first session

Knights’ Practice Room
Castle Anvard

You stand on the chamber which serves the Knights’ Practice Room. One part
is dedicated to hand to hand combat, and the rest of the area has stands for
straw dummies. You can also see much of the countryside from here. On a
chair near the door sits the old sergeant, Doel, who maintains the equipment.

Darrin is leaning against the far wall of the practice room, talking to Doel as the trainer sets up a second target for him. He’s already stripped down to just his breeches, preferring as he does to train shirtless. His usual practice sword and another that looks rather less well-used rest on the bench along one wall, along with a shield.

Megren trails in, wearing her usual practice clothes, her sword slung against her shoulder.

Lanisen hangs back by the door with the awkward hesitance of somebody who is having lots of second thoughts.

Darrin claps Doel on the shoulder and straightens off the wall when he sees Megren and Lanisen approach. “Hello, squires,” he says, the word more like a term of endearment than a title.

Megren backs up a few steps and pinches a piece of Lanisen’s sleeve, hanging onto it as she continues forward so that it’s fight or follow. “Hello, Sir!” she says with a bow that’s slightly abbreviated in order to keep hold on her prize.

Lanisen follows, off-balance and embarrassed. He bows as well, echoing Megren in a more subdued voice.

Darrin grins at them both. “Oh good, Lanisen, you brought your own practice sword. I wasn’t sure, so I brought my extra.”

Megren sets hers beside the others. “What’s on the agenda today, Sir?”

Lanisen takes his cue from Megren and sets his practice sword down as well, watching and waiting to see what comes next.

Darrin gestures at Lanisen. “I thought we might do a bit of the back to basics, and work on forms, since Lanisen is joining us. We can work on making yours perfect while we’re at it, Megren.”

Megren nods, glancing at what he’s set up. “To the targets, then?”

Lanisen frowns a little, looking at Darrin.

Darrin picks up his sword and slides it into his belt, since he’s not wearing his scabbard. “Indeed.”

Lanisen hesitates, then bends to pick up his again, settling it in his left hand.

Megren follows after.

Darrin rubs at the back of his neck when they near the targets and chews on his bottom lip like he’s deciding how to proceed. “How much practice did you have with your right hand, Lanisen, before the battle?”

Lanisen says, “Um.” He moistens his lips. “Not–very much, sir.”

Megren says, “Finally, someone who doesn’t have 10 years hard training on me.”

Darrin says, “Right. How’s your grip with your left hand?” He glances at Megren, and grins.

Lanisen shrugs, lifting his left hand with the sword to show it.

Darrin steps in close to Lanisen’s personal space and inspects his new sword hand carefully. After a moment he rotates the hilt a few degrees in Lanisen’s hand and scoots his fingers up the hilt a way so it’s more centered in his grasp.

Megren lifts her own sword, hefting it a little, then glances at Lanisen and switches hands. “I’d like to try off-hand, too, if it’s all right.”

Lanisen shifts back a bit, giving way automatically, but allows Darrin to make his adjustments. He glances at Megren, surprised.

Darrin looks over at Megren and nods, looking pleased. “Certainly. Like I told Lanisen, it’s a useful skill to have. Could save your life some day if your sword hand gets injured in the middle of a battle.” He draws his own sword from his belt so he can demonstrate the proper grip, holding his sword in his left hand familiarly.

Megren frowns at her own grip, her last two fingers not quite strong enough to maintain well, and her pommel a bit loose because of it.

Lanisen, not so attuned to such details, just hangs onto his sword and tries not to move his fingers.

Darrin looks thoughtful when he sees Megren’s grip. “Another thing we might try, for the both of you, is strengthening exercises for your left hands. Astor used to make me carry around one of those leather balls, like children play with and just…roll it around in my palm and squeeze it a lot. It works well on making the muscles in your hands stronger.”

Lanisen says, “I have one of those.”

Megren glances up for her sword to nod. She tests a basic swing in very slow motion to see what she’s capable of.

Darrin nods. “It will take a while, but if you start practicing with that in down moments, Lanisen, it will help. A lot.”

Lanisen nods, looking at his left hand thoughtfully.

Megren asks, “Can we test something basic today in the meantime?”

Darrin nods. “I think we should just start with some basic defensive forms, give you a feel for how the sword feels in your hand.” He steps back from them both a few steps to give himself some room and then demonstrates six very basic defensive positions, moving his sword through them smoothly.

Lanisen watches, one eye narrowed in concentration, but seems by the helpless look on his face to have lost the thread of the movements before Darrin has even finished.

Megren shifts her stance a little, watching him carefully. “It’s strange, how it all feels foreign in the wrong hand. Show us just the first one again?”

Darrin nods, and moves his sword in exaggerated slowness so that it’s held out in front of him horizonatally at chest height.

Megren imitates the motion, looking between herself and him to compare and making a few adjustments accordingly.

Lanisen copies quickly, but as he’s busy watching what everybody else is doing, his form is not as neat as Megren’s.

Darrin goes through the rest of the moves at the slower pace, waiting to make sure the squires are imitating him before he moves on.

Megren follows him carefully, her lack of strength showing but her general sense of the form not too bad.

Lanisen is pretty much a mess.

Darrin abandons demonstrating to come over and help Lanisen more directly. He glances over at Meg occasionally, nodding at her.

Megren frowns slightly in concentration, sometimes glancing at the other two in order to try and pick up from what they are doing.

Lanisen is not a good learner, it turns out, becoming more flustered the more he does wrong, and doing worse the more he is flustered. But he slows down and frowns fiercely, and seems to be getting the general idea, even if his grip is too tense and his movements are massively uncoordinated.

Darrin glances at Lanisen’s face a few times and finally says, gently, “You’re doing well, Lanisen. It’s going to be awkward and feel wrong for a good while yet.”

Lanisen nods without looking directly at Darrin, red-faced and embarrassed. He moistens his lips and tries again.

Darrin wrinkles his nose and steps back to let Lanisen practice by himself. He watches him for a moment and then wanders over to Megren.

Megren has to heft the sword between sets to regain her grip on it, pommel swinging off her wrist the more tired she gets.

Lanisen keeps working, seeming to settle more easily into the movements once Darrin’s attention is off him.

Darrin catches Megren’s elbow after he’s been watching for a few moments and pushes her arm closer to her body. “You’ll be able to keep it up better if you keep your arm tighter to your chest,” he says.

Megren nods, her face concentrated, and tries again. This time is better, but still noticeably faulty.

Lanisen, listening, attempts the same correction.

Darrin nods. “Better,” he says, apparently not seeing a need to be more particular while she’s practicing.

Megren nods again, making another set. Again, as she gets tired, she falls back into the bad habit with her arm, though she catches herself doing it once, and corrects that time.

Lanisen drops his arm for a brief rest, glancing over at Megren. He resumes after a few seconds, movements deliberately slow in an effort to keep everything coordinated and controlled.

Darrin taps his upper lip and steps back again so he can watch the both of them for several minutes. “I’m trying to decide if we should work on offensive forms today too, or stick to defense,” he says after a bit.

Megren pauses to rest, keeping in an attentive ready stance with her blade still up as at the beginning of a spar while she rolls her shoulders. “Not liable to get perfect at defense today anyway, Sir,” she suggests.

Darrin nods. “A fair point,” he says. “All right, then. So the offensive moves for these forms are also pretty simple.” He demonstrates, sweeping his blade more slowly than he did the first time, and it’s clear the moves he’s making are just the ones you would use to attack a block like he’s already shown them – mirror images of the defensive poses, basically.

Lanisen pauses his repetition of the defensive positions to watch. He wipes his forehead, which has already started to gleam in the warm room.

Megren watches him once, and then makes an attempt at imitation.

Darrin puts his sword against his shoulder and makes helpful correcting comments from a distance as they both practice.

Lanisen tries to watch and listen and do at the same time, with discouraging results.

Megren continues with her forms until she gets called to stop, although she does start showing some signs of wear after a while.

Darrin tries to act like he’s not paying that much attention to Lanisen, since that worked before.

Lanisen lowers his sword as well, turning it in his hand and giving it a wry, unhappy look.

Megren pushes her hair back once they’ve been told to stop, but she stays in the same attentive stance as before.

Darrin chews on his lip, tucking his sword back into his belt on his right hip. “Not bad for a first session, you two.”

Lanisen gives him a doubtful look.

Megren takes this as a cue and drops the tip of her sword. “Thanks,” she breathes.

Darrin gives Lanisen an ornery grin that somehow doesn’t detract from the sincerity of his earlier statement.

Lanisen tucks his practice sword under his right elbow, flexing his tired left wrist.

Megren rolls her shoulders again and holds her hand out for everyone’s swords. “I can put these away.”

Darrin pulls his sword back out and hands it over. “Thank you.”

Lanisen hands his practice weapon to Meg as well. “Thanks.”

Megren traipses off to the rack to put them away.

Darrin wanders over and pulls his tunic back on, not bothering to wipe down since he didn’t even really work up a sweat this time. “Anybody want to go for a drink?” he calls out over his shoulder.

Megren calls over her shoulder, “Me.”

Darrin grins as he turns back around. “How did I know.”

Lanisen hesitates, as if not sure he’s included in the ‘anybody’, then says, “I’d better get back down to the kennels, I told Kirb I’d cover for him tonight.”

Megren points to Lanisen as she returns to them. “Fine, but remember you promised.”

Darrin lights up at the mention of kennels. “We should go grab Reg first,” he says.

Lanisen gives Megren a quick guilty look. “Right, yeah, I’ll– I will.”

Megren nods, smiling in open acceptance of that promise. “Hasn’t he already had enough drinks for one week?” she asks Sir Darrin.

Darrin looks mildly affronted by the idea of giving the puppy alcohol. “…no?”

Lanisen’s forehead furrows as he tries to follow the conversation.

Megren squints an eye at him, then tilts her head in concession. “All right, then.”

Darrin eyes her oddly, and nods after a moment.

Lanisen glances between them again, then bows to Darrin. “Thank you for the instruction, sir.”

Megren asks, “We’ll follow you down to the kennels, then. Or do you need to make a stop first?”

Darrin smiles at Lanisen. “You’re welcome. I look forward to seeing you back.”

Lanisen says, “Yessir.” He nods to Megren. “That’s, yeah, I’m goin’ straight there.”

Megren lifts her brows at the knight to see if that’s still what he wants to do.

Darrin nods, grinning a bit.

Megren troops off, then.

Lanisen follows her out.


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