heT a l í aheL e i f s d o t t i rhe
Alex stood in front of the harpy, contemplating her with a raised brow as she just sat there and stared at him blankly. What is she, dumb or dumbfounded? Being a creep yet again? Failing to ignore me or scare me away?
Isaia really couldn’t make head nor tails of the girl. When she spoke, it was cool and detached, but somewhat halting and kind of monotone. Ah, it’s just that English isn’t her mother-tongue.
He half-smiled, half-sneered, amused at her ignorance regarding what he’d been doing. “It’s called meditation,”
he drawled, expression morphing to a smirk of superiority, “I can teach you sometime if you like. It has plenty of benefits,”
he lectured, though now no longer as unkindly, since he was speaking about a subject he happened to care about. Though he was observing her carefully, the harpy had a masterful poker-face, and he couldn’t determine whether she was considering the offer at all.
Her next remark moved the conversation onto his previous invitation, and Alex grinned as she agreed to go for a flight. “Ooh, that confidence is promising! Don’t disappoint me now,”
though his undertone of derisiveness was certainly still present, Alex was also genuinely excited, yet his pleased smile could very well be termed conceited. “What, first you wanna beat some manners into me – and I would like to see you try,”
he rolled his eyes at the idea that she might manage where even his instructors had had limited success so far, “And now you’re worried you could injure me too much?”
he scoffed, both at her ridiculousness as well as her belief that she’d dominate him so easily when it came to combat prowess. When the harpy turned away to leave, Isaia followed immediately, not particularly caring if her mistaken impression that she’d somehow won
him with her last assertion grew because she was the one leading the way to one of the training rooms. After all, he
was there to correct her presumption.“Please, your trash-talk is decades too early to have any effect on me. Especially when we haven’t had a single match yet. And by all means, let’s go all out,”
he added, then briefly looked at the ceiling in consideration. “Oh, but no killing. If one of us managed to kill the other, that would be just stupid, considering we’re technically allies,”
Alex shrugged as he glanced back at her, wondering if she weren’t secretly some sort of murder-lusting psycho. There really was no telling with her lack of expression. Then again, he’d certainly not hesitate if it came to it. It was simply that he was of the opinion that reducing the number of Agents of the Veil, even if they weren’t far in their training, was the height of idiocy. But in the end, not everyone agreed, and that was simply part of life."I will pass on this meditation. I think I have other, better, things to do with my time,"
Talía replied. "And you do not need to be afraid of being killed. I do not think I am that scary. However, you would do well not to underestimate me."
Though her voice was calm, truth be told, she was a little nervous. She was pretty sure that she could win, but at the same time, she knew absolutely nothing about her opponent. There was as much of a chance that he was weaker than her (people like him tended to be more bark than bite) as there was that he was stronger, though, which was a little comforting.
She was silent for the rest of the way to the training room, though occasionally she turned to regard her companion, followed by a cryptic nod and nothing else, until the next odd look came along. When they finally reached the room, Talía walked up to the door, and promptly slammed herself into it. It didn't budge. Ah. I forgot you had to pull these.
She tried again, but instead pulled on the door handle with her clawed foot. The room opened, and Talía's face tinged pink. That was much easier, wasn't it?
She strode in, stopping and swiveling to face Alex at the opposite side of the training room. She spread her wings, which were quite large in comparison to her, and gave him an unimpressed look. She may have no idea about who she was fighting, but that didn't mean she had no idea about fighting in the first place. "I think this is a good time to start. Oh, but... what is your name? You did not tell me.""Like wasting it, you mean,"
Alex remarked dryly in response to the harpy's claim of having better things to do with her time, but did not pursue the topic further. What she did or did not do was ultimately no concern of his, unless it somehow miraculously managed to affect him directly."If I was afraid of getting killed, I wouldn't be in this line of work,"
he explained, an exasperated and perhaps slightly annoyed sigh escaping him. "Besides, appearing scary has little to no correlation with the ability to kill. This might surprise you, but nor is being stronger necessarily the decisive factor,"
he shook his head more so to get out of his brooding streak than as a reaction to the harpy. He had to get back on track to the teasing and goading, because that's what worked well so far, and was certainly more enjoyable.
So, with another smirk in place, he redirected the conversation. "I do believe you are the one underestimating me. Non-lethality, but otherwise no holding back, that is what you can expect from me. Ah, but look, the time for speculations is over,"
Isaia's previous forced expression was replaced by a genuinely thrilled smile, the corners of his eyes crinkling in exhilaration. As such, he was utterly surprised when the girl slammed herself into the door, and was startled into turning to her with both brows raised, a question on the tip of his tongue.
Alex pressed his lips tightly together, repressing the almost-reflexive Are you all right?
that would have been completely humiliating, not to mention inappropriate, to utter. He shuddered briefly in revolt, scowling sneer soon in place to cover for his momentary lapse of judgement. Yet, he said nothing, despite the prime opportunity for insulting the girl, especially since her blush disclosed her ability to emote - or perhaps, her inability to conceal every single thing she felt.
The Dragon-kin silently followed the harpy inside the high-ceiling training room after she managed to finally open the door, and positioned himself opposite her. Besides spreading his own wings, Sai reached under the right sleeve of his black long-sleeved shirt, detached a steel cuff bracelet from his arm, which was transformed to a glaive with a simple click, all of that in a few seconds. "Alex Suriano. Yourself?"
he questioned, gripping the glaive at his side, observing the opponent but ready to take flight and engage as soon as their introductions were out of the way."Talía. Leifsdottir, that is,"
she replied. Her sharp eyes watched Alex as he revealed his weapon. No doubt he had other tricks up his sleeve too. She gave a slight nod of approval when he unfurled his wings, still unable to discern his exact species. She made a note to ask after the match - if they were both still conscious, that was.
Talía shot into the air, using her legs to propel herself upwards. She hovered there for a minute, with some assistance for her wings, simply taking in the training room. Tall ceiling (perfect for two aerial fighters) and a few pillars near the walls of the room, leaving a large open space in the centre. Then, in an instant, she dove feet first towards her opponent, her sharp talons glinting as they caught the light from a window.
Alex took flight perhaps half-a-second after the girl did, then took note of their surroundings and his opponent much the same as the harpy did. In the next moment, the girl was already swooping down at him swiftly, clawed legs extended in a lunge. Though he was curious whether his glaive had a longer reach than the whole line of her body, attempting to get an accurate read on that right then would at best result in both of them hitting the other simultaneously. Instead, he extended his wings until there was approximately a 90 degree angle of space between them, and in a single flap created a great gust of wind, using it to swerve himself out of the straight line of the harpy's attack, though the force of the air blast that would pass by Talía might give her a bit of an additional challenge as well.
Tracking her movements carefully, Alex swung the glaive in a wide slice, though even observation, guesstimating, and aiming in her general direction would result in barely satisfactory accuracy. He was going against a fellow flier after all, and quickly changing direction as well as using all
the available space around them was their forte. But as far as he was concerned, even a success on her part would benefit him too - by providing information on her capabilities, perhaps even preferences if their battle would be of the drawn-out kind.
The wind filled Talía's wings like they were sails, slowing her down, but was not nearly enough to stop her. As she got closer to Alex, she jerked herself upwards, narrowly missing the glaive that swung through the air just in front of her. She pulled herself back, analyzing the situation. Her opponent was in the air now. Presumably, that meant he would be faster, and would have much more maneuverability, just like her. That made things more difficult. Not to mention his weapon was definitely longer than her talons. Her legs too, most likely. She might need to take a more strategic approach to the battle. She wasn't entirely sure how intelligent Alex was, but it was never a good idea to underestimate your opponent. Talía's next move was to retreat. Not too far back, just a few meters, but far enough that she could see her opponent's next action before he was able to get close enough to attack her directly. At least, she hoped he didn't have any sort of immediate ranged abilities. She could find that out, too.
Alex rose a brow as the harpy retreated, breathed deeply on the next inhale, then slowly exhaled in a long, concentrated stream of fire directed at her. While doing so, he spread his wings again, and on the next inward stroke created several spinning javelins of air that were sent next to his fire breath. As his stream of fire was dying out, he let the last flickers of flame latch onto a handful of the wind-projectiles. Even if the single burst of fire didn't get her, she would have to deal with the dozen of magically created missiles, five of them flaming, and the rest simply a cutting but nonetheless dangerous condensed pressure of air. Not waiting for a potential counter-attack, Alex flew behind the projectiles, anticipating to close the distance a bit.
As the projectiles approached, Talía tried to stay calm, though her success was questionable. She had not been expecting that, to say the least. She had dodged the initial attack, but the barrage that followed really didn't make it worth it. The fire ones singed her feathers, the heat very real. In a flurry of motion, she rushed to dodge the rest, letting out a great shriek, the high-pitched harpy style. Oh, I hope that's not a permanent burn.
As soon as she was done (with minimal injuries, though there were still some), she dove downwards, hoping to get under and then behind Alex. He was getting closer, which she did not like, but it was looking like close combat was the best option for her.
Alex hadn't expected the literally ear-piercing shriek, though he definitively should have. He stopped mid-flight for a moment, his ears ringing, a mild spinning sensation taking hold of him. Damn.
He knew his eardrums had ruptured, and could feel a slow trickle of blood running down the left side of his neck. Regardless, his attack had been successful and he simply had to press the advantage while he still had it. (If
he still had it.) He reoriented onto Talía, whom he'd seen fly around him. When they were once again facing each other, he prepared for a piercing counter-strike with his glaive, getting the weapon in a position that would enable the furthest reach while still being comfortably balanced.
Talía hissed. He just kept his guard up, whatever she did. No matter. She would find a way. She was pleasantly surprised at the damage her shout had done, hoping that it would even out the damage done to her. The injuries were mainly on her wings, but she could still fly, so it didn't matter. If she could heal the injury away, there was no point in fussing over it. Once more, Talía attempted to attack him with her talons, though at the last second, pulled herself downwards and out of the range of his weapon. Nothing too reckless, or aggressive - yet.
If she aimed down, then Alex simply had to lift up a bit. He turned swiftly so as to not leave his back open to her, though felt nauseous as he did so. Still, he attacked relentlessly, sending yet another jet of fire at the harpy, shorter but wider than before, making it fly in a spiral with a movement of his head. He followed up with a wide slash of his glaive, allowing the blade of the weapon reach through
the flames, setting it ablaze. Isaia expected the fire-breath and the fiery glaive attack would, at the very least, be a good deterrent for his opponent.
Though blissfully uncut, Talía was quite aware that her left wing was very, very aflame. She hadn't had time to dodge the fiery jet, and thus fell backwards in a panic, catching herself with the violent flaps of her wings. She dissolved into a chaos of sorts, cursing in the language of her people, a mixture of squawks and other unnatural noises. She moved wildly, creating as much wind as she could to put the fire out. When she stopped, the black, burnt feathers stuck out sorely against the snow white others. Talía scowled. Had she known there would be this much fire involved, perhaps she would not have accepted his offer. She flew towards him again, a bit more distant than before, and resumed her little game of flying in and out, never really attacking him properly.
Despite scoring another hit, Alex grimaced. The vertigo had reached its peak, and he was genuinely beginning to get nervous that he might puke
, of all things. And the harpy was getting more cautious now, having been burned twice already. Isaia, on the other hand, was determined to finish this as soon as he could. He continued his relentless assault, angling and striking with his glaive in a fluid flurry of blazing slashes and thrusts when Talía flew in, and spewed out more fire whenever she flew out.
It was quickly becoming clear that she could not continue with the little routine that the two had. With every movement she made, he attacked in turn, and she was gradually sustaining more injuries as the fight went on. She too would have to attack him at some point. She gradually came closer and closer to him, as her injuries became greater in number. It was beginning to get much too hot for her liking. Not a good temperature for flying. Still, she continued, taking note of how her actual body, as petite as it was, began to show some cuts and burns. Fire, fire everywhere. She tried to make as much wind as she could to dissipate it, but it wasn't enough. Next, she came in much, much nearer. Maybe he would get a good hit on her - but be damned if she wouldn't get one on him too. Legs and talons outstretched as much as she could, she flew right past his side. This time, she was hoping for blood.
His combo had definitely been successful, but it wasn't time to celebrate yet. The harpy was pursuing a reckless maneuver, and though Alex sliced and thrust as she approached, he hadn't injured Talía enough that she'd drop then and there. As such, she got close enough that attacking her with a glaive was much more difficult. Instead, the Dragon-kin shifted the weapon's position to defend his side with the pole of the weapon. Sai's arms got clawed heavily in the process, but at least his torso was relatively well protected - as long as he held onto the glaive. Somewhat concerned Talía might grab it and fly away with it, he sneaked his tail around her, aiming to wrap one or both of her legs with it. His ears were just
starting to heal slowly, though the dizziness and tinnitus were still present for now, and until the gashes on his arms naturally closed up, he'd definitely be vulnerable. Therefore, preventing the effective use of the harpy's legs and keeping her close would be ideal.
She was flying slower, now. She didn't want to, but the injuries were really beginning to get to her. There were a lot more than she had originally accounted for. At least, at a closer range, the sharper end of the glaive was no longer an issue. Something else was, however. Something that she had not accounted for. His tail - and Talía was really going to regret it. It wrapped around her left leg, and she only realized once she was unable to fly a little further away as she had planned to do. She shrieked again, bending her leg awkwardly to try and scratch at his tail, and using what little strength she had to break out of his grip. Neither were particularly effective. With her other leg, she thrashed around, attempting to attack Alex while she was close to him, acutely aware of what the consequences of being caught could be.
Aaand his eardrums were getting wrecked yet again with all the shrieking. He didn't want to let Talía go, however, and tightened the tail around her leg, as a boa constrictor would to its prey. Attempting a somewhat risky maneuver, Isaia shifted the grip on his glaive by moving both arms forward on the handle, then let it go with his right hand, only his left keeping its hold on the weapon. His goal was to grab the harpy's right ankle as she clawed at him frantically. "Give up or get a face-full of fire,"
he growled out a threat, because drawing this out would be pointless. The best the harpy might manage would be a draw, but would she push herself anymore just to do so? Narrowing his eyes, Alex squeezed her leg in warning. Yet, he was wary of actually breaking it, because a full-out scream of Talía's might damage him enough to put him at a severe disadvantage - and which might lead to his loss, an eventuality he sorely desired to avoid.
Talía's other leg got taken out too. She was bending her talons as much as she could, but wasn't willing to go any further than she had to with them. It was quite painful as well, so she stopped trying. She relaxed a little in his grip, but from how tense she had been previously, that was not saying very much. Talía leaned in couple of inches closer to hiss in his ear. "Do it, then."
She bared her teeth at him. She wasn't completely out of weapons, after all. With a wide smile, she proceeded to try and sink them into his shoulder. Unfortunately for him, the stubborn harpy was not one to give up.
Though he'd caught her ankle, Alex still had to be careful not to get his face or right arm scratched with how the harpy was flailing and flexing it. Suddenly, she loosened up in his grip slightly, and he had only a brief moment to consider her challenge before she dug her teeth into his right shoulder. Due to his left arm being too injured to use the glaive single-handed effectively, he hadn't been able to even attempt blocking her swift teeth-full lunge.
Isaia released a harsh growling whine upon being bitten, clenching his hold on Talía reflexively. The Dragon-kin didn't have many options left unless he freed one of his hands. He could certainly burn the harpy, but that would get dangerously close to lethality. And the harpy hadn't gone for his neck either, after all, despite that she could have. Before she attempted worming through his right arm and literally biting it off, he had to convince her that they were at a point where either could easily kill the other; therefore, a draw.
If the surprisingly berserk harpy still wanted to win, then Alex would burn her from up close, regardless of the risk. For now, however, he turned his head, and latched onto Talía's neck with his own fangs. While he didn't have as many sharp teeth as the harpy, they were still enough to threaten ripping out her throat. However, he didn't bite with full power, just enough to warn her that he was as close to her neck as she was to his, and that continuing would, at best, get them to the point where they would both start bleeding out.
Talía released Alex's shoulder from the grip of her teeth, though she rested her head there, as if to show that she was fully capable of biting him once more. His grip around her legs was tighter now, and she really was feeling like they were going to snap. She twisted to pull herself away from his fangs, but to no avail. It didn't seem she would be getting away easily. "This is going nowhere. I think it is best if you give up, no?"
Talía kept her voice calm, like she were completely unaffected by any of her injuries. That was far from the truth, but Alex did not need to know.
Alex detached his teeth from the harpy as well to answer. "Give up? The best you can manage right now is a draw, so why not just agree to that? Or do you really want to have a whole wing set on fire?"
His voice was rough from the pain, but if the damnable woman continued being so stubborn, then so would he."You say you will do these things, but you have not,"
Talía replied coolly, ruffling up her wings a little. "If you want to attack me, I think I could do so you faster."
For good measure, she whacked him with one of her wings. Not painful at all, but it didn't hurt her to do it. "See? So maybe I will think about your draw. But I am not easily convinced."
The Dragon-kin sighed silently, exasperated at the playful whack - but also slightly confused as to what it was supposed to accomplish, so he more-or-less ignored it. "Fine,"
he drawled in response to her challenge, then with the remaining gust of that same exhale breathed a small stream of fire at her wing, aiming for the outer feathers rather than the wing's center, since the more she shrieked from this close up, the more inconvenienced he would be. "Convinced yet?"
the question was called out slightly louder than strictly necessary.
Talía flapped the wing violently to put it out, though she did not shout. It was a silent ordeal. "You will have to let me go to know my answer."
Talía paused for a minute, and then she started laughing. "I jest. You will have your draw. But I will have my win, another time. I will remember your name, surely we will see each other again anyway. Ah, I would like to be let free, though."
Alex narrowed his eyes when the harpy demanded to be let go, a remark on the tip of his tongue, but then she laughed. He smirked lopsidedly, and eased up on his grip when she agreed to a tie. "Any time,"
he grinned ferociously, then released her. "We should probably go to the infirmary to get patched up,"
he commented, descending gently, but still keeping a wary eye on Talía just in case she tried something sneaky. When it appeared she wouldn't, he finally extinguished his still flaming glave by inhaling the fire through his mouth, kind of drinking it in. The glaive was only mildly singed, nothing to worry about."Next time we do this, we could even agree that I don't use fire, but wear ear-plugs in exchange,"
he offered, partly teasing, partly grumblingly honest. "You know, if you had screeched any more, you might have even put me out of the air for a bit,"
he noted thoughtfully. "I would be curious to see how we might match up if we both restricted the abilities that have proven to be the most harmful to the other today. Fire for you and your sound for me,"
he elaborated. He paused for a moment, then added, somewhat sheepish. "Ah, good fight by the way. I'm definitely looking forward to a rematch. We'll see about that win though,"
he smirked fiercely."A limitation like that... well, you need not be curious. I would win, of course,"
she chirped proudly, shaking her legs a bit as she glided to the ground. She hoped that his grip would not have bruised them. "I will go to the infirmary later. I have a class very soon, and,"
Talía grinned, "I do not think I am too badly injured."
This was, of course, a lie. Nevertheless, she strode out of the training hall, as indifferently as she had entered it. Once she was sure Alex couldn't see her front, she made a face, quickly checking out her wings for the worst burns. She could manage the next hour.
Alex snorted at Talía's confidence, and quirked a disbelieving brow at the following assertion that she was fine when she was so blatantly burnt and cut up. "I am beginning to think that you are a masochist,"
he muttered as the harpy strode out, then inspected his own injuries. They were slowly healing due to his regeneration ability, but nonetheless, he'd rather have them checked out by a professional just in case. As such, he made his way towards the infirmary, in high spirits due to the pleasant work-out the sparring had proved to be. Moreover, he'd managed to make a relatively friendly rival - quite the accomplishment for barely an hour's work.