• Memory • Shield Drills (Graded)

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Yanahalqah
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Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2016 5:21 pm
Race: Yludih
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Shield Drills (Graded)

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Ashan 35th of Arc 711

“Shields up!” the yelled order came.

Two dozen arms rose in semi-unison, lifting the circles of wood and metal into a protective position. Grunts escaped from the lips of many present in the courtyard, each stifled and quietened. On their own, the individual noises from exertion wouldn’t have been that audible. However, they escaped together, holding onto each other and forming a mass. Becoming more than the sum of their parts. Louder. Noticeable. Like the groan of a giant.

A perfect demonstration of what was expected of the trainees themselves. Become one with their fellows, develop a combined strength larger than any of them could attain on their own.

“Swords ready!” Her voice was louder still. Cracking like a whip, slashing through the cacophony of grunts and growls and groans.

Two dozen arms not belonging to those holding shields snapped into position. The wooden blades pointed threateningly. Dull and dirty, surface riddled with scratches and notches, but sturdy, and most suited for the task at hand. The faces of those holding them were focused. Some inflated their cheeks as they breathed in and out deep and slow, mentally preparing. Feet shifted on the gravel of the court, seeking the right stance. Shoulder width, knees lightly bent. One leg forward, one back. The heel of the latter not touching down. Calf and thigh of that limb tense, ready to push off. To propel the body forward. Most of the weight rested on it.

The shield-bearers held an identical stance. Muscles not ready for forward movement, but to steady the body, to push back against impacts that would force them back. A rock to brace against. Yet, it did not render them immobile. The stance was balanced, allowing for weight to be shifted in an instant. Push off with either foot, move in either direction. Launch yourself a distance equal to a large step, then fall back into the stance. Ready for the next action, be it taken immediately after, or several moments later.

“Begin!”

Like hailstones, wooden blades rained down blows on the surface of the shields. Thunderous. Impacts of wood on wood, on metal, and occasionally, on flesh. Often a cry of pain erupted from the victim, but no command to pause came from above. No breaking of the rhythm occurred. The sword-wielders kept going, and the shield-bearers endured.

Stab! Stab! Downward slash! Downward slash!

An easy pattern to remember, yet it encompassed all the attacks to be executed when in formation. Protected by the shield of yourself and your neighbors, there was little space left for wide and flashy attacks. No wild swordplay, no dancing blades while you clashed with the enemy. You remained in formation, a barrier of hard wood and metal that kept you safe. From the slits between shields you launched attacks. Quick stabs with a short sword, targeting unarmored areas of the opponent’s body. A swift slash downward to hammer on shields, try to bypass it or make them move it. Or stab their legs if you could. A crippled soldier was just as good as a dead one.

More was not required. All you needed to do was fall in step with your brothers- and sisters-in-arms, hold your shield up, stab at any opponent that go too close, and not break formation. As long as the formation remained, it was a suit of armor impenetrable by even the best swordsman, the finest archer, the fiercest assault. Allow gaps to form in the wall of shields and you died. Only one weak spot was needed, only one weak link.

Break formation and you died. The swordsmanship taught only covered the basics. Basic forms of attack and defense. Enough to hold your own against the common bandit, poacher, and other soldier. Not nearly as potent when facing off with a true warrior.

The goal was to raise a lot of decent fighters in a short amount of time. Soldiers to serve as infantry in the army. Soldier who listened to commands, who relied on their squadmates. Able to protect the citizens from the most common threats outside the city walls. To patrol the roads and repel invaders. To die for Etzos and take as many threats with them as they could.

Not to duel with masters of the blade.

An army’s true power came not from the strength of its individual soldiers, but from the coordination and teamwork. Like an ant colony.

Much like a colony of insects, the death of one soldier was no drama. In battle, there was no time to stop and mourn. When an ally fell, you stepped over their corpse, and took their spot. No hesitation. Immediate action. Leave no gaps in the line. Only after the battle was won you could pause and weep for the fallen. Gather the bodies, bury them, show respect for their sacrifice. Keep them in mind in the next battle, a vision of your own fate, should you falter. Should your shield drop too low, should your reactions be too slow.

That was what they were training for. Sweating and panting and puffing. Practice swords banging on shields. Drumming the rhythm of the specified attacks.

Stab! Stab! Downward slash! Downward slash!

Yana felt every hit, every strike of the dull blade on her shield. The force traveled into her arm. Up to the shoulder. Crystal muscle wavering with each successive hit. Straining to hold the disk of wood and metal up, to keep it in position. She didn’t want to be struck again. Days ago her arm had given up, too tired to keep going. The shield dipped, and the wooden practice sword had impacted her shoulder. Her illusion still showed a big ugly bruise, and that part of her body had not completely recovered yet. Another such blow would do even more damage.

So she fought. Struggled. With grit teeth and labored breathing. Trying to shrug off the blows that hammered down on her shield, trying to ignore her arm seemingly weakening with each. Growing heavier and heavier. Biting through the pain that flared as the shock reached her shoulder. Moving the shield back in place each time it was knocked aside even just a little. Again and again and again. For what seemed like an eternity.

If she had the time, Yana might have glanced around, seeing the other shield-bearers mirror her struggle. All of them were tired. This drill was only the latest of many today. The latest round of abuse their shield-arm had to take. Yet they were not the only ones exhausted.

Those swinging the practice blades were suffering as well. Faces red, nostrils flared. Knuckles white. Hands and arms trembling each time they prepared for the next strike. Sweating. Chest heaving. Gasping for air in short bursts. Yet they kept at it. They had no choice. Drillmistress Jeesa drove the recruits to the brink, and punished all those who failed to keep up. Nay, those that gave up. Failing to keep pace with the rest was something she chose to ignore. As long as you continued with the exercise to the best of your ability. If you weren’t being lazy.

Because she could tell. Oh yes, she could tell.

Naturally, the whole group was punished for the failings of one. To inspire teamwork and comradery. To breed trust. In the midst of battle, a soldier needed to be able to rely on their fellows. It was absolutely necessary. Or so Jeesa said. None of the cadets saw it her way, preferring to not be punished for something that had nothing to do with them. The unlucky few that caused group punishments were despised by all as a result. No-one wanted to be hated. No-one wanted to be the cause of more drills. Of midnight runs. Of sleep without a meal. Of no sleep whatsoever.

As such, no-one gave up. Everyone swung their sword tenaciously, refusing to stop until the command to stop was given. Or until they’d drop unconscious from exhaustion, whichever came first.

No-one wanted to be the weakest link.

Stab! Stab! Downward slash! Downward slash!

“STOOOOP!” Jeesa’s voice boomed from up high. Rough and grating, but sounding merciful and angelic to the tired cadets. A ripple of relieved sighs and moans swept through the courtyard. All trainees then immediately straightened up, stiff like a candle, facing the drillmistress. They knew what was coming, and waited expectantly. Hopes high.

“Two minutes break!” she spoke. The setting sun at her back created the illusion of a celestial creature, a paragon of kindness bestowing her boon on the exhausted masses.

Most of the trainees plopped down instantly. Yana was no exception. They had learned to use every free moment they had to rest. As a cadet, many drills and exercises came at odd times of day, sometimes during the night. One of the first things to learn was discipline, obeying orders, and being ready at any time. Without a regular schedule, you could never be sure when your next chance for sleep would come. It was better to rest whenever possible.

She laid back for the few moments, all limbs thanking her profusely. As a Yludih she didn’t need to breathe –though she often did anyway—so running out of breath wasn’t really an issue. Still, there was only so much exertion her body could take. She got tired like everyone else.

Up on the wooden watch-tower like structure stood drillmistress Jeesa leaning on the railing, eyes to the sunset. Calculating how many hours –or rather minutes—of light were remaining. She straightened, and Yana hear a mumbling from the few cadets around her who’d, like herself, kept an eye on their superior. As feared, the rugged woman straightened, and once again her voice boomed.

The passing of time always felt too fast during moments of rest. During exercise, it slowed to a crawl. It wasn’t fair. A cruel trick played upon the mortals by the dastardly Immortals.

“Break’s over!” Jeesa yelled as expected. “Retake your positions! Swap swords and shields!”

Everyone got to their feet with the necessary groaning, though no-one complained. No-one dared to. Yana nodded to her partner, handing the boy her hefty shield, and he her his dented blade. It felt light as a feather compared to the protective disk. She knew it wouldn’t take long for the lightweight wood to turn to lead though. Her boots scraped across the gravel as she assumed the correct stance.

“Shields up!”


word count: 1776
"Speaking" - Thinking - "Others speaking"
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Doran
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Re: Shield Drills

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Yana:

Knowledge:
5x Shield: shield drills
1x Blades (short sword): shield drills

Loot: --
Wealth: -
Injuries: -
Renown: -
Magic XP: -
Skill Review: Appropriate to level.
Points: 10
- - -
Comments: This was a straight-forward training thread. You wrote about the training in quite some detail and mentioned how the other trainees reacted which is something that I like. Everything felt fairly realistic to me. You even mentioned that Yana struggled and was in pain! The only part of the thread that confused me a little was the beginning. I thought that Yana was the trainer at first because you wrote “she” instead of using a name. That’s only a minor issue though!

Enjoy your rewards!
word count: 113

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