Solo Proving Incompetence

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

Proving Incompetence

Postby Alric Lysane on November 1st, 2021, 3:47 pm


45th Fall 521 AV - The Proving Grounds

Alric had found himself with a pressing need to learn how to use something other than his hands and feet to try to prevent Dira taking him without warning. He had never really been one for weapons as they tended to escalate matters quicker than liked in his experience. However times changed, circumstances ensued and he found himself in the Proving Grounds, somewhat out of his depth and definitely concerned that one of the Sun’s Birth members would take exception to him and condemn him. Not that they a reason to, but caution and not becoming even remotely affiliated with any gang had done well for him so far.

Yet here I am he told himself sourly.

Still, he knew that in the long run – at least for something very specific – it was an investment worth making. He just had to get through a few group sessions and a good chunk of mizas would be a more tangible possibility. The truth was that he may have oversold himself slightly and it was in his interests to measure up come the bill being due. So he had grit his teeth, paid his 7 gold mizas, taken up his practice blade – a broad sword apparently – and had taken up his place in the grid of a score or so people watching Itzel the Swift intently.

“Right! A sorrier sight of shyke I haven’t seen in some time,” Itzel began after silencing the group, “but I’ll have you leaving here knowing how not to stab yourself with a blade or I’m not Itzel the Swift. It won’t be easy, especially if you’re stupid or if you keep coming back to get better. Gets harder in fact”
There was a pause as she surveyed the group with a sweeping glare.

“First things first – you don’t get to swing the damned thing before you even know what it’s made of. So this,” she raised her own broad sword, “is a broad sword. Anyone know anything about it? No one? Good! Hate know-it-alls!”

“The end is the point of the blade and it goes into the other person not your own leg, if you can’t manage that you don’t belong here and will probably dies today anyway. The long shiny bit is called the blade, if you don’t know that then you’ll definitely have Dira take you today. The other end, the round bit at the back of the grip – that’s the pommel. The bits of metal surrounding your fist is called the guard – in this case a basket guard. Both pommel and guard are just as effective a weapon as the blade…but you won’t be learning much about that today”

“The grooves long the blade are called fullers and they get full of blood and if you’re a berserker it’s what you lick when you’ve lost your head in battle. You think I’m kidding then you haven’t seen anything in your short and sorry lives”

“The grip is where your hand goes,” Itzen finished with a grim smile, “now you’ll notice that the weapon has a certain weight and passing feeling to it. You’re spaced out for a reason so…test it out. Have a few swings, commit what I’ve just told you to memory and warm up those limp wrists of yours. You got 5 chimes!”

Alric set about awkwardly waving the sword about. He wasn’t about to stab himself in the leg but he could feel how awkward and jerky it was for him to swing, unused to such activity. His wrist felt weak indeed, which was not that surprising. What was surprising was that his forearm felt strained, the muscled clearly trying to keep the blade stable but lacking the endurance to truly to do.

This led to Alric circling his body with the blade through several angles with one hand, out of balance as his feet kept trying to leave the ground, his heel tipping forward with the path of the blade and its shifting weight. His wrist did relax a bit, even if it remained slightly strained beyond comfort, after a few chimes of working it around a few times.
Last edited by Alric Lysane on November 7th, 2021, 10:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Proving Incompetence

Postby Alric Lysane on November 1st, 2021, 6:08 pm

“Enough!” came the stern call followed by another pause for attention to shift, Itzen had clearly done this lesson so many times she could likely have done it asleep, “that’s enough flailing around now”

Now Itzen jumped down from the little wooden stand she had been using to survey the class and started to prowl their ranks, just at the front for now and Alric was towards the back, but he knew inevitably she’d be near him and didn’t relish the idea. Still she was the woman with the knowledge and so was the one he had to be around. He wasn’t about to request lessons from some back alley and pay for the pleasure of getting a sword in his guts.

“Now I’m sure that you’ve all found out, if you were paying attention, that with a sword in your hands for the first time you can’t balance for Shyke. This is normal but you’re going to leave today able to move smoothly or…well no refunds for fools” Itzen said with a very thin mask of a smile.

She started to move down the lines, her stepping become more and more exaggerated as she moved, clearly trying to get across some point with the theatre of it. She said nothing and appeared to not notice as heads started to turn and watch her with some confusion. She was moving on the balls of her feet, as if hoping from one to the other though more smoothly. Gliding Alric thought to himself after a while, gliding like you see those insects at items on still water.

“You lad,” she stopped suddenly and pointed her sword at a young lad, “what am I doing?”

“Walking funny”

“Nope!” Itsen said happily, smacking the lad’s leg with the side of her blade to his yelp.

“You?” she pointed to another.

“Hopping?”

“Maybe, maybe. Why?”

“Uhh- argh!”

“Too late,” both of you far too late and stupid and that means dead! What does alte and stupid mean?” she asked, clearly for everyone.

“Dead” they responded in unison.

“Very good!” she snapped, “I was moving from the balls of one foot to the other. This is how a proper swordswoman moves. I;ve yet to meet a swordsman who can do it as well as a swordswoman but I’m open to being proven wrong,” Itzen grinned, “and the reason I am doing this is because it means you can both change movement and transfer force at your discretion rather than being forced to respond to an enemy by being flat footed”

She demonstrated how she could step forwards and immediately push back if needed, as well as hop and shift to the side quicker than with a heel first movement. She didn’t demonstrate anything about force, but the lesson’s message was clear – movement was a very useful thing.

“About a third of all fights are decided by your footwork – the best one wins. Without good footwork you’re a meat sack waiting to be fed to the wolves. Now…practise” she ordered them and turned to return to her little stage without a backwards glance.

This was something that Alric was partly used to at least, if not with a sword in his hand. Over the years of learning how to fight with his hands and feet moving on the balls of his feet had been learned reasonably early, if not early enough to stop him getting hit one too many times than he’d have liked. He stepped forwards, hopping lightly from foot to foot, heel up, balls down. He wasn’t as graceful as Itzen, in fact he was pretty sure she’d laugh in his face if he tried to show her his ‘abilities’ but nevertheless he absorbed the lesson and practised it.

“Don’t cross your legs sideway, you never do that lad! You’re asking to be poked into your arse! You step to the next foot and no more, then step with the next. Better! That’s better!

Alric realised he had been doing that, though he wasn’t sure she was talking to him directly but changed how he stepped sideways regardless. He went through every direction he could think – advance, retreat, sidestep, diagonals. It felt like a full Bell before they were stopped and told to take a small breather. He was far from great at the footwork but he was pretty sure he’d picked up enough to practise in his own time and not have to pay for the luxury of being shouted at.
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Proving Incompetence

Postby Alric Lysane on November 1st, 2021, 7:42 pm


The breather was short lived and not enough by half. It was already clear to Alric that was not a swordsman. His calves ached from the strain of moving the way they had shown to, his grip on the practise sword was already weakening even as he tried to grip it the harder so as not to appear weak and get a random smack from Itzen. He liked to think he was as fit as any average Berther but his chest was heaving and sweat stained his brow. He shook his head and gripped the blade harder again.

“Now you’ve all finished dancing we’ll go over the second most important thing. Anyone want to guess?” she asked.

No one answered, they had learned from the first two sacrifices.

“Good, you’re learning. The second most important thing is Edge!” she barked, “there is no use knowing how to swing a blade and it hitting your enemy flat. You might give them bruise but you’ll be getting their blade through your throat for the pleasure. And this means that you need to know how to grip your sword properly. For this you will need patience as I’ll have to come around and make sure you’ve got it right in person”

There were no groans that were audible but Alric fancied that they could all hear the collective psychic groan of group suffering that flared briefly at Itzen’s words. Yet all Alric could do was wait his turn and watch, listen as she grew closer to try to glean whatever little bits of the muttered conversations he could to better prepare. And then his turn came and it wasn’t the crashing terror he thought, though he stayed mute the whole time.

“See the knuckles, no no those ones, the first ones…no not your fist ones! That’s the ones! Right so when you grip the hilt you want to make sure they are line dup with the blade like this….see?” she demonstrated and he followed suit with his own grip, showing his weapon just in time to have to batted aside and a hard prod into his sternum followed.

“Don’t point the edge at my face you fool!” Itzen hissed, pausing to take a deep breath with a pointed glare for him and then gestured for him to show her in a safer way this time, “she tutted to herself and adjusted his grip manually, making sure it was aligned properly but also loose at the little finger.

“See, you want the first two fingers hard and fast around the hilt but the next two looser. Look, try to grip it all as hard as you can,” he did so and she smacked his sword and it jerked violently, almost out of his hand, “see no absorbing the blows but also if you try squeezing the last two when the grip is right you’ll feel the blade tilt forward a bit, as if seeking a target. That is a proper grip lad” she finished, leaving him to move to the last few left.

“Practise until you can show me that your blade can move to seek the target on command. The lesson does not go further for anyone who cannot do this. You have 30 chimes”


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Proving Incompetence

Postby Alric Lysane on November 2nd, 2021, 8:24 am

It was a strange display to see, a score or so people just holding up their blade, pointing skyward, being asked to squeeze their hands – the last two fingers specifically – so as to make the blade ‘lunge’ forwards slightly. Alric was not sure he was in a sword class anymore and felt sure there was some joke being played. Then again, he had paid his mizas and laughing into Itzen’s face didn’t seem like a long-life choice so he kept his mouth shut and did as he was asked. It wasn’t that difficult to do, it was simply all about grip moderation. The real test lay in the fact that he had been holding his arm up for about 5 chimes now and the metal that once seemed light if unwieldy now felt like a heavy stone brick from the Temple of the Unknown.

There was a sigh of relief as only a few were taken to the side for more training and the rest were allowed to lower their arms. He dared not give in and massage his muscles but he made a promise to himself to visit the hot springs within the next few days.

“Right, well done you’re not complete failures,” Itzen started up again with a firm nod, “so now you get to the fun part. Basic strikes”

Once more she prowled the ranks, the session now apparently becoming a blend between group and personal instruction.

“When you attack you’re looking to engage at as large a range as possible…usually…which is why the edge has to be properly aligned with your target. Ideally the tip and the first few inches will be what you hit with. It has the most force because…leverage!”

“Four basic attacks, all of them diagonals, above right shoulder to left hip and the reverse and…you guessed it…above left shoulder to right hip and reverse. You’re wanting to think about cutting someone in half down that line” Itzen told them, swinging her blade smoothly to show them as she spoke.

It seemed such a simple set of instructions but even so it proved more difficult than Alric expected. The arm motion was not the problem he decided after spending 20 or so repetitions chopping across his body from right to left and then left to right. No, it was the lack of control. With every faux attack he could feel the blade edging ever further forward from where he wanted it to stop. His grip was sweaty and his muscles were tiring. His line, the edge of his blade, had begun reasonably well aligned and straight but now began to wobble. Backhand seemed easier than forehand for some reason, perhaps because it was merely a sweeping action, arm straight and elbow mostly locked. Forehand attacks felt more like ugly chopping motions than anything Itzen had demonstrated herself.

“Problem is strength,” Itzen came out of nowhere, one hard chop of her blade knocking his own from his numb fingers, “and you’re dead” she told him after he had finished jumping a step backwards, eyes wide and darting from side to side. She gave him a moment to relax whilst she no doubt laughed at him internally.

“Never held a sword before?” she asked him and he shook his head.

“Well your line ain’t too much of a shyke show but if you want to actually use one you’d better build up those muscles. Strapping lad like you isn’t going to be impressing no one with a grip that can’t squeeze hard enough to please”

“Break for five chimes” she barked to everyone after a moment and then paced back towards her plinth.

Alric picked up his sword with numbed fingers and sat down, if only for a few chimes.
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Proving Incompetence

Postby Alric Lysane on November 2nd, 2021, 8:55 am

“So a third of skill is footwork, half of the rest is edge. Anyone want to guess what the last big chunk is? No? Endurance! Fights don’t often end when you want them to!”

“How are we all? Feeling tired? Aching? Tough! You don’t like it then walk out now, no refunds and don’t come back. I have no time for whiners and the weak. If you’re weak you should be dead in this city anyway”

“To your right you will see what we call training pells. That’s right those cross things made of wood, leather and the sweat of scores of little shykes like you. You will notice that there are four sections that line up with your four attacks you now know”

“Your task is to line up in four lines and when your turn comes to run up to the pell – with your footwork! – and then to demonstrate each of the four edge lined attacks. Then you’ll go to the back of the line. Then you’ll do it again. And again and again…until I’m happy”

This time there was a groan, Alric joining in, as they lined up and shuffled or scuffled to not be first. Alric lost this struggle because he couldn’t be bothered to even try tired as he was. When Itzen gave the order to begin he paced forwards, concentrating upon his footwork and the balls of his feet. He failed a step or two as the distance was closed and for that there was shouting and a small pebble flicked his way – not hitting him but making him aware they were being watched and weighed. Regardless the distance was closed and once in range he brought his tired arm up and around to hit the upper right section, then the upper left, lower right and lower left. His blade was not perfectly lined up and hit the straight parts of the pells before nestling into the corners.

“Terrible! None of you have been listening! Next round the stones hit you if you put in a showing like that!”

Alric returned to the line, waiting for his second turn and then proceeded to get several little pebbles flicked his way, all of them numbing his backside after the stinging had stopped. At least they were all for his sword swinging – his footwork had apparently been adequate. There were several rounds and an even number backside before Itzen seemed happy and he managed three runs without a pebble by the sessions close.

“Well that wasn’t an entire waste of my time. Now! Session’s over. Put your swords back and you’ve got one chime to get out of here before the proper fighters get to use you for target practise” she turned on her heel and left.

The wise ones did the same and Alric was out of Sun’s Birth territory, if with a slightly strange looking jog, with time to spare.
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