|Summary:||Two strapping young men enjoy a sparring session on the Green.|
|The Green — Terrick's Roost|
|The Green is a large field of deep green grass, nearly flat, that runs along the base of the towers. The road into town runs along the far edge, hemming it in neatly to a confined area where beyond a line of trees serves as a subtle windbreak. This area is most often used for drilling or practice for the guards but also serves as home for festivals, tournements, and another other gathering that might require the space for a large number of the local residents. A well-trodden path winds around the side of the wall and moves towards the coastline.|
|16 August 288|
In the hour before dawn, beneath a pale grey sky, Rowan arrives on the green with an ample burden of armor bits and practice blades. A very typical morning in a squire's life. A practice dummy is already set up in the yard, though this one's head's no longer attached to its shoulders, laying forlorn on the ground nearby. The lad drops the armor and blades in a muted, clangy thunk, shrugging into a brigandine surcoat before going to retrieve the errant head. He flips it around in his hands so he can look it in its crudely painted face. "Alas. Poor dummy…"
The squire's knight arrives a half-hour later, when the sky is going pink. He's in maile and still yawning a little for what was perhaps a late night last night. With all that's been going on at The Roost, it's no wonder sleep has been interrupted for some. "Morning, Rowan," Gedeon offers as he reaches a point in the field close enough so that the boy can hear him. His Terrick guard trails after, though offers enough space to avoid any wayward swings of practice blades. "What that your handiwork?" the knight asks of the headless dummy.
By the time Ser Gedeon's decided to grace the green with his presence, Rowan has thrice attempted to reattach the dummy's head — and subsequently abandoned the notion. So on the ground it's left to lie, the squire putting himself through the various blade forms, motions slow and smooth and controlled, one flowing into the next. "Last night. Before I went to bed. I had to work off a little stress."
Gedeon's brows lift in mild surprise, and he glances down at the dummy's head, tapping its painted nose with the tip of his practice sword, as he walks past. "Something on your mind?" He watches as Rowan puts himself though his pacing, nodding silent approval at the lad's elegant precision.
Rowan breathes slowly and evenly, eyes focused straight ahead, stepping forward to lunge, feint, parry — stepping back. "Nothing important. My ex-knight vexes me, on occasion." He carves quick, tight arcs with the blade, striking points on an invisible opponent in a relentless drill. Throat, shoulder, shoulder, side, side, leg, leg. "I met Lord Jacsen, though, as a result. I'm glad of that."
"Ah," Gedeon says with a small nod for Rowan's ex-knight. His brows lift a little for the next though. "The Terrick's brother newly returned home? What did you make of him, from your meeting?"
The lad breathes a laugh. "That he is neither of his brothers," says the squire, coming to a standstill and facing his knight. "He's a very serious boy, Jacsen is. Much more of his father in him than the other two — but more restraint. Not the kind of beast that roars his displeasure… the kind that licks his wounds and bides his time." He pushes his hair away from his face, already a little damp as the morning promises another sweltering day. "He'd be dangerous with a blade, if he hadn't been injured so. Even as it is, I'm glad he's on our side."
"Restraint is certainly something the younger Terricks seem to have in short supply. It sounds as if this Jacsen's return home comes at a very good time. So," Gedeon draws in a breath and taps his practice sword to the toe of his boot. "Keen to try your blade on something that moves?"
Rowan flashes the knight a mirthful, narrow-eyed look. "Always and ever." He twirls his blade from the wrist and brings it forward, held high to guard. "Shall we dance?"
"Let's shall, ser squire," Gedeon says with a small laugh. He stands before Rowan and readies his own sword. As the boy takes up a defensive position, Gedeon opts for the offensive. With a quick smile, he strikes. His fighting style is not that of Jarod Rives, that is for certain. Jarod has strength and height, whereas Gedeon has quickness and cunning. Where the Terrick-blooded lad might aim for lethal wounds right off, trusting his strength to push him through defenses, Gedeon moves quickly and goes for slight, niggling wounds on body parts that are less carefully protected. Fingers and wrists. Toes and ankles. Hips. The goal is not so much to down his adversary as it is to provoke him into making a mistake, opening his stance, dropping his guard.
Rowan has sparred with Gedeon more than once before — the Nayland's a quick study, adaptable, and better-built by far for the Braavosi style of bladework than that of the typical tournament knight. He doesn't have near the experience of his opponent, but the new forms suit him well, leveraging his flexibility, speed, and dexterity. It's the read he needs to work on most, seeing the feints and misdirection that Gedeon uses to get past his guard. And more than a little, his temper — the little wounds and insults bring up the boy's ire, and he's easily taunted into more reckless attacks for which he drops his guard. It's a vicious cycle, and one that works to undo him.
Later, there will be shouted instructions and advice as they bring blade to blade, but for now, Gedeon leaves the boy to his own experience and wits, watching what he's capable of and where he weaknesses lie. It's those weaknesses the blond knight uses, making the raps on knuckles and knees more irritating, more insulting, until Rowan is goaded enough to attempt something brash… and finds the side of the practice blade resting against his throat for his troubles.
It wasn't wholly unexpected that it end like this, but the suddenness with which it happens takes Rowan off guard all the same. He freezes, chin held high, simmering with displeasure and frustration at his own stupidity. "Fuck," he grits out, throat flexing in a swallow. And when the blade isn't taken away immediately, he adds irritably, "Obviously, I yield."
Gedeon nods, dropping the sword. "So," he asks, leaning on the practice blade for a moment as he catches his breath, "what were your mistakes?"
Rowan watches the blonde knight catch his breath, looking just a tiny bit smug and satisfied that he was able to wind him, at least. "I let you… get to me," the boy admits, not loving the admission. "All the little insults of pain, the mockery, the goading — I want for it hook, line, and sinker. I got angry, so I got reckless and sloppy."
The knight nods, smiling his approval. "That's right. That's where we'll put our focus. You can't let yourself get irritated, you can't be provoked into foolishness. You have to be observant and impartial. And, you can't give away what you plan to do next. You and I, we're too small to be the strongest warriors, but we can be the smartest. Now," Gedeon straightens and holds his sword up, settling into a defensive stance. "Again."
Grumpy and still glowering, Rowan falls into a loose, easy stance, raising his blade. He rolls his shoulders and tosses his hair back, raising his chin. "Very well. En garde." He lunges out with a quick feint to Gedeon's sword arm, the blow skimming short and instead completing the arc to strike at his side.
"Good!" Gedeon says, even as he steps out of the path of the practice blade. "Good tactic, but look where you want your opponent to think you're aiming, not where you're planning to aim." He demonstrates, lunging forward with his eyes on Rowan's shoulder as his blade moves to smack the boy's knee.
Rowan grunts in pain as Gedeon smacks the back of his leg — it's another annoyance, just enough sting to make him see red. He drives his blade back against the knight behind him, edge glancing off Gedeon's mail; the blow that strikes his chest as he turns is mostly absorbed by the plates of his surcoat.
There's a small nod as Rowan's blade connects and another, murmured, "Good." Gedeon shifts sideways to avoid the next swipe. "Watch where you're looking," he instructs crisply, "and watch your form." A smack of his blade to Rowan's belly, glancing off the armor there, demonstrates his point.
"You watch my sodding form," snaps Rowan, flicking his wrist and delivering a sharp rap to the base of Gedeon's skull, then spinning quickly away, escaping the grapple. He rounds on his knight, grinning now, breathing a little harder. "Come on then, Ser Princess."
The combatants dance, graceful and quick, striking and withdrawing and circling with near-seamless fluidity. Squire Rowan is clearly taking to the Braavosi style — but a handful of days under Ser Gedeon's tutelage, and the slender young Nayland is much changed. Far more dangerous.
Gedeon laughs before he give his head a quick shake. "Temper," he reminds the squire around a smile, still blinking a little at the whap. There's another small wince as Rowan lands a strike towards his chest, though he swings enough out of the way to make it little more than a glancing blow. His own swipe is better, giving the squire a hard jab near his collarbone with the point of his waster. Then they both get wiser their blades smacking together as each blocks the other. "Good," Gedeon says again as he takes a few steps back, "That was much better."
So far, other than a few barbed words and some bruises, the dancers have been almost evenly matched. Gedeon is clearly the more experienced combatant, easily baiting his protege into foolish openings from time to time. The Nayland boy manages to nimbly avoid being entangled, however, and delivers a few stinging blows of his own. Now they have broken and face off again, sweating and breathing heavily, but still eager for the fight.
The squire is tiring, and the knight training him is drawing in deeper breaths as well. But Gedeon's had more experience fighting exhausted, perhaps simply because he's had more experience fighting, and he keeps calm as weariness steals in. He leans quickly to the side when Rowan stabs towards him, and then he extends his own leg to trip the boy up on his retreat. So it is, squire Rowan Nayland finds himself on his back, the tip of a practice blade pressing on his chest.
There's a sickening lurch, the world spins, and Squire Rowan ends up on his back — flat and hard. It knocks the wind from him, leaving his wheezing and seeing stars. When he finally comes to himself, there's the tip of the blade nudging his sternum. He groans and throws an arm across his eyes. "Fuck. I yield."
Gedeon tosses the sword aside and leans in, offering Rowan a hand up. "That was good, especially being new to this sort of style. Are you all right? Nothing leaking out the back of the head, is there?"
Rowan takes the arm and hauls himself to his feet, grimacing at his bruised ribs. "Pfft," he says, smirking. "My head's a little bit harder than all that, Ser. No worries."
"It's hard, all right," Gedeon agrees around a playful smirk as his palm offers Rowan a gentle tap on the back of said head. "In a fair shape better than his," he nods towards the decapitated dummy with its lonesome, little neck. "We'll take a little rest, have some water and then we'll focus on some footwork, aye?"
Rowan snorts at the tap to the back of his head, grabbing Gedeon's wrist and stepping close in an attempt to pin it behind him. Unfortunately, the plan goes slightly awry…
…and Gedeon twists easily out of the attempted grab to bap Rowan on the back of the head again. He tsks, shaking his head as he grins. "For shame, Lord Nayland. Where is your honor?"
Rowan quirks an irritated little smile. "Heh." Then, suddenly, barrels her shoulder into Gedeon's midsection, bringing him to the ground. "I gave you an honorable surrender, Ser, and YOU decided to HIT me in the HEAD!" Not that he sounds all that put out. An opportunity to rough-house is well-loved by most healthy lads.
There is an audible 'oof' as Gedeon is downed, coughing a little for the way the air in his abdomen was quite firmly forced out of it. "Aha, now we see the Nayland in you, lad." He grabs Rowan by the arms and rolls, flipping so that Rowan's on his back and Gedeon's leaning over him, panting and grinning, pinning the boy's arms to his sides. "Do you yield?"
The dark-haired boy makes a squeaky sound of indignation. "The Nayland in me? Because I won't suffer an insult? Sod you — !" His arms might be held, but his legs are still free, and he quickly tucks them up between them, giving Gedeon a good shove with his bony knees.
"Because you play dirty," the knight corrects, still laughing. But, oof! Bony knees hurt, and Gedeon is shoved off. He makes a grab to hold Rowan's arms back down by his sides, but…
Rowan, viper-quick and wily, hooks a leg and brings them back down into the dirt together, rolling across the yard until the skinny boy ends up on top. He doesn't entirely have Gedeon pinned, but he's working on that. "If playing nice means refusing to play? Then yes, Ser, I play dirty indeed!" the boy gloats, grappling the knight's arms for the pin.
Gedeon wriggles his arms away and this time, when he gets his hands around Rowan's shoulders he sits up, flipping the squire backwards so the knight's once again on top and Rowan's back is in the grass. "Play on, then," he pants, "I could do this all day. Do you yield?"
Perhaps Gedeon is overconfident, or perhaps Rowan gets his second wind — or both. Whatever the case, the squire narrows his eyes and states a low, emphatic, "Never!" And then his leg is hooked around the Oldstones knight and they roll once more, limbs grappling for supremacy… until, with one leg already hooked in the roll, the Nayland boy pins Ser Gedeon neatly. He pants, chest heaving, grinning savage and wide down at his opponent. "Yield, Ser."
There is grunting and rolling and scrabbling, but in the end, Gedeon is on his back, breathing hard, eyes narrowed, quite well pinned. "I yield," he agrees softly, "for now."
Rowan quirks an infuriating, self-satisfied little smile. "Good!" he beams, rolling quickly to his feet and offering Gedeon a hand up.
Sitting up and giving his head a small shake, he accepts the hand up, still a little flushed and breathless. "Water," he repeats, "then footwork."
"Yes, Ser," says Rowan, running to fetch the waterskins. There are certainly worse ways to spend a morning than with a willing pupil.