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Kalmuli

Weaver's Training Grounds: New Construction

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Luis had to stop himself from groaning at the prospect of having to do this fight physically. Yet again he was reminded that this school wasn't entirely focused on honing one's ability to perform magic, but to sharpen their bodies as well. Taking a deep breath, he put away his wand, then took up a boxing stance, one that the knights had shown him at his father's request.

A man's strength comes from more than just his muscles, Luis. The words of the veteran warriors came easily to him as he approached Kalmuli, careful to try and not present any openings. Patience, perseverance, courage, just a few of the many things which make a man who he is. Even his father had words to give his son, in an effort to try and encourage him, or perhaps to help him understand what it really all meant.

There are going to be people who want to kill you, my son. They'll stop at nothing to do it, and many times have come close to doing so to me as well. Do you know how I beat them at every turn son? I fought harder than them, with each encounter I put everything, absolutely everything, into staying alive, because I had to. You have people who need you to do the same, Luis, never forget that. So long as you fight with everything in your spirit, even with bones broken, blood in your lungs and arrows in your flesh, you'll be unstoppable. Find what you want to live for, and focus on that.

Slowly he approached, with arms up, fists clenched, eyes focused on the elf. Responding to her taunts was an easy way of letting his guard down, so he focused on keeping his breathing steady and his feet solid. If he had to go through a hundred fist fights just to learn magic, then so be it. He thought about Priscilla, about his family, about Archmage Ingrid, everyone who believed in him, and wanted him to succeed. Those were the people who he kept in his mind, and those were the people who he fought for, even when victory was all but impossible. 

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Luis finally put his wand away and took up his stance. Good. At least he was paying attention. Kalmuli watched him, looking into his eyes as she waited for him to steady himself. Being sore from the run and the knock down she gave him would slow him down but he would fight as long as he was able.

Even better.

Kalmuli would advance, reaching to grab one of his arms so she could throw him off balance to sweep him and get him on his back again. She would grab his leading wrist, moving to hook her leg around one of his.

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He ducked, moving to the side opposite of where her leg went to hook. For his counter, he threw two jabs into her side, back stepping to stay out of reach. His lungs were already protesting from the strain, but he didn't let that keep him from staying mobile. Sweat was building up on his forehead, his eyes staying on his teacher. 

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Kalmuli  moved, bringing her hands up in a guard to block the two jabs, bringing both arms together as he pounded his fists against him and then backed off. She would  bring her hands back up again. "Good but keep your wrist straight. You'll fracture your wrist easy if you bend it like that."She explained while she showed him what she was talking about. While Luis couldn't do much damage to her, if Kalmuli went all out then she'd definitely...no...she would hurt him. She would advance again, this time bringing her leg around for a roundhouse at a slower turn than usual to give him some time to adjust to dodge or attack against something that hurt a little bit more than a standard punch. 

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Bringing up his arms, he blocked the kick, gritting his teeth from the pain. Taking the hit however was important, as it allowed him to go straight for the inside of her guard.

Though he wasn't as fast as Kalmuli, he hoped that the element of surprise would give him something. Pushing away her leg, he went forward, his fist heading straight for her face. Just as she told him before, he changed the position of his wrist to reduce the chance of it shattering.

This was for the people he cared about, he said to himself, feeling the stress take it's toll on his body. He wasn't the most athletic by far, but he was damned if he wasn't going to push forward until he couldn't go on.

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Kalmuli fixed her stance as her leg was pushed away and brought her arm up to guard. She would use her free hand to grab the punching hand , pulling him toward her and bringing one leg to wrap around one of his. With a quick twist, she sent them both into the sand so she was sitting on top of him. "Good, good...but you have to move quick. Mix power and speed in your movements."She said as she continued to sit on him. "Your wrist it still a little floppy though..."

Still having his arm in her hand she would show him from the awkward position about how his wrist should look and feel in the right position. "We'll keep practicing punches and kicks. Your timing is getting better though."She said, releasing his wrist before getting off of him, standing over him and offering him a hand up. "I imagine since you're still human, being sore is probably not helping."

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Taking her hand, he nodded in response. "It's almost like trying to move while your body is made of jelly." There wasn't much he could say in regards to it though, as it was brought on by his own foolishness.

While on his feet, he took a look at the others doing their training. In particular he looked to Priscilla, silently lending his good wishes to her as she sparred.

"For being a latent, I don't feel very special. Sometimes it feels more like a hassle than anything." He couldn't even use the other source of magic, it was far too dangerous. Luis might as well be like everyone else, except for the fact of how objectively weak he was physically. Taking a breath, he pushed away the negative thoughts and looked to Kalmuli.

"Should we continue, or are we done?"

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Kalmuli chuckled and took her position again after pulling him up. She saw him look over to Priscilla, smiling a little and moving back from her position to relax, looking to her prodigy student. "You know...when Priscilla first came with me, she was much like you. She didn't have much strength to speak of to fight but she had one thing going for her..."She said, grinning. "She's stubborn as hell."

Kalmuli looked back. "You're not so much a rarity, Luis...I wouldn't describe it as special....but you're the same as everyone else. You're still going to have to work hard to catch up."She took her position again. "And jelly-legs or not, giving up now will just give the others more fodder to pick on you. Square up, kid."

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Nodding in agreement, Luis returned to his stance, wanting to show his competence in the ability to fight hand to hand. His father always said that if one wished to be talked about in secret, it should be because people fear him instead of mocking him. Fighting Kalmuli was as difficult as it was enlightening. Her moves were fluid, practiced with the utmost of perfection, even as she was holding back for him.

It was no question that she was better than Luis, all he could really do is try his best and learn everything that he can from this exercise. At least then he could say he got beaten up for a purpose.

The training was brutal, but at least he learned a lot from it. In a way it helped him understand why they were doing all of this physical training instead of focusing on the magic. With his muscles bruised and nearly to the point of exhaustion, Luis was feeling ready for a break.

"Is there magic out there that could tear us apart if our bodies aren't ready for it?" He asked. Legends told of many spells with such a price, able to do great things at a tremendous cost. "All this can't just be for winning fist fights. There are wizards out there powerful enough to wipe someone out with just one spell, and they don't have to lift a finger. That's why we're training, isn't it?"

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Kalmuli could see Luis improving, even if his human body was probably completely exhausted by the time they were finishing up. She stood with him after having gone through a short bout without much other instruction. Sitting under one of the palm trees, she lay out on the cooler sand. "Copious spells will do that...having a strong will and a strong body will prevent the spell or your own hands from tearing you apart."She explained, moving to roll onto her side. "Not to mention, in a true fight of mages, it's unstructured. You have to do some crazy things to avoid being hit by a spell and dodging it to cast your own will save you from damage."

She would ease up from the sand so she was sitting up. "You can even do what Ingrid does and combine your physical skills with your magic.  It can act as a magnifier and make your own spells deal more damage."She explained. Kalmuli looked up to the tree, bringing her arm back to give it a strong whack, sending one of the coconuts down into her hand. "Take this coconut."

Kalmuli would bring it into her hands, pushing her hands against it. Nothing happened. "Using your own physical strength...you wouldn't be able to crack this open. Not unless you use a tool and that takes time to figure that out."She said before placing the coconut in one hand and using her right hand index finger to press against the top of the coconut. Her finger started to glow, not saying a word before she forced her finger through the hard shell of the nut and roughly pulled it out again covered in the sweet milk on the inside. She sucked it off and looked to Luis, offering a bit of refreshment to him on top of her lesson. "Using magic you can either alter the qualities of the materials you're trying to get through....or you can enhance your own strength like so. It depends on what's needed at the time."

Kalmuli would ram her elbow back into the tree, sending another coconut down and repeated the same process, jamming her magic-enhanced finger through it and pulling it back, bringing the coconut to her mouth to drink from it. Wiping the back of her mouth, she smirked. "Not to mention, being physically strong has it's benefits. Wouldn't you want to be able to sweep Priscilla off of her feet without falling over?  Or even pop a hole in a coconut like this when she's thirsty?"

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Luis thought on what she said, taking a sip of the sweet coconut milk as he did so. There was a lot of truth to it, but there was also a bit of fear going on behind his thought process. “It's not that I don't want to be strong in a physical sense, I guess I'm just scared…”

He looked out to the ocean, frowning at it as that which used to comfort him only gave him a sour feeling in his gut. “My father is strong, yet he bullies others into doing what he wants. He says it's what a strong leader does, but that can't be all of what strength can do for someone.” The relationship between himself and his father was difficult, to say the very least.

“People call him a monster, but I've seen him at his lowest at times, and it's never been when he was angry, it's always when he's been incredibly sad. Perhaps sadness can make monsters of us all, given enough time.” Drinking his milk, Luis thought back to that moment when he looked at the alternate realities, to the look his darker self help had sitting in that chair. He looked so very...sad.

“I do want to be strong, I just don't want my sadness to bring me down a bad path.” So many different paths in life. Was this the right one? Who could say, all he did know was that his life was just getting started. Plenty of time to find his way, one step at a time.

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Kalmuli sat back, her fingers moving around the hard shell of the coconut. She smiled and contemplated what Luis said. "Fear drives creatures of all sorts to do things they wouldn't do otherwise..."She noted, looking back down at him. "Humans in particular will do things they wouldn't do in order to get what they want. Order. Control. Peace. Your father...Oscar...Has done things that had to harm others in order to keep the peace at home. From what I saw on your little island home, everyone has food and creature comforts. The politics may be awry, but otherwise everyone is comfortable. That was because of him."

Kalmuli would finish her coconut, setting the empty shell beside her and leaning forward to look at him. "Sadness in particular...makes people do things more cruel than usual.  Taking out their grief on everything else makes it go away for a little while...but then it comes creeping back."She explained. "And you do more and more bad things to try to make it go away. I'm sure your other self has done such things."

She eased back. "Elves and mages are not immune to these things...Myself in particular...Even I have done foolish and cruel things to relieve the pain of grief."She sighed. "A lesson to keep in your heart...is that grief is temporary...but the pain you can cause will continue on and on with no end insight until the end is ultimately your end. Acceptance of what happened will be a better cure."

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Luis nodded, drinking the last of the coconut milk before getting back up to his feet. Today's lessons had been hard on him, but all in all, it felt good now that he knew what he needed to. Life was complicated, but that didn't mean he needed to let it keep him down and put him on the wrong path. His fate was his own, and it was up to him to make the best of it in the short amount of time that he had.

Looking to Kalmuli, he asked a request of her. “Would it be all right if I sent some letters to my family? It would be nice to tell them about my stay here.” Already he was feeling homesick for Ursa Madeum, the familiarity of Port Mars, the friendly faces he had known for so long. It all just felt a little overwhelming now that he wasn't fighting or training to distract himself.

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It was evening when the lessons ended and Kalmuli dismissed everyone to clean up for dinner. As they headed back to the cabin on the cliffs, she raised her eyebrow to Luis' inquiry. "Of course. I made an agreement with your mother that you would write often to check in. Bring me the letters when you're done and I'll send them off."She said, patting his head. "Don't forget though, you're on dish and laundry duty tonight."

Back up in the cabin, everyone went to their rooms to try to clean up and in particular, bathe. Kalmuli was already working on dinner with one other student, Maeko, helping her with preparing some fish. Priscilla, Willow and the other younger student gathered some bathing supplies. Priscilla would gently knock on Luis' door. "Luis...I'm going with the other girls to wash up. Will you be okay?"She asked him from the other side of the door. 

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"Yeah, I'll be okay." He answered, laying in his bed, staring up at the ceiling as his muscles ached something terrible. There was no chance he wouldn't be feeling this all throughout the weak, but that was okay. As long as he made it through, then it won't have been in vain.

After rubbing his face, he got up to collect the letters on his desk, ready to give them to Kalmuli before taking a relaxing bath. It would be nice if he could just go straight to bed after the bath, but he knew he needed to eat, as well as honoring his punishment to do the laundry and wash the dishes. Plenty of work to do, with not a lot of ways to make it easier on himself, but that was life.

Opening the door, he nodded at Priscilla, smiling at her before nodding to the others as well. "Just gonna send these off before washing up. I'll meet you for dinner."

One letter for his parents, one for Illyana, and one for his brother Henry, to be placed on his grave in Corinth. It was his ways of maintaining a connection with him, to make sure not to to forget about the man who did so much to help out his little brother. Even though he knew Henry couldn't actually see them, he knew that in some way, he knew what Luis was trying to tell him, and that felt good.

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