06.12.3013: Shooting the Breeze
Summary: Nikomachos brings Sophie and Erik along for a casual patrol through the fields of Ares. Sophie proves her lack of tactical expertise, before earning a lesson in swordplay.
Date: June 12, 2013
Related: None
Nikomachos Erik Sophie 

The Fields of Ares - The Vale
The rolling grasslands of The Fields of Ares.
June 12, 3013

Regular patrols have been sent out from Phylon time and again, riding through Waygates to distant settlements and sweeping the Plains of Ares for any sign of the contents of those Hostile pods discovered scattered around the continent. Each patrol is composed of light and heavy cavalry, knights and Citizen soldiers alike. This one has an extra member, a Sauveur, but not the one known for hanging around Valen. Nikomachos has led the patrol out, although there's a Citizen Sergeant along too, ducking his lance through the Waygate and then leading the way through small farming community on the other side, "Leading a patrol like this is all about awareness, Lady Sophie." For all that talk, he has his helmet clipped to his side, and his hard light shield deactivated. "Spreading out far enough to cover ground, but not so far that you get in trouble if you actually find something."

The youngest Cindravale of this line had returned to Phylon earlier in the day, having finished his brief stint with the Marines on the Ring. Having departed from some of the wounded comrades on there, he is prepared to help defend his home when the Hostiles arrive, trying to get caught up with what he missed while he was on the Shadow of Intent. When he found out that his eldest brother would be leading a patrol out into the Plains of Ares, Erik quickly volunteered to tag along as well.
Back in full armor but now riding a Destrier, Erik is in his full comfort zone, having learned to handle a horse since youth and during his training as a squire and knight, he and his war horse became even more well attuned. The youngest Cindravale's own helm is resting on the saddle horn as he gazes out across the horizon, enjoying the taller point of view gained being astride a war horse. As Niko shares the wisdoms of a patrol with the Sauveur, Erik can't help but grin at that.

Sophie was beyond thrilled that she would finally experience her first patrol, part of her treacherously praying to the Six that she might be afforded the chance to see a Hostile in person. Either way, adorned in gleaming, perfectly polished protector armor, she rides beside Nikomachos on a white thoroughbred mare with black speckled fur. Following the leader, she decides to keep her hard light shield deactivated at present, her collapsible helmet not even present atop her wholly unused armor. Caedmon follows just behind the pair, wearing a set of medieval styled Defender armor and riding on the back of a thoroughbred chestnut steed. Sophie enthusiastically bobs her head, "of course, that makes absolute sense, my Lord. When I was hunting prey in the Arborenin Woods, it was essential to keep one's mind on their surroundings." She licks her lips, "thank you for allowing me on your own personal patrol, Niko. I very much appreciate it. You won't regret the decision whatsoever." She smiles and giggles cheerfully, "do you think we might meet some Hostiles?"

Nikomachos rides his monstrous black destrier as if he were himself walking, holding the pace down to a walk as the clear the outskirts of the tiny little town. "Well then you've got the basics of patrolling down. It's basically hunting, although in a more defined search pattern." The question about the Hostiles causes him to look over at Erik, a dry smirk touching his lips. Composing his features again, he looks back to Sophie, "Hopefully not, Lady Sophie, not this close to a settlement, but one never knows. If not, we'll break for lunch and we can give you a lesson or two with a blade."

The Sauveur's enthusiasm isn't surprising as Erik glances at the young girl who is rather pleased to be on the patrol, the younger Cindravale keeping quiet as Niko has the description of a patrol down pat, not having much to add. At least until Sophie asks the question of running into Hostiles and here is where Erik echos his brother's words, "And if a Hostile shows itself here, it would be with a purpose. We still do not know enough about them and their soldiers where running into them here would not be a simple affair, My Lady." Who knows what surprises awaits them in the main invading force. Perhaps the offer of practicing of the blade can distract Sophie from her eagerness if seeing a Hostile first hand.

Sophie occasionally has to remind her own horse not to constantly eat the grass, pulling up on the reins and patting her side. Bobbing her head merrily, she replies, "so I truly do know a thing or two about patrolling, it would seem…" She pulls on her reins again, sighing softly, "Mallory, no…" She fails to catch the glance between Erik and Nikomachos, too busy keeping her mount in line. When she manages to fix the situation again, she lightly says, "it would be interesting to see them in person. Though you are of course right, this close to the citizenry would be frightful for them. Unless, of course, we saved them. Saved them and they call us heroes. Oh, Lady Sir Agnes mentioned that I could draw the disassembled parts. I wonder what she would think if I brought a live one in for study…this is going to be so exciting!" She giggles and nods, "I would be glad for a lesson or two, it's been a while since…" She glances back at Erik when he speaks, "certainly, it would be bad news to run into them all the way here, but if we did, then we could perhaps even capture one alive. Just think. We'd be hailed as the first patrol to question a living Hostile."

Nikomachos shifts his heavy war lance where it's braced against his right stirrup, nodding to Erik. He shakes his head at the mention of heroism, "Being a hero is all well and good…" his lips curve up into a smirk, "…I wouldn't be Valen if I said otherwise, but heroism should be in the eyes of others. No action should be taken because it will make you a hero." Erik should recognize those words as those of their father. As they ride out, the light cavalry spreads out on either side, forming a cordon to widen their sweep. The mention of a living Hostile causes Niko to shake his head, "I will never take a living Hostile off the battlefield without specific orders, Lady Sophie. You heard what happened on The Ring, did you not? And they had the opportunity to interrogate the Hostile as best as they could before it killed seven people."

At the mention of capturing a Hostile alive and perhaps interrogating it, Erik stiffens ever so slightly in response but his armor is able to hide most of that fact. His expression may tighten a bit as well but it would be hard to detect except from those who know him very well. He chooses not to correct the young Lady from the royal line though, the wisdom that Niko shares, passed down from their Lord Father, more than enough, as well as what his brother feels about capturing a live Hostile. The youngest Cindravale had first hand experience with that Hostile incident and he is choosing not to share the gory details with Sophie, not wishing to scare the poor girl or make her feel ill at ease on this patrol.

Sophie furrows her brow in confusion, "but how else can someone become a hero, unless they intend to?…" She shakes her head slowly, though the mention of a living Hostile captive causes her to change the subject and reply sullenly, "b-but…they were not ready for the Hostile to wake up, none of us were…" She glances back to Erik, "you were hardly prepared for the creature to wake up, if I understand correctly…" After a moment of sullen silence, she sighs softly, "very well, Niko. You are the leader of this patrol. You're probably right, anyway. I just…I just wish we could speed up the process of eradicating them. Or at least, know why they attack us. From my view, they have no cause or reason. Surely they would not wish to wildly assault us out of mere spite?"

Nikomachos glances over to Erik again, frowning slightly and then looks back to Sophie, "We don't know what they can do yet, not everything, Lady Sophie." He gestures over to his brother then, "My brother can speak to that. He was gravely wounded by a weapon we are still trying to understand." Apparently, he is trying to make the Sauveur ill at ease on the patrol, or to scare her, but he's at least doing so politely as always. "It's true that we weren't ready, but we still don't know what would be enough to keep a Hostile captive, and the team was unable to communicate with them, for all that there are stories of them speaking Anglic." Riding up one rolling hill and slowly down the other side, he adds, "If they did not attack us, wouldn't we strike out at them? Perhaps after this long, we just have too much hate for anything but war between us."

When Niko finishes speaking, Erik picks up where his brother leaves off, usually not a man of few words but on a patrol, he is much more business-like in his duties, not as arrogant and cocky. "And one does not become a hero by forcing themselves into situations, My Lady. A true hero is one that will act bravely and boldly when most would cower or retreat in fear, if it is for a greater good, despite the risks that may be at hand. One who would not hesitate in the face of danger when it is needed, not when it the situation is right."

Sophie mumbles stubbornly, "but that is all the more reason to capture and interrogate one of them…" She blinks, nodding her head, "not just stories, Niko. Lord Tristan Arboren told me that they spoke with him. They demanded his surrender, in Anglic no less. Why would Lord Tristan not be truthful on the matter? No, I am sure they speak Anglic…though I do not know how. Which is why we have to find a way to capture one. And…" She smiles hopefully, "by doing so, we inadvertantly become heroes…" She holds on tightly to her reins while her mare trundles up the hill, taking that particular chance to stop and graze on the grass underfoot. Slightly off-balance, she tugs a bit roughly on the reins and breathes out heavily, "Mallory!" She gets the horse to rise and continue past the hill, frowning at her mount's disobedience. Amber eyes flicker to Nikomachos, though she keeps the horse' head always at the corner of her vision, "maybe…maybe you're right. If so, perhaps they fail to understand us as much as we fail to understand them. And and…if we could only speak with them, we might manage to relieve the many centuries of conflict as we work out our differences together." She looks to Erik and nods her head, smiling cheerfully, "I could be a hero like that, I think. Brave in the face of danger, and acting boldly when others would retreat…"

Nikomachos shakes his head, "I certainly have no intention of impugning Sir Tristan's honor, Lady Sophie. I simply hadn't heard first-hand." He nods to Erik then, "That's a hero. Someone who does what's needed." The Sauveur's problems with her horse cause him to chuckle softly, "You know, you might want to find yourself a war-trained mount if you intend to ride many of these patrols." His lips purse at cheerful response, "Not just brave and bold, but intelligently brave and bold, Lady Sophie. As our father always said, boldness is a failure away from stupidity."

The familiar words that their Lord Father had drilled into them since they were young brings a tug at the edge of Erik's lips, a smirk threatening to reveal itself. "Indeed, My Lady, my brother is very right. Some would also say that a hero and a fool are not too far apart, the difference is being in the right place at the right time rather than the wrong place at the wrong time."

Sophie nods her head, swiftly forgiving as she replies, "well, now you know that the Hostiles truly do speak Anglic. Though none of us know why or even how. They've been gone for centuries. How could they know our language?" She blushes lightly at the comment about her horse, petting the mare's side, "but I like Mallory…" She purses her lips for a moment, "do you know any good breeders, Niko?" She gigggles lightly, "it sounds like your father has many quotes to offer, my Lord. I…I will try to remember them and remain…intelligently bold." She smirks back at Erik, "let us hope that we will always be at the right place at the right time, especially today…"

Nikomachos shrugs one armored shoulder at the first question, "Well, if they captured the original colonists of the Fifth World, or if they are the descendants of the original colonists…" Shaking that off, he nods, "The finest horses in the system come from House Rovehn, right here in the Vale." That would be the transient house that lives out of giant wheel-houses and follows their herds across the northern Plains of Ares. "Father has a great deal of… most everything. He set his heart on becoming Knight Commander from a young age, and has done everything in his power to achieve that end."

The thought of the Hostiles being descendants from the original colonists that went to that last planet causes Erik to wince, a possibility that the youngest doesn't wish to entertain at any time. When the subject turns to his father again, a smiles appears, one that can be described as pride. "It is certainly footsteps that we wish to follow as well, My Lady, to achieve what we set our hearts to." And for Erik, one may assume that it is indeed to protect the Realm from the Hostiles.

Sophie shifts uneasily on her mount, "I do not know if I like the idea that those…things are somehow actually humans. I would much rather imagine them as alien monstrosities than former humans…" When Nikomachos shakes it off, she attempts to do the same as best as she can, "House Rovehn are such a curious people. I do not know why they cannot simply breed their horses like most, on a specific plot of land." She nods her head, "though I shall have to speak with them about a warhorse indeed. I shiver at the thought they I will be attacked by Hostiles, only for Mallory to sit there and-" She pulls at the reins again, once more finding her mare chomping down on grass, "do exactly that!" Still, she manages to chuckle softly, perhaps even a bit harshly, "I wish I had my heart set on war since I was young. Instead, my sister Ellie is the one to fight head on with the Enemy, and I am forced to wait idly on patrols for the occasional passing Hostile." She smirks at Erik, "if only I set my heart to a different path when I was younger."

Nikomachos chuckles softly at Eirk's words, "You'll have to race me for the post, baby brother." The chuckles built to a little laugh, shrugging again at Sophie's unease, "I'm certainly not the expert. It just seems to be a logical assumption, one of those two." Riding up the side of another hill and then along the top, where they can see for a good distance along the plains. "Knights and men-at-arms who have served for decades are riding these patrols, on the off chance that we discover a Hostile and can shield the Citizenry from it. From what I've been told, a good three quarters of war is boredom and routine." Just one more reminder that the tourney knight has not actually been to war.

Hearing his brother's response, Erik can't help but laugh as well, as the mock challenge is delivered. "It will be a close race indeed, Niko. And war will come soon enough, brother, too soon." It appears that the youngest Cindravale is no longer as eager to clash against the Hostiles again, perhaps after seeing what he saw when they boarded the Hostile ship and also the aftermath on the Ring where so many of the wounded had returned, along with the reaction from those who have lost friends and loved ones. Erik does look back to Sophie though, who appears to be lamenting about how it was not her that is going off to the front lines, "My Lady, war is not just what is on the front lines. We all have a play to part in war, and each part is equally important. From the knight on the front line to the Captain of a Ramship, from the doctor far from the enemy lines to the wife of a soldier who is at home, caring for the children and sending letters to her love. I am sure you have an important part to play as well."

Sophie smiles pleasantly as Nikomachos laughs, before replying to his words, "well, I certainly hope it is neither. It is difficult to think we must be killing other human beings, rather than viewing them as abominable horrors." She gasps lightly as they rise over a hill, "what a beautiful view. I will have to draw this the next time I come." She shrugs her shoulders, "while I would be glad that the Citizenry would not be in danger with so much routine, I selfishly admit to wishing we would find a band of Hostiles. I have not even seen a disassembled one first-hand, never mind the living variety." She turns to Erik and sighs softly, amber eyes flickering momentarily towards Nikomachos before answering, "that is precisely what many have already told me, my Lord. That I need not fight. That there are many other tasks I could accomplish. That morale is more important than a single extra soldier. But…I want to fight the Hostiles. I want to feel in the grip of battle, to experience what Ellie has and know what the soldiers are going through with every single attack. Though…I suppose I have attempted one or two plans to help. H-have either of you watched the Haven News Network recently?"

Nikomachos nods to Erik, "Just what I was telling Lady Sophie earlier, brother." The mention of the beautiful view causes him to chuckle softly, dipping his head to speak into his gorget a moment, "Sergeant, would you come over a moment?" As the grizzled veteran heels his horse over, Nikomachos chuckles again and nods, "Your speech. I must admit I can't remember the exact words, but from what I recall, it was a good start." His lips curl into a frown some as he sobers, "Especially with His Majesty's health issues, it's good for the Citizenry to know that the Sauveurs are calm and controlled." As the Sergeant approaches with a bow to Sophie, then a salute to the knights, Niko returns the salute, then gestures out over the 'beautiful' landscape, "What do you see out there, Sergeant?" Sucking on his teeth, the veteran looks over the area, "Not much cover between here and the next hill, Sir. But beyond the rise, could be a whole company of 'ostiles and we wouldn't know." There's a pause, and the Sergeant gestures ahead, "There's a gully up there, blind spot, could be three or four in there."

The need to be in the thick of battle is something that Erik understands very clearly, so he does sympathize with Sophie's desire, especially when she is held back. At the mention of the HNN though, there is a slight nod from the younger knight, having saw that the King is recovering. Anything else he might have said is held back though when the Sergeant is called to join them, and when the lay of the land is shared, Erik is gazing out with his own eyes to try to pick out the spots that are mentioned.

Sophie smiles proudly no matter the slightly lackluster response, "I will have to send you a copy of it, Niko. It was the first speech I ever gave to the public…though I did record it in the comfort of my own bedroom, admittedly." She nods her head a bit more solemnly, "it is a terrible thing, Uncle's weakening health. I do not know what will come of us, without him…" She inclines her head slightly to the Sergeant, curious what he has to say. When she hears his explanation, her amber eyes light up bright enough to almost certainly be made of pure gold, "we should check it out. The gully, I mean. We should check it out." She pats her horse' side, giggling with glee, "we might be able to see our first fight, Mallory." The mount snorts, lowering her head to the grass. She sighs, rolling her eyes, "one last meal before we head out, alright Mallory?" She turns to Nikomachos, "race you there?" She is already drawing the bow from her back, which unfolds into its full 50' height, string slipping from within and rising across the corners.

Nikomachos too looks over the terrain under the eye of the Sergeant, standing up in his stirrups to get a better view. He chuckles at Sophie's offer, "I have it recorded, actually. I figured I should learn about what Ellie's family is up to." A smirk touches his lips, although he smooths it away as he settles back into his saddle. The Sergeant frowns darkly at the Sauveur's suggestion, but Niko laughs easily, "If there are Hostiles in the gully, I think it might be wise to approach them a little more circumspectly, Lady Sophie." Nikomachos may not be tactically brilliant like his father, but he gestures to the Sergeant, "Sergeant, if the three of us flush anything in that gully, can you bag them?" He knows how to hunt, after all, and the Sergeant frowns a moment, then nods his helmeted head. He's externally silent for a long moment as he speaks to the men, who ready weapons and begin to circle around. "If you will stay behind us, please?" And then he's gathering up his helmet and settling it onto his head with a click and a hiss.

Once the plan is beginning to be laid out by Nikomachos, Erik's hand goes to the helmet that is resting on his saddle horn, lifting it to his head. He knows that the more dangerous part of the patrol comes now and he is beginning to don the protective helm. The same sealing hiss can be heard from the younger Cindravale's armor and helm, so that he is fully protected now against possible Hostiles.

Sophie smiles brightly when Nikomachos reveals already owning a recording, "wise of you, my Lord. Perhaps I shall add another to your collection, if I can come up with what I might say to the people once more." She sighs softly, "though if there are only three or four…but if you say so, Niko." She furrows her brow as Niko speaks of strategy with the Sergeant, restless despite the shameful fact that her horse continues to eat. Caedmon, her guard, moves in the direction of the Sergeant, waiting on his mount beside the officer with the intent of helping to 'bag' the Hostiles. Sophie giggles lightly, "perhaps we'll even bag one alive…" At that, she presses a button, and her helmet begins unfolding across her head, one segmeted plate at a time. She draws an arrow from the same location her bow was previously stored, a metallic shaft that straightens and lengthens once freed from its futuristic quiver, "ready when you are, Niko."

Nikomachos looks over to Sophie as she speaks up about capturing a Hostile again, shaking his helmet and sighing softly inside his helmet, "AI, Wireframe terrain." And colored lines lace over his view, showing the gully quite clearly now. When he speaks for those around him, it is not out loud, but rather carried across helmet comms, "Call it, Sergeant." As the soldiers move into position, Niko waits, his destrier stamping its foot once, the only sign of his rider's nerves. When the men and women are ready, the Sergeant speaks up, "Ready, sir." And Niko nods over to Erik and Sophie, the two men riding forward slowly, starting to circle ever so slightly around to the right to get a good view, "If there are only three or four, Lady Sophie, I want to hit them with at least a dozen. This is a long war, there will be plenty of time for glory." As they approach the gully, the Cindravale lowers his lance, couching it below one arm, "We're going in hot, Sergeant…" And then he heels his horse into a trot, "Cover us, Lady Sophie…"

Sophie nocks her arrow against the bow, kicking the sides of her horse to command the beast from its grazing. She follows Erik and Niko across the grassy fields, letting them lead at only a short distance while the trio slowly make their way to the gully. Hearing Niko's voice through the speakers in her helmet, she replies back, failing to conceal an enthusiastic tone in her voice, "yes, my Lord. But I would be glad to draw them afterwards, if I may." Either way, she kicks Mallory again to chase after Erik and Nikomachos, raising her bow and drawing her arrow against her cheek. She peers out into the distance, searching for the merest hint of movement within the gully. Whether or not she successfully finds it, she releases her arrow, letting the length of steel fly through the air moments before she draws another.

Nikomachos swoops in on the gully, but once he can see within it, he raises up his lance over his head, shutting down his shield with a command within his helmet, "We're clear." His destrier slows down to a walk, turning aside, as an arrow comes streaking past, causing Nikomachos to twist in his saddle to look back over his shoulder, "Wait… what? What did you see?" At Nikomachos' first call, the soldiers start to trail down from the hills, although the halt at the question.

Sophie follows Nikomachos into the gully, only to see nothing within the area. Worse, when the Valen Lord turns back to her and questions her action, she hesitantly replies, "I-I thought I would fire into the gully, in case they were there and I could hit one before it had the chance to retaliate…" She pauses for a moment before admitting, "I d-did not see anything, my Lord." Then she sighs, as though her action was hardly a problem, "I suppose the Hostiles have not come this close then…"

Nikomachos laughs easily at the explanation, "Well, that particular bush won't be hurting anyone, Lady Sophie. I meant that if any target presented itself, you should fire on it. That's generally what 'cover me' means." He doesn't seem upset or anything, more amused than anything else. Settling the butt of his lance against his stirrup again, he gestures up to the nearest hill, "Why don't we take lunch up there, Sergeant? A good place for a lesson in swordsmanship, I think." Turning his helmet back to Sophie, he laughs lightly again, "And you can collect your arrow, Lady Sophie. They're a finite resource now…"

For some reason, her helmet is feeling particularly hot, her head canted downwards slightly and her bow limp on her horse' back, "y-yes, my Lord. I-I'll…I'll try not to shoot too many more bushes then next time…" She presses a button on her helmet, which collapses the device in on itself, multitudes of segmented plates lowering beneath the breastplate of her armor. The faint pinkness can now be noticed on her features, though she tries to hide it by collecting the waiting arrow, "I-I'll…I'll be right there." Her mare trots in the direction of the arrow, pulling on the reins once she notices the metallic glitter among the green grass. She shifts from the saddle and drops to the ground, picking up her arrow and placing the contraption back inside its quiver, where it collapses to its former diminutive frame. She sets the bow on her back as well, collapsing in on itself and connecting into place. At last, she decides to take her horse by the reins, the pair slowly making their way up towards the nearest hill while her blush slowly fades away.

Nikomachos pulls his helmet off, stepping his destrier lightly around the gully, "You blush a great deal like your sister, Lady Sophie." He slots the butt of his lance into a holster in his saddle, then swings his leg over his horse's back and drops down lightly. He pulls off his helmet and clips it back to his waist, walking his destrier back up to the hill alongside Sophie and her horse, "These are things that knights and soldiers have been taught since we were young, Milady. There are a lot of details that you will need to learn if you want to join the fight directly. It's nothing to be ashamed of, just something to be cognizant of. Knowing your own weaknesses is as important as knowing your strengths."

Sophie only discovers a revival of the pinkness about her cheeks when her blush is mentioned, glancing down shyly, "I-I did not realize, my Lord. Usually, Ellie and I are too at odds with one another to notice any blushing. Though…things feel like they've been changing recently, because of the war." She sighs, "I know. I have much to learn. Do not doubt that I would have hit the Hostile square on if there was one though. I believe I am even better than my sister with a bow, and she nearly won the last tournament. Now that I am back, I intend to win it myself." She licks her lips, "though I may have to start nearly from the beginning in the ways of the sword. I have had only a small handful of lessons in the past few years…Also, you will forgive me for not bring a sword. I had not considered we would train while on the patrol itself."

Nikomachos quiets for a moment, eventually coming up with, "This may not be the time to languish in our differences, Lady Sophie. It is a time to think on similarities." A smile spreads across his lips, "And I can't speak to your accuracy, I'm absolutely useless with a bow myself." His smile spreads further, "See, my own weakness." Gesturing up to the hill, he adds, "I'm sure one of the men would be happy to loan you one. I really should have brought trainers, I'll remember that next time."

Sophie nods her head lightly, sighing softly, "you're right, of course. I think…I think we're becoming closer." She licks her lips, "have you seen her recently? I've been so busy with that recording and then drawing a poster, that I have yet to see her since the first…attack. How…how is she?" She chuckles softly, shrugging her shoulders, "well, most people disdain bows and arrows as cowardly, but I think I've got a knack for them myself. But I don't think it's cowardly. It's just…different from most. Besides, it's not like I have nearly as much endurance for any sort of extended swordfight anyway." After realizing she has been rambling, she shaking her head and adds, "I-I'll get that sword." She walks up the hill until she reaches the camp of men, conversing with them lightly enough that her voice fails to waft through the air. Eventually, one of the man hands her a sword. While the smallest they can offer, it is obviouisly too large for her, and she hurries to return to Nikomachos, already panting from the short journey.

Nikomachos clears his throat at the question, "I saw Ellie after she returned. She took some wounds in the fighting, but she is recovering well." He's not blushing, but it's a near-run thing. As Sophie departs, he settles his destrier into place, then looks about the area as he unbuckles his scabbarded sword from his belt. When she returns, Nikomachos frowns heavily, "I don't want to discourage you too much, Lady Sophie, but even participating in a tourney is tiring work for someone who is used to fighting, let alone someone who is not used to such things. Perhaps we should work on endurance as much as actual sword-work."

Sophie sighs with obvious relief, "that is very good to hear. I am glad she is well. I really should see her soon." Hearing the suggestion, she uncertainly nods her head, "I…suppose that would probably be a good idea. Though I've always been this way, Niko. I don't know how much exercise will truly help me in acquiring greater endurance." She rests the blade point against the ground, her hand lazily reclining atop the pommel, "still, I would welcome whatever help you can offer. I am simply in doubt as to its possible effectiveness."

Nikomachos frowns thoughtfully, "That… could pose a problem, Lady Sophie. If you cannot keep up with a retreat, you will be a danger to those around you." Sighing, he reaches up to tug his helmet-flattened hair up into light spikes at the front of his head, "But I'll do what I can to ensure that you can protect yourself, because you're Ellie's sister." He draws the scabbard off his sword, then sets the sword down, tossing the scabbard to his right hand and gesturing for her to do the same, "It won't be the same, holding the scabbard, but it will help with the motions, at least."

Sophie frowns, "even if I were to ride a horse throughout? I've always tired much more easily than most, or perhaps even everyone I know. But…if I had to, I think I could keep up. At least for a short while…" She licks her lips uncertainly, simply nodding her head to the man, "thank you, Niko. I'm sure Ellie will be glad you helped me…though angry I still intend to fight." At Nikomachos' indication, she unsheathes the overlarge blade from its scabbard, carefully laying the sword upon the grass beside her. Just like her sparring partner, she places the scabbard in her right hand. Shyly, she bobs her head, pursing lightly at her lips, "it would be best we start nearly at the beginning, Niko. I do not know much."

Nikomachos shakes his head, "Just swinging a sword or holding a lance for more than a few minutes will wear anyone out." He offers up a crooked grin then, "It's one of the most intensive forms of exercise I've found." He steps carefully away from the laid-down swords, bringing the scabbard up in both hands, "You'll want to use both hands on the hilt of the blade, with a bit of space between them. That will let you use leverage to shift the blade quickly." He demonstrates, twisting his hands to whip around the point of the scabbard. "I'm not going to worry too much about attacking, just keeping your defenses up. It's all about cutting off angles. Each attack will either be a slash…" He brings the scabbard up slowly, then brings it down in a slow slash toward Sophie's left shoulder, aiming to stop just shy, "…or a thrust."

Sophie furrows her brow, doing her best to memorize what Nikomachos tells her. She smirks, "then perhaps I'll simply hold a lance all day and see if that gives me more endurance." Carefully, looking at her own hands, she places them one on top of the other upon the hilt. Her palms inch a tiny bit apart, giving them room on the leather of the scabbard's entrance. She gasps however when Nikomachos' scabbard comes seemingly crashing down towards her shoulder, eyes widening and taking a frightened step back. She inexpertly smacks the scabbard against the man's own, stammering out worriedly, "l-like this?"

Nikomachos shakes his head at the inexpert parry, "Don't worry about defending yet. Just learn the movements. You need the theory before you get the practice." Re-setting himself, he once more demonstrates the slow two-handed slash, "It can come in from any angle, but if there's power behind the slash, you'll get some warning as they draw back to gain room. The thrust is more dangerous." He resets, and then dips the blade so that he can thrust — again very slowly — toward her midsection, "The only warning of the thrust is when the point drops, so you have to watch for that. Point rises, they're likely to slash, point falls, they're likely to thrust."

Sophie gives a short nod of her head, "that does indeed make sense…" She continues to chew on her lower lip in thought, trying to take in all that Nikomachos explains to her, "wouldn't the slash be more dangerous, because of momentum?" She glances down at the end of the scabbard as the object slowly maneuvers towards her belly, "that sounds simple enough. Why would it be so difficult to become good at this? It's just figuring out if one blocks a thrust or a slash, right?" She raises her scabbard and practices a slow thrust against Nikomachos' own stomach, hoping the attack was done correctly, "like this?"

Nikomachos shakes his head, "The thrust is more dangerous, because it comes in so quick." Almost instinctively, he drops the tip of his scabbard down, clattering sheathes together as he moves to shove the thrust off to his left, "Like that, yes. But remember what I said. Don't worry about the attacks now, just how to recognize them. I'm not trying to teach you how to kill a Hostile with a sword, just how to defend yourself." Straightening up, and lowering the scabbard-sword a little bit, "If you cannot learn what your instructors would teach you, you may find yourself without instructors, Lady Sophie."

Sophie nods her head slowly at the explanation, "oh, of course. I should have thought of that." She feels the man force her scabbard leftwards, watching carefully for how he does so, "but eventually I'll be able to kill a Hostile, right?" She frowns lightly, shaking her head, "no, please, I'm learning. I'm grateful for you to show me this. You are already teaching me more than I knew." She lowers her own scabbard fully against her side, "so what's next? There's a thrust and a slash. Are there other ways of defeating your opponent?"

Nikomachos lifts the scabbard again, "Your way of defeating an opponent will be to hold it off long enough for someone to come help you with it. The key to defending yourself is figuring out where the attack is coming from, and where it's going to. You'll have to defend a slash at your shoulder much, much differently than a thrust at your leg." Bringing his sword across his body to parry an imaginary thrust, he freezes the gesture with the sword at his left shoulder and nods toward it, "The key to parrying a thrust is to guide it away from your body while you dodge it. The key to parrying a slash is to hold it up long enough to get away from it. Usually that means stepping back out of range."

Sophie frowns deeper at the declaration of her own particular way to defeat an opponent, "I guess Sir Barrow could assist me with an enemy, if one got close enough to attack me…" She blinks at the further explanation of different sorts of defense, "that sounds far more complicated than I thought. Hopefully I can be of use with a blade before we get too deeply involved in the System War." She mimics the man, placing her scabbard up against her left shoulder as though to guard herself from a thrust. Slowly, she nods her head, "I hope I have the endurance to dodge an attack during an extended fight…never mind the strength to block it."

Nikomachos nods his head, "That's why you don't try to block. You slow it down until you can get out of the way, and you distract them until Sir Barrow or someone else can help you." Flipping the scabbard easily around, he chokes up on it so that he can scoop up his sword and sheath it once more, "We'll get into more detail, and you can actually try a few parries after we get something to eat."

Sophie nods her head quickly, "ah. That should help with my disadvantage then. If I can manage to get out of the way of someone's much stronger slash or thrust." Seeing how Nikomachos sheathes his blade, she walks over to the weapon the remains on the grass nearby, hoisting the sword up and sliding the object into its scabbard. Heading towards the man group of people on patrol, she firmly nods her head and smiles, "I did not realize how hungry I am until you mentioned it. Sounds like a plan."

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