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The Joy of Sparring (Attention Nyanna and BB)


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Arinth stood with his arms crossed and his face expressionless as he watched the privates and recruits stagger into the morning training session. They looked miserable, each and every one of them. And that made him happy because he was miserable too. Nobody should have to stumble out of their tent this early in the morning. Some just stood fighting the drowsiness of sleep while others nursed hangovers.


The training was a mix of the different divisions. Infantry, Cavalry, Scouts, etc. He recognized a few of the infantry men but there were lots of strangers too. The band had grown large over the years. He noticed the recent cavalry recruit Malachias and his purple arm band. He shook his head. What was the world coming to. There was a time men would have cut off their arm before wearing such a silly armband and now they were declaring it their favorite color.


He looked around for Arkin. He had invited the scout to join him. It would make the morning a little less tedious. He had seen the man's knife work and it was impressive. Arinth wasn't sure he would still even be able to beat him. It was one more reason that he wanted to test him.


“Attention!” He bellowed after a few minutes. Several of the recruits groaned or clutched their heads the echoes of his voice pounded inside their heads. “We might come from different divisions like the clueless cavalry, the skittish scouts or the indomitable infantry but one thing we all are is soldiers. As soldiers we need to know how to fight an opponent. You have to be prepared. Today we are going to split up and work on our one on one sparring. Find a partner.”


After a few minutes of shuffling around the recruits had were all lined up. “Now, you will battle in a best of five spar. The first to win three will advance. After the first round has been concluded you will pair up and work together and spar against the pair next to you. Again it will be a spar to the best of five. The winners are free to have the rest of the morning off unless they wish to continue training. The losers will have to run 10 laps around this practice field.”


Mumbles and complaints rippled through the crowd.


Arinth held up a hand to silence them. “To survive you must know how to fight. And you must know how to fight together. As you spar against your opponent in this first round learn their strengths and tendencies so that you can work together more efficiently when you fight as a pair.”


There was a scar under Arinth's eye. He traced his finger along it. “This scar was from an Aiel spear. An infantry man named Clifton drove his sword through the man's chest a moment before would have taken my eye, if not my life.”


He traced a more recent scar along his neck. “A Seachan soldier did this. His sword broke my guard but a well placed and only slightly late knife by Arkin saved my life. Do I make myself clear? Good, then lets begin.”

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Arkin rubbed his bleary eyes with dirty fingers. A jangling close to his face made him flinch backwards. Confused, he stared at the small bell attached to his wrist or a moment, trying to remember exactly why it was there, or how it had come to be attached to him. After a while of squinting, jingling, and inspecting the rather dubious contents of his pockets, nothing was coming to mind from the night before, so he shrugged, making a mental note to remove it before he went out scouting. Then again, maybe it would provide something of a challenge, make the whole thing a little more interesting for him.


Grinning at the thought, Arkin's hand dug inside his coat, going between all the different portions of his coat, looking for a flask. He had no idea whether he'd left himself any last night, and the first few he rattled were empty. Eventually he found the flasks he appeared to have left untouched. His hand hovered for a moment over one flask, the bell tinkling lightly, but Mehrin and his old Master's words rang in his head and he sighed. His hangover wasn't bad enough for him to want to cure it with more alcohol and going into a sparring session even a little bit tipsy was a terribly stupid thing to do. Idiotic, in fact.


His hand moved over and picked a different flask, swallowing a few gulps of water from within. He was amazed at how bland water was. His mouth screwed up at the somewhat foreign taste, and he brought his attention back to whatever it was Arinth was saying. He had agreed to come to this sparring session. Just because he'd been in his first big battle didn't mean he was a master of the blade. In fact, he was still quite terrible at many weapons. He had been spending increasingly more time at the archery range, determined to get more skilled with the bow, and he knew he needed to learn how to handle a sword a little better. Versatility was one of Arkin's best assets, and he was feeling his lack in regards to weaponry.


For today, however, he was more than happy to work on his knife fighting skills. Besides, this was his first sparring session with 'Malachias' and Jeral in the group. The thought brightened his mood considerably as he spotted the girl, easily identifiable by her armband, identical to the one that was wrapped around his arm. The violet armband actually quite amused him, and to be honest, it hardly looked out of place in the riot of colours that he wore. 


Grinning at Arinth's words, Arkin was already planning ways to embarrass the girl Malachias. When he came to the part about Arkin's slightly late knife saving his life, the scar on Arkin's back tingled, memories of Tanchico rushing quickly through his head before he smiled softly. Arinth had saved Arkin countless times that day, and Arkin had saved him a few times in return.


Staring up at the sun, Arkin judged how hot he was going to get and quickly discarded his coat and jacket. Better to start light without the bulk anyway. Pulling his knives from their place on his belt, Arkin spun one of them around in a dirty trick, flashing sunlight into the eyes of hungover recruits for his own amusement and waiting for someone to approach him. 

Edited by The Bard Babe
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  • 2 weeks later...

Jeral was in a temper as he strode through the camp ground, not caring who he bumped into or how many dirty looks he received. He did not have a pleasant night, and he was trying to find someone to blame. Being a relatively new member to the Band of the Red Hand, it had been his wish to be transferred to the scouting division. In part, he was forced to his current employment by both that scrawny Arkin and Mr. Stone face, Sergeant Arinth. He had been left with one of two options: either join the band, or scrub latrines for an undefined period of time. The decision had been easy to make when he eventually realised those were the only two available to him, yet Jeral was beginning to feel the two might have actually amounted to the same thing in the end.


Three nights ago, when he finally found the Captain Commander of the Band scouts, he had held out his transfer orders to the man and was especially surprised – when he burst out laughing as soon as he read the orders.  Not sharing the joke, the man had studied Jeral up and down, all the while holding back barely suppressed mirth and asked if Jeral wanted his “orientation” done.


It really was a shame; he couldn’t have seen the quotation marks hovering above the man’s words, for the second he had agreed, then a large spade was shoved in his hand with instructions to seek out the camp latrine. Only then did everything click in his brain, and he had cursed the day he was born. The only option left for him for the past three nights, was to channel his hatred and rage into the pile of manure he was forced to shovel.


It was hence only natural he climbed from bed that morning with a dangerous glint in his eye; the prospect of murder plain on his beaten brow.  Last night he was told in between shovelfuls of manure, that he was expected on the sparring fields in the morning for some weapons training. He had eagerly accepted, thinking this might be the first opportunity he would have for some payback – or at least, stress relief.


He was delighted when he spotted Arkin standing in the middle of the flattened piece of dirt the Band used for sparring practise – that is, if you can call a mountain lion ‘delighted’ at the sight of an unwary deer. Scowling at the memory that still stung his conscience; he stalked towards the idly standing man and planted himself right across his field of vision. He had picked out a wooden practise sword, which was perhaps a slight bit too big for his smaller than average hands – yet he felt it would serve.


The man gave him one of his insufferable smiles as he saw Jeral approaching, and his expression only seem to brighten as Jeral glared back.


“Why, good morning Jeral. Hope you’ve had a pleasant evening.”


The smell of manure seemed to drift to his nose, as his eyes twitched at the man’s light hearted jest. Jeral promptly ignored him. Instead, he fingered the rough edges of his practise sword and gave the other man what he hoped was a dangerous look in his eyes.


Arkin only continued to smile, as both of them waited for the Sergeant to finish laying down the ground rules. But Jeral wasn’t really listening. He was concentrating on studying the man beside him, who he would soon have to go into melee with.  He noticed Arkin also carried a practise sword of his own, though his was slightly shorter and thinner than the stocky broadsword Jeral had chosen. Hel hid a smile from the other man, as he eyed the flimsy weapon.  He was sure it would probably break in two the first chance he can hit it squarely with his broadsword.  


The mixed assortments of recruits were beginning to shuffle about and Jeral assumed the speech was over. Arkin turned to face him, taking a few steps back so they were out of weapons reach for the moment, then did an elegant bow which Jeral did not return. Raising his sword so that the blade sat vertically parallel to his head - Jeral waited, holding the double handed grip and listening for the signal to begin.


His opponent eyed him coolly. Holding the sword up with one hand, he turned so he was facing Jeral slightly to his right, with his front foot planted to face him. Again, Jeral grinned to himself on the inside. The man was going to face him with only one hand! Ha!
Confidence oozed through him, as he held his sword up a bit more. He was going to come down crashing as soon as the whistle blows. and the scallywag won’t even see it coming.


The call came and Jeral darted forward, hearing his own shout as he thundered towards the other man. He attacked with a sideways cut from the right, broadsword whistling but only felt air sail between his blades…



 ~Jeral Ahan
Scout in the Band of the Red Hand.

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  • 3 months later...

Good LIGHT! Miri tripped out of the treacherous folds of her tent flap and stepped right on into a bucket of water, carried by her own momentum. Still so sleepy she was almost blind, the young recruit pawed at her bleary eyes as she hopped about shaking one sopping foot and roared a heartfelt "THE BLOODY GOAT'S-"

Her cry rang out into the crisp morning air like the foghorn on a river barge. Miri cringed. That had been entirely unforeseen, and she didn't really know where it'd come from either. She had not been with the Band for even a week, but those few days had somehow added countless new expressions to her vocabulary already. Miri completed the rest of her offensive sentence in a wretched whisper, staring down at her soaked sock in dismay. First she was made to get up at the crack of dawn, and now this. Not befitting a nobleman's daughter, not at all. Light! But she wasn't of noble kin at all here, neither was she a girl. Miri forgot her mask all too often lately. She paused, pondering what a boy, what Malachias would do now.


Raising her eyes, she stared right at a concerned-looking Infantryman who had frozen in his tracks just across the path. Defiantly she covered her momentary slip by pretending to cough, jammed her wet woollen sock into the boot she was holding with a rude noise, and without thinking, kicked the bucket on her way out. Finally bringing up a rather disgusting gobbet of spit, Malachias hacked it into the nearest bush and strode off with a squelching, painful limp...


When she reached the training grounds she'd woken up some, at least. Joining a group of other raw recruits, Malachias grunted a willfully sarcastic good morning at them and listened sullenly as Sergeant flaming Rumbleroar assailed their ears with rules for the sparring session. Looking around, she dragged another scrawny, sleep-ridden recruit she didn't know into the open, close to where Jeral had planted himself in Arkin's face. She waved her violet-banded arm at the latter in a mocking salute, then turned back to her own sparring partner.

As feet ceased shuffling and all waited for the starting signal, Malachias felt herself grow more alert. Over the last few days she had been taught a few very basic fighting moves, but truth be told she not what to do with herself here. There wasn't anything for it. Annoyance was seeping in with the growing urge to hurt something. She sized up the recruit in front of her one last time.

Her toe hurt.

As Arinth yelled BEGIN, she asked herself again.. what would a boy do? She narrowed her eyes. Malachias took a couple steps back, then dashed at the other recruit with a vague wave of her wooden sword then brought it up in an overhead arc with a fury fuelled by all the injustice of being made to wake up so early. Here's hoping it would at least score a bruise.


~ Miri alias Malachias.
Clueless recruit in disguise.
Not a morning person

Edited by Nyanna al'Meara
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Arkin didn't even attempt to hold back his wide grin as Jeral stormed onto the sparring field. He stank of manure and looked like he had fallen in it at some point in the night and was ready to take it out on whoever happened to be closest. When his eyes alighted on Arkin, however, he was charmed to see the steam pour out of his ears. Evidently Jeral had chosen Arkin as his target for the day. Fair enough too, Arkin supposed. He had been going through what the Scouts liked to call orientation for the new recruits, and Arkin had no pity.


That was why the grin only grew larger as Jeral stormed up to him, brandishing a practise sword. "Why good morning, Jeral," he began brightly, cherpily. Playing with the new scout recruit was certainly a way to pass the time. He even forgot about the vague thumping reminding him of the fun he'd had the night before while he basked in the fury Jeral was funneling straight to him. "I hope you've had a pleasant evening."


The boy was still bitter about Arkin capturing him in the forest. That was clear from the slightly odd expression Jeral leveled at Arkin in response to his comment, fingering his practise sword as though it were more than a piece of wood. Arkin let out a tinkling laugh. Jeral would get over it eventually, and he was sure that he'd eventually be able to bear Arkin's company without wanting to slice him open. Meanwhile, Arkin was happy to enjoy it. He so rarely got to intimidate people, he was going to enjoy the chance while he had it. And really, he'd been nothing but polite. Mostly. Arkin was distracted once again by the bell on his wrist as he moved his hand up to run through his hair. Giving it a narrow eyed look, he cocked his head to the side briefly before returning his attention to Arinth. He should probably have some idea of how the sparring session was going to be run.


He snorted at the idea that he and Jeral would have to fight together after only a few short rounds of fighting. He cast a brief, critical eye over the new scout. Well, he certainly had the ferocity and urge to attack which Arkin simply did not. Perhaps they would complement each other quite well, in the end...That's if they could manage to work together. But working together was for later. Now was for fighting, and maybe just a bit of fun.


Arkin gave Jeral an overly-elegant bow just for the hell of it, placing his best foot forward. He knew how to set himself up for a sword fight, even if he had less experience in them than with his knives. Jeral didn't return his bow and Arkin pouted largely at him, before his mouth fell into a grin again. Jeral was almost shaking with how much he wanted to attack! He was almost too predictable. For a moment, Arkin was almost worried that he was falling into a trap, but the charge and heavy swing that Jeral fell on him with cleared up any doubts.


The move was almost identical to the one that Jeral had used on their first meeting. Ducking without moving his feet, Arkin tried to focus on keeping himself stable in this fight rather than just leaping away as he always did. He was supposed to be learning something after all. "Feeling sentimental are we Jeral?" Jeral's momentum pulled him towards the ground and Arkin helped him along with a slash from his wooden practise sword which landed across Jeral's back as he was stumbling, attempting to regain his feet. The blow was heavy, very unlike Arkin, delivered from above, and it connected solidly with Jeral's falling form, flattening him to the floor.


Slightly surprised at his immediate success, Arkin knew he had won round one of their best of five, and was more than ready for Jeral to spring back to his feet with renewed vigour, fired by those furnaces of rage in his stomach. This time, however, he seemed more careful. Arkin wondered whether he had discovered by now that Arkin's expertees lay in disarming his opponent from their first charge. If his opponent could get past his first evasive or disarming move, everything got much more complicated. Fortunately, in a battle, that first incapacitating move was all you needed.


Arkin waited for Jeral to start the next round.

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Arinth paced back and forth watching the sparring. He was no blademaster himself but as he walked he corrected the mistakes he saw and offered encouragement to those who needed it whether they wanted to admit it or not.


Good effort Malachias. Your grip is strong and your hands are quick. Remember not to over extend yourself though. Don't get ahead of your feet.”


He watched as the young cavalryman listened what he said and adjusted. He might be a little strange. Violet. He shook his head. You had to be at least a little crazy to join an army though. At least he listened to instructions.


He continued walking with his arms crossed and his faced fixed in a stern expression.


Don't be afraid to get hit. We didn't bring you in plant flowers.” He snapped at one new recruit.


He watched a pair of infantrymen and held back a laugh as the two dropped their practice swords and started punching each other in the face.


He noticed another soldier leaping up into the air trying to do flashy attacks. “What is name of the creator do you think you are doing?” He asked. The soldier stared at him blankly. “This is not some dance performance. Do you think you can just skip through a bloody battlefield? Knock it off.”


He noticed Arkin and Jeral fighting and watched them for a moment. Arkin was the better skilled soldier but Jeral had a resilience and tenacity that was impressive. He was not easily discouraged. You might beat him but he'd still give you hell for it.


He waited a little longer until the pairs had finished their sparring. Then he picked up a practice sword and pointed out one of the bigger infantry soldiers to step forward.


Watch” He told the recruits. When the new infantry soldier was ready they began to spar. Arinth swung his sword down and the recruit deflected it. With little wasted effort Arinth brought his sword back around and struck the man's arm before he had a chance to recover. One point. They began again and this time Arinth stabbed quickly and caught him right in the gut. Two points. They began again and this time the soldier swung first. Arinth knocked the sword away and brought his own around to strike the man in the side. Three points.


Thank you.” Arinth said. “You may get back in line.”


Next he pointed out two regular looking soldiers, not particularly big or fast and called them forward. “Now attack me together.”


They attacked him together. He sidestepped the first strike and deflected the second. The third strike came quickly and he barely knocked it out of the way. The fourth caught him on the leg. One point.


Good.” He said as he reset.


They attacked again. He stepped to the side so that one got in the way of the other. Before they could adjust he dealt a blow to the first one's arm and then shouldered him into the second man. And they both fell over. Arinth stepped over the second man and held his sword to the man's chest. One point.


They reset again but this time they spread out more. He grinned. It was good to see them learning. He stopped the first strike but the second caught him in the gut and he grunted.


They reset and he could see the confidence grow in the two as they saw the success of working together.


They attacked again. Arinth deflected the first strike and struck out quickly with his own to put the man back on the defensive. He dodged the second man's strike and then turned to strike the first man as he moved within range. Before he could turn back to face the second he was dealt a blow to the back.


Good. Thank you. Return to the line if you will.” He turned to face the crowd of soldiers. They still looked grumpy and tired and just downright surly but they were watching. It was sinking in.


I am no Mehrin Deathwatch but I can beat most of you in a best of five sparring match. However, working together these two just beat me handily. Learn this. Only a fool seeks glory in battle. I knew a man once. He was one of the best swordsmen I knew in the infantry. We ran into some Aiel and he went charging ahead on his own seeking glory. He didn't give anyone a chance to watch his back and the first Aiel he ran into killed him with the third strike. I didn't survive that day because I was a better swordsman. I survived that day because I worked as part of a team. We worked in groups of three and four. It was the only way we managed to survive those bloody Aiel.”


He gave them a minute to absorb the words. He still had nightmares of Aiel but he pushed that thought aside.


Now lets begin fighting in pairs. I want to know the winners of this round of sparring. It will be best of seven. Begin.”


OOC: If you guys want to finish your first round of 1 vs 1 spars in your next posts and include their reactions to my little speech go for it. We'll get through the 2 vs 2 spars in the next round of posts after that. I'm still interested to see how the Arkin vs Jeral spar turns out.

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