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Feast of Blades: Trueblade Arena: Tabula Rasa

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Volentia, the Healer, of the Order of the White Hand (Player: @jaistlyn)

Caeceila Glasmann (Player: @The Alexandrian)

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Tabula Rasa-

A medium-sized stone arena of roughly thirty feet in diameter, surrounded by crystal clear, cool water. Two stone rings on the outside of the arena revolve slowly, one clockwise, one counterclockwise, each of them two feet in width. The water is only three feet deep, and curiously enough, the arena is at the center of four other identical looking arenas around it, except submerged to a depth of one foot. Every five sets of posts the center arena submerges itself and the others raise, and vice versa in the next cycle. 

[You have one month OOC to conclude your battle. Time extensions are allowed on request within reason.]

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Volentia stepped through the stone columns and into the open air arena. Her eyes scanned and registered her surroundings - the stone floor thirty feet across, the water surrounding them, and the other submerged platforms off to the sides. Beyond that, the people in the crowd stands who had gathered to watch the first fights of the Feast. These she tuned out as best as she could; she was not an exhibitionist warrior, and the presence of these people were more distraction than an aid to the fight. 

The paladin wore the training half-plate provided for the tournament, her usual full plate being unallowed under the rules. Her brown hair was cut in a short, utilitarian style. She stood tall at five foot nine, with a muscular frame that spoke of years of training and combat. Even so, the marks of adolescence were evident on her face. That one so young represented the Order of the White Hand surprised some in the audience. Volentia had deliberately kept her helm on during the banquet last Knight to avoid being judged by people even before she had a chance to enter the arena. Right now, here on the field, there was no question about her ability, in the way she held her training sword at her right side and her shield in the other. There was a familiarity about it, like they were extensions of herself.

Volentia sized up Caeceila as her opponent arrived, observing the subtle signatures in her opponent’s walk. This gave Volentia bits of information to use in the fight beyond just the weapons she brought with her. Information like whether Caeceila favoured her left or right side, whether she preferred her center of gravity grounded or light, and her state of mind. Was she confident? Nervous? Excited? Caeceila would find herself facing a determined young woman, whose stance leaned towards caution. Volentia placed an open palm across her chest, a greeting among the White Hand. “I’m honoured to face you in battle, Lady Glasmann. May we both perform our best.” Magic was not allowed in the tournament, which meant that Volentia had to refrain herself from calling upon the aid of Gaia. This was a test of pure physical prowess, and Volentia looked forward to hone hers against Caeceila’s. She steadied her breathing and dropped to a defensive stance, lowering her center and spreading her weight equally between two legs, sacrificing some mobility for stability.

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Caeceila Glasmann is no prizefighter.  To her, the favor of the crowd is inconsequential.  Likewise, Caeceila does not care where Volentia hails from or what she represents.  Here, the Order of the White Hand and House Glasmann hold no power.  In this arena, Caeceila has eyes for Volentia and Volentia alone, and in Caeceila's eyes, Volentia is no child.  Volentia need not fear Caeceila's judgement.  How could Caeceila ever label Volentia as a child when she won't even acknowledge that Volentia is human?  To Caeceila, Volentia is a target, and she intends to treat her no differently than she would an opponent on the battlefield.  Caeceila intends to beat the tar out of Violentia.  She will not hold back, for she knows Volentia will not hold back if she gains the advantage in their match.  Some of this, Volentia will no doubt glean from Caeceila's icy gaze and general hostility as she solemnly steps forward, both the executioner and the condemned, onto the field of stone.

Caeceila Glasmann is of noble birth and was, consequently, trained for judicial duels at a very young age.  Though most contemporary aristocrats dwelling in Terrenus view judicial duels as a curiosity of bygone days, Caeceila's parents noted that judicial duels remain in vogue in less developed provinces outside of Terrenus and that Caeceila, on account of her temperament, was more likely to avail herself of trial by combat, when available, than an average woman of the same demographic.  Therefore, Caeceila was extensively trained in the use of poleaxes, which had been largely discarded ages ago with the advent of magitech-based projectile weaponry.  In addition to sparring with a poleaxe and rondel dagger, Caeceila was instructed by means of poleaxe treatises, many of which were original manuscripts with accompanying hand-drawn illustrations.

There are several misconceptions regarding proper poleaxe (or, if you prefer, pollaxe) construction and technique.  First and foremost, a proper poleaxe is not ridiculously long.  Caeceila's poleaxe is approximately 5'6" from the tip of its dague (a metal spike affixed to the head of the poleaxe in line with the haft) to the tip of its queue (a metal spike affixed to the butt of the poleaxe in line with the haft).  It is comparable in height to its wielder, which is common practice where poleaxes are concerned.  Poleaxes are not halberds; poleaxes are weapons expressly designed to kill armored foes and are at an advantage at close range.  Per tournament rules, Caeceila's weapon is fairly unremarkable with a sturdy hardwood haft, a steel languet (a metal plate enclosing a section of the haft near the head of the poleaxe), a steel axe blade (affixed to the head of the poleaxe perpendicular to the haft), and a steel hammer (opposite the axe blade at the head of the poleaxe).

A rondel dagger, which is approximately 1'6" in length overall with a blade length of approximately 1' even, is suspended on her right at her waist from a stiff leather belt.  In her left hand, the scabbard of a one-handed arming sword, which happens to be missing its pommel, rests.  Upon observing that Violentia is clad in halfplate, Caeceila casually chucks the arming sword out of the arena into 3' of cool water.  Caeceila and Violentia are both wearing half plate - breastplates, greaves, gauntlets, etcetera - so her arming sword really wouldn't be all that useful as a backup weapon unless, she lost her poleaxe and intended to constantly imperil Violentia's head.  In this case, her rondel dagger would suffice.  That done, Caeceila grips her poleaxe with both hands.  While Violentia had probably already figured out Caeceila was carrying the poleaxe with her dominant hand, her left hand leads and her right hand slips down the haft of the poleaxe.  With thumbs opposed, she hefts the head of the poleaxe over her left shoulder, in a version of the classic high guard, before walking, quite briskly, to her right, maintaining her distance from the center of the arena.  Caeceila is in no rush to adopt a fighting stance, and she takes a moment to answer Volentia's greeting. 

You do realize that we're the only women in this tournament, we're facing each other in the first round, and we're fighting in an arena that periodically fills with cold water, don't you?  This is a medieval wet t-shirt contest, and the whole crowd is waiting for one of us to tear the other's breastplate off and lob that unfortunate sot into the drink.  I hope you're well-endowed beneath all that armor because if you strip me and toss me into the water, these people are bound to riot.

Caeceila spoke of such lascivious business not because she gave a hoot about the crowd's pipe dreams but because she wanted to watch Violentia squirm.  For good measure, Caeceila gives Violentia a once-over, feigned disinterest yielding to a psychotic smile as the Gore-Spattered Heiress hops out of the arena into 3' of water and onto the first rotating stone ring.

Edited by The Alexandrian

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Volentia assessed her opponent as that of the boisterous sort, judging by the way she threw her backup weapon oh-so-casually into the water after taking the trouble of bringing it along. Even so, the paladin was visibly uncomfortable at Caeceila’s unexpected opening words - a blink, and a shift of her fingers around her weapon’s hilt - though she recovered quickly enough.

“Shall we give the audience a riot then?” Volentia asked. Caeceila’s smile seemed to be mocking her, and when she hopped into the water, Volentia gave chase. Before Caeceila could jump onto the stone ring, the paladin plunged her sword horizontally into the surface of the water, with the flat part of her weapon half-submerged through the surface. Then she flung it outwards and upwards from left to right, sending an arc of water splashing towards Caeceila’s head, like she had slain a water beast and was drenching her opponent in its blood.

imgbin-splashing-water-drops-k9TmWgTf1n7

It wasn’t meant to harm, but to surprise and blind Caeceila, while she rushed the Heiress, leading with her shield in an attempt to charge her and knock her off balance.

Edited by jaistlyn

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When Volentia elected to chase Caeceila into three feet of water, she committed a critical error.  Assuming Volentia is less than six feet in height, more than half of her body must be submerged in crystal clear, cool water.  While this might not hinder her movements anymore than one would reasonably expect were she attired in a bikini, a one-piece, an aloha t-shirt and shorts, or any other costume suitable for a day at the beach, the padding and other articles of clothing under her greaves had to be drenched since the training armor the OFM furnished certainly wasn't watertight.  This is Caeceila's devious strategy.  Caeceila's intent in goading Volentia to charge into the water has little to do with causing Volentia a level of discomfort and, perhaps, mild irritation.  Every ounce of water their garments absorb is another ounce of water weighing them down.  Caeceila's own water-induced encumbrance allowed Volentia to easily gain on Caeceila while Volentia was on land, but now, she is subject to the same disadvantage as Caeceila.  Beyond that, their environment would doubtlessly impose considerable resistance to what would otherwise be deft maneuvers revolving around Volentia's shield.  For some defenses, Volentia would have to displace a considerable volume of water to position her shield appropriately, and that would, with any luck, cause her movements to be sluggish and prevent her from successfully rushing Caeceila and battering her with impunity as long as Caeceila could keep Volentia from climbing back onto the stone slab.

For all her foresight and tactical prowess, Caeceila had not anticipated that her opponent would react to her argument that "this is a medieval wet t-shirt contest" by professing a desire to strip Caeceila!  My word, that is scandalous!  Then, as if that isn't sufficient to discomfit Caeceila, Volentia splashes Caeceila with water!  While Caeceila, fully aware that the liquid flying at her is water, pure water, neither chlorinated nor contaminated, does not flinch and, by blinking, is not blinded by the spray, she can't help but blush fiercely as she interprets Volentia's playful attack as a genuine attempt to flirt with her.  Hats off to Volentia!  Rarely does Caeceila face a foe so capable of playing mind games mid-battle, and that particular mind game certainly surprised her!  Caeceila, refocusing, slides her left foot backward, neglecting the rotating ring in favor of receiving Volentia.  As established in the previous round, the butt spike affixed to Caeceila's poleaxe is, currently, directed at the area in front of her.  When Volentia draws close, she will have to contend with a high, forceful thrust of this butt spike at her face.  Had Volentia not distracted Caeceila, albeit briefly, she would surely have stepped back with her right foot and brought the head of her poleaxe to bear in this round.

You'd have the crowd riot just to see me in my smallclothes?  FYI, clashing is smashing but liquor is quicker!

Edited by The Alexandrian

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Oftentimes, it is the fear of making a mistake that actually results in errors in judgment. Caeceila was right in that they would both be slowed down by drenched clothes, but it was a fact that they had been given a water-filled arena. Getting herself into the water by her own choice was better than the psychological pressure constantly present to avoid it. It was also preferable to being subjected to a surprise drenching at a more crucial moment. 

Volentia was about the same height as Caeceila, and the shield she carried was a mid-sized one. She held it close to her upper body as she charged at her opponent, to counter the water friction against its bottom tip. The water’s resistance gave her less maneuverability than she would have liked, however, in the time that Caeceila took to stop, face her, and blink against the water splash, Volentia had gained on the heiress. Furthermore, she now had a forward momentum, compared to Caeceila’s stationary one. 

Maintaining balance in water was different from being on land, and more difficult to recover one’s footing from. Volentia sought to wrest this from Caeceila. The heiress lifted the tail end of her polearm to thrust at Volentia’s head, the most vulnerable and unprotected body part. When you saw something coming at your face.. you ducked, real quick. Volentia dodged low and hinged her body forward while bringing her shield upwards to knock the shaft of the polearm up and away, pivoting upon Caeceila’s shoulder. She did not relent in her rush towards her opponent. If executed correctly, this would create an opening where the poleaxe would be tilted butt up, while Caeceila’s body would be exposed and within striking range of Volentia’s sword. And strike was what she did, swinging her sword from outside in with force to hit Caeceila horizontally, right below her left armpit. The plate armour would prevent the sword from cutting through, but if hit, the blunt force would still hurt and possibly affect Caeceila’s use of her weapon.

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Reference pic for the size of the shield:

Spoiler

medieval-knight-with-sword-and-shield-ag

 

Edited by jaistlyn

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Confidence swells on the heels of Volentia's textbook defense, which had levered open what Volentia would, in accordance with her internal logic, perceive as an "opening" in Caeceila's defense.  With a reckless attempt to exploit this "opening," Volentia again played right into Caeceila's hands.

Deflecting Caeceila's butt spike was a predictable maneuver, and Caeceila, at the onset of their match, had observed that Volentia held her shield in her left hand.  Whether Volentia bashed or blocked a thrust of the dague or the queue of Caeceila's poleaxe, it was a safe bet that she would ultimately redirect the end of the weapon that struck the shield above her or to her left.  This information prompted Caeceila to adjust her grip on her poleaxe at the onset - it compelled her to reposition her hands such that her left hand was closer to the head of the poleaxe while her right hand was closer to the butt of the poleaxe.  The attack Caeceila had just launched was, to a great extent, telegraphed - all she had done was poke at the most exposed area of Volentia's body with the end of a weapon that was already pointed in Volentia's direction.  It was high time for Caeceila to teach Volentia that in battle, the contender who wrests victory from the other  is the contender who, in lieu of relying on pure physical prowess, seizes all opportunities to gain the advantage and evinces a superior understanding of tactics and his/her/its own talents, shortcomings, and assorted eccentricities.

Volentia ducked and reflexively batted the butt of Caeceila's poleaxe upward as she intended.  Stubbornly, perhaps bravely, she continued to "charge" through the water, though she was now attempting to maintain her speed while hunched over in three feet of water with her shield-arm extended above her head and her sword-arm swinging through the empty air on her right as she, once again, slashed at something horizontally.  It was an awkward stance from which to attack, a stance Caeceila was familiar with only through those grainy, old animes Camelia occasionally managed to convince her to watch.

In truth, Caeceila was more concerned with being hit by her opponent than hitting her opponent.  However, the positioning of Volentia's shield would make it difficult (but not impossible) to imperil Caeceila's head, so she was relatively secure for the moment.  Aside from all that, if Volentia attacked with her sword after deflecting the butt spike of Caeceila's poleaxe, Caeceila will have seized the opportunity to harness the perpendicular (relative to the haft) force Volentia exerted on the butt of Caeceila's poleaxe to transition into her next attack.

Caeceila slid her right foot backward (to footing behind her left foot), yielding ground to Volentia as she sustained her dogged pursuit.  Caeceila's poleaxe was "tilted butt up" not merely by the force of Volentia's defense but by the force of Caeceila's attack, for the weapon pivoted not upon Caeceila's shoulder but around a shifting fulcrum point between her hands.  The head of Caeceila's poleaxe sliced through the water, and while slowed somewhat by drag, it would likely close in on Volentia's knee at about the same time or, for all intents and purposes, immediately after Volentia's sword clanged against the back of Caeceila's cuirass, for she had been standing so her right side was closer to Volentia than her left and Volentia, cutting in from her right (Caeceila's left), was attempting a trickier blow than usual, the hammer head of Caeceila's poleaxe would not collide with the side of her knee with the intent of crushing it, as one might expect, but hook behind the knee as Caeceila pulled the poleaxe toward her with an almighty yank, timing her attack, if possible so Volentia is in the midst of transferring her weight to her right leg (during her relentless and likely rhythmic charge).  While this strategy may offer Caceila some defense against being knocked backward by Volentia, it offers no discernible defense against tackling Caeceila or otherwise pulling her forward.

Edited by The Alexandrian

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Caeceila had not attempted to dodge away from Volentia’s attack, as she had expected. The first indication of her opponent’s counterattack was the lifting of the weight of the polearm off her shield, but at that point, Volentia had already committed to her swing and had little time to adjust. The head of Caeceila’s poleaxe connected with the back of her knee, and at that point, Volentia knew that her mistake would have caused her dearly if they were on land. But as it was, the explosive power of the attack had been inadvertently diminished, both by the effect of Volentia’s leg being completely submerged in water, as well as the bludgeoning impact of Volentia’s attack that Caeceila had chosen to not block or dodge. This lengthened the amount of time Volentia had to react. 

She stumbled but did not fall, the inertia from her charge carrying her forward, and she leaned into the motion instead of against it. Still, extricating herself was of priority. With her blade between Caeceila’s body and her poleaxe, Volentia rotated it outwards and upwards, meeting the poleaxe at the shaft to parry it out of position. This was the move she concentrated on, but secondarily, she pushed her shield towards her opponent’s head, to block her vision or force her to move further back.

Behind Caeceila, their original platform moved and sunk downwards, and the other arenas rose. If she was able to free herself, Volentia would stand in a defensive position, her shield in front and sword to the side but pointed forward, and despite herself, she grinned. “That one would have been yours. Seems you were right about the wet contest,” she said. “More splashing about? Or should we move on land? I’m not too much of a beach babe, to be honest.” Unused to the shifted center of gravity, fighting in water was unexpectedly draining. Even so, Volentia was not yet done, if Caeceila elected to stay in the pool.

Edited by jaistlyn

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Caeceila and Volentia are about the same height.  Therefore, if Volentia blocks Caeceila's view of her, the converse must also be true: Volentia has blocked her view of Caeceila.  As much as this tactic might suit Volentia's purposes, this gambit would place her at a decisive disadvantage were Caeceila to react to her push and parry in a violent and unpredictable manner.

The average length of an arming sword is roughly three feet.  In the last round, Volentia proved Caeceila was within striking range, within six feet of her, give or take a number of inches.  In fact, it is likely that Volentia was even closer to Caeceila just before Caeceila slid her right foot backward: she attacked Caeceila not with a thrust of her blade but with a bona fide horizontal cut.  Even after Caeceila yielded ground to Volentia, she had, apparently, continued to charge or, at least, retained enough momentum from her erstwhile charge that she was able to harness it to recover from stumbling forward and extricate herself from a most compromising position without unreasonable effort.  She leaned into the Caeceila's pull, brought her sword to bear on the haft of Caeceila's poleaxe, and extended her shield arm in an effort to blind Caeceila and force her to, once again, give ground.

Volentia was prepared to engage in a contest of strength with a giant lever.  Caeceila had gripped her poleaxe with both hands, so she would have had the upper hand in this contest so long as she maintained a contact point on the crook of her knee.  It was lucky for Volentia, then, that Caeceila dropped her poleaxe as soon as she perceived that Volentia had first stumbled and then extended her shield arm.

Volentia's unflagging charge may have exhausted her, but Caeceila had embarked on no comparable errand.  She had conserved her energy and, aside from when she blushed profusely and was repaid for her affection with a splash of water, maintained her rhythmic breathing.  Now, Volentia was very close to Caeceila, a little more tired than Caeceila, and, judging from the position of her sword and shield, unable to effectively retaliate against her, if only for a split second.  Caeceila quite literally leapt upon this opportunity.

Without warning, Caeceila had dropped her poleaxe, bent her knees, and sprung, like a coiled serpent, into a brutish attempt to tackle Volentia.  Volentia's shield, which might have, and still, perhaps, could be used to ward off Caeceila's soaring body or cushion the impact resulting from a collision, would likely decrease the amount of time available for Volentia to react to Caeceila's impending arrival.  Volentia's shield did not. however, pose an immediate threat from Caeceila's perspective since Volentia's arm was already extended.  Largely unhindered by the water until she, presumably, is within arm's reach of Volentia, Caeceila quickly moves to wrap her arms around Volentia's knees or thighs before splashdown and, with her head on Volentia's right, bowl her over or, failing that, at least knock her even further off balance and potentially into the drink.

In colloquial parlance, this special move might be referred to as a "tackleglomp."

Edited by The Alexandrian

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It was under the name of a “tournament” that Volentia had assumed her opponent would act in expected ways. Discarding one’s weapon was not one of those. Would that Caeceila could see the surprise on Volentia’s face if her shield hadn’t been blocking it. The lady fighter would perhaps have laughed. 

Utterly confused, Volentia missed the narrow window in which she could have used her shield to repel Caeceila’s flying body. Her opponent barrelled into her and successfully wrapped herself around her thighs like an overly-enthusiastic child. Unprepared for this, Volentia’s feet slipped off the bottom of the pool and was dunked over backwards. Her shield landed flat on the water surface, causing a big splash. The force caused the paladin to lose her grip on it. Water rushed up her nose and mouth, stinging mightily. Dropping her sword as well, she wrapped her arms around Caeceila’s back and desperately tried to wrestle for the upper hand, for she really needed to cough.

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It worked?  *Blinks.*  It worked!  Ha-ha!  It actually worked!

Caeceila half-expected to ping harmlessly off of Volentia's shield or for Volentia to absorb the brunt of her attack and clock her with the pommel of her sword in reprisal for the inconvenience Caeceila imposed, but she actually managed to bowl Volentia over!  Yes!  Caeceila is quite chuffed!

Her celebration is, perhaps, a smidgen, just a smidgen, too rash, for she senses her gauntlets slipping down Volentia's greaves as Volentia desperately wriggles free of her cuddly form! Caeceila proved herself an astoundingly affectionate opponent, which has probably secured her a centerfold in Tsun Tsun Quarterly, but her bid to pin Volentia and force her to tap out was doomed from the start.  She just couldn't maintain her grip on smooth, wet steel!  As Volentia escapes, Caeceila, the girl-snuggling heiress of Hell's Gate, draws her rondel dagger, which gleams in the clear water, and prepares to charge at Volentia for a change!  Volentia will, of course, have a brief amount of time to act before Caeceila is ready to try to murder-grapple her again.  For now, drawing her dagger and smiling at Volentia will suffice.

Spoiler

 

This is, bar none, the best first date Caeceila has ever had!  She'd even go so far as to state the whole affair has gone swimmingly!

Edited by The Alexandrian

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Feeling Caeceila’s grip slip, Volentia kicked herself free, then broke the surface of the water. Relief flooded her even through her fit of violent coughing. If Caeceila had managed to keep her down, she could have drowned or near-drowned. Now instead, she just had to contend with tearing eyes and burning lungs. 

And be faced with the half-seductive, half-psychotic smile of Caeceila’s. The knife’s edge caught the sun’s rays, which in turn gleamed off the water surface. Unlike Caeceila, Volentia did not have any concealed weapons about her. The half plate she was wearing reduced the utility of a knife as a weapon - except for her exposed head.

Not yet fully caught her breath, Volentia had to buy herself a bit more time to recover. She blinked rapidly to get the remaining water out of her eyes, and raised her arms to the level of her upper torso, bent at the elbow, to both absorb as well as prevent Caeceila’s approach by keeping her at arm’s length.

Like trying to fend off an overly attached girlfriend.

Edited by jaistlyn

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Volentia's defense is anything but impregnable.  She committed a fatal, and somewhat ironic, mistake, underestimating the utility of a knife as a weapon while she chose to arm herself with a longsword knowing full-well that her opponents were wont to strap on a suit of armor identical to that which she wore.

Rondel daggers are designed to pierce the joints of armor, and often, the threat a rondel dagger poses to an unarmed opponent would be sufficient to motivate a gentleman or gentlewoman to gracefully yield and subsequently quit the field of battle: Caeceila certainly would have surrendered were she in Volentia's position.  Volentia, however, is not a posh dilettante with nothing better to do; Volentia is a fighter through-and-through.  Nevertheless, she did not recognize or chose to ignore, likely due to a misplaced sense of honor, a salient rule of nature - that creatures ought to avoid injury where they can with the objective of avoiding material wounds that might contribute to their decline.  This is a game, so there is no imperative to stand your ground at risk of serious injury.

Still, Caeceila respected Volentia and honored her decision with sadistic glee.  If Volentia would not avail herself of Caeceila's leniency, Caeceila would dispose of her as she would any other foe, however much it might secretly agonize her to repeatedly stab Volentia in the groin.

The groin is, admittedly, an odd target to attack.  The joints of suits of armor are particularly weak in this location, akin to the armpits, to enable freedom of movement.  That in and of itself made the groin a tempting target.  Furthermore, in raising her arms to protect her upper body, Volentia left her groin completely exposed; Caeceila did not have to move far to strike it with her blade.  Surging forward, Caeceila made her brutal play.

Edited by The Alexandrian

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OOC: Post Battle Verdict: A good, clean fight. Although honestly, if I has wanted to drench you two deliberately, it be on a sunny beach instead of a damp underground arena, with all the menfolk watching. Anyway don't fight in the water. Ever. It really restricts motions more then you can imagine, especially when you have to close distance for a sword strike versus a polearm. I'm also of the opinion that the tackleglomp wouldn't have worked ordinarily given that Volentia had been leaned forward, resisting being pulled off her feet. Her center of balance would've been lowered, and Caecilia would have been glomping into the pool as well, slowing the takedown.

Anyway, as discussed, Caecilia advances!

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