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Breaking bread
Fri Aug 25, 2006 10:40 (XFF:

Not for the first time in eleven days, Kat mounted Firefly wearily, her bones about the only thing that didn't ache on her body. The roan knew his way back to the grounds, which was good because Kat wasn't sure her hands would even grip the thin strips of leather, let alone guide him. He knew the way and he knew she was bone tired.

Yet not once did Kat regret asking Talaban Gaidin to teach her.

His style was wildly different from anything she had learned, past or present, his philosophies seemed less a style of fighting and more of a way of life for him and he seemed to want to teach her how to live the way he did as well. Could she? Already she knew that Jield Gaidin didn't care for Talaban teaching her what was considered the "old style"; neither said, but the disapproval was on the Head Gaidin's face when he looked at her and in Talaban's every move when he tested her abilities. She wouldn't trade it for anything, however, feeling that to learn any style of swordsmanship was to improve one's abilities. To do what one's opponent would not expect because of their ignorance.

Talaban Gaidin was teaching her to be an exceptional Warder when and if that time ever came, and for that she was grateful.

Tonight's exercise continued to build on the Gaidin's testing of her abilities; no longer did he bother to teach her new moves and forms—he had shown her what she needed to know, now he was teaching her how to apply it. Previously Kat warmed up with him in various moves she'd only half performed in some child-like way of trying to emulate a parent, and he gave them names. The Ramparts of the Sun, the Swallow, they were all things one did to stretch the body and mind. Tonight she had come upon the mausoleum in silence and darkness and had felt slight confusion at the situation.

She saw the Gaidin's horse so she knew he was there, but the tomb was silent and dark as pitch. Normally Kat was accustomed to the lack of vision enhancing other attributes, but she could neither smell nor hear the Gaidin after taking a few shuffling steps into an area she knew as well as her barracks room by now.

His attack had been sudden and swift and yet—not entirely unexpected. Light knew she hadn't thought she'd ever learn to fight in the dark, to battle against a man willing to cut her to teach her failure. But somehow the Kandori knew that the moment her foot stepped into the darkened building that she was entering at her own peril and to be on her guard. Yet he was silent as a shadow and she suspected the soft hiss of his swords leaving their sheaths was merely to give her a fighting chance.

The fight culminated when Watered Silk cut across the darkness and her own instincts brought the swords up into Falling Leaf, pushing aside the attack, and then she heard the clatter of metal to stone and the Gaidin's had was pressed to her neck, only his own sword holding hers at bay. He practically thrust her aside and if her feet hadn't been more quick, Kat might have fallen to the floor. "Enough." He breathed heavily. "You have passed. You are free to leave for the night."

Despite the dismissal, Kat watched him in avid interest, her hazel eyes seeking out his form as the Gaidin bent to retrieve the sword, the shaky way it slammed back into the sheath. She wondered what was on his mind at that very moment—had he dropped the sword intentionally? What had just transpired and what was she missing? Talaban Gaidin only glanced at her a spare moment as Kat drew in her own deep breaths, trying to regain composure of her body and calm muscles that had stopped far too soon.

And then he turned and was gone.

Her arms rose and fell, hands moving in a circle from away from her body and then bringing them back. Kat's eyes were closed as she released the emotions of their sparring only half hour past, trading the shaking hands and confused thoughts for calm and serenity. Dawn had touched the sky and the Trainees of the Grounds had not yet risen to begin their own practices. Although Kat had never thought of herself as an early riser, she found that the soft stillness of the sun's first touch on the earth was peaceful. She often missed it during the long hours of morning practice and as the golden rays kissed her cheeks in greeting, something of the night dissipated.

The swords were just returning to their sheaths when Juri approached her, blade of grass between his teeth as always. "Early morning, Kat? Don't see you up so soon normally."

A square of linen washed away residual gritty sweat from her face and she plaited her hair back into a presentable state. "I'm up, believe me, but usually I haven't made it back to the grounds until later."

Juri's brows raised. "Talaban Gaidin? He's teaching you?" Kat nodded, looking to the man with curiosity even as the Sei'Tar shook his head. "How long can you keep at this, Kat?"

"As long as I need to, Juri. He teaches me things, things that we don't normally learn from the Gaidin, things that I might learn differently." She shrugged. "I have a choice, or I will when he's deemed me ready to not cut my foot off. The Head Gaidin doesn't approve, I don't think, but what harm is there in learning the old way versus the new? What difference does it make if I call a stance one thing or another?"

"They like their things the way they have them, Kat. You know that. If he's not teaching you the way we're all learning, you'd better stop and ask for another teacher." Juri warned.

Tossing aside the linen, she shook her head. For some reason some instinct told her that if she didn't return, Talaban Gaidin might take personal blame for failure. Not only that, she didn't want to stop learning from the Gaidin. His ways taught inner peace and as well as using emotions to fight, finding a balance inside one's self that couldn't be taught on a grand scale the way she was normally taught. This was highly personal and Kat admitted to wanting to learn every drop of what the Gaidin would teach.

"I can't, Juri. I'm committed."

Waking four hours before dawn was habit by now, though one she didn't expect to keep at once the Gaidin stopped teaching her. As she approached the mausoleum, however, Kat was startled to note that the Gaidin wasn't present yet, his horse no where in the vicinity. Tying Firefly loosely to the tree she used as a hitching post, Kat grabbed a torch and lit it, walking through the corridors to the tomb of Erevan. If he had come on foot to confuse her, she didn't find evidence of the Gaidin at least in this tomb, so she placed the torch in a sconce and decided to at least take the time to warm up. Even if he didn't arrive—which she couldn't figure why he wouldn't—Kat expected to at least use the time wisely rather than stand in the middle of the tomb, scratching her head.

With back erect, her eyes closed and she placed her hands together in front of her chest, fingers pointing to the ceiling and breathed deeply. With a soft exhalation, Kat began to work through the forms to warm up.

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