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Feast of Blades: Trueblade Round 3: Claustrophobia

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Claustrophobia:

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Alien.jpg

 

This stage takes advantage of the options within Force Majeure’s training arenas to the fullest. A set of narrow corridors barely six feet across, linking nine small rooms that are nine by nine feet, all arranged in in a square. The ceiling is 11 feet high, but it’d do you little good as you navigate the tight environments and attempt to best your foe. The Custode escorting you to the arena tells you that the place was built to simulate for battles in tunnels, or aboard airships, places of limited movement and fierce close-range combat. There would be indeed be fierce close-range combat here. Both parties start in one of the square rooms on the far opposite side, in direct sight of the other, separated by two corridors and one room.

Round 3:

Arthur Uskglass (Player: @Voldemort) versus Caeceila Glasmann (Player: @The Alexandrian)

Battles begin 1/20/2020 and will run until 2/23/2020

WEAPON CONDITIONS: Only two weapons may be brought. Dual swords count as two. Shields are banned. Polearms are banned.

Edited by Fierach

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“Your facilities are extensive!” Arthur exclaimed with clear but ultimately skeptical astonishment, his eyes darting to and fro as the Custode escorted him into the narrow training ground. 

”This is where the Order trains for tunnel fighting or boarding actions below deck,” the stoic warrior replied, turning his head to look back at the mutant. “How do you like our facilities?” 

“The food is great but your headquarters is overly gratuitous,” the mage replied honestly as they arrived at the exact staging ground for the duel. The custode came to a halt and Arthur walked past the man while adding, “And it reminds me of my commission in the military, so let’s just say I’m so-so. Watch my robes and hat, this is just about as far as I can be from them without breaking some age old custom that I won’t bore you with.” 

Without his occult vestments, Arthur looked like the quintessential warrior. Tall, powerfully muscled, and dispassionate facial features as he casually strolled onto the prepared battlefield. He sported a half-red, half-black gambeson and similarly colored chausses. His black plate armor although obscured much of it, covering his body in breastplate, pauldron, gauntlets, tassets and greaves. Curiously, a silk ribbon was tied around the cuff of his right gauntlet. Two blades hung from baldrics, a longsword on his left hip and an especially curved sabre on the right. As he awaited his opponent, the Hexblade drew the longsword from its scabbard, it’s black forty two inch blade glistening like obsidian in the lit corridor.

@The Alexandrian

Edited by Voldemort

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Caeceila was informed that three rooms, each nine feet by nine feet by eleven feet, and two corridors, each six feet wide and eleven feet high, form the arena she now enters.  As she enters, her foe, a burly humanoid male armed with a longsword with a forty-two inch (3.5 foot) blade and a curved saber, waits approximately eighteen feet plus the length of two corridors from her initial position.

Arthur's opponent steps into the arena, promptly surveys, with her keen gaze, the space separating her from Arthur, and, without a proper introduction or a lick of hesitation, starts sprinting out of her room, up the corridor, and into the room at the center of the battlefield.  In her dominant (right) hand, Caeceila grips a double-edged, cup-hilted rapier with a forty-one inch blade, a knuckle bow, and a cross guard, and in her offhand (left), she grips a main-gauche with a nineteen inch blade, a side ring, and a cross guard.  She drew her weapons before she entered the arena, saving her the hassle of unsheathing them in a confined space.  Caeceila chose to wield the rapier with its companion weapon, as shown in the rapier treatises she had studied.  Her rapier provided her with the reach necessary to consistently imperil her foe, and her parrying dagger (main-gauche) enhanced both her offensive and defensive capabilities, particularly in close quarters combat.  At the onset of this round, Caeceila assumed, perhaps mistakenly, that this combination would be especially popular.  None could dispute that her weapons are appropriate for this situation, though it remains to be seen if they are optimal for this situation.

If Arthur dithers instead of meeting her, with all due urgency, in the center of the arena, Caeceila will push into his corridor, taking care to slow down outside of his reach so her momentum does not carry her forward farther than she intends.  In slowing well-before she is within striking range and attempting to remain just out of reach, Caeceila ought to be able to maneuver as she sees fit in response to incoming attacks launched as they close distance.  Her bravado as visible as her own breastplate, pauldron, gauntlets, tassets and greaves, Caeceila taunts Arthur.

Brought your own bandage, I see.  You an oracle or something?

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Arthur fixed a deadpan state onto his newly arrived opponent, his inhumanly orange eyes seemingly staring through Caecelia in a predatory gaze that still had even bigger fish to fry, not just the woman who stood before him clad in the weapons of a duelist. Though indeed, while the one-armed rapier had a longer (yet comparable) measure than the mutant’s war sword. It lacked the leverage in the bind that Arthur’s long sword and his two hands could achieve. 

As the heiress cracked her joke, the black mage showed some emotion as his lips turned upwards in a roguish smirk and the intensity in his eyes softened with amusement. He wondered if her sense of humor would prove as exuberant in a minute from then when it was all set and done.  

“It’s a lady’s favors, actually. A woman much more attractive than you offered them to me,” Arthur replied matter-of-factly, lifting Bogatyr off his shoulder and gripping both hands. His right hand grabbed the dark blue leather-bound handle underneath the cruciform hilt while his left hand clutched the pommel. He held the blade in plow guard, his right leg forward and the sword’s hilt held level with his abdomen. Bogatyr’s blade pointed upwards and towards Caecelia’s face as he rotated the long sword onto its flat so that the quillons pointed off to the sides. 

“Good idea though. I’ll help the medics apply it to your torn neck,” the mage added, his amused tone taking a darker turn as he immediately leaped into action. He took a long lunging step forward with his right leg; the left leg trailing in a step of its own though it remained behind the mutant’s lead leg. Meanwhile, Arthur lifted his sword high and wound his arms into Ochs, obscuring much of his head with the hilt of his sword and his long arms as he moved in with his first attack. The mutant stretched out his arms and  extended his point forward, aiming to drive the tapered point of his sword towards Caecelia’s face. He wasn’t probing from maximum range either, looking to strike with just the tip of the weapon. No. Arthur fully intended to thrust Bogatyr through the heiress’ head. 
 

@The Alexandrian

Edited by Voldemort

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Caeceila charged forward; Arthur declined to impede her.  Opting to hold his position, he allowed her to take his corridor.  Without active opposition or even verbal protest, he allowed her to seize control of the portal connecting his starting room to the remainder of the battlefield.  Therefore, Arthur has only 4.5 linear feet of ground to yield before his back is literally up against a wall, assuming he was positioned in the center of his starting room (hereafter referred to as Arthur's room) at the onset.

Perhaps the blade of Caeceila's rapier is longer than Arthur's curved saber.  The blade of Arthur's longsword, however, is one inch longer than the blade of Caeceila's rapier.  While it is true that Arthur's longsword might outshine Caeceila's rapier in a ferocious contest of sheer power, Caeceila's rapier in combination with her parrying dagger affords her the flexibility to defend with one weapon while attacking with the other.  Caeceila's reach may also be superior to Arthur's depending on how he chooses to support his sword.

Caeceila, having taken the entrance to Arthur's room, engaged Arthur from an advantageous position.  She occupied the center of a 6 foot wide space.  She stood in third guard, her arm right extended forward and her right leg leading her left.  Her left leg was slightly bent, and she held her main gauche firmly with her thumb pressing against the flat of the blade opposite the side ring.  Her main gauche was positioned between her wrist and elbow.  Then, Arthur attacked.

Arthur sought to thrust his longsword through Caeceila's head.  First, Arthur transitioned from plow guard to ox guard.  Then, he lunged forward in an attempt to drive the tip of his sword through Caeceila's head.

Had Arthur not telegraphed his attack by "politely" cluing Caeceila in on his target, Caeceila's defense might not be so robust.  As it stands, Caeceila's stalwart defense looks like it was plucked straight out of a combat demonstration.  Caeceila pushes her thumb and her main gauche outward, continuing to support her structure while moving Arthur's blade out to her left.  Parrying daggers are particularly suited to defending against thrusts, and in this regard, a longsword is not so different from a rapier.  Arthur threw his weight forward.  Perhaps he would have pierced Caeceila's armor had he aimed for it and struck true.  However, the force and momentum Arthur applied, which was directed forward, would do little resist this parry.  Thrusting from ox, Arthur's form might actually assist the action of Caeceila's parrying dagger.

Concurrently, Caeceila moves the tip of her rapier.  With minor adjustments to the placement of her right hand, Caeceila can drastically change the position of the tip of her rapier.  Caeceila's reach, at least while Arthur wields his longsword with two hands, proves superior.  As Arthur recklessly lunges forward, Caeceila intends to allow him to impale his own head on the tip of her rapier or sustain some type of facial laceration as just comeuppance for attempting a coup de grace as his opening move.  Her cutting words amplify the sting of her blade.

Yes, your mother is quite the milf, isn't she?  She looks quite fetching in a nurse's outfit, but I wouldn't quite call her ministrations tender, would you?

Edited by The Alexandrian

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Caecelia would prove incorrect in assuming that the mage’s attempt at driving his sword tip through her face was close-ended. Of course, if the heiress hadn’t defended the attack, Arthur would have taken the win albeit begrudgingly as he didn’t want to do so easily. That said, it wasn’t the game plan and certainly wasn’t the point of his opening play. On the contrary, the mage wanted his opponent to respond to his aggression, causing an opening to make itself available for the black mage.

Arthur followed along as he felt Caecelia’s dagger push his sword off-line. However, he didn’t just allow his opening attack to be defeated. The mage began to wind his arms in a clockwise direction, following the momentum of the heiress’ parry off to the right (her left) but continuing in a rapid overhead rotation that aimed to bring his edge towards Caecelia’s right side like the whirling blades of a magitech gyrocopter. Having held his sword horizontally, it made the whirlwind attack quite easy to transition into, as the edge of his sword was already positioned in such a way as to allow for a horizontal cut.

While the mutant swung his weapon in a circular arc, Arthur took a half step forward with his back leg (not quite overtaking his lead right leg, but leaving the two neatly square with the other), and kept his hips square. The precise movement transitioned his winding arms from left Ochs to right Ochs, allowing the mage to continue his cut but also allowing him to defend against the woman’s own attack.

Even as she moved her rapier to have the mage impale his own face, Arthur’s guard (Ochs) already provided an ample amount of cover for his face, complicating her lazy attempt at a thrust. However, as he changed to left Ochs, the black mage moved his arms from left to right, causing a collision as his left forearm pressed against the right side of Caecelia’s thin blade. The heiress’ rapier would be parried off to her own right, pushed offline by the mutant’s arms and opening the right side of her body to attack. 

Arthur continued his overhead moulinet seamlessly, moving his arms and war sword in a devastating zwerchau. Defeating Caecelia’s thrust, his attack would come a blink later as Bogatyr finished its circuit and cut from left to right. However, instead of aiming for the right side of Caecelia’s head, the black blade dipped and angled downwards as it whirled around in a circular arc. Arthur aimed his zwerchau for the heiress’ right arm, looking to strike just above her bent elbow which lay in the middle of the large gap in her armor made by Caecelia’s gauntlet and pauldron. The padded clothing worn underneath the armor would offer some protection, but the powerful momentum behind his cut would slice through the multiple layers of fabric if it landed. 

If Arthur succeeded, the subsequent draw cut would likely tear through the sleeve of her gambeson before leaving a substantial cut across her flesh underneath. He expected his opponent to employ some defense, but he also knew he’d made that difficult to say the least. With her rapier deflected off to her left and partly blocked off from returning by his arms, it was unlikely that the heiress could employ a proper defense with the long blade. Meanwhile, her dagger was even further away than the rapier, and would require crossing her arms to block Arthur’s line of attack. Such a technique would leave Caecelia without the leverage and stability necessary to block his attack.

Either way, the mutant doubted that he’d be able to slice deeply enough to disarm the heiress of her rapier, but knew it wouldn’t be just a flesh wound either. He wouldn’t respond to the woman either, all of his energy placed into the explosive movement of his swift attack.
 

@The Alexandrian

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She set down her tray on a coffee table that sat before a long, gray sofa. Both the table and the sofa, along with the decoratively arranged sitting chairs that flanked the sitting area, and all the rest of the furniture that furnished the cafeteria -- the dining tables that were set in neat rows, the chairs, and benches against the far walls -- everything shared the same utilitarian design. It was clean, neat, and in an arrangement of whites and grays that she found soothing. And considering the decision she had just made to leave Ilyana’s party, and the barely contained rage that was swirling inside her stomach along with bile of hunger and the four shots of vodka she had before leaving her room, she needed all of the soothing possible. 

 

On her tray, artfully arranged, was a small pastry that had been baked to a beautiful golden color and then drizzled generously with honey. It was surrounded by colorful berries of all kinds and coated in a thin layer of powdered sugar. There was also a cup of coffee and a small saucer of cream and four packages of sugar, which she picked up all at once, and tore open, all while keeping her amber-colored eyes on the massive screen that showcased the current match between Arthur and Caecelia. 

 

The match was already well underway, though she believed it had only just begun when she first entered the cafeteria. Unfortunately, it seemed as if she might have missed some of the excitement in her quest for food and drink. But starting off the day, at whatever hour this happened to be, with shots of vodka instead of actual food, was proving a poor aid to her already well established hangover from the night before. 

 

With a frown creasing her lovely visage, Gabriela brought her a cup of coffee up to her lips and drank deeply, even though she had forgotten to pour the cream or stir the sugar. Her eyes narrowed on the screen as she saw the violent dance unravel, with metal clashing against metal in such a tightly enclosed space that she felt a pang of anxiety grip at her heart even though she wasn’t there, fighting with them. Her food was forgotten, as she realized that the fight might well be over before long and she didn’t want to risk missing out on any more of it. Back she slid, moving away from her food though it called to her with alluring smells and pleasing visual display. It was a temptation she wished she had never sought out, especially as her stomach began to roll and squeal in a mixture of hunger and waves of nausea. 

 

She sat back against the cushions of the sofa, and burrowed deep into her over-sized coat. It was a gray thing with an asymmetrical cut. While the fit was appropriate, and pinched at the waist, the material was thick and layered over her chest, hiding a majority of her slender, and feminine figure. Her black-breech covered legs crossed, one knee over the other, while one booted foot kicked at the air in a fashion that was all too similar to one of the few mannerisms of the Black Queen. 

 

She held her cup of coffee with both hands. She held it close to her chest, directly under her face, breathing in deeply of the rising steam. Trying to find further peace and calm within the dense, rich aroma. Her mind was clouded, and although she knew she had to leave, she was here -- watching another pointless display of violence. Her sentiments should have been clear, her feelings towards Caecelia, a relative stranger even now, should have been all but cemented. And Arthur, who had proven, at the very least, to be amusing and interesting…

 

She had no idea who she wanted to win, she only knew that she hoped neither of them would be badly hurt.

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Dark, hungry eyes shifted to the viewing space for the Claustrophobia match. The Charnel House was short-lived, to say the least. He had wished to see the Black Mage fight and take in just what another Ouread-born warrior had to offer. An Uskglass, no less! The prowess that came with the name was usually not something to brush off. It made him regret showing up late to the Feast of Blades tournament in the first place. Thankfully, he was able to catch a long sword match, of all things. Now He sat there, tending to a cup of coffee and taking a sip from time to time while a wrapped sword-and-scabbard resided next to him like his own personal company.

 

Saul Kassábra spectated with his eyes digesting every inch of screen and all the action that would transpire in the battlefield of the Tunnel-and-Box setting. Gloves lay over wrappings on the man’s hands, possibly hiding something most ought not see. Belts fastened around high waisted leather pants covered his legs and tucked into his boots, which came to the calf on either leg. Most of his outfit was black, save for the dark wine tone of his buttoned shirt set beneath a vest of chain with silk backing, topped by leather straps for the fastening of his weaponry. A Robe was worn over it all, in the guised form of a leather jacket, though it was certainly some felled beast. Insignia and stripes alike denoted his status and profession in a silent exhibition to all who knew of the workings within the Ouread. A Black Mage. Deposed of his position within the Tower he had served since his Adolescence, he was forced into a solitary status. It was not the most unheard of thing, though. Case and Point, Arthur Uskglass was of the same status; precisely what intrigued him.

His compulsive urge to expand his knowledge and take in as much as he could read or watch or experience first hand, the very trait that had become the catalyst for the Company to cast him out, was piqued to say the least. What better place to do learn and network than a public and social event within his line of work. Deals, business, networking — it was everything to the success of oneself; someone would always need protection or a hand taking care of something they could not. The Bondmagi simply were a means to an end for most — of course they were not tools to be blindly manipulated; most things came with a cost. 
 

“Warrior from the Ouread, huh.. almost a proud moment for Us mountain folk.” He chided, talking to himself out loud as he made way to the surrounding seating froma table he has been eating at. The woman who entered the space reminded him how a viewing space might fill up and no longer yield a “good spot”. As if his eyes were not finer than a predatory beast’s. 
 

Watching the two charge into close quarters was invigorating, which caused his meal to come to a swift end so that he might not miss anything. The Heiress’s banter was dry and childlike, which only geared Saul to keep his attention on their sword forms rather than banter. Watching Arthur’s form was an interesting thing, as he bled finesse from every stroke. Even what could have been something feasible for Caecelia proved to have been considered in the mutant’s contingency — queue the whirring sword strike geared for her arm. Saul appreciated finesse, and a long sword versus a rapier and main-gauche was to imply such a thing on the match.. unless the heiress was going to continue with the dry words and poor strokes. Then, it would be a short lived match. 
 

Saul had yet to address the woman he now sat in proximity to, but her scent found his nose rather easily. She seemed disheveled, smelled of alcohol and coffee and a bit of anger? Frustration? He would simply have to inquire as he turned his head just enough for his gaze to find her own from the corner of his eye. 
 

“You seem to be in a bit of turmoil. Match not starting off in your favor? Gawking buffoons have you perturbed? Or is it the nausea?” He inquired, eye brow raised. Not caring to exchange names or give his actual full attention, as he kept his focus on the screen ahead. He sipped his coffee and sat back, occasionally glancing her way unless she were to blatantly ignore him — at which point he would become increasingly harder to get a word out of later on.  

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The situation was much more dire than he'd anticipated, the Keep having been about all but abandoned. It's Queen and her council were rather vacant, save for the special case of James' Regency. Largely, without the Order of Force Majeure, the Keep would have fallen by now. As it stood, Xartia promised to help Red through her reign. This arrangement he kept true to, even now well into her absence. As the last straggling Council member, he presence being known had began to gain him some unwanted attention. They eyes of the many looking to him, weighing on him the burden of responsibility. Ruling however, was something Xartia was no longer interested in. He'd delivered on his promise well enough to wash his hands of the ordeal altogether and move on without guilt. Part of him felt he should go look for Red, though just as he'd done with Akako, he allowed her absence to go undisturbed. She would return, if and or when she was ready to. For Xartia, this chapter of his life had expired long before he'd decided to step down formally. A choice that he'd have to inform Kairos on in order for the boy to determine how he wishes to continue living. Abroad, or back home with others like himself?

In the meantime, the Cambion still felt a little awkward about how things had been left between himself and Isabella the day prior. It didn't sit quite right with him that she seemed to have been holding a grudge even after he apologized for something he felt no apology was eve required for. He even offered to make it up to her, though to no avail. While he was just as prepared to treat her like any of his other friends that decided to seclude themselves from him, it just so happened that she had beaten him to the very arena he wished to view on this day. A bout composed of a woman, and a good friend. While he'd missed the officially beginning, he was in time enough to see the exchanges beginning to pass as the two combatant weighed one another's mettle. Had it been Xartia himself, he'd likely lose simply because of his gentlemanly nature. Arthur however, gave no fucks; Of this he was sure. 

Silently, he came to Isabella's side opposite the stranger to himself. Being that said stranger had already began to speak to her, the Magician merely kept to himself for the moment as he focused on viewing the fight before them. Without being rude to anyone, he'd find his moment to interject; And when he did, he had no reservations doing so. Against all odds, it was only fitting that he happened upon her in the presence of food yet again. 

"Isabella da'ling, how did you sleep? Are you feeling any better?"

If only he'd known the implications behind this mornings nausea, a clear difference to her ailment as seen back in Biazo. However, similar enough considering it was another first for the not-Black Queen.

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Some men, some women – what can be said? – were special. Chosen by destiny or fate, picked out by gods or goddesses, these individuals radiated an aura that could not be ignored. Perhaps it was their undeniable charisma, or their irresistible charm, present wherever they went and whatever their mood. But despite all circumstance and condition, their presence simply blazed, so much that one had to be amazingly oblivious to not notice them.

So it was with the defunct Black Queen.

She was human now, and it could not be gainsaid that she shone a little less now that she was a mere mortal. Even so, Ryzerus could pick her out among the growing crowd of spectators even without much use of his magic. Small, hidden by a nearly preposterous coat, still the dethroned woman was easy to see by any who knew her. And oh, did Ryzerus know her too well.

He threaded his way through the people who had come to watch yet another murder, another battle put on display for their inhumane amusement. Despite what he had seen so far, he still found it hard to believe that Terrenus – nay, Fracture – could support such a pastime as promoting brutal violence as simple entertainment. It was as disgusting as it was interesting, and it proved Ryzerus’s firm belief that humanity deserved to be spat upon. Even better, slaughtered. They were worse than rabid animals, these so-called humans.

Drawing close, Ryzerus caught her new name, an elegant and simple designation that honestly was no surprise. No more than the two men who seemed to already be fawning over her. Well, that would not do. He wanted her alone.

So he crept up behind her, drawing down the deep, royal purple hood, richly embroidered with glittering black swirls in a common Fracturian style popular among nobles. His golden, silver flecked eyes flashed in the dim light, glancing haughtily at the other men as he draped his arms over the little queen’s shoulders in a most possessive manner.

“Trouble with my lovely girlfriend, boys? Can’t you tell she’s feeling ill and would like to be left alone from common ilk like you?”

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Her view of the fight was interrupted for a moment as the figure of a man cut across her line of sight. It brought her out of herself, caused her eyes to blink as clarity and light returned to them. She had been descending into thoughts of tragedy, of loss, and of loneliness as she watched Arthur and Caecelia dance to music that played only in her head -- a slow, heavy, and thoughtful set of notes that slowed their movements and made them appear as if they were moving through water with their limbs, and all the force behind their blows, dragged backwards. But it was just her imagination, and the obstruction of her view broke the spell and brought the fighters back to life. Once more they were clashing warriors, fighting for their lives it seemed but for the sake of glory, or pride, or strategic gain.

 

Those amber eyes of hers narrowed carefully upon Caecelia. Her demure form made as if to withstand against the onslaught of Arthur’s aggressive offense -- it was impressive to say the least. And if she managed to win? There would be few left to question her ability and might. But what she after, Gabriela had to wonder... Her mouth still carried a bitter taste from their previous encounter, and there was a weight in her chest -- the threat of pain that came before the inevitable throb that followed loneliness. She wanted to blame Caecelia for that, for ruining things, for taking away her one piece of security, but she knew better. 

 

There was no one to blame but herself.

 

The music reset in her brain, once more the world felt like it slowed down. 

 

“You seem to be in a bit of turmoil. Match not starting off in your favor. Gawking buffoons have you perturbed? Or is it the nausea?” 

 

From the screen, honey-colored eyes shifted onto the stranger and regarded him in silence. For a moment it seemed as if she might speak, for her lips parted a hair’s width apart, and a soft exhale left them. He looked back at her with dark eyes, dark but bright, bright because they were dark -- they caught the light, reflected it back like pools of black ink, searching, drinking anything that provided illumination.

 

He was a stranger, but here he was watching this particular match and with great interest -- perhaps a friend of Arthur's, or perhaps a friend of Caecelia’s. A tangled web with more and more silken strands woven into the design. She looked away, back up to the screen. 

 

There was only one secret worth keeping now. 

 

There was only one lie that she had to protect. 

 

What she knew about lying was this -- the more truth there was surrounding the lie, the easier it was to maintain it. 

 

“Turmoil…” she said aloud after what may have been perceived as a few moments of uncomfortable silence. “I suppose, yes,” she added after a moment longer, and if he cared to look at her, he would find that she was no longer watching the match but was examining her coffee, a thoughtful expression on her lovely face. Brows pinched, plump lips pressed into a serious line, and the corners of her mouth threatening a frown. She was considering his words, thinking about them carefully. 

 

“Do you really want to know why?” she asked suddenly, eyes on him again, drinking in the whole of his appearance, his face, his body, his clothing and the pose that he chose. If he chose to look at her, to turn away from the very interesting fight, he’d find those golden eyes looking into his, her brows pressed into a frown. She was prepared to tell him. He was the first person to ask -- and she was prepared to tell him some version of the truth. 

 

The man would not get a chance to answer. They were interrupted, and she felt that dark pit that had settled in the core of her very being open a little wider. There was a bitter disappointment in this, in the promise of catharsis obtained only through the expression of grief and then having it taken away. The mask, that awful thing, fell back into place.

 

“Isabella da’ling, how did you sleep? Are you feeling any better?”

 

“Yes, good morning Xartia,” Gabriela drank from her cup -- she drank deeply in an attempt to chase away whatever unpleasant perfume remained of the vodka she had used to rinse her mouth out this morning. But she immediately grimaced because the sugar had settled and her coffee had not been properly stirred and she was essentially just drinking black coffee, and it was bitter and awful like everything else in her life.  “Damn it,” she cursed and leaned forward to set her cup down on the table, “--it’s gotten cold.”

 

Her eyes drifted back to the screen, back to the fight and then for a moment back to Saul. 

 

“I am sorry about last night, Xartia. I was out of line. I am still just trying to make sense of how the bank could just lose all of my money. As you can see, I am not settling well into poverty.” 

 

She would have laughed save that a third individual appeared. Gone were her heightened senses, her ability to hear, to smell, to feel the approach of both mortal and immortal beings. In true fashion of a mere mortal woman, she was caught completely off guard when a heavy, wide arm fell around her neck and draped itself, possessive over her chest. She grew uncomfortably tense and both her hands went to clutch at his arm, until she heard his voice and forced herself to relax.

 

“Trouble with my lovely girlfriend, boys? Can’t you tell she’s feeling ill and would like to be left alone from common ilk like you?”

 

It wasn’t them.

 

It wasn’t him

 

She could have cried -- but she’d have to settle for laughter.

 

“Duncan, oh you scared me!” she forced a girlish squeal past her lips, and a bubbly giggle. The tight grip on his sleeve lessened, and then became a soft touch -- a sort of caress down the length of his arm to his elbow. “Come now, that’s no way to speak to friends and we’re all friends here, I assure you.” She shifted in her seat, she tilted her head back far enough to catch the High Lords eyes -- play nice, she seemed to say, I need you to play nice. 

 

“Come, Duncan,” she called again to the High Lord, lifting a hand in invitation. “Observe my champion, see how he wears my favor around his wrist? He is actually being challenged today, unlike yesterday. He seems much more in his element against an actual opponent, wouldn’t you say? Xartia, this is Duncan, the friend I was searching for yesterday. An old acquaintance from Genesaris.”

 

She could feel Razyerus' pull -- he wanted to speak with her, wanted a moment alone with her, but she wasn’t ready to get up and leave. Her attention, whether she wanted to admit it or not, was profoundly set upon the young man fighting in those tight quarters. It was the violence that attracted her, and it didn’t hurt that it was wrapped up in a handsome package. Arthur was brutal in his fighting, lunging headlong into aggression with a savagery that eased the hurt and anger she almost constantly felt overwhelmed by, and instead left her feeling calm. 

 

She enjoyed watching him fight.

 

She enjoyed the intimate act of destruction and all it represented because it proved just how right she was -- life, all life, was nothing more than this, a perverted display of brutality. 

 

“Who do you think will win?” she asked, glancing at Saul.

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“Yes, good morning Xartia; Damn it, --it’s gotten cold.”

"Allow me."

He stated rather plainly at her immediate, minute distress. Stepping forth, he grabbed the cup. Coming to hold it from the top with one hand, his other cupped around the bottom of it. Carefully, he coerced the molecules within into excitement. Speeding them up, exciting the coffee into heating itself up. Another application of the common trick he used when he was enjoying the likes of a cigarette or a good pipe. 

“I am sorry about last night, Xartia. I was out of line. I am still just trying to make sense of how the bank could just lose all of my money. As you can see, I am not settling well into poverty.”

"No apologies necessary, I didn't take it personal I assure you."

He was dying to know; While it was odd indeed the bank could just lose her money all the sudden, he was more curious as to what she needed it for. Before he could pry on the subject however, another approached them from behind. Interjecting with a certain amount of dominance and demand for respect, all the while casting mild insults on what he presumed were a couple of thirsty fellows pestering the elegant Isabella. 

“Trouble with my lovely girlfriend, boys? Can’t you tell she’s feeling ill and would like to be left alone from common ilk like you?”

The Cambion giggled as he offered her her once again hot coffee, hosting it up right in the palm of his hand for her to reclaim at her leisure. Assuming she still wanted it. He was cute to say the least. The old Xartia would have harshly corrected him on his ridiculous claims, boasting his own grandiose titles as well as his status as a gentlemen. The seasoned Cambion instead left it at his giggle and allowed this, Duncan to believe whatever fairy tail he wished to compose through his perception. There was no denying that Isabella was beautiful, befitting of any man's attention. Perhaps Duncan would find reassurance all his own the longer he was around Xartia in Isabella's company. First the cat girl, now some guy with eyes that rivaled the scintillating nature of his own emerald ones; the first respectively assuming Xartia for trying to be with Ilyana, and the latter assuming the same yet about Isabella.

"Xartia, this is Duncan, the friend I was searching for yesterday. An old acquaintance from Genesaris.”

"Well I'm glad he turned up then."

He stated plainly as his mind became focused on that last part she'd mentioned. He wasn't quite sure what she meant by the phrase, but only because he tone of voice and familiarity in the phrase didn't seem to agree with her tone when he'd met her in Biazo. She'd mentioned having recently arrived there from Genesaris, which meant that old shouldn't be in her vocabulary considering her youthful, spry appearance. With soft skin akin to a babes to boot. Perhaps her youth and beauty was in fact a fallacy in and of itself. Perhaps it wasn't natural as he'd initially assumed. He almost thought himself a fool for no realizing sooner that her very form was nothing short of magical prowess. Had she intentionally made herself look similar to the Black Queen? She did say she'd heard the claims of such prior to him making such himself. Letting his curiosity rest for now, he listened for Saul's answer on whom he thought would win, in which case he chimed in his two cents afterwards.

"I'd put my money on Arthur, wait, what do you mean by your champion?"

It suddenly registered in his mind that she'd told her friend to come see her champion, boasting her favor upon his wrist. This gave him the impression that Isabella was not merely a person of wealth, though it seemed she was perhaps an actual figure of importance. Without knowing from where in the fast space labeled Genesaris she hailed from, there would be no means in which to surmise her identity with certainty. Still, it was odd she looked like the Black Queen, and that she was from a region near the likes of Orisia from which the Queen hailed. Perhaps she was in prior service of the Queen's defense, feigning to be her on occasions prior to the Queen's pregnancy. For this woman clearly was not with child. Regardless of the actual truth, he was certain patience was key in discovering it.

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What a load of shit. It would seem you can’t even watch a (hopefully) gritty test of skill and metal without a bunch of fraternization going on. He had to remind himself the norms of socializing and conceded to the idea of not becoming a brash and off putting acquaintance. 
 

He laughed at the Duncan fellow for assuming Saul would find interest in such a thing as a random woman. Saul was a man of substance more than anything, and a little fling here and there may have been permitted, but she hadn’t even spoke a word TO him, much less expressed any form of interest, mutual or otherwise. It was definitely laughable. He took in the appearances of the others, though, in the time they all interacted. 
 

“You assume commodity without inspection; I was here first, drinking and watching a fellow lad from the Ouread hopefully butcher an heiress.. or at least put up a good fight. He is an Uskglass, after all.” He chiding subsided to silence as he put his attention to the screen once more. 
 

Dark, so dark they threatened to spill at the rims and be swallowed by the Deep Dark Black that crept along his still shimmering flecks of molten gold, gazed at the screen, with sharp predatory eyes on them all for a moment. One would think he had a cat or raptor’s eyes with how sharp they became when fixated. Saul found it in him to address Gabriela with his eyes once more, intending to save himself from disrespectful first impressions. 


“Arthur; Ouread blades do not falter very often.”  


His answer was stiff, though not in the arrogant fashion a fan might defend their idol. He felt improper ignoring a blatantly directed question. Had he been too brash to mouth off so soon into a situation? He did not wish to bring tension and rile whatever lay dormant beneath the edge of his skin.. what lay so deeply rooted as to make him feel it in every bone and muscle and fiber of tissue that he was made up of. It was always aware, and if he was not careful, it would flood him with adrenaline to assess a situation. 
 

“Caecelia talks too much to think her actions through; she will succumb to a graceful butchering if she is not careful.”
 

A drink of coffee; dark roast with heavy cream to cut the aromatic, yet aggressively bitter beans that had been used for brewing. It was a grand palette cleanser, even for the olfactory senses. With a fresh sip, everything in the room that had a smell once again could coalesce into his senses’ catalogue. Unless they hid from him and other forms of detection, his brain, so woefully infected by his transgressions as to never let go of anything and always find itself parched for knowledge or insight, would succeed at finding them if he ever had to. Always a nice little thing when socializing in small numbers. Knowing was everything to him, and identifying people was never Not important. Especially in the field of war and deal brokering. 
 

“Good choice.” He eyed Xartia, the shifting rims of darkness in his eyes like a rippling puddle inciting eye contact when possible. He smelled of a union of the flesh, of bloods natural and not. How interesting.
“Who does your support lie with in the match? He’d address the (in his opinion, at least) buffoon craned about the woman who had made the comments of trouble with a lady, not wishing to exclude anyone.

 

 

Edited by L E V I A T H A N
Immediate typo find 🥴

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Boredom was plain in “Duncan”’s eyes as he observed the ongoing battle. Both were fine fighters, it was clear; agile and nimble in their movements, and elegantly vicious in their attacks. Their dance would have captivated the attention of anyone. Anyone… but him. He had many other things that warranted his attention thrice over, and he held no concern for the fate of these two jesters.

He raised an eyebrow as Gabriela’s amber eyes caught his. He could read them easily. She wanted him to act the fool, to play at being an ignorant human. She wanted him as an accessory to her disguise.

There were all sorts of ways he could have shunned her wishes. He thought about it. He could easily expose her to these two brigands, to all the world, even. The entire cafeteria and beyond would know her as Gabriela, the Black Queen of Orisia. He could ruin her with a word, and bring her misery through it. How amusing it would be! He smiled at the thought.

So what he did next was no less than astonishing. He turned to the two idiots and, sliding his arm from around Gabriela, bowed graciously. “Your friends, are they, Isabella? I apologize then. Xartia, is it? An honor to be sure. And to whom do I have the pleasure of addressing…?” he queried of Saul.

Saul spoke of Caecilia being butchered, and Ryzerus decided he respected Saul, if he didn’t exactly like the man. Therefore, Ryzerus pretended to ponder who he favored over the other when the stranger posed the question to him. Sometimes it was easier to humor a fellow, and he was sure Isabella would nearly die of relief.

“To be honest, I know neither combatant,” he finally said. “I came to watch a dance and it matters not to me who has the finer moves. I watch merely to observe the styles of swordsmanship of lands I know little about. Call it research, if you would.” It was a lie, but so skillfully put no one would be able to tell.

Even if they did, what did he care? “However, seeing as he is my love’s champion, I will support Arthur.”

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Caeceila did not assume Arthur's opening attack was close-ended; Caeceila merely observed that Arthur attempted a coup de grâce as his opening move.  This is not an unreasonable conclusion.  Mechanically, Arthur had thrust from Ox, which left a relatively large window in front of his face that was not adequately protected from retaliation by means of a rapier.  Moreover, his armpit was completely exposed to a counterattack from below.  The Ox Guard is a high guard, a form that excels against the "high" attacks in vogue during the Middle Ages, and it really is quite formidable in this regard.  In the context of defending against a rapier held by a fighter poised in third, it fared poorly (it would, in fact, it would fare poorly against any thrust to the face).  Thrusting from Ox, however, did not categorize Arthur's attack as a coup de grâce.  The recklessness with which Arthur moves and attacks is what lends credence to the contention that Arthur's opening move would classify as a coup de grâce, for he certainly executed it like one!  Arthur was confident and proud, and his opponent hadn't quite known what to make of him!  If he executes every attack with such gusto, every attack he makes could resemble a coup de grâce!

Caeceila's dagger contributed very little momentum to Arthur's moulinette.  Caeceila's main-gauche guided Arthur's blade from her.  It was constrained, for a time, between a sturdy cruciform guard and a nineteen inch blade.  She exerted continuous control over the tip of his blade while the cutting edge was in contact with her main-gauche, knowing well that he could potentially cut into her from either side if he pressed the attack.

It goes without saying, however, that Arthur could only have deflected the tip of Caeceila's rapier by moving his arms in the manner described while executing his moulinette.  As written, he did not take action to defend himself against the "attack" that occurred while he was lunging forward.  By all rights, Arthur's face should have a sizable hole in it at this point.

Ox Guard, For Reference:

Spoiler

 

As shown, the Ox Guard does not provide anything even remotely resembling adequate face protection from a rapier thrust.

Third Guard, For Reference:

Spoiler

 

Accordingly, minor adjustments to third guard provide a bang-up offense/defense against a thrust from Ox, specifically a thrust from Ox with the stated intent of thrusting "Bogatyr through the heiress’ head."  By lunging forward into a bona fide thrust, Caeceila would have killed Arthur outright, but even here, Caeceila had no lust for innocent blood and would typically refrain from executing a killing blow.  If Arthur fell upon her blade, as he would in refraining from displacing the tip of Caeceila's rapier until after her strike landed, she would attribute his grievous injury to his own recklessness.  Regardless, her forbearance was at an end.  Arthur was too aggressive, and Caeceila had no choice but to retaliate with lethal intent.

If Arthur survived his injury, he would find that his zwerchau was, perhaps, less effective than he would like against Caeceila's defense.

Caeceila was in third guard and she was significantly shorter than Arthur, who was tall and powerfully muscled, from the start.  Normally, his zwerchau (which doesn't seem to be a moulinet/moulinette since those are performed with one-handed swords/one-hand, but I could be wrong), devastating though it may be, would pass right over her head.  He would have to modify his zwerchau as if he meant to attack a low opening if he hoped his strike would land.  For the purposes of this post, I shall carry on as if this is the case.

It is also critical to note that there is no rationale supporting the notion that Caeceila's rapier is in a position to be parried off to her right by Arthur's left forearm.  The blade of Caeceila's rapier could only be positioned as such if it was previously deflected to Arthur's left and was already outside of Arthur's guard, if that makes sense.  By this logic, Caeceila would have "missed" Arthur by a huge margin.  In such a case, Caeceila would step backward with her right leg as soon as she missed.  Arthur had stepped with his right foot and lunged with the same.  Caeceila would evade by moving her right (leading) leg such that it is beside her left (trailing) leg, seizing control of the tempo and "flying" out of range.  She would not transfer a considerable amount of weight to her right leg in this position, just enough to keep her stable unless her evasion looked as though it would fail.  As Arthur executed his zwerchau, Caeceila would transition from third to high third, intent on defending her head from cuts with her forearms.  Arthur's cruciform hilt would be in no position to interfere with this transition as he executed his zwerchau.  When Arthur's blade approached, Caeceila's blade and body would be clear of its path.  She had recovered as much distance as she lost to Arthur, that is to say distance between opponents, though this might not have been the case if Arthur had made an earnest attempt to close to close quarters in lieu of standing even after executing his lunge.

Arthur's zwerchau was devastating.  He put quite a lot of power behind his zwerchau.  It would take him time to recover from his miss, for his stance is off now that his hips and legs are square: he could not have executed his strike without twisting his torso at his hips in a strange way.  In this position, his longsword provided him with an exceedingly poor defense.  No sooner has Arthur missed than Caeceila's rapier shoots toward Arthur's face, which is now completely undefended, as she lunges forward with great, but not inhuman, celerity.  If the tip of her rapier finds purchase, the battle may be over.

Edited by The Alexandrian
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