When word went out that Bramwell Foy was hosting an event at The Proving Grounds in Scalvoris Town, Balthazar found his curiosity set alight. He reached out to the Elements that he knew through work and reputation, inviting them to join him at the Combat Festival for lessons and sparring if they wanted to. He might not have been the best fighter in the Elements as a whole, but he thought he was one of the better unarmed combatants in the military force. Not that it particularly mattered given they had to learn competence in and carry a weapon on them when they were working. He still thought that he might be able to provide some insight and if he could not, he was certain that the festival in general would be beneficial to Elements who attended. None of the experienced members responded. They said it would be a conflict of interests but Balthazar didn't understand how if they were off duty when they went. Then again... were they ever really off duty?
It was now the second trial of the festival and Balthazar was dressed in a simple white shirt and black pants. He had his black leather satchel strung across his body and his white hair, which had grown mostly back out, flowed down the sides of his head. He wore his newly obtained cutlass from the labyrinth on one side, his hammer on the other, and a dagger at the back of his belt. He was joined once again by the young Flame Trooper named Pylos. It seemed that Balthazar could do no wrong in the young detective's eyes and when Pylos heard that Balthazar was reaching out to Elements, the kid made sure he didn't miss the second trial. Pylos had his hair pulled half up so that it stayed out of his face and he wore simple leather armor with a short sword strapped to his side. Pylos was not the only individual who'd joined Balthazar that trial. While Pylos stood on the left, the slightly older Robin of Oakleigh stood on Balthazar's right with a longsword on his hip and leather armor on the rest of him.
Balthazar suggested to Elisabeth that he might attend all four but it wasn't a guarantee. If he was called in to work he would go but if not, he would attend as much of the festival as he could. The mark he bore which darkened the tips of his fingers gave him the ability to share his skills with another. He could practice hand to hand combat with someone and put them at his level of skill. He could train with a weapon he had never held and perform with his instructors experience. The memories held in the muscles were remarkable.
The trio were watching a man giving a demonstration using hammers and Balthazar's face was scrunched slightly in focus. His arms were crossed and he wasn't speaking to either of the men beside him thought they both stole periodic glances in his direction to see if he was going to move on or not. The man the trio was watching was demonstrating various ways to parry bladed weapons using a hammer in one hand. It seemed like a fairly simple technique but the man explained that there were factors which complicated it. Most swords and polearms had longer reach than hammers did. On top of that, the hammer was heavier and its weight made it a harder weapon to stop and maneuver with. Not impossible, but it would require far more strength to wield quickly than a shortsword. The trainer explained that due to the smaller reach and heavier weight, you needed to keep the hammer moving in combat to make it effective. You had to move with the momentum of the swing, not against it.
The man was beginning the actual demonstration with his assistant when Balthazar heard Elisabeth call out for him. He, Pylos, and Robin all turned in unison and looked towards Elisabeth but the latter two seemed confused and looked towards Balthazar for explanation. He held up a hand to indicate he had heard her and then waved her over because he still wanted to see the demonstration. Hearing about the theory was fine and all but once Balthazar saw it performed he would be able to analyze the movements forever. The trio turned back to the show and Balthazar said, "She is my beloved,"
to explain who Elisabeth was to him to the other two.
The hammer man moved slowly with his assistant and they demonstrated three different ways to parry and stop an incoming blade. The first way was to parry an incoming thrust. The movement seemed fairly simple and it ended with a strike. As the blade came inward, the man explained, it was important to move backwards and create distance so the swordsman would overextend themself. If you don't create the distance, they might be able to maneuver their sword and cut you before your parry lands. Once the distance was made and the blade was overextended, the demonstrator swept the hammer towards the blade and knocked it aside before stepping inward and continuing through his sweeping motion to bring the hammer back around and down towards his assistant's head before they could bring their sword back around. He performed the motion three times for the audience and each time he did, he moved a little faster with his assistant to demonstrate its effectiveness.
The second parry that was shown was how to parry a sword swing and it actually turned out to be more of a block than a parry. The principal was the same. Get a safe distance so you didn't get cut, stop the swing with the hammer, and then push in before the sword can come back around if you could. If you couldn't, the recommendation was to remain further back until either the opponent's sword broke against your hammer or until you found an opening. Balthazar did not stay for the third, having decided he really wanted to see Elisabeth. "Could you two watch the last one and show me when it is over?"
Balthazar asked Robin and Pylos who both nodded.
"Where are you going?"
"I'm going to say hello to Elisabeth, I'll be back."
And with that he turned away only to find Oram standing beside Elisabeth, talking to her about something. From what he could see of Oram's lips moving and what he thought he heard as he grew closer, Oram was talking about polearms. He waved to greet Oram as he approached and hugged Elisabeth when he arrived. He waited until the two of them were done talking to say anything and when they were, Balthazar said, "It is good to see you, Oram. How has the festival been treating you?"