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 Crusader Cross [Eve and reverse]

Discussion in 'Roleplay Execution' started by Eve, Mar 29, 2018.

  1. Eve

    Eve First Failure Member

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    She wheezed hard as her cheek struck the ground, air heaving from her lungs as the impact to her tightly bound chest danced along her ribs. Blood and spit on the ground, dirt under her nails. She was quicker to her feet than her opponent had expected, and quicker still to take advantage of it. There was the hard crack of her wooden sword to his spine as she twirled across his shoulder and drove a heel hard into the back of his knee. He sunk and stumbled forward with a grunt and a curse.

    “Fuck you, Shy, you couldn’t pull that in full plate.” The older knight gasped, wincing when he twisted to face her but grinning through the tail of the grimace. Shy shook her head, doubled forward to rest with her hands against her knees as she panted to catch her breath.

    “We’re not in full plate.” She said, which was true, if ignoring the point. It was clear from their sweat soaked brows and the crusted blood on their hands that it was time for their match to end. It was for that reason only that Marius didn’t press the point further. She flashed him a smile as he held out his sparring blade to her to put away. When she had taken the crude training weapon from him and ambled off, strutting like she hadn’t noticed the weariness that clawed at her aching shoulders, he watched her go.

    Strange boy, that Shy. He’d come from some small village with an unquenchable enthusiasm and called himself Will. The first time he’d refused to strip down and wash off in the lake with the other warrior-hopefuls, they’d started calling him Shy. Shy was smaller than the other fresh faces, but twice as fierce. Marius thought he was a bit like a feral cat that way. He was also wholly confident that the stringy young man would be snapped up by the first commander recruiting knights to take across the border. There was something hellishly compelling in Shy’s green eyes.

    The campaigns were becoming more common, spurred on by their ambitious crown prince and recent successes on crusade. Young men dreaming of heroism flocked to these border town barracks now, mouths watering for the taste of victory. Shy didn’t seem so dazzled. Rather, Marius thought there might be something grim under his quick smile. It concerned him, then, that rumors were whispering the arrival of Kedrick Silverum and his Namer by week’s end, recruiting for a stab into the ambitious wilds across the northern wall. If there was any man who’d snap at such loosely contained fire, it was Silverum. An inferno unto himself.

    Shy, who had first called herself by her brother’s name and nearly forgotten the sound of her given Lark, shoved the wooden swords onto their haphazard stands and went rummaging for a water flask in the pile of discarded training supplies by the door. She wanted to slip away to wash the dirt off her face and the blood from her mouth. Marius was always exceptionally tough on her. She liked him best because of it.

    It was a bit of an ordeal, finding a place to bathe. The barracks, run by town guards that were mostly has-been or would-be knights, abutted the largest of a series of small lakes that plunged deeper into the woods fringing the town of Staghorn. The proximal lake was a convenient place for the hordes of dirtied trainees and returning hunters to cleanse away the day and was both frequented en masse by the hard-working town’s guardians and modestly avoided by Staghorn’s female populous. Shy was inconveniently left to straddle both demographics. Thus, her evening bathing routine took her further into the dark trees. The lone patron of a pool fed by a spilling fall of water that pierced the wild thicket of foliage. At first, her trips there had been nerve-wracking. Then, it’d become familiarly inconvenient, and now she felt it might all just be some form of meditation.

    As night fell, Shy peeled away her leather jerkin and breeches. She breathed deeper when she unbound her chest. Modest, but telling, breasts flushed mottled and red as she made her way into the water. It was cold, sending shivers up her spine, but the wet earth felt good as it swirled and silted between her toes. She submerged herself up to her shoulders quickly, gasping at the chill, but it was safer when her secrets were concealed in the dark water and only her long lashes and softly bowed lips were left to confuse the hearts of her fellow guardsmen.

    Three days later, Shy stood in full plate—a hodge-podge assembled out of the smallest pieces of their old veterans’ dusty sets of armor—with her helm under one arm. She’d trimmed up her strawberry blonde hair so that it didn’t brush the tops of her ears, neat and orderly, and she held her back stiff as Kedrick Silverum came slowly down the line.
     
  2. reverse

    reverse crusher rusher Member

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    Kedrick still had the witch's misery in his ears. It was the last thing he could attribute to his lusts. He could remember her moans clearly, and the way the curse of mediocre warfare had been ripped from his body through his length with an unmatched pleasure to his spirit, as it was freed to incinerate in any direction. He had gone back to his beautiful whores, friends really, and cut down the men they pointed at with great precision - they lived, since they were not real enemies -but then not been very keen on their bodies, as they had expected.

    It gave him some ferocity, this incredible lack of satisfaction. When he'd went back the Witch's tree had gone. No realm of roots to pay so they could eat this curse too. Made sense, the bitter kind, that she'd not want to eat her own spell. Little comfort for the knight who was starting his legend in blood spilled when he couldn't enjoy it in blood gathering. At first he was provided with tribute as always, maidens and their mothers and their cousins sent to his tent, some of them hoping for mercy with their dresses torn, and some other wishing to perhaps make it into his memory that he could fuel their own ambitions. Some whores become wives. But Esfelt was growing increasingly picky, it seemed.

    He was left alone to enjoy his piling victories eventually, Nathaniel King did not need the son of his best knight Bredven to fuck. It was a bit sullen though, not to hear of the knight's escapades in the sheets anymore. Wining great battles and exciting the soldiers with unstoppable ruthlessness on the fields would be more than enough. It was said that no man could beat the Silverum son, and that his company was therefor never less than victorious. A good head of any campaign, that was perhaps a little less flamboyant than his rumor when you saw him, unless he was holding Namer.

    The truth was that Esfelt still loved women. He still liked their smell and stayed with brown eyes on their shapes. When his heart was nostalgic and his beast hungry he would chase some girl's moans with his tongue high up inside her, so she could tell her friends about the starts she'd seen. But what was the point? The Witch hadn't liked that her vessel Selene had been taken so carelessly when his transaction with whatever craft possessed her had been concluded. She'd been a glorious sleeve for his passion, and then he'd not had any more for so long.

    So he sent out scouts for more witches, but not all of them ate curses, and the ones that did found the flavor of his current magic unappealing. He suspected there was a trace there of the witch he'd had, and that it said to others like her he was not to be relieved. Of course it made him furious, and of course men died. Myriad mayhem on Namer's tongue. In the dirt, and now toward the snow. Success was a tourniquet.

    His heart was always beating fast, because he was always angry. His pulse quickened the green silver in Namer and turned into effective, beautiful deaths. Today too. He was tasked with pointing out recruits. His armor had been fine once, but the way he did battle had grizzled the metal. He was a monster, walking the grounds of Staghorn. The scribes had told him to pick from the blue blood, but he'd already met most of those sons, and seen none of the instinct and all of that poisonous ambition. He'd rather sift through this sludge to pick out good sword-arms. Perhaps the talent sprouted from the dirt recognized something in him, because they stilled, and wore proper faces for once.

    He had the reach to kill behemoth berserkers, lengthy limbs with death at their ends, so he was taller than he was large. A spear of a man walking among them. So far his legend didn't disappoint. He laughed. The gift the witch had uncovered in him gave him good eyes to pick out fighters with, too. Dashing face unshaven, and light hair an oily mess. He reached a thick leather glove to catch the back of a young head so he could knock his own against it and keep it there.

    "I see your spirit, boy." he yelled and then threw the boy back. Not enough yet, but push him through a couple of murders and he'd be miserable and useful. "That one." he confirmed and then continued until he came upon a lithe person. It made him feel other excitements than for blitz and blaze. "What's your name?" he asked the green eyes and the assembled armor. "You're a little young for this game, aren't you?" he asked when her keeper said her name. "Shy? Oh, that's perfect. You can be the first to die so you won't have to blush." And even speaking of the boy's rosy skin made Esfelt's breath hotter in his mouth. "Seriously, what are you thinking, coming to the recruiting lines?" he bellowed, drawing Namer quickly, so that its guard flew up and collided with Shy's cheek, aiming to send her to the ground. "Useless." he spat.

    She'd still find an invitation to the knight's tent the moment the line broke up, and the messenger could get in her private. He'd know her answer before she arrived at where he kept his bed, though, since he was already in his hood, watching.
     
  3. Eve

    Eve First Failure Member

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    She had heard all sorts of rumors about Esfelt Silverum. When he strode down the line, she was certain that most of them were at least half true. Vile temper and a demon's blood lust. Success was assured if you stood at his shoulder and impossible at the end of his blade. He took Olivier for his ranks, roughly, and she felt herself tense as he drew closer. Her feet planted a little wider, a small surge of adrenaline slicing through her veins. Shy wasn't about to let herself be made into a rag doll like Olivier, and Olivier was a good deal larger than she.

    Shy was believed first impressions were important. At present Esfelt was not making what one might cal a good one. However, he was making the sort of impression he ought when leading boys into the frigid northern wilds. She thought she owed him the same. He didn't have to like her, if her wiry limbs and street-urchin reflexes were insulting. He just had to see that she was a fire worth tending when the cold encroached on all sides. So, she said, "It's Will, actually," when he called her Shy, and gave him the clear-eyed look her brother had given the raider who'd burned down their home. She thought of Will, also, when Silverum's blade sang free and the cross-guard came hurtling toward her face. She didn't dodge it entirely, lest she break her place in line, but threw her weight away from it and caught less of its force to her cheek, the flat metal glancing across her jaw.

    Will had not fallen immediately, when the hulking man had cleaved the boy's sternum in a single stroke. Her twin brother had staggered back first, reaching behind himself to shove her before he buckled to his knees. He'd gurgled something like 'run' before the blood spilled past his lips and painted his chin like a pagan warrior.

    Shy righted herself, head ringing with the echos of the blow through her bones. She spit her blood at his feet. "Thinking the same as the rest, Ser," she said through grit teeth. She didn't blush, but the angry red where Namer had struck suggested the effect. It suited her, rosy blossom beneath those burning green eyes. He left her with an insult and she clenched her fists so hard her nails cut into the leather of her gloves.

    When Esfelt was done and the other young men had begun to slink off toward the quarters--either to consider their rejection or grapple with their new fate--Shy remained in her place. Marius saw her across the yard, had seen the whole exchange, really, and started to make his way toward her. She shouldn't be upset. Going on campaign with Silverum might mean glory, but it could just as easily mean death. He fought his men hard, because he could fight hard. If they caught something lethal in the process, it said nothing of victory. Victory was something Silverum could carry on his own shoulders. Everyone knew it. That was why it was so easy to bet your legend on Namer's edge. Marius wanted to tell Shy he shouldn't be so concerned about legends. To tell him he should go clean up his bruising cheek. But, he'd not made it more than half the distance toward Shy before Esfelt Silverum's personal runner was at the knight-hopeful's side. Marius stopped where he stood and watched the green-eyed boy follow the messenger away toward Esfelt's tent on the edge of town.

    Shy was guarded when she went into the dim shelter, letting the flap fall closed behind her. Her cheek was swelling, one eye squinting against the rising inflammation, but that verdant stare still had a curiously feral glint that seemed to suggest old and wild places. Silverum might remember the way Selin had stared at him through the empty sockets of her bone crown, and the ancient fire there. "You wanted to see me?" she asked, shoulders square.
     
  4. reverse

    reverse crusher rusher Member

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    He had been impressed by the effective avoidance of Namer's shield. The small ought to be fast. By most accounts Shy should be a fair contestant for fodder at least, which was where any good fighter started. He'd recruited lesser knights and watched them do wonders under dismal circumstances. But Esfelt had liked the boy upon first glance, the way he'd liked Selin. He sat in his chair now, with a curious feeling of pressure behind his ribs and in his head. It was part of the freedom the witch had given him to always know himself, and the cost of that acuteness was also present, pulsing louder than usual.

    He supposed it should be a relief in some way, but it was as much of a bother as any itch is. Before the cursed forest and that bloody pagan's delicious quim, he'd been well fed in this regard, at least. Now Namer drank its fill while other parts were parched. Esfelt did not see a blessing in this stirring. Another stark image of bright green color and strangely lucid blood of Namer's hilt after impact to a pretty cheekbone attached to his inner vision so hard he grunted when he tore it away with some effort from his spirit. Little brats were a rewarding target, but he didn't make a habit out of finding singular outlets for his own annoyances, despite that honored tradition among officers at his level. Bullying and almost torture weren't uncommon. Yet, he didn't mind the thoughts of making that boy moan.

    To dispel the rising interest the knight lashed out, and even his naked hand at reflexive strength was enough to splinter the arm of the sturdy chair he sat in. As the tinder fell to the mat of his tent the sudden, unknowing obsession stepped in. Esfelt huffed with disapproval at how the swollen eye made the last of his doubts go away, as the cup of leather protecting his nowadays unused limb became taut. "Not really." he replied and stood. At least this time some of the plates had come off Esfelt's armor. Perhaps Will could think it made this setting less formal? The visitor's stance did not suggest it.

    "Shy," not Will. "you're a spirited lad, aren't you?" he asked as he stood. Many who would be knight had stood before him. Some of them were collected, like this strangely drawing youngster, and some other had worn their eager a little more visibly. "It takes bravery, I suppose, to be of lacking stature and walk among giants, whether friend of enemy." An old thought, but the boy could use with some acknowledgement. Esfelt had not learned what kind of personality the scrappy looking puppy had yet. All the Silverum knight ever did was brandish swords, whether they be man or man-made - he didn't employ only one technique for turning them into enemy casualties. Yet, the value of this budding warrior was not his blade, Esfelt knew.

    "Your caretaker speaks of you. It's light but noticeable." On any other day Esfelt would only take it a sign of good character on them both, and easily approve anyone who had impressed a trainer with a good eye. Marius was not stupid or blind. "Do you think favoritism is contagious?" he asked, standing close now, and reaching out to touch the bulb he'd gifted the boy's face with. Esfelt was surprised his leather cup did not creak audibly. He wanted to give the small face more. He wanted to see those green eyes flare like Selin's had when he continued after the curse had been delivered. He wished Will had been born a honey-gashed whore instead of this little soldier.

    He should have sent the boy away with a few words that let him know he'd be fighting for his life now, but instead the taller knight pressed his thumb against the swelling. It gave him a dull, familiar satisfaction. How frustrating. "I'll take you, I'll keep you, if you can prove yourself." he said and leaned in, because he couldn't let it be. He smelt the light hair, bright like his own had been in his childhood. Will could think it was because he was being measured like an animal, by an animal. Esfelt shoved him back after that, a quick push, not friendly and not disapproving. Endless hand-to-hand made the assault enough to topple the knight-willing, or at least ruffle him. In truth, he wanted to eat Will, that's how daunting the scent of his face and sweat and dirt was. It hurt in Esfelt, because he'd always thought he'd been a lover of women. This boy was an insult. "Bathe, would you. The least you can do is give the enemy a clean corpse to bloody."

    Esfelt waves his hand and stepped back, shaking his head, turning away like he was bored. He didn't think he'd be bored of Will in a long time. How wretched. This was not sharping a sword, and it made the knight doubt himself. "And present yourself here, after." he said over his shoulder. Whether that be tonight or tomorrow he didn't leave in his voice. Perhaps the boy was eager. The request wasn't out of order, but he'd never asked this of any other recruit before.
     
  5. Eve

    Eve First Failure Member

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    Shy wound tighter when Esfelt stood. She didn't know what to make of what he said, when he'd been so dismissive outside. Was it that he'd liked how she'd taken Namer to the face? Shy wouldn't have known what to make of that either. She didn't like when he came near. Shy was never totally certain when men came near. She didn't know what would let them see through her modest disguise. At some point in her youth, being confused for a young male would have hurt her ego. Now it was her safe harbor. "Marius is a good man. I look up to him." Shy said, stiff but direct. Her green eyes followed the Silverum knight, cornered beast. Both predators and prey did such things. It seemed like Shy could have been either.

    "I don't believe favoritism should come into play, regarding my capabilities... Ser." Shy said. She stood straighter then, that low stance that said she thought he might come at her for a fight shifted. Hands behind her back, taller because she wouldn't let her worth be questioned. She'd fought hard to prove herself here. And then he loomed over her. It startled her, and Shy bit the inside of her cheek to keep from flinching. She remained steady. "Ser?" Shy said, slowly. She'd nearly missed what he said. "I..." she took a deep breath, "I won't disappoint you." Numb, because the interaction was bewildering and her swollen face gave no support to his seemingly sudden change of heart. "Please allow me to join your company."

    She blinked at him, her surprise showing plainly then. Was he joking, she wondered, about her needing to bathe? She hadn't known any of the local guards to feel strongly on the subject, and she'd met more than a few knights who stewed rank in their plate. His expression did not seem to imply any humor. Rather, he seemed frustrated. She studied him for a moment. "Ah, yes, Ser. I apologize if my scent is offensive. I was training this morning." She said at last. He stepped back, and she took his wave as dismissal. A short bow, and she turned on heel to go. Her steps died before she'd made it out of the tent flap. "Yes, Ser." She said. She couldn't imagine why he'd want her to come back, but it was possible this sort of tidiness was a standard of Silverum's men. He was a frightening sort of knight, with a reputation for bloodshed, not clean hair and shining boots. She touched her cheek, where Namer's guard had left it's blue and red mark.

    "I will report back."

    Shy was quick to slip off into the woods, checking over her shoulder before she let the shadows swallow her whole. She moved through the trees rapidly. She'd been certain nobody had watched her go, but she wove through the thick brush like she was trying to lose someone. Perhaps Esfelt had lingered with her.

    When she had bathed, she returned to the barracks to put her odd-pieced armor neatly away. Shy pulled an extra tunic over her wet mop of hair before she left to find Ser Silverum again. Marius saw her enter and leave, but said nothing. He did not know what to say to the pretty boy with the swollen cheek. He was certain Esfelt Silverum would take Shy now, and he thought, for a moment, that he would regret seeing Shy go. Marius reminded himself that Shy had come to him with the intention of leaving and that Esfelt was a means to do that. With glory. Marius tried not to think that such glory could just as easily come in death as in personal victory.

    Shy stepped back into Esfelt's large tent, careful and straightening out her tunics. She'd taken the second as a precaution in addition to her binding, but she was still uneasy as she stood before Silverum. Shy hadn't felt eyes on her that way since she'd taken her brother's name. Hungry stares. She had not realized knights could see their men like pieces of meat, but that was the unsettling sensation she had in this space. Vessels to dull swords. "I have returned, Ser." She said, and stood straight for inspection with the scent of forest-pool water lingering on her skin and the vague taste of an unknown anxiety on her tongue.
     
  6. reverse

    reverse crusher rusher Member

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    Eesfelt shouldn't have been playing. Or felt the satisfaction of teasing. But the tighter draw of Shy's sinew when he inspected the boy closer was incredibly gratifying. It wasn't the kind of bullying he used for his men, to strengthen familiarity and loosen their shoulders. During his rise a few nobles who liked to wear armor brought their wives with them to campaign. The way he lorded over those women came to mind now. It was not what he'd thought of himself. But it was delicious to see the young soldier squirm under accusation. In Will's defense, Esfelt wore nothing on his face to indicate these were jabs of camaraderie. When Shy begged, Esfelt almost groaned in approval. Fucking Selin and her long-lasing joke.

    Once the abhorrent distraction had gone to follow his ridiculous instructions, the knight found a mouth of glass for his lips, so that the strong wine could occupy his thoughts instead. The men they were about to fall into were rumored to be otherworldly, to fight after death and to have furnaces in their chests. He would rather have arrived to them today, so he'd never met the drawing youth. He thought about this in his half-broken chair until the wine started to taste like water. He sighed and rubbed his head with the bottom of the carafe.

    The clear, expensive vessel enjoyed none of his patience for having reminded him of his own scale of reason. This was celebratory levels of intoxication, then, he mused as the bottle became jagged stars against a leather wall, somehow. Strong arm and weak tastes, he thought. He had the time to run out and track something for sport, to find his mind again. Why was it so important he be clear-headed for when the boy returned? He had won difficult victories while slurring. These used to be his talents, damn it, fucking and fencing.

    He did feel better, gliding back in. Perhaps it was the alcohol setting evenly in his blood, or maybe he'd seen something favorable in the woods. On his way from the slit to the abused seat, he dropped pieces of his armor to line his advance. Like a dragon molting. Despite not indulging in women's offerings in years - hellish, miserable years - he still had the physique for it. He suspected Selin had something to do with that too, since he'd not changed from that day, either. If the enemy whispered about demonism they would be disappointed to know the truth of his cross.

    There was nothing of that sullen now, leaning on the still intact arm of his privileged furniture. He rolled his free shoulder which made all manner of shadows around his muscles when the boy came back. Esfelt still had armor on his legs, which had been tactical, given the boy looked absolutely suggestive in cloth. Those shapes were a curse, as they were whispered in lithe through the folds of the old tunic. But still the knight smiled as he stood.

    "Seems so." he said, friendlier now. Shy couldn't have met with too many politicians in his life. The tone might not reveal itself to be venomous to him. Silverum moved quickly, the gold in his hair gone during the night, and most of those streaks in his eyes too. Black tresses and black stare. Ah, Shy smelled like the whore who'd lost a son and liked to wash her work off in the running waters of a river outside Esfelt's old home. She'd found refuge from the sorrow of nostalgia in the young Silverum, and taught him a few lessons Selin had rendered useless.

    "Let's see." he suggested and suddenly wrapped his hand around one side of Shy's head, to hold it in place as his face pushed against the other side. He drew so deeply forest-pool drops climbed his nose. It must have been incredibly loud in Shy's ear. After the sudden squeeze, Esfelt pushed the boy away, and with a hooked foot around a small ankle, he was planning to topple the guest in his tent. Esfelt was on him then, wrestling if the boy wanted, but it would only end with the boy's back on the tent floor, anyway. Her legs would be around him, because the knight knew well how to direct physicality.

    "Are you afraid?" he asked, pushing metal guard down against the apex between those unprotected legs. It was Shy's blessing without Esfelt knowing, that not both of them were wearing worn fabric. "Because the Coldmen will be doing worse to you." A strange way to say welcome to my party, but then again, it seemed there was something else about Esfelt's grin, too. "What else have you washed?" he pressed, shadows from his irises spreading down his cheek with the suggestion. Hadn't Shy been careful enough, weaving under branches? "Have you been thorough-- boy?"
     
  7. Eve

    Eve First Failure Member

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    Two arms of Shy’s secret reached out to give her some luck tonight. The first was that her flighty caution, the one which had earner her name, was enough to leave her completely confident she’d not been seen in the woods. It was possible that Esfelt had caught a glimpse of her, weaving into the trees, but her secret pool was such an utter task to reach that it would have been obvious if he’d found her at her most vulnerable. It was only after several weeks of regular practice, scurrying through the thick brush, that Shy had been able to approach her little sanctuary in silenct.

    The other, was that she had nothing between her legs to make her fearful of Esfelt’s sudden imposition. It made her look remarkably steely-eyed, staring up at him from the flat of her back. She was breathing slow from her nose, teeth grit, as she’d put up a good scuffle before submitting to this particular pose. It was not her place to fight her superior overmuch, not before they’d even left town. It had been the flash of inspiration, reminding her that her place with this imposing knight was tenuous, not Esfelt’s well-trained bullying, that had finally had her roll compliantly onto the floor.

    “No, Ser. I’m not afraid.” Shy said, and it was wholly true. She’d not tasted fear again, like she’d tasted the spray of her brother’s blood in her mouth. She did not expect ever to experience fear like that again. It was easy enough to find that kind of courage when she’d already let Lark die in Will’s place. When she’d taken his name it had only been half with the thought of vengeance. The rest had been the determination to give way to her brother’s life in lieu of her own. It was an ill-fated sort of homage, but it was what let Shy stare up at Esfelt with the kind of expression Will had worn for the raider who’d cut him down.

    “Do you often put your recruits on their backs?” she asked him then. “Or have I done something, in particular, to earn this favor of yours?” It was a wild mix of an untamed tongue and remarkable naivety that did not seem to fully grasp the way the knight was looking at her. To her own detriment, she might well have sounded downright whorish had the same thing rolled from her lips and she was still wearing her own name.

    She stared at him for a long time from where she lay, those furious green eyes giving the impression of a caged beast. It would be apparent then that Shy had a lot more fight in her and a lot less willingness to exert it. A certain debt to Silverum and the power he wielded—of position, not physique. It was that fire that had drawn Marius in. That bizarre surety in Shy’s expression that would willingly challenge a more imposing man with no concept of defeat. “I’m well, in so much as I’ve been waiting for the chance to meet these Coldmen again. I’ve never met their magic, but I’ve seen them bleed, same as me. All I want is the chance to be the one to cut them open. I only got to watch, last time.” Shy said. It wasn’t an unheard of story, but it was no less her truth.

    “So, I have to thank you, Ser, for agreeing to take me with you. I won’t disappoint.” She might have made Marius proud, finding some proper humility in herself to say such a thing. It was the sort of genteel flattery Marius had assured them all that knights enjoyed from their high horses. The good guardsmen would have been less proud, and a lot more concerned, that Shy was saying such a thing from the flat of her back. “You’ve confirmed that I’ve bathed, as you asked. Thoroughly. Was there anything further you required, Ser, or am I free to go?”

    Shy thought she was being quite decently manly, to maintain her composure in such a position, speaking to him like she was on her feet. She had not come to understand his motivation, though, nor the deeper hole she was digging for herself, or that her own cockiness was welling from a keen discomfort over the way his dark eyes held her. The insinuations in his tone were not wholly lost on her, but it was in that area, above all, that she could not show any weakness. It was, perhaps, a test of her constitution and her grit for whatever abuse he wished to heap on her later. Shy was determined to withstand it. Surely any good soldier would. She’d not be picked out as weak, no matter what his belligerent teasing desired.
     
  8. reverse

    reverse crusher rusher Member

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    She went with the challenged he offered. It was misery to the knight, to have at all the limbs and meeting no resistance. He might have wanted Shy to fret, if only because that kind of thing was satisfying, but also helped him keep himself at bay. Feeding his war-lust so that others wouldn't burn brighter. It seemed easy to access what he wanted with this boy, and Esfelt did not want that. He liked the women who played with him this way, even the daughters of defeated villagers, when they were haughty in a quiet way, but it was completely wrong that Shy would act similarly.

    It was the kind of thing he'd learned while taking great punishment from fellow warriors that kept his composure intact now, when Shy spoke with those strange lips with asinine gusto. "It's just that, then, isn't it?" he asked back. "You haven't done anything but look unfitting for the job." he said. An old, romantic logic. Were they writing a bonfire tale, or what? Esfelt could stand for that kind of dream, because it made recruits into knights, but he didn't believe it much, himself. He'd suffered despite having this life as a legacy, why should some starcrossed fate find someone else, and lift them above his own climb?

    The conversation shifted to his benefit, and out of reflex he'd molded Shy firmer to his plated guard to protect the limb Selin had rendered useless while the boy told his story. Anger in the youth crawled louder in their muscles. It was good. At least vengeance could carry tired bones through when muscles were failing. Was this his favorite now? Dapper young sprouts who had a good tale behind them. Was he s fucking powdered maiden swooning over red leather-back books and printed pictures?

    "Go then." he said, bittered. It could be read as a dismissive, disappointed attitude. What did Shy know? Maybe that was exactly how a leader treated budding sword-hands. He was right, also, because the sweet scent hiding underneath the sweat that was now gone was still lingering inside Esfelt's skull. Fucking whore Selin and her sadistic turn of magic. Worst deal. And all because he'd tried out the pretty vessel until her slick parts loved and hated him.

    Esfelt stood and hooked his armored foot into Shy's side, and flipped her out of his way. It was a tricky thing, usually abused when the enemy was down but not dead, to access their back for a relatively sure kill. With very little meat on him, and without armor to weigh him down, Shy had no chance of not spinning at least twice the distance a heavily protected goon would. Esfelt would like seeing that at least, but even this satisfaction was tainted. On particularly volatile raids he'd use this battle motion for the spoils left behind, so he could seek them out and calm them with his cock.

    He sat down by his chair and touched his back against the edge of the seat. The knight gestured for the boy to walk out. "But you're fun. Puppies are fun. You stay close to me, Shy, take the tent next to mine. It'll be a good show, watching you stumble on the field, and maybe your blade will catch a few necks for me, eh?" To reduce the boy's own crusade. Hatred wasn't a good enough fuel on its own when the Silverum son chose his lot, but he'd not bothered to delve deeper into Shy's life to learn of other fetters to a sword's hilt, so vengeance would have to do. He was dirtying himself for this, and also risking the campaign and the lives spent on it. The boy could be formidable, but he'd not chosen him for that.

    "I am serious, boy. Clean or not, you should leave me."
     
  9. Eve

    Eve First Failure Member

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    Shy scowled when Esfelt laid the truth bare. It wasn’t like she hadn’t expected it or misunderstood the reality of her place, but it annoyed her anyway. Will had been on the small side, pretty and stringy like her, when they were young. He’d always been the scrappiest boy in town though. Everyone knew better than to underestimate him. When she was small, Shy hadn’t understood why Will had cared about that reputation so much. She thought she understood him better now. “I’m more than my good looks, Ser.” Shy bit out with a vague grin. Lazy, feline, and just a little perturbed. “I can assure you, you’ll be satisfied with my blade.” Poor girl, in her misplaced swagger, tripping over her own tongue into the most asinine insinuations. She didn’t even notice it.

    The knight’s mood shifted again, and she tensed beneath him when his tone turned harsh. Had he really just given her permission to go? She’d not expected him to be compliant to that suggestion. Esfelt had called her back for the purpose of badgering her, not out of any real need. She understood that much. What reason did he have to relent so simply?

    He answered her brief pause well enough, seeming to dig in to that uncertainty before she could have half a second to cultivate it. If he was ready to let her go, that was all there was to it. She should not think it was of her own accord. Perhaps he was a man that lost interest easily. Shy thought this might be beneficial to her in the long run, as the intensity of Esfelt’s gaze promised nothing good for her. It was a remarkably optimistic thought as she was abruptly sent spiraling. Shy was light. She was a petite collection of bones and muscle, and very little else. It meant her weight was quite practical, an efficient biological system in that mass, but it did not give her some of the benefit excess could provide. Like sufficient gravity to fight the well-aimed force of Silverum’s foot.

    When she was momentarily airborn, she looked a little like a dancer. She must certainly be quick on the battlefield. Quick to fight or quick to die, with limbs and a downfall like that. She landed on her stomach, palms to the ground to catch her fall. She was coiled, ready to spring to her feet and lash back at the man, but she stilled there. He had the privilege of dictating these things now, didn’t he? Shy picked herself up slowly as he went to his chair, back to him as he spoke. “As you say, Ser. But I am no dog.” She said stiffly. Dogs were more forgiving, after all. Shy was simply willing to endure.

    She was made to pause at the flap of his tent again, caught by his parting warning. It made her glance back at him, a flicker of curiosity in those feral green eyes. “Yes, Ser.” She agreed. If she had a question for him, she did not ask it.

    --

    That night, Shy dreamed of Will and the man that had slain him. She woke before dawn, cold sweat clinging to her skin, and packed her few belongings to depart with Silverum’s company. Marius met her at the door from the barracks and saw her off with his own horse.

    She guided the large grey gelding toward the front of the line of recruits, past those men Esfelt had brought with him also, and pulled up the reins when she’d reached the imposing knight’s side. “You said to stay close, Ser, so here I am. I hope you will be watching me carefully. I’ll show you what I’m worth.” It was the kind of arrogance most knights enjoyed in their ambitious youngsters, but Shy could not have known the perilous promise she was making. Willful obedience with rosy sunlight in her hair and a dutiful shine to her armor, Shy looked eager to be headed north, regardless of her misgivings about her knight captain.
     
  10. reverse

    reverse crusher rusher Member

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    Esfelt also dreamed of something he ought to seek vengeance for. As always, Selin and her wonderful, pagan insides twisted to lure him into disobedience toward the harrowing powers she was soaked in. A faint memory of having pleasure at the end of a healthy length, but that effect was becoming laughable now. It was all interrupted, to his surprise, by Shy. In here the boy looked back at him from Selin's place, and asked him to stop so sweetly, but wouldn't stop moving his bony hips.

    Shy had the kind of body that could easily dive under a strike, and Esfelt had heard about agility too, from Marius. It was not hard to imagine, the way the boy had taken flight by the flick of his iron foot and landed perfectly, like he'd found himself in the air. Why was it always a second thought, Shy's battle worthiness. Esfelt couldn't even bring himself to feel the proper shame about it, when there was plenty more to earn himself inward reprieve.

    The morning came, a sluggish sun of the northern border, but it had a new effect on the Silverum general. He put his armor on quickly, like it had been oiled, and played with Namer until he was called out for his morning meal. His thoughts were singular while eating salty meat. Little bastard Shy, with his attitude and dreams of lancing Coldmen. The squire wondered why Esfelt was grinning like he'd been slapped in a pleasing way while he ate, but there was really no conversational path for the hopeful servant to learn if Esfelt had found someone he liked, yesterday.

    Esfelt didn't ask for Shy, of course. His current right hand, Elmir, wouldn't even know the name, and he was not about to describe a light haired scrappy youngling with a the mouth-width befitting of a cock. If the boy had thought the offer was serious, he'd be here. Those who wanted to have this kind of rusted, blood speckled honor didn't hold it loosely. Nothing short of death could keep a man's heart from this kind of dream. All rugged souls are essentially romantic.

    Esfelt's white steed knew the pace he liked, and kept him in front without many commands. An animal bred to lead. And so it would look rather imposing to the already hulking thing Shy rode, one he should not be able to afford. The general smiled, even though something about Shy's presence always grated him.

    "I didn't know you were a thief, too." he commented but put no anger in his voice. Shy withwwhis strangely soft voice and suggestive words was hard to listen to, so he tried not to let the boy set the pace. Elmir was a bit confused with the new company, but calmed down and minded the surroundings as always when Esfelt seemed alright with it, and confirmed the boys right first in row with his silence. "Tell me about how you came to this point in your life, Shy." It was a light question spoken in a general's tone.

    They would reach the intended camp that straddled the last civilized land and the territory of the Coldmen. It wasn't unheard of for either to traverse the line, most battles burnt on the enemy's side, but the king wanted to expand, and to have something to show for this season. The Coldmen had proven formidable when pushed. In sending Esfelt the king had not underestimated them, but still been stingy with the men - which had been the trouble so far - assuming there'd still be enough soldiers there already. Their king, like boys like Shy, was also a romantic.

    Esfelt was fast down his steed to hold his arms up for Shy. It would be the easiest thing he'd done all day, catching the light body, even in this level of armament. "Hurry down." he said, almost annoyed. The sun had reached it's height in the sky, and it made the emerald stripes on Esfelt's armor look encased in glass. Fancy armor for the king's best. Esftel was of course going to step aside when the boy relied on him, and swipe his feet if he found wits in the air again. It was important to eat a bit of the ground you might die on.

    There wouldn't be many around to see and enjoy the supposed good-natured hazing, though. Elmir didn't much care for such traditions, and was a bit uneasy seeing what transpired, given Esfelt wouldn't usually partake, either.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018
  11. Eve

    Eve First Failure Member

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    Shy hadn’t acknowledged the comment on Marius’ horse, because she didn’t like the idea of discussing the gift. Hadn’t her new knight captain insinuated favoritism in the dark hours just before? Shy was aware she’d have to have more to show than the others. It was only right when she looked more like a small pet than anyone worth handing a blade. It had been easier to keep pace with appearances when she’d been running with teenaged boys. It would be near on impossible to pretend she was a man in a few more years. That was, in part, why it had felt rather critical to be accepted now. She sat up straight and flashed him a smile. How silly that she should make faces like his presence required some bravery.

    The ride was not a hard one, as they followed a large road toward the northernmost borderlands. Where it seemed like the path should have become less forgiving, the evidence of their kingdom’s recent efforts had turned the ways forward into easily passed ground. Shy wondered how many horses had walked this wide dirt path, and how many had returned. The last she’d heard, they were making progress in the wild lands, but it was slow and costly. Esfelt Silverum would not have been called to a simple victory, after all.

    Shy was quiet when Esfelt inquired about her past. This was a subject she generally attempted to avoid, given her circumstance. “My hometown is… was… west of here.” She said. “Close to the border. I lost my sister to the Coldmen. My town, my family.” Shy shrugged. “I didn’t like feeling helpless, so I decided to train. To defend myself.” Shy didn’t know what else to tell him. She didn’t know what he’d care to hear and she didn’t know what she’d care to share. “This is just… proactive defense. I guess.” She looked the picture of a sullen young man then, slouched a little in her saddle and a grim sort of expression on her softer features. Quests for vengeance always looked pretty on bright-eyed youths.

    “And you, Ser? How did you and the Namer find glory?” She asked. “Was it an inevitability of your noble birth?” She had it in her to be cheeky, even now.

    When they reached camp, their forward scouts had already set up some red fires and cleared the brush from the places they’d place their tents. It was a large company. Larger than the full rank and file of the town guard. Shy thought she’d miss all the other trainees. Only four others had been brought along to join Esfelt’s men.

    In truth, she was surprised that Silverum would make any effort to help her down from her mount. If Elmir was an observant man, he might have even seen the distrust of someone who’d already been bitten once strung out in the taut posture of Shy’s limbs. The green-eyed girl sighed. “Yes, Ser.” She said, before accepting his offer and making her decent. He’d feel it in the way she applied her weight, that she’d not been counting on his help. She wasn’t dull, at least. When he stepped out from being her safety, she used him as a light spring board to twist and catch herself on her feet. Little alley cat. But, nimble did very little when one’s legs were kicked out from beneath. If he could see her expression, she was scowling, as she toppled forward.

    Shy hit the ground and rolled quickly, displacing herself from the path of her horse. She wasn’t sure how quick the beast would be to startle, and she wasn’t about to risk her skull to his hooves. Shy ended up on one knee, staring incredulously over her shoulder at Esfelt. “Please excuse my clumsiness, Ser.” She said, and it was a prickly sort of apology. She pushed herself back up onto her feet, the armor making her more sluggish than she’d been in his tent, last night. Still, “sluggish” for Shy was fluid for most of the larger, bulkier men.

    “Where will you be setting up your tent, Ser?” Shy asked with a short smile. He’d told her to set up near him, and she was intending to hold to the order. If it had been meant to tease her, she figured she’d show him she was worth taking seriously. Shy had no plans to be made into a joke. “I’d like to set up before I spend some time training. Perhaps you’d like to spar with me? Or are we recruits too fresh to ask that kind of thing?” She rolled her shoulders, like she was thinking to draw a blade on him right then, but then grabbed for the reins of her patient gelding. She needed to take care of her horse and her tent before she started asking for new bruises. On the plus side, Shy seemed to heal fast. Though a lovely spider web of green and blue still mottled her face where Namer had met her, the swelling had already gone down to near nothing.
     
  12. reverse

    reverse crusher rusher Member

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    Esfelt had listened to her story, and thought it was well condensed. He wasn't without a heart, but it was hardly the worst he'd heard. He'd never fought for much other than glory and his life, so he supposed Shy was better than him in that regard. It was meaningful that the boy spilled this, and Esfelt didn't back down from asking usually, because he needed to know the origin of his men's bravery. With this one, though, as from the beginning, Esfelt couldn't know his own motives, which could have dirtied the question a bit. There was sympathy for Shy for that, at least.

    Esfelt, her commander, listened to the tart tone about the serious question, and turned to look her in they eye and nodded calmly. He could complicate it for himself, with how he'd brought up fighting, and the grueling training that made him a contraption better suited for laying bodies than their tar-loaded catapults, but Shy had done him a courtesy, so he extended it back. It was accurate enough, after all. He was born to Bredven and Silverum blood, therefor he was riding with the king's confidence to kill the enemy of the lands today. "Yes. Inevitable." He was proud, but there was no pride in his answer. There is little emotions needed when confirming facts.

    Their exchange of truths - he had no reason to doubt Shy - did not excuse the boy from hardship by his hand. He thought it was more appropriate actually. While he was impressed by her foresight, it didn't buy her any reprieve from the initial plan. His brows were raised at the maneuver he was treated to, and he wasn't above waving his arm outward and nodding his head so the others would know it was alright to marvel. A few ohhs and huffs was the result. Esfelt only disliked the boy for his own reasons, he didn't think Shy was a bad fit for this campaign.

    "Talk to Elmir." he said. There was usually a leader's place in these camps, and he would always make do, but sometimes Elmir had opinions on these things, and sometimes it would be inspiring to see the commander closest to the enemy. It depended on his mood whether he wanted decadence or efficiency. Years ago, when his warring limbs had been weak and his fucking limb had been strong, he'd pit them equally. Lately he could be seen sleeping under the stars by the fence often. Selin hadn't promised him immortality, but with a sword close Esfelt couldn't even imagine his own demise. Sometimes he wondered if he'd get to have some slick in the hereafter if he fell. Better not have the answer, or he'd simply dive onto the next spear he saw.

    Esfelt wouldn't have minded some sparring right away, also, but he had to sit down with the schemers to see what was missing in the report he'd been given. He'd never assume recountings that traveled far were solid, and some people here could tell him droves despite not having an education. He needed to knock on tents and look at injuries and make small talk, too. It was labor, but he'd rather base his supposed invincibility on sound groundwork than simply trusting to the gossip about him. The Coldmen didn't care about the Silverum legend.

    He had a feel for the enemy a few hours later. His celebrity helped loosen tongues. It was unfair to use interrogation techniques in the small-talk, but he didn't apply the painful tricks. If he left a bag of wine, they were in a good mood when he left. He had to argue with a general with a particularly polisher armor about loot, which soured him. Esfelt didn't need the coin, but the king liked to measure success in metals, and the bright knight pressed his family name - big contributors - on the matter. In the end Esfelt left the tent, wooden sword in hand.

    The men were merry when he stepped in, but one of the cheerers was met with the dull of his training weapon. When his friend reacted instinctively, there was a match with fast refills of opponents for the Silverum son. He was having a good time soon. It was in fighting he found freedom from this curse. It had been the reason for it all, to begin. His unfettered arms and his darting muscles. The north was colder, but he'd still just worn a tunic an a leather vest, fast dripping now. Meditation in chaos.

    The men were happy to see the fireworks of what they'd heard. He wasn't some monster who disappeared with speed, or could lift a horse by its belly, but no one was able to touch him, either. Sometimes his dodging was lazy, and sometimes he got rid of a running body simply by tripping it out of the ring, but there was an intelligence in his conservation of strength, and a creativity to his viciousness.

    Elmir had kept close to the boy by coincidence, tent and horse, and was rolling gauze around his hands when he stood by Shy now, as the men were inspired to train harder by the continued fight among them. He nodded to the circle. "Ser's always in shape if you want to take a swing at him." The boy Shy should have reason enough by now. "Any minute now." He said and pointed just as Esfelt tossed his splintering weapon at the next man. Silverum had confidence in his hands and legs, too. Elmir clapped the boy's shoulder. "Don't trust that his focus will be down, but he gets tired like anyone else."
     
  13. Eve

    Eve First Failure Member

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    It had been a little sobering to hear Esfelt hold his success so loosely. Of course, it had been inevitable. When he said it, it wasn’t anywhere near a joke. Shy had tucked that sensation away as a reminder. She should not underestimate him, no matter how riled he made her. Somewhere in the midst of his peculiar bullying and her own propensity to snap back, she had been viewing him differently. This man, perched in glinting armor atop his warhorse, was the knight she’d been readying herself to follow, after all.

    She had nodded and done as instructed, following Elmir around the camp site until the knight settled on a suitable location for their captain. He was quiet during that time, and made no comment on the fact she was inserting herself at Esfelt’s side. It made her wonder if this sort of initiation was typical of his command. Shy was efficient about setting up her small tent. It was a simple contraption her father had carried with him in the woods for longer hunts. Shy had recovered it when she’d returned to the rubble of her home, days after Will had been sliced through the belly. It looked absurdly shabby next to the structure Elmir went about setting up for Esfelt Silverum, but Shy hadn’t seemed to notice.

    By the time she was finished tending to Marius’ horse and tying him off to graze near her tent, Esfelt had already begun swinging his way through the sparring circle. It was causing a good deal of stir, which was fortunate for morale and would set spirits high for the cold nights to come. It was difficult to fear too much, when your captain was godly. Shy found herself near Elmir again, a convenient coincidence she expected to become commonplace if she were to persist following Silverum about like a pup. It was unfortunate that Esfelt’s metaphor, the one she’d been displeased with, seemed superficially apt.

    The quiet man spoke to her for the first time directly then, catching her by surprise. She grinned. “Of course.” The glittering green stare and the tight-lipped grin gave her the look of a street urchin. It was not an ill-suited impression. Shy darted off toward the circle, half-armored and fastened in her double-layer of leather again. When Esfelt made his way through the next man, throwing the training sword toward the eager ring, Shy seemed to materialize before him to grab it.

    Small predators are terrors when they are both dogged and keen, slipping and dodging about their prey like the worst sort of nuisance. When Shy had first started training with Marius’ men, he’d called her a fox: a little shadow snapping gold and red in the sunlight. Now, she dancing the circle, thrusting little steps toward him and weaving back away, taking a moment to learn the ways Esfelt would move. She had seen him when he was unchallenged—because really, she’d yet to be in any place to challenge him—and she’d seen him on a horse. Neither was terribly informative of the sort of man she’d be facing now, head on.

    She slid near and took a little thrust with her blade, testing the space between them before she was back out of his immediate reach. For a moment, when the late afternoon sunlight caught her rosy hair and a delighted, wicked smile curled her lips, it was difficult to believe she was anything but a Valkyrie, a Jeanne d’Arc. Battle maiden Lark. Around them, some of the men fell quiet, as if they’d also caught the hint of a spell. If men looked for comfort in each other, far from home and the women in their beds, Shy was sure to make herself a target.
     
  14. reverse

    reverse crusher rusher Member

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    It was an easy match to sell, when the boy stole the wooden article from the air. Esfelt had noticed, and let go of the collar belonging to the next neck he was going to squeeze and submit. Sweat kept him cool despite the heat of his muscles, and he breathed slower when the stream of rough skin to bruise ebbed. Even with the promise of trying their arms against their commander, they'd rather stand and watch, next. Esfelt, who had already built a momentum, rolled a shoulder and darted closer to Shy.

    He extended his arm, which cocked back the shoulder her blade thrust at. The result was a punch that almost hit her, and a successful avoidance of the wooden tip. Most of the things that happened to Esfelt was his choice when there was adrenaline moving in him. Shy wasn't traditionally taught, which made him harder to figure out, but a stab has to start somewhere before the hilt, and the energy could usually be intercepted our dodged with a timely reading. As the knight was feeling, he wouldn't mind pummeling the boy a little.

    Esfelt saw it, because he wasn't blind. It added to the stressful chemicals in his veins. Such a handsome youth, drinking up the sun when it had poured most of its luster out on the day, already. He thought it was an insult, and that Shy shouldn't have use for such pretty as a soldier, but there it was, drawn on his skin and glowing in his eyes. It made the commander hesitate at first, and then not at all. He was heavier, but without a weapon. By any kind calculation that should put their speed at the same advantage.

    There were matches for marking during more strict training, but this bout had not been that kind of educational since he first stepped on the sand. A tap from the wood could not be enough, so any superficial touches that would have been worth something with a real steel edge would be regarded as nothing without stopping power here. So Esfelt stepped lively, with the clarity of viciousness Selin had given him at steep price, and rushed toward his young costar in this farce.

    It was easy to imagine beating her face to chicken food, when he could see himself bending her over and straightening her spine from the inside. His arm shot out, and its length took back some of the length Shy borrowed from the sword. It was a bid for the boy to avoid him, at cost of footing, so he could use his strength and barrel faster once the smaller body was in anyway airborne. Efelt had the intentions of rushing Shy then, tackling and embracing.

    If Shy was the wiser, he'd catch the wood with his free hand, when the swing was at less than critical juncture - for fairness - and yank it out of the boy'd hold. If Shy held on, Esfelt would meet the careening body with his traveling fist, helped by the pull and Shy's forced advance.
     
  15. Eve

    Eve First Failure Member

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    He caught the mock weapon in the recoil of her thrust, pulling hard to tear it from her hands. Shy was small, but she did not let go. The result was a bizarre follow through of her shoulders and then the rest of the sinewy body, barreling toward Esfelt as he upset her footing, but moving through space like it had been choreographed. She might be wonderful on the field with an uncanny elegance like that. She'd make a fool of her enemies as she died, turning their slaughter into a ridiculous dance. It didn't help that she had such a breakable looking face.

    Shy must have understood his intent, because she was tense by the time his fist collided with her, with feet planted wide as they shoved into the dirt and her spine arching like a cat. In taking the force of his fist, she pulled back to recover the blade. With only one hand to pry the weapon from her and his own application of momentum in her favor, she hissed and wrench the sword back in an upward arc. The training weapon was light, but its length in motion was enough to throw her weight above her center mass and throw her into a new direction. Off-axis, she twisted and dropped low, one hand and one foot planted on the ground as the sword-wielding hand and her free leg swept in a wide circle to try and catch a blow to the back of his knee as her swinging foot caught her balance.

    It was an easily telegraphed maneuver, with it's wide motion, but would force him to dodge and-thereby-give Shy enough space to recover her own range of preference. At her size, she'd had to learn to be adept at both dodging and taking hits. Allowing herself to be stumbled and put off her game so easily would spell a quick slaughter. She was laughing, wiping spit from the corner of her lip as she danced back another three paces and rose back into a reasonable swinging stance. He'd hit her hard enough that it would probably hurt well into the evening, but it would take a lot more than that to knock the breath out of her lungs, these days.

    Shy did not wait long, slinking back in and jabbing in quick, short gestures that would not give him the leverage to drag her so far again. She learned quickly enough. "Is it unfair to keep the sword, Ser, when you're unarmed?" she asked, grinning. She wasn't really offering to give the weapon up. In sparring, Marius had learned quickly that Shy's version of fairness was simply being allowed to use whatever resources one could hold on to in a fight. It had made her adaptable, but a pain in the ass to train, too. She'd developed her own, haphazard way of weaving around a ring and didn't see a point to playing at a disadvantage. Shy had always dealt with obvious disadvantages. They could all be equally required to overcome their own failings. In a way, she seemed to be demanding to be put in her place. If she couldn't adequately see where she was, how was she to find the next step forward? It was haughty, but it wasn't hubris.

    In a rather bold move, she leapt toward him with the wooden blade arcing through the air. Whether he blocked her or took the hit, it would bring them to collide. The scent of lake water and sweat in her hair, and something faintly jasmine, her breath hot. She didn't have enough weight to topple him, but she'd come at him with enough momentum to test his footing and enough confidence that she must have had a plan to redirect her own ballistic movement when he responded.
     
  16. reverse

    reverse crusher rusher Member

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    Her precision with her own weight was admirable. Form had some value under a trainer, but could only offer its bases structure in real combat. It seemed she had seen this, and used it. Perhaps it would have been strange if it wasn't so, since there was no conceivable way she'd ever been a dancer, or seen a dancer's schooling. Esfelt had to concede to it's effectiveness and purity. There could not be waste if you had so little weight to work with. Of course, he didn't see it with a sober eye.

    He thought he should have hit her harder, when she ended up with her blade back, but larger blows make larger sounds, and he didn't mean to appear unsportsmanlike, and also, he needed to sacrifice some of his power himself, since she was putting a lot of swift in the match. He assumed the width of her next wooden kiss with a leg chaser was for strength, so he avoided accordingly. That would have been a countable blow, and he didn't know he could counter it without seeming petty if Shy decided to dodge forever.

    So he stepped back, throwing up a tongue of sand, and let the boy retreat as best he wanted. What a beautiful brat she looked like, free, beautiful thing celebrating her own animal. Esfelt thought it was distracting for one, but also made the fight a little more delectable. It became an acute matter to see Shy falter in any way. And maim her, if he could. The men were of the same mind, with the invested eyes and breaths held at every turn. This was good for their spirits, too.

    He didn't laugh at her comment, but he found the humor in it. Was a new soldier really offering advice on how he should go about teaching others? Playful little rat. There was a little shrug of his metal shoulders. "This was always unfair." he explained and twitched forward to try Shy's nerves. They wouldn't be strained or she wouldn't have been here. He shifted his weight a couple of times and wondered where the holes in her speed might be. He wasn't a behemoth himself, so it was conceivable some of his turns could pass hers, if she wasn't prepared.

    He marked the angle of her bow as she flung herself at him. Another beautiful technique that hadn't been learned on stone floors. He would not be hypnotized and that was not her intention. Larger motions were important for smaller warriors. He bent his legs to store up kinetic while he waited, and then grew fast into her while she planned for the impact. With his right cocked back, he could drive forward hard, his arm-guard into hers, to slow the cutting arm to a useless speed while their torsos clanked.

    A cloud of her scents confused him, and his eyes grew brighter without him knowing when she fell back in her signature way, like she'd been a bird in some other life. His response was demonic, a cerebral magic that had let him stab fingers up between the plates of her armor, at her chest, when they'd touched. His fingertips were pressed against a strangely muscular chest for her build, but now was not a good time to be impressed. He had to rely on strength, after all, and started spinning her, to keep her at the heavy end of the energy, so her sword strikes were useless or impossible.

    They were fans, the crowd, but with Shy's pretty, they'd rather see her tumble, or even bleed. No love yet, even though they'd defend her with their lives if Coldmen came now. A harsh camaraderie. Esfelt didn't have time for that either, so he let go of Shy when he was sure it would be too much, but he had been wrong about that before. Either way he'd chase her as she got her bearing, if she didn't trip from the toss. It was a surprise fro the Silverum Knight too, when someone threw a practice sword in his path while he chased Shy's back.

    Out of reflex he snapped it from the air and relied on that she'd not seen it fly. He still meant to tackle her with the full force of his sprint, but now if she meant to tag him with her own sword, twisting back, he'd have his new wooden weapon to cross with, which would still make the tackle effective. It would be a rather mighty collision. And if she stayed his momentum somehow, holding her sword to his, his head would barrel forward, and touch her where Namer had.
     
  17. Eve

    Eve First Failure Member

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    Somewhere in the midst of training her body, half a wish for revenge and half for a life of any sort at all, Shy had started to love to fight. She had never been tried intently on the battlefield, but she'd found some exhilaration in the ring. It was no different now, though Esfelt was a much grander sort of foe than any other training match she'd encountered. As Shy was beginning to better understand that undeniable truth, she felt as if she were being made lighter. Adrenaline, thrilling, was a strange sort of drug. She matched his little feints, minute movements in her weight to flee out of range. And then, when she was flying at him, her too-full lips broke wide into a brilliant sort of smile. She would not have expected anything less from a man with Silverum's reputation.

    His hands on her light leather plating stopped her momentum with a remarkable efficiency. She felt the abruptness of it lash her bones, limbs sent spiraling in a new direction under the knight's direction. She gasped as she spiraled away, twirling in a rag doll sort of way that would have seemed indicative of a loss if it hadn't been so nicely orchestrated by the time she was at the end of expending his force. Shy was stumbling, nearly falling, but her fingers were still curled tight around the hilt of her little sword. She swung her arm up and over, throwing her weight like some damnable acrobat. For a brief moment, she was awkwardly perched like a table with one leg too long, the tip of the wooden sword catching precarious purchase across from her planted palm. She was laughing, and then snapped upright and spinning to face him.

    Shy was puzzled then, because she had not seen him get the sword and had very apparently not anticipated him rushing at her with it. She let out a loud whoop and staggered back, raising her own weapon to counter him nearly a moment too late. She grit her teeth when the collision came a half-breath later, shoving her back in the dirt so hard that she was certain she could feel the heat flare in the soles of her boots. She bent too, unable to stop his forward charge, but committed to holding her blade. It felt like slow motion when she finally lost purchase on her feet, tipping backward as his head slung forward. His face to her bruised cheek, and it might have seemed like a sweet sort of acknowledgement hadn't the men been cheering and that small second been caught frozen in time.

    Even Shy wasn't wholly sure what her plan was then, other than to keep his advantage as small as possible. As she fell, she hooked a leg around his to keep him from catching his balance. If she was going to fall, he was going to fall with her. On top of her, it seemed, with their blades still locked and his weight on the upper hand, but she liked her chances wrestling on the ground better than laying on the flat of her back with him above her.

    As soon as she hit the ground, she was twisting like a wild cat, thrashing as she shoved with the flat of her blade to keep him as off balance and unable to pin her as possible. He could have the match then, surely, but it would be apparent when they dragged to their feet. Shy had potential. Even Esfelt would have to consider what might come of her if she lived long enough to flourish. This was, after all, only their first clash. How long might they spar if she were to learn him?

    When he would finally lock her into submission, she'd have thrown a reasonable punch in at his jaw. Lowbrow, but committed, and she'd stare up at him panting like a green-eyed whore who'd just begged him to give it to her rough. Unruly boy. "I know I have more to learn, but I'm teachable." She would huff in that peculiarly intimate space between them. "And I mean, I did bring you down with me. If you were a Coldman, one of the others would have put a blade in your back by now, right?" A shrug against the dirt and a laugh.

    She hadn't even noticed how close he'd come to learning her secret, when he'd thrown her by the breastplate. Nor had she noticed she had forgotten the uncomfortable way he'd looked at her, yesterday in his tent. In an unfair sort of way, she was as easily inspired as the rest of his men. He was a powerful blade to follow, and that put a spring in any death-bound soldier's step.
     
  18. reverse

    reverse crusher rusher Member

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    It was a strange focus he was afforded with Shy. He saw her clearly, but it seemed some of her actions passed him by despite razor adherence to his eyes. In this fray it reminded him of fucking - that long lost mirage - when the pretty of the maiden was important, her reactions the only real product, and the work of your hips was paramount but forgotten. Her relished in the surprise he saw and the haughty of her lips when she smiled. He didn't forget to punch his shoulder forward when he tackled. Anger has a place in fucking, too. How delectable, her puzzlement and the miracle blade that had appeared in his hand.

    A dull kind of vibrato, the only kind available from wood meeting itself, when their swords crossed. More so than sparsely folded metal, there was the risk of shattering, and his fingers tried to measure that chance before the mock-weapons held and his shoulder could land on her mystifying chest. Their bodies vaulted and they spun like rags flung together. Her face had felt like violence radiating into his own skull. His armor scooped the sand and turned it into rings in the air as they rolled. Good compromise, bringing him along.

    He was looking for a point of halt in their wrestling, while keeping up with her dutiful defense. It was the fist to his jawline that reminded him not to be too picky about it, before simply using his weight to keep her down. His mouth was slick with breath when he looked down at her panting. How horribly lovely Shy looked, and how much he wanted to do more to her, then. He wanted to teach her many things, yes. "If I was a Coldman, you'd be cooling too." he reminded as he grabbed the hole where head head stuck out from her armor, and lifted her by it slightly, to slam her down with as much force as the height would allow. Esfelt got up after that, brushing himself off.

    "I suppose you can come to war with us too, boy." he said, and the men were happy about that, judging by the way they went to help her up. Esfelt waved with the back of his hand as he left the ring. If this fight had been for spirit, and it had been, starting, then it was a great success. Elmir handed Namer back to its knight when the commander left the pit. Esfelt tested the weight of the weapon while thinking about Shy's cocky face, pushed into the sand.

    It was a bit miserable to be one of the most decorated legends in recent military ranks then. Esfelt tried to mistake it for fury, with the broken shields and useless oak furniture they liked to stuff hit tent with, when he easily recalled the heat in him as something else. Among the rubble of a tantrum, he'd also mixed the plates of his armor in the splinters and pulled-out wooden panels. Somewhere he'd bent a ornamental sword, too. With his leather down and cock out, he was tending to himself, forehead to the middle-most supporting pillar of the large, triangular abode.

    It had not been this willing for years, smeared in witch's brew and whatever blood Selin had kept in her vials. He laughed at himself, darkly, but also tried not to feel anything but what had given him this old chance. He head tilted so he could bite into the wood, spreading straight breaks in the material just as he splattered it, lower, with myriad threads of a very sought after release. He looked down at the limb, unabashed like it had not been defecting from its use for so long. Shy's face, and those glossy lips, smiling like she'd won even though she was on her back.

    He scooped up and squeezed the produce in his palm as it cooled. This was an atrocious development, and if he found the witch today he'd string her up by her organs. He made sure to wipe the evidence clean before getting dressed in leisure garb.

    It would be nighttime when Shy was called upon next. He was afraid of the boy, of course, but only for his own accounts, so there was no real threat to the commander in the invitation itself. Shy wasn't a conventional enemy. The broken things had been moved over to the side, strangely making a path from the flapping door to the chair where Esfelt sat. He hated Shy, truly, but she'd become important now, somehow. He suspected her mood would be good. That would be the boy's mistake.

    "Did you enjoy our bout, boy?" he posed first, to contribute to whatever lightness was owed. Shy could have her time to answer. Esftelt was in cotton pants and leather harness over his chest, which had filled in somewhat since Selin, but not much. He was still longer than he was bulk. The leather straps were becoming, and he'd been known to wear them to whore establishments, in those days. "I wanted to asses if I'd hurt you." he started, and it was part truth. He waved two fingers for the boy to come closer. "On your knees, then, and open your mouth."
     
  19. Eve

    Eve First Failure Member

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    Shy felt she might as well have won the play match. She’d been put on her back, and her head still rang with the echo of her skull slamming against the dirt, but she felt accomplished. It had taken a similar show of spirit to endear her to the guardsmen. It seemed like warring men could not help but appreciate fighters in any form. As the men helped her up from the ground, she laughed as she winced. Shy was certain she could name all the places fresh bruises were brewing. “Ah, that Commander is a tough one, huh?” she sighed, which earned her a few rough claps on the back and some praise for her endurance. It was good, too, that Silverum himself had acknowledged her. In fact, it might be the outcome that mattered most.

    Despite the small successes, she was more than happy to return to her tent, tying the flap closed and stripping her leathers from her sweat-drenched skin. She grinned. If Esfelt had complained of her smell before, he’d surely be appalled now. That made her pause, clutching the light armor in her hands. She had not thought through the intricacies of going on campaign, she realized. There was no clear pool in a briar patch to shelter her, here. Shy huffed. If only she’d not been born a woman. It was troublesome, really. She sighed, and settled for a rag and some water from the flask by her bedroll.

    When she had finished her makeshift bath, she re-bound her chest and pulled on two tunics again. It had not been her common practice before, but it seemed like a prudent precaution in her new company. It was an interesting sensation, but she thought she might be getting used to the restriction on her ribcage. Once dressed, she thought it was almost comforting.

    Shy wasn’t wholly surprised when, later that evening, she was summoned to Esfelt’s tent. While she hadn’t anticipated a regular demand for her company, she’d have been playing at too much naivety if she hadn’t noticed his particular interest in her. She seemed to damp that self-awareness with the consideration that his curiosity was related to her fighting skill.

    When she entered his tent, she wasn’t sure what she’d been expecting. The litter of his tantrum, collected in some sort of effort to clear the place, was still apparent. It gave the intimate space a jagged edge, which made her stop as the flap fell shut behind her. She glanced around, apparently put on guard by the residuals of his temper, and she clasped her hands behind her back. “You asked for me, Ser?” she said.

    He was surprisingly friendly, but she was uncertain that he’d have summoned her expressly to ask about their match. It seemed more like he was considering ways to tease her, she thought, more than anything else. Still, she nodded. “Yes, Ser. I think I could learn a lot from you.” She said. The ache in her gently swelling bruises was evidence enough of that. “I hope I’ll get the opportunity for a rematch.”

    She had been correct then, it seemed. The pretense of a light conversation evaporated almost as quickly as it had come, almost as if he’d been going through the motions out of some vague obligation. Certainly, he wasn’t making any great effort to continue the illusion. Shy blinked at him. “Ser?” she questioned, and she had the decency to blush at the command. Assess whether he’d hurt her? She couldn’t fathom how demanding such a pose would accomplish that goal, and it was difficult to deny the blatantly crass implication.

    Shy waited a long moment, as if she half expected him to tell her he was joking. That he’d only meant to embarrass her with such a request. When no such explanation came, she coughed into her arm and looked away. How could she meet his eyes when she sunk down onto her knees like that? It was a bit shameful, and she didn’t much like the way it felt to oblige. When her gaze slid to meet his stare again, her cheeks were hot. Like she’d just noticed that he was a man who, by most standards, ought to have been desirable. Like she’d just remembered she was, in fact, a woman. How terrible it would have been if he’d known. It seemed to her that she would have looked a bit like a tavern whore, knees on the ground in the dark of his tent.

    She opened her mouth as he’d instructed. Shy reminded herself that this was a meeting between two men. Perhaps that made this less questionable. Shy couldn’t quite conceive that it did. She followed him with her eyes. He’d not hit her in the jaw since she’d met Namer, and that swelling had already come down to a dull redness. By all accounts, this felt like it couldn’t be anything other than an effort at humiliation. Perhaps he’d check her teeth, like he was buying a horse? Her suspicions flit undisguised across her face. Again, something like something feral, cornered. But the flush on Shy’s cheeks had not subsided, no matter what misgivings might be twining in her chest. Was it the same for all pretty boys, meeting their men?
     
  20. reverse

    reverse crusher rusher Member

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    Esfelt felt a little sorry for Shy when she came in, and had the lightness of youth about her, but also some of the freedom in her limbs that exhaustion could buy. Maybe it was appropriate to treat her poorly, some. The fields were going to be harsh. She should not be happy to be here. It was a sound logic for any general to harbor, but Esfelt knew some of the best soldiers were stark mad. Enil was collected, and he'd always been like that, war hadn't changed him, it had given him a home.

    It was entertaining to see hesitation about her expressions at the request. Esfelt would have been surprised if the boy had gone with it and not reacted at all. That would be unforgivably dull. In fact, the commander might not have stood for it. And the roses, too, on those young cheeks. It was a harsh reminder that Esfelt's blood was still red, too. It moved around, like Shy had come here to fight again, when the guest went from the door to where he'd pointed out. Two fingers were supporting his forehead, a thinking, considering pose, while she went to her knees. It was all he could do not sigh with some approval, but his pupils still all but blotted out his eyes.

    Esfelt moved to the edge of his seat, close now, and leaned forward. It had not been his intention but his new angle did conceal the thickening of something that should for once remain slumbering. Esfelt licked the tip of two fingers, like he was going to turn her like a page, before he held his breath while her lips parted for his leisure. He tilted his head one way and painted her lips with his spittle, and then introduced them to her mouth, indeed touching her teeth, and spreading his digits like a V to test elasticity in her cheeks.

    "You're mine, you realize." he said, and it was so factual it was almost a bit bitter. He pushed down on her tongue and gripped her by the back of her short hair to move her head closer, at whatever discomfort that gave her neck. Those lips glistened as he tilted her head upward. "Because you're not bad, but mostly because you could be entertaining. Have you ever owned something like that?" he asked as the fingers that made acquaintance with her mouth now held on to the jaw Namer had christened.

    He looked down at her with a little intent now, instead of just an owner's distance. "Like, a twig rock that you kick on your way to somewhere you need to be." he nodded with self satisfaction at the explanation. A finger from either hand hooked into separate rows of teeth to keep her mouth open. This was lifting his cock quite a bit. He wondered how her swallow would feel around the dark head, and what lovely, gargling sounds Shy would make. Would she see from here, the compliment in his hardening?

    Esfelt's lips shrunk as he flexed his cheeks and drew his tongue for moist. When he opened his mouth again a wealth of foam rolled from the cavern behind his lower incisors to hang off his lower lip. Shy would be able to see it clearly. Eventually the orb became too heavy for itself, and broke free, crashing and sliding on Shy's tongue after its little journey. He didn't allow her to close her mouth as he watched it travel down to the base of her muscle.

    "The rock has to be a certain quality, but it's not a the kind of rock you put in a crown. You're just kicking it." he explained as he thought of tossing her head back and simply having at her. It'd be easy enough, with her surprised and smaller, and it was his right to some extent. Eventually he clapped her mouth closed for her and stared at her, waiting for her to swallow before letting her go. If she did not consume, she would not have her freedom back.

    "You have to be of a certain quality for me to kick you, Shy." Like it was a great compliment. "But you have to be entertaining if I'm going to kick you all the way to a rock fit enough to throw at my enemies." Leaned back like this, there'd be no secret as to Esfelt's outlines in the cotton pants. He didn't mind anymore, he just beckoned the boy's attention. "Are you going to be fun like that, for me?"
     

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