"Come on, Ser Volhad."
Caius snapped angrily, breath ragged while he wiped sweat from his brow with the back of his hand and tosssed hair out of his face with a cloud of hot breath in the frigid Zi'da afternoon. Cheeks red from the cold he hardly felt here in the south, the northern noble's shoulder stung from exertion, quite certain he was straining the stitches from the gash Valkyr had left him with just trials ago. Adjusting his padded gambeson with a scowl, he stretched his sword arm and flicked an aching wrist with the practice saber, "Once more, please."
"My Lord, I'm sure you could use a moment to catch your breath."
Garren sniffed, also sweating, narrow shoulders sagging as he regarded the taller man. The red-head stretched his neck, tilting his head from side to side and bit his lip, "You said you're injured and—"
"I paid for a private lesson, didn't I? I'll say when I'm sarding ready for a break. Again."
The young Gawyne grumbled, returning his feet to a ready position, weight balanced on both his feet, knees bent, and chose to come to rest with his saber in a low guard position, wrist turned just so that the edge of the curved blade faced outward toward his opponent. Ignoring the pain under his padded armor, Caius fixed the Instructor with an anticipatory stare, his free hand coming to rest on the buckle of his belt instead of his hip—a much more rebellious stance as a saber swordsman.
For a moment, though, it was as if the printer's diri looked past the wiry man, through him, and saw instead icy road and snow-swept landscape, the countryside between Bellesoir and Andaris ... and the woman who'd managed to stalk them and attack them without even a moment of warning—Pythera Venora.
Garren smirked, rolling his eyes at the noble in ignorance of all that had unfolded just a handful of trials before and held his two daggers up in his own ready stance, one higher, one lower near his hip, "Fine, my Lord, but don't say I didn't warn you. Now, to break out of a hold, you're going to have to use your free hand and your hip—"
Caius watched as the shorter red-head stepped in, swinging in an upward arc with a twist of his wrist for the downstroke, making sure to keep his upper arm steady no matter how much the lack of full motion hurt. As he swung, Garren brought his daggers up in a crossing motion, catching his downward swing and pushing forward. The forceful motion lifted the young Gawyne's blade and left him helpless, just as Pythera had. He hissed in pain at the motion, and as his instructor began to step further, dominant foot moving to entangle his own, Caius felt his chest tighten in frustration, straining to tug his blade downward and free himself,
Garren felt the taller man exert his strength in the wrong direction, felt him try to drive his blade downward in order to break free of the hold, "Not your blade, my Lord. Do you want to free my daggers so close to you? No. Out step me, ser. Shift weight on your hips and come forward, get me off bal—"
Caius did as he was told, relaxing his raised blade against the other man's crossed weapons and simply shoved himself forward, free arm reaching up and snatching a wrist, immediately throwing Garren off-balance and forcing him to disengage, staggering back and leaving him open for the northern noble to swing in a wild arc from his already raised position, the curve of his practice saber coming to rest where the shorter man's shoulder met his neck, an ending blow.
The motion hurt, however, and the young Gawyne growled through grit teeth.
"Just like that—oh, your gambeson, my Lord. You're bleeding."
"Fuck it—I'll take care of it later."
Caius glanced down warily, and sure enough, the seams of his padded armor coat were stained with the red of his own blood where the gash on his shoulder had been deepest. He'd definitely ripped a stitch or two, "I'd like to work on some blocking techniques one last time before I walk myself to the Infirmary, Ser Volhad."
"I'm strongly advising against that, my Lord, but alright. Let's start with high guard."
Garren moved back into a ready stance, one dagger high and one dagger low, body crouched like that beast of a Venora that had almost ended him too soon in front of Darcyanna.
With a hiss of breath and frustration at the memory, the young Gawyne returned to his stance, this time taking a high guard position with his saber, literally slinging the non-edge part of the weapon over his shoulder and resting his weight on his back foot, free thumb hooked again near his belt buckle. The printer's diri felt anger surge like melted lead in his veins, searing away the deep sting in his shoulder and bringing him into a strange place of focus. His pale, icy blue gaze traveled over the stance of the red-headed instructor, the shorter man all wiry muscle and freckles, panting in the snow.