117th Trial of Ashan in the arc 719
8 break, Bit 0
Too much magic. The thought of casting another rune or corrupting another organ physically sickened Hina. Some days magic invaded her thoughts so much that it was hard to tell who was really in control of her body. So, she had grabbed the greatsword that had been given to her by the lightning knights and made her way out to the place where Yari practiced dueling. She knew that the only way to push magic from her thoughts was to get focused on something else in the meantime. She was fortunate that her mind was still relatively easily distracted.
Hina had been too afraid of using this greatsword ever since she had gotten it. Even here in the practice area she had opted to use wooden varieties instead of the real deal. The weight of carrying it around while strapped to her back was a pain in itself, yet she had managed to make it all the way to Yaralon without too much difficulty. She awkwardly pulled the blade from the sheath, twisting and turning her body so that she could get most of the blade out. It wasn’t very easy to do, especially since she had equipped the sword to her back and was trying to pull it out over her head.
To get the blade out from this position Hina had to lean towards the ground and let the blade slide out by using the force of gravity. The blue blade sat on the grass and only then did she notice just how tall the grass had gotten. She always came to the same spot, away from the majority of the battling. She knew that unless she used her magic there was no way she could contend with even the weakest of Yari, so she tended to practice alone. What was odd, was that the grass was noticeably taller at this very spot than everywhere else in this training area. There was no doubt in Hina’s mind that this was due to her connection with Ashan and as amazing as it was, it was clear that the ability could be used against her. If all a hunter had to do was look for where the grass was the greenest, she would have a hard time hiding from anyone. Not that she thought she would ever be able to hide effectively with all the mutations she had. She stuck out like a beautiful thumb now and visibly glowed even in the daylight.
“Stop thinking about your mutations, see you’ve already started thinking about magic!” She scolded herself and bent down to pick up the sword by the handle. It wasn’t that heavy without the sheath, maybe about ten pounds. The difficulty came with swinging it. Having almost no experience with a blade, Hina had never considered how the length of the blade factored into the difficulty of using it. Holding the blade further from her body was more difficult than holding it to her chest. The physics confused her to no end. She felt like she was learning how to walk all over again while she tried moving around with the blade. The fluid footwork she had learned as a boxer was difficult to maintain when every small swing of the blade threw her balance off.
Hina placed the blade on the ground carefully and panted. The muscles needed to work this weapon weren’t trained well enough to use it for an extended period of time. Her upper arms quivered a little while she rubbed them and thought of a solution to her problem. Clearly the boxer’s stance was not working for this blade. She had been trained to never take two wide of a stance, or else she’d never be able to punch her opponent. However it looked like there was no other option. She spread her legs out wide so that she was in a wide squatting position and picked the sword back up. She wobbled a little and ended up falling right onto her butt. It took every ounce of concentration to avoid smacking her face into the blade when she fell. “Too wide?” she asked herself. The blade was placed back on the ground and Hina adjusted her stance again before picking it back up.
“Much better,” she commented. Her knees were slightly bent and her blade was held out at a forty fight degree angle. She took one step backwards and practiced what she had done with the wooden practice blade in the past. With the step back, she held the blade over her head and brought it behind her neck. Then she pushed her whole body forwards with a little lurch. Her rear foot stepped forward and the blade swung over her head and embedded itself right into the soft grass. The strike had been successful, but Hina had no idea how useful such an attack would be. “It’s so slow. I’d better hope whatever I’m trying to hit doesn’t have the chance to move.” One day Hina would be able to learn how to fluidly strike instead of having to painstakingly choreograph each minor detail.
Hina managed to repeat the swing a couple of times before her body started to complain again. She slid the blade back into its sheath and wished that this place had a tree to sit under to escape the heat of the suns. She glanced over at the duelists and saw a Yari with a greatsword swinging it around like it was an extension of his body. Nobody that dueled him was able to get in close enough to do any damage without having to deal with the swinging blade first. Some chose to block the heavy swings or deflect them just enough to step in and stab with their own weapon. It didn’t always work though and more often than not people would get smacked a little too hard and end up on the ground.
Once the hulking Yari took a break, Hina went over to talk with him. “I’ve got a greatsword of my own. Would you mind helping my form out a little?” “And why would I do that,” he asked Hina. She was dressed in armor so she couldn’t use her looks to her advantage this time. “Everyone knows you’re a great warrior, but only the greatest are able to teach. Don’t you want to prove to everyone that you know your stuff?” “I already know I’m a good teacher. Everyone knows it. I only teach men in my mercenary company. No sense creating competition.” Hina cursed her inability to do the simplest feats of persuasion and moved onto what should have been plan A.
“Perhaps I would be willing to join your mercenary company if you impress me enough. As you can see, I’m a mage and I’ve been approached by dozens ever since I’ve arrived. No matter how you look at it, it would be wise to earn my favor.” The hulking Yari stared right into her eyes and then looked around. He looked like he was breaking a rule by even considering the thought of teaching someone outside of his company. He thought of the praise he would get if he did manage to convince a mage to join their ranks and decided that it was worth giving a couple tips. “Fine. What do you want to know?”
Hina hadn’t thought this far ahead. What was it that she wanted to know? How to be a good greatsword wielder was an obvious question to ask but was probably way too generic. She took a minute to rub her chin and think then came up with her question: “How do you keep your balance while swinging? Even with a wide stance my balance is thrown off.”
“You don’t keep your balance, mostly.” The Yari patted her on the head. She was asking for general advice which was something he didn’t mind giving. He had thought she wanted to know the secrets to his fighting style, which he would never be comfortable giving away. “I can think of few occasions where you want to swing once or twice. Most of the time you will swing constantly. If a leftbound slash pulls you to the left, then a rightward slash will bring you center. Don’t be afraid to mix things up though, or else you become predictable.”
Even though this was common knowledge the Yari spoke in a quiet voice so that only Hina could hear. “If you haven’t even gotten swinging down yet I don’t think I can give you much more useful advice. If you really are interested in real lessons, maybe we can arrange a deal with the mercenary company. Even if you don’t join, there may be some favors we can exchange.” Hina expressed her gratitude and went back to her little training space and practiced some more. She liked the ideas the Yari presented to her. Not just about keeping balance but also the exchange of favors. She had no desire to commit to a company if she didn’t live here, but favors she could deal with. And she didn’t think that he was talking about the usual kind of favor that Hina offered. She had gotten pretty familiar with what life was like around here, and getting involved with a company in some way could turn out to be beneficial.