A Steel Remedy [Solo]

Elhaym seeks solace in her blade as she pushes away the discontent and anger she is feeling towards the Shinya Order

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The Diamond of Kalea is located on Kalea's extreme west coast and called as such because its completely made of a crystalline substance called Skyglass. Home of the Alvina of the Stars, cultural mecca of knowledge seekers, and rife with Ethaefal, this remote city shimmers with its own unique light.

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A Steel Remedy [Solo]

Postby Elhaym on February 17th, 2012, 2:42 am

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The 85th Day of Winter, 511 AV

Elhaym's left thumb pressed ever so lightly across the handguard of her blade, and the telltale click sounded louder than it should have in her isolated room. An inch of bared steel glinted off the sunlight that sliced through the room. She had two windows cut from the wall high above her head in her own quarters, but the quality of light was odd. Every dust mote in the air seemed to be glowing a hot yellow, and she imagined them as a thousand enemies she must cut down. Her right hand came to a rest across the hilt of her blade, the leather producing a creaking sound as she grasped it tightly. Too firm, she thought. She relaxed her grip, keeping her fingers loose. Elhaym sucked in a deep breath, and then she was a blur. The blade came a third of the way free from her lacquered sheathe before she began to push it backwards through the sash it was looped through. It was not natural to her, but as she pushed it back she also twisted it to the side. Her blade seemed to come alive, a lion's jaws seeking flesh. She took one step forward and slashed as if to cut a man's throat, freezing at the end of the motion. It was beautiful, deadly, so fast and so effective... at least it should have been.

Elhaym sighed as she brought her sword to her side. She had been under the impression that a sword was a sword; you pulled it from it's scabbard and hacked whatever poor bastard who happened to be in front of you to pieces. Yet one of the Shinya who had seen her practicing with her blade had taken her aside and given her a brief summary of her own weapon. Perhaps he'd done it out of pity, for she had truly not understood the elegance of the folded steel she held. Elhaym paced the perimeter of her small room in the Shinyama Pavilion, blessedly free of other Acolytes. She had at least been able to retain a room alone, though she wasn't sure if it had been meant as an honor or a sleight. It was a dismal thing compared to her former room with Hamado Kota. Gone were the glorious skyglass balcony with the sweeping view of the mountains, or the private rooms for study, training, and meditation. She now lived in a square box with nothing but a bedroll, her old pack stuffed to the brim with her worldly possessions, a small table and her two pathetic windows.

Elhaym paced along the wall, snatching up a waterskin with her left hand as she passed and drinking from it greedily. She tossed it aside into a corner before returning to the center of the room. Here at least she could work on her form in private, and oh she had. Half a hundred times it seemed, but she was still clumsy. Her blade was curved for a reason she had been told, and she was to wear it tucked into her Acolyte's sash in as peculiar a way as she had ever seen. Rather than hanging loosely at her side in a sword belt, the sword was almost perpendicular to her body and seemed to stick out a foot in front of her. Even with her meager understanding, the benefits of wearing this specific blade in that fashion were readily apparent.

Elhaym brought her blade up to re-sheathe it as she had been shown. With her left palm touching the barest tip of her sheath, she found her fingertips with the blade and ran it across the steel mouth of it's housing. One she felt the cold tip, she pushed the blade back into the sheath with a satisfying click. That part at least she could manage with some semblance of style and ease.

Half a hundred draws, but still far to clumsy to draw and kill in one stroke. She had been told she would have to repeat this motion hundreds of times to get it right, but that didn't bother her much. Things of magic and the mind befuddled her, but flesh and steel she understood. It was just as it had been when crafting her body into a lethal weapon. How many times had she struck a thatch target with her right shin before it no longer hurt? Elhaym readied herself.

click

Elhaym's blade hummed as it came free, and she planted her foot hard as her blade scattered the gleaming specks of dust in front of her. She felt an ache creeping through her wrist as she re sheathed her blade yet again. Of course she had been told not to grip it so tightly, that it was not a club or a broadsword. Still, her intuition was too strong and as she had been warned, her wrist was starting to ache.

Not only that, but her stomach was rumbling. Elhaym pulled her sheathed blade from her belt and propped it against the wall, letting a girlish sigh escape her lips as she went up to the tip of her toes and stretched her back. She gave her blade one last look as she closed the door to her room behind her.


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Last edited by Elhaym on February 17th, 2012, 3:04 am, edited 2 times in total.
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A Steel Remedy [Solo]

Postby Elhaym on February 17th, 2012, 2:44 am

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Elhaym took her meal alone in her room. She did that more often than not as of late, though it was generally not approved to do so. Let them come fetch her if anyone had a problem with it, she thought. Her meal was simple but filling, a bowl of rice and minced chicken coated with herbs with crushed almonds throughout. She ate it slowly from a seated position on the floor, holding the bowl with one hand and spooning the food with the other. The wooden planks she sat upon were getting cold, and so was her room. She supposed she could attempt to get a fire going in the dismal little hearth that sat between her two windows, but it was more trouble than it was worth. A blast of cold air found it's way through her windows and made her reconsider, and she gave her hearth a second look. Lined with stone and slightly elevated, it was as crude as it was effective. She resisted the urge; the smoke would filter out of her windows, but the heat would have her drenched in sweat once she resumed her swordplay.

Elhaym rose to her feet silently and placed her empty bowl on her small table. She took one last look, and ran her finger along it's bottom to collect the last bits of rice and juice from the meat and suck it from her fingers. The grease was swept away as she submerged her hands and rubbed them together briskly in the small basin of water she had, though it was more for the maintenance of her blade than any real desire for cleanliness that she did so. She snapped her hands back and forth to expel the water before collecting her blade and sliding it through her sash. The day had grown cold and would soon turn to night, but an Acolyte's training never ceased. Or so it seemed. She had no sponsor and likely could have gotten away with lazing around, but she needed the distraction.

click… hummmmmm… swoosh! click.

I hate it here.

click… hummmmmm… swoosh! click.

I don't care about this anymore.

click… hummmmmm… swoosh! click.

I should just leave.

She worked her body hard and her blade harder, sweeping it through the air in tandem with a forward step over and over again. She thought she might be beginning to draw her blade a little faster, cut a little more precisely, sheath a little more quickly… she loosed her blade once again, but this time a pain flared in her wrist as her sword sailed, and she nearly lost her grip and sent it careening across her tiny space.

Elhaym sheathed her blade extra hard, the clash of steel from her sheath and her blade's handguard resounding in her tiny corner of the world. Her right wrist ached, but it was not that which bothered her. She bit down on her lower lip lightly, uncomfortable with her own thoughts. Only a few days ago, she'd talked so fervently of duty to another Acolyte, a young man she could probably consider to be a friend. At the time she had even believed it. Yet words are simply wind, and hers seemed especially fickle these days. Her moods bounced from one extreme to the other, the only constant being an underlying sadness that sometimes bloomed into anger. Was he even a friend? He'd shed tears when she'd only hinted at some of the things she had seen and done, which must have meant he at the very least cared. In her happier moments, she looked back on that moment fondly. In her darkest, she thought it absurd and that he was a weakling.

It was growing colder. Elhaym looked to her high windows, and thought she could see a light snowfall on the other side. She heard a few Acolytes pass by her door, their laughter likely a result of full bellies and good company. It irritated her. The sky blue pigment of her robes was a bit faded and they were not so pristine as they could have been, but she had always been comfortable in them. In this moment, they became stifling.

Elhaym removed her blade once again and propped it against the wall before she untied the sash at her waist. She tossed it aside, freeing the top portion of her robes and throwing them atop her bedroll as well. The cool air felt strangely refreshing on her naked flesh, but that would only last so long before she was covered in goosebumps and shivering. She hastily tossed her shoes off and slipped out of her Acolyte's pants as well, slinking barefoot and nude over to her massive pack. All of her regular clothing were within, and she dug out a few articles to wear instead of that damned motley of blue and white she had to put on every day. She snatched up the pants she would wear and hopped on one foot as she slid them on one leg and then the other before tying off a thick cloth belt to hold them up. She turned her head slightly and saw a familiar scarring on her left shoulder; three jagged lines that had cut deep into the muscle there. So ugly. Her body shivered involuntarily as she remembered how she had acquired them. Her arms were well muscled and hard, and her abdomen would have been the envy of every female Acolyte if they ever had the chance to see them. A small sigh escaped her lips as she pulled a thick shirt of linen over her head. This chiseled flesh was her masterpiece, but it had been marred by her hard life.

Once she had donned her thick overcoat, a pair of worn leather boots and a pair of fingerless gloves she'd had fashioned in Syliras she felt slightly better. Comforting clothes that made her feel at home. Yet she wasn't home. Her room was suddenly as stifling as her uniform had been. Snatching up her sheathed blade and her old satchel, she retreated from her prison into the empty halls of the Pavilion. Her door slammed behind her noisily, echoing down the halls of the Pavilion where everyone seemed so content with their lives.


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A Steel Remedy [Solo]

Postby Elhaym on February 17th, 2012, 2:47 am

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She met no resistance when she made her way away from the Pavillion, sword in hand but out of uniform. Some Acolytes never wore anything but their robes, but there were a few who preferred to walk the streets undisturbed when they were lucky enough for leisure time. The snow she thought she had seen proved to be reality, and Elhaym thought she might not have ever seen Lhavit so gloomy. The skies were darkening and cast the city in a monochrome as if to defy it's very nature. The snow was light and melted as it touched the ground, but it clouded the air and made everything hazy. Elhaym's booted feet clicked and clacked along the small pathway that led away from the Shinya's corner of Lhavit, her pace quickening as the cold began to settle into her bones.

“Where am I even going...” she muttered, her words producing a plume of cloudy white that dissipated into the air around her. She was halfway across one of the massive bridges that connected the Shinyama peak to the Zintia when a blast of wind caused her to stumble. Her left hand was occupied holding her blade, and her right hand instinctively reached out to catch the ledge that protected all but the most determined from an unfortunate fall. The sudden impact sent a jarring pain through her right wrist, and Elhaym grimaced with dissatisfaction as she manuevered her blade in the fold of her left elbow and cradled her wrist. She continued forward, and thankfully the icy cold seemed to have the same effect as ice as far as numbing the ache. The age worn leather satchel slung over her back banged in tandem with her steps as she crossed onto the Zintia, and despite the weather there were still people about. Elhaym ducked her head against the wind and strode forward, looking for a place of solace to lose herself for a while.

Elhaym shook the snow from her hair and released a deep breath, grateful for the small covered square she had retreated to. She supposed that the spot was normally occupied by vendors and their stalls, but no one seemed too intent on selling anything this day. Elhaym tossed her satchel onto a bench of stone and skyglass, and began to shuffle through it's contents. A smile made it's first appearance for the day when she pulled the familiar cloth free from the depths of her bag; a long strip of thin and stretchy linen. She pulled the glove from her right hand and tossed it aside as she crouched down beside the bench (she may as well sit on an ice cube if she even touched that thing), and began to wrap her right arm just above the wrist. The motions came back to her quickly, and soon she was tying off the wrapping on the top of her hand above her knuckles. She had always braced her wrists when she had begun training her body so long ago, and the extra support would be a relief this snowy day. She pulled her glove back over the wrapping with a satisfying sound as the leather stretched over her hand.

The cold was bitter and the wind was biting at her bones, but Elhaym felt more at peace than she had crammed into her tiny dwelling. Her sheathed blade fit as nicely into her own thick belt as it had in her Acolyte's sash, and she resolved to continue her practice. The movement would help warm her bones. Her thumb went to rest on the handguard as it had so many times already today, pushing it forward ever so slightly to produce the clicking sound she had grown so fond of. There truly was something elegant about steel that even her body could not match. Her blade sang as it was pulled free from it's prison, as sweet as sound as any. Her grip stayed loose, the ache in her wrist reminder enough to keep her from straining her hand anymore than need be. An arcing cut whipped through the air more steadily than she had managed in her room, and she guided it back into her sheath with practiced ease.

Her teeth were clattering against each other, a clear indication that she needed to either up the ante in her movement or go back inside. Another method of drawing her blade came to mind, one that could be used while moving away from a foe and simultaneously attacking. She took a hold of her sheath in her left hand, and tilted it up so that it was almost parallel with her body yet still held in place by her cloth belt. The hilt was right next to her face, her right hand crossing her chin to take a loose hold of the cold and stiff leather that wrapped it. She began the draw, and just as her arm was extended so high that it became a struggle she pushed the sheath down. The steel came free in an instant, Elhaym's legs and hips maneuvering to the side as she brought it down in a one handed slash that would have opened up a foe from their collarbone to their groin. Well, perhaps if they were an ancient old man or a boy who'd never fought anything but a greasy meat pie. Her footwork was strong, but her strike was clumsy to any who knew a thing about swordsmanship.

Another blast of frosty white dissipated into the air as Elhaym exhaled. Her blade retreated to safety of it's sheath, any sounds lost to the howling winds. She continued her movements, and her body went into a state of automation as her mind began to wander.

Am I really so unhappy? I am fed, I am trained, I am given everything I need for the simple cost of service… but I want more. I want what was promised to me. Haven't I been faithful? Have I not done everything that is asked of me? All I asked was for a sliver of information, the barest hint that the Shinya actually had some information on her brother's killer that had been promised to me. Yet they give me nothing, only demand more.

The thoughts did not come as words, rather silent images of the last few days playing back in her mind. She could almost feel the hot lump in her throat that had formed as the Ascendent had dismissed her request.

I am not made for this. I felt alive when I journeyed here. I made a difference. I helped save an entire city from a madman who would have brought it to it's knees. I am more than just a blue robe who should bow it's head to it's masters and humbly shuffle around at their feet.

Her swordplay had grown more ferocious, and Elhaym found herself not bothering with the sheathing of her blade. She held it in a two handed grip, as she had been shown. Wielding this blade in one hand was acceptable for the initial draw, but to fight in earnest it required two. The left hand gripped the blade at the bottom of the hilt, and it was that hand that truly controlled the blade. She felt that now, as she brought her blade up and down in mock slashes, spinning her body and cutting. She could guide it easily with her left hand, and the blade's response was crisp. It was not so clumsy as it had been simply slashing wildly with one.

Elhaym found her body growing warmer despite the blistering wind. It had picked up since she had gone outside, but her new dance was proving more effective than the repetitive motions she had gone through before. Her blade darted up and down, and swinging it here alone she almost felt like a swordsman. Yet she was fighting no one but the cold wind of a dreary Lhavit, nearly devoid of it's people during the last throws of winter. The ever present ache in her wrist returned as she spun and slashed, her left hand guiding her strikes as her right kept the blade steady. Something in her peripheral vision caught her eye as she turned, two faint outlines growing darker and less formless as they approached. Her blade sank back into place with a click.


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A Steel Remedy [Solo]

Postby Elhaym on February 17th, 2012, 2:50 am

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The gray outlines materialized into the form of two Shinya approaching her. One male and one female, both holding a cup of liquid with steaming swirling violently away from them. Elhaym bowed out of habit, her right hand balled into a fast on her heart as her left stayed poised on her blade. The two responded in kind before speaking.

“Peace sister. It is good to grow accustomed to the harsh winters of Lhavit. Not many would willingly brave these winds to better themselves.” The male Shinya said, his breath billowing from his bearded face in thick plumes.

So that's what they thought. She wanted to scream at them that she hated it inside, that she only dared this weather to get away from something far worse. Her response was far different.

“You are kind to say so. If I cannot do this here, I will leave at once Sir.”

“Normally we would not approve, but as you can see there are few who would be inconvenienced by your practice. I see that your wrist troubles you; it was much the same for me when I began learning the way of the sword. Come here Acolyte, we have a drink to warm your belly.”

Elhaym did as the woman said, and the three of them took a seat amidst the howling cold. She wondered if they recognized her, or just assumed she must be an Acolyte to be practicing with a sword in the middle of Lhavit. Either way, Elhaym was always uncomfortable with the seemingly infallible perception that Shinya all seemed to have. She took one of the steaming cups and took a drink, surprised to find hot rice wine within.

“We will not tell if you don't. One cup will do you no harm, only warm your bones.” He said with a pleasant smile. “A pleasure, Acolyte. Elhaym, is it? I have heard of you, though we have not chanced to meet. My name is Hadir, and this is Meliandre. We have the fortunate duty of keeping the Surya Plaza safe this fine evening.”

“Yes, safe from diligent Acolytes and howling wind. Fortunate indeed.” Meliandre said in a sultry voice. She reached forward and gingerly took Elhaym's wrist and began to massage it through her cloth wrapping. She felt the ache began to melt away. “Using a sword is a process that will test you greatly. You will bend and move in ways you never knew, and find aches in parts of your body that you never knew existed. This will help.”

Elhaym nodded in appreciation, taking another sip of her drink. It filled her chest with warmth, a pleasant feeling to say the least. They were kind, yet their kindness left a bitter aftertaste on her soul much like the rice wine she drank. The Shinya were good to her, caring and just. They guided her and corrected her sternly when she strayed, but they were always kind. Did she really have it in her heart to be so disgusted with the thought of joining them? She let out a cloud of white as she exhaled, thinking in silence as Meliandre worked her aching wrist and Hadir silently meditated.

They are kind, and a family to me. Sometimes that is enough, but sometimes it is not. I love this city and I would not stand for anything that meant it harm, but I would gladly leave if given the chance. I don't know what I want anymore.

Her confusion must have been apparent, otherwise damn these Shinya and their intuition. She found that both of them were studying her intently. Meliandre released her hold on Elhaym's wrist, the ache having subsided.

“You know, Acolyte... we all had doubts. Every Shinya I know has felt the quiet discourse that settles in once they realize what they have dedicated themselves to achieve. I have seen Acolytes with endless potential leave this city countless times. If you struggle, do not struggle alone. Find someone you can trust, and tell them how you feel. It may be that you leave us, or you may find that you are not so unique in your disposition.”

Meliandre stood as she finished speaking, tugging her robes back into their correct position. Hadir stood as well, nodding in affirmation to her statement.

“Continue as you were Acolyte. Remember Milandre's words. They are wise, and true.”

The two left with the empty cups, leaving Elhaym seated and alone. The bitter cold returned, and the wind seemed to howl louder. Her teethed ground on one another as she pushed herself to her feet, thinking on what they had said. Perhaps she was depressed for her loss, or stressed by the situation. Maybe she really did hate it here. Her head shook back and forth as she ushered the thoughts away, unwilling to confront that demon just yet. Her blade sang as it came free from it's sheath, and she began her dance anew.

*****

Elhaym's white coat billowed behind her as she lunged forward, driving her blade down in a two handed slash. Her heels dug in, and her body pivoted on them as she turned and guided her blade back up and into another attack. Steel slid from the right to the left and back again, all the while her left hand guiding her strikes from the pommel of her blade. She knew her form was sloppy, but so once had been her kicks and punches. She had once thought planting her knee into a man's face and vaulting off his own body to land strong and true on her feet was impossible. There were a few corpses in this world who could attest to just how possible it was. This was no different. After one final cut that would have taken a man's throat was delivered, she sheathed her blade and let out a heavy breath. Her chest heaved up and down, a testament to her effort. Her body was shivering, and the breaths she took were almost painful. No amount of movement would warm her at this point, and Elhaym grudgingly accepted that she would have to return to the Pavilion. She hoisted her satchel onto her shoulder and set to walking.

The snow had lessened, and Lhavit seemed to be slowly clawing it's way back to it's typical glory. She could see colors through the haze dancing off a thousand different sources of skyglass, but the colors were still muted and by far less spectacular than any typical day. The bridge was crossed with incident, and Elhaym even managed to find her way into the Pavilion and up into her room without any interference. She didn't want to talk to anyone, or even think anymore. Her wrist hurt and she was cold, and her legs were beginning to cramp from the repeated motions in the courtyard she had subjected them to.

With her door closed behind her and the world once again shrunken down into her tiny space, Elhaym set to getting her near frozen clothes off and crawling into her bedroll. It felt blessedly warm against her bare skin. She would only sleep for a few hours before waking again and likely returning to some sort of training. With that would come her doubt, her anger, her irritation… but now, she could only think of sleep.


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A Steel Remedy [Solo]

Postby Hermit on February 23rd, 2012, 4:21 am

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Always a pleasure to read.

Katana 4
Medicine 2
Massage 1


The Art of Drawing a Sword
Scars Carry Weight
Taking Advice
Steel Cuts Like a Cold Wind

As always my cave opening stands open.

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