• Graded • In Our Spar(e) Time

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Darius Baer Bottom
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In Our Spar(e) Time

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Arc 720, 65th of Ashan
Darius' fingertips slid beneath the top layer of sand, feeling the grains as they slid over his digits and rolling them gently between finger and thumb. The bearded blond, who was crouched in a squatting position, closed his hand into a fist and raised it so that he could see the sand slip out and back onto the surface of the training area.

He stood then, casting his eyes skywards as he heard droplets of rain water crashing harmlessly against the brown awning that formed a drooping ceiling above.

He was at The Proving Ground, where he hoped to find an opponent to train with. He had been to the venue several times before, but that had been almost exclusively as a curious spectator. This time, he was looking for a fight.

Darius wore a pair of loose leggings to aid with flexibility and his range of movement, the darkness of the material only serving to highlight how much his upper body needed to be exposed to a bit more sunlight.

He walked barefoot across the sparring area, passing a man and woman who were dueling with wooden practice swords. The loud clack of each hit echoed across the space as they sparred, until the woman managed to use her weapon to sweep the man's legs out from beneath him, and he crashed onto his back with a grunt. His opponent triumphantly held the wooden stick to his chest and he raised his arms in surrender; her victory drew applause from some of the spectators who were scattered around the arena.

Upon reaching the other side, Darius signed his name on the register to indicate that he was seeking a similarly unskilled opponent. Then he set about doing some stretches so as to keep himself warm and not cause himself a self-inflicted injury with cold, tight muscles.
Last edited by Darius Baer Bottom on Wed Oct 28, 2020 10:44 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 314
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Nir'wei
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Re: In Our Spar(e) Time

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"You understand that this is most unusual," Silk muttered in a soft but polite tone as she led the way towards the Proving Ground, arms neatly folded behind her back, where a stout blade hung sheathed just under the curve of her long tail. "If you wished for proper tutelage, I'd be all too happy to assist. Things like these, barely more than bare-knuckle brawls, they tend to prioritise function over form, and as such are often lacking when facing something more... ahem, schooled." Silk did very well keeping the disapproval from her voice as she spoke, but he knew it was there; she hadn't stopped voicing her protest from the moment he'd requested she show him the way to a fighting ground, and yet she still did it anyway, without so much as a pause. Slavery was a queer thing to the mind. He wondered if Faith suffered the same ailment, this natural compliance to authority, any authority, so easy as breathing it seemed. What would she do if he asked her to shank herself with that wicked-looking blade? Would she even hesitate?

Through the smattering of rain, Silk suddenly raised her hand and pointed to a wide, squat-looking building currently rife with thick brown awnings like the leathered wings of some giant bat. Even from a distance, and over the white noise of raindrops, he could make out loud grunts, the scuffles of bodies, and the occasional clash of metal. "Find somewhere comfortable to take a seat." Silk raised an scaled eyeridge. "Well you can't join me in the pits. I'll be fine; you know I'm never alone." At that, she rolled her eyes slightly, but gave a resigned sigh. She couldn't see them, but they both knew they were there. Nine pairs of eyes floating around his head.

Once they reached the grounds, she found the stairs and chose a choice seat at the front of the second floor, doing her best to look relaxed and disinterested, and failing miserably. Nir'wei, meanwhile, watched the various fighters and younglings occasionally congregating at a corner of the fenced arena, and eventually shuffled indiscriminately towards them, eventually finding a record book of sorts that they were all signing. There were all kinds of different activities one could sign up for here, it seemed - and at all levels of skill.

He almost wanted to jump straight into some sword-fighting, feeling confident he could make a match for someone of moderate skill... until a gentle nudge reminded him of the eyes watching from up above. If he dared to pick up even a training sword, he had a feeling that she'd try and intervene in some way; something about how even blunt swords could pack a mean punch if delivered to the top of the skull. Instead, he traced his finger through the list of unarmed combatants. "Darius?" he finally called out. "Darius Baer?"

If Darius looked prepared for a fight, shirtless and stretched, Nir'wei looked anything but. He wore a dirty buttoned shirt, once white but clearly thoroughly used in ways it had no right to be. His brown trousers faired no better, looking all the world like he'd made some rough attempt at appearing smart and formal, but had then been dragged through half a forest on his face. His Charm of Anonymity and Charm of Peace were woven into his long hair, which hung loose past his shoulders... and his scratchy, unkempt beard desperately needed a trim. "Come on. This one, perhaps?" Not knowing any better, he decided to grab the nearest flat square of sand he could catch, digging his bare toes into the grains as if he could root himself like a tree while he flexed his fingers in anticipation. "You know, it's my first time doing this? Fighting, I mean. Fighting for fun. Is it for fun?" He shook his head suddenly. "Never done this before without some sort of danger. It's like setting yourself on fire to keep yourself warm, you know."
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Re: In Our Spar(e) Time

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Darius was partway through his stretches when he thought he heard something. It was the kind of thing that hung in the air, his brain trying to place its use, even though he had not expected to hear it so soon. And then it came again, and the bearded blond lifted his dark grey gaze to see another in the arena looking at him. So...it was his name that had been called.

He squinted as he took in the sight of the rather scraggly, short opponent, who appeared to be willing to fight him. The man's hair was a mess, as were his clothes, and his scruffy appearance led Darius to assume that he'd already had a few rounds in the sand. That meant he was probably more experienced than the seafarer, but so were most people.

"I'm Darius," he said, and he moved to greet his prospective opponent. "Good trial to you."

He felt there was no harm in being polite, even if he was about to fight the man.

"And you are...?"

Introductions were important. Darius wanted to know his opponent's name, in case he wanted to look for it - or avoid it - the next time he looked at the register.

"Are you ready?" he asked casually, his gravelly voice matching the sand they were standing on. "Do you need to warm up?"

Despite looking like he'd been wrestling at the arena all morning, Nir'wei didn't look out of breath, so the question felt warranted. Darius continued a few stretches of his own, but he gave the man space in case he needed to do some exercises. He certainly wouldn't be accused of being an impolite combatant!
Last edited by Darius Baer Bottom on Sun May 17, 2020 12:52 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 288
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Re: In Our Spar(e) Time

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"Good trial to you as well, Darius." Nir'wei shone a small, coy smile. "They call me Qat'tail, but I mostly go by Qat, to soothe their tongues." The name Qit'ria had immediately come to mind as a good Sev'ryn disguise, and shuffling a few words for a more masculine alternative took no time at all. How many names had he already burned through? Would it ever be wise, using the same name twice, in case someone started to piece together that multiple faces were appearing under one name? Concerns for another time, to be mulled over properly. For now, his mind needed to remain as clear as possible.

Prey, Archailist suddenly announced in his head, throwing him off so suddenly that he almost missed the question. Sense of Prey was still a strange thing to him, but he obligingly used it quickly, looking the other man up and down subtly. Like a rabbit. He had to admit, he was slightly astonished. He'd never felt someone like this before. "Ahh, yes. I always forget the stretches. One day it will be the death of me, I promise," he said as he pulled both arms behind his head in a rather exaggerated expression. A rabbit! If anyone had looked at them both without a clue of their identities they would have quite rightly assumed that Nir'wei would be the one about to be beaten to a pulp. Yet he swore the man had all the sense of danger as a damn rabbit!

"Focus," Grey growled softly in one ear. "If he is a rabbit then you are a mouse. Do not put so much trust in your opponent's lack of ability that you forget the lack of yours." Archailist retorted something softly and he could hear the distant thundering of an argument in the back of his skull as he stretched his legs and cracked the joints in his knuckles. He thought they were done, but a quiet whisper in the back of his head held the unmistakable teasing tone of the spirit-squirrel as he finally finished his little warm-up exercises. Try not to transform into a wolf mid-fight. The last time he'd really put his back into these kinds of physical combat, he'd been trapped in a feral body. As frustrating, and moreover, as embarrassing as it was to admit - the advice was a reminder that he needed to keep in mind. If things went south, he'd need to grit his teeth and brave it.

"Alright. Ready when you are." In a crude approximation of what he'd seen some of the other fighters do, he raised both fists roughly near his chest and inched menacingly closer to Darius.
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Re: In Our Spar(e) Time

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"Well met, Qat," Darius nodded, greeting the man in his deep, gravelly voice.

As he patiently waited for his opponent to warm up, he completed an extra few stretches himself, swinging his arms in gentle circles in an effort to limber up. Then he raised his hands like a boxer might, though he didn't form fists, for this was not merely a boxing match. In his very limited experience, such sparring sessions usually started as such, but could often end in rather messy wrestling matches in the sand.

He edged towards his opponent, an inch at a time, the sand buckling beneath the weight of his feet. He led with one leg and his off hand, as he imagined a boxer might, but without the fluidity or panache of an acclaimed fighter. His movements were slow and cautious, for he didn't know what to expect from his rival. He had never met Qat before, nor heard of his exploits at the Proving Ground. There were names, of course, that held certain weight; fighters who had earned renown for their skills on the sand. They were the fighters Darius wanted to avoid, for he would be sorely outmatched.

He edged slightly to the side, beginning to move around Qat, ever so slowly encircling him so that he would be forced to turn and adjust his position. And then he put out a couple of feelers. Light jabs, not intended to have much of an impact, but simply to check his reach and test the other man's reaction speed.
Last edited by Darius Baer Bottom on Tue Jun 30, 2020 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 260
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Re: In Our Spar(e) Time

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They both shuffled cautiously towards one-another, hands raised protectively to prepare for an incoming attack. Once they ran out of room and came close to touching fists, instead Darius began shuffling to the side, as if thinking that he could inch his way behind Nir'wei one quarter-step at a time. Slightly unsure how to respond, he just turned slightly to face him each time, watching as he threw light punches that didn't even come close to grazing his hand. Maybe it was his fault for not understanding the proper rules of engagement and learning pretty much everything he knew from little more than instinct and crude imitations of his opponents and peers.

To him, however, all of this just felt like two songbirds hopping around one-another in a mating ritual.

Maybe it was the bias that came with Sense of Prey, now constantly screaming in his head that this was prey to be taken. Or it was just the constant feeling of wrongness that now permeated his whole body when he tried so desperately to accomplish something that would have already been dealt with on four. Maybe it was the silent knowledge that somewhere, deep in the recesses of his mind, there were four very disapproving wolves. Why was he even trying to fight like a human? Because Silk was watching from a distance, waiting for them to finish so that she could pull out a notebook and meticulously bulletpoint all the different ways he'd done it wrong?

What did all of that matter if he just let go and tried to win, instead of holding back in the interests of fighting like just another human?

A growl began to build in his throat. Hopefully Darius wouldn't notice the very canine-looking fangs in his mouth that he unfortunately couldn't control or retract. At least he could stop his top lip from curling like an animal. He'd just have to apologise later for his rather impolite demeanour.

Nir'wei swung for Darius. It wasn't a light jab, or even a straight-forward punch as he'd seen many of the boxers do with their corkscrewing of the fist and all that nonsense. It was more like a wide, arcing swipe, with an open palm and his fingers pulled back... and he went straight for the side of Darius' head. The moment it was done, the other arm followed up, swiping upwards for the neck. Then a third swipe, back towards the face. It was quite clear that he wasn't putting so much care into the accuracy into the blows, but there was no doubt he was throwing all his weight behind each one - and that cautious self-preservation he'd exhibited just moments ago was completely out of the window.

He wasn't a stranger to being punched, stabbed, burned, all of it. Now, he'd rely on that to see him through.
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Re: In Our Spar(e) Time

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Darius was, of course, oblivious to his opponent's inner struggle. He was only at the Proving Ground to spar with someone and hopefully learn a thing or two. He had no conflicting thoughts to distract him.

Perhaps that was how he managed to avoid Nir'wei's initial strike, and then his second. The man had growled, and Darius had heard the noise, but he had not thought anything of it. It wasn't uncommon for a fighter to make a grunting or growling noise in the heat of combat.

The growl did put him on guard, however. It suggested an attack would soon be coming, and so it proved to be.

Darius thought he was ready.

But Qat, as he knew him, was fast. Flinching, the bearded blond stepped back to avoid the attack, escaping the man's reach. That proved effective for the first two attacks, but, having not expected a third, he misjudged his timing.

Stepping closer, he took an open handed strike to the face. The impact was loud, and he turned away, feeling the sting against his cheek that was sure to leave a mark.

Darius stepped back once more, then composed himself and raised his guard once more. He held back this time, inviting his opponent to come to him. This time, he would let Qat move to strike first, with every intention to throw a punch at whichever opening the man's wild attack would reveal.

He braced himself for the pain to come. He had gone to the Proving Ground to spar, but it seemed the other human was there to fight.
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Re: In Our Spar(e) Time

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There was nothing particularly flashy or even competent in the swings and blows, but there was at least a modicum of power - and as with all things, Nir'wei prioritised quantity. In the end, it got what he wanted. It didn't even matter that the third blow connected, though it certainly helped that the open, direct contact left Darius staggering and gave a chance for Nir'wei to pause and catch his breath for a few precious seconds. A better fighter would have used it to their advantage and pressed straight through to an early victory, but instincts grabbed him by the ears and forcefully reminded him how pushing his offensive too hard could leave him open for a brutal counter-attack. It would be more prudent to prepare himself for retaliation and wait for the next opening to seize.

Except there was none. As Nir'wei braced himself, Darius only raised his forearms, right back into the same position as before. Waiting for another flurry to try and anticipate and counter, perhaps? There was surely no way he'd fall for the exact same trick again, not after literally just seeing it.

He paused perhaps a little too long, hesitating in thought. How to bait him out? But why bother baiting at all?! He was falling into old habits, trying to manipulae and deceive and play this fight like a game of chess - it wasn't some game of knowledge to be beaten by moves and positioning, this was a real fight where nothing but strength and speed and grit promised survival. That deep, rumbling growl began in his throat again as he prepared for another assault, and then he lunged, aiming straight for the face with an open strike.

Darius was going to step back to avoid it, he'd stepped back every time before now since he didn't dare try to deflect the attack or push into the momentum. He'd use this and throw himself forwards immediately, another careless swing for the gut, then another wide swing for the shoulder, then another for the opposite side of the face. Leave no room to react and chase him when he stepped backwards over and over to escape the barrage. He'd sacrifice his own solid footing if it meant he could get a solid hit; after all it meant that as long as it connected, he could brace himself in the brief calm and launch another attack from there!
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Re: In Our Spar(e) Time

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Nir'wei had read the situation well. In his guise as Qat, the fighter was not easily fooled, and he had a strong understanding of the tactics of war.

Darius, meanwhile, did not.

He had guts - even he could reluctantly admit to that - but it would take more than a dose of bravery to overcome his opposition. It was rapidly dawning on him that he was outmatched, and if he didn't find an advantage he could use, the sparring session would be finished almost before it had begun.

Initially, Darius' plan seemed to be working. He had at least managed to lure Qat into an attack, but that was largely where the good news ended. There had been a brief pause from the fighter, but Darius had waited...and then the strikes came. They were swift, and whether the seafarer had planned to step back was irrelevant, for his opponent's onslaught ensured he did precisely that.

He instinctively raised his arms further as the first strike came in, and he felt the jarring blow of the man's knuckles against his forearm. In doing so, he protected his face from the first punch, but left his torso entirely exposed for the second. The blond human could feel the air escape him as he took the hit, and he reeled away to the side, which in turn gifted him the unexpected boon of escaping Qat's subsequent wild swings.

Darius was still trying to ignore the pain in his stomach as he he realised he could not hold back any longer. As skilled a fighter as Qat clearly was, and despite feeling outmatched, the bearded blond quickly realised he could not win - or learn - if he did not go on the offensive.

And so he did, launching himself at his rival. He did so, not realising that Nir'wei's footing was not what it could have been. But the seafarer did not throw any punches. Rather, he relied on his larger frame to aid him in his effort to tackle his opponent, his boots digging into the sand and desperately seeking purchase. He ducked his head and led with his shoulder, hoping that if he could pin his opponent, he could then land some punches of his own.
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Re: In Our Spar(e) Time

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His fingers ached from the force of the impact. Blow after blow, hit or miss, were taking their toll on his muscles - the kicked-up dust made it difficult to catch his breath and showing a moment of hesitation or weakness would open the gates to a counter-attack he knew he wouldn't be able to fend off. This had become a dangerous game, now. Push too far and over-exert himself, and he didn't like to think what havoc Darius could do, learning from all the blows he'd landed so far.

Having sacrificed his good footing to land a solid blow under the ribs, sure that Darius would need a moment to recover from such a hit, Nir'wei prepared to back away again under the guise of good will; giving his opponent a moment to catch his breath and prepare himself for the next onslaught. In fact, when Darius ducked, a brief moment of panic shot through his thoughts like a stray arrow. Had he gone too far with that last barrage; was his opponent about to faint? Darius, whether he'd intended it or not, couldn't have asked for a better opening. He wasn't just thrown backwards; Nir'wei was quite literally launched from his feet and tossed straight into the ground, with the sand of the pit only slightly cushioning his fall, but still hitting hard enough to knock the air from his lungs.

Choking on his own spit and trying to suck in a fresh gulp of air, he was helpless in this position and they both knew it. Grappling had never been his strong suit, due to his significant lack of size and limited flexibility to pull off the breakaway manoeuvres of the skilled artists. One forearm crossed over his chest and the other over his face in the desperate hopes of fending off any body-blows while his legs kicked at the sand and tried to find some purchase to throw Darius off. Damn it all, the man was a solid foot taller and felt like he weighed double; it felt like the tables had completely turned against his favour.

In fact, it almost felt like just allowing Darius to get him into this position had ensured his total loss.
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