03.31.3013: Crossing Swords
Summary: Sir Orren arrives at the House of the Albatross to improve his swordsmanship
Related: None
Ines Orren 

House of the Albatross
In the log
31 March, 3013

The House of The Albatross is certainly everything that the holo advert promised it to be. The clear waters, the pale sand, and the breezes that waft through. It can almost be painful to the eyes the first hour or two, if one is not from the Isles of Terran.

Orren would have a private bungalow, with steps to the water out the back, and a small bridge from the main deck to his front ‘door’, and the first evening, when all students arrive, it would have been newly cooled from the daily rainstorm, the thatch still dripping as he settled in to the sparse accommodations. A bed, a small kitchen area, and a wardrobe for clothes and equipment, all open to the vistas of sea and island. The bath is the only enclosed space, although the entire place can be enclosed by glass doors that have an opaque option. These are rarely used, however.

The bungalow that he is summoned to the next day after breakfast, which is early, whether at the mess hall or in his own lodgings, is quite similar to the one he slumbered in. Except all four walls are open to the views. Standing, waiting, is slender woman in a sleeveless shift of bright colors. Her hair has been pulled back tightly from her face, but where it is fastened into a ponytail at the nape of her neck, it seems to erupt into a cloud of curls and tight ringlets that catch the breeze. Her dark eyes are calm, unruffled, and almost flat as she watches the man approach.

Unaccustomed to the cool weather and such vast panoramic views, Sir Orren Tylos has draped his muscular, black torso in sleeveless white linens that show off his arms and the small collection of scars he's earned through hard fighting. Even from the double-breasted gi-like fabric that he wears the hint of a long scar up the center line of his sternum can be made out, no doubt a most recent relic from their war with the Hostiles from Cantosa.

With heavy, brown boots and comfortable tan breeches that make well with the utilization sword let he wears, he carries himself with a certain pride that lacks entitlement as he crosses the bridge that leads to the bungalow and the mocha-skinned beauty before him. As he enters earshot, he speaks to her, his voice a thick accent of the Peake lands with just enough gravel to it that hints at a past in or near their many mines.

"You summoned me?" Orren asks, repeating the order with a soldier's precision. "As a guest here and a student, I am at your disposal." Disposal. Such a strange word. The social hierarchy of Haven leaves for few troops as in the end, that is exactly what soldiers can be…disposable.

The heat of the sun reflecting from the water is broken as he steps into the shade of the training room. Though there is a breeze that wafts through, the day is promising to become only warmer, thus the early morning class.

As he approaches closer, he will notice the belt around her waist, and the sword. The hilt is unadorned, the scabbard, likewise. It seems that even though her shift carries the bright hues and patterns of island garb found throughout the islands, she is not interested in flash nor embellishment when it comes to her weapon. Her dark eyes assess the man as he approaches, betraying nothing of what conclusions she may be drawing from his posture, his walk, his clothing, his weapon, or even his voice as he speaks.

“On the contrary,” she replies, her voice soft, yet somehow carrying. “It is you who have come to me to learn. That puts me at your disposal.” With the words, she bows her head, then returns upright, the dark, fathomless pools gazing straight into his own eyes.

"I didn't want to presume that this would be my first lesson of the day, M'lady," Orren replies with a slight bow, his expressive eyebrow ticking as he closes the distance. Normally, to one such as her, the glance that he's giving over her form would seem lewd, but he spends too much time judging the length of her legs and her arms, sizing up his trainer. "My charge is to protect the people of Haven, with my life as need be, and so my time is for their benefit." He continues as he rights to his full height. "I hope to be shown every mistake in my sword style, and so I've come to have any bad habits unlearned. If there's any prestige to be gained from your teachings I'd prefer to earn them. You'll find I'm no lofty lad. I will be a good student."

She is, surprisingly, almost of a height with him, her limbs long, one of those people that seems to have just enough of a torso to hold their arms and legs together. She remains motionless still, her eyes following him, but one eyebrow raising. “Prestige?” she asks. “Interesting choice of words for one who professes to be here for the benefit of other people.” There’s muscle in the lean length of her arm, strength contained in a manner that can perhaps trick the unwary into believing there is little threat.

"You misunderstand," Orren holds out his hand as if to stall her. "There are people that would want to train under certain teachers to add that to their list of accolades. What I meant was…if there is prestige, I don't want it. I want to just be better at my profession. I want to know when I leave that I am more capable."

The stillness about her is that of a cat, some subtle nuance of warning to one who knows what to look for that she can strike or retreat as necessary in less than the time it takes to draw breath. If she is as flexible and quick as one might expect of the lean grace that stands ready, her reach will indeed be formidable. “Is that why you think we teach? To show a person their mistakes?”

"No, M'lady," Orren replies with a shake of his head. Unshaken, he doesn't seem to mind the questions as he hooks his thumbs into his sword belt. Standing tall and proud, he rolls his shoulders. "And I take serious measure into my sword arm, but I am far from the best and all it may take some day is one mistake to put another life in danger. I need to know what those mistakes are, to better keep them in mind."

“Even the Blades Master makes mistakes. This is the first lesson we teach our initiates. Perhaps you would do better in a class with them, learning the basics?” Ines’s voice drops a hint of derision, but only the barest touch. “If you have come searching for a way to fight without mistake, then you have already made the gravest mistake.” She notes the thumbs hooked into his sword belt, her own hands still free to draw her weapon, but she makes no move as of yet.

“Not to fight without mistakes, no. To know what my mistakes are.” Orren replies, instinctively rubbing at his arm as the memories come to the surface. Freeing his hands from his belt, he moves them to where he can draw the moment that she does. “When I was a lad, I learned about my mistakes in the yard. There were plenty of welts that I received there that kept me alive later, when patrolling or fighting the Hostile. I’ve been injured before, what with the war, and I believe it’s time to receive a few welts to remember.”

There’s a brief light in her eyes as Orren frees his hand from his belt, once more being ready for her to draw on him. She does not appear ready to do so. “And what mistake have you learned from your arm, Sir Orren?” she asks, one eyebrow raising. “If you wish me to raise welts, I can readily do so, but what will you learn? That there is always someone better than you? Again, a beginner’s lesson.”

"I'm no beginner, no…" Orren shakes his head, a little of the mine-worker in his blood coming out as a slight roll of his shoulders makes for an attempt to stand firm on his ground. He's a knight first and only a minor noble by title, the sort that doesn't often mingle. "…just if someone's kids or family is on the line I need to know I've put myself through everything I could to say that I did my best, M'lady. If I'm gonna go down, I go down, but I've got to keep my skills as sharp as my sword."

She finally moves. Almost before he can see it, Orren can feel the flat of her sword just above his forehead, then he sees the steel glimmering in the light in a low parry position. The strike was not hard enough to leave a welt, not even to hurt or sting. It was simply enough to let him know that she had made contact. “You did not answer my question, Sir Orren. What mistake have you learned from your arm?” Her eyes are flat, and watch him without relenting. “It is not your skills, nor your sword, that you must keep sharp.”

Orren's head instinctively flinches back as her blinding speed catches him off guard. With a quick step back, he reaches for the dulled blade and draws it free from its sheath, pulling it to hold low in a ready position. "That my head keeps it slow. Less thinking, more preparation." He grunts, turning the blade over quickly in his grip to get a better angle. Sensing that the lesson has begun, he steps forward and brings the blade in a testing arc towards her side. "That I make it slow, not the muscle, but my head."

There is no clang of steel. She isn’t there, backing up to let the swing go in front of her, which she pushes along. “All you speak of is your arm, your blade, your skill, Sir Orren. Of doing your duty, and knowing you’ve done all you can… which is an excuse for failure. You are neglecting the most important weapon of your arsenal.” She pauses, her eyes narrowing slightly as her lips actually seem to pull down slightly in what could indicate displeasure. “What /should/ be the most important weapon, but you seem to not even use it.”

“I make no excuses, I have no intention of failure, My Lady.” Orren corrects as he starts to circle her. She’s far faster than he is, but his reach and strength outweigh her. He’ll have to bare careful, or she’d suffer him the death of a thousand cuts. “My weapons are mere objects. It’s the head and the heart that keep a man alive, keep them fighting when everything is black. I stood for hours on a collapsed lung on the Shadow of Intent in the first days of the war. I am not this sword.”

Ines eyes him, not moving as he circles. “You may be worthy of crossing swords with me after all,” she muses, but there is still doubt in her words. “Although I am not interested in what you have done. Saying that you wish to know you’ve done all you can do is the meaningless tripe of someone who wishes to rest easy with his failures. Your mind has dulled with the weeks and months of obeying orders and parroting the ideals of honor and duty that others have drilled into you.”

"No." He dares to disagree with a shake of his head, flashing his teeth to her in a faint grimace. "The only thing that matters is that someone is willing to fight to the last for when it counts orders are orders and knowing you've bought the time for your life where others would run away is what I've sworn to do. Damn titles and pride. I stand in between." His muscular arms coil as his blade turns, ringing forward in another slice meant to test her balance. "I know my place, knight or no, I stand in between."

Her balance is fine, she evades again, spinning away and sheathing her sword. “Then you are merely a blunt instrument,” she tells him. “A blunt instrument, while not useless, is also not the best tool for the job. If you are not interested in sharpening the tool, then you have come to the wrong place.” She touches a remote on her belt, and a table rises from the floor between them and she looks at him over the table. “A chair can stand in between. So can a table, or a door, until it is finally smashed, splintered, and pushed aside. Is that all you are? All you have to offer?”

Orren lowers his sword, careful to avoid striking it against the table that suddenly rises up between them. While he’s far from unintelligent, he seems confused by her words as he steps back and looks to her face. Fingertips flexing against the grip of his sword, he chews at the side of his lip and shakes his head. He doesn’t know what to say anymore, and so he finally admits defeat. “My lady…” He starts, lowering his voice with a sigh. “…what would you have me say? There are people that don’t care beyond themselves. I earned my knighthood through duty, through selflessness. When the time comes, people will need me.”

“That is your problem, Sir Orren. You are trying to figure out what I want you to say. You are trying to determine what dance I want from you.” Ines’s dark eyes watch him over the table as she waits a moment to see if he’s listening. “People will need you, yes. You will not be able to help them as long as you are trying to dance to someone else’s music. Do you know how many notes there are in music?”

NOW Orren gets it. His eyes flash over in understanding and he lowers the tip of his sword to the floor. His jaw sets and he brushes his fingertips over his chin and gives her a stiff shake of his head. “Not much of a musician, M’lady, no…but I understand the reference. Write my own tune, force them to dance to it, yeah?”

“Still jumping ahead and trying to figure out what I want to hear?” Ines asks lightly. The table starts to retract slowly. “Seven,” is the answer. “Seven notes, not counting flats and sharps. Yet, with only seven notes, people can compose vastly different harmonies and melodies, just by how they choose to combine them.” She pauses, then asks, “how many basic parry moves are there?”

“Five.” Orren replies, knowing the answer off of the top of his head. As the table lowers to knee, height, he suddenly presses forward and steals away the peace of their moment as he storms over the table. Sword flashing again, he stops asking, stops hoping, and simply gets to work at trying to land a flat blade against her. Lady or no, this is why he’s here.

The table continues to sink to the floor, and Ines doesn’t move. The flat of the blade comes to rest wherever he was aiming, at whatever strength he put behind it. The dark eyes turn to his, fathomless and black like a pool in a deep tropical glade. “I was mistaken. You are not fit to cross blades with me. You are dismissed until you understand why you are truly here.” Her gaze does not waver from his, remaining impassive as she waits for him to leave the training area.

Dumbstruck, Orren's lips flatten into a thin line, but despite his frustration he takes a step back and lowers his head to her in a respectful bow. Wearing his disappointment in himself heavy on his shoulders, he casts one long, last look to her and takes three steps back, turns, and leaves.

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