Monday, July 20, 2015

165 - Educational Bruises

Minis grinned through the bars of his helmet, at Idiesis.  He was soaked with sweat in the heavy armour and double-weight shield and sword but he was sorely in need of this.  If I’m strong enough, fast enough, I think I have a way of deflecting that perfect lunge of yours.

Shkai’ra and Ilesias Mahid were hammering on each other in an eerie echo of each other’s styles.  Shkai’ra’s was straight-line as Mahid training and they brought the rigidity out in each other.  Then the Kommanza changed, dropped the rigid and flowed to one side. 

Ilesias, off balance, took a rap to his armoured leg, dropped to one knee to acknowledge that in a real fight he’d have been injured. She stepped in, twisted as his shield and sword came up and her sword stick rapped him in the back of the helm.

Minis caught all that even as he circled with Idiesas, doing his best to make the Captain come to him.  There! He sparred with Idiesas all the time and knew his ‘tells’, the minute shifts that signal a coming move.  Most of the best fighters didn’t have obvious ones, and were constantly training to overcome these almost unconscious ticks.   

Idiesas had a crease between his eyes, that if he were wearing an open helm and you were looking for it, it got faintly deeper. And he was a cursed left-hander. At least Ilesias, Frenaria, and most of the others were right handed.

Minis turned bringing his shield up, even as he caught Idiesas’s ‘tell’ but today, again, wasn’t fast enough. The Captain’s sword tip rammed him hard in the chest plate, enough to make him grunt.  He stepped back and called it. “Good! I’m dead.”

“Heya, kid, you’n I are the only ones haven’t played yet!” Shkai’ra stood just to one side.  “You need to work on being faster to put one over on his high-as-sky nosed champion!” Idiesas just laughed and unbuckled his helm, one handed, waved Minis over with a chin jerk.

“Go on, lad,” he said, keeping up Minis’s little charade of not identifying himself to the foreign warrior.  He really wanted to spar people honestly but his position tended to get in the way with people who had their own ideas about royalty.  Shefenkas loved sparring with people who didn’t know his reputation and Minis realized why, now.  Not that he was anywhere near as good as anyone else on this roof.

He saluted Shkai’ra and she nodded at him, flung her helm at him rather than clapping it on.  He ducked, it rang off his shield hard enough to set him back a half-step, mostly from startlement. He couldn’t get any kind of strike because she followed up and he had all he could do to keep his shield up. She’s like some kind of machine Press! Muunas, she’s older than I am… as old as Idiesas! And she’s been kicking most everyone’s asses two out of three bouts!

The other sparring pairs finished up and most were taking water.  It was fortunate that it was only overcast today instead of raining, but if it had rained, Minis would have commandeered the indoor roof ring.  So their boots scraped across unpolished slate and Minis drew a deep breath and every ounce of his strength to stand up to the hammering the Kommanza was giving him.

He could see a glint of surprise in her face when he didn’t back, or give way. Instead he straightened slightly and after the eighth or ninth blow began minutely raising his shield.  It was a beginner’s feint but he wasn’t going to try and draw her strike under his shield-edge.

It was like being an anvil and he hardened himself to take all she threw. He edged his sword-side heel back, just slightly. He was ready for when she went from hammer to fighting cat, spun sideways, braced himself and smashed into her shield with everything he had.  If you throw a helmet at me, I can shield bash you.

He hit her hard enough that she flew backwards, tumbled right over, came to her feet outside sword-reach. He straightened, waited. She nodded at him, smiling.  “Come on, boy.”

She wasn’t going to be so easy as to just pound on him, this time around and he came in straight and hard, but with a wrap strike to see if he could get behind her shield, aiming for her unhelmeted head.  Her sword caught him in the ribs as his swordstick bounced off her shield rim.  She’d barely moved. “Good!” He called.  “I’m dead.  And I’m done!”

He saluted her with the stick and handed both sword and shield to his page, while another helped him unbuckle since his helm had the old-fashioned buckles he couldn’t easily reach. Shkai'ra's face went just a trifle stiff before relaxing into a grin.

The Zak and her son, with the baby, were seated with the other pages, squires and other hanger’s on in what had become an informal watcher’s gallery and Lixand was grinning wide. “Yes, oh my teachers`” Minis teased and bowed around to his sparring partners.  “I really, really needed that.  Thank you for my educational bruises!”

Shkai'ra grinned and accepted water herself, shaking her head at her wife and stepson.

“As she said, Minis,” Idiesas said, while Minis poured a bucket of water straight over his head.  “You need to work on your speed, not your strength.”

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