• Mature • Preparing for War: Go to Your Gods Like a Soldier

An 'orrible little bugger does his best to batter the volunteers and wounded into something resembling soldiers

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Preparing for War: Go to Your Gods Like a Soldier

6th of Cylus, 719
Morning



"When first under fire an' you're wishful to duck,
Don't look nor take 'eed at the man that is struck,
Be thankful you're livin', and trust to your luck
And march to your front like a soldier."


The man they called "Karim" looked about the courtyard and sighed. Fates, is this what Drix felt like, decades ago? When it was him among the rabble, the gutter-born and bored nobility and merchant sons? All deciding that the black cloaks looked like a dashing career and were wasting the time of grizzled old enforcers of law like him? He couldn't see his face, of course, but he felt the same... weariness, settle over it.

Must come with age. Can't help but look at them like a bunch of kids.

They were farmers and squires; they were laborers and cooks; they were career soldiers and Knights. They were volunteers who wished to do their part for home and country, and they were men already sworn to protect them. He seemed like the only poor bastard who'd been lied to about getting paid to do that shite. Still... it was less of an issue for him now. He had his route out of Storm's Edge secured, if it came to that. A quick sidestep back into the Emea and he'd leave these wasters to die like heroes, that lying wee cunt Mathias among them.

"Who're you?"

The query shook him from his undeniably smug reminiscence. Mind to business, old man, he reminded himself. Vega had given him a job to do, and he didn't need that mouthy bitch up his arse. Not until he'd had a chance to wring what other knowledge or talent or - and if he prayed, he would pray for this - loot he could from this whole ongoing calamity. He blinked and a young boy with an Adam's Apple like an over-sized walnut was staring at him. Kasoria walked over to him slowly, eyeing the hand on his sword. It looked pretty. The hilt, anyway.

"Y'know how t'use that?"

"Of course I bloody do!" The squire scoffed, looking behind him quickly, collecting a few smirks from his fellows in return. "Why else do you think I-"

THUNK

There was a low, sudden murmur among the "class" as Kasoria's liver punch bent the boy double. Pain shot through that lanky body like lightning through a tree, and as he hit his knees he felt another, equally strong hand catch him by the throat. Just as he was trying to force air back into his lungs.

"Dun' turn yer back on yer enemy, boy. An' don't never underestimate 'im."

He let the boy go and didn't watch him fall down to the mud, coughing and trying not to vomit or piss himself. Following his own advice somewhat, he strode away from him, but kept the lad in the corner of his eye... and his ear. As soon as he heard him get back upright, he'd consider him worth a full glance. Right now, he had bigger issues. The lounging collection of men and some women were on their feet now, outrage on the faces of the older, more... noble figures.

"That was not necessary, sir."

"Since I'm leadin' this class t'day, I think I'll be decidin' that."

"Oh?" The same older man said, walking with the aid of a crutch but still able to cross his arms skeptically. "And what did that prove? That you're a horrible little bastard who likes to hurt people?"

"Yes. But more importantly," Kasoria said with a single raised finger, enjoying the flushed look of outrage on the Knight's face. "I'm an 'orrible old bastard. Didn't get that way wiv'out knowin' how t'fight."

A younger man came forth this time. Hands worn and callused from hard work, tanned face reminding Kasoria at once of a farmer. "And what can we learn from you that any tavern-haunting wretch could not teach us?"

Kasoria shrugged and sauntered over to the row of practice weapons they had lined up. Some decent wooden swords, thank the Fates, but the rest... well, Mathias was still busy taking proper stock. Right now even long sticks for spears and shorter sticks for swords would have to do. He picked one up, about the size of his gladius and... ah, well, close enough to the weight.

"Guess we'll find out... oh, good, yer back on yer feet?" Kasoria said with hilariously false cheer. The red-faced squire was standing again... and now he had his sword out. "Care t'show me what yeh can do wiv'-"

To his credit, the boy didn't hesitate again. He came on without fear, rage thickening his voice as he yelped, sword swinging diagonally down-

-forcing Kasoria to the side, not bothering to meet the blow. But he was watching, even in that fragment of time. Heartbeats. Blinks. So much you could see in that time, in the space between one strike and swing and the next. The Raggedy Man skipped back again, light as a bird, as the squire swung out with a backhand-

-then pulling the sword back, trying to skewer him through the stomach-

Foolish.

Kasoria's wooden sword slapped the blade to the side... after letting the boy over-extend, of course. Tripping over his own feet as the meaty target he sought vanished, replaced by empty air, the squire's eyes widened and he went staggering to the side-

-until Kasoria's foot whipped out and he toppled over it. There was a satisfying squishing sound as the boy's face planted straight into something he truly hoped was mud. Then the little man circled him again, waiting for him to get upright. As he waited, he spoke. He educated.

"Don't over-extend! Keep yer balance centered. Every blow, every swing, every strike, make sure youse can pull it back if yeh need to. Lose yer balance here, well... see for yerself." The squire got back up, face an entirely diff'runt color, and Kasoria pointed at him with the practice sword. "I was yer enemy, boy, I'd a' shoved me sword through yer back while you were chewin' mud."

The squire drew back, but Kasoria was on the offensive now-

-striking high, expecting the cracking impact as wood and steel met, boy blocking him ably, shoving his blade away, riposte coming down at him-

-only for the little man's free hand to come up and wrap around his wrist before he could do so. For a blink they were frozen like that, arms up in the air, both holding swords-

"... well? What're yeh waitin' for?"

No answer was forthcoming, so Kasoria gave him one. There was another thick, dense sound that made the crowd wince. This time there was more of a crack to it, though. Like an ax handle smacking into a tree. Boy went staggering back with his eyes crossed; old man shook his head, clearing the stars from his eyes. Fates, but it was so much easier when you went for their nose. But he didn't want to cause any lasting damage to the boy; a good solid nutter to the forehead was enough to teach the lesson.

"Everythin' is a weapon!" He said loudly, noting the keenness of the gazes around him now. Disliked as he was, they couldn't deny he had knowledge to impart. "Get in a bind? Can't use yer sword? Use yer fists. Yer knees. Yer head. Yer teeth. Or-"

The boy came howling at him this time. Diagonal, backhand, thrust, horizontal, blow after blow slicing nothing but air, forcing Kasoria back, body twisting and weaving and sidestepping and every time he missed the battered and bruised kid got sorer, weaker, less controlled, until finally-

-the Raggedy Man ducked under a strike aimed at taking his head off, letting the sword fly over his head, then lashing out with his stick-

CRACK

-cracking the boy across the wrist with it, killing his grip on his sword, taking the weapon from his hand and before it had even touched the ground-

CRACK

-rapped it across the boy's thigh, barely any force behind the blow. Just enough to stagger him, bring him down to one knee, close enough for Kasoria to lunge forwards-

-hand darting down to his boot and then back up again so fast it was almost a blur, but a blur that changed color when it came back up-

-and the squire's eyes bulged as he saw the dagger with the spiked-hand grip resting just under his throat.

"Use yer dagger. Never rely on just one weapon."

Kasoria let the lesson sink in for a few moments, then sheathed the blade. He extended a hand... and scowling though he was, the squire took it. Kasoria nodded and looked him up and down.

"Tough lad, I'll give yeh that. Got a courage in yeh, too. Jus' learn t'be a wee bit more... flexible, aye?"

"Y-Yes, sir."

Kasoria looked around the group. No-one sitting anymore. Everyone up, on their feet, ready to learn. Now class could begin properly.
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Re: Preparing for War: Go to Your Gods Like a Soldier

"When 'arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,
Don't call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;
She's human as you are - you treat her as sich,
An' she'll fight for the young British soldier."


It had been somewhat misleading, he supposed. All that swinging swords about, all that footwork and... fanciness. He'd snorted at the irony of it afterwards. Always he had discouraged that sort of shite in a brawl; you struck nasty and hard and you didn't worry about artistry. Leave that to the bards and the poets, clueless wankers that they were. But he'd had to make an impression, so he'd... lowered himself. Made his point. Proved that he knew what he was talking about and he wasn't to be ignored. More importantly, he was willing to impart what he knew, and that might save them come the dawn.

And now we're fucking around with big fucking sticks.

"Cavalry!"

As (almost) one, the line of men and women stuck the ends of their "spears" into the ground at their feet. They held them so that the practice weapons would rest at an angle, facing out, so that anything large and charging would be impaled by impact alone. Then they stamped their rear foot on the end, steadying the weapon, and-

"RAAAH!"

The warlike bark came from a crowd of ragged throats. Sore and tired and sweating, even in the chill of Cylus. Kasoria could see the hard, hateful look in their eyes, though. The look that had sustained them through break after break of training. The one that said they would not break because of him, or before him. As if in recognition of that along, their instructor nodded curtly. But he was not finished.

"Infantry!"

Ah, this one wasn't so easy. They had the pikes shouldered before. All they had to do was flip them into their hands, position them, stand on them. Now he watched two-dozen various forms of various strengths struggle to uproot their weapons, hold them somewhat comfortably at a flat angle. Bracing their legs, pulling pikes from the ground, arms wobbling as they tried to settle the ungainly weapons into a horizontal grip. There was no cohesion to them; no unity of movement. But they weren't quitting... and they'd been paying attention-

"RAAH!"

-which was all he could ask for.

"Beasts!"

No, that send a shudder through them. All they really had to do was crouch lower, point their weapons at a smaller angle. As if they were being assaulted by a tide of dogs rather than a mass of men... which was roughly the size of the monsters that would be attacking them, in Kasoria's experience. The memory of that first attack seemed to draw the group closer together. By the time their stances had shifted, they were almost squatting, shoulder to shoulder, presenting a mass of bristling metal to their trainer.

Kasoria walked a few paces in front of them, and ran a practiced eye over his class.

"Fuckin' annoyin', ain't they? Big. Uncomfortable. Heavy. Jus' fuckin' irritatin', eh? Well. They may well be, but yeh know what else they are? Useful. Keeps yer enemy away from yeh. Keeps them far away, wiv' their claws an' their teeth an' their swords... but you can still stick 'em. Ten feet a' solid wood wiv' a foot of sharp steel on it. Aye... pack a bunch of yeh together, all carryin' those? You'll plug a gap nicely."

The Etzori paused, and seemed to see something else for a moment. A few of his more insightful students saw the change come over him. Behind the permanent scowl and the mutated features, there was still a man... and one who seemed far away, both in distance and time. He was down a road not traveled, though, and fantasy had never been his forte. He shook it away and focused on the task in front of him.

"But what happens when yeh stick 'em, an' the speak won't come out? Or it breaks? Or they get around it? Well..." He patted the gladius at his belt, and a moment later, revealed the curved, savage-looking dagger he'd used before. "That's where these come in. Second part of the lesson... after yeh eat."

The relief rose up like a cloud, and Kasoria had to stifle a grin.
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Re: Preparing for War: Go to Your Gods Like a Soldier


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6 Cylus 720 | Mathias Blackwood | Storm's Edge: Training Grounds
On the dawn of the same trial that Mathias would ultimately seek to help the volunteers repair the damage to the armory, Mathias walked out to the training grounds where he heard that Kasoria would be hosting a training lesson to help prepare those individuals who were less suited for combat. It wasn't that Mathias thought himself to be equally as inadequate at the others who had arrived, but he did think he could use a little help. So Mathias lingered in the back of the group, watching Kasoria's instruction method for just long enough to realize that he did not want to put himself in Kasoria's path. He'd lied to him to get him to come here, vague as he'd tried to make the lie, and he didn't want to give the more skilled killer of men the opportunity to beat some vengeance out of him.

Mathias wasn't sure whether or not Kasoria was the type for petty revenge but given that he'd put the man in considerable danger for what so far had amounted to no nels, he wasn't going to chance it. So Mathias had decided he would linger outside the group of Kasoria's training men and woman. He continued to practice his archery on the targets but now he had no one to hold one and run around for him. So instead, Mathias did the moving for the target. He strafed left and right as fast as he could, firing arrows into the targets. When he grew tired of that he began a process of charging directly towards the target and firing as many arrows into it as he could before he reached it.

In his mind he imagined the way the beasts had run at him. He tried to recall the speed with which they'd tore through volunteers. His first run saw him put three arrows into the target before he closed the twenty meter gap. The second run saw him put four arrows in. Three on the third run and then two on the final run because he ran out of arrows in his quiver. Mathias went back to pick up all his arrows and another volunteer came over to him. "Why are you running at the target?" The would-be soldier asked. Mathias shrugged.

"That woman with the fiery hair had a good point about targets in battle not standing still. I figure if I can't have the target moving, I might as well move." Mathias said. "Besides, no matter how much I swing a sword today, I won't be able to really use it by the time the Flameborn arrive- but this? This I might become really good at." Mathias held his bow up to indicate he was referring to archery.

"What about when you run out of arrows?" The man asked innocently. Mathias had been afraid he'd run out of arrows during the battle since he first arrived. It was one of those concerns he just kept to himself, but now it was in the line of inquiry.

"Well, wear two quivers and recover them from the dead when you get the chance. There will be plenty of arrows around it'll just be an issue of recovering them." The answer seemed to appease the man a little but not entirely. Yet Mathias didn't feel compelled to further comfort him. "If you don't think a bow is the weapon for you, go train with Karim, he's all about blades." And with that Mathias turned back to his target. He notched another arrow and just as he was going to fire, about six people walked in front of his target- Karim had just dismissed them from the training for lunch and in their exhaustion they were not considerate. "Hey! Move out of the way!" Mathias shouted at them. One man stopped where he was standing in front of the target just to be defiant so Mathias drew back on his training arrow, aimed at the man's foot, and fired. The arrow struck the ground right in front of the man, causing him to jump a startled jump. "I said move! I'm training here!"
word count: 720
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Re: Preparing for War: Go to Your Gods Like a Soldier

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"If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier."


He would have preferred to train them individually, to start. It was the best way. It was how he had begin his long appreciation of the sword. Alone, on cold stones, with naught but his own body to compete against. To find the balance in every strike, the equilibrium he would need come true, bloody conflict. Nothing to distract. Nothing to conquer save yourself, which was the hardest enemy a novice could hope for.

When his instructors had seen the gladius and boy were melded together, then they started sparring. But Kasoria did not have that kind of time. They had to know conflict now. They had to know the lesson of pain, and the fierce joy of victory. Their enemy was coming and their arrival was likely measured in breaks, not seasons or even trials.

"Right... stand to"

Two ranks of potential warriors snapped into position, facing each other. In one hand was a shield, in the other, some sort of weapon. Sword, ax, mace. Metal or wooden, it didn't matter. Men and women glared at each other over the rim of their shields. Kasoria walked around and among them, hands clasped behind his back, one of them holding a practice sword. Here and there he gave advice-

"Not too high, fer fuck's sake. Wanna be able to see 'em!"

-or dole out a rare compliment-

"Aye, keep yer arm cocked. Gotta be ready t'bring it down on 'em once yer shield takes the hit."

-until he was satisfied. His black eyes roved from left to right... and then he barked-

"Begin!"

The two ranks crashed into each other with a cacophony of smashing, clashing arms. Mingled among the din were roars, yelps, curses, grunts. Those drew a smile from the Raggedy Man. Good. They were getting accustomed to the strain of it, for killing a man this close was no thing for weaklings. Each partnered pair had enough space around each other to pound away at each other without disturbing the next. He walked behind them all, looking for form and skill... and finding it lacking in many places.

Volunteers. Pah. You get what you pay for.

Then his head snapped around at the sound of a familiar voice. His face turned to granite as he recognized the face it belonged to. Ah, the lying little shit himself. Still practicing with his bow, ducking and weaving and snapping off shots like Vega had told them. The boy was drenched in sweat from his training. Admirable, he would think, if it weren't for Mathias being the man in question. His hand tightened around the practice sword out of instinct as he watched the boy berate some volunteer who'd got in his way. A training arrow thunked into the ground at the man's feet and-

"I said move! I'm training here!"

"Oi?!"

The savage burst of sound was so sharp that half the sparring couples stopped right away. They'd learned quickly that their instructor did not like to repeat himself. But instead of them, his ire was directed elsewhere. Short and slight though he was, Kasoria moved through any press of men easily enough. Generally speaking, they took one look at him and hurried from his path. Storm's Edge was no different. By the time he'd stopped in front of Mathias, his class had stalled and was watching the strange altercation.

"Good wi' the bow, but y'might wanna get some time wiv' a blade, boy. Not likely those fuckin' things'll all be so far youse can pop 'em from a distance." The Raggedy Man stepped closer, face as ugly as his voice became. "S'probably gonna get close an' fuckin' nasty, y'ken? I wuz you... I'd be ready fer that."

Without another word he picked up a spare sword and tossed it lightly at the archer. He turned without waiting to see if he caught it. Instead he planted himself at the end of one rank, and gestured to the empty space opposite him.

"Come n' learn somethin'."
Last edited by Kasoria on Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:11 pm, edited 2 times in total. word count: 717
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Re: Preparing for War: Go to Your Gods Like a Soldier


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6 Cylus 720 | Mathias Blackwood | Storm's Edge: Training Grounds
Ah shit, it's Karim. Mathias knew he was not the frightening swordsman's favorite person given the circumstance that had brought them both here. He certainly wasn't hoping to get his attention but what else should he have expected when he'd spent the first half of the morning watching Karim training the very idiots who walked across the target field. The worst part was that the class had stopped to watch their instructor as he closed in on Mathias who had half a mind to fire an arrow at Kasoria's feet. He knew better than that though. He remembered firing arrows at the Raggedy Man before and how it had gone then.

Before he knew what was happening a wooden sword was flying through the air. Mathias caught it with his right hand (holding his bow in his left) and then slung his bow over his shoulder. Mathias drummed his fingers along the wood as his spark recognized the material. It was a hickory wood. Nice and sturdy. The training sword was well made but it was also old. Time and hundreds of other users had cost it much of it's durability. It would survive a few hundred more sessions before it snapped if held by weak men. Maybe much less if held by a strong one. Mathias felt sorry for the sword.

"How is a blade going to help me kill something that is already close enough I can't hit it with an arrow?" Mathias inquired. He thought it was a fair question because he was working on firing arrows faster and he was indeed getting faster. He also knew that if he came at Karim with this training sword it would do him no good. He'd seen Kas with a blade before. He'd seen how fast Kas was. Mathias had rarely ever held a sword. This wouldn't be a spar, it would be a beating. "I'm getting faster with the arrows. This? I don't know how to use this." Mathias waved the sword around in the air a bit then swung it horizontally like he was cutting down an invisible tree. "And I'm not likely to learn in a few trials."

Mathias stabbed the wooden sword into the dirt and pulled three arrows from his quiver which he tried to keep between his fingers. "You wanna swing a sword at those things, be my guest. I'm gonna shoot arrows at them. I'm better at it."
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Re: Preparing for War: Go to Your Gods Like a Soldier

"When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier."


"How is a blade going to help me kill something that is already close enough I can't hit it with an arrow?"

"How the fuck do yeh think, boy?" The Raggedy Man held up his own weapon. His real weapon, this time. Shadow Slayer. Two feet of sharpened steel with a triangular head, with black runes carved into the reddish metal. He'd never found out what language they were; he just knew how to wield the enchantment the weapon carried. He let the light catch the sword, and made sure Mathias saw it. "You'd rather have summin' like this in yer hand, or yer bow? Keepin' yer distance is all well n' good... but thinkin' that the time won't ever come when yeh have to get close? Pft. S'jus' temptin' the Fates..."

Oh, but the boy wasn't done. But oh, neither was Kasoria. He knew it would be a slog, getting this little shit to swing on him. The bow fitted his nature, he supposed. From a distance, a point of safety. No blood, no mess... just a squint of an eye, a pull of a string, and twang! The problem went away. Very much not how Kasoria solved his problems. He'd seen men stuck with arrows from groin to throat, and walk them off. Hells, he'd taken three of the fuckers and here he stood. But taking a sword to a man... that was a lot more definite. And it was easier to teach in the time they had. Speaking of which-

"Y'think yer any different?" He spoke just as Mathias started to turn away. He gestured to the men and women around him. Farmers and laborers among them, as well as soldiers and tradesmen. "Some a' this lot never even touched a spear until a few trials ago. Now they're in formation. They ain't the fuckin' Etzori First an' Finest, but they're better than they were."

He had a crowd now. They both did. People were still bustling to and fro, but there was always time for gawp. Kasoria came from a place where street theater was practically an art-form; giving people a show just to needle one of them was something he'd seen before. With a roll of his eyes he threw down the sword, and let Mathias see him do it. Instead he walked over to one of the bubbling stew pots-

"Worried I'll hurt yeh? Fine. I unnerstan'. So. You 'ave yer sword-"

-and tapped off one of the foot-long wooden spoons instead.

"-an' I'll have this. Jus' t'make me point an' see to it that tomorrow, youse come down 'ere an' train, too?"

He dropped into a stance. An actual, recognizable sword-fighting stance... with his wooden spoon. Then he shrugged, and ignored the titters around him. It was more than just noise, after all. It was sentiment. It was energy. It was power. And power could always be redirected.

"Or yer too tender t'show an old man what for? Zat what yer sayin'?"

Kasoria smiled, in a way that was not quite a smile. The little gaggle of watchers swung their gazes squarely to Mathias, and awaited his answer.
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Re: Preparing for War: Go to Your Gods Like a Soldier


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6 Cylus 720 | Mathias Blackwood | Storm's Edge: Training Grounds
It took a decent amount of willpower not to roll his eyes when Kasoria lifted his real sword into the air and proclaimed that the sword in hand would be better than the bow. Both Kasoria and Mathias knew that Mathias would prefer the bow in his hand... well the bow or some ether-bolts. "It's not that I think I won't have to get close, I'm just more confident in what I can do with a bow up close than what I can do with a sword." Which at this point was just fire arrows pretty fast. Unless he was hacking a sword at something or someone as untrained as he was, trying to pinch off an arrow at a meter away would serve him better than trying to draw the sword and get into a guard. Then Kasoria tried to use the success of the other volunteers who'd stood in formation to justify the switch in weaponry. They'd had trials to practice with their instruments and while, yes, they were in formation, none of them had held that formation in battle.

None of them knew, yet, what they would do when the hellfire burned at the walls again.

Mathias knew what he would do. He'd fire arrows. He'd fire arrows and run... and he'd live because of it. Or at least he always had in the past. So in the end the other volunteers holding a untested formation did not do much to persuade the bowman to run at the swordsman with a sword. Yet it was what Kasoria did next that sealed Mathias's fate.

Pride was a deadly thing. It certainly wasn't something fit for an assassin to have. Yet Mathias had pride and when Kasoria had thrown down his sword and replaced it with a long spoon, Mathias felt the eyes of the crowd shift towards him. He'd be thought a coward now if he refused to fight the man holding a spoon. Mathias narrowed his eyes and set his bow down. He pulled the wooden sword from the dirt and looked over to Kasoria. "We both know you're not just an old man." Mathias surmised with narrow eyes towards Kas. True or not, the challenge had been made and now there was a crowd to attest to the conflict. Mathias stepped closer to Kasoria with the wooden sword in his hand. A foot long spoon was not as long as the blade so Mathias had range- something he understood well due to his bow. Yet Kasoria had skill and skill often outweighed small things like range. That was why men could fight longswords with daggers and survive.

"Leave my hands alone, I need them for the arrows and repairs." Mathias grumbled quietly so that only Kasoria would hear it despite the crowd that had formed around them. Mathias couldn't recognize what stance Kasoria was in because he had no knowledge of swordplay. Then Mathias lunged, stabbing towards Kasoria with the wooden training sword.
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Re: Preparing for War: Go to Your Gods Like a Soldier

He wanted to hurt him. Of course he did. The little cunt had lied to him. Well... omitted. Which was just as bad, if deployed effectively, which Mathias fucking well had. Kasoria had made it clear he fought for coin, and Mathias had never set him straight. Mayhap he didn't know himself? Were they both deceived or mistaken?

Kasoria didn't believe so. If the boy had been recruiting, he'd likely known the score and the skinny, as it were. So he'd omitted. Now the two of them and many more would maybe die for fuck all. Kasoria owed him pain for that.

It would have been so easy, too. So simple. Even as Mathias lunged forwards, the Raggedy Man's mind whirred into high gear. Precise tactical engine that it was, he saw a dozen counters and parries and blocks before the wooden stick even reached his chest. The time it took for Kasoria to blink, and he'd made his decision. But oh... oh, it was tempting. Especially when the boy came in too fast and it would have been the work of nothing to-

-pivot and knocked the blade aside with his left, continuing to spin with the motion-

-letting Mathias stumble past and behind him-

-spin ending when he broke that spoon across the back of his head and sent him skidding into the mud. Dirty, bruised, seeing stars and spitting offal in front of a laughing class of volunteers.

He could have done that. He wanted to do that. But he recognized... no, he understood, that he had other duties. Other responsibilities. The boy could wait until later for Kasoria to get his satisfaction. Right now, they were close to battle and needed every hand steady and eye sharp. So Kasoria suppressed a sigh and instead of unleashing his full capability he-

Took a step back. And Mathias staggered forwards, his thrust striking nothing-

-into a light rap on the forehead from the spoon.

"Sloppy, boy." A titter went about the crowd watching, but Kasoria ignored them. Only a fool or a death-seeker took his eyes off his opponent in a fight. He waited for Mathias to shake the stars from his eyes before continuing. "You thrust. You don't lunge. Not yet, anyway. Y'don't have the balance fer it." He demonstrated quickly, with his spoon. Even with that, his form was solid, efficient, and with every blink-quick straightening of his arm... his feet didn't move. "Dun' over-commit to a strike, not ever. 'specially 'gainst someone who might know what they're doin'. Now..."

He couldn't help but show off. Just a little bit. He tossed the spoon to his other hand, switched his stance, and regarded Mathias again.

Always helps to be as good with either hand.

"Try again. But watch yer feet, an' mind yer balance."

This time, he might hurt him. But for now, his job was to learn 'im.
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Mathias Blackwood
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Re: Preparing for War: Go to Your Gods Like a Soldier


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6 Cylus 720 | Mathias Blackwood | Storm's Edge: Training Grounds
The tap was far more irritating to Mathias than any other show of force would have been. It signaled to the younger killer exactly what would come of this session. Mathias stood upright and his eyes narrowed at Kasoria. He could hear the others around them whispering to each other and even if he couldn't hear the words, he had a pretty clear idea what they were saying. Mathias grip on the stone sword tightened. He could bolster the wood to make it harder, to make it hurt like steel when he hit Kasoria with it. There was only one flaw in that plan... he would have to hit Kasoria. Otherwise the ether would be wasted and in a matter of breaks the sword might decay away. Magic wouldn't solve this. Skill couldn't solve it. So Mathias would endure and plot his revenge.

His disdain did not mean that he did not listen to Kasoria. On the contrary it meant he listened closely to what the Raggedy Bastard said. Kasoria knew what he was doing and if he was giving lessons, Mathias was taking them. Sloppy he understood, he rarely took up a sword. He rarely needed to. Thrust, don't lunge. Mathias watched Kasoria demonstrate and then Mathias attempted to replicate it to the side, not at Kasoria. He wanted to get a feel for it before going at the man again. So less forward force with his leg, more with his arm. Kasoria changed hands with his spoon and Mathias shifted his stance to make himself a little sturdier before leveling the wooden sword at Kasoria. The Cylus trials were dark and the eyes had a habit of adjusting to that darkness... so Mathias had one dirty move left.

Mathias knew that when he thrust the sword he'd get more than a tap this time but he didn't know exactly what the Raggedy Man would do. He didn't thrust the sword this time, instead he swung it. It was a small swing, he'd leveled the wooden sword towards the spoon and inched forward on his feet till he thought he was close enough and then with almost a flick of his wrist he sought to knock Kasoria's spoon aside to open his midsection for the following thrust, but fortune did not favor the bold. It favored the skilled.
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Re: Preparing for War: Go to Your Gods Like a Soldier

He had to admit, the little shit almost had him. Always an education when that happened. Went to prove that even an amateur could fox you sometimes; because through sheer lack of skill, they had so much to draw from in finding ways to surprise you. A man with skill, with training, with experience, well, you could corral him into categories and extrapolate what to expect from him in a fight. But someone who had little of any with the weapon to hand? Anything could happen. And almost did.

Kasoria grumbled internally as the boy came on again, more cautiously, sturdier and well-balanced... but he could almost smell the uncertainty wafting off him. He'd been burned before and didn't want to come forth, yet he had to. So Kasoria concocted a quick little something for when he-

-finally moved, but it wasn't a thrust or a stab, it came to the side and-

WHACK

It was the stupid damn length of the spoon that did it. With a sword, even a gladius, the length of the hilt would have helped him. Kept that blow further up the length of it. No such benefit with a wooden fucking spoon. So Mathias' little tap to his "weapon" actually smacked against his knuckles at the same time. A spasm of pain, a grunt of surprised anger, and Kasoria felt his balance and focus slacken because of it-

He could have had him. Could have, but he was still so new to this. Still not quite as fluid, not quite as confident as one needed to be to properly capitalize on a wounded, surprised enemy.

The budding swordsman drew back the training sword for the follow-up thrust. But again, the movements were mechanical. Much like Kasoria had been with arrows and bow, in fact. None of the seamless, flowing motion he'd seen with Vega and Mathias, practiced countless times until every element of wielding a bow was one single movement. Now Mathias probably had some idea of how stilted Kasoria felt when he was holding that damned stick with a string on it. There was the slightest pause, the merest hesitation as the boy drew back, re-settled himself, then thrust-

-time enough for Kasoria's hand to lash out, no chains imposed on his reflexes anymore, arm moving in a blink-fast blur-

-grabbing the practice sword around the middle and stopping it a handful of inches before it struck his chest, only it didn't stop because-

-Kasoria spun and dropped at the same time, ripping the wooden sword out of the boy's hand-

-leg swinging out and knocking his own from under him as he did-

-and when Mathias looked up after a bleary trill or two from his back, he'd see Kasoria's spin stop, with the Raggedy Man smiling crookedly down at him... and offering him the hilt of his sword.

"Not bad, boy. But next time? Dun' draw back. Dun' waste any time, nod even a trill. That tap on the wrist? That was yer window. Could slashed across me chest or opened up me neck wiv' yer riposte. But instead, yeh drew back, went for a thrust... an' that gave me the trill I needed t'counter yeh."

When the boy gripped the hilt and he started to hoist him back up, Kasoria was tempted to just let him go. Send him ass-first back into the much and get a cheap laugh from the crowd. But... he'd been impressed. The boy learned quick and he fought dirty and hells, how could he not appreciate that? So instead he pulled him back up and let go of the sword when Mathias was standing. He stepped back a few feet and then nodded.

"A'right. Last test fer now." He held out his arm and with a slow exhale, drew the ether from his Spark and fashioned a buckler-sized Shield across his forearm. Mathias could see it, looking like frosted glass and glacier ice. Things behind it blurry and indistinct. Hidden. "Show me how yeh'd get around a shield..."
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