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Part I: Of Sickle and Sleeve
Thu Sep 21, 2006 13:14 (XFF:

Styr surveyed his motley assortment of pupils, and sighed. It was bemusement more than anything else that drew the breath from his quirked lips. No place in the world harboured such a travesty of mixed race and personality as the two Towers. He saw Shienaran, Andoran, Arafellin, even Cairhienin in this small crowd before him; and each viewed his comrades with a differing expression. How they would band together to take on Tarmon Gai’don in the end, was a question whose answer even the Great Lord probably didn’t know. Shaking his head in an unusual sign of dark humour, he barely waited for the last Initiate to finish before speaking.

‘Alright, I think we can dispense with the formalities. I know I can’t stand them when I’m the student.’ That brought a few grudging chuckles. A few… ‘Now as far as I can tell, very few of you have any kind of basic knowledge of Knifework. Do any of you know the Sword?’ Murmurs of assent among the Black Tower Initiates. Of course, it was generally a basic requirement of Soldier training to learn the Sword. The Lord Dragon had made sure of that. He saw sly glances at the silent White Tower members.

‘Well you can stop feeling conceited already. Knowledge of Swords won’t be worth a damn to you here.’ He was feeling vindictive again. Maybe it was that his prior admission to the White Tower was common knowledge, and might undermine his authority. Tying his long dark hair back from his face, he spread his weight evenly; right foot slightly back and a majority of his weight on it.

‘This is the first thing you need to know.’ He saw looks of confusion over his lack of a weapon. ‘A man- or woman- whose weight is centred too high is prone to being knocked down. With both feet level, you cannot move with absolute freedom. In this position, you can move forwards…’ He lunged forwards suddenly, thrusting his face into the nearest recruits’. ‘Or backwards, with ease.’ As fluidly as before, he moved back to his starting position. Some of them looked bored.

‘Don’t think this is pointless because it doesn’t involved hitting each other around the head with pieces of wood. Footwork can win a battle, or lose it. Knives aren’t like the practiced forms of the Sword. You must concentrate more on deflection and agility.’ He scowled. These light-forsaken whoresons really were very arrogant. It chafed like a collar of nails, this teaching business. But he had a duty to finish the lesson now he’d started.

Channeling, he removed the top of the weapons crate to the left.

‘These are practice lathes. There are two types, and they both have merits. The shorter type, with the slightly curved ‘blade’ is the practice-version of what we call a Sickle Knife. It is short and agile. Much faster and easier to handle than its sister-blade, and useful for avoiding defences.’ Styr summoned one of the real blades from the smaller crate with a flow of Air, flourishing it momentarily in his hand.

‘This is what the real one looks like.’ He gave a quick demonstration of the Sickle blade in flashing jabs and twists. On its own it was as useless as a beltknife, yet coupled with the other it was a stunning combination of offence and defence. A pity he could not use it. Dropping it back into the box, he summoned the other.

‘This is what we generally know as a Knife. Its professional name is a Sleeve-knife; named so for the way the blade hugs the forearm with its three-hands of length. This is a good weapon for defence and for large slashes or cuts and combined with the Sickle-blade it makes a winning offence-defence technique.’ He demonstrated a few uppercuts and rolling slashes to add a little flamboyance to the slow lesson. ‘Depending on your fighting style, you can equip yourself with two Sickles- for offence- two Sleeves- for defence- or one of each for a balanced approach. Now, make your choices quickly, and I’ll show you some moves.’

There was a flurry of activity as the recruits shouldered their way into a rough crowd around the box of lathes. Surprisingly, it only took moments for them to get their ‘weapons’ and Styr could continue. Apparently they were as eager to learn as he was to stop teaching. How irritating…

‘Right, al’Kinnly. Get out here.’ Styr summoned a single Sleeve-lathe from the box and motioned to the brutish Soldier. The man stepped forward, an unhealthy anticipation of violence in his eyes. The man was huge- as tall as Styr and broader besides. This was just the lesson he wanted them to learn.

‘Now al’Kinnly. You’re objective is to try to hit me as hard as you can. Hold nothing back, all right?’ The man nodded, a feral grin marring his otherwise handsome face. Styr almost smiled back. This would be too easy. The man gave no warning, and charged with all the grace of a bull; completely forgetting about footwork. Styr leapt forward to meet his charge and blocked his Sickle blade with a sweeping upper-block; holding the lathe at a right angle above his head as al’Kinnly attempted a clumsy overhead strike. The lathes made a sharp crack, and Styr ducked to the side; letting the man’s other blade strike a Midriff Block- hitting the lathe as it hugged his forearm, crossing his body. In two swift motions, he forced the Soldier off-balance with a light shove to the blocked blade and tripped him.

‘As you can see ladies and gentlemen, I just demonstrated four clear techniques in Knifework: the Upper Block, the Midriff Block, Dodging and Forcing. Forcing, in case you missed it, is the act of taking advantage of an off-balance opponent. You catch their blade in a close block and push them to the ground- or trip them if you like- while avoiding their other knife.’ Styr dropped the lathe back into the crate and crossed his arms over his chest. ‘Get up al’Kinnly, and stop sulking.’ The man glowered at him from the dusty floor and scrambled back into ranks.

‘Now I want you to all partner up and practice your footwork, and those four techniques. Pay particular attention to balance- it’s a key factor of knifework. The objective is to force your opponent off balance and then off their feet. So try not to hit each other any more than you have to.’ Styr gave an exasperated roll of his eyes. If al’Kinnly was anything to go by, they would be knee deep in painful welts and cracked bones by the end of the lesson. Well, there was nothing he could do about that now. He had done all he could for the moment.

‘Alright, Begin!’

OOC: I think it explains itself. 500 words on choosing your type of knife and practising the four basic techniques. Have yourself a little duel if you like, to see who can knock who down first. Part two will be up Sunday. And the lesson’s still open ‘til then so if anyone else wants to join… *grins* Enjoy. ~Tom

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