Old December 29, 2017, 03:02 AM   #1 (permalink)
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[Port Alyx] Sharp Wits, Dull Blades

Summer XXIV PF

Kailin clattered faintly as she maneuvered her way down the steps to the lawn, then out toward where she and Moss had practiced his tightrope walking. Having raided her brothers' supplies - and not knowing exactly what might be needed - she was in possession of no less than 6 practice blades, four daggers and two swords. And around one elbow hung a bag full of various padding items and two fencing masks that she'd scrounged, just to be safe.

Dressed very much as she'd been while assisting her friend with his practice, in tight-fitting black breeches and a brown tunic that hugged her form tightly enough that it was unlikely to catch on pointy things, the only change was a pair of boots that laced all the way up her shins. Better for both stability and for quick footwork. She was, she hoped, as ready as she could be.

Given both of her brothers' penchant for swordplay, the family Alyxanda was not lacking in either supplies or practice space, and she and Moss could have availed themselves of the rooms inside the house that had been outfitted for just such a purpose (and from whence she'd purloined her armload). But it was a beautiful day, and Kailin - who'd been behind a desk for most of it - was keen to get some fresh air.

And so she made her way to a good flat bit of lawn that was mostly hidden from view of the house, not because she wanted to avoid an audience, but because she didn't want to hear it from her mother if she and Moss trampled the grass in a way that spoiled the pristine vista. There, she crouched and dropped the practice blades, before carefully lining them up in a neat row, then took out the padding and set each set to either side of the blades.

Content with her little collection thus displayed, she stood up and began her usual warm up of a slow jog out around the garden and back again, intent on stretching properly lubricated muscles before she and Moss began. No doubt he would join her, whenever he deigned to put in an appearance. She grinned at the thought, reaching up to pin the rather heavy weight of her long braid up to the back of her head so it would stop slapping her back as she ran. This way, it would be out of the way for her lesson, too.
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Old December 29, 2017, 01:08 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Moss wasn't sure who was privy to this clandestine clash of blades, so he'd mentioned it to nobody beyond Kailin herself. She had made it clear that her lover would not approve, and the amnesiac was in no mood to scupper her plans by letting a whisper escape his lips and somehow make its way to Adynirach's ear.

So when he'd left his room for "a bit of exercise", he hadn't strictly been lying, but it would be difficult to persuade anyone with the benefit of hindsight that he was being entirely honest.

All the same, he'd made his way via a circuitous route to the part of the property where Kailin had agreed to meet him, making the most of the longer distance by jogging most of it to ensure he was warmed up when he arrived.

His regular travel wear had been left in the room that the Alyxandas had so kindly provided. Leather armour and leather gloves sat in a neat pile on a chair near the window. His own weapons - Kailin had assured him she would provide all the equipment required for sparring - were sheathed and rested at the foot of his bed. Only his leather boots had survived the cull, with his body otherwise attired in a white tunic and brown leggings. It meant less weight to carry, but it also meant less familiarity, which might have mattered greatly if he was actually going to be fighting for his life.

Moss closed in on his destination just as Kailin was pinning her braid with her back turned, and he caught himself observing her form before he made his presence known with a gentle cough.

As he entered the designated sparring area, the amnesiac wore a warm grin. He had grown rather fond of the eldest Alyxanda sister, and it always felt a pleasure to be in her company.

"Serale," he said in a relaxed tone, before pausing in his tracks as his gaze fell upon the collection of weaponry. "Empty out the entire armoury, did you?"

His eyes were expressing jest as he looked back at the beauteous brunette, before offering the range of weapons a second glance.

"Is there a particular one that has caught your eye, milady?"
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Old January 3, 2018, 04:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Turning at the sound of a cough behind her, she smiled around the last of the pins she held between her lips, baring her teeth as she did so. Then, grabbing it and popping it in to secure the last of her long tail to the back of her head, she laughed at his jest.

"Not quite, no... you should see the practice rooms. I'm fairly certain we could outfit a small army from there."

Her steps carried her to the weapons, and she toed them with a boot, brows lifting as she looked to Moss from beneath them, her light green gaze climbing from his boots to his beard, then stopping when they reached the stormy grey eyes. He looked good dressed so casually for practice, and she suddenly wished that her brother had not been busy this afternoon. No doubt he would have appreciated the view, too.

"Well..." she began, dropping her gaze to the practice blades before them as her lips curled into an appreciative half-smile, "they're all pretty much the same, aren't they?" Two identical swords, and four identical daggers lay before them. In case they wanted to jump straight to double-wielding the daggers, which... now she thought of it, seemed fairly unlikely.

"I just wasn't sure what we were going to start with. So what do you think, teach? Is it daggers? Or is it swords?"
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Old January 7, 2018, 09:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Unaware of her appreciation for his form, Moss smirked at Kailin's response. The differences between a dagger and sword aside, they were indeed identical. Slipping the toe of a boot under the hilt of one of the practice swords, the blonde lifted his leg until his hand could take hold of the weapon, and he bounced it in his hand, testing the weight of it. His blonde brows lifted and his lips pressed upwards in an expression of pleasant surprise, for if it were not for the dulled edges and the rounded tip, he would have happily used one for himself.

"I'm assuming you ultimately want to learn to use a sword properly," he stated simply, eyes not leaving the weapon in his hands as he raised it towards the sunslight to check its straightness, "which means we should probably start with the daggers."

His eyes showed humour as they finally returned the brunette's green gaze, and he set the weapon back down, then picked up one of the smaller blades.

"I think it makes sense to start with the absolute basics," he added, cocking one eyebrow, "which is not to say, of course, that you are clueless, milady. But it will help to understand what you do know."

He let out a good-natured chuckle, certain that Kailin would bring to their training all the confidence and vigour she displayed while teaching.

"For starters, pick up one of the daggers. Get a feel for it and show me how you think it should be held."
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Old January 10, 2018, 01:11 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Kailin watched, eyebrow cocked high, as Moss inspected the blade in his hand. She would have rolled her eyes at the show he was making, and reminded him that she had been taught the basics along with the rest of her siblings, but he looked so confident and sure with the thing that instead she just smiled, observing. It was nice to see him confident...

Of course, when he made it clear that he wouldn't be starting there, and bent instead to pick up a dagger, she snorted.

"Not clueless, no..." she crouched and retrieved one of the other daggers, speaking as she pushed back to standing, "just... Well," a small moue of embarrassment rounded her lips, "not exactly adept."

Having cut herself before when actually attempting to use the dagger to defend herself (though it had proved unnecessary), Kailin knew that it was her resulting hesitation that she'd need to break through, eventually. Adyn was right - and had told her nothing she didn't already know - that she needed to learn to use it, if she were going to carry it. But that didn't mean she had to enjoy it.

So as she adjusted her grip on the dagger, there was an unconscious tightening around her mouth. She just didn't like blades all that much, and could certainly not imagine using one on another person, not even with the horrors in her past to goad her on.

To start with, Kailin took a traditional forward grip on the blade, her fingers wrapping around and under the belly of the handle, while her thumb wrapped itself forward around the handle and settled in against her forefinger, and the blade angled upward. Then, not with any finesse (and using both hands to accomplish it), she reversed her grip, all four fingers wrapped around the belly of the handle, as before, and her thumb curling over the rounded edge of the hilt, blade pointing down at the ground.

Unconsciously, she kept the blade pointing away from Moss as she demonstrated. And at some point, she'd taken a bit of her lower lip between her teeth as she concentrated. It remained there as she looked to him for critique.
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Old January 23, 2018, 04:39 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Moss watched patiently as Kailin reached down to collect one of the daggers and held it as she deemed most appropriate, trying two different grips and feeling the small weight within her palm. He said nothing as she handled it, as he didn't want to interrupt her thought process or offer any instruction until he understood what she knew. It was immediately clear to Moss that the beauteous brunette lacked confidence with the weapon - perhaps fearing the blade itself - despite having a reasonable understanding of how to hold it.

"That's a good starting point," he nodded with a slight smile that was meant to put the woman at ease. "But you can face me when you handle it. You won't stab me - and if you get close, I'll step back."

A wink came quickly then, accompanied by a larger smile.

He stepped forward, walking around the back of Kailin and then standing next to her, adopting her initial grip, arm slightly extended.

"The forward grip," his gravelly voice spoke, dark grey eyes exhibiting the confidence that Kailin had lacked as he spoke, "is the most natural grip that people usually adopt. Some call it the Hammer grip because it's similar to how a carpenter holds a hammer."

Moss looked to Kailin expectantly, waiting patiently for her to adjust her grip back, and happy to wait as long as it took for her to figure out the transition, even if she chose to do it with two hands again.

"Do you know the advantages and disadvantages of using this type of grip?" he asked sincerely, having seen some of the woman's practical knowledge and curious to see how strong her theory knowledge was.
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Old February 2, 2018, 01:18 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Kailin couldn't keep from rolling her eyes at Moss's gentle chiding of the care she took, even with a practice blade, though in truth the expression wasn't directed at him. Rather, realizing she was doing it again, she silently cursed herself for being so obvious about her dislike of blades, and her mistrust of them in her own hands.

So she nodded, teeth releasing her bottom lip as she followed him with her gaze, head turning slowly first one way, then the other as the larger man walked around behind to stand next to her, adopting a forward grip on his own dagger. Unconsciously, she relaxed a bit, now that he was no longer standing toward the pointy end of her blade, and - when prompted - retook the forward grip herself.

His question, however, so very instructor-like, brought a distinctly amused cast to the glance she directed sidelong at him, and she affected a huge yawn (complete with hand patting over the wide 'o' of her mouth) before turning toward him apparently carelessly, the dull edge of her practice blade heading for his shoulder in a slicing motion.

"Distance, or reach," she said, now facing toward her friend. Her smile was fast as she struck forward with the point of her blade toward his abdomen, not intending to make contact this time, but simply to demonstrate what she was saying, "mainly. Though with a double edged blade like this, there is also its slicing capability, which is much easier to use with the dagger in this position."

To continue, she left her hand outstretched toward Moss, fully expecting him to make use of his unarmed technique to disarm her, "And the disadvantages start with the same thing. The distance makes it easier to have one's arm or hand trapped when striking, and thus to lose one's weapon." She gave a small shrug, "or, of course, have one's arm broken and one's blade turned back on oneself."

She'd been rather blasť about what she was saying right up until saying so, and frowned suddenly, stepping back away from Moss with a sigh, "I've been as well instructed as a person can be, Moss, by instructors, siblings, lovers..." and her brows lifted as she looked back to him, smile somewhat rueful, "friends."

"I just... I've never liked blades. One small mistake, one unthinking moment, and you've hurt yourself or someone else quite horribly."

A shudder and heartfelt groan of frustration, then, in which Kailin looked very much like she would have scuffed her shoe in the dirt if there'd been any nearby, "to wit, I lack practical application. And obviously any advanced knowledge because of it."

"You shouldn't feel bad if this doesn't work any better than any of the other thousand times I've tried this... I really should have warned you to begin with, that blades just aren't my favorite things."
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Old February 12, 2018, 12:11 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Initially, Moss nodded with the edges of his mouth upturning into a small smile as Kailin started to provide her answer, his responses essentially playing out harmless displays of her examples: he stepped back to avoid the blade to his abdomen; moved to the side to take hold of her hand and ease the weapon out of her deliberately gentle grip; twisted back the other way to tuck her upper arm under his own as if to bend her limb backwards at the elbow.

His touches were light, of course, his movements slow and pronounced, to ensure Kailin knew that she was at no risk of harm - something she surely never doubted.

His grin grew into a light chuckle as the brunette recited all the benefits and drawbacks of the different grips as though she were a thespian who had spent the previous cycle learning her lines for a convincing performance.

And, in truth, it was convincing.

Moss released the woman's arm as she stepped back with her frown, and he unconsciously mirrored the expression with one of his own. The ex-militiaman found his eyes narrowing in thought, head slightly cocked as he contemplated the conundrum the beauteous woman had placed before him.

"You fear blades, because they might hurt someone," he eventually stated, thinking out loud. "But then, fighting in the mud of the arena in Aelyria Prime could just as easily cause some unintented aggressive contact. When you know how to handle a blade, it'll be a lot less dangerous for yourself and others, unless you intend to harm or threaten them, of course."

His grin remained as he raised a hand to prevent any objections - regardless of whether Kailin actually wished to make any - and handed back the woman's dagger.

"You know all the theory," the human continued, "and you've memorised it, but you've memorised it in the wrong way."

His smile softened to a gentle, reassuring expression.

"If you have to use a blade in combat, you won't have time to ponder the different grips and their benefits - you need to be familiar enough with the weapon to use it almost without thinking, and right now, it seems like you're completely overthinking..."

Moss paused then, as he considered an alternative approach.

"Okay, drop the dagger, and let's go back to basics," he said, returning his own blade to the collection Kailin had provided. "No more basic theory - if anything, you need to try to forget all that."

Moss moved to stand in front of Kailin and turned to face her, his voice gentle as his hands rested loosely upon his hips.

"We'll start with positioning. Assuming I'm your opponent, adopt whatever stance makes the most sense to you, and we'll move forward from there."
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Old March 28, 2018, 01:46 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Kailin growled, actually growled, when Moss suggested dropping her dagger to return to the basics, and ignored the instruction entirely. Instead, her hand tightened around the practice blade she held, and she dropped into the stance that she'd been taught, "if I put my fething blade down, then we're just sparring again, and I'll never get anywhere!"

The frustration she felt was clear, transferring into a slight aggression that coated her body language as she waited for him to pick his own blade back up. Both hands before herself, the empty hand was held palm out defensively at the level of her head, while the one gripping the dagger with white knuckles was held a bit lower, just above the level of her belly button, pointy end facing Moss.

Kailin knew that Moss was only trying to help, and not trying to antagonize or aggravate her. Knew also, that her frustration was far more appropriately directed at herself. But she just wanted to get past this damnable fear, to stop being so fething awkward any time she had a blade in hand. It was embarrassing, and foolish. And she'd promised Adyn she wouldn't go into the Gut until she could actually use the stupid dagger she carried.

Fine, then.

"Let's just do this, Moss..." she nodded to his blade, "worst thing that happens is I have to use a spell or two, right?"

She could handle giving and receiving a few bruises. That was no big deal. Just... she needed to convince her mind that this was no different than any other time she'd sparred and she'd be fine.

"I'm ready." And if her eyes were showing just a bit more white than usual, her voice a little tighter, that was really to be expected at this point. Kailin kept her focus on Moss, just like she would in the sparring grounds, and waited for him to make his move.
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Old March 31, 2018, 08:21 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Kailin's aggressive resistance caught Moss by surprise, but, he mused, it wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps, rather than working her way through particular stances or strikes, the brunette would prefer a good, old-fashioned tussle.

Stooping back down, the former soldier regathered the practice blade then turned to face his friend, a small grin forming at the ends of his lips.

"Like Prime, then?" he quipped with a cocked eyebrow. "The dagger will make me less of a handful..."

The grin grew into the lightest of chuckles, though it didn't last long. Kailin was in a mood to fight and be done with it, and Moss was not planning to leave her waiting for long.

Shifting into a position that mirrored that of his student, the amnesiac paused, his facial expression querying if the woman was ready. Then, seeing the focus in the green eyes opposite, he lunged forward at a slightly slower pace than usual, with the practice blade aiming for the woman's stomach.
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Old June 13, 2018, 03:47 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Moss's easy jibe about his accidental groping during their spar in Prime called out a tight grin from the woman across from him, and she snorted quietly, "that's just because your hand is already full, Moss. We both know how you like to play..."

But as he settled into a stance that mirrored her own, the grin dropped away, leaving only tension lining her features as she nodded to his silent query of her readiness.

The slow pace of his attack was the only thing that kept her from simply disengaging, and though she immediately hated him for catering to her weakness, Kailin also had to be grateful for the chance to start slowly. Pivoting onto her back foot to put him to her left instead of in front of her - and moving at a similar pace - she let the blade trace the space where her stomach had been, his forearm brushing her abdomen before her empty hand smacked down toward the top of his wrist and her blade simultaneously swept up toward his throat.

None of it was fast or out of her control, but her nostrils flared anyway, head unconsciously tilting back and away (even as she parried) as the same deeply rooted fear response tried to claim its victory.
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Old June 30, 2018, 01:28 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Moss let out a small chuckle at Kailin's comment, but that did nothing to mask the blush that pressed at his cheeks, his skin warm in the summer sunslight. But the pair quickly put their mirth aside to concentrate, and it was only when his host nodded that the bearded blond began his attack.

He had deliberately moved at a slower pace than he normally might, lest he catch Kailin unfairly off guard. Though the blades were designed for practice, a strong strike could still bruise his friend or cause her to be winded or receive a bruise. The goal of their time together was training - not to actually land painful blows.

Whether it was because of the more cautious approach, Moss couldn't be sure, but the brunette's swift response impressed him all the same. Her pivot shifted her out of the way of the initial strike, doubling as an opportunity to launch a counter-attack.

He didn't fight back or attempt to deflect Kailin's strike, instead relaxing his own strike and standing back, lowering his arm as he gave his student a nod.

"Good reactions," he added with a grin, his tone revealing how impressed he was. "Now it's a matter of trying that again at normal speed. How did that feel?"
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Old August 8, 2018, 02:14 AM   #13 (permalink)
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"I told you I've been well instructed," she grumped as her arms fell back to her sides, watching him step back. "And I bested you unarmed quite handily, so my reactions shouldn't really be that much of a surprise."

Then, with a quiet "uuuugh" sound she attempted to shake off the tension that was already riding her by way of a little shimmying, shaking dance that brought her around in a complete circle where she stood, arms flopping at her sides and head rolling on her neck. When she'd turned fully and was once again facing him, she blew out a breath, sounding not unlike a horse, "why anyone likes to fight with blades I'll never understand."

"That felt fine..." she finally acceded, albeit with a grimace, "and you might as well get on with it. I'm not going to like it any more at normal speed."

And, with another shudder, Kailin took her position again across from Moss, jaw tight and teeth clenched, but eyes - at least - not currently showing any extra whites.
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Old September 9, 2018, 10:28 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Moss' dark grey eyes narrowed slightly at Kailin's rebuke. He knew she was merely displaying her frustration - she had made it clear that weapons were not her favourite things and the longer they spent handling them, the more impatient she might become. And yet, he knew, she would need to practice to become more proficient.

"Bested quite handily," he responded, chuckling with one blond brow raised. "Interesting recollection..."

A lopsided grin formed at one edge of his mouth, his gaze softening as he attempted to lighten the mood.

Then, as his friend adopted her stance once more, Moss did likewise, and the grin faded, albeit only slightly.

"Very well," he nodded. "The more practice you have, the better you'll get. Hopefully you'll only have to use it to scare people away, but should you need to draw blood, precision will be crucial if you only intend to wound."

He paused, then, waiting to see that Kailin had taken in the information rather than catch her unfairly off guard. And then, after an almost imperceptible nod, the human moved forward, repeating the same attack as before - a straight lunge towards her stomach - but this time not holding back his pace. If the brunette didn't move, she'd be winded or at least bruised, but given the focus in her green eyes, Moss doubted that would happen.
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