Solo [The Proving Grounds] Be Better

Knowing how to make a blade doesn't at all translate into using it.

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A lawless town of anarchists, built on the ruins of an ancient mining city. [Lore]

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[The Proving Grounds] Be Better

Postby Baelin Holt on August 28th, 2019, 8:38 pm

Image
33, Summer 519 AV

The closer Baelin got to his destination, the more brands he started to see. Triangles and circles filled with varying amounts of ink―the mark of the Sun’s Birth. The telltale signal that he was indeed nearing their refuge.

Baelin had been on the fence about coming here for the last several days, ever since he caught wind that the gang’s combat training was open to the public. Much to his continued detriment, Baelin was a woefully bad fighter. Now that he was living in a place filled to the brim with the desperate and poor, he was all too aware of just how much of a liability that was.

He still wasn’t sure if walking straight into a gang’s training yard was such a good idea. But Baelin had already decided to do it, and any more arguments were powerless against the might of his stubbornness.

Baelin got as far as the first guard-post. A man with three ink-filled triangles moved to stop him and said, “Hold up, gotta check you first.”

At Baelin’s confused frown, the man snorted. “C’mon, now,” the guard rolled his hand in a circle and grinned, “Do a little spin and show me some skin.”

A second guard groaned, “Can you not?” She stepped forward, ignored the mock-offense of her colleague, and grasped Baelin’s right wrist. The woman―two ink-filled triangles―made to pull his arm up. Baelin willingly obliged, raising his limb for her scrutiny. She twisted his wrist palm-up and squinted at the black scythe resting among callouses. “What’s this?” she asked, “Some new gang come up?”

“Nope,” the first guard chirped, “That’s Death’s mark. Jebediah’s got the same.”

The woman’s face was carefully blank, and Baelin got the distinct impression she hadn’t a clue who her fellow guard was talking about. The other guard apparently did too, since he bust out into a full-fledged grin and teased, “Never been up to the Dust Bed? Don’t you know nothing?”

She scowled and dropped Baelin’s hand. “I know Matt went to Brega’s last night.”

His smile instantly fell and she smirked viciously, “Yeah, had a right good time I imagine.”

The atmosphere between the two grew so thick it was almost suffocating. Whatever this was, it wasn’t anything Baelin wanted to be a part of. These two seriously needed to work on their interpersonal skills. While the pair were busy with their stand-off, Baelin slowly backed away.

He got less than two steps before the woman spun around and the man barked, “We ain’t done checking you.”

Baelin obliged as quickly as possible, pulling his pant legs up and yanking his shirt out of the way to demonstrate that the only thing marring his skin were patternless scars. Satisfied, the pair waved him forward. Baelin didn’t hesitate, getting away from whatever that drama was as fast as he reasonably could.

He had chosen this time to arrive since, supposedly, this was when the Sun’s Birth held their group lessons. There certainly seemed to be enough people milling about the training yard; people clustered into small groups and chatting with each other as they loitered. Baelin hung back, feeling out of place and trying his very best not to draw too much attention to that fact.
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Baelin Holt
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[The Proving Grounds] Be Better

Postby Baelin Holt on August 28th, 2019, 8:43 pm

There was a noticeable shift in atmosphere when a woman strode out into the yard. People slowly quieted, coming to attention as she took her place. And then she started speaking.

“…right, every… all… drill, and… don’t, follow… pairs… ready. We’ll start… and blocking… Watch…”

Baelin grimaced. Probably shouldn’t have hung so far back, considering his hearing was going the way of a lifelong blacksmith’s. People started to move off into pairs and Baelin stood frozen; he knew absolutely no one here.

A tiny scrap of a thing came to stand in front of him, a mean scowl across her young face and a practice shortsword held tightly in her hand. “Where’s your sword?” she asked, her voice like a whip.

Was he... supposed to have one? Baelin glanced around and realized that yes, most of the people here were holding wooden swords. Some long and two-handed and others small like the girl’s. He wasn’t sure what he’d been expecting.

The crack of wood on wood jolted his attention to the instructor, who stood poised with the flat of her own wooden shortsword pressed up against another’s practice bastard sword. The other person, likely a more experienced Dragoon acting as an assistant, was pushed back as she twisted and moved for her own attack. He caught her strike on his own flat, then twisted much as she had done and pushed her back as well. The pair repeated the maneuver, catching the attacking strike on the flat, twisting and pushing back for a counter attack, and then being blocked in turn.

As the instructor and her assistant continued their demonstration, another member of the Sun’s Birth worked his way through the crowd, a large sack slung over his shoulder and a pouch clinging with coin on his hip. He stopped at various people scattered throughout, took their mizas and pocketed them, then continued through.

The demonstration slowed, the instructor showing the fine points of the blocking maneuver in exaggerated detail. Baelin watched as she extended her arm above her head, moving to catch her assistant’s downwards strike with her flat and then shove his blade to the side. She spoke as she moved, but Baelin was too far away to really hear.

Baelin split his attention between watching her and checking where the miza collector was. Soon enough, the guy came to Baelin, glanced at his hands, and said, “Seven gold for the session. You want a weapon?”

That’d be a yes. Baelin pointed to the girl’s practice shortsword and said, “Like hersss.”

Without missing a beat, the man pulled a wooden sword out from the sack and said, “That’ll be twenty-five silver extra.” Baelin obliged, passing over all the necessary mizas and accepting the proffered practice weapon. The man went on, picking out other people from the assembled would-be students to pay up. The girl next to him didn’t have to pay, but then she had the Sun’s Birth brand and likely didn’t need to.

When Baelin looked back to the instructor, she had stopped. All around, pairs were launching into the exercise, catching and pushing their partner’s blade away.

Expenses :
Goods and Services from The Proving Grounds
Basic, Group Session (Novice): 7 GM
Practice Shortsword: 25 SM

Total: 9 GM, 5 SM
Last edited by Baelin Holt on October 2nd, 2019, 7:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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[The Proving Grounds] Be Better

Postby Baelin Holt on September 3rd, 2019, 11:04 pm

“Prepare yourself!” was all the warning he got before he was solidly thwacked in the chest. Baelin oofed in surprise, the deep sting from the blow portending a future bruise. When another downward strike came rushing towards him, Baelin instinctively reached to catch it in his hand. The girl stared at him with disgusted incredulity. “You just lost your fingers, idiot.” She tried to tug her sword back and Baelin let go. The young Dragoon must have not expected him to, since she put too much force in her yank and wound up backpedaling at his sudden release.

“Petcher,” she grumbled. And then she was swinging again, her sword hurtling in a large arc towards his shoulder.

Baelin wasn’t as taken off-guard this time and managed to bring his new shortsword up to block. But the force of her strike surprised him, and he immediately brought his other hand up to catch the end of his sword before it swung back and smacked him.

“You lost your fingers again,” she almost sounded petulant, “Can you at least try to practice with me.” She then pulled back and launched into the same swing.

Right. Catch it on the flat, shove it away. Baelin blocked her swing again, but this time didn’t just hold it there like an idiot and instead tried to shove back.

It was surprisingly difficult. Baelin shoved one way and the girl slid her blade the other. He was so focused on trying to do that twisting move he saw earlier that he didn’t compensate when the girl shifted, slipped under, and tagged a strike to his ribs.

Yeah. He was going to have some bruises after this.

“Have you ever even fought before?” she whined, “I thought you were gonna be tough!”

Getting upbraided by someone who might be young enough to be his kid wasn’t what Baelin had in mind when he decided to go for combat training. And he could fight just fine, thank you very much… When he was in a blind rage, that is. Actually…had he ever approached a fight with any sense of rationality or calm? Or were all his fights just torrents of fury against some petcher that he wanted to strangle the living daylights out of?

Yikes. It was the later. It was definitely the later.

Well, there would be no “torrents of fury” against a kid. She was a kid. Baelin huffed and rose his shortsword, “Your turn.” He swung down as if he was doing a heavy forging strike, only without any of the force to it. While he might accept getting battered himself, there was no way he was going to willingly hurt her scrawny hide.

This likely wasn’t her first training session. The girl’s wooden sword surged up so fast that Baelin barely even had time to react before she’d twisted and drilled his side. As it was, his reaction of oh shyke! wasn’t very helpful.

He really should just accept that he was going to be black and blue tomorrow, and stop counting strikes. Because while Baelin hadn’t put any strength into his own swing, this little menace was putting everything she had into hers.
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Baelin Holt
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[The Proving Grounds] Be Better

Postby Baelin Holt on October 11th, 2019, 7:11 pm

“Be better!” she snarled as she lunged into another downwards strike. Baelin rose to meet it, twisting his blade to catch hers and then shove her back. He didn’t bring his sword up as high as the instructor had―hers had been over her head―but his opponent was so much shorter than him that he didn’t think it mattered. He hoped not, at least.

What he probably should have done, however, was twist into a counterattack. Instead, he just stood there lamely after forcing her blade back. In his hesitation, she slipped under his sword again and landed another strike to his ribs. “Be better!” She thwacked him again as if to emphasize the point.

Gods, his ribs stung. Baelin sucked in a careful breath, held it, and slowly let it back out. Alright. He could do this. If this little twerp could do it, there was no way he wouldn’t be able to. Baelin rolled his shoulders, brought his wooden sword up into a rough ready position, and jerked his chin up in a gesture for her to continue.

She didn’t hesitate. Her blade hurtled towards him and he only just managed to get his own up in time to block. He hadn’t gotten his sword at the right angle and hers struck his in a way that felt like the shock went straight to his wrist. Wincing, Baelin pushed through the sting and shoved back. He almost managed to get her blade down, but then she suddenly dropped down into a crouch. Baelin managed to keep contact between their practice swords as she went down, but then she twisted, his sword slipped to the side, and she twirled and drilled his knee.

Petch that stung. Baelin jumped back, hissing between clenched teeth. Nevermind black and blue, he was going to be petching hobbled by the end of this.

Baelin leaned his weight on his leg, testing that it still held just fine. Satisfied that the injury was more to his ego than his knee, Baelin sucked in a breath and went again.

“Turn your wrists!” someone shouted behind him, right as the little hellion deflected his practice shortsword and slipped past him again. Baelin clenched his abs―an instinctive response―and had the barest tick to be grateful for it when her wooden sword smacked against his tensed waist.

“You’re too rigid,” the woman behind him continued. Baelin twisted his head to see the instructor standing a few steps behind him, watching the shoddy practice between the pair with the scrutiny of a hawk.

“Iztel!” the young girl whined, “I want a new partner!”

The instructor, Iztel, seemed utterly apathetic to his sparring partner’s plight. Instead, she nodded to Baelin’s grip on his practice sword and said, “You want to be fluid during a fight, or else she’ll always get around you. Instead of rigidly blocking and catching her sword, try to deflect or redirect. You can step in, cut at her flat, or knock with your flat. All of that’s better than just standing there trying to block.” Iztel jerked her chin up and said, “Now try again.”
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Baelin Holt
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[The Proving Grounds] Be Better

Postby Baelin Holt on October 12th, 2019, 3:22 am

The young Dragoon rolled her eyes, but obeyed her senior’s order and launched into another strike.

Not the quickest to learn on the best of days, Baelin instinctually moved to block. The girl slipped back under and tagged him again, and the instructor barked, “Again.” The girl immediately jumped back and swung into another attack, and Baelin once again tried to block her sword. “Again!” the instructor growled.

Fluid, Baelin managed to think, just quick enough to roll his practice sword under the girl’s as she struck once again. For once, he didn’t feel quite such a sting in his wrist. And the girl seemed to falter for a fraction of a tick, her smooth motion cut off as she readjusted. For that very short moment, Baelin almost thought that he had her. But in his excitement, he tensed back up and she took advantage of it, moving to tag his hip.

Baelin swore under his breath at the same time Iztel said, “Better. Now keep practicing.” With that, she left to continue her circuit of the other practicing students, and Baelin’s sparring partner took advantage of his distraction to strike his hip.

He snarled, glared at her, and brought his sword back up to a ready position. Fluid, he reminded himself, Don’t catch it, try to deflect or redirect instead. The girl scowled back at him and swung into another downwards strike.

Fluid, fluid, fluid. Baelin saw her wooden sword swing down and surged up to meet her. Trying to stay with her movement, he twisted his wrist and angled his shoulder. Her blade slipped on his, and he stepped in to further push it out of the way. Baelin thought he had her, until she countered, moving with him. The girl twisted and slid her sword along his to strike his now exposed thigh.

That was better, he tried to tell himself over the sting in his thigh, Definitely better. Baelin initiated the next attack. Fluid, he thought as he swung down, Flow like a river. But, thoughts aside, he still moved too slow and stiff, and the girl looked like she barely struggled as she nimbly twisted and deflected his attack.

Again. Straight from her deflection, the girl moved to strike. Baelin figured she’d try as much and tried to move with her. He got the hilt of his practice sword up just in time to strike the tip of hers, knocking it just far enough off coarse that he didn’t get the full force of the blow. It still landed, but at only a fraction of the strength that she’d been using.

Again. Baelin didn’t waste time, and tried to twist from his awkward block into an attack. The girl faltered, evidently not having expected an immediate counter, and Baelin just managed to slip past her defense and tag her shoulder.

His strike had been light, and her expression looked more surprised than hurt, but Baelin couldn’t help but vindictively rejoice in landing one. He didn’t have long to celebrate, however. As soon as she realized what had happened, the girl switched back into another downwards strike. Baelin just barely reacted fast enough to catch her strike, but when acting on instinct, he went for a rigid block and she easily slipped under and caught his ribs again.

“Shyke,” he hissed. The girl smirked and taunted, “Gotta be faster than that, petcher.”

Fine. Baelin shifted his weight, trying his best to loosen up, and moved once again.

He’d get this. Even as his sparring partner managed to tag another hit, Baelin concentrated on staying more fluid. He could do this. It’d just take practice.
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Baelin Holt
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[The Proving Grounds] Be Better

Postby Baelin Holt on December 7th, 2019, 1:56 am

Baelin Holt :
Skills:
1 Acrobatics
1 Endurance
1 Observation
3 Weapon (Shortsword)

Lores:
Location: The Proving Grounds
Sun's Birth: Provides combat training to the public
The Proving Grounds: Must use your own practice weapon
Shortsword: Use the sword's flat to catch attacks
Iztel: Instructor at the Proving Grounds
Shortsword: Deflect and redirect, don't just catch
Bad instincts need to be overridden with practice
Shortsword: Stay fluid to attack and defend

Injuries:
  • Noise-induced hearing loss has progressed to the point where hearing someone at a distance has become challenging. This is a permanent injury and will not recover over time.
  • Baelin will experience bruising along his abdomen and legs. This will take two weeks to heal.
Expenses: 9 GM, 5 SM for a practice shortsword to be added to Baelin’s possessions, and to use the Proving Grounds.

Comments: If anyone has any comments or concerns on this self-grade, please do message me.
User avatar
Baelin Holt
Blacksmith
 
Posts: 340
Words: 360322
Joined roleplay: July 25th, 2014, 12:36 am
Location: Sunberth
Race: Mixed blood
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Scrapbook
Plotnotes
Medals: 3
Featured Character (1) Featured Thread (1)
Mizahar Grader (1)


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