Solo The Way of the Sword (Scimitar)

[Starlit Strand] On a day off work, Satevis decides to do some training.

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Syka is a new settlement of primarily humans on the east coast of Falyndar opposite of Riverfall on The Suvan Sea. [Syka Codex]

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The Way of the Sword (Scimitar)

Postby Satevis on March 10th, 2018, 4:02 am

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14th of Spring, 518 AV

The sea breeze blew in from the beach as Satevis moved through some of the basic scimitar forms, the metal blade moving through the air in a series of simple strikes and blocks. He took a step forward, thrusting the scimitar through the air at an imaginary opponent and tried to turn, closing ranks with an opponent that was behind him. His scimitar went up, deflecting an oncoming blow and he stepped forward into the strike, slashing at the opponent before he could recover.

The sun was still low in the sky over the ocean, having just risen for the day. It was one of those rare days off, a day where Satevis wasn't expected to be at the Panacea, and he found that he didn't know what to do with himself. The scimitar, though he had only picked it up out of necessity after events that had happened in Zeltiva, was a strangely meditative exercise for such a restless day.

He hadn't had as much time to pick up the sword as he would have liked, but he found, as he always did when he set his mind to the practice, that it felt good to move this way, to work his body through the movements. Practicing with the scimitar was one of the rare instances where he didn't have to force himself to stop thinking and focus on the situation at hand. The blade was sharp and ready to cut, even if Satevis was not the most skilled at using it. If he didn't give the exercise his full attention, he could hurt himself.

It was the same logic that applied to Reimancy, although an accident with the scimitar might be significantly less deadly. It was playing with fire, and he wondered what it said about him that the ways in which he sometimes chose to apply himself were so dangerous.

But there was no learning without risk. Without pain. That knowledge was a truth that he had never had to question--it had been part of himself, part of his soul from the moment he opened his eyes, naked and bedraggled, on Zeltiva's shore. It was a truth writ onto his soul; he didn't know how he knew it, but it didn't matter when the knowledge was a part of him.

The scimitar wasn't the same as magic, as study, as the necessary skills of survival in Syka. But it was still learning, and there was a familiarity to the movements that suggested that once upon a time, this body had once done the very same things.

He wondered if this body had been as clumsy with it as he was, though. Or at least, he assumed that he was being clumsy with it, because the noise Seraya made where she sat outside the tent was not at all impressed. Instead, she'd opened her mouth to let out an exaggerated yawn, as if she was about to fall asleep.

"Gods, could you be any stiffer?" she asked. "Loosen up a little. You look someone dragged you to a festival and forced you to dance at knifepoint."
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The Way of the Sword (Scimitar)

Postby Satevis on March 10th, 2018, 4:17 am

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Satevis lowered his sword, glancing over at her.

"That's an interesting analogy," he said, taking a breath. Training in the daytime tired him out more than it did when he trained at night, with Leth watching over him. It still felt right to train during the day. Like that was what this body had done, the last time his soul had come to inhabit it. "Do you speak from personal experience?"

"Hah," Seraya said, "You wish. I was the one holding the knife."

"Honestly," Satevis said, "I can imagine that." He looked down at the scimitar in his hand, then back up at her. "Do you have any suggestions for improvement?"

Seraya frowned at the question, pushing herself up to her feet. She made her way towards him, looking sharply at the sword in his hand. The curved blade was slightly different from her own straight longsword, but Seraya was studying it with an appraising look in his eye, as if it was a new book written in a language she was familiar with, but on a topic she did not fully understand. She held her hand out towards him. "May I?"

Satevis nodded in response, handing the sword out towards her by the hilt. Seraya took it from him, testing its weight in one hand. She held it up, looking down the length of the blade, then took a few tentative swings. "Heavy towards the blade," she said, half to herself. "It practically swings itself. Turns nicely, too." She held the blade up to the light again, inspecting the steel, and nodded in absentminded approval. "It's in good shape. You take decent care of it for a novice."

"It's mine," Satevis said. "I bought it. I certainly wouldn't want to let any weapon of mine fall into disrepair."

Seraya grunted, handing it back to him. She folded her arms, spreading her legs slightly in a parade ground stance.

"Alright!" she barked, her voice sharp enough to ring in his ears. "First things first--that sword in your hands is a cutter. It's not meant to stab, it's meant to slash, and it's meant to cut."

"There's a difference?" Satevis asked, bemused.

"Of course there's a difference, idiot," Seraya said. "A slash is a slash. It breaks skin, but you'd be lucky to cause any real damage. A cut, now that's where the real power is."

"The forms I was taught involved thrusts," Satevis pointed out.

"Then whoever taught you those was definitely overreaching," Seraya said. At the look on Satevis's face, she added. "I'm not saying you can't use thrusts. They'd still hurt. But you're a beginner. You should be focused on the sword's strength, not its weakness. And that means you need to learn how to move."

"I'm not moving well enough already?" Satevis asked.

"Refer back to my earlier comment," Seraya said. "That's not the sort of blade that you can come in with, take a stance, swing like a lunatic with, and hope for the best. That is the sort of blade that you need to really move with. You need to be fluid, and follow the motion of the sword, or you're just wasting energy."
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The Way of the Sword (Scimitar)

Postby Satevis on March 10th, 2018, 7:49 pm

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Wasted energy…

Satevis glanced at the scimitar in his hand, thinking. It was true that when he went through the motions of that pattern, he often felt as though he was having to fight against the sword, having to stop it in motion or forcibly change his direction. He had thought that that was normal, that the transitions would become smoother as he worked at it, like how Reimancy had first felt like such a challenge, but had grown easier with time. Perhaps that was not so.

“What should I do?” he asked Seraya.

“I’m going to change things up on you,” Seraya said. “Lend me the sword.”

He did. She took a stance not unlike his own, swiping the sword cautiously through the air for a few moments to test out its weight and feel. Then, she started moving with exaggerated slowness through the basic pattern he had been practicing, and if she was not as fluid as she was with her own blade, she still made the pattern look much smoother than he had.

“What I want you to do,” Seraya said, as she moved, “is work on this part the same way you were working on it earlier, but slower. Pushing yourself to go faster isn’t going to help you here, until you have the basics down. And when you get to the turn…” Seraya finished slashing downward the way that Satevis had, diagonally from shoulder to hip, but instead of raising the sword, turning, and stabbing it through the air, she moved her wrist in a motion that sent the sword slicing upward while she turned, moving over her head and down into another cut towards that imaginary opponent behind her.

The entire sequence had been accomplished with no wasted motion at all.

Satevis took the sword back from Seraya, impressed.

“Try doing it like that,” Seraya said. “Work on that drill for a bit.”

She wandered back to her seat in front of the tent, sitting cross-legged, and while she looked bored, Satevis sensed that he had her attention. He looked down at the sword in his hand and started to move.

It was, in essence, a simple pattern. The sequence started with the wielder squared off against an imaginary opponent. The opponent also had a scimitar, and opened the fight using a downward slash. Satevis raised his sword, moving with the same exaggerated slowness that Seraya had displayed, and deflected the oncoming blade. The opponent came in with a horizontal slash, and Satevis deflected that too, turning the sword so that the blades would not meet edge-to-edge.

He could see what Seraya was saying. Moving this slowly was not trivial—it allowed him to feel the weight of the sword, the way it cut through the air, allowed him to feel every place where his technique was rough or where he was making a mistake. He followed through with the rest of the sequence. Having deflected the oncoming attack, he turned the sword around in the air, swinging it downwards onto the opponent in a diagonal cut.
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The Way of the Sword (Scimitar)

Postby Satevis on March 10th, 2018, 7:51 pm

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Downward, diagonally, a powerful cut from shoulder to hip. This way, he could feel gravity pulling at the sword, could see what Seraya meant when she said it was weighted towards the blade. This time, he focused on that feeling, trying not to fight the blade as it reached the bottom of its cut.

What was it that Seraya had done? A flick of her wrist?

Satevis turned his wrist at the bottom of the cut, shifting the blade so that its edge pointed to the sky instead of the ground. He stepped forward as he raised the sword, letting the cut’s momentum carry the sword up through the air without stopping, and down again. This time, when he swung his sword through the transition, he could feel something behind the motion that he hadn’t felt during all the other times when he had practiced this pattern.

Power.

“You’re getting the picture,” Seraya said, when Satevis told her as much. “I don’t care how much of a muscle-brained ox you are—and you’re not—you’re never going to summon up enough force to do real damage with a sword, consistently, from your arms alone. The most powerful cuts come from the whole body, working in concert with the sword, to get the job done. Keep at it a few more times until you feel more comfortable with it. When you feel like you’ve got it, you can try adding some of the speed back in. And when you’re done with that, I’ve got some things to say about your footwork.”

Satevis nodded, going back to work. He raised the scimitar and repeated the pattern again, this time focused on the movement of energy through his body as he moved. Energy and motion, Seraya had said. The sword’s momentum was an ally that he could use, not an enemy. He thought he had understood that in the past, when he had been taught to use deflections rather than blocks when necessary, but clearly he hadn’t yet grasped that.

The sword reached the bottom of the diagonal cut, and he moved his wrist and hand the way Seraya had showed him, trying to bring the sword over his head without wasting momentum. He repeated the sequence again, and again, and again. The heat of the day grew stronger, and his shirt soaked through with sweat. Satevis paused his practice to put the sword down and remove it, then took up the sword and started working the pattern.

Again and again and again.

After a while, he began to see what Seraya had hinted about his footwork. The steps he was taking to turn around seemed clumsy, off-balance somehow. He felt as if a blow would knock him over, as if the momentum of the sword itself might cause him to stumble. That clearly needed fixing. So instead of increasing the pace of his strikes, Satevis focused on his feet, trying to get them to cooperate. A step forward and then another step to turn seemed to be taking too long. A step back did the same thing, and only made him feel more like he was about to fall over.

When he nearly stumbled once, Seraya sighed, running a hand through her hair and getting to her feet again.
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The Way of the Sword (Scimitar)

Postby Satevis on March 10th, 2018, 7:55 pm

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“Spread your legs a little,” Seraya told him, standing beside him. “A wider stance gives you more power.”

Satevis copied her stance. He did feel more stable like this, at least from the front, but he didn’t see how it would help him move. If anything, he felt more rooted in place like this, not less.

“Now,” Seraya said, standing with her right leg forward, “If you want to get through that turn, the key is to find a way to do it in one step, without wasting time. There are a couple of ways. The simplest, if you can manage it, is a turn on the balls of your feet, like this.” She raised herself up on the balls of her feet and pivoted smoothly around, shifting her left foot out to the side as she did so that her legs were never tangled with each other. “Give that one a try.”

Satevis did his best, but although he managed to turn around, he didn’t feel particularly stable doing so. The movement didn’t quite feel natural to him. Seraya clicked her tongue impatiently.

“Your whole posture is off,” she said. “Straighten up your back, square your shoulders. Keep your center of gravity over your feet, don’t lean forward or back. And relax, don’t be so tense.”

“Those seem like contradictory instructions, Seraya,” Satevis said, with the hint of a smile.

Seraya rolled her eyes. “Only because you’re not used to this yet,” she said. “Tension is bad. Locked joints are especially bad. Tense muscles move slower, move rougher, and don’t have as much power. Tense minds make jerky, stupid moves under pressure. You want to become a halfway decent swordsman, you’re going to have to learn how to breathe and relax even when you have a weapon in your hand and a guy is standing in front of you wanting to kill you. That’s how you win. Now try the drill with that turn.”

“Yes, teacher,” Satevis said, in Shiber.

Seraya’s brow went up. “Are you mocking me?” she asked.

“Of course not,” Satevis said, lowering his head to hide his smile.

“Good. I have no idea what you just said. Do the drill again.”

Satevis raised his sword, going through the motions again. Deflection, deflection, downward diagonal cut. When he reached the turn, he tried to match his footwork up to the momentum of the sword, doing the quick turn that Seraya had taught him. It didn’t feel natural, and he swayed uncertainly, but he got the sword around, bringing it down overhead.

Again, he told himself, setting up for the next pattern. He moved the sword through the motions, paying careful attention to his posture and his breathing.

Deflection, deflection, diagonal cut. Turn—this time, he managed to do it without stumbling. Powerful downward cut.

Again.
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The Way of the Sword (Scimitar)

Postby Satevis on March 11th, 2018, 12:41 am

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Slowly, piece by piece, the turn started to feel more natural. The more Satevis worked at the pattern, going almost painstakingly slow, the more he started to feel like all of the separate parts of his body were moving together, as one element. The sword started to feel like a part of that structure and less like an external tool, more an extension of himself than something other.

It was odd, really, how much this felt like using magic.

That feeling in place, Satevis started to move faster, increasing his speed. He made sure to make the change gradual, to increase his speed more and more with each repetition until he was doing the movement at the same pace as he had been practicing before. This time, however, everything felt different. He could still feel the occasional change in movement and momentum, the frustration of not being able to do it the way he could see it in his mind, but there was something there that hadn't been there before.

Fluidity. Motion. Power.

Satevis felt less like a child that had borrowed his father's sword, and more like a swordsman. True, it was only in this one pattern, in this one handful of movements, but he was starting to catch a glimpse of the sort of power that might come to him in the future, if he were diligent, if he kept up with the training and the practice. It was exciting.

The sword swept through the air, up and down, like the waves that were breaking on the shore to his right, and Satevis lost himself in the exercise, his mind quieting into stillness as he worked his way through the repetition. His weight shifted forward and back, forward and back, and at length, Seraya clapped her hands, a clear signal to stop.

Satevis stopped moving, lowering the sword to his side. Now that he had stopped, he realized that his breathing was coming in short pants, that his muscles were burning and that he was soaked in sweat. His sword arm, in particular, felt limp and weak, as if all the strength had been sapped out of it. He looked over at Seraya and realized that she was holding a container of water. He didn't even notice that she had left, that she had gone to the spring to fetch it.

He realized now how thirsty he was. His hands shook as he picked up the sword's leather sheath. The scimitar's hilt had made indentations in the palm of his sword hand, scraping the skin raw in places. He imagined he'd likely have blisters the next day.

Satevis took the water from Seraya, taking a long sip. When he felt more able to speak, he pulled away from the canteen, turning towards her.

"Thank you," he said, inclining his head towards her respectfully, "for the lesson."

"Anytime," Seraya said. "You were starting to look almost decent towards the end."

Satevis gave her a tired smile. "From you, I'll take that as high praise," he said.

"It is," Seraya said. She grinned, bending down to pick up the sheathed scimitar, which he had left lying on the ground. "Now you're going to try that with the left side, right?"

Satevis turned to face her sharply, his eyes wide. At the look on his face, Seraya burst out into deep laughter, her arms wrapped around her middle as she set the sword down.
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The Way of the Sword (Scimitar)

Postby Prophet on March 13th, 2018, 9:09 pm

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This was a nice thread to read. It flowed very well and your style came through clearly as you delved into a relatively new skill. Having an NPC teacher is a great way to blend through the hiccups and error aspect of being horrid at something. ;) I would like to recommend that you try and detail abit more of the sword's actual movements in future combat/training threads. In several places, you talked about your PC moving but really left out the flow of the blade. I still awarded XP for these posts since you were constantly training but as you gain XP and level up, more information will be needed to gain better lores and higher class XP. Again, I really enjoyed this thread- great read. I'll be following the developing relationship between Eth and Verusk. ;)

I sent you a PM regarding a discrepancy in your ledger. Once it is fixed, PM me for your grades.


 
Satevis
XP
  • Weapon-Scimitar: +5
  • Socialization: +4
  • Observation: +3
  • Endurance: +1
Lores
  • Satevis: Uses martial training to help mental focus
  • Weapon-Scimitar: Feels familiar & comfortable in Satevis’ hands
  • Weapon-Scimitar: Practicing against imaginary forces helps to create a mindset
  • Practice: Focus required for Scimitar and Reimancy are similar
  • Weapon-Scimitar: Made for slashing, not stabbing
  • Seraya: Blunt but honest
  • Seraya: Knows her blades
  • Satevis: Takes pride in his possessions
  • Weapon-Scimitar: Is the kind of blade the wielder needs to move with; be fluid
  • Weapon-Scimitar: Starting slow to develop the basics will increase effectiveness
  • Weapon-Scimitar: Slow movements allow one to feel the weight of the blade
  • Weapon-Scimitar: Turning one’s wrist to change direction maintains momentum
  • Weapon-Scimitar: The most powerful cuts come from the whole body
  • Practice: Repetition creates comfort
  • Seraya: Good at explaining technique
  • Weapon-Scimitar: Footwork is just as important as arm movement
  • Weapon-Scimitar: A wider stance gives more power
  • Weapon-Scimitar: Center of gravity is important to keep above your legs
  • Seraya: Not one to be mocked
  • Weapon-Scimitar: Locked joints and tense muscles move slower than a relaxed body
  • Endurance: Training is hard work
  • Seraya: Girl’s got jokes
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