The First Battle

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The First Battle

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38th Zi'da, 716
"Padraig, you're being silly." She looked at him and she smiled, her expression showing that she meant it most genuinely as she handed him back the parchment. "It's just a boy, seven arcs old. I'm sure he's adorable. Why such short notice though?" She hadn't read all of it, evidently. If she had, she'd have known that the boy he was asked to tutor had been due to see a different tutor who had pulled out at the last minute. Since he was known as someone who had been hired by a fellow noble (it was probably a good job that she hadn't read the bit about it being 'only' for a slave, but in truth, she wouldn't care), he was requested.

"So, you are telling me that for a seven arc old child you feel the need to pull in some moral support?" She looked amused and teasing until, finally, she realised that he wasn't joking. "Padraig, are you serious? Oh, I had no idea, of course I'll come with you and help you." She looked contrite as she spoke, her hand moving to his arm and squeezing with gentle reassurance. "You don't need it, not for a single trill, but I'll be delighted to help. Where are we going?" He was very good with people, kind and calm, but if the idea of teaching a child unnerved him, then she would be there to help.

FIrst things first, though, they packed up what they needed, putting it into the magic bag she had and then they made their way. Lifting her hand to the almost non-existent brand on her neck, she bumped her arm against him as they walked, arm in arm. "I don't suppose I can suggest that you pretend I'm your slave in case it's Tabitha mark two, can I? Not these trials." It was miraculous to her, but there was no doubting it ~ the brands were disappearing, as were the scars which marked her skin. It mattered more to her than she might have thought it would and it was a source of happiness which she could not easily contain.

It was a delight to walk with him, arms linked together as they made their way through the streets. They were meeting the child in the training grounds, so they made their way there. She wondered if he had any idea of just how little experience with children she had, other than with Elsie, of course, but even that was very limited and rightly so. Malcolm and Lady Elyna wanted to parent their daughter themselves. As her mind flittered to it, she said "I think everything is packed for the vacation. I'm so excited, Padraig, I might pop. Thank you. It's such a wonderful idea and I'm so excited. I love you and how romantic you are, how thoughtful you are. I also adore and find very cute the fact that you are a little odd. I think it's over here." The smile on her face told the truth of just how much she adored him, but also, just how odd he was.

The training ground was, indeed, over there and so they arrived, ready to meet the child. It was immediately obvious who he was here to teach, there was a young boy there who was looking about as bored as it was possible to look whilst being awake. Which he was, but barely. He looked at them as they walked up and his expression was one of utter disdain.

"Are you the tutor? I was hoping you wouldn't show up. How would you like to pop back home and I'll tell mother we had a very useful session. What say you?"

He seemed serious. Faith glanced at Padraig and figured that, as the one getting paid for this, he should probably answer.
word count: 672
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

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"I'm not being silly," Padraig had maintained while he gathered up what he'd need for the lesson. "They're the worst kind." Seven arc old children, he meant. Boy, girl, didn't matter. They were more than old enough to break out of whatever containers their parents had made for them to stop them wandering and getting underfoot. Cribs, pens. Tethers. But just old enough to talk too much, run roughshod over cleanliness and acceptable behavior, and overall, make a general nuisance of themselves.

Not long after the letter had arrived, the boy's father had sent over a bundle of wooden practice swords, and Padraig shoved them into the sack. "Apparently the tutor they'd arranged for him, begged out at the last minute." Smart man, or woman. "I'm not sure why I agreed to do it." Except that he needed the money of course. "We're meeting at the training grounds," he added as they prepared to leave.

"I need the help," he insisted as they walked along. "You're a woman. Don't you have an instinct for this sort of thing?" The topic of their impending time away from Andaris was a much more agreeable one, and he smiled a little, finding her excitement contagious. "I thought you'd like it. To go as we please, where we please. I haven't done much traveling myself, except out of necessity."

He was about to ask her just what it was about him that was odd. But then they arrived at the field and his student came into view. A sense of dread, that's what he felt. A kid of ordinary height and weight with medium brown hair, dark eyes. He was dressed entirely too well to make for sensible training. And somehow in spite of his lack of stature, he managed to peer down his nose at them both.

"I'm your tutor, yes," he said. "My name is Padraig and this is Faith. She'll be my assistant this trial." That look of disdain endured and swept over them both. Their names? What did that matter?

"And you must be Simon," Padraig added, trying his very best to smile and engage the kid. "Clever, that's you," Simon said. And Padraig was fairly sure the kid rolled his eyes at them both. His jaw tightened and he glanced at Faith as if he was wondering, why didn't anyone throw this one back so soon as it was born? "Is that your mother?" he asked instead, glancing in the direction of a well dressed young woman seated on a nearby bench "Her?" the boy scoffed. "She's nobody." She was the governess. Poor woman.

Faith alone might sense that Padraig's patience was being tested already. And that in fact, he had been serious when he'd told her, this one was the worst kind. "Do you know anything at all about swordplay?" he asked, and handed the boy the smaller of the three wooden swords. "Let's see how you stand with it in hand as if on the defensive, and how you hold it," he suggested.
word count: 527
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The worst kind? Faith looked at him and the amusement was evident on her face. "I would have thought you'd have particularly disliked the three arc old ones. Just toddling around like some kind of wrecking ball, grabbing at flasks, scribbling in books, and with those big adorable eyes. It's an evil combination, you know." She could only concur that she didn't know why he'd taken the job either, though she contented herself with saying nothing, but somehow, the message was clear. He was being silly. When he started putting practice swords into the bag, though, she raised an eyebrow and couldn't quite help herself. "Oh, they provided poking devices? Excellent news. At least you won't have to touch it. Immortals knows how many germs it's got."

Walking along, she was quite content to be pulled in close to him and she remained so until he spoke his particular brand of wisdom. An instinct? At that particular snippet, she responded quite calmly, she believed but there was an edge of cool to her voice which was undeniable. "One of the things I love most is that you forget that I was ever a slave. If it is an instinct, I am unaware of it. I haven't met any children, really, other than Elsie, and she's a baby. So I'm afraid my instinct is unlikely to help." Sometimes, he was completely oblivious, she considered, but she smiled and hugged herself against him. Oblivious he might be, but he was very much hers, and that was more than enough. The vacation was a source of delight for her and she grinned up at him as he said that he had never travelled, really, other than because of necessity. "I do more than like it. I love it. Nearly as much as I love you, but not really anywhere near. Lets see all the cities. Lets live in all the places. Every adventure, just you and me." She grinned at him then and added "And it had better remain that way. Just us and Quattro. Imagine your panic. Immortals." She had no wish, desire or need for children, they were young and free to roam. So roaming seemed like a good plan to her.

And if she'd been in any doubt about either Padraig's or her own feeling on children, or dogs she thought with a smile, then the boy he was tutoring really wasn't likely to change those feelings. Faith considered, briefly, just how she was going to deal with this and she looked between the two of them. Simon, however, seemed quite content and glanced at her, dismissing her immediately. Assistants had no place here, he was quite happy to report. The governess was nobody and he was just too bored of it all to be here.

"Padraig? Did your mother hate you?" His voice, his demeanour and every individual thing about him oozed bored and superior. Faith pulled one of the training swords, then the other two, out of the bag and spoke, quiet and calm.
"Your training sword." She handed Padraig his practice sword, her hand brushing against his and lingering there just a few trills, and then she handed the smaller one to the boy who looked at it and, it seemed, he had perfected the art of the sneer.
"Really? Alright, well lets play your silly game. I know that I'm learning this so that I can carry a sword and look attractive." As Simon spoke, Faith made a strange noise which she turned into clearing her throat. "I think your assistant is broken." He couldn't know that it was a repeat of what Tabitha had said about hs slave all that time ago.
"I know that, if there is any real fighting I'll be protected. That we pay people who are desperate enough or poor enough or stupid enough to die for us and so there's no point to this. Does that answer your questions, Padraig?"

But he did as he was bid and he held the sword. Now, it wasn't exactly what Padraig might consider a defensive stance, since he held it between finger and thumb, like he was holding up a particularly unpleasant fish he'd caught. But he knew, exactly, what he was doing as he looked at Padraig and smiled an obsequious smile. "Like that?"

Faith had a genuine thought that Padraig might be about to kill this child. Plus, if she ever changed her mind about having children, ever, he was utterly destroying any hope she had of Padraig doing the same. Although in fairness, if there was ever one born, this one was a good advertisement for the use of Moseke's mist to prevent pregnancy. Still, she stepped forward with her own practice sword and spoke in soft tones. "It seems that your student is not yet to the standard required. Would you like me to attack and you comment and correct?" If he did, then she would and she'd make sure that the boy had to damn well hold his sword or get a stinging blow which did not harm across the back of his legs. But if not, then she wasn't going to undermine Padraig any way.

But really, she considered, why couldn't they just this once have gotten one of the nice ones?!
word count: 915
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Instinct, Padraig had stubbornly countered. Nurture versus nature. The sort of thing that the natural philosophers over at the university, who called themselves scientists but were not, were always going on about. Didn't a cat that had never borne kittens before, know how to behave when the first ones arrived, he'd argued?

Just what was it that stopped new mother...anythings, from abandoning, starving or eating their own young? Instinct, that was what.

Then again, Padraig had been subjected to a number of children by now, not necessarily by choice. And he'd had no compulsion to nurture a one of them. Not a single compulsion. And his student that trial was about to serve as a prime example of why that was. Clearly the same instinct didn't apply to men.

Padraig, roughly translated, meant nobly born. But he wasn't about to tell this spoiled upstart any of that. Instead, he turned a rueful glance upon Faith, however briefly, and his expression said it all. Give me a minute alone with him, and I'm going to kill him. After all, hadn't she just handed him the weapon to do it with?

A bothersome tick sprung into action, just below his left eye, as Simon continued his disrespectful onslaught. "Your mother has requested that you begin learning to hold your own with a weapon. More than likely, she recognizes that those who are paid to protect, paid for their loyalty, may sometimes look the other way should they receive a better offer elsewhere." Besides, if Simon continued to grow into his already over-sized ego, no payment would be enough to keep his keepers. In fact, they could as easily turn on him in a moment of exasperation.

When Simon's hold on the sword left a great deal to be desired, by design, and Faith asked if she should attack him, Padraig didn't trust himself to say anything more than "Yes, please." And when she did just that with a good smack to the backside, he grinned while the kid howled, threw down his sword and turned on her. "Hey!" he shouted, dropping his practice sword and rubbing his backside. "My mother is going to hear about this! Are you going to let your assistant get away with that?" he added and turned on Padraig.

Over on the nearby bench, the young governess who'd been sitting quietly with a book on her lap, lifted the opened thing just in time to half conceal a delighted smile and a quiet laugh. "Your mother wants you to learn early, how to defend yourself," Padraig said. There was no wonder why, if the kid continued to follow his current trend. "A genuine aggressor, someone intent on hurting or killing you, will not wait for you to take it seriously. I would be doing you no favors, was I to go easy on you."

"Again. In a defensive stance, like so." So saying, Padraig would instruct by adopting the proper stance himself. "Think of your weapon as an extension of your arm. Faith is your attacker, once again. Adopt a stance that shows less of your front than side. It's less of you for her to attack. Angle the tip of your sword towards her throat, knees flexed but not bent, feet staggered and tip your center of balance just slightly to your back foot." He'd let Faith make the adjustments there if they were needed. Her doing it, meant he didn't need to touch the kid.

"She's going to attack again. Your job is to block her efforts. Therefore, no stabbing, just blocking. Go," he said, waiting for Faith to have another go at the boy.
word count: 625
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So now he was quoting the very philosophers that he was so certain were not real scholars? That was, she was sure, most unscientific of him. In the spirit of not inciting their first actual disagreement, she'd kept quiet, but then, of all things, he had gone on to explain it. A cat who'd never borne kittens? Faith listened to the whole argument he put forward and, as they had arrived, just before they got to young Simon, she had replied. Her tone was positively acerbic. "I already told you I don't want children. However, I would hope that should we ever change our minds", or were she to find herself with a man who didn't accuse her of likely to do such, "we will both refrain from eating them. Be assured though, if it comes to it I'll cook them well." Did he think, perhaps, she asked, that there was a difference between one's own children and other people's? That maybe, just maybe, if there was such an instinct, and she was quick to reassure him that she thought it was total hogwash, it applied only to one's own offspring. "Rather that, surely, than women up and down Idalos having to fight off their starving husbands in a desperate attempt to protect their first born? One wheat shortage and whole generations could perish."

It didn't put her in a good mood, in fairness, and Simon didn't help. But she did as bidden and Faith had to admit that when she gave a slight, but undoubtedly stinging blow, across the boy's backside, she felt rather like she'd struck a blow for women everywhere. It wouldn't even leave a mark, she knew, but it was a blow as much to his ego as anything. The boy shouted at her and then turned to Padraig with an accusatory tone which reverted when Padraig explained why. He looked unutterably bored. "Alright then. I suppose. But if she hits me again....". His threat was left unfinished when he realised that the only reasonable ending was 'it will hurt' and he at least attempted to get into stance. He watched and he tried to position himself.

He moved, but not easily and a frown crossed his brow as he lost the positioning of his feet whilst he moved his arms. "Let me help, it will be better when you've felt it, it will be more natural", Faith said and he sneered, but it was halfhearted and he let her. He didn't go as far as thanking her or anything ridiculous like that, but she knelt next to him and adjusted his feet. The glance she shot to Padraig was highly amused as she walked back though. Did he think she'd been serious about the germs? She despaired, some trials. Still, he lifted his sword and did his best, this time. Faith, purposely, struck at him in a slower and more easy to counter move, aiming for his forward arm where he could see and counter more easily and he did try to do so. He managed it, but Padraig knew enough to know that it was only because she let him. His movements were uncordinated and, more than that, when he moved an arm, his leg moved, or his foot shifted. He was about as unable to cordinate himself as anyone either of them had seen.

"Oh this is pointless!" He threw the sword on to the ground and crossed his arms. Faith looked at Padraig, gave him a meaningful glance in Simon's direction and then moved to retrieve the practice sword. She dawdled in the doing of it, and would admit so if asked. The boy wasn't going to respond to her, she was an assistant and a girl. No, there was no way he was going to talk to her. "I can't do it. I'm not going to do it. You're the fifth tutor and none of them taught me anything because I can't do it!" He glared at Padraig with equal parts frustration, embarrasment and anger at the world.
word count: 706
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She was a little prickly this trial, in Padraig's humble opinion. Her tone, that was. Surely she hadn't taken his example of a cat devouring its own, as anything but just that? "It was an analogy," he'd grumbled before they'd even arrived at the field. Prickly, that's what.

Then again, his young student didn't do much to raise the prospect of bringing up children, any higher in his estimation. Or Faith's either, probably, judging by his reaction to having her get him bodily into position. Padraig despaired of accomplishing anything this trial, short of a pounding headache by the time it was done.

Simon resisted a little, having his feet moved, his shoulders adjusted, but he cooperated to a greater degree than Padraig had come to expect by now. And he even made somewhat of an effort to deflect her next blow. But any gains were quickly undone when he threw his sword on the ground.

The boy had gone through four tutors already? Padraig could relate to their sentiments, whoever they'd been. He could as easily do the same, truth told, and beg off the rest of their lesson or any more after it. As tempting as it was, he wouldn't. Not because he was particularly sympathetic to the kid's plight. But because he himself was just stubborn enough to break through where others had not.

He glanced at Faith, somehow hoping he'd have avoided closer proximity than this. But it appeared to unavoidable after all. "It's not pointless," he said. "and I'm not going to give up. Neither are you. Do you know how to dance?" he asked, seemingly out of the blue.

"Why?" Simon asked, suddenly suspicious of his tutor's intentions. Do you dance, Padraig asked again. What followed was the shuffling of feet, a great deal of it, and avoiding eye contact. "Yeah. I'm good at it and my father hates it because my mother signed me up for dance lessons. But I still can't do this."

"That's where you're wrong," Padraig said. "If you can dance as well as you say you can, then you can do this." As much as he'd tried to avoid it, he traded places with Faith in order to make things easier. Standing beside Simon, practice sword in hand, he explained. "Swordplay is a lot like a dance. It requires that you hold your body in the correct position, and that you be light on your feet."

"Except that instead of a partner in your arms, you've got a weapon in your hand. On the dance floor, there are other dancers, and they may go off course. Which means, if you're not observant, one or more of them could run into you and your partner."

And what happened if anyone threatened to go off course and cause a collision, he asked? Simon frowned. "You make adjustments to stop it happening."

Padraig smiled and nodded. "Exactly. You keep an eye on the other dancers, or in the case of swordplay, on your opponent. You learn to anticipate what they might do, and you adjust and respond accordingly. And you remember, your sword is an extension of your arm. In the same way that you adjust and respond on the dancefloor to avoid a collision, you ought do the same when facing an opponent. Observe, anticipate, improvise and respond."

He looked at Faith then and shrugged, hoping he'd managed to get through to the boy. Whether or not he had, alongside Simon he adopted a proper defensive stance, if only to demonstrate. "Again," he told Faith, as soon as he believed Simon was prepared for another go at blocking her.
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"I know. I'm sorry." Snippy. That's what he was. He was snippy and it was because he was anxious, she knew that, but Faith wished fervently that he wouldn't make that assumption he made, wouldn't even joke about it. Her reaction, though, really hadn't helpd and he was just expressing an anxiety. She understood that and so she sighed, did the internal equivalent of giving herself a shake and smiled, squeezing his hand gently. "It's not something we have to worry about, I'm just being testy. I'm sorry. Lets just get on and do this." And then, they could go on vacation and stop this whole ridiculous conversation.

The boy, though, as wonderful a poster-child as he was for not ever having children, threw his sword and Faith gave Padraig the time to speak to him. She held back as she did but she heard what they both said, she couldn't not do so. Dancing? Whatever made him think of that, she wondered and she watched with a slightly amazed expression. Padraig found something, either by good judgement or sheer blind luck, and the boy responded. Positioning himself next to Simon, Padraig explained about partners and floors and going off course. Faith had no more idea about dancing than she did about so many things, but her face was incredulous as Padraig talked about it with such ease. Did he dance? Faith handed Simon back his practice sword and smiled at Padraig as she did so. Just a brief glance, but enough for him to know that all was well between them.

Simon, meanwhile, frowned. The frown, however, was a different kind of frown and was more one of concentration, even consideration of what Padraig was saying. "So, the sword is my partner? In my hand, not my arms, but we have to move as one? I lead, she follows, but I'm the frame that makes her beautiful?" He seemed more than happy to get on board with that and Faith felt her eyebrow near hit her hairline. What on Idalos was going on here? She looked between the two of them and then she just picked up her practice sword and nodded to Padraig as he said for them to go again.

She moved in the same way, a careful blow which was relatively easy to block. Not much difference as far as she was concerned, but in Simon, there was a whole world of difference to see. In fairness, he still wasn't very good, but his movements were markedly improved. His footsteps were more fluid, his arm movements too and he was moving in unison with himself, in a co-ordinated manner rather than the disjointed one of last time. Faith stepped back, having made the move and the boy pumped a fist in the air. "Oh, in your face! Did you see that? It was awesome!" He raised his practice sword, aloft, like a victorious conqueror, delight on his face at blocking a single blow from a woman who was only just taller than him. "I was awesome. Come on then, what are you waiting for!?" He said, to Padraig with all the gratitude, diplomacy and tact of a mother cat about to devour her kittens. "And tell her, better this time. Come on, I can do this!".

Faith considered that she would remember that governess in her prayers tonight. The poor woman deserved a blessing from each Immortal who dealt with patience, kindness or any other good thing. Maybe two. She smiled at Padraig and waited to see what he wanted.
Last edited by Faith Augustin Champion on Sat Dec 31, 2016 4:31 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 614
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No, Padraig did not dance. Never had. Never wanted to. Never would. What he knew about dancing was much like what he knew about baking or sewing. It was the done thing in some circles, but he had no interest in doing it himself. He knew just enough though, that if Simon did know how, then the analogy just might break through where very little had before.

Faith's expression, the unspoken question wasn't lost on him. But instead of responding outright, he winked at her and grinned a little, waiting to see how Simon handled her next advance. The sword was his partner, yes, in a sense, and they should move together in the sense that from eyes to mind to body to weapon, it all ought be fluid. He wouldn't become a great swordsman in the moment, or overnight. Or ever probably. But the difference was remarkable all the same.

If Faith hadn't been taking it easy on him, he couldn't have successfully blocked her. But he did well enough to convince him that he'd somehow transformed instantaneously into a prodigy of blades. Padraig marveled at the boy's lack of tact, while at once finding it somewhat amusing. Not humble, that kid.

But the grin remained when he turned to Faith and said, "You heard him, better this time." Of course, Padraig trusted Faith to take it easy, not to hand Simon any large setbacks that would turn back his newfound confidence, overblown as it was. But he'd also prefer that she challenge the kid, so not to give him a false impression of his own advancement. And so he watched as she obliged, and was satisfied with the results.

Her next advance would mean that Simon was pushed into focusing on his stance and response, and he'd enjoy a modicum of success. But also realize that a genuine attack of that sort might have ended him.

"It's not so easy, is it?" Padraig said as they all stepped back again. "But you've done well, and it's enough for this trial. Before next time, I want you to practice swings and jabs, while minding your stance and posture." Both of those, he'd take the time to demonstrate through a series of blocks and jabs, while asking Faith to play opposite him.

And when they were done and he'd sent Simon on his way with the young governess? Pad took the time to gather up what was left of the practice swords, and drop them into the sack. "That wasn't so bad, now was it?" he asked her dryly, as if it was her that had resisted conducting this lesson from the very start.
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Such a Beautiful Thread . . .
  • Hello, lovelies.

    So here's the jist: I was a little torn, but because I didn't feel like the characters learned many new things regarding fighting, I didn't award much knowledge for the sword. I did, however, try to compensate with teaching, since I felt dealing with the brat was a great learning experience. I found myself almost completely through the thread before I remembered I had to look out for knowledges (that's how easy it read), so if you felt I missed anything, please let me know. I'll do a double take and all that jazz.

Faith

I really enjoyed seeing how Faith responded to Padraig's belief that women naturally had a way with children. She was justified and I felt her response quite real. It gave their relationship a believable dynamic, but I would like to see them get in a spat in the future, not going to lie. Great work as always.

Rating

5/5/5
Story: 5
Collaboration: 5
Structure: 5

Knowledges

Teaching: How to Properly Assist an Instructor
Teaching: Utilizing Discipline During Lessons
Teaching: Using Analogies to Interest Students
Teaching: Approaching Each Child Differently is Necessary
Etiquette: Disagreeing with Tact
Blades: Fighting is Akin to Dancing
Padraig: Really Doesn't Want Kids

Loot

N/A

Fame

N/A

Padraig

I love your PCs abhorrence to children. I found it hilarious and many times have I felt similarly. I like kids, perhaps a bit more than he does, but sometimes they just suck. lmao Great writing, and it was awesome to finally read the PC Faith fell in love with. Awesome stuff.

Rating

5/5/5
Story: 5
Collaboration: 5
Structure: 5

Knowledges

Faith: Doesn't Want Kids
Discipline: Resisting the urge to beat children
Blades: Fighting is Akin to Dancing
Teaching: Utilizing Discipline During Lessons
Teaching: Using Analogies to Interest Students
Teaching: Approaching Each Child Differently is Necessary
Etiquette: Disagreeing with Tact

Loot

N/A

Fame

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. . . I brought it a treat.
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