[P] Let's see your footwork
#1
[html]
Optime | Fort Kingsbury; mid-morning (+362)


Let me know if you want me to change anything :3


Thwaack!


The sound of metal biting into the wooden practice dummy resonating throughout the immediate area. The sun was still climbing in the sky, warming the Earth below in its gradual ascent. Birdsong carried throughout the cool, spring-morning air, and joined in with the din of the Fort’s inhabitants at work. The morning was perfect for training, and the Bracciante had had an early start.


Her usual routine with the horses and falcons finished, Teagan had decided to do some practice drills with her sword—well, not her personal one. Chopping into wood a couple of hundred times would dull the blade and put unnecessary wear on the weapon. The pack had practice ones for a reason. She’d found one of similar weight and balance as her own blade down in the armory, and had brought it up with a few other tools.


Of course, her favored weapon had always been the short sword, but, it didn’t hurt to figure out the basics of the other ones as well. A few knives and a greatsword had been amongst those brought up to the training area. She put them off to the side though, lain across a nearby stump that was often used for seating when lessons or spars were had.


She’d cleaned up the area to her liking, pushing the archery stands and dummies made for lighter use off to the side. The one she squared up to currently was one that had seen better days. It had plenty of cuts and chunks taken out of it, but, it still held firmly to its purpose. Sturdy, heavy, it was perfect for Teagan’s aggressive blows.


As per usual, the Stryder wore her tunic and had her hair up in a high ponytail. She panted a little as she took a step back, her canary eyes never leaving her faux opponent as she made up scenarios in her mind. A strike, and she ducked, a hit, and she sidestepped, a swing, and she twirled, slicing the dummy across its unguarded back. It was a dance, and one that Teagan was no beginner to.


Thwaack!


And the dance continued.




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Teagan Stryder
[Image: kezoZZ68_o.png]

#2
[size=85][300+][/size]

For the first time in weeks, Shtiya seemed to sleep peacefully. She hadn't woken up coughing, her throat dry and aching, in hours. Her body didn't writhe and shake as she slept, as if the sickness intensified her usual nightmares.

He had them, too. Of dead chiefs, white-hot fires, and bloodied snow. The violent images haunted his waking life; the burden of knowing that it wasn't just a dream was a heavy one.

A half-full bowl of water sat beside their bed, placed within her reach if she needed it. Asuilaak adjusted the warm cloak wrapped around her, brushed his muzzle against the top of her head, and slipped out of the room. He had neglected his training, though he still lacked a teacher. They were no longer running; instead, the pair lied in wait. Neither knew if they had weeks, months, or years before they were found.

Asuilaak had left most of his equipment in their room, but his metal sword hung from his hip and his wooden shield had been strapped to his back. He pushed the heavy, armory door open and peered inside with searching, sky blue eyes. The boy had visited the pack's armory before, but he'd done little more than marvel at the collection of metal weapons. Now his presence had a purpose.

Upon locating a training sword and shield of a similar weight and balance to his own—something even he understood was important—he set off toward the training grounds. The walk was short and pleasant, but his resolve faltered as the ring came into sight. Asuilaak watched as a woman—young, but fierce—seemed to dance around a training dummy with her sword. It was both mesmerizing and intimidating.

He brushed his tawny bangs out of his eyes and tightened his ponytail. The dyed leather cord felt too-loose for the occasion. Asuilaak felt out of place and under-dressed, though he wore more clothing than the black and cream hybrid. He picked at the hem of his blue tunic, took a deep breath, and carried onward. "You mind someone else in the ring?" he called out, stopping at the fence. Asuilaak's pride certainly would; his technique wasn't nearly as refined or practiced as his pack mate's was.
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#3
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(+502)


Sorry for the wait! >_____< Wasn’t sure if Asuilaak still had his sword/shield along with the training stuff, or if he had traded them out? Let me know if this needs changing!


She’d gone through her usual drills, patterned routines, and scenarios. Memories from her last, real fight still hung heavily on her mind, and the Stryder sought nothing less than perfection. Had her skills been honed and her emotions kept in check, she would have never experienced the whisper of Death in her ears all those months ago. It was not something the Bracciante wished to suffer a second time. If she could perfect the movements that had led to her downfall, she would never fear a repeat offense.


Her mismatched ears pricked and her muscles stiffened a bit as she suddenly felt as if she was being watched. She tried to ignore it at first, knowing she was well within the boundaries of the Fort, and having a stray pair of eyes on her was nothing to draw attention to. If she didn’t acknowledge it, perhaps they’d be on their way. Training was not something unheard of for the Stryder.


She was curious as to who her onlooker might be, and, subtly as she could, she tried to position herself where she might be able to see them without directly looking at them. Before she could fully commit to the motions though, they decided to speak up. Her sword hungrily dug into the wood before being pulled free. In one smooth motion, the young woman turned, her canary eyes searching for her audience.


It was a male, younger than her, who stood on the opposite side of the training arena’s fence. She recognized him as being a Cavalier—she’d seen him and a female around as of late, though, had been too busy with her own work to properly be introduced—but knew not his name or otherwise. His fur was mostly cream with darker, warmer markings here and there. A pair of eyes as blue as Indi’s gazed upon her.


To his question, she jerked her head towards the dummy, wordlessly allowing him permission to join her. “I’m Teagan Stryder,” she introduced, unsure if the male knew her by name or not. She didn’t bother with her rank, feeling it unimportant in the ring environment. Her sword fell into a more relaxed position at her side.

“What’s your name, Cavalier?” She asked as her eyes moved over to the training equipment the male had brought with him. Not one to waste time, the warrior princess continued, “Have you used those before?” She motioned to the sword and shield with a jut of her chin.


It was a genuine, innocent question; one meant to gauge whether he was there to learn or there to practice previously learned skills. There were many newcomers in the pack that came without knowledge of how to fight with such weapons, or weapons at all, sometimes. The atmosphere and culture led many to attempt to pick one of the many variety the Armory had to offer though, and Teagan wondered if such was the case for the Recruit.





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Teagan Stryder
[Image: kezoZZ68_o.png]

#4
[html]

He has both, but I think your post is fine; you can change it if you'd like, or just reference it in your next post.
(300+)

It was a marvel to witness, truly, the way the woman moved with her blade. Asuilaak recognized her, albeit vaguely. Her features reminded him of the pack's Lune—it was the pale golds and dark markings on a distinctly not fully wolf, but only slightly doggish, face. Life was full of coincidences, though. He didn't wish to assume, despite the resemblance.

The cream woman's gesture was followed by an introduction, giving a name he'd half-assumed despite himself. A Stryder, like Arlen—his sister? Arlen had spoken of a brother, whereas others had mentioned his sisters. The two seemed so different, it was hard to picture. She was older, too.

"I'm Asuilaak," he introduced at her behest, approaching the fence and placing his training gear beside his feet. "Yes, my own," Asuilaak said simply as he sized up the barrier between them. Then, bracing both hands on the top of the fence, he hopped over it. Asuilaak crouched down, pulled the pack's sword and shield under the fence, and stood with them as he turned his attention back to Teagan.

"You're one of Arlen's sisters, right?" he asked curiously, shrugging off the ornamented, wooden shield from his back and pulling his own, dull blade from his hip. These were dropped—albeit gently—to the ground, throwing up loose dust upon landing. They'd been through worse tan a bit of dirt.

Asuilaak examined the wooden target Teagan had been using, long slashes and chunks of wood missing throughout, and swallowed thickly. Returning to their previous subject, he admitted, "I haven't had a target for a while." At least not one of any real, lasting quality.

Mere air could not catch his blade, briefly holding it in place like another sword might. Unsuspecting branches and innocent hay bales offered little resistance to his swift strikes. Asuilaak had rarely gone more than a few days without practicing while traveling. Unfortunately, that training couldn't hold a flame to real, honed instruction with real, weapon-worn targets.

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#5
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(+400)





She offered him a shallow dip of her snout in polite greeting when he introduced himself. Pleasantries were never her thing, but, Teagan had been raised with manners, and her mother would have had her ears if she’d been rude to a fellow Cavalier. He claimed the sword and shield to be his, and, it was then that she noticed he had a duplicate pair of each. The fact that he knew how to use them was promising, as it meant one less Luperci that would have to be taught from scratch.


When Asuilaak proceeded to jump over the fence between them, Teagan couldn’t help when her eyes quickly flicked to the opening to the training ring some ways down. Returning their attention to the male, she found him crouching to pull the additional weapons he’d brought with him to their side. The male was either eager to begin, or perceived it to be too much effort and time wasted to take the long way around. It, truly, made no difference to the Cadet, however, it was a curious sight to watch.


Her mismatched ears pricked when the Recruit questioned her. “Yes,” she answered, canary eyes looking him over with a bit of curiosity of her own for why he’d asked the question. There was only one Stryder house in the pack, and only three that carried it in name, all tied to the matriarch that sat at its head. She watched as he traded his personal weapons for those likely gleaned from the armory. “Have you trained with him?” She asked, her brows raising by a fraction. How Arlen and Asuilaak knew each other wasn’t something she particularly cared to know, however, it made good small talk to keep the air between them from becoming stale and awkward.


To his admittance, Teagan offered a schooled, shallow smirk. “All the better that you came today then,” she mused. The enemy would not sit and wait until one was ready to fight again. They would not go easy one someone because they were rusty. It was good on the Recruit to seek out the training ring as he had.


Teagan turned from him, gesturing to the dummy before them with a hand. “Show me what you know.” From there, she could judge his skill level and if they should spar or stick to the wooden targets.





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Teagan Stryder
[Image: kezoZZ68_o.png]

#6
[html]

(500+)

The bounce and impact on his limbs when he leaped over things just felt good. He'd noted the entrance to the ring mere feet away, marked its place in his mind, and hopped the fence anyway. Asuilaak was a spirited, athletic youth. He had to get his energy out somehow, didn't he?

Despite already being a Cavalier for a few weeks, the golden boy's time had been consumed with caring for Shtiya and their horses. He'd hardly had time to introduce himself to anyone, much less get a full picture of the royal family. In his homeland, even if it wasn't denoted by last name, Quamaniq's royal line was expansive and well-known. Those of chief's blood carried a sign of their heritage with them. Shtiya's was her bow, even as the dyes on it faded with the passage of time.

"Not yet, but I hope to," he answered with a gentle wag of his tail. He wasn't sure what they'd get out of it—except perhaps a way to pass the time—but it would be worth a shot. Arlen could be... Annoying and frustrating. He was still a friend. A good one, too.

He returned her smirk with a weak smile. "All the better," Asuilaak parroted, meeting her gaze for a second before turning his gaze to the training dummy. The deep slashes in it made him relieved he was on the Stryder woman's side and not part of some other, foreign group.

Upon being told to practice, to fight, to show her what he knew... Asuilaak wasn't even sure where to begin. Regardless, he strode toward the dummy with some measure of confidence. He was new to the art of the sword, but it made him feel alive. That alone was enough to put strength in his sword arm as he sunk into his stance, advanced, and swung. As the strike met its mark, he sidestepped and rose his shield a bit higher, as if preparing for an invisible swing. A slash, a step back, a cut, a side step, and—

Thud!

His shield collided with the target, buffeting it so that he could deliver a heavy swing to its side.

Despite his exuberance, his mistakes were clear. He'd lean too far forward or too far back on some, longer swings. Thus, his measure would suffer, leading him to over-correct. Asuilaak's aim struck fast and true, but he was overly guarded. It was as if he'd learned to defend himself with his shield first and foremost, coloring his technique even without an opponent's sword to parry. It was far from bad for a beginner, he knew; he wasn't going to hurt himself just moving around the target, after all. Still, it... Left a lot to be desired.

He feared judgement, but not enough to let up. Asuilaak delivered several more, quick strikes to the target as he danced around it. Then, panting from the effort, he lowered his equipment and turned to Teagan. Brushing his mussed bangs out of his eyes, he asked, "What did I do wrong?" Asuilaak had never wanted, nor needed soft critique. He wanted the truth, even if it didn't bode well for his self-esteem.

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#7
[html]
(+759)

I hope I read his attacks right Dx If not, let me know and I’ll edit my post! Made a few assumptions to make the movement of the thread smoother.

So it seemed the boy had taken some sort of liking to her annoying little brother. She chose to not make any comment about the matter. It was good that Arlen had some friends—it meant that he’d have someone to keep him occupied and out of her hair—and Asuilaak seemed more competent than most. Wanting to train, having some experience with weaponry already, it meant he wasn’t deadweight for the pack, and that was enough to earn him some respect from the warrior princess.


She watched with quiet interest as the Recruit moved towards the dummy. He seemed hesitant around her, but when he took up his starting stance, it melted away into something more confident and sure of himself. Asuilaak went through the drills; striking, dodging, moving. The teen danced well enough, and proved that he had received some decent training with wielding both sword and shield.


The dummy shook as he shoved it, a move that would have put his opponent off-balance, and with a swing from his sword to follow soon after, they would have been scrambling to put up a hasty defense. With the shield having come first too, it also afforded the Recruit a way to hide the sword attack up until it would have almost been too late for his opponent. It was promising for him, as it showed he wasn’t just mindlessly going through the motions, but, rather, he was calculating for his next move.


Teagan noted a few improvements here and there, but let him continue until he came to a stop on his own. It gave her time to form ways to fix what was wrong, as well, to check for any consistent errors. Despite her silent scrutiny, the young Cavalier never wavered in his performance, and the Cadet could say she was quite pleased with his work. When he finally drew to a halt, panting and muscles warmed from use, Teagan offered her assessment.


“You throttle your attacks,” she began. The warrior princess strode forward. With a sharp jut of her chin, she motioned for Asuilaak to move away from the dummy. Raising her sword, she took up a stance similar to his own. “When you move forward to strike, you overdo it.” She demonstrated, making a point to do so at a slower, educational speed rather than what would have been her true attack one. “You only need to do enough to cut through their defenses, not try to cleave them in half. When you lean so far into the attack, you have to overcompensate to bring your sword and body back to its starting position.”


She brought the sword back, going further than necessary to show him her next point. “As well, your strikes lead to you doing this number.” Teagan nodded to her sword arm. “See how far back my sword hand is? You make more work for yourself by swinging from this point, than if you would from this one.” She adjusted her arm so that her sword started at a less severe angle. “So, if you stop your swing here instead, it’ll be easier for you to transition between various swings, and will make your attacks quicker overall since they return to a smaller area to start from. Before, you would overshoot the start point, and force yourself to have to return back to it each time before moving on to the next attack.”


The Stryder dropped her stance and turned towards Asuilaak. “You also act like you’re waiting to be attacked more than you are searching to put your opponent on the defensive. While letting your enemy tire themselves out is a good strategy, sometimes, it’s not a luxury you can afford. If you become too reliant on your shield, you make it into a vulnerability when it’s taken away from you or broken. You should put more confidence in your sword arm rather than only using it as a backup to use only after you’ve used your shield.”


Stepping back to her original position, she wordlessly allowed for the Recruit to try again with her advice in mind. “It’s good that you can use the shield and the sword in tandem with one another like you have, but, you shouldn’t hesitate to take the offensive if the moment permits it.” With a hand, he gestured for Asuilaak to attack the dummy. If he felt confident afterwards, she would suggest a spar to help get a more “real-life” feel.





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Teagan Stryder
[Image: kezoZZ68_o.png]

#8
[html]

(300+)

As Asuilaak’s huffing breaths slowed and evened out, he listened to her critique. He watched with rapt attention as Teagan demonstrated what he could improve upon. Overdoing it, overswinging, overshooting… A sudden clarity overcame the golden Recruit. Oh, so that was his problem. Well, one of them. He supposed it could have been worse; better to overdo it than under do it, right?

Glancing away sheepishly, he nodded. He did have a rather… Strong reliance on his shield. It was something he was working on, but it never hurt to be reminded. Teagan’s explanations were easy to follow and understand, too—any sting the critique may have had was dulled by her patient, demonstrative teaching.

As Teagan finished giving her advice, Asuilaak raised his sword and shield again. Stepping toward the dummy, he circled it for a few seconds before diving right back into the dance. The boy was mindful to watch his strikes, maintaining his measure and offensive stance with more care.

Cut, dodge; slice, sidestep; strike, duck! His attacks became more darting, more dangerous, and once more, realization dawned on his young features. So this was what proper form felt like.

He corrected mistakes as he became aware of them, though some still fell through the cracks. As tempting as it was to keep an eye on Teagan’s reaction, Asuilaak resisted the urge to split his attention. It was significantly more important to follow her advice than try to interpret her expression.

The dance was shorter this time, but undoubtedly more polished. With a silly grin on his muzzle, he took a moment to catch his breath. ”You were right, that is better,” he said, sky blue eyes bright and happy at the thought of improving. It was clear that Asuilaak, despite the corrections, was beyond pleased with himself.

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#9
[html]
(+338)

We can either wrap this up with a fade to them sparring or we can actually do the sparring part? :O

The Recruit seemed like a good enough student. He didn’t sulk at her corrections, didn’t try to argue with her on the matter, didn’t try to make excuses. He was open and willing to learn from his mistakes, and that earned him an ounce of the warrior princess’ respect. It meant that he didn’t carry the arrogance on his shoulders like many often did when they held a weapon. He knew he didn’t know it all, and wasn’t above being shown a different way to go about doing things.


He moved to the dummy once more when she indicated for him to continue. Teagan observed him in silence, mentally noting his noticeable change in his speed and flow of his movements. The power behind his strikes no longer suffered, and his body was no longer expending a needless amount of energy to get the same drills completed. His stance, his strikes, guard, parry, they were all much more fluid now than they had been previously.


There were a few minor errors that slipped through here and there, but, none that Teagan felt needed to be called upon. Asuilaak fixed most of them himself anyways. Any that remained were not consistent enough to point out. With time and practice, he’d have the movements perfected to a point that the previous Sole had had.


She offered nothing in way of judgement as he performed, not wanting to break his concentration. When he finished and his maw split with a proud grin that reminded her of Arlen, Teagan nodded, satisfied with his results. “A noticeable improvement from a quick learner,” she conceded, a long-winded way of saying she agreed that he had gotten better.


Her fingers drummed against the pommel of her sword as she contemplated for a moment. “Would you say you’re confident enough to attempt a spar?” Dummies were good for practicing technique, but, only through fighting with a real, live, thinking, moving target would he excel in his skills.




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Teagan Stryder
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