[P] Burgeoning Our Skills, Sharpening Our Teeth
For Mayta/Zasha!

Training was...interesting. With a very unconventional mentor, it put a different twist on what it meant for her to learn various skills or practice with new weapons. Eros was good, but he also wasn't always available to hold her hand.

Whether that was by choice or happenstance she couldn't know and he probably wouldn't have told her if she asked. Maybe. The red pelted male was still an enigma to the young girl, a mystery of quirks and assholish mannerisms that she could never properly read from him.

But for today, when she'd confessed not knowing what to do with herself for that day training-wise, her own mother had suggested reaching out to one of the other apprentice's and seeing if they wanted to spar. Of course, first to come to mind had been the only other youth that she'd already interacted with strongly, and in a spar too. Zasha Hushhowl one of Mister Zetsu's children, the chocolate-colored girl with a bright smile and ecstatic energy, just like Caspian.

Or, at least, it'd been that way before Veri's passing, and before her brother's had fled Casa. Now when she saw Zasha, the other fellow apprentice was quiet, much more contained and subdued, and this hurt Artoia to see.

So, while it would help herself along as well in her experience of combating with another youth, she wanted to see Zasha smile again. And this brought the two-toned white and wine red girl to the Fort's entrance, and she swore her way past the guard, saying she'd be right back because she was just fetching someone from the Hushhowl Den. They let her go with a warning that she had ten minutes to get them and be back inside before they went searching, and Artoia was off at a sprint to make up time.

"Zasha! Zasha, you wanna go and spar with me? Eros is somewhere else, so I got time, and I wanna see what we got as opponents!" she hollered as she blew into the Den area, her voice carrying enough to reach most of the den's if the chocolate furred girl was inside. With her message conveyed in a single breathless exhale, she stopped and bent at the waist to brace against her knees, her lungs heaving for the air she'd deprived them in her sprint.

The Hushhowl's life had been turned upside down, and shaken violently before being turned right side up again, but finally Zasha was starting to feel normal again. She may never be the crazy and spastic girl that she once was, but slowly she had at least started to smile again and enjoy the company of others. The reticent was once again playing with her younger brother and sisters, venturing out of scavenging trips with her daddy and had started focusing on things she needed to do to prepare for moving into adulthood with the pack. Which she felt completely behind on….

Today, however, she wasn't sure what to do with herself, momma and daddy had taken the pups out, Lyu was out learning herbs or healing things she assumed, Caspian was who knew where, and Romeo was busy practicing for the big event.  It left the young adolescent laid out on the roof of the den, watching the clouds move above the thinning tree line.  Occasionally a leaf would lose its grip on the branch and come floating down, dancing in the wind and Zasha would try to catch it if it meant not moving too far.  In short, she was bored and needed something to do.

As if on cue, a  tornado of energy ran into the den site causing the mahogany wolf hybrid to roll on her stomach and peer down off the edge of the den.  Her tail started to wag and the corner of her lips turned up in a smile.  Artoia seemed to be the answer she was looking for and she carefully slide down from her perch and jogged to meet with the junior cadet. 

"Sounds like a good time, race ya back!"

The dark furred reticent didn't give her friend and chance to answer before moving towards the Fort in a sprint, leaves crunched under foot paw as she ran.  Turning to look behind her, while jogging backwards she smiled at Artoia,

"Come on slowpoke!"

Turning back around to run before she ended up flat on her back from tripping over her own feet or who knows what else, she made it to the entrance of the Fort in record time and buzzed by the guard before slowing to a stop. Doubled over, she placed her hands on her knees and panted heavily.  It had been a long time since exerting that much energy in her bipedal form, maybe it wasn't such a bright idea to race before a sparring match with the Denahlii girl.  Zasha began to laugh, and it felt good.

"Hey, thanks for the invite.  I was bored out of my mind. So have you chosen a weapon? I had found these like wooden baton things, but I think I feel more comfortable with just these."

She held out her hands, punching the air in a one-two fashion before she began to laugh again. Soon the two had made it to the training ring and the Hushhowl began to stretch and shake out her limbs and readying herself for a good spar.

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Zasha was right there to give her answer in mere moments, and already the two-toned snow and wine-furred girl could see a familiar smile cracking across the mohagony youth's muzzle.

Artoia barely got a chance to catch her breath from her first sprint here, and already her friend was putting distance between the Hushhowl Den and herself.

Laughing, she turned and started churning her legs, a spark of competitive spirit igniting in her own chest to replace the other familiar burn she'd been carrying. For a moment, all she saw was Zasha and the ground between them she needed to cover, and it was closing.

They came in through the gate practically neck and neck, Artoia had managed to dig in just enough to catch up and stay even with her friend, refusing to give even an inch once she'd settled up with Zasha's shoulder. She also tried to double over like her fellow youth had, but she missed her hand bracing against one knee and this made her lose balance and kind of crumple to the ground.

She swiftly rolled to her back and just lay there gasping, though she smiled up to her eyes even as her tongue lolled from her maw, and each exhale was a breathless laugh.

"It's...no problem," she managed, "And no...I haven't. At least...officially. I like...daggers, and knives. Fast...like me." she grinned cheekily, having caught most of her breath back now, and took her laying down position as a good way to start stretching, and she dragged herself up to a seated pose to begin on her legs.

Looking in Zasha's direction, she gave a nod and a grin. "I like hand to hand too. Even if it's not my main choice, it might pay to know how to give a good punch. Or take one, even." with her legs and lower torso warmed up, she stood and moved on to her arms, raising them over her head to either side and swinging them to get the blood going. "How about we stick to hand to hand then. Claws or no claws, do you think?" she asked, pushing out and then retracting her own as she did. Perhaps this was just her, but she believed the claws to also be a form of muscle, so she stretched them several times, in and out of her fingertips, before a spar to make them more limber.


The dark furred Hushhowl's focus had not been on the training ring, it hadn't been on anything other than adventure until recently when life had a way of forcing her to grow up. It was because of this that Artoia had more experience under her belt and Zasha took clues from the Denahlii girl, so when she started to stretch out and warm up, the reticent followed in kind.  Rolling her head from shoulder to shoulder then stretching her arms and legs, she was as ready as she would ever be.

"I think, no claws…keep us safer.  I remember your competitive spirit from before."

Zasha smiled and laughed, of course she had that same fire, maybe not as intense as the garnet and cream girl before her, but still the spirit was there.

The young Hushhowl moved to the training ring  and jumped up and down a few times shaking out her limps,


Already her heart was racing, before when they were in the ring, they were a team against the Sworn, now their opponent was each other, it was such a different feeling.  Once Artoia was ready, Zasha decided that you only live once and to go for it, charging forward having no clue at what she was doing and hoped that instinct would take over. Knowing that she had to attack but be ready to protect herself, she let one fist fly while still holding up one arm to protect face or stomach if she could react fast enough.  If the punch landed she hoped it would be somewhere around the other girl's shoulder.  Once the first punch was thrown she switch attack and defensive arms and attempted to throw another punch, this one upper cutting through the air aimed for the other's stomach. 

Honestly, Zasha hated the thought of fighting, especially one of her friends, the only reason she had even agreed to a spar was for training purposes for the First Blood that she was sure was quickly approaching and every Cavalier had to know how to defend themselves and their pack.  Plus it was time spent with the Denahlii girl, but couldn't have just as easily practiced hunting or climbed a tree?

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Mirroring Artoia, Zasha also began to stretch out some of her muscles, letting the both of them completely catch their breath so they'd be ready for a spar. When asked whether they should include claws or not, her chocolate-furred friend considered for a moment but ultimately they should stay sheathed for this face-off, at least until they got more refined skills in hand to hand. Her grin was wicked at the mention of her spirit, and she laughed. "You know it!" she quipped back.

The dual-toned wine and snow-furred girl followed her friend into the ring, shaking her arms out and bouncing on her toes with a grin. "Yeah, yeah I'm ready," she answered, settling into a loose stance and wondering how this was going to go.

Zasha decided to take the initiative this time, lunging forward with a fist aimed for Artoia's shoulder area at not quite full speed, or at least it didn't feel so to the Denahlii descendant. Her opponent's other arm was kept in close to protect her stomach, chest, or head, whatever might be needed for how Artoia retaliates.

With her arms up she ducked around the first strike, holding back on her own punch until she noticed Zasha switching arms and striking tactic. It came as an uppercut toward her stomach, but instead of evading she swept one of her forearms sideways to knock it away, opening up Zasha's torso for her own attack.

Artoia lunged forward, launching her fist forward in a burst of movement toward her friend's shoulder, just like Zasha had done, while also moving her other hand in to purposefully tangle with the chocolate girl's free one still being used for defense, holding it at bay so Artoia's opponent could not sneak a punch in during her own.

She didn't stay that way for long, whether her punch hit or not, she retreated, putting some distance between them and moving her feet to change position and force Zasha to rotate in place if she wanted to keep Artoia in line of sight.

Though her friend was younger, she had more training under her belt, mainly because Zasha spent most of her early puphood, playing and jumping off cliffs.  Anything to avoid growing up and being boring.  So when the two started to spar, and she charged, she didn't expect to hit her target and she was correct in that assumption.  Artoia dodged on strike and batted away the other which gave the garnet and snow girl the chance to go on the offensive, which she took full advantage of and the girls fist came fly towards her shoulder.  The Hushhowl tried to roll her shoulder back, but the punch still grazed her body hard enough that there would be a chance for a bruise. But what would sparring be without coming away with a few bruises.

"Nice one."

She spat out quickly as she spun away from the Denahlii girl wanting to take a shot at her back but her friend was too quick and smart and backed away quickly.  Luckily the spin had kept her face to face with her opponent, which surprised herself.  Look at me.  Letting out a small giggle before charging forward again, there was no rest for the wicked. Keeping on arm on the defensive, the other arm faked a straight punch, but at the last moment she folded her leg under her, sliding quickly by Artoia, popping up again as her arm flung out to the side, intending to strike the girl's back before spinning and backing away, learning from her friend on the previous attack.

Zasha hopped back and forth staying light on her feet and mobile, she couldn't afford not to with the Denahlii girl, if she got too comfortable, Artoia would make her pay dearly and she couldn't make it that easy for her.

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Artoia's punch hit, grazing the chocolate Hushhowl hard enough to potentially leave a bruise as a reminder in the aftermath of the spar.

Zasha offered up a clipped compliment just before trying to get her way closer, but the Denahlii descendant had seen that coming and already moved away. But, Zasha's movement still ended up with the girl facing the right way toward Artoia, prompting a giggle from the earthen girl's maw.

Artoia's answering smile was only a slight crack of her lips; she was all business now for the most part, but that's why she liked having Zasha around. The older girl helped Artoia to lighten up a little, not be so serious all the time and so focused on being strong and good at fighting.

Her smile had barely formed or faded when Zasha charged in again, arm prepared for a punch. Artoia tensed to dodge or block it directly, however, her friend faked her out and let one leg collapse beneath her, the momentum carrying her forward in a slide through the training sand so, in an instant, the Hushhowl was behind the wine and snow furred girl.

At the same time, Zasha struck out, punching Artoia across the back with enough force to both bruise and drive some of the air from her lungs. She stumbled forward a few steps and then whirled to face her opponent, hair flying even as she coughed and tried to get her breath back.

"Right back at ya," she growled, rolling her shoulders and assessing the damage. Her muscles smarted from the movement, punching would hurt from now on as it used that same group in her back, but she could weather that discomfort. This was a spar after all.

Not giving her opponent a chance to revel, Artoia charged straight in, following Zasha as the chocolate furred girl tried to keep her feet light and keep distance between them, almost pushing the Denahlii's opponent back even more, forcing her to retreat faster if she didn't want to directly engage in a wrestling match with the two-toned wolfess.

Still moving forward, always closing the distance, Artoia's arm came back to start a punch, her other arm up for defense, or additional offense.

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