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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

In the Equinox of a Storm


Elessar
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.. Lost in the Beauty of the Dance ..

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Cloaked in the Void, detached from the world around him, totally focused on his task, Elessar Telcontar of Kandor, unbonded Warder, flowed through the sword-forms with the precision and agility of an experienced warrior of many years. His blade snapped with speed and strength, when each was called for, and focused as he was he alternated between attack and defence against his imaginary opponent. Combining sword-forms in advanced ways, on the offence but without being carelessly offensive, on the defence but not too defensively, was something learned only through extensive training. Sweat ran in rivulets down his upper torso and back and the muscles in his arms and legs felt the strain of strenuous practice, but he kept going, pushing himself to excel as had always been his way.

 

Attack. Block. Move. Swing. Deflect. Attack. Deflect. Counterblow.

 

It was all one long Dance - a lethal Dance of the Blades.

 

The sword was a part of him as he leapt to strike, bent to defend, went high and then low, moving from one form into another, slicing through the air with his blade, stabbing, thrusting, parrying an imagined counter-attack. On and on he went, until at last, his dark eyes intense, his face rigid from concentration, he Folded the Fan, sheathing his blade in one elegant motion.

 

 

Catching his breath, his pulse gradually slowing, his eyes swept across the early morning sunshine bathing the Warder’s Yard in a soft light. There was activity further down the yard, practice sessions and workouts, but he was practically alone in this far corner of the yard. A rising south-easterly wind was making the banners atop the White Tower walls ripple in unison. Clouds were moving in from the south and the Warder guessed that they would blanket the sky in some hours’ time. Nodding to himself, calm inside the Void, feeding his emotions into the Flame as he had been taught ever since his trainee days what felt a lifetime ago, he started again.

 

Unfolding the Fan, the opening move, which flowed into Low Wind Rising, a diagonal slash which began low and rose cleanly, followed by The Boar Rushes Down the Mountain, a vertical slash starting high and ending low, paired with Tower of Morning, a verticle slash but this time beginning low and ending high.

 

He combined sword forms, time and again, reaching for excellence, striving for perfection, swept up - and lost - in the Beauty of the Dance.

 

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.. Swords Meeting in a Whisper of Battle  ..

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OOC: I am using an unnamed Saldaean NPC Warder for this practice spar/duel.

 

IC: Ending the Dance at last, returning to guard stance, Elessar sheathed his blade in a smooth motion.

 

Breathing heavily, having exerted himself, he relaxed his muscles and calmed his body, studying the training sessions further down the yard for the next few minutes as his pulse steadied. A few young women, Accepted he gussed they were, were eagerly watching some of the Warder trainees practice, but mostly the yard was filled with young men - and a few women - doing sword forms and other forms of training activities under the strict supervision of Gaidin teachers and a few Warder onlookers. One of these left a circle of trainees and walked steadily toward Elessar.

 

He watched as the tall man approached. The man walked with the light agility of all Warders, with an easy and confident grace, his long dark hair streaming behind him in the wind. He did not look familiar to Elessar but then again there were so many Warders in the White Tower that he probably knew of, or had met, only a quarter at best. The man was Saldaean by his looks, with the bold, prominent nose and slightly upturned, almond-shaped dark eyes of his people. He gave a slight nod of respect as he stopped, gazing at Elessar’s blade for a moment before meeting his eyes. He approved of what he saw there. There was a small smile on his lips as he faced the slightly older man.

 

«Brother». He said in a deep voice. «Saw you pushing it there. Ready for another go?» His eyes moved momentarily down to the blade at his side and Elessar nodded, a glint in his dark eyes and a small smile that mirrored the Saldaean’s. Unsheathing his blade, keeping his eyes locked on the other, the Kandori Warder said, returning the nod of respect, «I am Elessar». The Saldaean nodded again, his smile widening somewhat. «You can call me Alantin», he said. Alantin. Brother. Elessar recognized the word from the Old Tongue. It was a mysterious response, Elessar thought, but it was of no import. Names were not important now. Skills were.

 

They faced each other across some yards at the outer end of the circle of combat. The Saldaean quickly braided his hair into a pigtail using a piece of thread that he carried in his trouser pocket, a wise move since free-flying long hair could easily become a dangerous distraction and disadvantage in a fight or a spar, then calmly faced his Borderlander opponent, blade in hand.

 

 

Focused on the other, cloaked in the Flame and the Void, Elessar moved slowly forwards and his blade met that of the other man. First testily, trying to get a feel of his opponent, then with more force and precision. Back and forth they flowed in the sword forms, thrusting, parrying, striking and deflecting, fairly equal in skill and experience. This could become a test of endurance and Elessar soon felt slightly winded, not totally recovered from his exertion of before. He no longer had that added strength from the Warder-Bond either since his Bond had been released a while back, and he recognized that this gave him less stamina and endurance than he had been used to. Well, he would make do with what he had. It would have to be enough.

 

Circling each other watchfully, Elessar attacked then with sudden speed, striking a medium-low blow that the other parried skilfully, deflecting the other’s counterblow and following up with a strong swing to the other’s side. This move also was blocked but Elessar kept on pressing the attack, strong strikes coming hard, spinning inside the Saldaean’s outer defenses, almost catching him out, combining sword forms and making use of innovation - learned through years of experience - in his fighting. His opponent was on the defensive but managed to deflect and parry just in time, keeping the attack at bay if only just.

 

The Saldaean recovered from the onslaught, however, and soon, after a few tentative feints, counterattacked. He used several sword forms cleverly and then in a surprising, particularly bold move he feinted high with his blade and came in lower with momentum and speed and swung hard at Elessar’s side, a move the Kandori Warder barely managed to block; but the Saldaean was prevented from landing the ‘killing blow- on his out-of-balance-opponent as Elessar twisted his body slightly, using speed and strength - and with a bit of luck - as he moved aside, deflecting the attack barely.

 

That was close. Elessar thought to himself, as he moved a few paces away to regain his balance. I must be quicker. This Saldaean is proficient.

 

Facing each other again across the circle, eyes focused and faces filled with determination, both eager to continue to test their skills against this skilful and worthy opponent, their swords met in a whisper of battle.

 

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.. The Energy and Force of a Duel  ..

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In the calm of the Oneness, Elessar was one with his Blade.

 

His Saldaean opponent attacked vigorously, but Elessar deflected the moves proficiently, blocking, stalling and counterattacking. Some tentative strikes followed and another fast attack by the Saldaean was parried by the Kandori Warder, deftly and with confidence. Elessar countered then, attacking hard, improvising forms as he went on the offensive. Yet again his opponent deflected hard blows and struck back with forceful swings which were blocked by Elessar.

 

Pressing hard Elessar was careful not to overextend himself, as he attempted to come within his opponent’s inner defences. At one point his blade whisked past the other man’s side within an inch of a hit. Another time he almost caught the other man off balance after a particularly innovative combination of forms. Then the tide turned as the Saldaean counterattacked and pressed Elessar on the defensive, a quick, clever thrust just missing his right side.

 

Elessar began to feel strain and panted slightly from the exertion. He tried to ignore his growing weariness but knew that he could not keep this up over time, so he had to save strength whenever he could. He slowed his moves and focused on deflecting whatever his opponent threw at him. The Saldaean showed less obvious fatigue, though the way he moved his feet in the Dance was a touch slower than it had been, an indication that he too felt some strain.

 

They seemed pretty evenly balanced, in physical and mental strength, experience and tactics,  from what Elessar could gather, and though both pressed hard it was difficult for either to conquer. One mistake could be enough though, Elessar knew. One slip and your opponent could prevail. He had to stay focused. He had to be ready for anything. It was vital.

 

Back and forth it went, the battle ebbing and flowing. Strikes and deflections, movement and precision. After a long while they stepped apart, sweat glinting on their upper bodies, some apparent weariness in their steps.

 

«That will have to do for prepractice», the Saldaean said drily, sheathing his blade, as het met Elessar’s dark eyes across the circle. «I’ll be back in a moment - and we can start for real.»

 

A crooked grin came upon Elessar’s lips at hearing those words and, Folding the Fan,  he nodded silently, with an almost imperceptible shake of his head after the man had turned away, as the Saldaean Warder strode off purposefully toward the trainee group further down the yard.

 

 

Using the given - and appreciated - break to regain his strength and stamina, and also to evaluate the spar - and what he had accomplished - up to that point, Elessar’s thoughts went back to some important advice given him by an experienced Warder-teacher and Blademaster many years ago in the Tower. Picking up a towel to brush off some of his sweat, heavy clouds now blanketing large parts of the sky above, he could almost hear his Warder-teacher’s voice from so many years ago..

 

Sometimes a fighter must bring that little extra into the fight to prevail, Elessar, he had said; surprise, an edge, rawness, momentum, that little something that could not be taught with technique but which had to be learned through experience.

 

He had, furthermore, added that it was important to condition one’s reflexes to respond to more than just sword forms. As one is moving away from using nothing but the forms, one’s reflex speed slows, he had said. One needs to build up the muscle memory for those spontaneous moves the same as one’s movements through the forms.

 

He had also emphasized that it was important to learn to move one’s feet in the same manner, rapidly and fluidly, outside of the preconceived steps of the sword forms.

 

Elessar knew that he would have to make further use of this, to continue with his improvisation combined with effective sword forms, and to add that little extra that could determine the outcome of a close fight, if he were to prevail in this challenging spar.

 

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.. Caught in a Clash of Swords.  ..

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Some time later, when the tall, imposing Saldaean Warder finally returned, there was a wry grin on his lips.

 

His dark almond-shaped eyes almost twinkled as he faced Elessar and said, «One of those over-eager trainees, an Andoran I think, almost stabbed himself in the foot.» He chuckled. «But then again, they are young.» He added. «We», he said, indicating himself and his Kandori opponent, «have our own mistakes to make.» Elessar shared the grin and nodded back, knowingly. «Indeed we do». He said it lightly, though his dark eyes narrowed slightly. «One mistake is enough.»

 

The tall Saldaean nodded, understanding well. Nothing more was said. They unsheathed their blades, much of their former weariness gone, and stepped once again into the circle of combat, facing each other across a distance of a dozen feet or so. Feeding all his thoughts and emotions into the Oneness, focusing in the Flame and the Void, Elessar of Kandor returned to the Dance.

 

He tried to act on what he had decided upon, using surprise and momentum as a greater part of his tactics - improvising with unexpected forms and moves - and almost caught the Saldaean out on several occasions. His opponent, with his competence and long experience, did the same though, pressing Elessar hard using advanced innovation in his fighting. The Kandori Warder’s prior thought that they seemed evenly balanced in this spar seemed spot on.

 

 

At one point in the duel, a spur of the moment move from the Saldaean brought his blade arching towards Elessar’s neck. Steel met steel though as the blow was deflected and the Saldaean sidestepped out of the way of an oncoming strike. He swept his scimitar in low and the Kandori Warder blocked it and immediately retaliated, bringing his sword up and around in a way that gave his opponent only one blocking-move and one which could well leave him open for new attacks. It was a very good move, one which Elessar had made responding to instinct born of experience, but he was a touch too slow to take proper advantage of it, or rather his opponent was a touch too quick to escape the danger. He ducked low and spun underneath Elessar’s weapon and got back on his feet in one elegant fluid motion. Now he was in a position to attack and he did, pushing Elessar on the defensive, relentless in his offensive strategy, but unable to break through.

 

At another point, a little later, Elessar suddenly moved forwards, his feet moving rapidly and fluidly, and performed a vertical slash, high to low, but which altered course in midswing. The Saldaean blocked the move deftly but the Kandori Warder followed up with another hard swing which was parried. Then Elessar changed form, performing a diagonal slash which began low and rose cleanly and on the return swing began a series of powerful overhand blows. This took stamina and strength and thus he was unable to keep it up for long. He pressed the other hard though, and the Saldaean had to use every skill he had to deflect and defend.

 

Back and forth they flowed, ignoring the tiredness that was slowly creeping up on them once again, thrusting and parrying, attacking and spinning out of range and moving swiftly from stance to stance, two opponents locked in combat.

 

Perseverance and dedication flowed in waves from the two combatants, as they were caught in a Clash of Swords.

  

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  • 2 months later...

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A Fire in the Night

 

Caught in the Dance

Blade against Blade

Widening the Stance

Never Afraid

 

Sword swings Around

In a Swirl, a Wheel

Embers Abound

On the silver Steel

 

Clashing, Whereby

Weaponry so Bright

Sparks flying High

A Fire in the Night

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

.. End of a Duel, Time for Reflection ..

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When the duel ended, sparks flying high, flames of energy slowly dying out, the two Warder combatants sheathed their swords smoothly and gave a nod of respect to one another. They had both shown great competence and stamina in this Clash of Swords which had ended in a draw, neither one able to gain sufficient advantage necessary for victory. Elessar used a towel to remove some of the sweat from his body, panting somewhat from the great exertion of the spar, feeling strain and tiredness in his arms. His adversary breathed heavily as well and there was a small grin upon his lips. He had obviously enjoyed this duel. After a few parting words the mysterious Warder headed steadily towards the group of trainees he had left earlier some way further down the Warders Yard. Elessar watched him go, a touch of amusement in his dark eyes, and then collected his things and headed for the Warder barracks and a good shower.

 

Later that evening, after a meal and having done some reading, he sat alone in his room in the barracks, staring thoughtfully out through the window at the Aes Sedai city of Tar Valon, or what he could see of it at least. He thought back on the duel earlier that day and of his constant quest for excellence. For good or ill, it had been so for him ever since he was young. Could he have done anything different today to win? What should he have done? Why did I not succeed?

 

His mind drew on those reflections and inadvertantly gave him flashes of victories and losses in his past, memories sweet and painful. Some of the latter he tried to ignore, knowing his wounded soul and the internal delicate balance of his emotions that he had to work to uphold, but they crept up through the cracks of his inner self and he pushed them back as he had done so many times before. His eyes tightened and he clenched his fists, re-focusing his thoughts on happier memories. Slowly the emotional pain receeded, though it did not disappear entirely.

 

Before he went to bed that night he stared for a long time into the flames of the candle burning atop his book-shelf in the corner of the room, and just before he blew out the candle, bringing the room into utter blackness, for just an instant he thought he saw a pair of intense emerald green eyes staring back at him from its yellow-red-shining, fiery depths..

 

 

The following day he rose early and headed down to the Warder’s Yard to go through another session with his sword forms. Clouds blanketed the city of the Aes Sedai and rain was in the air. When he was finished, sheathing his blade and gathering all his equipment, he walked back to his quarters and had a pleasant shower before seating himself in his ancient reading chair to read some more from his book of poetry and stories.

 

Leafing through the pages, he came across a poem he had not read in a good while. It differed from most of the others in the book in several respects; it had no historical basis or mythological background, was very philosophical or abstract in nature, and was written in what scholars called ‘free prose’, not with the usual rhyme. Its author was unknown though it was believed to have been composed around the War of the Hundred Years. Elessar enjoyed the poem because it was different and original, though he usually preferred the more traditional rhyme-based poems. It was called ‘To look inside, you must forget’. Soon he was lost in the words of this different poem, lost in deep reflection..

 

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‘To look inside, you must forget’

 

To look inside

you must forget

See the reflection

of your soul

It shines

as only you can feel

Deceives and is not there

 

Winds caress

your thoughts

But you must deny

what you see

To breathe again

in the reflection

Of your pain.

 

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