[RP Episode] The Bloody Ballad


#61

Halatir took a look at the salad, and decided he’d rather wait to find some snow. The food in general he found to be far less protein filled that he expected of a military meal. The Niirai elves were more slender than the Helcelen as a rule, but he had expected that soldiers at least would have more than fish and vegetables in their meal.

”I assume this will be followed by a drill of some kind?” he asked while finishing up his portion of fish.


#62

‘‘Yep.’’ Ren nodded.
’‘We will be paired with each other and in a sparring ring. I believe the Shangshi wished to test your skills. I overheard Fan-Zhou gossiping about it.’’ explained Liang.


#63

Interesting. A challenge of this sort did not trouble Halatir in the slightest. The shortsword at his side would be defense enough, and the polearm would provide additional offensive striking power. And after the incidents at the arena, Halatir felt secure in his single-combat abilities. “Thanks for the headsup. I’m curious to know who my opponent will be.” he said calmly, pushing a now empty bowl aside. “I would prefer to not face the Lieutenant. He has already taken a disliking to me, and being beaten about the head with a blunt weapon would not help our relationship at all.”


#64

‘‘You beating him, or he beating you over the head?’’ smirked Ren as he finished off what was left of the tuna salad.


#65

”Either. If I won, he’d be angry. If I lost, he’d be scornful.” Halatir stood up.


#66

Liang leaned forward, ‘‘How do you know he has a dissliking for you?’’ he inquired, not witnessing any animosity between the two yet. He had just arrived the other day, after all.


#67

”His tone of voice mainly, and the way he carries himself. I have served under other commanders before, whom the Lieutenant reminds me of. But perhaps I am wrong. I certainly hope so.” replied Halatir. ”I think he is angry, but what about has not yet been made clear to me.”


#68

Liang nodded in agreement, and the lot began heading out of the dining hall. Ren stayed for a while longer, letting the food settle down, and wiped his mouth with his napkin. The other squads began departing as well, and soon enough, the hall emptied out.

Everyone had gathered outside in a makeshift arena marked by nothing but wooden posts in a circular arrangement which were connected with a chain. The troops were being handed blunted weapons to practice with while a select two of them at a time were picked to duel it out in the arena. The duelling was fluent, competitors were as if dancing on their toes, moving back and forth as the tide. A few rounds went by between soldiers Halatir did not know, until Wei-Yong, aka ‘‘the elven battering ram’’ stepped forth and in to the arena.

He was going to fight it out with an otherwise well built looking elf, but still, the other seemed nervous. Wei-Yong smiled, and made an advance. He had the other on the defensive constantly, dodging blow after blow as Wei-Yong seemingly never ran out of juice, until the other twisted in his feet, and slammed Wei-Yong in his chest with the pommel of his blade. Wei-Yong coughed and staggered for a moment, then, he swung his sword at the other’s so hard the force of impact threw it out of his hand. He then approached the elf and picked him up, grabbing him by the throat, looking pissed. It was then that Huangfu-Shang stepped out and intervened, ‘‘Enough, Wei-Yong!’’ he yelled. Wei-Yong looked at Huangfu-Shang with a displeased look, and let go of his victim, who tumbled to the ground grasping for air. Then they parted.


#69

Halatir nodded with appreciation. The snow elves also included a great deal of physicality in their fighting, punches, kicks, and head butting prevalent throughout their system. Wei-Yong fought in a similar fashion, his speed, strength and stamina proving a powerful combination. Halatir began to look forward to his own match. Wei-Yong would be an interesting opponent, to say the least.


#70

When the ring cleared of competitors once again, Halatir’s lieutenant Fan-Zhou strode up to him all official like, holding a blunted curved sword. ‘‘Alright recruit, its your time to shine. Show us what you’ve got.’’ He handed the sword to Halatir and gestured him to enter the ring, where another recruit with the same type of sword was stepping in to it across the way.

Halatir weighed the sword in his hand, and it was neither light nor too heavy. The opponent he was up against he did not know, but he looked young, a fresh recruit as well by the looks of it. His face bore no signs of stress nor hardship, and neither did he look afraid to fight. The Niirai recruit approached Halatir in the ring, and as Halatir was cautiously preparing to dodge, block or parry an incoming attack, his opponent bowed to him. In an instant realising he was forgetting something, Halatir mimicked him, and bowed back. He did see the previous competitors bow to each other before their fight as he observed, he just got a tad excited about finally fighting himself. Though a recruit such as this didn’t fill him with much anticipation of a good fight.

And neither was it. The young recruit made an advance on Halatir a few times, striking vigorously at his sides, only to be blocked and parried by Halatir with relative ease. Halatir sidestepped the recruit’s attacks and exploited his slip ups to his advantage, landing a few nasty hits at his sides. Tired and practically beaten already, the young recruit didn’t stand much of a chance when Halatir made his final push, and knocked the young lad off of his feet, sending him tumbling backwards in to the cold wet winter dirt.

With hardly a scratch on him, Halatir straightened up as another one of the militia helped the poor recruit to his feet and out of the arena. This would have been it for Halatir for the day, if Huangfu-Shang himself didn’t take an interest in the snow elf’s abilities. Fan-Zhou didn’t like Halatir being made the star of the hour by allowing him more than one duel, but Huangfu-Shang insisted they test his skills against someone more experienced. Ren, an elf from Halatir’s own unit stepped forward and volunteered to spar with Halatir.

‘‘Absolutely not!’’ roared Fan-Zhou in his outrage. ‘‘This is a training exercise, not a competition nor a test of endurance!’’ he insisted, but Huangfu-Shang was determined.
’‘I am not arguing with you Fan. Enough. This elf is a foreighner in our lands, and boasts to come from a warrior culture. You might not be curious, but i would certainly like to know what asset i have on hand, and what to expect of him. I need to know of his abilities, and understand his limits.’’ the Shangshi explained, ‘‘And having Ren fight him, an elf from his own unit, will assure a friendly competitiveness between the two. Besides, the lad has been aching for some distraction for ages, let him have it.’’

Fan-Zhou sighed and gave up. He brought Ren to the arena and fetched Halatir to have another go.
’‘The Shangshi is intrigued by you.’’ he explained to him, and continued with a lecture, ‘‘He seems to have high hopes for you, thinks you may be something special. I don’t. Those feeling have to be earned through hard work, not just because you say you are from far away. Make sure to not disappoint.’’

Ren was already in the ring, he however had a blunted katana to fight with. A more traditional weapon used by Samurai, long and well balanced. Ren was certainly anticipating the duel, clearly seen by the grin on his face. Likewise, Halatir too seemed amused by this turn of events. They bowed to each other, and entered combat stance.

Being no stranger to fighting, Ren put up greater resistance to Halatir’s blows than the recruit before him. He managed more blocks and parries when he defended, and certainly landed more hits, but he was not used by how physical Halatir could get. When in close quarters, Halatir would prod, push, and shove Ren around almost effortlessly as the teenage elf was utterly unprepared and unfamiliar with the fighting style. Halatir had even managed to throw Ren off of his feet a few times, but unlike the recruit, Ren managed to recover and swung back up. Ultimately however, Halatir emerged victorious as Ren tired from being shoved and spun around, and eventually ended up laying on his back with Halatir looming over him.

Ren grasped for air, ‘‘Consider me impressed!’’ he coughed, smiling. With that, Halatir backed off, and Ren exited the arena. Huangfu-Shang was impressed as well, and since Halatir’s unit was getting the spotlight already, Fan-Zhou proposed that Halatir fight another one of his squad mates, Wei-Yong. Huangfu-Shang was hesitant at first, but it would sure test Halatir’s strength and will power against one of the strongest in the base. In the end, Huangfu-Shang gave the go ahead, and Wei-Yong, the towering bulk of muscle that he was, entered the arena.


#71

Halatir was quite tall in comparison with the Niirai, with broad shoulders and a muscle bound torso. He was accustomed to looking down on his elven opponents here in Xia, and intimidating them before hand.

Wei was different. He was of equal height with Halatir, and far more muscles, his overall mass half again as large as the northerner. Entering the ring, he took up a position opposite Halatir, and bowed like the others. Halatir returned the gesture, narrowing his eyes.

The two circled each other for a moment, waiting for an opening. Seeing one, Halatir jumped forward, raining slashes at the Niirai from all directions, landing hits on shins, shoulders, and arms. Wei-Yong recovered, and began his own assault, batting away Halatir’s continued attempts to disarm him.

This could have gone on for sometime, Halatir’s skill versus Wei’s endurance, but for a mishap. As Halatir slashed again at the Niirai’s legs, dealing pain and annoyance to the massive elf, Wei swing his weapon with all the strength he could bring to bear, smashing Halatir’s parry aside and slamming into his chest. With a whoof, as the breath was knocked out of him by the heavy blow, Halatir stumbled. Seizing his chance, Wei stepped forward and swung his sword and then his fist, trying to catch the northern elf offguard. Halatir ducked the blade, and grabbing Wei’s fist as it moved towards his jaw, attempted to yank him of balance.

It failed. Instead of unbalancing Wei as Halatir intended, the Niirai planted his feet and stood rock firm. Halatir stumbled, and the blunted sword that was once again in motion connected with his side, sending him crashing to the ground.

After half a second of recovery in the snowy dirt, Halatir bounced back up, a massive smile on his face.

”Well fought, Wei! Good round!” he exclaimed, a grin on his dusty, bloody face. ”We should spar more often!”


#72

Wei-Yong laughed, ‘‘You nearly had me.’’ he spat to his side, ‘‘But nearly never caught a rabbit.’’


#73

Halatir blinked. ”A rabbit?”


#74

Wei-Yong raised an eyebrow, ‘‘You know what a rabbit is, don’t you?’’


#75

”Yes, small furry creature that you hunt.” said Halatir, laughing. ”But what rabbit are you referring to?” He retrieved his sword from the ground.


#76

Wei-Yong laughed again, ‘‘The one you nearly had.’’ and walked off.

Fan was stood there, besides the arena with Huangfu, with a devious smirk. ‘‘So he’s nothing special after all.’’ he commented outside of Halatir’s earshot, ‘‘Neither too strong, nor too bright either, it seems.’’ he chuckled. Huangfu gave him a quick glare, ‘‘But he could yet be.’’ he responded and left the sight.


#77

Halatir walked back over to join his new squad mates, a smile still on his face. Fighting and working with soldiers felt more like home than anything he had encounter in Xia so far. He made a note to request a rematch against Wei-Yong in the future.


#78

The exercise continued for much of the morning until the sun was high in the sky, then it was lunch time. After which, Halatir and his squad retired to the barracks for some rest. But it wouldn’t last, for Halatir’s unit was tasked with patrolling the mountain side roads in the afternoon. It was, after all, during the afternoon that he came across them in the mountains himself. A whistle was sounded outside, and suddenly Halatir’s whole unit began getting up and strapped on their gear.


#79

Quickly donning his armor, and retrieving his Ji, Halatir slid his knife in the top of his boot, and looked at his cloak. After a moment’s thought, he left it in the chest, finished bucking the straps that held his leather protection in place, and moved to the door. Patrol duty would be both interesting and familiar, as bands of Helcelen warriors carried out the same task in Helegeron.


#80

His unit gathered outside, all equipped and properly isolated within their layers of cloth and fluff to keep warm in the winter’s cold. Fan-Zhou was waiting for them and watched as they all formed in to a neat formation of two lines by three in front of him, parallel with the road.

Well… the first line of three, the second of two as they waited for Halatir to join the formation.