@zain_: [ Badass! ]
@strigidae_22: Often, at the end of prolonged days of laborious activity, a completely exhausted and sore Alyssa dropped to her hands and knees, beads of sweat rolling over her face just before gravity brought them to the ground below where her head hung. Various factors influencing performance, on some days the strenuous work taking such a toll that she could not help the forceful expulsion of stomach contents onto the ground beneath her. Breathless, she looked upwards, a hopeful half-smile expressing desirable feedback for her behalf. As it was, she thought she had done well most days, steadily improving since the start, but as always, she looked to the twenty-third Strigidae for the final word on punishment or reinforcement.
To her benefit, it seemed she had done well more often than not, able to further progress in training and studies without as much trouble. But never once did things become truly easy.
On one day in particular, in a fit of spontaneity, prior to training, Alyssa took up a bo staff to meet with Ivana in the courtyard. Rapping the weapon on the cobblestone ground, she issued a light challenge. "Ivana, I wanna test myself. We've done all this training and conditioning, and I want to see how I've gotten."
Ivana accepted with a shrug and a small grin. "Alright then." Dressed in a plain black gi Ivana was absent her strigidae armor. Her bow was in storage, leaving only her katana hanging from a crimson belt around her waist. Walking back to the dojo she collects a pair of titanium eskrima sticks. Returning she walks in a slow circle around Alyssa, predatory, circling closer and closer until she came to a halt. Her bare feet sank through the snow to find purchase in the cobblestones below, unphased by the frigid snow or biting wind. "Ready when you are."
@strigidae_22: The moment the words left her lips and Ivana's traded response registered with her ears, a variable feeling washed over Alyssa. A nervous excitement that she couldn't hide no matter how hard she tried, evident in a light knocking in her knees and increased activity within the sympathetic nervous system. Turning continually to keep Ivana in front of her, she took up a low stance, spreading her legs, slightly bent at the knees, little more than shoulder width apart, adopting an angled stance. Admittedly unsure of exactly how to approach the opening, she opted for more explosiveness in opening, first jabbing the staff forward at the face, then quickly stepping in, rotating her entire body with the weapon, rounding the other end, swinging forcefully downward at a forty-five degree angle intended for her shoulder, following up with a push kick with the intention of creating space and for bearings.
A sideways grin crawled up Ivana's face as they circled. She could see the signs of fight jitters in Alyssa and briefly thought it was time for Alyssa to begin sparing; her basic technique and fitness were solid. Ivana decided against using her somatic mapping, she wanted Alyssa to have a genuine test of her skills.
As the thrust flew toward Ivana's face she snapped her lead hand out, fist vertical to the ground as if throwing a JKD punch. The bottom two inches of the eskrima stick clacked as it drove into the side of the staff, deflecting it past her head. A punch block.
Alyssa's footwork and staff rotation created a hugely powerful strike but they also served to telegraph the maneuver. This gave Ivana a heartbeat's head start. She brought her extended lead hand back by rotating her palm toward her and curling her elbow, not moving her upper arm or shoulder at all. This created two L shapes. A big L made from her horizontal bicep and vertical forearm and a little L made from her vertical forearm and horizontal titanium bar.
The staff slammed into the stick with the tremendous power only a staff could generate. Ivana felt the impact run through her arm and down into her braced hips. That was the kind of blow that shattered a skull or snapped a collar bone like a twig. Her eyes flickered, pleased.
Then she exploded into the second part of her technique; a crossing step where her rear leg stepped directly toward Alyssa, carrying the entire weight of Ivana's frame as she drove the point of her eskrima stick toward the hollow of Alyssa's throat. She planned the pull the blow if Alyssa failed to block of course but it was all for naught as Alyssa's push kick smacked square into her belly. Caught in the middle of a step, on one leg and accelerating forward Ivana was completely off balance.
Falling backwards she had no choice but to roll diagonally over her left shoulder and rise, sticks held in a cross block to cover her head from any downward strikes if Alyssa chose to capitolize.
"Establish distance, powershot, establish distance." Ivana tossed her head, flipping her dampening pony tail back over her shoulders and grinned. "You have learned well."
@strigidae_22: As Alyssa moved in with her attacks, she only faintly caught the hint of a smile spreading across Ivana's face, trying her damnedest not to be unnerved into not following through. And she had succeeded, as far as she was aware of, though not for much success in her opening manoeuvres, a somewhat reckless abandon telegraphing her shots clearly for the more experienced warrior to deflect and counter, and rather easily at that.
A glint of fear flashed briefly as she caught Ivana mid-attack, surprised herself when the kick landed, repelling her with a surprising degree of success. At that, she felt surprise, joy, and fear all in one, but rather than dwell on it, capitalise she did, rearing up and swinging down in what was ultimately an extremely predictable act of perhaps overeager aggression. Alyssa hopped backwards as soon as she realised, not wishing to be open to a counter herself.
"Thank you, Ivana," she returned, accepting the compliment with a slightly blushed smile. "And thank you for teaching me. Next..." Transitioning once more into combat mode, Alyssa readopted her stance, though lying in wait instead of another all out attack, silently ushering her master forward with a somewhat taunting smirk and a nod.
As Alyssa slipped into a defensive stance Ivana considered her options. In her opinion there were two general strategies when attacking someone that was prepared to counter attack. Surprise and feints. The most common for of surprise was speed. If Ivana had been equipped with a western fencing style blade and the ground was not slick cobblestone under snow she might have attempted a lunge or fleshe. Feints were difficult because of the shortness of her weapons compared to Alyssa's there were few feints that could create the perception Alyssa was under genuine threat. Essentially Ivana could feint a lunge or fleshe, or actually lunge or fleshe.
Instead she improvised.
Swapping her stance the serpentine warrior selected a 'closed' stance with Alyssa. If Alyssa was fighting orthodox Ivana swapped to a southpaw stance and if Alyssa was fighting southpaw Ivana swapped to an orthodox stance. Then she stepped forward in short, controlled steps, ensuring her bare feet were braced on the snowy stones. She reached out with her lead hand and attempted to brush Alyssa's staff toward the outside. Should she make contact she would attempt to use small, shuffling steps to keep her own body out of reach of Alyssa's staff but keep the last six inches or so of the staff within her own reach. Trusting the superior leverage granted by her far, far shorter weapon and the speed that came with that lighter tool to keep Alyssa's staff in the 'bind' she would then whip her rear hand through the air and hurl the titanium stick down the open channel left by the closed stance, attempting to use her Abuskhau skills to hurl the titanium rod an inch over the top of Alyssa's head.
@strigidae_22: Her confidence levels markedly higher after the conclusion of the opening exchange and decently commendable success in that, Alyssa stood firm, unwavering, even to Ivana's much larger and infinitely more intimidating person. The southpaw switch had no bearing on her in the moment, though her focused cerulean eyes continued to scan the Strigidae over for openings and ideas, or more importantly, indicators of attack, particular attention given to Ivana's shoulders and feet.
Then she moved. As Ivana came forward with unclear intent, making comparatively light contact with her weapon, Alyssa reacted quickly, swinging a wild (and somewhat reckless) attempted counter-strike at the outstretched hand, though missing entirely for lack of coordination. Realising that she was playing into some type of trick, Alyssa made an attempt to shake her up, a succession of feint attacks and retreats meant to draw some sort of action, though she herself was unable to shake the more experienced warrior.
Almost as out of nowhere, the swift false-attack came her way, she herself unaware of its ultimate path, taking evasive action in a hurried duck, which ultimately led to her slipping on the cold cobblestone ground, landing firmly on her behind. Not wishing herself to be left open for a follow-up, the staff was once more thrust up and out, that should Ivana attempt to rush her, the weapon would hopefully hit home at the diaphragm.
Ivana lowered her remaining stick and smiled. "Well fought Alyssa." She tucked the stick into the sash around her waist, walked around and collected the second stick, doing the same with it. "Your offense is good, you're setting up your attacks well. And your defense is also good, you're using the reach of the staff to your advantage."
The old warrior arrived right before one of Alyssa's training sessions. Waving away her Orochi training partners he introduces himself. "Good morning. My name is Amaranth, and Ivana has asked me to assist with your training. She feels your control over your powers has reached the point where you could benefit from some of my techniques."
He extended a grey armored hand and formed a gauntlet of solidified air around it. Then he dismissed the gauntlet and forged a blade from the air, then dismissed it and formed a shield.
"What I can do with the air, there is the possibility you can do with water. If you are willing I can attempt to teach you."
@amaranth: Surprised at first by the abrupt interruption, Alyssa quickly recognised the internationally infamous man standing before her, understanding perfectly well his grand stature within the Court. In a way, it was like meeting a celebrity. Lightly bowing her head in greeting, she did her best to contain a slightly nervous smile forming over her face while he spoke to her. Once his demonstration was done, she showed off a little of her own, gathering a mount of snow from afar and converting it to water, then solidifying it into a spherical chunk of frozen water. "I already do that. It's called ice," she joked with a laugh, covering her nerves in a bit of sarcastic humor.
@amaranth: Momentarily tense, Alyssa breathed a sigh of relief when he showed he wasn't upset. Melting the ice, she let the water fall to the ground. "I guess I could make armor just as well as any other shape. But I'm not exactly keen on putting freezing chunks of the stuff over my body. I still feel cold."
He nodded, stroking his goatee as he pondered. "Can you create a layer of water under the ice? In theory that would add a degree of shock absorption, protection from external temperatures, and the ability to cool your body in the middle of combat which would greatly increase your stamina."