Solo Ox, Plow, Roof... and the Fool

Tarn further familiarizes himself with the tools of his trade.

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Ox, Plow, Roof... and the Fool

Postby Tarn Alrenson on July 6th, 2018, 7:14 am

Timestamp: Summer 14, 518 AV


“There are four basic guards for the longsword that I will teach you today,” declared Eleuia, one of the Proving Grounds’ principle trainers. She continued, speaking to Tarn, her current student. “You will not fight in any one of these positions. Rather, you will move from each one to the next continuously as the battle demands.”

Tarn nodded. He was already sweaty, as the Captain had just had him run through his warmup exercises as well as the movement drills he had hoped he was done with after his first training session.

“The first of these guards is what some of us like to call ‘the ox’ or ‘the window.’ In this position, hold the hilt by your head with the point of your sword facing your opponent, as so.” Eleuia fell into a combat stance, raising her blade up as she had described with the tip of the sword pointing directly at Tarn’s throat.

“Taking this position presents several simple and clear threats to your enemy. The easiest and perhaps most effective of these is a simple thrust.” She demonstrated by pushing off of her back leg and lunging forward, extending the blade in a powerful motion that Tarn earnestly hoped never to be on the receiving end of. Returning to her previous position, the “ox,” Eleuia demonstrated another simple attack.

“You can also easily make a powerful diagonal cut,” she turned her hands, whipping the sword around into said cut and turning her hips to follow through. The speed of the motion surprised Tarn. When he saw men fighting practice bouts with swords, most of them wound up and struck at each other fiercely with crushing blows until one of them broke down the guard of the other, either through carefully timed cuts or from pure exhaustion.

Eleuia however, didn’t wind up. The movements and the cuts of her sword were smooth and efficient, the bright steel of her sword catching and reflecting the sun’s light in dazzling rays as she struck. It was a thing of beauty, and Tarn gaped in amazement for a moment before Eleuia called for him to emulate the stance.

Tarn bent his knees, wincing at the mild ache in his legs from the rather large amount of time he spent in the stance recently. He had been told that with practice, the stance became nearly as comfortable as standing straight, but he had yet to notice any of that effect. Tarn raised his practice sword up by his head, aiming the point at Eleuia the way she had at him. The Captain examined him, tapping her chin a few times with her finger. With a sigh she stepped forward and adjusted his guard with a few gentle prods, pulling the hilt slightly closer to his head and pulling his forward knee out from where it had been sagging too far inward.

Eventually she stepped back, his positioning apparently to her satisfaction.

“The Ox is an aggressive guard, and it can be used for blocking overhead strikes, but it is also unstable, and isn’t as strong as some of the other guards.”

Tarn nodded his head, still holding his “Ox” position, the point of his practice blade wavering a bit in the air as sweat beaded on his forehead.
Last edited by Tarn Alrenson on July 18th, 2018, 5:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Tarn Alrenson
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Ox, Plow, Roof... and the Fool

Postby Tarn Alrenson on July 10th, 2018, 10:45 pm

“By lowering your blade from the Ox position, you will enter what is sometimes called ‘The Plow.’ This guard covers you very well on the defensive front, and also has a deadly straight thrust.” Eleuia took Tarn by his wrists and lowered the blade, settling the pommel by his hip with the blade angled forward and up. Tarn sighed as the Captain fussed over the details of his guard. Eleuia must have sensed his frustration, because she stepped back again and looked at Tarn sternly.

“Are my fundamentals perhaps boring you soldier?” she asked. Tarn hesitated before responding. He was bored. Almost all of the other dragoons were engaged in practice bouts around the training field, putting themselves against each other in tests of strength and skill. Meanwhile, he was still learning how to hold the sword right.

“No, it’s just that I don’t see how all of this is practical,” said Tarn, rising from his stance and gesturing at the practice sword. “I mean, oxen and plows? What does farming have to do with swordsmanship? Shouldn’t I be learning through experience? Like the others?” Tarn used his practice blade to indicate a group of Dragoons training under Iztel, arranged into pairs and sparring with their respective weapons.

Eleuia raised an eyebrow at Tarn.

“If you want to be just like every other lump of thick-headed muscle in the city, go right ahead and train like the others. It doesn’t take much practice or experience to swing a sharp bit of steel at your opponent until it cuts something, and that will serve you well. At least until you run into somebody that wasn’t as lazy as you were and actually bothered to learn how to use the weapon they carry.” Eleuia laughed mirthfully in a sound that would be somewhat chilling if Tarn didn’t know she was on his side.

“But if you want to actually be able to fight and not make a fool of yourself when you least want to, get back into your stance and raise the Plow.”

Tarn reluctantly sank back into his prior position and Eleuia resumed her lecture, showing him some simple cuts and defensive maneuvers from the “Plow” guard. Once she was satisfied Tarn had the grip of each move on its own, she began running him through drills to string them together.

At Eleuia’s command, Tarn began in the Ox, lunging forward and throwing his weight behind a straight thrust. Almost as soon as the forward motion halted, Tarn pulled back, retreating into the Plow, from where he raised his arms, crossing them into an X, which brought the practice blade up into a defense from a vertical strike. A brief moment in this position was followed by a retreating step as Tarn fell back into the Ox position, the blade on the opposite side of his head from when he had started.

“Good.” Eleuia said, nodding. “The Fool is next.”
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Ox, Plow, Roof... and the Fool

Postby Tarn Alrenson on July 12th, 2018, 5:36 am

“Fool?” Tarn asked, “What fool?”

The Fool,” Eleuia replied, “it’s the next guard.”

“There is a longsword guard,” Tarn began, “called the Fool? Why would you ever use it?”

“Because it’s effective,” she replied, “and it’s what we want the enemy to think we are.” Eleuia tapped Tarn on the forehead. “We make them think we’re making a mistake so that if they’re fool enough themselves they’ll make one of their own.”

Tarn cocked his head, considering.

“Alright,” he said. Eleuia nodded and proceeded to show him the guard. She lowered the point of his practice sword, pointing the tip towards the ground somewhere in front of him and between his feet. Unlike the plow, in which Tarn had been leaning forward slightly over the blade, in this guard his torso was almost completely upright. The position certainly felt exposed, and he could see why they called the guard “The Fool.”

Eleuia fussed over his form again, shifting his shoulders back from where he had had them hunched forward. When his form was satisfactory, Eleuia explained the theory behind the guard.

“When you use the Fool, your enemies will think you’re leaving your body wide open to attack.”

“Because I am,” Tarn mumbled under his breath. Eleuia smirked.

“You are, but you won’t be as easy a target as they’ll think. From the fool, your foes will be enticed into attacking you. Then, you can take advantage of them with quick counterattacks.” Eleuia demonstrated with her own sword, flicking the blade up from the low “Fool” guard as if parrying a phantom strike before turning her body and swinging the sword in a swift upward cut.

Eleuia guided Tarn through similar maneuvers in slow motion, showing him different ways to deflect attacks from different angles.

“If at all possible,” she said to him, “don’t try to stop your opponent’s sword with your own. It’s a waste of energy, and there’s always a chance that they’re just stronger than you, and they’ll be able to clobber you through your defenses anyway. Instead, you must guide your opponent’s blade away from you with your own. Redirect their strikes just far enough from their course to avoid contact, and then let them swing to their hearts content as they open up a bigger gap for your riposte. And if you run into a real idiot that broadcasts their attacks, and if you’re fast enough, you can counterstrike Without having to parry at all. Here, let me show you…”

Eleuia retrieved a practice sword from a nearby rack and dropped into the Fool’s stance.

“Try to hit me,” she said demandingly. Tarn hesitantly swung his own practice blade and she batted it aside. “Try to hit me hard, otherwise this exercise is next to useless.” Tarn complied, drawing back and swinging at his instructor.

Before his attack made it more than a few inches however, Eleuia’s practice blade darted upward and struck his arm at the elbow. With a yelp, Tarn jumped back, ceasing his own strike. Eleuia smiled.

“You can just as easily hit your opponent in the leg, torso, or face, as long as they leave themselves open and you can get them there before they can get you.”
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Ox, Plow, Roof... and the Fool

Postby Tarn Alrenson on July 14th, 2018, 6:10 am

Tarn considered his teacher’s words for a moment.

“And if I misjudge? And they get me before my blow lands?”

“Then you lose. You also probably die. Don’t do that.”

“Noted,” Tarn said.

“Our next guard is quite similar,” Eleuia continued, either oblivious to or intentionally ignoring Tarn’s sarcasm. “We call this one the Roof. Why it’s called that is fairly obvious. The blade is held like so…” Eleuia raised the hilt of her sword up beside her head, the point of the sword sticking backwards and upwards.

“Instead of the Roof, some swordsmen call this guard ‘Wrath,’ and with good reason. From this position you can deliver a versatile array of crushing strikes. It also possesses many of the same advantages as the ‘Fool’ guard.” Eleuia demonstrated a few attacks, her blade whistling through the air in a dazzling display. When she called for Tarn to emulate the guard, he fell into a paltry imitation of her demonstration. Eleuia clicked her tongue a few times, and as usual set about correcting his errors and setting the guard right. When his stance met her expectations, she stepped back and fell into a stance of her own, raising her sword into the “Roof.”

“Follow my movements,” she commanded. Eleuia began swinging her sword in slow, deliberate strikes, sliding from one to the next smoothly, occasionally falling back into the Roof guard. Tarn tried to copy her, but inevitably fell far short of her grace and precision. Several times he found himself unable to mimic her movements exactly and satisfied himself with clumsily following what he believed to be a similar path with his sword.

Eventually, as if Tarn weren’t having enough trouble, Eleuia increased the speed of her movements, her sword flashing in ever quickening slashes, cuts and thrusts. In less than a minute, Tarn found himself completely unable to follow his teacher’s strikes, and completely out of breath. Eleuia stopped, letting her sword rest casually on her shoulder. Looked at him for a moment, then seemed to give the smallest of nods.

“Good,” she said.

“Really?” Tarn asked, surprised.

“No. But you’re at least a little better than average now. You can hold your weapon without making every competent swordsman within ten leagues wince at your improper form, for one thing. That’s an improvement.”

Tarn sighed, rolling his eyes.

“You are still completely incapable of engaging in longsword combat however. I’m going to do my best to fix that. Now that you know the four basic guards, we can begin teaching you how to use them.”

Tarn let out a low groan of protest, rubbing his still aching legs. Eleuia smiled.

“Your enemies will not care if you are tired, or otherwise incapacitated. If you’re going to fight for the Sun’s Birth, you need to be able to do it whether or not your legs are weary. Understand me soldier?”

Tarn nodded.

“Yessir,” he called. Eleuia nodded.

“Good, let’s get to work.”
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Ox, Plow, Roof... and the Fool

Postby Tarn Alrenson on July 14th, 2018, 11:12 pm

At Eleuia’s command, Tarn dropped into his stance, choosing a guard to start with. He decided upon the Plow. He took a certain measure of comfort in this position with the blade planted squarely between him and his opponent. Eleuia slid smoothly into the Ox position, calling out,

“Move from each guard to another from one strike or engagement to the next. If you use any one of the four exclusively, your opponent will be able to feel out your weak spots and use them against you.” As if to punctuate her statement, Eleuia’s blade flicked out towards Tarn, as if to test the waters. Tarn raised his own sword, intercepting the blow and jarring his arms. He took a retreating step and pulled back into the closest guard, the Ox.

“Parry, don’t block. Let your opponent’s strikes slide off your sword, preferably away from you.” Tarn nodded. Eleuia was now in the Fool stance, leaving her torso open to attack. Tarn felt beckoned to strike at the apparently open space above her sword but remembered what she had taught him about the guard. Warily, Tarn held back, shifting uneasily from the Ox to the Roof. Eleuia flashed him a wry smile.

“You aren’t going for it? That’s smart, maybe. If you’re fast enough though, you can make the enemy regret trying to draw you in to attack.” The words had barely left her mouth before Eleuia struck again. She lunged forward, raising her sword just slightly from the Fool stance to strike at Tarn’s leg. Tarn tried to swing his sword down to parry the blow, but the practice sword hit his knee with a loud THWACK before he could reach it.

“If your enemy is in range, be sure you can defend yourself wherever they attack. If I put you on the ground by cutting out your leg you’ll be dead just as sure as if I’d taken you in the neck. All I have to do is finish the job.” Tarn nodded, briefly wiping sweat from his eyes with his sleeve. This time he attacked before she could, bringing his sword down diagonally toward her side. Eleuia casually met his blade with her own, the wooden practice swords whispering as they slid across each other and Tarn’s blow went wide. Stepping around the attack, Eleuia jabbed forward, the tip of her sword striking Tarn in the shoulder. Tarn hissed in pain as the muscle cramped from the force of the blow. Eleuia quickly followed up with a strong beat to the center of his sword, knocking it out of his hands.

Tarn held his shoulder, trying to work the pain out of it with his fingers as Eleuia strode over and placed her practice sword back on the weapons rack, dusting her hands off as she walked back.

“There’s certainly a lot of room for improvement,” she said, “but now you at least know some of the basics. You can work from there, and maybe someday you’ll be able to hold your own with a sword in your hands.

Tarn nodded at her, breathing heavily and trying to stretch the soreness out of his legs.

“Thank you, Captain,” he said. Eleuia dipped her head slightly in return. Before she turned away, she gestured at Tarn’s fallen practice sword.

“Take better care of your weapons than that soldier. If you don’t, you’ll get killed. Either by the enemy, or me.” Tarn hurriedly retrieved the fallen sword and put it back on the weapons rack. As he left the training grounds, Tarn thought,

Maybe someday I’ll be able to hold my own in a fight? Bah! Give me my spear and I’ll show her how I can hold my own…
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Tarn Alrenson
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Ox, Plow, Roof... and the Fool

Postby Kynier on July 29th, 2018, 12:44 am

Grades!


Skill Rewards
  • Endurance +4
  • Longsword +4
  • Observation +5
  • Rhetoric +1

Lores Learned
  • Longsword: The Ox stance
  • Longsword: Thrust from Ox stance
  • Longsword: The Plow stance
  • Longsword: The Fool stance
  • Longsword: How to deflect another sword
  • Longsword: The Roof stance
  • Longsword: Take care of your weapon
  • Endurance: Your enemies don’t care if you’re tired


Clearly well thought out. Keep up the good posting! If you have an questions or concerns about your grade please feel free to PM me.
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