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[The Proving Grounds] Survival of the Fittest (Gareth)

Postby Baelin Holt on November 13th, 2019, 5:59 pm

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3, Fall 519 AV

Baelin ran his hand along the blunt edge of his wooden practice sword. Divots―both small and large―scoured the wood's flesh; marks left behind from the last time he'd come here to practice. Truthfully, Baelin hadn't thought he'd ever use this wooden shortsword again. He hadn't even thought he'd ever be back here.

But the fact of the matter hadn't changed: he needed to be able to fight. There were no Omens here to protect you. No Syliran Knights. Not even the skullcap-helmeted Ravokians. It was just you. On your own. Trying to get by.

And Baelin was just so bad at fighting. Charge at people in an enraged fury? Yeah, he could do that. Hold his own against someone who knew what they were doing? Nope. Not a chance.

Which was what brought him back here, to the Sun's Birth version of public outreach. The last time he'd come, he'd been ill-prepared. He hadn't had a wooden practice weapon, almost had trouble from the Dragoons checking him at the entrance, and then had hung too far back to actually hear the instructor's lesson.

But today he was better prepared. He'd brought with him his wooden shortsword that he'd bought last time. He showed his unbranded and mostly tattoo-free skin to the guards before they could even ask, and even held up Dira's mark so they could see it was not some gang symbol.

And now he was going to walk to the front of the training yard. Because that was where he'd be able to hear.

Any tick now.

He just had to walk past all these young Dragoons―some of the brands on their hands still looking awfully fresh―and take a spot at the front. Just...go past people who arguably had far more right to be there.

It wasn't like he wasn't going to pay for the privilege of being here. Sooner or later someone from the Sun's Birth will come around to collect a handsome fee from anyone not scarred with the gang's brand, and Baelin had brought the mizas to pay up. So, really, he had every right to go up front.

But he didn't. Habituated to trying to stay out of sight and out of mind, Baelin didn't venture far into the proving grounds. He got about as far as the edge of the assembled group of people, milling about as they waited for the instructor. No further. Even just the very thought of walking past the fresh Dragoons―to where Baelin suspected Iztel would approach―was enough to put him on edge.

No matter. He could always just watch her. Even if Baelin’s hearing was eroded from the exposure to years of hammering steel, his eyes worked just fine.

Speaking of which... Baelin scanned the crowd of people, trying to pick out someone he could partner with for the training. Last time, a young hellion had snagged him under the assumption that―since he was bigger and older―he must be good. Her frustration with his inaptitude had to be pretty high up there on Baelin's list of things he found infuriatingly annoying, and he had little desire to repeat it.

Most people already looked paired off, chatting with their chosen sparring partner as they waited. Baelin didn't spot the young Dragoon he had practiced with last time, and for that he supposed he should be grateful. But the complete and total lack of any familiar face was unsettling. Surely there had to be someone he could partner with.

What if there was an odd number of people? What if he couldn't find someone? Baelin grimaced. What a waste of mizas that would be. At least the girl from before had been a good partner. Infuriating, but good.

The instructor still hadn't appeared yet; there was still time to fix his problem. Baelin did a full circle where he stood this time, trying to see if he could spot anyone else that looked out of place.

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[The Proving Grounds] Survival of the Fittest (Gareth)

Postby Gareth Serpenthelm on November 13th, 2019, 7:17 pm

Third of Fall 519 AV

Gareth stood alone surrounded by a wave of people in the proving grounds. "What a load of shit this is..." He muttered to himself as he pulled his cloak tighter to his person. He felt uncomfortable and out of place in the crowd, the welcome he got at the front had left an impression on him. He had been asked to strip down and show that he had no tattoos or gang affiliations. It was an interesting experience to put it lightly. A few chimes later and he was still alone, at this point he couldn't tell if it was his size that was keeping people away or his demeanor. Gareth shifted from one foot to the other awkwardly pacing in place. "What a bloody waste of miza's this was..." He cursed as he slowly attempted to accept he would likely not be paired off given the fact everyone was avoiding him.

He felt eyes upon himself once more, but again they faded. No one seemed to want to pair off with him and his suspicion he would be wasting his time was all but confirmed at this point. Until he noticed a man pacing around the crowd seemingly in the same position that he was. Gareth looked over towards the man locking eyes for no more than a second before looking back away. Hopefully, that tactic of drawing attention to himself would work. Gareth was quickly growing tired of idling away as another chime passed his pacing grew more impatient and frantic attracting more attention to himself from others in the crowd, yet even still no one approached him. What is wrong with these people...I never had this damn problem back in Riverfall... it was always easy to find a sparring partner" He groaned with an increasingly more frustrated tone. By this point Gareth had very much lost any and all semblance of patience. His frantic pacing had grown to a fever pitch as he continued to scan the crowd for anyone that even remotely looked like they were approaching him. From an outside point of view, he likely looked insane. Gareth looked through the crowd for a final time and spotted the same man he had seen earlier once more. He stopped his pacing and stilled himself. Since the other man hadn't stopped searching the crowd it was likely he too hadn't found anyone to partner with. Which was good news, thus Gareth locked eyes once more staring directly at the man in the hopes that he could coax him over.
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[The Proving Grounds] Survival of the Fittest (Gareth)

Postby Baelin Holt on November 15th, 2019, 2:34 am

There! Off by himself and pacing in a way that Baelin might call frantic, the unfamiliar face looked every bit as out of place as Baelin felt. The stranger was also scanning the crowd, likely in the same position as Baelin.

And then his gaze caught on Baelin. And―just like that―he stopped. No more pacing. No more furtive scanning of the crowd. He just stared. At Baelin.

For a moment, Baelin feared that he'd done something wrong. That this guy was staring him down because he had recognized Baelin from somewhere, and now Baelin was going to reap whatever trouble he'd sown for himself. But the stranger made neither a move to approach nor gave any other kind of indication that Baelin might have somehow pissed him off. He just stood there. Staring.

Okay then. That wasn't unsettling or anything.

Maybe he wanted to partner up, but wasn't willing to make the first move? Wishful thinking. No, it was more likely that Baelin had made some kind of terrible social faux pas, and this guy's staring was because the stranger was struggling to process how anyone could be that stupid. If Baelin was a betting man, he'd put money on that being the case. It was, at the very least, more likely than the possibility that this guy was trying to bore a hole in Baelin with his eyes because he wanted something as simple as a sparring partner.

Whatever the reason, the stranger was still staring. Ignoring this was probably a bad play; potential confrontations were usually much more straightforward if you manned up and faced them head on. Pulling in a deep breath, Baelin resolved to do just that.

It was surprisingly difficult. It felt a bit like walking to an unknown fate; like the long, tense walk to a hangman’s noose, only without the certainty that it was for you. Baelin could feel uncertainty coil in his gut, and his steps felt increasingly leaden as he closed the distance to the stranger.

Baelin had only made it several paces towards the man when he was cut off. A lean young woman stepped in front of him with her hand outstretched, expression utterly bored.

He blinked―stalling mid-step―and stared at her uncomprehendingly for a tick. Then her eyebrows jumped in a way that could be either mocking or amused―Baelin could never really tell―and she said, “Seven gold mizas.”

Oh. He glanced down and saw her collection bag, branded hand, and sack of practice weapons for sale. Baelin shook himself, reached into his coin pouch, and fished out seven gold. She snagged them in a blink, and he was left standing lamely for a moment, hand still outstretched to hand her his coins. Shaking his head again, he pressed the rest of the way to the stranger.

Well-groomed and fair-haired, with small scars that became more apparent as Baelin grew closer. He looked like the kind of guy who knew his way around a fight. Perhaps he didn’t need Itzel’s general, beginner’s lessons so much as he just needed a relatively safe place to practice his own skills. Gods, was Baelin going to walk out of this session as bruised as last time? He grimaced, already anticipating how much this was going to suck.

Once he was close enough to talk, Baelin pulled in a sharp breath and went for it. “Need a partner?”

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[The Proving Grounds] Survival of the Fittest (Gareth)

Postby Gareth Serpenthelm on November 15th, 2019, 3:21 am

Gareth smiled warmly at the man as he finally approached him. "Thought I'd never get someone to approach me, damn crowds been avoiding me like the plague." Gareth hadn't attended any of the classes the glorified gangs of Sunberth taught, but he had a feeling he wasn't going to learn much from the instructor. He was only really here to have a safe place to practice without fear of getting stabbed or worse. "Somethin wrong mate? You look a tad nervous, is it your first time here as well? You got nothin to worry about if it is, I doubt the lesson will be that informative or hard for that matter...way I hear it they don't teach the good stuff to outsiders." He rambled slightly attempting to make small talk until the lesson started. He was glad to have finally gotten someone to partner up with him and his excitement showed with the tone of his voice. Not only that the man that had approached him almost matched his own physique, although he could tell his partner was likely a bit stronger than he himself was. "Names Gareth by the way, pleasure to make your acquaintance."

Gareth looked out into the crowd once more as it appeared it the side conversations were dying down. It appeared the lesson was liable to start soon judging by everyone turning to face a singular direction to set their eyes on one spot in particular. Gareth however couldn't care less. After all, he wasn't here to learn anything they had to teach him, he was a firm believer that anything he learned here would pale in comparison to all the things he learned from his Akalak friends back in Riverfall. In terms of combat expertise, there really wasn't another race of people that could match the Akalak. Here Gareth would get a decent chance to practice all the things he had learned back home and also the things he had picked up on the road. "Looks like the lessons starting soon, hope you know how to use that thing mate, I won't be goin easy on you. Sides you look like you can take whatever I dish out." Gareth said making his sparring partner aware that he wouldn't be pulling any punches during the practice match. He figured it was only fair that he not hold back, he had been taught as a child to never hold back against a fellow warrior, it was nothing short of an insult to do so.
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[The Proving Grounds] Survival of the Fittest (Gareth)

Postby Baelin Holt on November 15th, 2019, 9:38 pm

Any misgivings Baelin had about why this guy was so focused on him faded as soon as the stranger extended a warm, welcoming smile. And then he spoke. With the guy’s evident relief that Baelin had approached him, Baelin relaxed even further. He, too, had been struggling to find a partner. Baelin let the tension ease out of his spine as the potential threat abatted.

“Somethin’ wrong mate?” his soon-to-be sparring partner asked.

Baelin frowned. Was it that obvious that he was so wound up?

Yeah, probably. A blind person could likely pick up how on edge he was. The guy was evidently a genuinely nice person, because he then went on to try and alleviate Baelin’s stress. Telling him not to worry; that the lesson shouldn’t be too hard. But Baelin could only grimace in response. While the stranger might find Itzel’s lessons to be too basic to really learn from, Baelin knew so very little that everything was novel to him.

Thankfully, the guy seemed too excited to let Baelin’s apprehension bring him down, and he went ahead and introduced himself. Gareth. Baelin gave him a short nod and offered his own, slightly less verbose introduction: “Baelin.”

Gareth turned to the crowd, and Baelin followed his gaze. The Dragoons were quieting down, getting ready for the lesson to begin.

“Looks like the lesson’s starting soon,” Gareth put voice to Baelin’s own thoughts. He nodded in agreement, scanning the area for the instructor. “Hope you know how to use that thing, mate,” Gareth continued. Baelin glanced back at his new partner and cocked an eyebrow in question. “I won’t be goin’ easy on you.”

Ah. Baelin smirked. And when Gareth followed up with a guess that Baelin could take it, he gave a short huff of amusement. Oh yeah, this was going to be a fun one.

Itzel finally made her appearance. She walked into the proving grounds with another Dragoon on her heels, her strides long and purposeful. Once in front of the assembled group, she stopped, turned to the crowd, and got right into it: “Today we’re going to continue working on our hanging guards, and using them to bait our opponent. Watch.” She lifted the hilt of her sword up high, close to the top of her head, and angled the point of her shortsword down.

The other Dragoon took a position next to her and shifted his weight back and forth for a tick, his inexperience showing in his hesitation to take a strike. Itzel took his uncertainty in stride and―loud enough for the class to hear―asked, “What do you think you should try here?”

With the invitation given, the Dragoon lunged forward, his longsword outstretched and trying to reach past the instructor’s hanging guard. The two paused for a moment―the less experienced Dragoon leaning in with his whole body, tip of his sword hovering next to Itzel’s shoulder, and Itzel still holding her hanging guard right where she had it. “Now,” she called out, her voice projecting across the grounds, “That’s what I’ll be expecting. A hanging guard invites this kind of thrust from a longsword. I want him to thrust, because…” She made a jerk of her chin and the Dragoon stepped back, then launched into the same thrust. This time she didn’t hold still. Itzel moved quickly, catching his sword with hers and pushing it down. Then―still in the same motion―she slid her shortsword down along the length of his longsword, her swordpoint directed straight at him. She moved with exaggerated slowness, maintaining contact between their wooden swords all the way until she reached the Dragoon’s hilt. Then she gave the point of her sword a little wiggle, tickling her assistant’s belly.

“If you plan your counterattack before your opponent starts their own attack, you can react faster and get your hit.” Itzel gave her assistant another nod, and they both stepped back. “Now what if he’s fast and tries to take advantage of my block?” She brought her sword back up into a hanging guard, and her assistant went for a lunge. She pushed his blade down, same as before, but this time he twisted his longsword up. Her shortsword was pushed back, and he was able to get his own sword up by her head. All he’d need is a bit more in his swing and he’d take her head clean off. The pair froze in that position, and Itzel called out to the crowd, “I have two options here. I can either slide down…” She moved her sword out of its weak block at the side of her head and swung it in a large arc until she tapped the top of her assistant’s head. “Or I can take advantage of the fact that mine is a one-handed weapon and…” She stepped forward and turned, shoving her left hand into her assistant’s blade. The contact knocked the wooden sword to the side, away from her head, and then she was able to twist into a stab.

The two broke apart and Itzel turned to the assembled students. “When you plan and practice your counterattacks ahead of time, you can respond faster. Make it muscle memory, and you can keep your head.” She paused for a long moment, as if to let that sink in. Then called out, “Now partner up. See what you can do.”

Baelin glanced back to Gareth, uncertain where to start. Last time, the little spitfire he’d partnered with had launched into an attack before he could even get his bearings. No warning; just an assault. But without that, he wasn’t exactly sure what to do. Baelin lifted the hilt of his practice shortsword up―its tip somewhat down―in a half-assed attempt at a starting position.

With an uptick of his chin, Baelin asked, “Want to attack? Or guard?” He imagined they’d switch off, but someone had to start the offense, and gods know Baelin was ill-suited for it. He was ill-suited for the defense part too, but what could you do? Trying not to berate himself too much for his inexperience, Baelin circled his hand in a whever you’re ready gesture.

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[The Proving Grounds] Survival of the Fittest (Gareth)

Postby Gareth Serpenthelm on November 15th, 2019, 11:25 pm

"Not a fan of the hangin' guard, think I'll go for somethin' else if you don't mind." Gareth said as he dropped into a stance he was familiar with. It utilized all of his muscle making him a much more threatening opponent. The high guard. Gareth drew his wooden bastard sword and took position. Left foot back pointed out at a forty-five-degree angle, right foot facing forward towards the opponent. Blade back held high above the head with the bottom hand at jaw level. Sternum facing towards the opponent. This was a stance Gareth used when he wanted to get a point across. It was obvious and it was intimidating its purpose was clear. "Just try and step forward, feel the might of my blade" the stance seemingly screamed. Gareth stood proudly unmoving and stoic like a statue as he signaled he wanted Baelin to go on the offensive first. Gareth would keep his eyes focused on his opponent's shoulders the one place that betrayed a fellow warriors strikes. When Baelin moved forward to attack Gareth would be ready to intercept. He wasn't looking to counter or even parry, he was planning on feinting and launching a powerful cut to Baelins exposed side.

Gareth telegraphed the motions making it as obvious as possible, he wanted Baelin to think that he was about to throw out a downwards cut, in reality as soon as his blade came down he would rotate bringing the blade low and cutting up from the side in a powerful swing making sure to push into the attack. With the amount of force he put into the strike, it would most likely knock the wind out of his opponent or possibly even knock him to the ground. Gareth was not lying at all when he said he would pull no punches. He was taking the fight completely serious. Once he had finished with his strike Gareth attempted to adjust his stance. He quickly took a few steps back and fell into another rather open guard. The wrath guard, designed to launch a powerful cut at the opponent. Said cut was highly obvious though, even more so than the high guard. With his entire body turned to the side with Gareth facing forwards the blade rested snugly atop his shoulders leaving his arms very much exposed until he went in for the strike. Gareth was being generous as he once more stood stoic feet planted firmly in the ground. "Hope I ain't roughin' ya up too bad mate, keep an eye out and maybe you'll learn somethin' new" Gareth called out to his opponent in what was seemingly a taunt.

However, it really wasn't a taunt Gareth had recognized just how inexperienced Baelin was in the way he held his shortsword, his middle guard he had pulled at the start of the fight was completely half-assed. Baelin would likely get his ass handed to him repeatedly unless he learned to read his opponent and Gareth, for the most part, was doing an adamant job of teaching that skill by using what were easily some of the more telegraphed stances. Although this didn't mean said stances were weak in fact they were far from it. It just meant Baelin would have to learn to read the opponent's moves more quickly if he didn't want to get punished by Gareths powerful blows.
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[The Proving Grounds] Survival of the Fittest (Gareth)

Postby Baelin Holt on November 20th, 2019, 5:44 am

When Gareth switched straight into a completely different stance than the one Itzel had demonstrated, Baelin knew he was in trouble. Gareth stood like some kind of sculpture, poised for knightly defense. If he was turned into stone right this very moment, Baelin could see the Knights back in Syliras wanting that statue. Petch, maybe the Sun’s Birth would even like to tote the petrified version up in these grounds. Show off their polished, militant might and all that.

Baelin was pretty sure that if Gareth’s bastard sword had been real, and Gareth really swung it, Baelin would be a dead man. And the fact that all he had going for him was that the sword wasn’t actual, sharpened steel wasn’t as comforting as he would have liked.

Maybe it all was a show. Just one big display, like a gull fluffing itself up before coming at you in a storm of feathers, beak, and talons.

Yeah, right, he thought, more than a little sardonic. That’d be the day.

Well. When it comes to doing stupid shyke, no time like the present. Baelin shifted his wooden shortsword out of his hilt-up position, and just went for it. A downwards slash? Is that what you’d call it? All these fighting sorts had so many terms for what they did. Fancy fighters should learn from smithing: at the end of the day, everything’s a strike. You can hit hard or soft, with a bit hammer or a small hammer, at an angle or straight, but they’re all just strikes.

Baelin wasn’t quite sure what happened next. One moment he was swinging his glorified stick down in a sloppy attack, and the next he was on the defensive. Gareth spun into an attack that Baelin could barely even register. Instinct had Baelin raising his hands up to protect his head, but his instincts were apparently shyke, since the strike came from below. Pain exploded in his side, and for a split tick Baelin was convinced he couldn’t breathe.

Oh petch this guy. Baelin blinked past the settling throb in his side and snarled profanities under his breath. Gareth was already back a few paces and in another, completely different guard. This stance looked more like a snake, coiled up and ready to strike.

All Baelin wanted to do was lunge at him. Petch the lesson. Petch however much he might get messed up by this. This guy needed to have his lungs squeezed until they popped.

Pulling in a deep breath, Baelin forced himself to calm down. Behave. The thought felt like a grindstone against his nerves. Behave. But…maybe…one little tackle wasn’t going to hurt anybody, surely he could…

Gareth cut into Baelin’s haphazard attempt to get his bottled fury under control. “Hope I ain’t roughin’ ya up too bad mate,” he said. Baelin ground his teeth together and tried his best to keep from sneering. He wasn’t at all sure he succeeded. “Keep an eye out and maybe you’ll learn somethin’ new.”

He snapped.

Surged forward.

Swung his practice sword like a sledgehammer.

His mind had a curious way of vacating all thought when Baelin lost control like this. Words couldn’t be summoned, logic was so far from his reach as to be virtually nonexistent, and moments flashed before him like still pictures. Images that he could only thread together after the fact. Baelin was aware of swinging a long, sledgehammer-like shaft of wood to bash this guy’s head in. His other hand even came up as if to grab a long handle, but instead only caught air. And Baelin could tell that the not-sledgehammer wasn’t swinging the way it should; it’s end wasn’t nearly heavy enough. But―in that moment―he couldn’t tell why.

It was only once he had fully committed to the swing that he realized it wasn’t a sledgehammer at all. But rage carried him forward, the rest of any sort of brainpower held at bay while it took the reins.

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[The Proving Grounds] Survival of the Fittest (Gareth)

Postby Gareth Serpenthelm on November 21st, 2019, 11:05 pm

Gareth saw it in the mans eyes. A familiar look, one he'd seen on the Ceruleans back in Riverfall. Unbridled rage and bloodlust. Something had come over his opponent and now Gareth was in a bit of danger. Despite Baelins sloppy form his swings would have enough power to do a little bit more than just bruise. Baelin was rapidly approaching and getting ready to smash into Gareth with his shortsword held like a bludgeon. It didn't have the reach that Gareth's own sword did, but it was still a threat nonetheless. As soon as Baelin closed in enough distance Gareth acted. He closed his eyes for no more than a split second before opening them again. Gareth had emptied himself of emotions and met Baelin with an icy glare. He held the look of a seasoned veteran, one who was no stranger to killing his fellow man. If his opponent by some chance could still see through his rage and noticed Gareths expression it'd likely strike fear into him unless he held a heart of steel. "Forgive me for this friend." came a solemn monotone that cut through the noise of the battle taking place.

Gareth's sword uncoiled from his shoulder and struck out with as much force as he could muster into Baelins side. A strike as heavy as this was sure to do a little more than bruise, but due to the state of Baelins current emotions Gareth was no longer treating this as a simple sparring match. As soon as he felt the wooden blade connect he pushed into the strike hoping to knock the man to the ground and inflict more damage. After Gareth had finished with his attack to his opponent's unprotected side he'd quickly move putting distance between the pair once more. Five steps back wait for his opponent to recuperate. He changed guards once more, this time to the Fools Guard.

His sword was pointed down at the ground with his frame slightly bent towards it. The very nature of the guard was incredibly deceptive and with Baelins enraged state it'd work well for Gareth. As soon as the man charged in towards him again he utilized the guards purpose. Countering, Gareth brought the sword up into the longpoint. Snapping the sword up in a quick and jerking motion, Gareth hadn't practiced fools guard often and wasn't versed enough in it to make a smooth transition, instead, he opted for speed. The sword would come up to meet Baelin and from there depending on the mans speed he'd either end up with a hard stab or assuming Baelin was quick enough to get past his guard he'd split him in two from top to bottom with a powerful strike from below and back that would end up straight into Baelins abdomen. If the sword Gareth was using wasn't wooden Baelin would be a dead man his innards trailing out from his abdomen onto the dirt below them. A gruesome thought to be sure, but it was a thought that was sadly familiar to Gareth. A thought he had acted on a handful of times. Gareth held out a sliver of hope that his strikes would either knock Baelin out or bring him out of his rage, he had taken a liking to his current sparring partner and thought it a huge waste for things to continue to play out like this
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[The Proving Grounds] Survival of the Fittest (Gareth)

Postby Baelin Holt on November 26th, 2019, 4:01 am

Forgive me for this, friend. It was spoken so clearly that there was no way for Baelin to miss it, and punctuated with a stinging strike to Baelin’s side. Baelin hissed, his whole body getting rocked back. It took him a tick to readjust his weight, and by the time his feet were better planted to take another hit, Gareth was already far away.

Cogs started to slowly turn in his head, a reboot underway after his surge of fury. Still not quite up to speed, but aware enough to get back on board with the fact that he was holding a wooden shortsword. Baelin lifted it up, ready to swing. In front of him, Gareth had shifted into a different guard. The tip of his sword was down and his body angled in such a way that it seemed obvious which way he’d come from. Without hesitation, Baelin lunged for the opening.

But the opening wasn’t an opening at all. And Baelin found Gareth’s sword jerking up fast. Faster than he could deal with. Baelin tried to twist out of the way, but he was too slow and got jabbed hard in his abdomen. It would have been a pretty nasty stab wound had Gareth’s sword been real, and the threat of potential death was enough to pull his head out of the lingering haze of rage.

It was paradoxical. Had Baelin actually been stabbed, he’d probably become even more riled up. With a potentially fatal wound, he would have lunged madly and swung in a melee to take his killer down with him. But the blunt jab―the threat of a grievous stab―acted instead as a wake-up call.

What the petch was he doing? He has this competent fighter in front of him―sparring with him in what was meant to be a friendly match―and instead of using even a modicum of planning or good judgement, he was just lunging in like a petching idiot. For what? Because of some misplaced pride?

Baelin sucked in a deep breath, held it and counted to five, then slowly let it out in a long exhale. Man up, stop being such a baby.

That guard…the one Gareth had just done. It hadn’t been the same hanging guard that Itzel had shown, but Baelin thought it might have served the same purpose. It had looked like Gareth was going to come from one direction, but he’d instead come from a completely different angle. Baelin had been baited. And Gareth had likely been counting on that. Baelin rubbed the spot on his abdomen that would inevitably blossom with a nasty bruise for his mistake. He needed to be smarter about this.

Hesitantly, Baelin raised his shortsword. Not in any sort of guard; just up so that he could swing it easier. Glancing at Gareth’s practice sword, Baelin made a vague gesture towards it. “What you did before,” Baelin said carefully, tapping the spot on his belly where Gareth just jabbed him, “Again.” He needed to see it. How this guy managed set up his trap, and how Baelin could avoid it if he hadn’t just blindly rushed. Maybe if he could see it, then he could plan on countering it.

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[The Proving Grounds] Survival of the Fittest (Gareth)

Postby Gareth Serpenthelm on November 28th, 2019, 5:18 pm

"The Fool's Guard, named as such because it tricks the opponent into thinking you a fool, makes you look wide open and unprepared to strike. Extremely good defensive guard, better than what the instructor taught in my opinion. We can run through other guards if you'd like, there are a few I think would suit you well friend." Gareth spoke maintaining a calm tone as he once more slipped back into the Fool's Guard. Sword pointed and angled down low to the ground. "Oh and...you should probably learn to keep your anger in check...makes one reckless and easier to kill..."Gareth offered taking a hand off the hilt of his practice sword to point at the place he had stabbed Baelin. Gareth wanted his unexperienced partner to learn as much as possible, but Baelin didn't seem to know much of anything when it came to using a blade. "Some friendly advice before you come rushing at me like a stumbling drunk again. Fix your form, dominant foot forward left foot back and at a slight angle. Relax your shoulders and angle the sword more towards me. Lastly don't use your hands to catch the blade like an idiot, use your own sword instead...consider it an extension of yourself." Gareth was being incredibly blunt with his choice of words, but considering this was supposed to be a sparring match he didn't feel the need to mince his words around.

Straight to the point, no sense in making a long drawn out statement to correct his partner's sloppy form. Gareth stood once more ready to intercept Baelins advance and as soon as the man moved towards him he jerked his wrists up into middle guard once more. Should Baelin manage to strike before he could get into middle guard Gareth would slash out at the man's abdomen cutting into his side from the bottom up making sure to push into the strike, this time though he wouldn't stop there. The last few bouts had stopped after Gareth made contact, now he was willing to ramp things up, see if Baelin could hold his own. He followed up the first strike and stepped back a pace and reformed his middle guard making sure it was solid before advancing towards Baelin again and launching a cut straight from the side towards his chest. If the man paid attention Gareth hoped to be intercepted by his shortsword and launch into some back and forth strikes if not though, the blow to the chest was sure to sting. Gareth had faith in his opponent though, something about the fire in his eyes spoke to him. It almost reminded him of himself, a strong determination. Gareth was certain now that the sounds of their wooden blades meeting would soon ring out over the proving grounds. That utterly satisfying and familiar clack of wood hitting wood. It never failed to bring a smile to his face. The only thing Gareth was left wondering was if it would also bring a smile to Baelins face. He hoped so, as truth be told he desired to drop the current cold mood and return to the friendly one they had started with.
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