Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Drifting Pollen
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The peasantry stamped their feet, roaring from the stands as another knight was pummeled to the ground. The victor raised his mace and spread his arms to welcome their cheers, before backing away as a fretting marshal and two assistants rushed forth to tend to his defeated opponent.

The tournament was just warming up, opening with a few sparring matches on foot before the jousting and the main event. Few warriors bothered competing in these rounds, preferring instead to seek glory on horseback with blunted lances. Even in plate armor, fighting with real weapons often led to death or injury, and the risk seemed hardly worth the renown.

So both nobles and peasants alike could hardly contain their surprise when the fair-haired Sir Favian Procell stepped out onto the grassy field, decked out in full plate armor with a steel longsword in hand and a rondel dagger sheathed beside his right hip. The handsome knight was a renowned warrior, and one of the favorites to win the upcoming joust—so what was he doing here? Surely there was nothing to be gained from participating in such a minor scuffle, especially not for a man of such great repute as he?

The knight's cold blue eyes offered no answer as he pulled his visor down and lowered the tip of his blade to the earth, calmly awaiting his opponent's arrival. A growing murmur swept through the crowds in the stands, a thrum of anticipation for what promised to be the most interesting match yet.
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Sir Griffon Aslain marched towards the grassy field where the peasants and nobles had gathered around to watch two knights fight. He stopped opposite of Sir Favian Procell and stared at him as a man introduced both men and their titles. Griffon was equipped with beautiful german gothic plate and a dagger strapped on his hip while his intimidating poleaxe was rested on his shoulder. He looked around and waved at the cheering crowd. The nobles murmured amongst themselves asking why a man who has been away to campaign came to compete here instead of resting from fighting battle after battle. The rumors began to spread and become more outrageous as they passed from ear to ear. Griffon's reason? He came here to fight as peace did not suit him.

His eyes evaluated Sir Procell, he then closed the visor to his helmet and took his poleaxe and gripped it in both hands keeping the axehead above his right shoulder with the butt spike pointed towards his opponent. "May God favor you sir Porcell, for I will show no quarter!"
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Favian sighed. This wasn't a man he knew well, though he was sure that he'd heard the name of Sir Aslain before. Some knight who'd gone off to war and come through it not just alive but stronger, forged into a beast who could strike men down like a reaper culling wheat. The stories might exaggerate, perhaps, but his choice of that poleaxe as a weapon belied a ruthless and practical mind, and Favian took him at his word when he said there would be no quarter.

Men like us are beneath God's sight, Sir Aslain. But he kept that part quiet, and spoke only out of obligation. "I could ask for nothing more. I only hope my sword can offer ample challenge."

This kind of fight suited him well enough, he supposed. It was simpler this way. An icy calm was settling over him, the sounds of the crowd fading away into a dull murmur in the distance, and as the marshal called for the match to start he was already shifting from man to warrior, leaving all pretense of mercy and empathy behind.

He advanced, and brought his sword-point up as he moved, settling into a fighting stance. As he stepped within fifteen feet of his opponent, he was in a steady middle guard with his right leg leading, sword held to the left of his body at a shallow upward angle. The pommel rested just below hip level, and the point was aimed roughly at the middle of Sir Aslain's chest, following the other knight's movements with a careful accuracy.

Keeping his eyes on his opponent, and adjusting his own steps as needed to control the distance between them, Favian continued his advance, slowing down slightly at twelve feet and finally pausing about eight feet away from Aslain, watching and waiting for one or two seconds without closing further. Would that fearsome griffon take the initiative, and strike him first? Or would it fall to Favian to make the opening move...?
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Without any further words, he knew that the fight was on. The air stilled as if the world held its breath for each passing moment of this fight. He remembered this feeling, the exhilarating moments before clashing with the enemy. How many have been felled by his hands in this manner? He could not remember, but it was Favian who would step forward first.

Aslain was careful, watching Favian's advance looking for any openings in his opponents defense. Favian took a classic longsword guard that would check any foolish advance. This sir Favian was a calculated man, a worthy opponent. Aslain inched forward, closing the distance between them to six feet, still a little out of reach of a proper swing from his poleaxe. He stepped towards his left, left foot leading as he lowered the head of his poleaxe towards his hip, pointed slightly towards the ground.

He continued this movement circling looking for a gap in his defense. He quickly stopped and shifted his weight to balance himself before deciding to break through Favian's defense with brute force and a burst of speed. He lunged towards Favian attempting to swipe away the point of his sword with the weight of the poleaxe and positioning the axehead's spike towards his chest for a proper thrust.
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Bright blue eyes watched Sir Aslain through a slitted visor, judging distance, anticipating movement. Favian had offered his opponent an opportunity, and the knight had taken it, closing even further now. His aggression was clear; it could only be a matter of time until he struck.

Favian positioned his feet carefully, keeping his sword pointed at his opponent and his profile narrow so as to present a smaller target. When the moment came, he was ready: a swift backstep answered Sir Aslain's lunge, and the axehead glanced the longsword closer to the tip than intended. The point swung to one side, but not so far or so hard that Favian lost control of it, and a quick adjusting of his grip on the hilt brought it back into position in time to parry an oncoming thrust. If Aslain did follow through with his attack, he'd see the flat of Favian's blade smack against the shaft of his axe, pushing the spike to one side as it thrust forward.
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Aslain let out a frustrated huff as his thrust was parried to his right side, he quickly recovered by advancing with his left foot forward and using the momentum of the parry to put the butt spike in front and the axe towards the back to guard an advance. They were now maybe two or three paces apart. The poleaxe is a rather effective battlefield weapon and is excellent in a duel, but Favian's longsword was far less cumbersome in some regards and Favian shows his expertise in it.

Aslain changed tactics, he feigned to do the same move again. He hit the sword away with a swing from Aslain's right, he put his right foot forward as he did. However instead of moving to thrust he quickly moved his left hand up to maneuver the axehead to try and quickly hook Favian's right foot and put him on his back.
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The griffon was fast, the griffon was skilled, but with every movement Favian could better judge the limits of that speed and technique. He'd been playing it cautious so far, letting his opponent take the initiative, but all the while his cold eyes had been watching with the intensity of a hunting lynx, taking the measure of all they saw. So when Sir Aslain moved again to knock away his blade, Favian responded for more audaciously than before.

I know the timing of your swing, lion knight. It did not fool me the first time, and shame on you for trying it again. As the axehead came back around to slam against his sword, Favian lunged forward of his own accord, pushing off his left foot and stepping swiftly ahead with his right. At the same time, he let the grip of his right hand go momentarily slack, only to seize the sword again at a different point, partway along the blade this time.

The axe crashed home, and a loud crack rang out—hard wood against solid steel. The longsword was not pushed aside as intended, for Favian had switched to a half-sword grip and intercepted the beating strike along the length of blade between his hands. Now holding his sword like a metal staff, he capitalized upon his momentum and pushed further, throwing all his weight forwards against Sir Aslain and his axe. If he was quick enough, he could push the other knight backwards or even knock him down onto the grass, though that would depend more upon the element of surprise than any natural difference in strength.
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Sir Favian was no fool it would seem. Aslain noted the knight's strength, sure enough he was no spoon fed noble, he was a warrior of equal raport. The problem now was that Sir Favian had entered a contest of strength against Sir Aslain's own, he aimed to push him back into the grass, but not this knight, this knight had fought in campaign against the French. He pushed against Favian's own strength, shifting his feet to get better purchase on the grass.

I'm no peasant nor am I a mere brute... You'll have to do better to put me on my back Sir Favian. Aslain shifted his grip quickly to have better leverage. For a moment, he saw Favian's cold gaze through the gaps of his visor. Favian was a man of cold focus, he decided to test this. He gave way slightly only to shove back with another burst of strength hoping to catch Favian off guard and push him out of measure so that he could ready another strike.
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No luck. Sir Aslain was like an iron wall, ceding no ground to Favian's relentless pressure. The blue-eyed knight grunted with effort as he pushed against the axe's shaft, the cold machinery of his mind racing to line up a new strategy.

He could not win in a contest of strength, that much was clear. How, then did he break through the lion's defense. Should I back off now, and seek an opportunity in the next exchange? Trading blows with that poleaxe was a risk every time, and Favian had no way of being sure he would come out on top if they went toe-to-toe again. No, he had to make a move now, while he still had some inkling of an advantage.

His grip on his sword grew tighter in readiness. The crowd roared, cheering on their favored knights or simply enjoying the spectacle of the two warriors straining with all their might.

When Sir Aslain suddenly gave way, it caught Favian by surprise. He fell forward slightly, losing his balance for just an instant before shifting his weight onto his leading foot to steady himself. Already, though, the lion knight was crashing against him again, giving Favian no time to adjust his posture. He would be pushed back, forced away—

—but not before his own trick came into play.

Even if he hadn't anticipated a feint, he had been waiting for the moment he could move his blade. And that brief interval, that false respite when Sir Aslain gave way, that was enough. Enough for him to angle his blade, eyes fixed on his target, and thrust it forward with brutal intent.

Yes, he would be pushed back, but in the process he was going to get in one good stab, jabbing his sword up like a crowbar to shove it into the gap between the breastplate and the gorget. Plate armor could protect very well against sword cuts and thrusts, but the joints were more vulnerable, and with the strength of Favian's well-muscled arms added momentarily to the forward momentum of Aslain surging back from his faked moment of weakness, he just might be able to force the blade through to the other man's neck.

A ruthless move, no matter its outcome. But that kind of steely resolve had carried Sir Procell through the wars of the past, and engraved itself into his soul. How does no quarter taste, Sir Aslain? Like metal? Like blood on steel?
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That one jab, if Aslain wasn't a seasoned knight, it might have killed him. His reaction had to be quick. He saw the angle, there was no time to properly counter, instead reactively angling himself hoping that would be enough to divert his blade, alas it would only be half as effective. Favian would land the first blow, with the tip of the blade glancing towards the gap between his breastplate and his right pauldron. Aslain stifled a grunt, the chainmail would hold, but the impact sent a shock throughout his right side.

Aslain mind flashed back to the battle in France. French knights have been just as brutal, just as ferocious. They were fools, but they were trained fools in good armor and armed with blades just as sharp as the one that he clashed against now. He grit his teeth knowing that he had cheated death many times before. But how long till lady luck turns her favor. The nobles on Aslain's side began to doubt whether he would survive this battle. Sir Favian was in his own right a renowned knight who proved himself in just as many campaigns.

But Aslain was not done, he would capitalize on the few precious seconds despite the pain in his right shoulder. As long as sir Favian was this close he would have to sieze the moment. He dropped his poleaxe and grabbed Favian's sword with both hands, and with his left foot he'd kick him in the middle of his torso to push him away and disarm him at the same time. This was the fighting that he had to do during a campaign, close, dirty, and personal. However, whether these next actions would have the desired effect remains to be seen.
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To Aslain's credit, he adapted quickly. The knight's armored foot clanged against Favian's breastplate, and he let himself stumble backwards with the force of the blow, releasing his grip on the longsword. Losing the weapon was a tough sacrifice to make, but there were advantages to playing along. Taking a kick like that full-on could hurt a man even through armor, whereas moving with the force of it let Favian regain his balance faster and avoid the risk of being knocked over. And besides, he was not yet fully unarmed.

The dagger came out from its sheath with a sharp swish, glinting in the light as Favian effortlessly flipped it into an upward grip. With the blade in his right hand, he darted to one side, rushing in from Aslain's right before the man had a chance to fully acquaint himself with the sword. Doubtless the lion knight could use Favian's weapon with some skill, but first he had to pull it out from where it had jabbed into his armor, not to mention get a proper grip on it and shift into something resembling a proper guard. Speed was off the essence here: this critical opportunity would not last long.

So he would not hesitate. The rondel dagger thrust upward like a striking snake, stabbing up into the gap between Aslain's right arm and his torso. Favian didn't know for sure if his last blow had had any effect, but he would capitalize upon any weakness he could find.
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He had forseen the dagger play that would come and it would leave Favian with little choice but to close distance. Instead of getting a proper grip on the longsword as most people would, he simply let it come out of his armor and hit the ground. This gave him a precious few seconds to counter thrust, his left hand he would catch Favian's right arm where the elbow would meet the forearm. Aslain struggled to get any more strength out of his right but he could still ball a fist. He knows that the dagger would be a force multiplier, he would take his own out with his right while pulling Favian closer with his left, pulling the dagger past the intended destination where it would only meet the steelplate on his back.

He didn't hesitate, he went to headbutt his opponent, counter aggression with aggression. At the same time his dagger would aim for Favian's thigh. Aslain must be aggressive, there was no room for caution, not anymore, not when these two knights have come to blows. He must overwhelm his opponent with calculated and measured force. As was said before, I would show no quarter, nor will I cede ground without cost.
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Without missing a beat, Aslain caught Favian's right arm and moved to counter his attack. No hesitation, no second thoughts or doubts, only swift and formidable action. The crowd roared, some deep instinct within their souls recognizing the spirit of a true warrior.

But this was a dance of two partners, and again Favian matched the lion knight step for step. Even without looking, the pull on his right arm told him exactly what was going on, and he responded almost on instinct.

In that moment, both of Aslain's arms were occupied. With his left, he was pulling Favian into butting range, and with his right, he was drawing forth his own dagger to attack. Thus, it would be hard for him to defend as Favian's own left arm came whipping up in a ferocious left hook, and sent an armored fist screaming like a steel meteorite into his opponent's visor.

A punch like that would smart even through a helmet, but even if it did hit square-on, Sir Aslain had an elephant's fortitude. Favian knew it would take more than that to bring down his foe, and wasn't counting on a knockout or concussion. All he needed was to stun Aslain for a moment, or at least block his vision and distract him with the oncoming punch, so that he could enact his next move.

His left leg kicked out, aiming to sweep Aslain's right foot from under him, while at the same time his right arm shoved hard against Aslain's right side. Break the foundations, turn his weight against him. If it worked, he might finally take his opponent to the ground... He didn't see the dagger coming, and felt an impact on his left thigh, but counted on the fact that his blow and kick would throw off Aslain's aim enough for the thrust to glance off his armor. It was a risk, but that was the way of things: if this man would not cede ground without cost, then Favian would push on through the fires of Hell itself to bring him down.
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Aslain took a blow to his helmet, it didn't hurt but the sudden impact threw off his sense of direction for a moment and in the next his right leg came out from under him. His grip on Favian's arm was probably the only thing that kept him from going to the ground fully. He could feel that from his grip that Favian was going to use the momentum to push him on his own right but not while he held the grip which would prevent him from pushing. The dagger however did not meet its target, stopping at the plate. It was frustrating - so close to striking a mortal blow and it was missed. Then again, they weren't meant to die, the organizers were scoring. No doubt Favian was favored for his earlier strike towards the chest. Even the blades were blunted, and while the poleaxe indeed had a hammer, a single blow to the head would have been enough to ensure victory.

Not like this... From the ground he shifted his attention grabbing and tackling Favian low, where his hips would be, Launching himself with his strong legs. If I go to the ground, you shall too. Though to do this, he would have to cede the grip on Favian's arm. He had to position his right leg in the right way. These few precious moments could give Favian an opening. But he would play a trick tackling to mask his attack, attempting to slip his dagger between where his chest plate and the leg armor meets. I will gut you sir. And I shall come out the victor.
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It was a lucky thing to have an opening, but a split-second advantage was useless in the wrong hands. Options flickered through Favian's mind—should he throw another punch? A knee? No and no: neither one would have the momentum to stop a tackle. The safer course would be to throw his weight forward and counter the tackle with a sprawl, turning the fight into another grueling pushing match. Both knights would have ample opportunity to use their daggers then, and Favian was confident he could at least hold onto his lead until the marshal called a halt to the match.

But was that really what he wanted?

His mind, cool and rational, knew that this was far from a true battlefield. Yet in the thick of the fight, his warrior's heart had awakened, and now it roared in his veins, thundering through his skull in a deafening war cry. He did not jockey for points, God-damn it! He did not fight to be ruled the winner on a technicality! Tourney or no, he would not settle for being handed petty glories—he was Sir Favian Procell, the Storm Knight, and he would take this victory with his own two hands.

Sir Aslain surged forwards for the tackle, and Favian welcomed him with all his might. His body twisted clockwise, and his left arm lunged downwards, wrapping around the lion knight's helm in a tight headlock. Then both his feet kicked off the ground, and he was throwing himself backwards, pulling Aslain along with him, an ungainly mass of man and steel splashing together against the muddy grass.

I can't beat him in strength. And he's every bit as skilled as I. That left only one recourse: the mad, the unexpected. Rather than resist the tackle or try to land a counter before it happened, he allowed himself to fall, and used his own strength to bring Aslain along for the ride. Rather than landing with Favian on his back and Aslain positioned to easily stab or mount him, they'd end up pressed together, with Aslain's head held tight against Favian's breastplate and his chest squashed against the storm knight's lower torso.

Based on the course of his tackle, both of Aslain's arms would be at the level of Favian's waist or hips. If Favian had been quick and lucky enough to catch him at the right moment, he might even have managed to trap Aslain's dagger hand by squashing it between them before he could properly line up the strike. Favian knew better than to underestimate his opponent, however, and was prepared for the worst. A knife to the gut? A man can survive that, at least for a time. In a true battle, he'd have risked the same sacrifice.

The fall had nearly knocked the wind out of him. His armor mitigated some of the impact, and the ground was not hard, but even so it was enough to drive a sharp breath of air through his tightly clenched teeth. His body, though, it knew what to do. His left arm lower down for the tackle, his right arm aimed to run me through the intestines. Now was the moment, perhaps the best and only chance he would get.

Held in his right hand, Favian's blunted dagger slammed down upon the back of Sir Aslain's neck, striking right beneath the base of his helm.

A knife to the spine? Dead before he can take a breath.

Let the judges score that one as they would.
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The roar of the crowd was deafening, but when the final blows came, they fell silent. Two organizers came to break apart the fighting. Realizing that a killing blow by both Aslain and Favian, the organizers huddled for a moment contemplating on how to score the two.

In France, it would've been more clear. The dead would be on the ground, writhing, gasping for air while they drowned in their own blood. The field of Agincourt filled Aslain's mind, he looked towards Favian and thought about whether or not he had fought alongside this man in a campaign for the crown. He was a capable fighter, as much as his own self. He stood waiting for the judges to decide who would win this fight. Then one man stepped up.

"We announce that the winner of today's duel to be Sir Favian Porcell. Only just did he edge away points from his opponent. He landed the first blow, defended magnificently against an equally strong opponent, and delivered a mortal wound to the back of Sir Aslain's head..."

The crowd cheered but, the man wasn't finished, "... However, to give Sir Aslain his due, Sir Aslain was able to land a mortal blow towards his opponent's gut. This would have also proven fatal, not nearly as immediate, but fatal. To fight despite disadvantage, despite losing his weapon, despite being hit on his right shoulder, Sir Aslain is without a doubt, a knight worth noting."

Sir Aslain picked up his poleaxe and walked over to Sir Favian. he raised his visor and held a hand out to shake, "Congratulations, Sir Favian, I admit total defeat. But rest assured, I look forward to another duel and next time I shall not let you take the win so easily."
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Shadows loomed overhead. Hands grasped as his arms, pulling him away from Aslain and lifting him to his feet. Favian gasped for breath, the dagger falling from his loose hand while he blinked the sweat out of his eyes. It was over. He'd done it... To his own satisfaction, at least. Had it been a real battle, had he truly met his end, he would not have been ashamed of his performance.

His muscles were burning from exertion, bruised flesh beginning to throb beneath his armor, but he was quick to recover himself. Finding his balance, he shrugged off the attendants and waved them away, pulling up his visor and blinking in the fresh daylight. His heartbeat slowed, his breathing began to steady, and at last the calm returned to his mind, like a cold shock after being caught in a fire.

Well. This was more than I had bargained for. He'd presented himself for a duel on foot hoping for a challenge to keep his skills sharp, and had received one of the most difficult fights in his life. Not since his encounter with the stranger in the forest had someone pushed him to his limits like this, forcing him to leave calculated movement behind and rely on his instincts and raw ferocity. He would think over this battle many times, he knew, and perhaps learn something from it as he did.

Smiles did not come naturally to the cold Sir Favian Procell. But he made an effort, at least, as he reached out and shook Aslain's hand. "You are formidable, Sir Aslain, and there is not a man here who would doubt that now. The next time we meet, I will have to be sharper and quicker still—and that need will make of me a better knight. So I say to you: godspeed." He inclined his head, and his humility in the gesture was awkward yet sincere.

But the training and anticipation could come later. For now, he released the hand of his worthy foe and went to retrieve his sword, to rest and recover and sleep before embarking on the next steps of his journey. If today had shown him anything, it was that he still had a long way to go... And that there were still foes out there who made those violent, martial heights worth reaching for.
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