• Solo • Pallor, the Pale Blade: Dedication

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William Dovecraft
Posts: 81
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:27 am
Race: Mixed Race
Profession: Mercenary / Smith
Renown: 50
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Wealth Tier: Tier 1

Pallor, the Pale Blade: Dedication

Saun 24th, 718, Early Morning
The Graverobber. That morning, all Will could think of was the conflict he’d had, that burning eye, his sword with two prongs. He isn’t much of a threat now, but give it time... Will turned, the covers warm as he philosophized the past, worried their fates might be interwoven, one of Cassion’s stories. His story. Is this my part, for us to be each other’s whetstones?

His mind turned to Pallor, the sword he had purchased. It was a heavy blade, although a narrower profile. A stronger make, maybe? What if he slid between those two prongs; he put his palms over his face, groaning. Close combat is assured. I need to get in close if I’m going to beat him, or understand how to wield such weapons with more grace than he ever could... The boy blinked there in the darkness, before rising with a stretch as the rain rattled the wooden shutter to his room.

Soreness. Pain radiated down his form. and he groaned, reaching up with his arms. Sliding out of bed, he glanced to Yaal’tiesh, who as always, waited patiently, a silent observer to William’s turmoils when times were busy without tension. We should converse more, even when times are not hard, he told the feathered and scaled red wolf Ose’bori.

If you think it is necessary, then that shall be the case, he replied.

It shall. He sighed, snatching his clothing from the drying rack and garbing himself, drawing his belts, taking his father’s dagger from under his bedding and affixing the scabbard for it to his belt. Perhaps if you could fight, we would be formidable together.

I do not think that is my purpose, William. I am here for... other things, I think.

We both have much to learn, you and I. Will mentally affirmed.

A truth, in this world of lies and obscurantism. Cryptic words from a cryptic beast.

Sometimes it is as if you are the poet, and I am the pen. Oh, we would write great stories! Cassion would be proud! he mused, stepping in front of a small notch he’d made in the wood above the honeybucket. “Wow, I think I’m taller. Like, a whole inch!” he blurted excitedly. “All this training’s making me taller, buddy!” he laughed giddily, dancing around the room as he drew his baldrics over his shoulders, each carrying his hammer and shield.

Trial by Trial, you are improving, William. The motivations the Graverobber has wrought have motivated you to such ends that every night, and every morning, you are tempering yourself like the blades you forge, Yaal’tiesh whispered, containing his delight as best a familiar could.

Thank you, Yaal’tiesh. It is time to begin the day. He stepped out of his room, climbed down the stairs, and exited into the pouring rains of the ides of Saun, a warm, humid embrace of the constant wet given chill by the lurid pale winds of the nearby sea - whatever could climb the cliffs and caress the town, that is.

The walk to the temple was uneventful, save for the restless skies that thundered without mercy in their torrential downpour. It was beginning to flood, in fact, and many were wading through the muddy waters. He strode through those gates and left his weapons with the monks, drawing a wooden Zweihander from a rack and proceeding into the brazier-lit room where Wilhelm was training another student.

He waited patiently for his turn, and lifted his sword, pointing it at the man who would teach him as he advanced into the ring. “I’ve come for training!” Will said, a mocking, serious tone in his voice. “Will you train me?”

Wilhelm, a grizzled old thing had his own sword resting upon a shoulder, tilting his head. “Is that so? It’s a pity. I don’t train those who treat the blade like a game.” Will dropped his sword almost immediately, smiling with a brief laugh.

“It certainly tis a shame, my old friend, who is no friend to my wallet!” he retorted, and shook the man’s hand, receiving a grunt in recompense. “So what shall you teach me today?”

“I’ve some thoughts about that. Come, come,” he said, motioning to the center. “Say your damn prayers, brat.”

Will dropped to his knees and held his sword, muttering a quick prayer to Raskalarn there in the center of the room. Oh watch me now, Cassion, he truly thought. I train day by day, and my confidence brims. Soon I will have a story worth telling, and Pallor will be the blade by which I adventure. I will wield that blade with such skill that rumors will be told... on my blood, I promise this to you, my God. Rising to his feet with a sense of conviction, he nodded to Wilhelm. The training would soon begin.

Before William could react, the man’s blade was swinging towards his face, but his own blade took it, and the pair of swords slammed into his chest with the force of a bull, knocking Will clear on his arse. “Oof!” he gasped, clambering to his feet and getting into a proper Ox Guard. “Such a cheap shot.”

“Aye, be prepared, it’s good for ye,” Wilhelm said, pointing with his sword. “And I needed to wipe that smirk off yer face.” It certainly worked; William’s face bore no such grin, now an uneasy frown, slightly ill from the throbbing pain he now felt in his ribs. Wilhelm began again. “You needed to feel the execution strike - you should be on the receiving end of every strike you intend to master, aye?”

“Aye,” Will responded, taking a step back with one of his feet and bracing himself more properly. “Show me that one again.”

Wilhelm drew his blade closer to his chest, left hand on the hilt, right hand above the crossguard. Turning from his toes, into his hips, and into his shoulders, he flung that strike down in a diagonal arc that looked particularly brutal, the very air whistling with the chilling power of that blow without someone to receive it. “Hold it like this, see?” He made sure William nodded before he continued the second demonstration after seeing the quizzical stare he gave. “Then, from your toes, to your hips, start to turn like so, then use that momentum through your back, your shoulder blades, through your shoulders, down your arms, and down your blade. The strike is called an Executioner’s Strike, but turning your whole body’s called Torquing,so they say, a foundational skill that you should apply to all strikes to properly utilize the energy of your body and deliver it into a single swing. Does that make sense?” Will was confused, so he tried it, winding up and quietly taking a swing from his hips. Wilhelm was about to scold him, but he tried it again and got something pretty darn close.

“Like that, yeah?” he asked, unsure.

Wilhelm nodded. “Hmm. Put that back into it more, I want more of an angle; control your slash, and make sure your edge is vertical to the ground or it’s like smacking some guy with a metal paddle.” Charged with the advice, William tried again, this time doing even better. Now, even he heard the wind whistle, and smiled at the sound, a music to his ears! “I liked the sound of that,” he said, trying to restrain himself from showing too much excitement.

“Alright that was a proper Executioner’s Strike,” the elder said, entering a low ox guard with his sword centered in front of him. “Now strike me with it. Go on.”

William instantly had suspicion, but oriented himself in the proper direction regardless. “Alright.” He had a bad feeling about this. Will began to swing in the same manner, winding through his toes, through his hips, and all the way through the rest of his body down his arms and into his sword, gripping tight - Wilhelm drew his own blade up high, perpendicular with the ground and angling down at William’s neck as the wood clattered together fiercely. Now, the boy could feel that cold, dusty wood resting against his throat.

“Thwart Strike,” the old man grunted. “Good on you for the rough blow, but you’re dead now. Watch where you’re swinging, adjust - if someone Thwarts you in a duel, you deserve it.” He lowered his blade, and stepped back. “Now you try it. Lift your blade up, pointing down - not like a spear, no! Just like that, aye. Feels odd, doesn’t it?” Will gave a nod. “Now, do it and push your hands forward, straight out as I go to strike, but lift that guard nice and high.” He prepared to strike, telegraphing his move and going slow enough that William could follow along. The boy waited for it to begin, and raised his arms, pushing out. Their blades clattered together once more, and as Will turned, he saw his blade remarkably close to Wilhelm’s neck. Together, they relaxed, and the man nodded. “That was good. Very good. You seem to be learning fast - you must be writing all this down in that faggy book of yours, huh?”

“Well...” Will said bashfully.

“Yeah, whatever.” He lifted his chin. “It’s time for a Squinter Guard. Change up your grip. Without changing your stance. Lower that top hand, replace it with your other and hold from the other side, like a spear this time. I know, I know; just do it.” He showed Will the proper grip, and held his Zweihander just like one would a spear. William’s eyes crossed, and he had to play around with how to grip his sword before he got it. “Hold it out just like that, yeah! Alright, now practice that. Go from an Ox Guard, into a Squinter Guard, and back again. You need to get quick at this.”

Will stepped back, his expression curious and confused. “Like this?” he questioned, switching from Spear to Ox Guard. It wasn’t quick enough for Wilhelm, apparently, because he shook his head, growling.

“No, no, boy.” He showed him again. “It’s quick, your hands lift off the hilt, you’re cradling it while it’s floating in your hands, right?” Will made an ‘oooahh’ sound, and tried, dropping his sword. “Gah, boy!” Wilhelm cursed. “Dropping your sword - apologize to Raskalarn!”

Will reached down and picked the blade up, his eyes aghast with watery hurt feelings. “I... upset Raskalarn?” he gasped. “I’m sorry Raskalarn, I, uhh...” He dropped to his knees, and began to pray. I’m learning, I didn’t know how bad it was to drop a blade in your temple, or one of your training weapons. I’m so sorry... He blinked, trying to shrug it off as he rose.

“Ya really are a wimp,” Wilhelm groused. “Geeze, just do the damn drill already.” He lit a pipe, and began to puff on it, watching Will, scolding him until he got it right.

“It’s so hard!” he shouted.

“Don’t care, do it damn it!” A puff of smoke.

If he wasn’t blowing smoke in my face! Argh! Every time he dropped it, he had to apologize to Raskalarn. All in all it wasn’t fun, but he got better. He started to get the hang of it after the upteenth time, but the bits were rolling on, and he was ready to do the same by the time Wilhelm raised a hand.

“Good.” He watched William try it, varying his grip in the blink of an eye. “Repetition is how you learn, boy.”

“Right,” William blinked long and hard, sighing. He held the zweihander up like a spear. “Now?”

“Now you thrust. Right at me face!” Will’s eyes glazed over, and he thrusted, aiming for the face. Wilhelm knocked the sword right out of his hands. “Faster.” Now William had to pray to Raskalarn again, for dropping his sword.

I’m starting to get sick of this. He got into his Squinter Guard again, but this time Wilhelm did the same, showing him.

“Footwork, son.” He moved, shimmying forward and back, taking a step and moving his torso the same as his shoulders to deliver a more solid thrust with both hands. It bopped Will in the nose even as he leaned back, but gently.

Will’s hand came up to cover the soft tissue from harm, momentarily leaving his blade - he pulled it out of the way when Wilhelm slashed at it. “Nuh-uh. No. Not again.” He shrugged, and drew up his Squinter Guard. “It’s called Squinter cause it goes for your squinters huh?” he smirked. “Makes sense.” He did the strike again, this time faster, applying that ‘torquing’ principle from before by winding a bit of his muscle into the thrust. This time it was quicker. Much quicker, and Wilhelm had to lean to avoid it.

“Good. Again. This time, at my belly. Then my legs.” Will followed Wilhelm around the arena, stabbing, his muscles getting a good workout from how he struck at the man over and over again. Once they were done, Wilhelm signaled for him to stop. Sucking in some air, Will sighed massively, and shook his head. “Oh damn. I need a breather!” His chest tingled with burning pain, and he wiped sweat from his brow that had formed. “Gods.”

“Ya did good. Crap. But good.” The man extended his hand, and William paid him, bowing and praying to Raskalan one last time. I may be praying to her for the training, but in the grand scheme of things, I’m dedicating the adventure to you, Cassion... I will wield Pallor, and with that blade, I will make many adventures. It will be a legend. Walking out of there, he set about dropping his sword off at the rack, getting his hammer and shield from the monks. Gods, I actually need to feel the rain for once.

-5 GN for the novice lesson.

word count: 2378

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