[P] [M] - Slice & Dice

WARNING: This thread contains material exceeding the general board rating of PG-13. It may contain very strong language, drug usage, graphic violence, or graphic sexual content. Reader discretion is advised.

Specifically, this thread is marked mature because of: Drugs, possible language, maybe descriptive gore.

Ooc:: Orange Shield: Obtain Strength! Pick a weapon of choice with your mentor and start training with it, earning this mark when you’ve trained enough!

Thack! Thack thack! Thwack!

Each hit of the dummies under her strike sent a thrum of vibration from the impact up her arm. Though her attack did little for slicing damage against the makeshift enemies, this was less about carving them to pieces and more on working with her form, hence why she carried the dull wooden daggers meant for practicing in each hand instead of her actual sharpened weapon.

Partially, also, because she only had one of those, and she wanted a pair, but the armory didn't have one that was suitably weighted for the one she'd already claimed.

The sand surrounding her in the ring had been churned up and softened from the friction of her feet and claws across its surface, working in a haphazard circle around herself and the dummy she faced off with. She hadn't paid it much mind, but it had been noted as she did her forms that the texture underfoot had gradually changed, something she'd remembered as she continued just in case it affected one of her attacks.

One, slice diagonal from the right. Two, slice diagonal from the left. Retreat, footwork, lunge, repeat steps one and two, sidestep an imaginary counterattack. Artoia charged in low under the illusioned retaliation, both daggers now in a reverse grip that she continuously practiced to make as smooth as possible, and she stabbed both blunted daggers round tip first into the armpit of the dummy. It wasn't a killing attack, maybe, but her second motion, ripping the 'blades' across and down through the sacks pectoral area and toward the sternum certainly could have been.

Artoia disengaged and stalked backward swiftly, both daggers still reversed in her hands but held up parallel to one another in front of her as a defense if her 'opponent' still had the strength to come after her. She held this position for a span of several seconds before letting it fall and slightly relaxing her stance, arctic green gaze swinging to find the calculating gold of her mentor set into his reddish-orange face, a joint predictably cradled between his lips as he observed.

She waited for his verdict, her chest expanding at a rapid pace with her increased breathing due to the exertion, but she was not out of breath, and already it had begun to subside and regain a more normal rhythm since she'd paused in her efforts to be graded by Eros on her performance. His strange application of getting her into shape had worked.

How had he got here? It was a question Eros had been asking himself more frequently of late.  For a large chunk of his life the fiery pelted Damaichu had drifted from party to party, screwing, drinking and getting high.  He’d been responsible for number one, taken lucrative jobs, work that he was damn good at, and he’d survived.  Eros had gone balls deep into the muck of society and wallowed among them for a very long time.  He’d made no one he’d consider a friend at least none he’d not trust to rob him blind if he passed out in front of them.

Somehow though, he’d stumbled back to Casa.  He’d been greeted by Luca and Aldora, and it’d been…different.  Now he was standing here watching a youth pummel a wooden dummy and expected to judge technique and skill?  It was true Eros had received training in too and claw by Altair and of course, his dad had shown him a thing or two, but mostly Eros had grabbed a pair of promised knives, ducked out and managed not to get himself killed while he learned.  Here, in this place, Artoia, and Maisie before her, did what he told them and looked to him for some sort of criticism?

As the youth finished, Eros remained silent, still lost in his own reveries.  Eros glanced to one side and blew out a stream of smoke, doubtless having given the impression he’d not been concentrating.  In truth, there were very few things that Eros missed, details were important.

”I think you killed it.” Eros said, looking at the splintering gouges in the wood.

Eros flicked out his tongue and moistened his nose, refreshing the scents of the scene.  Walking forwards he stood in front of Artoia, feeling the churned up sand beneath his own clawed feet.

”Yeah, good.  This shit is important, but the best fights are the ones that your opponent doesn’t see coming.  You manage to slit their throat, or generally just open up a artery, then you’re the one with time on your side.  No matter what you hear, there’s no such thing as a fucking honourable fight.  There is a fight you win, or a fight you get killed in, the winner gets to say what type of fight it was.  Kicking dirt into someone’s face, kicking them in the crotch, doesn’t matter, win sprog, that’s all you have to do, just fucking win.”

With one final drag, Eros did what so many found so distasteful, he chucked the joint into his mouth and swallowed it.  For a moment longer he thought.  Eros looked up at the clear winter sky, then back at Artoia, before taking a step back.

”All of that said, let’s see you how you do against a moving target.  I won’t attack you, you just need to try and hit me, you can use your wooden daggers if you like, or the real one you carry round, I don’t care, whatever you feel better with.”

Eros was bastard, no doubt about it, but he wasn’t doing this to prove how much better than Artoia he was.  She might not be his sprog, but she was a member of his pack, he was responsible for her, and Eros had made the promise to keep Casa safe.  In this instance, he was doing that, by making the Luperci that worked with him, the best fighters, maybe not in technique, or style, but they would win, they’d be prepared, they’d be fast, and they would survive. 

”Remember, a swipe, a stab, a slice, it all gets more powerful and faster, if you use your whole body, not just your arms.”

Eros’s golden eyes watched, his posture relaxed, his stance grounded and ready.

Artoia watched him as he watched her, and after a beat, he confirmed that she'd killed it.

He approached her then to stand before her and she didn't flinch from his proximity like she might have when starting their apprentice and mentor relationship, merely tipping her head up slightly to keep his face in her sits. He complimented her performance - or, what stood as a compliment, coming from Eros - and told her what he'd never once let her forget in their entire time together; winning meant everything.

Skill and technique were important, obviously, but they didn't mean shit if you lost the fight. Win, by any means necessary. She'd had her first taste of an opponent with a similar mindset to Eros when she sparred with Nazar. She still knew winning their bout had been a fluke; he'd ceded to her when it became obvious she wouldn't stay down when he'd put her there.

First spiel done, Eros did the one thing she could never understand; eating his joint. Having been high now, and off of one of his joints, too, which were stronger than the normal strains available [b]because[/i] of the sheer consistency he used them, she understood why he almost constantly had one of those things locked to his muzzle. It was calming, sense sharpening.

But Artoia could not understand why he ate the thing when he was done, it made her nose curl when she thought of what the taste would be like, hot and skunky in her mouth, and she had to stop herself from coughing or gagging out of reflex.

As soon as he spoke again, though, her thoughts narrowed in onto him once again like an arrow finding its target, and he was challenging her to fight against something that moved now, offering himself up as the 'dummy'. He wouldn't attack, she just needed to touch him, with anything. Whether that was her wooden practice daggers, her claws, her hands or feet, or her teeth. Anything.

Strategizing wouldn't help her much here, so she discarded it off hand. She could, and would, use some, but strategizing took too long in a fight. And against an opponent like Eros, the unpredictable of unpredictable? Artoia had to move on instinct, instant action or reaction, to even have a chance at touching him, because she didn't think he'd lower himself to her level, not at this point.

Her only acknowledgment for his statement at the end was a nod, and she did not shift into any of her practiced stances, like she was still catching her breath from the forms she'd just done against sand dummy.

Similar to her first attacks with Nazar, she didn't hesitate or give any indication that she was going to engage, merely, she moved. No snarl or wrinkle curled her lip, rather, her approach was silent and intended to be deadly as she sprinted at her mentor for the few paces that still separated them, curving her path a touch so she came at him diagonally from his left shoulder, keeping her eyes mostly trained on his torso to try and predict how he'd move.

Her daggers up, she sliced them horizontally apart, one aimed at his thigh and the other his mid-section, and while she was actually trying, she had no illusions that her first attempted attack would land anywhere near him, not when compared to the differences in their skill and experience. From her approach, he had four choices of retreat, sideways to the right, backward, directly in the opposite diagonal direction, or even invading her space and moving forward into her.

He wouldn't underestimate her, so moving into her she didn't think was an option, especially since he'd claimed he wouldn't attempt to attack her back. Moving her feet she switched her leading side, strafing further around him to the right to either get behind him or keep herself facing his left side, arctic green orbs never leaving his form with a sharp intensity.

Regardless of how he stood, she followed, lunging closer again and bringing both daggers together in a perpendicular X to try and get into contact with as much of his flesh as she could, immediately followed by a redirected swipe attack with both daggers parallel to one another, using the mass of her whole upper torso, just like he'd taught her, behind the swing to give it more deadly momentum.

Eros had killed Luperci younger than Artoia.  The thought came unexpectedly, accompanied by one or two faces, the ones he could remember, for whatever reason.  He’d always made it quick, and it had never been personal.  Those contracts had always been lucrative.  Once the kids were dead then the parents would need to be taken care of and on and on.  Some of those youths had fought well to.  Some were scared and begged, others were quiet and defiant, a few asked questions and some didn’t realise it until it was too late.

He didn’t regret what he’d done.  There was no balm needed for his soul, but he wondered if Casa could accept him quite as easily if they knew?

Artoia didn’t limber up, flap about trying different stances and preparing.  She attacked.  Eros allowed himself a flicker of a grin, but he saw the concentration, knew she was waiting for him to signal what he’d do, so he signalled and did the opposite.  The feint was easy enough, but for Eros, this combat wasn’t about shaming Artoia, or patting her ego.  It was so he could see, really see how she coped with an opponent.  Where her strengths were, where those weaknesses appeared. 

Artoia corrected herself in an instant, unrelenting, something else that made him nod.

”Speed is energy, pace yourself, you don’t always know when the one your facing is going to get tired, and what if they have a friend appear?”

Eros’s movements flowed, his weight balanced and even.  Sometimes her knives came close, but he was never quite there.

”If the one trying to kill you tries to throw insults at you, ignore them, talking is just a waste of breath.  Like with everything though, if you can make them angry, might make them angry and get sloppy.”

Artoia picked up speed, though never frantically so, and the fiery pelted Damaichu was pleased with that.  Always he slid and slipped, stepping, moving, jumping, always evading, always avoiding and always watching.  Finally, when Eros had learned enough, he reached out, and like a snake, grabbed both of Artoia’s wrists.  Taking hold of them in a firm, but not cruel, grip.

”Stop.” He said, bringing the little bout to a close.

The move had been stupid, showy and reckless.  One thing Eros had learned though, sometimes a bit of showing off, planted a seed of doubt in an enemy’s mind, and avoided a fight.  There were always some who just wanted to fight though, but you learned to judge your audience.  That was something Eros doubted he’d ever be able to teach, it had come through experience for him, but then most of the stuff he showed the sprogs came from experience.

”You’re good, doing well, I mean you’d probably not die in a fight.” He smirked and let her wrists go, stepping back.

”Fights are a lot less glorious than the stories make them out to be.  They’re usually fast, confusing and if someone doesn’t piss themselves, someone else manages to stab a stomach, and that shit stinks.  It isn’t a game, and no one will thank you for winning.  Maybe you’ll be lucky, and folk will leave you alone if you lose, but not many of my fights ended up with two Luperci walking away.”

Sometimes in Casa he felt like a broken record, and despite the fact he didn’t regret his life choices, or at least most of them, more than a few Luperci seemed to think that fighting was a glorious pursuit.  The number of wide idiots trying to protect someone, he’d watched get themselves killed was probably more than was good for anyone else to realise.

Just as expected, Artoia was nowhere within leagues of Eros's skill set.

The sly bastard twisted, turned, jumped, and slid like an eel in every which direction that would pose to please him. She might have thought he was purposefully toying with her, attempting to rile her up and get her frustrated, to make her stop thinking about her own actions.

If that were his tactic, it wasn't working, and she remained as diligent and deadly in her movements as she could afford to be. Wherever he went, she followed. Always a step behind, yes, but each time she corrected her attack, her stance, or her feet, never remaining stagnant or still for too long and trying to make him guess at where she would be.

Even picking up speed did little to faze him, he simply increased his own movements in response to hers, but she may have been mistaken in that he gave her a nod of approval for the control she had over herself.

Without warning his hands appeared like vapor and snaked around her wrists, clamping them in a firm grip to keep them from further movement. Artoia made a slight sound, startled at the abruptness of the halt he'd called, and tugged on her wrists reflexively to free them with a slight growl, her blood still pumping hotly.

He smirked at her and told her she was doing good. Or at least good enough to probably not die in a fight. She snorted at that, and he let her wrists go. Artoia twisted both of them a few times, taking stock of how they felt after being stopped so suddenly in their tracks by her mentor.

Of course, he'd taken the moment to come back to one of the things he always came back to; how vicious a true fight could be (how they would be, most of the time). He never let her forget this, and if she'd known what a broken record was she'd have called him out on it.

Instead, cool green orbs lifted to respectfully gaze at his. "I've had two fights almost like that," she told him, though one he'd already known about since the day it'd happened. Hell, maybe he knew about the second one too, she wouldn't have been surprised. Like at all.

"I had a spar with Nazar during a rainstorm, Zetsubou's brother from the Hushhowl dens. He was vicious. Reminded me a lot of how you'd probably fight if you were caught in a brawl. Well, less finesse." she allowed for a little quirk of her lip. "Nazar is roughly my age so he's definitely not as skilled as you, but he has the kill or be killed mindset. Relies on his strength a lot. He beat the crap out of me, got me really good in the ribs a few times, didn't seem to expect me to get right back up again. He ceded the fight to me in the end because I refused to stay down on the ground when he put me there," here Artoia grimaced. "Yep, that shit hurt, a lot,"

Idly one of her hands lifted, still curled around the prop knife, to rub her knuckles against the area on her torso that Nazar had elbowed and punched. The damage was long healed by now, but she remembered those bruises almost fondly.

It'd been so incredibly invigorating to just fight, feel the pump of her blood, the snap of her teeth, the rip of her claws.

Perhaps when she passed her First Blood she'd approach Nazar again and challenge him a second time. Just to see how both of their performances had changed over the months if at all.

"The next one was the mountain lion fight, with Maisie. I held my own until I got slapped in the shoulder by its paw." she winced at the memory, by the All-Mother that had hurt worlds worse than just some bruised ribs. Dislocated shoulder, or a dislocated anything, was definitely something to be avoided.

Artoia's gaze dropped then to Eros's hands, going back to the moment that he'd grabbed her earlier. Granted, she couldn't do that sort of move to a mountain lion, or in either of her feral forms, but as an Optime wolfess, maybe a move like that could be used as a deterrent for a fight, when conflict was something she wanted to avoid instead of merely survive or instigate?

"Could you show me how to do that thing you did with my wrists? Seems like a good intimidation tactic to avoid a fight altogether," she commented, gesturing with the tip of the prop knife to his hands.

The fiery pelted Damaichu stayed quiet as Artoia told her story of two of her fights, and he couldn’t help wondering if there would be members of Casa that would blame him for injuries their sprogs might sustain in a fight, after he’d been supposed to train them.

”When I worked alone, I knew the next fight might be the one that got me killed.  Even being too injured would mean going hungry, getting weak, becoming a target.”

Eros’s tone was serious, and held no mocking or smirk on his lips.

”Every fight is a risk, not glorious, not honourable, just something you need to do, that I needed to do.  I would figure out my target, watch them, look for weaknesses, maybe play cards with them.  Information helps to make sure you win.  When I was confident I knew them, I’d wait for them to go for a piss, and then I’d slit their throats.  More often then not I could kill them before they figured out what was happening.  Wasn’t glorious, but hey I could go back to my drink and then fuck afterwards.”

Eros worked his jaw silently.

”Not always that straightforward I guess, but if you can take your opponent down quickly, do it, and don’t ever hesitate.  If I ever heard that you’ve been in a fight and didn’t take the advantage…I won’t ever entertain training you more.”

He paused for a moment, watching her.  With that, Eros smirked and continued as though he’d not been so serious.

”Of course, kick in the crotch and sand, salt or dirt in the eyes are always another good way of skewing the fight in your favour.”

When Artoia made her request, he tilted his head in thought.

”I’ll show you, but if someone asks, I’ll deny it.  Also, don’t do it, unless you are pretty damn sure you can win the fight, it can go very bad, super quickly.”

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