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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Pointy End Bad


Asfaloth
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Aser had returned last night from a mission for the Great Lord. Upon his arrival, right before dinner, he had reported his success to Nathan. Nathan had thanked him and asked him for a favor. It seemed a group of Dreadlord initiates were on their way to the Ranch to get some outside experience. They were coming here to learn some basic weapon skill so they could defend themselves without the One Power if it ever became neccessary. Aser had agreed but on the condition that he be allowed to run the class the way he wanted, with no interference. Nathan hesitated but eventually agreed as he trusted Aser's judgement in these things.

 

Now he sat on a bench outside his house and waited for his students to arrive. He had spoken to their chaperones during dinner to introduce himself. They had agreed to send the initiates to his house at dawn. He had turned the public portion of his basement into a temporary classroom, complete with all he would need for the day's lesson. Now all he had to do was wait.

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After his time in the Fortress, Ayrik had begun taking the freedom to openly be a Friend of the Dark and a male channeler for granted. The trip to the Ranch seemed to be proving just how important it was that he remember that the world was not too accepting of his kind. Despite the number of Friends at the Ranch, Ayrik had to be careful.

 

Inconspicuous was the name of the game here, and Ayrik's clothing reflected that. A simple white shirt in black breeches with calf-high boots and a gray vest, all in wool, served as his costume for this masquerade. It was comfortable, but not flashy. That's all that Ayrik needed. Besides, it would work well for the training that he would be receiving here. He hadn't forgotten why they had Traveled from the Fortress.

 

It was ten minutes before dawn, and the horizon was starting to brighten as Ayrik arrived outside the house that had been pointed out to all of the trainees. Leaning against a fence post, he turned to face the street in front of him. With all the children and Lightfools present, Ayrik doubted that anybody would be up to their usual tricks here. All there was to do now was wait.

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Drak surveyed the “Ranch.” Much like every aspect of the Shadow’s strategy outside of the Blight, looks could be deceiving. From the outside, it appeared to be nothing more than a fairly successful operation. Larger than most ranches, it still wasn’t noticeable enough to draw excessive notice. But, from what he had heard and surmised, this was one of the most vital operation centers for Darkfriends outside the Blight. It paid to be careful.

 

As was normal, he had carefully crafted his appearance to be favorable yet understated. His clothing was of the finest material, but very subtle. Only a master tailor, or someone in the garment trade would recognize it as such. Dark brown, almost black trousers were tucked into his boots, and the matching coat was in the latest Cairheinin fashion. It wouldn’t do to wear something that would show stains easily. His silken shirt was of the deepest crimson, because he didn’t want blood to show easily either. Just in case. His hand-tooled knee-high leather boots were both comfortable and practical. He would be stupid to wear something he couldn’t move in. This was a swordsmanship lesson, after all.

 

The sun was just peeking over the horizon when he arrived at the appointed spot. There were already a few other “students” there when he walked up, but he ignored him. His focus was all on the upcoming lesson and the man sitting on the bench.

 

Today would likely be very difficult, but he intended to see it through. The alternative was unthinkable.

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Nosae sincerely didn’t enjoy being outside the Fortress anymore. It had taken only days to get used to being able to channel freely without having to worry about stupid authorities and idiotic commoners who didn’t understand the power and didn’t appreciate the gift of channeling. There would be a day of reckoning, he was hoping it would be sooner than later, a day when he’d spread his gift all over, the gift of destruction and chaos. Then they'll see who's really master and who are just servants, he thought cynically.

 

Nosae paid no attention to his surroundings, he was too busy imagining the day’s task. He’d never even held a sword unless it was to retrieve it for someone else. He had no idea how this would all go for him, but he hoped he learned proficiently. The stories in the Fortress were plentiful. Powerful and skillful channelers caught off guard and struck down by and arrow or a careful knife to the ribs. He wouldn’t end up like them. He was not above the use of arms, pride killed too easily.

 

He trudged along in the same fashion as his companions, serviceable clothes and sturdy boots. His blue linen shirt and brown wool pants wouldn’t hamper him in the least and that’s exactly why he chose them. He made his way along with his fellow channelers to the house they had been pointed to. It was nothing out of the ordinary, not a place you could point out as housing a weapons master of the darker sort. But, alas you never truly knew anything about anything.

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Aservus N'Taldin spoke without looking up at the three Dread initiates before him. "Your first instruction of the day is to attack me with the One Power the moment you see a weapon in my hand." Looking up he saw a look of surprise register on each of their faces. He waited a moment to be sure they understood. Finally they all indicated by gesture that they would do what he'd asked.

 

Aser stood up and crossed his arms over his chest. "My name is Aservus N'Taldin. You are here today," as he said the word 'today' he threw three knives simultaneously, hitting each of his students in the shoulder. He continued his sentence without even a pause, "to learn a very valuable lesson."

 

Had they been fully-trained Dreadlords he never would have attempted such a bold manuever as they would have long ago learned to channel through their pain. But he knew none of this would be capable of working past the shock of what he'd done. "No! Leave them!" He commanded and watched them fight their instincts and obey. Walking up to the first student he grasped the hilt of the knife and rotated it down at an angle to the right then righted it and cut down left. Only then did he draw the blade out of the boy's shoulder and carve the cross-peice to his initial. Then he placed a rag on top of the wound to slow the flow of blood and told the boy to hold it in place.

 

Repeating the procedure on each of the others he took a moment to clean the blades and then replaced them in the sheaths strapped to his ribs under his cloak. "That will scar up nicely and you shall have a constant reminder of the lesson you just learned. Who can tell me what that lesson is?"

 

OOC: That was fun!! Now each of you need to post your reactions and at least one needs to answer, though you all can if you want.

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Ayrik laughed quietly to himself as the man spoke. His training hadn't progressed far enough to do the man any serious injury, even if he wanted to. However, he would do as he was ordered. Even if that was only a pinprick of Air or the sudden onset of Fire to the man's clothes. "My name is Aservus N'Taldin. You are here today..." Ayrik didn't even have time to seize saidin before the knife had buried itself in his shoulder. He grunted once, wincing, then forced himself to stillness. Slowly he deadened the pain away as much as he could mentally before reaching for the hilt. "No! Leave them!" Instinct told Ayrik to ignore the man and withdraw the blade, but training told him otherwise. With an effort, Ayrik returned his arm to his side, his face a mask of calm despite the pain.

 

Sadist, Ayrik thought with amusement as the man approached him. The knife shifted slightly as the man's hand seized the hilt. Then the blade was twisting in Ayrik's shoulder, causing his face to contort into a look of agony. A sharp pull and another cut later, and Aservus had pushed a rag against the bleeding shoulder. After an order to hold the rag in place, the man moved down the line, to his next target. Hot anger threatened to overtake him. First the man had attacked him, then he had branded him! There must have been a lesson involved here.

 

When the man had withdrawn the final knife, he took a moment to clean them before ostentatiously resheathing them. "That will scar up nicely and you shall have a constant reminder of the lesson you just learned. Who can tell me what that lesson is?"

 

Silence reigned for a moment. Finally, Ayrik said what he was sure everybody was thinking: "The lesson is that we should not rely so heavily on the Power, that we're still vulnerable to conventional attacks."

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Nosae licked his lips expectantly. Free rein to attack a person with no channeling skill whatsoever, he wouldn’t even see it coming. He figured he wouldn’t necessarily attack, seeing as his arsenal of weaves wasn’t exactly an arsenal yet. It’d be a small use of Air and Water that would choke him enough to make him splutter and cough a bit, distract him from using his weapons.

 

Nosae’s anticipation of today’s work and the exhilaration of being able to channel on someone had clouded his better judgment. He didn’t see or expect the knife that flew towards him and penetrated itself deeply into his shoulder. He had no idea if he imagined or actually heard a sickening gurgle emerge from the wound. Any thought of channeling immediately abandoned his mind, the pain emanated in sharp pins from his wound. He wanted to tend to his wounds, maybe gasp for air, try to brace himself for more pain, but the order was clear, "No! Leave them!" He wasn’t about to risk punishment in addition to the already mounting pain of the knife, he stood his ground and breathed in ragged breaths.

 

Aservus stood before him and twisted the blade in different motions before extracting the weapon. The moment lasted only seconds but in the fires of hurting it seemed epochs had passed. And the fires were hot indeed, hot enough to make Nosae’s body a mass of twitchings and flinches. He had stabbed them and then tortured them! Light the man really wanted to make an impression! And then it was out and a rag replaced it to stop the flow of blood.

 

After the man had recovered and cleaned all his “equipment” he faced them all and asked, "That will scar up nicely and you shall have a constant reminder of the lesson you just learned. Who can tell me what that lesson is?" One of his companions answered, Nosae agreed, but felt a little something was left out.

 

“Well besides making us face our mortality, it teaches us respect, in the hardest way possible. I for one will never underestimate anyone with a sharp object near me again.”, as Nosae ended his statement he eyed the weapons master warily preparing for another surprise attack. This was going to be no walk in the park.

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OOC: Drak, feel free to jump back in. Provided you keep up you can still get credit for this class.

 

IC: Well, they controlled themselves better than he'd expected. That was good, discipline was always appreciated. Especially when learning weapons. Now for the class to truly begin. "Very good, I'm glad they didn't send me any idiots. Now, follow me."

 

He led them around to the back of his house and into the basement. Throughout the years since coming to the Farm and starting his training he had gathered quite the assortment of weapons. These were stacked along the walls and on tables scattered around the room. Aser moved to the middle of the room and spread his arms. "You may select any weapon you wish to learn. I have plenty. Make your selections and meet me back outside."

 

Aser then walked out and up the stairs to a yard he'd cleared for weapons practice and waited for his students to join him. Eventually they all made it and he refrained from commenting in their choices. It really didn't matter to him what they'd chosen. They would have to live with their choice and he could always get more.

 

"Now, follow my lead. Carefully take your blade out of its sheath and do what I do." He spent some time demonstrating the proper way to care and clean a blade, correcting them as they went. "Always keep your blade clean and sharp, your life may someday depend on it."

 

"Now, I need each of you to demonstrate for me that you know how to care for your weapon before I'll consent to teaching you how to use it."

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The sword master’s approach was very beguiling. His relaxed, indifferent posture caused Drak to become less cautious than he normally would have been. He soon learned the gravity of his error.

 

The knife blossomed in his shoulder like a crimson agony flower. The pain, which would have been distant and insignificant had he held the void, struck him like a blow to the face. Forcing himself to grit his teeth in silence after his initial gasp of pain, Drak reached to withdraw the blade. If he could just concentrate for a moment, this fool would be burned to a cinder… but before he could follow through with the murderous impulse, Aservus spoke again.

 

"No! Leave them!"

 

As the master carved his lesson into each person’s flesh, Drak continued to grit his teeth in silence. He bore the insult with the focused drive of a predator who knew how to wait… one day Aservus’ day one come. It just wasn’t today…

 

After the sadistic ritual was over, and he placed a rag on the wounds to stop the bleeding, Aservus asked a rhetorical question. "That will scar up nicely and you shall have a constant reminder of the lesson you just learned. Who can tell me what that lesson is?"

 

The other two students responded with the obvious answers, but Drak maintained his silence. Inside his head, though, was the third answer to the sword master’s query. The lesson is that you are too stupid to understand the consequences of your actions. Undoubtedly you are the master of the blade, but a time will come when we will hold the power. Are we simply supposed to forget that you carved us up like a side of beef? I will not. You signed your death warrant today, and the clock is ticking until the moment your executioner calls…

 

*******************************************************

 

"Very good, I'm glad they didn't send me any idiots. Now, follow me."

 

Drak smiled. This lesson had just gotten personal, and he would master every one of Aservus’ lessons no matter how difficult. Because one day, he would teach a lesson of his own… He followed his instructor into a basement filled with a wide array of weaponry. Truly mankind’s imagination knew no bounds when it came to inventing ways to inflict pain on others.

 

"You may select any weapon you wish to learn. I have plenty. Make your selections and meet me back outside."

 

Drak circled the room twice before he chose a weapon. The sword was elegant death incarnate. Slender, and slightly curved and sharp on one edge, it looked to be both swift and strong. He was unsure what type of sword it was, but as he lifted it, he knew it felt right in his hand although the handle was long enough for both hands to hold it. He followed the others back outside.

 

"Now, follow my lead. Carefully take your blade out of its sheath and do what I do. Always keep your blade clean and sharp, your life may someday depend on it."

 

Drak carefully observed Aservus’ instructions, then meticulously repeated the motions. The blade was another weapon in his arsenal now, although his skill with it would have to be honed just as arduously as his skill with the Power.

 

"Now, I need each of you to demonstrate for me that you know how to care for your weapon before I'll consent to teaching you how to use it."

 

When it was his turn, Drak carefully and confidently repeated the lesson. As the old saying went, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” This was step number one.

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There was something oddly pleasant about a roomful of weapons that made Ayrik smile despite the throbbing pain in his shoulder. Idly, he cast his eyes around the selection. With his size, Ayrik could probably use any of the larger weapons in the room without much trouble. However, they seemed too blatant for his taste. There was no elegance in cleaving a man in half. His gaze passed by weapon after weapon, stopped, then returned to one of the weapons he had overlooked. Between some of the claymores and flamberges, there were a few smaller weapons. Ayrik's fingers wrapped around the narrow, leather wrapped sheath of one of the rapiers, lifting the weapon from the rack. The whole weapon had an air of slight age around it. Though he didn't know anything about blacksmithing, Ayrik thought that he could get the whole thing reworked. However, it would work well in its current state.

 

Carrying the weapon back outside, Ayrik examined the weapon in the sunlight. The basket hilt appeared to be well-made, if a bit dull from age. The leather binding of the hilt and sheath was cracked with age, and felt odd against Ayrik's palm, but it would suffice for now. "Now, follow my lead. Carefully take your blade out of its sheath and do what I do." Slowly, Ayrik drew the blade from its sheath. Despite the relative age of the rest of the weapon, the blade gleamed in the early morning light. Though the edges were sharp, it appeared to be made for stabbing. That wasn't important, though.

 

Carefully, Ayrik went through the steps as they were dictated to him, occasionally asking for clarification. "Always keep your blade clean and sharp, your life may someday depend on it." The man's first lesson was still burned into his mind, as was the pain in his shoulder. He wasn't about to do anything wrong; the weapon would be important to him in life, as much as saidin would be. Besides, it would add to the image that he was already trying to build. With a final run of the whetstone over the blade and another wipedown with a rag, Ayrik was finished.

 

"Now, I need each of you to demonstrate for me that you know how to care for your weapon before I'll consent to teaching you how to use it." Ayrik found himself second in line after Drak, who went through the motions with his normal confident air. As Aservus moved on to him, Ayrik carried through the procedures with deft movements. With a final wipe of the rag, he presented the weapon for the man's inspection, and sheathed it after a short nod from the instructor.

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  • 2 weeks later...

OOC: I'll be taking over for Aser since he's leaving us all. One of ya'll is still missing so I'll write a generic sword post now and edit if I need to show you something different

 

Cari watched Aser training these channelers to fight. She hated the one power and it's uses and knew that it was alot more difficult to kill a channeler if they were aware of you than it was for them if they catch you off guard.

 

Cari trained in the White Tower most her life and had been around Channelers all that time but it wasn't until after meeting Alex that Cari start to distrust the channelers. Alex had changed her life in more ways than one.

 

Nathan stepped up behind Aser and looked like he was giving Aser yet another job to do so soon after he returned. Aser only nodded and then spoke to the men before him. "Cari here will teach you the basics, I have something to do that is very pressing."

 

Now it was her job to these men the basics. She sighed but nodded her head. It wasn't that she minded teaching them, she minded that they could channel. She wondered what they would think of a female who could easily slice and dice them in her sleep.

 

Cari watched as Nathan and Aser walked off into the Ranch House for final preparations. "I see we've got swords today. This will be slightly different for each type but I'll help you master those minimal differences personally.

 

Cari tossed each of them a practice sword before taking up one herself. "It won't do to have you cutting your hands off before you learn anything."

 

"Before you can begin using your weapon you need to be able to move with it." Cari took up a basic guard stance indicating where to place your feet with respect to their body. Cari showed the men how to move foward. "This is an advance." And then she showed them how to move backwards. "And this a retreat." Cari went through the motions again several more times. "Now you try, I will help you as I see it's needed."

 

Cari

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OOC: Sorry everyone, if you need to stab me and let me bleed to death so everyone can post at normal pace so be it! But I’d really prefer y’know… not being stabbed :D

 

IC: "Very good, I'm glad they didn't send me any idiots. Now, follow me." He stabbed them, marked them and now insulted. This swordsmaster was just dying to… die apparently. Any One Power attacks towards this man intentionally or just out of pure reflex would probably have dire consequences upon Nosae. Revenge would be sweet but hoping for a clean slate afterwards was just being too bloody optimistic. Eventually though, Aser would get what he deserved… maybe a nice brand of his own, if he was lucky of course.

 

Nosae snapped out of his dreams of grandeur just in time to follow the rest into the basement where dozens or maybe even hundreds of weapons laid in a shiny death slumber. "You may select any weapon you wish to learn. I have plenty. Make your selections and meet me back outside." There could’ve been thousands of weapons but Nosae only had eyes for an elegant bastard sword. It had a simple pommel with leather handle but the blade spoke of good craftsmanship, Nosae was sure the pommel had been swapped to this from a much better match to the stylish weapon. With his sword in hand he reemerged in the yard and awaited further instruction, the waiting made him remember the ache in his chest, it wasn’t something he would soon forget.

 

Once everyone was assembled in the yard the swords trainer quickly made a display of how to care for weapons. Nosae had left that mansion long ago to forget about cleaning and servicing and now here he was doing it all over again. It angered him to no ends, it was necessary to pass on to greater things but bloody hell he was a bloody servant all over again! "Now, I need each of you to demonstrate for me that you know how to care for your weapon before I'll consent to teaching you how to use it."

 

The years of practice of cleaning and polishing had made this a routine, he quickly went through the procedure with ease and sheathed the bastard sword ready for his next move.

 

OOC: I’ll pick up with everyone next post

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What's going on? Ayrik wondered quietly as the man who seemed to be in charge of the Ranch approached and spoke to their teacher. The voices were hushed, and when it was all over, the two of them departed. With confusion, Ayrik watched the two leave, wondering just how he was supposed to learn without a teacher. That question was answered soon enough with the arrival of a woman, oddly enough. It didn't surprise Ayrik; he had been taught many things by women. A weapons class, though, was a bit unexpected. Others have to make their way in the world, too, he thought as the woman spoke. "I see we've got swords today. This will be slightly different for each type but I'll help you master those minimal differences personally."

 

The woman- Cari, as she'd been introduced- began to toss out wooden practice swords with a word of warning before continuing. "Before you can begin using your weapon you need to be able to move with it." The woman shifted position, bringing her blade to bear. Suddenly, Ayrik found himself looking at somebody who was much more dangerous than their previous teacher. This woman knew what she was doing. Taking several steps forward, she said, "This is an advance." Then she moved backwards, every motion fluid and smooth. "And this a retreat." She repeated all of it several times, with Ayrik watching closely. It looked so easy...

 

Easy, that is, until they were set free to move for themselves. Ayrik attempted to assume the guard position, but ended up on the ground, his stance poorly balanced. Standing, he dusted himself off and shrugged. It probably won't be the last time, Ayrik thought wryly as he tried again, with Cari's assistance. When he could finally stand properly, it was time to attempt an advance. Which ended with him in the dust again, his foot caught on his leg. Standing, Ayrik took a minute to regain the proper guard stance. A sword, I may have, but a blademaster, I never will be. It took a few tries, but Ayrik was soon advancing quite well. Retreating was its own difficulty. Managing to avoid bathing in the dirt, Ayrik found himself getting a lot of practice in assuming the guard position; the moment he began to lose his balance in the retreat, Ayrik would shift into a more normal stance, balancing himself. When he finally managed to get it, Cari seemed glad that she could finally move on to another trainee.

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  • 1 month later...

Nosae impatiently waited with his bastard sword in hand. He could feel the power of the weapon, and he was anxious to wield it in all its glory. But this was all interrupted when another man came up to the Blademaster, they then spoke in low tones. After their discussion had ended Aser turned and announced that someone else would be teaching them the basics, the female Blasemaster, Cari.

 

Nosae felt a bit of relief. The Aser fellow really was a madman and power hungry if you asked. Stabbing and branding just didn’t seem right. He wasn’t really sure Cari wasn’t just as bad or maybe crazy in some other fashion, who knew what she had in store for them.

 

"I see we've got swords today. This will be slightly different for each type but I'll help you master those minimal differences personally. It won't do to have you cutting your hands off before you learn anything." As Cari said this, she passed out wooden swords, Nosae felt a bit put out, not being able to use real steel was disappointing, but wooden swords made sense, losing a hand didn’t seem all that interesting.

 

"Before you can begin using your weapon you need to be able to move with it." Cari explained the different types of movements, and the correct guard stance, it all seemed simple enough. It wasn’t as simple as it looked though. The guard stance was uncomfortable to move in, he had no idea how anyone could stand like this for an extended period of time, much less move and fight. And he was right, he was doing it all wrong. Cari indicated that any type of trying to move in that kind of position would get him lots of falls and if he did manage to move smoothly he’d get hurt and sores to last him a lifetime. After a while of helping out, Nosae managed the correct stance. Advancing seemed simple after the help, but retreating was impossible. He kept on tripping over his own feet, or stumbling, at one point he even “stabbed” himself with the wooden sword, boy was he glad it wasn’t steel this time. Eventually he did manage to retreat in a very wobbly way, but he was sure that a few more moments of practice would make him a retreating master.

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OOC: Last post you should need from me, forgive it's length as I probably won't have time to write beyond this time.

 

Cari helped the three students where they needed the most help. They had much trouble with just forward and backward, crossover was likely to pose a problem, so it would more than likely be a long time working on crossover.

 

Cari began, "Forward and Backwards are of little use to you if you cannot move anywhere else to avoid making contact with your opponents sword. To move to the side you will need to master the crossover." Cari showed the boys, men, whatever they were how to move to the left first, one foot over the other with out tripping themselves up. Then she showed them right. "It is best to start in the direction of your dominant hand."

 

Cari watched as they each tried the move and when she was satisfied with all of their movements she moved on.

 

"Footwork is essential to knowing the sword, but you also need to know how to use the sword." Cari started with the basic thrust. "A thrust is a stabbing movement. Some weapons are better designed for a thrust, but almost all weapons can thrust." Cari instructed in the proper technque of the thrust.

 

"But a thrust is not always the best option. Slashing is the next way you will learn how to move your swords." Cari instructed how to slash on a forward swing, then moved into the backward swing. "Some weapons cannot slash in both directions, dual edges will, but a single edge will not. So be knowledgeable about your weapon before trying to slash on the back swing as well."

 

Cari let them practice their sword movements before stopping them to move on. "Offense is not always the best way to win, defense is always needed. You can defend yourself in various ways, but when you only have one you will need to know how to parry. Parrying is when you block your opponents weapon with your own, it will bounce off of your sword. You will need to understand the momentum of a parry and it's equal and opposite reaction that parry has on you as well." Cari asked one of the students to attack her, and Cari parried the blow. "You two try against each other and I'll work with him."

 

OOC: First person to post will be parrying with Cari, you don't have to wait for each other to post but you should include both your reaction to parrying a weapon, and what it feels like when your weapon is parried.

 

They worked hard and Cari let them have a 20 miniute break before she would continue on with Basic Forms that anyone should know.

 

When they all had had their breather Cari picked back up where she left off. "Learning the basic movements of a battle will mean nothing if you cannot draw or sheath your sword correctly." Cari began with Leopard in the Tree. "This is a basic opener stance that will help you when you draw your sword." Cari then moved with ease into Unfolding the fan. "Draw your sword slowly at first and eventually you will be able to do it with more ease and quickness as you learn your weapons sheath and blade." Cari took up Lion on the Hill next. "This is a basic Guard stance you can move on to many other forms after this stance. This is not the only guard stance, but one of many you will come to learn over the years." Cari's final movment was Folding the Fan. "Just as important as drawing your sword is putting it away. You will learn to do this with ease, while you won't use it in battle it is important to not look a fool while you put your blade away."

 

Cari let them practice and helped them all where they needed.

 

Cari

 

OOC: The descriptions of the forms used follow.

 

Leopard in the Tree

 

A preliminary form, begun with both hands on the hilt of the sword, knees bent, and leaning forward in a ready position. This form is used to prepare for Unfolding the Fan or another such drawing technique.

 

Unfolding the Fan

 

The exact opposite of Folding the Fan. Can be used as an opener, since this form can unsheathe the sword and stroke at the same time. Can also be used if caught off guard or in an awkward position.

 

Folding the Fan

 

The sword sheathing technique. The blade is smoothly swung around from guard stance and sheathed, all in one motion

 

Lion on the Hill

 

A basic guard stance, with the sword held at shoulder height ready to battle.

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Ayrik was on the ground before he knew what was happening. That only took, what, one step? You're in for a tough time with this one, he thought. Cari made it look so easy, but then again, she appeared to have been doing this for awhile. Standing up, he went at it again, tripped again, and repeated. "Yeah, I might just have to stick to what I know," Ayrik muttered, standing up to try again. He started off a lot slower, left leg crossing in front of his right, and nearly throwing him off-balance. Ah, aha... Ayrik shifted the way he stepped, his left leg crossing behind his right. His balance felt a lot steadier. A few more steps were enough to get him steady enough to the right. Going left seemed to be about simply reversing the order. Either way, Ayrik ended up on the ground multipe times before he could get his legs to move correctly.

 

As soon as she was satisfied, Cari stopped them. "Footwork is essential to knowing the sword, but you also need to know how to use the sword," she said, demonstrating the technique. "But a thrust is not always the best option. Slashing is the next way you will learn how to move your swords," Cari continued. "Some weapons cannot slash in both directions, dual edges will, but a single edge will not. So be knowledgeable about your weapon before trying to slash on the back swing as well." Ayrik hesitated before trying either movement. The narrow blade on his weapon was edged on both sides, but it seemed better-suited to thrusting, considering its almost needle-like appearance in comparison to the broader weapons his fellow students had chosen. Having settled that in his mind, Ayrik attempted the motions that Cari had shown them. It wasn't easy, but after a few attempts, he thought that he had the trick to it. And he'd only had to retrieve his weapon once after inadvertently throwing it.

 

The training blade he held was a lot heavier than the rapier, meaning that the slashes he did with the practice blade would be heavier. Nonetheless, Ayrik slashed the air a few times. The first time, he nearly threw himself off-balance. Keep your wits about you, and don't overdo anything, he thought harshly as he set about working it again. The slashes were harder to do than the thrusts, but Ayrik managed to get the hang of it nonetheless.

 

Of course, Cari wasn't finished. "Offense is not always the best way to win, defense is always needed. You can defend yourself in various ways, but when you only have one you will need to know how to parry. Parrying is when you block your opponents weapon with your own, it will bounce off of your sword. You will need to understand the momentum of a parry and it's equal and opposite reaction that parry has on you as well." With that, she gestured to Ayrik, indicating that he should attack her. Knowing the outcome before he ever raised his weapon, Ayrik brought his training sword to bear. Advancing into position, Ayrik sent a rather awkward thrust at the woman. Her blade darted out quickly, sending his blow wide of the target. For a moment, Ayrik felt quite exposed. If she had wished to kill him, he was open for the attack.

 

The next hour was spent working on the parries and feeling what they felt like. Ayrik found himself partnered with Cari, while the other two trainees faced off against each other. They spent the time simply trading blows. His first attempted parry was a complete miss, and Ayrik found himself wincing as the training blade struck him across the side. It was almost a spiteful thing when he tried to catch Cari across the shoulder while she was recoiling from the attack, but she parried the blow easily. Her return strike came high, but Ayrik managed to bring his blade up in time to counter it. The force of her strike seemed to carry into his blade, pushing it away from the point of impact. Around his blade went, angling low towards the point of the woman's hip. Her parry sent his blade away in the opposite direction. Thus the thing went, until Cari allowed them a twenty-minute breather.

 

Ayrik spent the breather with his sword across his knees. The whole thing spoke of elegance. Already, Ayrik was mentally retooling it. The hilt and sheath would be done in black leather. The basket around the hilt looked like it would have a lovely silvery shimmer to it. He could almost see how it looked hanging from his waist. Elegance and deadliness all combined into one shape. Of course, Ayrik had no doubt that he'd never be proficient in swordplay.

 

The break soon came to an end, and Cari began to describe some basic sword forms, shifting into position to demonstrate each one. When she had finished, Cari bid them to try. Belting the rapier around his waist, Ayrik shifted it around until it fit comfortably, then attempted the first form, Leopard in the Tree. "Spread your legs a bit further, and don't lean forward so far," the woman said as he settled. Nodding, Ayrik corrected the stance, then straightened and tried again. Something didn't feel right, though. The sword seemed to be cramping his hands. Suddenly, Ayrik remembered that the weapon he had chosen was a one-handed weapon. Shifting his hand to the sheath, Ayrik tried the form a few more times until he felt comfortable with it, then moved on.

 

Moving onto Unfolding the Fan and Folding the Fan, things got a bit easier. Slowly, Ayrik drew the rapier from the sheath and across the front of his body. "Not so close to your body," Cari barked. Again, Ayrik adjusted, then went into Folding the Fan. Of course, he missed the sheath and nicked his finger instead. That probably won't be the only time, he thought as he sheathed the sword and started again. Ayrik found himself proven right; he nicked his hand another four times before he could consistently do everything right. Lion on the Hill was easy, though, and with a few prompts from Cari, Ayrik found himself able to shift into the position with relative ease.

 

When she dismissed them at the end of the practice, Ayrik left quickly, avoiding his colleagues. The sword would be necessary to maintain the appearance that he wished to project, but he had to start projecting that appearance. Elegance, but not the haughtiness of a lord or lady. Maybe he'd have to take up dancing, too. Of course, if he kept up with the sword, it would lend its own elegance and grace to his movements. In the end, though, Ayrik knew the motto he'd have to live by: "Appearances can be deceiving."

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