner warned her that she'd made an enemy there. Whether he proved a temporary enemy or one that held grudges, only time would tell. Either way, he wouldn't be planning to try his questionable charms on her again.


As the hours dragged by and the training took its toll on some of the less fit, causing them to sit rounds out, Ely found herself paired up with various others and was able to get back to focusing properly. When Mehrin finally called an end to the session, Ely turned towards the barracks in relief. Drenched in sweat and aching in places she didn't know it was even possible to ache, she was more than ready sit down somewhere with a cold ale.


Then she caught Ronas staring at her.


His eyes told her nothing but held hers for a long moment until her shoulder blades started to itch. The Sergeant was no fool. He'd been sword training Ely for months now, 4 hours a day every day.


"Lost balance was it, wench?" His voice was lowered, pitched for her ears, his disbelief palpable. Ely said nothing, but tilted her chin ever so slightly, and waited. This might be the point where Ham got to say he'd told her so. After what felt like an interminable silence, Ronas nodded almost imperceptibly before barking loudly, "Extra training it is then. You'll report to me for another hour in the evening and we'll see about making sure you can keep your feet on the ground and punch straight."


Ely watched the Sergeant walk away, the only sign of shock being slightly dilated pupils and a sudden dropping of her shoulders that anyone else would put down to tiredness but in reality was pure relief. Ronas had just covered for her. He knew and he'd said nothing. Was that tacit understanding of her actions or approval that she'd stood up for herself without getting caught? She brushed a tired hand over face. She wasn't sure at all but she wasn't going to be complaining at the extra hour of training. Right now, all she wanted to think about was getting clean and getting a drink. Or ten.

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