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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Decisions, decisions ((ATN: Seiakiera, open to any other trainees))


Maurelle
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The fabric of the uniform was finer than just about anything he had ever known. That wasn't what bothered Tywin. No, what bothered him was the color. So bright. He felt like he was walking around with a sign proclaiming him to every being with eyes. It made his skin crawl. But he had little choice. Unless some Aes Sedai came along and snatched him up he'd be in highly visible colors the rest of his natural life. He leaned against the wall of the barracks and kept half an eye on the other trainees as they exited the building. She had said to meet her there at first light, but it was still at least half a bell before that. There was only the faintest beginnings of light coming over the gardens on the East side of the Tower. It gave him time to think as he stared at the monument to the One Power. A lot had happened in only one day. 

 

The half smile he normally wore grew brighter as he thought back on it. He wondered if his father had any idea of where the path he had set his son on would lead. He couldn't help but feel like the old man had set in motion some kind of intricate plot that he would only gain understanding of with time. He shook his head and stuck his hands into his pockets to keep them warm. Maybe not even then. Maybe he would never know. And maybe that wasn't a bad thing. The other trainees were a good sort and the single warder he had met wasn't all that bad. Perhaps he could make something of himself here. He'd certainly be more useful here.

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Cora stepped into the Yards from the Grove, stretching her loose muscles from her light exercise. She always liked getting up earlier than the sun, it was always quieter and she had more time to her own thoughts. Her gaze swept across the Yards as others were slowly getting into the routine and spotted Tywin standing nearby the entrance of the barracks. A slow smile crept onto her face, there was something about the boy that made her feel like he'd go far.

 

She started towards him, contemplating what to start him off with. He didn't seem to bring any weapons with him so maybe it was a trip to the armory but she wanted to see where he was with his fitness. Tywin saw Cora's approach and started to walk, to meet her halfway.

 

"Morning there. Before we start to do anything, we're going to see where you are with your fitness." Motioning for him to follow, "You seem pretty fit but endurance is key. If you can't last the night running from Trollocs and fighting brigands, then you aren't good for anything, eh?"

 

She stopped at a basic exercise track, letting Tywin gather in all of the obstacles. "You need to run through this as fast as you can and once you've beaten my time, we can move on. I'm going to run it first, time me. Whatever time I get, you have to beat that. It's not that hard."

 

Coraman moved to the starting point, waiting for Tywin's signal. Once given, she took off in a bolt, leaping onto a vertical pillar with a rope. She grabbed the rope, half pulling and half climbing up the tall structure and once she reached the top, she flung her body over and grabbed the rope as she rappelled down. Halfway through, Cora leapt onto a steep incline, running up while avoiding the rocks that littered the surface. A misstep would break an ankle or worse, crack a skull.

 

At the top of the incline, she bounded down and ran into a maze of ropes, weaving and sidestepping her way through as not to reach a dead end. Then she came to the end, turning to Tywin with an outstretched arm to signal the end.

 

"Begin."

 

ooc: go through it, stretch it out a couple days in a post (or two if you want) and give your character hell. It's a simple exercise meant to taught stamina and endurance.

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Right so, the rappel didn't look that hard-he'd done something similar enough times with his father. But the rest...Those rocks looked like they could cause more than a bruise from a tumble. And the rope maze-there was nothing for it. He was just going to have to memorize that. And to make things worse he was going to have to do it in front of Coraman. He took a deep breath and blew it out the corner of his mouth. Well, he'd failed at worse in front of bigger crowds. He'd concentrate on getting through the course before worrying about the time. He offered Coraman a lopsided smile as he took off at a run.

 

The hop into the pillar had him flailing a little bit. Bloody ashes, he was out of practice if he couldn't correct his balance without using his arms. He grimaced as he grabbed the rope. He took to the wall with the balls of his feet putting a majority of his weight on his arms and the rope. Tywin began his ascent cautiously-these were new boots and the soles were slicker than a liquored noble's words to a blushing barmaid. He slipped twice-the second time wrenching his shoulders hard enough to have words coming out of his mouth that would've had his mother boxing his ears hard enough to draw blood. He made it to the top, though. His breathing was accelerated and a quick brush of his shoulder blade with his fingers told him the pain in his shoulders would only get worse. And he still had the descent. But he would do this.

 

Tywin grit his teeth and steady himself as he went over the side. The rope was only there to turn a full fledged fall into a controlled descent. And the first time he slipped he remembered why his father had insisted on a good pair of leather gloves. Rope burn was a right nightmare. He barely manged to hold himself off the ground long enough to bunch his leg muscles and propel himself off the wall muscles shaking hard enough to be mistaken for him taking a chill. As he landed on his back and the rocks imbedded in the wall, he knew that he might end up the sole reason that the local wisdom ate all winter. He rolled over and pushed himself to his feet. His movements through the incline were slow, but he didn't fall thanks to a number of quick balance checks. The rocky descent wasn't that bad, but he gained little speed.

 

The ropes were a disaster. He was normally pretty spry, but the way the ropes were woven left holes that made it hard to determine which ones were actually the ones next to him. He didn't trip, but more than once he found himself walking into a rope "wall" or trapped in a dead end. He did his best to take note of where the dead ends were but the large holes that messed with his depth perception were also disorienting. By the time he stumbled out it was fully light and he was starving. One look at Coraman's face told him that tomorrow he was going to eat before he started the day. He time was over twice that of hers. He had his work cut out for him. He waited for the tongue lashing, but she said just one word: "Again."
 

 

ooc: I'll prolly stretch it out over a week. He's going to be sore enough and he'll need to build up his confidence.

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The past week had been one of the hardest weeks in Tywin's life. After that first half a day-there was so much to learn that he could only donate half a day to the course- Coraman had left him on his own to run it. Not that Tywin was really ever alone for long; it seemed the obstacle course was something that you never completely conquered. And those who ran it with him sometimes offered him little nuggets of aid: an easier way to think of the maze, a better position to brace so that if you fell you didn't wrench your arms, how to scour your boots so that they would still pass inspection later.  

 

Not that he didn't improve on his own. He had been so sore that first night and the next day that even lifting his spoon to eat was an act of will power. But he pushed through it, and by the time two days had passed he wasn't waking up sore anymore. By the end of the third day there was no strain to holding himself on the wall with the rope and making the leap to the rocky incline. By the fourth he could run the rocky path with only half an eye on the changing ground-whoever it was who came in the night and changed the pattern to the path was surely in league with the Dark One. The first two days he had thought he was loosing his mind until one of the other runners mentioned how the incline was his favorite part because it always changed. It was the rope maze that tested his resolve. He had the way through memorized by the fifth day, but the holes were just so very disorienting. He tried running it blind, but that led to him falling flat on his face. Again and again he ran it. The frustration built like a spring being twisted tighter and tighter. And just before the mid day bell on the sixth day the damn broke. Swearing like a drunk sailor with his leave revoked after falling yet again, he decided he didn't care anymore. If he fell, he fell. He would still make Coraman's time. The next morning he ran the course with that carefree attitude...and he didn't fall. He didn't get lost. He ran it again. And again. And again. The results were the same. It seemed he had been trying just too hard.

 

For the first time all week, he whistled on his way to lunch. Now all he had to do was get Coraman to watch to be sure of what he thought about his time. He was under hers-not by much, but he was there. Things well, things were looking up.

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Coraman watched Tywin struggle with the course in the beginning, studying his body form, attitude, and approach. She believed that everyone had their own individual styles, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Not everyone was big and bulky or tall and muscular. There were a few like herself, short, wiry, but agile. No matter how much time she spent on training, her frame never grew in size, she only grew in inner strength.

 

Tywin was persistent and stubborn but she detected an undercurrent of a fluid agility in his movements, the way he weaved through the rope maze. He progressed through the maze faster than most students, it took her a better part of two fortnights before she figured out the maze. This gave her a better idea of what training regimen would work best for the new student.

 

At the end of the week, Tywin approached her in the mess hall with a light step in his walk. She smirked at him, "So, you think you got it already?" She gestured at the seat before her and went back to her meal. "What did you learn?"

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The full smile on Tywin's face faded a little to the half smile he normally wore at her question. What had he learned? A lot. He had learned quite a bit about himself that he hadn't known before. He had learned that he tried too hard on some things and not hard enough on others. He had learned that he could be persistent even when no one was there to watch his triumph. He had learned that he had an above average healing time for bruises. But he had learned things that he little to do with him as well. He had learned that sometimes you could learn more from observation than from out right questioning someone-how did you explain to some one how to twist just right so you landed on your feet, not your ass? He had also learned just how important it was to do something even if you had no idea what it was you were doing. But he said none of this. He wasn't a bloody scholar doing things for some existential reason. He was a young man trying to become a Tower Guard.

 

"How to become stronger," he answered a mischievous twinkle setting off the half smile. Maybe it wasn't the answer she was looking for. Maybe she was going to sent his butt back out there to run it more. Maybe she would think he was being insubordinate. But it didn't matter. That was his answer-the only answer he planned on giving her. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and waited to see what answer she would give him.

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Coraman let out a bark of a laugh at Tywin's answer as she pushed her empty plate away. "Trust me, you'll learn that time and time again here at the Yards. But it's good you've learned it now, it makes it easier to re-learn during your training." She rose from her seat and gestured to him to follow out of the mess hall. "There's one more exercise you need to complete. Be glad you haven't eaten."

 

She took him to another part of the Yards, to an area next to the training Grove. This was a circuit that went the whole stretch of the walls as a full circle. "This one will teach you endurance and stamina. You're to run the entire length two times today. In a fortnight, it'll be five times. In a month, it'll be ten. There are small exercises along the way; climbing up a wall, climbing through mud, a short swim, jumping over holes, all that fun stuff. And don't think to memorize the track. Kilrin has an assigned team to move the challenges nightly except for the swim course. Sometimes they add in a new challenge."

 

She glanced at the boy, remembering when her own mentor put her through this course. It wasn't a difficult course but it took people a while to build up the stamina to finish the course without fainting. "You will be doing this course and the other one on your own from here on out. Your body is your temple, you must nurture it, challenge it, feed it, and strengthen it. Come see me after you're able to complete this two times, that is when you're ready to move on."

 

ooc: there we go! Just write up one or two posts learning this course and whatever lesson you want to learn and then we'll move on to basic movements and a bit o' forms.

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Tywin woke a week and a half later with dread in his gut and aches in places he didn't know he had. As he sat up he wondered if it was possible for your hair to hurt. The thought brought a chuckle which turned into a wince as the movement contracted his stomach and chest muscles. Right, none of that. He had thought the first course was something from the Dark One's own mind, but he had since learned different. He hadn't fainted on his first few run-throughs of the course-he had far too much caution to go full bore on something so new-but he had spent a good quarter of a bell lying on the ground near the finish line willing his shaking muscles to move properly. He'd walked oddly for the rest of the day and the knowing looks from the instructors were just a hair too close to pity for his taste.

 

The more he ran the course the more he hated it. Tywin had the distinct feeling that the others who ran the course while he was on it were doing their best not to laugh at his sometimes fumbling attempts-so he didn't know how to swim and had to get up an hour early to go to that special class. It wasn't like there was really water all over the place in Caemlyn. It didn't help that after you got the basics down the instructor then insisted you do it all with your boots and uniform on. The boots were like giant buckets around your ankles and the uniform like a lead cloak.

 

Tywin checked his boots for scuffs before shoving them on his feet. The only good thing to come of it was that his boots now fitted his feet like they had been sculpted for them. Too make matters worse-and they seemed to only be getting worse-he was now close to the point were he was expected to run the course five times a day instead of just twice. The thought was enough to chase what little appetite he had away. He could only imagine how foolish he had looked saying he had figured out how to become strong to Coraman. No wonder she had laughed so. He must look twice the fool when he struggled so.

 

But it didn't matter, Tywin decided as he left the barracks to walk towards the bane of his existence. He would conquer this or die trying. Most likely he'd die, but his pride would not let him quit. He nodded towards the other trainees and the few guards who enjoyed running the course before breakfast. They had gotten to know each other in a way. These were the ones, after all, who had taught him to stretch before attempting the course. He copied movements he scarce understood before taking his place at the starting line. He wondered what new pain the course would teach him this day.

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Coraman couldn't help but feel a twinge of sympathy for Tywin. She watched him a couple of times and she could see his efforts and improvements but also his suffering. It brought back memories how hard the course was for her in the beginning. With a decision, she headed towards Tywin just as he finished. "Hold up there." She handed him a full waterskin and a jar of balm. "Rub this balm on your sore muscles tonight right before you go to bed. You're getting there but this balm will help with the soreness. It stinks as the Dark One's own prison but you'll be thankful." She gave him a smile meant as encouragement, "I had a rough time of it myself, in the beginning. A street orphan had no need for this sort of fitness at all, we only had to survive to live the next day. Not like those borderlanders who were bred for this sort of thing."

 

She glanced at Tywin before heading back to her own exercises, "You're doing good, Tywin. Most trainees at this point learn that training to be a Tower Guard is hard and painful. Some of them leave in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. I have a feeling you're here to stay, eh?" Cora gave him a short nod and walked off.

 

ooc: just had to throw in a post :)

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Did Coraman think he was planning to sneak off in the middle of the night? The idea repulsed him in a way few things had. He took the balm with a polite word of thanks, mind boogled by the idea of a whole nation of people who were bred to do this, and wandered towards his room to put the balm away. Tywin hadn't reacted that way to anything since some blackguard had approach him about murder for hire. Why was the idea of leaving here, of sneaking off in the middle of the night, some how worse than that blasted course? Maybe, he thought as he put the bed in the small chest at the foot of his bed, he really was making a home here despite the bruises, sore muscles, and endless amounts of weird protocol he actually liked it here. Huh. Well, if he liked it here, he'd better conquer that Light blasted course.

 

~

 

The next day found his muscles less sore-there was a dull ache that he had a feeling would likely never truly go away-and his spirit in much better cheer. He would not be beaten by an inanimate obstacle course. He was here to make his dad proud, not for his pride. True, he would have setbacks, the first run of the day was full of them, but it wasn't about conquering those. It was about dragging himself-dripping wet, dirt covered, and sore-across that finish line day after day. Muscles would stop being sore eventually. The knowledge of just how to complete an obstacle would become second nature. Speed would come with confidence.

 

~

 

Tywin inhaled the autumn chilled air with his characteristic half smile once more on his face. Ever since he had begun letting go of his pride things had been going better. He still woke up in the mornings more sore than not. He still thought that enough water to swim in was a trap invented by the Dark One himself, but it no longer felt insurmountable. It helped that as time went on he got to know other trainees who were in similar situations to his. He had someone to grip with and about the instructors and the course. Coraman even stopped by from time to time to make sure that he was still alive.

 

He had made the one month mark last night and even with the new pains from running the course ten times a day he was still in good spirits. It was a crazy requirement running the whole thing ten times a day and often left had him running before sunrise and after dark because of the other coursework. But he persevered nonetheless.

 

ooc:it's fine. I'm running out of things to learn from the course, though...

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ooc: not a problem, you're doing good. We'll wrap this up, I'll make a new thread to go over some basic movements and some sword forms. You can use what you learn there for your knife fight with Visar ;)

 

ic: Coraman grinned at Tywin and slapped him on the back, "Not too bad at all! You've worked pretty hard this past month and I can see the lesson of strength is ingrained by now." A couple of the older guards had remarked how hard the trainee worked at this course, it was definitely the making of someone to reckon with.

 

"Come, let's go get a drink in town. You've deserve a good break, we'll pick up on your training the day after today."

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