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We Know All of Each Other's Moves, Nassie, 28 August -307 Ancient
Posted: May 8 2018, 08:43 AM
Once upon a time, asking Neassa for swordplay lessons would have been unthinkable. It would have resulted in a flat ‘no’, or so many attempts to behead her disguised as enthusiasm that she’d lose count.
Now? Now it was the obvious solution.
‘Jorren had started teaching me the basics,’ Cassie explained as they stepped into the expanse of empty ground behind the inn they’d all but taken over since their arrival. ‘He’s been griping for years that I needed something to fall back on in case the spawn got too close. Once things had settled down after the old Commander... ah, passed away... I did some research into Knight Enchanters and figured it was a happy compromise. I’ve already got the hilt, but only a couple of days training with it.’ She patted the hilt sat in the scabbard at her hip for emphasis. The scabbard was pretty much decorative, but the manuals had recommended it for the psychological reinforcement actually drawing a sword would provide.
If he could see me now, he’d be saying ‘I told you so! With these ancient darkspawn being more powerful than their Dragon Age equivalents, Jorren’s insistence on her picking up the sword might well save her life. Though if they ever got back to their proper time, he might be a little miffed that Neassa had beaten him to giving her lessons. Ah well.
‘So, where do we start?’ Cassie asked, turning to Neassa, the end of her braided up hair tickling the back of her exposed neck. No Warden armour today, just her breeches and undershirt, with her staff in its harness strapped across her back so she’d become accustomed to fighting with that affecting her weight and balance. She’d work her way up to training in full armour, but she’d seen Jorren after a basic training session. She’d seen the sweat patches the size of her head on his chest and back. The idea of dealing with that under her armour when she didn’t have to was not appealing. At all.
She drew her hilt, the glowing blade following as if it had been in the scabbard all along. Fully ‘drawn’, it was a greatsword longer than she was tall, lighter than Neassa’s sword, and wider than any practical blade had any business being. Given it could be used for deflecting projectiles and magic didn’t necessarily obey the rules of physics, Cassie could see why its proportions were so drastically off. However, it might prove difficult to train with using standard sword fighting methods.
Then again, Neassa didn’t let things stop her just because they were difficult. And Cassie was pretty adaptable. Between the pair of them they’d figure it out.
Posted: May 8 2018, 10:41 PM
Neassa scoffed, amused by the idea of Jorren teaching anyone anything when he couldn't teach himself basic self preservation such as not getting grabbed by an ogre. Or that Cassie would ask him in the first place. Clearly the Wardens of Nevarra were scraping the bottom of the barrell when it came to swordsmen if he was the best Cassie could hope for. Neassa chose to forget about the fact that she hadn't seen him fight since the first time so many years ago...or was it so many...years...ahead? Fuck. She was never going to be okay with the time travel. Or the Darkspawn. Or having to play nice with an abomination and the rest of the fuckups that she and Cassie had found themselves stuck here with. She had little to offer in this new world, she wasn't a Warden and had no great insight into Darkspawn or Archdemons but she could at least teach Cassie how to swing a...a...magic sword? “You might find you know even less than you think you do against me. After all, you're not my Warden Commander.” Not in the official sense but if Neassa ever discussed a Warden, Warden Commander, Tevinter, Mage or headache, she was always talking about Cassie.
A hilt? Neassa laughed, taking off her arming doublet, because it was new-ish and she didn't want to risk it. “Where's the rest of it-”
And there it was. Her eyes went wide. An oversized greatsword entirely composed of magic. It was larger than any greatsword Neassa had ever seen, as if conjured by someone who had absolutely no knowledge of swords beyond them being slightly larger knives. Neassa cleared her throat. “It's a little obnoxious, don't you think?” Perfect for Cassie then.
It was two handed though, different to Neassa's fighting style. Slower. It would be even slower once Cassie added her armour, Neassa distantly (but not distantly enough) noted how small Cassie looked in plain clothes. She could almost forget she was capable of making Darkspawn fly at a whim.
“Why didn't you ask Nolani? She's two-handed…” and the hero of Ferelden. Neassa’s experience was far less prolific and set among their new allies (she used the word tentatively) Neassa was the least notable. She hadn't survived a blight. Wasn't the sibling of the Champion of Kirkwall, or the pet abomination. Just an ex-Seeker who could handle herself well enough to still be alive despite her staggering stupidity. She supposed there was merit in that. “I'm just two handed.” Stupid indeed. Her surfacing feelings of inadequacy were quieted by that quip and she shrugged. Cassie was smart, she must have weighed up the pros and cons and somehow decided Neassa was the better option.
It was rare that Neassa knew something Cassie didn't, so of course, she was going to make it count. She couldn't remember the last time she had actually thought about what she was doing when she was fighting, at this point it was mostly muscle memory for her. She should probably start by taking her own sword out, that might help. Maybe. Neassa did exactly that.
Neassa's sword looked better cared for than anything else she owned or was responsible for, including herself. She was careless with mostly everything but even she knew that if she didn't take care of this one thing, it couldn't take care of her. She backed away from Cassie, putting a few feet of distance between them.
Neassa settled into a loosely defensive stance. “Why don't you try to come at me with some of those basics Jorren showed you. So I can get an idea of what I'm dealing with here.”
Posted: May 9 2018, 11:17 AM
Cassie chuckled. There was that competitive streak she admired. ‘True, but given I mostly learned stance and foot placement and only a few basic swings, I don’t think he’ll have had much chance to coddle me,’ she said cheerfully, mouth working while her brain was trying to catch up. Admired. She’d thought that. She did think that.
It occurred to her that she’d had increasingly frequent moments where her brain ran away with itself when it came to Neassa. Compliments. Trust. That trust not being betrayed. Six years ago, would she have lay quiet in Neassa’s arms, trusting her to get them to safety while she was vulnerable? Would Neassa have let her, and saw her safely through the Roads?
Six years. It felt so short, yet gaped behind her at the same time. How they’d changed – both of them.
Distracted by Neassa’s laughter – why did she feel the urge to join in? – Cassie pulled herself back into the present. It was only sparring, but Neassa would soon be coming at her with a sword. She couldn’t afford to be daydreaming.
Neassa’s shock made her grin; her comment made her snort. ‘It’s not my design, I promise.’ She knew what a sword was at least meant to look like; enough to know that this wasn’t it. Given its dual function as a shield however, she wasn’t complaining.
Cassie shrugged. It was a valid point, really. The option had occurred to her, but... ‘Nolani isn’t you.’
Oh Maker. That sounded unbearably sappy. What had possessed her? She needed a reason, a plausible reason, to back it up with – now.
Sword. Big swords. Two handers. Sword and shield. Shield. Neassa used a shield. It’d do.
‘Besides, this is also meant to deflect projectiles and act as a shield. You’ve more experience with those. I thought you’d be the best choice for figuring out how to make a sword and a shield in one work.’ Please don’t let her be blushing. Please let her have sounded completely calm and rational. Please don’t let Neassa lord this over her for the next decade.
When Neassa began the session, Cassie delved into it with a little too much enthusiasm to cover her gaff. Still, she focused on what little Jorren had drilled into her. Feet almost at right angles, don’t cross your legs when walking or you’ll be off balance, right hand closer to the crossguard for power, left hand to the pommel to guide the strike.
She had the advantage of reach, so that should help. Not that she’d be aiming to actually hit Neassa – she didn’t want to see what a magic sword would do to flesh unless that flesh was on a darkspawn. She could pull her strikes short of actual contact.
With a bracing breath, she stepped into range and tried not to look where she was striking. A diagonal slash from Neassa’s left shoulder across to her right hip. It was a basic opening move, one of eight attacks she’d been taught and made to practice in sequence to get the feel for the actions and for using the blade’s momentum to flow into the next attack. The left shoulder to right hip, the reverse, from the left of the waist to the right, the reverse, the left hip to right shoulder, the reverse, stab to the gut, downward overhead blow to the skull.
Not that they were ever expected to use them in that order in an actual fight, of course.
Posted: May 10 2018, 12:47 AM
“Nolani isn't you.”
What? Why did such a simple truth feel so...whatever this uneasy feeling was. Her stomach knotted but not in fear, or disgust, she knew well what those both felt like. This was different. It was benevolent. Fluttering. Neassa knew only of one other thing that fluttered; butterflies.
Fuck no. It couldn't be, not after so long. Not after running so far away. She accepted some things would remain the same, such as her view of Cassie not being hideous, but the...the...rest. Those feelings she had gone to great lengths to outrun. There had been echoes of them during their trek through the Deep roads and maybe it was more than familiarity that had her choosing to focus on Cassie whenever the group discussed anything but between the time travel and the Darkspawn, she hadn't had time to figure out the why.
Neassa just stared at her, caught in an inner turmoil of her own. The idea that anyone would ever choose her above someone else was as difficult to reconcile as this odd feeling in her stomach, which she was calling hunger for now because it was just easier. Cassie must have misspoken.
Then she continued, offering a lengthy explanation and had Neassa been anyone else it may have satisfied her. But she was not anyone else. She was Neassa and she knew Cassie perhaps more than she knew herself at this point. Cassie rambled when she was covering something up. Like when she had given Neassa a whole spiel about knowing where they weren't in the Deep roads as opposed to just admitting she didn't know where they were in the Deep roads. “Right...makes sense. I think…?” Did it? She had no idea and had been caught so off guard by Cassie's comment that her brain was only now recovering from the stun. “I mean the part about Nolani not being me.” Neassa smiled, a momentary loss of composure was such a rare treat from Cassie, she couldn't help it.
As Cassie swung at her, Neassa shifted her stance to side facing, making herself a smaller target as she dodged Cassie's attack with an easy parry. Her usual protocol with dealing with two-handed combatants was to get in their face and too close for comfort, rendering their reach useless. Had she had her shield she would have used it then to stagger Cassie and knock her prone. But she didn't. So, lucky for Cassie. Instead she just pushed her forwards.
“Good, that was definitely basic.” Her stance and form were solid but everyone with a sword knew the same basics, Cassie might be better without them. Right now she was just going through the motions, playing out exactly what she had been taught before, proving that knowing how to do something didn't exactly mean being able to do it well. Neassa used the same basics but had been doing it for long enough that she no longer had to think about them, it was more intuitive. She could practically see Cassie thinking through the move before she even made it, but the more Cassie worked at it, the more natural it would feel. It wasn’t really a concern.
“With a sword like that, your biggest problem is always going to be that your attacker is more mobile than you.” That was the concern. ”If I was you, I’d err on the side of caution and be more reactive since if they truly want to hurt you, they’ll have to get close to do it.“ Cassie wasn’t going to be fighting with a sword at all times, it was for close encounters. She didn’t need to seek out a confrontation when she had so many other options available to her. So in Neassa’s mind, whenever she did find herself using her sword, she would already be under attack and in the position to let the attacker do the work for her.
She waited for Cassie to recover from the push and rounded in on her again. “I’ll attack this time. You defend.” Neassa closed the distance with a lunge and thrust that flowed directly into an upper diagonal slash, the reverse option of what Cassie had done previously. She ended with a slash that came towards Cassie’s unguarded side, ready to pull the move in case she didn’t adjust her guard in time enough to stop it.
Posted: May 13 2018, 02:49 PM
She needed to learn when to shut up.
Neassa having called her bluff... sort of... and lacking any response more mature, she pulled a face at her and stuck her tongue out.
Maker. How old was she again? How many years since she’d done anything that juvenile?
Actually... only a few. Capaneus’ re-entry into her life had brought back certain long-buried habits. Besides, since when have you been as mature as you act?
The start of their lesson was a welcome diversion. While she moved smoothly enough, at a decent pace, she felt... clumsy. Lackluster. Practiced. Like she was just going through a drill for the thousandth time. Her nose was wrinkled in dissatisfaction as Neassa parried and pushed her back. Not that she’d expected anything else, but she felt... small. She was used to being more impressive than this in front of her.
The only way to change that was to listen and practice. She nodded, frowning in concentration. ‘I should also have my magic in a real fight, so ideally I’ll be able to dual wield once I’m proficient with the sword. I’ll need sword fighting to be second nature to do both at once though, so I can focus on the spell. That’s the long-term goal, anyway. I know I’m years away from that.’
She backed up a few steps to give them both – and her giant sword – some room, settling into the guard stance she’d been taught. Jorren had pitted her against some of the rookies at the end of her two day’s training, just to see how much she’d retained after drilling on her own. She’d managed alright back then. Just do the same now. You’ll be fine.
There was a tiny voice in the back of her mind that doubted the sanity of letting Neassa come at her with a sword. Neassa, who had killed so many mages. Who had, for several years, professed to wanting her dead, whether she’d actually meant it or not.
Neassa, who if she’d wanted to kill her could have done so in the Deep Roads, when she was barely conscious. Who had got them through the roads safely until they found the others. Who had changed, though Cassie had feared she hadn’t when they’d first reunited.
She was safe with her.
The thrust Cassie side-stepped, trying to angle around to Neassa’s exposed side while she was extended – but Neassa was too fast; Cassie aborted her attempt at striking practically before she’d started moving, instead dropping her guard back to bring the crossguard level with her hip in time to catch Neassa’s blade and shove it up and sideways, directed into the empty space on her opposite side.
Of course Neassa took advantage of that, using the momentum Cassie had provided her blade to turn the sword back towards her.
The size of her own blade both nearly cost her and saved her. She was nearly too slow to block, but it was her sword’s length that let her tilt the tip up and deflect Neassa’s sword, the blade sliding down the length of the magic one. Cassie still had to lean to get her midsection clear of the tip, and her arms ached at the angle she’d put them in to manage the block in the first place. In a real fight, the next move likely would have hit her before she could recover from her own sloppy defensive manoeuvre.
Wincing, she took a step back and to the right, bringing her body into a better alignment. ‘I need to remember my footwork,’ she admitted. If she’d reacted with her whole body, rather than just blanking and relying on her arms, she would have been in a better position.
Ah well. It was like learning to play the lute. You had to practice to get both hands working perfectly at the same time.
Posted: May 15 2018, 01:45 AM
She had pushed back much larger foes than Cassie before and with greater ease, Neassa read her look of annoyance and laughed softly, realising that it must be the first time in a long time that she found herself so inexperienced. For someone like Cassie, someone who was used to excelling at almost everything, that was hard to take. She was too serious. Already thinking years ahead of where she should be right now. “And you'll get there. But for now, let's take the wins we can. I came at you and you didn't immediately fold. Good job.”
There was little she could remember about her Templar days that didn’t purely revolve around her flagrant misconduct but in the times where she had been dutiful, such as watching over training sessions with the mages, she couldn't recall if Cassie had been as critical of herself as she was now. Perhaps because she hadn't cared then, probably stood by and scoffed or clapped sarcastically whenever she messed something up. That was usually what she did with her mages, it motivated them to do better. To show her up, only she always pretended not to be looking whenever they did something well.
This wasn't the same though. Cassie had an innate talent for magic, she was born with it. Whatever skill she managed to have with her magical sword would have to be earned purely through rinse and repeat training. It was far less grandiose than spellcasting, no flourish but the flourish and skill was inconsistent. It was hard to have anything to show for your skill in swordplay but easy to show your record of mistakes in every scar. Neassa could easily be no better than anyone else on any given day in anything but her determination to stay standing. Then she could be unstoppable if the conditions were right. She was well fed, well rested, perfectly prepared, limbered up, no sun in her eyes or lace left untied. But perfection was neither attainable nor sustainable.
Cassie's defence was decent, if not clumsy. None of this came naturally to her and it was obvious. Neassa tried to remember how she had been starting out, how much of an uncoordinated disaster she had been the first time a sword was shoved into her hand and she was expected to make use of it. She had been impatient and completely without grace, lead footed and soon covered in bruises as she failed to defend herself properly against blunted swords. It took a surprising amount of work to convince your brain it was easier to move your whole body than it was to move just your arms when it came to proper footwork.
At least Cassie knew the problem without Neassa having to point it out. ”Let’s work from the bottom up then. Footwork first.”
She gave her a breather, waited for her to right her stance, then launched a second set of attacks meant to test her defence. Neassa could be more fluid than Cassie thanks to her short sword, hacking high, mid, then low in a seamless figure eight, moving around Cassie as she did so. Hoping that if she moved, Cassie would mirror her. She repeated this drill until Cassie was less rigid and kept her own strikes predictable. She wasn’t trying to actually break her defense, she just wanted her to move more without thinking about it first.
After several minutes of this Neassa stopped, not least to just catch her breath and roll out the ache building in her sword arm. Real fights lasted less than a few minutes before one or the other was dead. ”That was better.“ Their footprints in the soft earth were evidence of Cassie’s footwork since Neassa’s assault had pushed her away back from her original spot. Neassa retraced her steps and back towards the inn where she had left some supplies and a waterskin sitting by some empty ale casks.
Neassa had entered the sparring session with no real idea of how it would unfold, so she had just grabbed a bunch of things she had deemed as potentially useful at the time, a small battered shield had thankfully been among them. It wasn't hers but it would do, it had been salvaged from one of the many scouting treks into the Deep Roads and despite its dented state, it was well made and up to further punishment. Neassa pulled it free from the cluster of training aids.
Walking back towards Cassie, she took a quick drink and offered her the waterskin. “Lets go a round. First one in the dirt loses.”
“And don't hold back.” Because she could tell Cassie was the sort who would, in thee interest if safety if anything else. Holding back now in training would do her no good in a real fight. They didn't have any armour on, but now that Neassa had her shield she was better placed to take a beating. “Imagine I just confessed to murdering a bunch of Tranquil in cold blood.” Back then, Cassie could have killed her and there would have been very little Neassa could do about it. “Or you just discovered that I left the Keep, without word of why or where I was going.” She had often found herself wondering how Cassie had reacted to her unexpected absence. If the anger and dismissal she had directed towards her back before they found themselves thrown through time was any indicator then it couldn't have been taken well.
Posted: May 17 2018, 11:45 AM
‘High praise,’ Cassie said with a grin, ‘considering the size of the hurlocks I’ve seen you take down.’ Yes, she knew Neassa was trying to soothe her ego. It didn’t mean she didn’t appreciate it.
Though she grimaced – ‘footwork’ just reminded her of all the gruelling hours of dance practice she’d been put through as a girl, when she would have preferred to be training her magic – Cassie nodded and stepped back, setting herself into her resting stance.
Neassa seemed quicker this time, or maybe it was the rapid sequence of strikes that made it seem that way. The first Cassie blocked fairly easily – it was head-on, and Neassa was broadcasting her attacks a lot more than Cassie had seen her do in battle, though she was thankful for the handicap. If Neassa were going all out, she’d be on her arse with a sword aimed at something vital within a couple of seconds.
The mid strike Cassie nearly missed, wasting a split-second on whether to drop the tip of the blade but cross her wrists awkwardly to catch the strike, or rotate the blade 180⁰ to position her hands better but lose time in the action, all while trying to remember to step around and not just back. She ended up dropping the tip of the blade, wincing as her wrists complained at the strain of impact. The hesitation threw her and she didn’t step quickly enough, missing the low block by a clear inch. She flinched in anticipation of the hit that never came, Neassa pulling the strike in time.
Before she could comment Neassa started again, the same drill, still circling. So that’s how this goes.
This time she was slightly more prepared, though still felt she was scrambling to keep up. She rotated her sword on the mid-block this time, her wrists better positioned during the block and putting her in a better position to parry the low strike – which she blocked, just. She wasted less time thinking about her hands, and more on her feet – knowing where she wanted to step, rather than scrambling blindly for space.
The longer it went on, the easier it was to find a rhythm. She still missed a few, especially as tiredness began to set in, but she was moving more freely than when she started. She nodded in acknowledgement of Neassa’s praise, breathing deeply and swallowing, mouth dry.
The break was welcome, Cassie stopping the channel of magic so she could sheath the hilt without accidentally destroying the scabbard in the process. She accepted the drink gratefully, taking several gulps. It was tempting to drain the whole skin – or pour half over her head. She could feel the sweat starting to stick her shirt to her back and chest, but she refrained from dousing herself.
She gulped a little too hard when Neassa suggested a full spar, her throat stretching uncomfortably, but she swallowed past it, passing the water back. ‘So me, then,’ she said, under no illusions as to who would win the spar.
She was reasonably sure she could pull her strikes, if Neassa’s shield wasn’t enough. She was certain she could cut off her magic in time, if her physical reactions were too slow. She’d bullock any of her recruits if she found them pulling this kind of stunt, but they weren’t here, and they weren’t stuck in the worst Blight in history.
Neassa seemed to read her mind, then went a step further. Low blow. ‘Maker, you know how to motivate a woman,’ she snarked. Okay. Maybe it wasn’t guaranteed that Neassa would win. Cassie could make her fight for it nonetheless. ‘I assume you mean all-out but pretending I’ve been Silenced, or am otherwise unable to use my usual magic? Seeing as that would kind of make the whole sword training bit pointless.’ They could always spar like that later. She was sure Neassa had an endless supply of scenarios to motivate her with, all as equally effective as those ones.
Well, she asked for it.
The shield made things trickier, but she’d manage. Cassie immediately went for Neassa’s legs, a circling slice that left her pommel in a convenient position to bash into her face should she block the low attack with her shield. She’d seen Neassa’s preferred style of fighting – pressing the offensive, as much and as hard as possible. Maybe she could try the same, and keep Neassa on the back foot. She followed the pommel strike with a diagonal slash upwards, from Neassa’s hip to her shoulder, trying to get and stay to the side or behind the close guard of the shield. Remembering her footwork, she tried to step around, aiming more for the side and back to try and render the shield useless.
Posted: May 21 2018, 04:32 AM
There were several glaring benefits to armour but Neassa mourned one of the lesser known advantages of it. Usually it left the wearer shapeless but for sharp edges and a heavy silhouette, depending on the style. It was just as well Cassie didn't douse herself in water, Neassa was already doing a terrible job of keeping her eyes from wandering.
She raised her eyebrows, casually correcting her gaze before it was noticed. Or so she hoped. She had never known Cassie to sound so disheartened. “I like your enthusiasm.” Neassa tossed the water skin off to the side, no doubt they would need it again shortly.
As it turned out Cassie just needed the right motivation and a perfect opportunity to work through her anger towards Neassa over her abandonment. She should have kept her mouth shut. And that was just the beginning. “You can use your magic if you have to,” what was she saying?! “Just no picking me up and slamming me into the ground please. I like my ribs where they are.” And the rest of her bones unbroken. Cassie would be hard pushed to find anyone else as willing or able to spar with her on such terms, Neassa was trained to fight mages, had withstood the ire of many a spellcaster in her time and still drew breath, she wasn't easily cowed by the idea of Cassie using her magic.
Of course, there was also Carver, but as with Nolani, Carver wasn’t Neassa and neither was he even close to approaching her level of experience.
The differences between Cassie and every other mage Neassa had ever fought were too many to mention but the fact that it was non lethal was perhaps the most important factor. A generic enemy mage was also fuelled by a simple need to survive, to keep a hold of their freedom against someone who sought to take it away. Cassie wasn’t so troubled, the stakes weren’t high in that regard but there were other factors to consider. Like all of that unresolved tension between them that Neassa had decided was best worked through when Cassie was weilding a magical sword with only the beginnings of an understanding of how to use it.
For Neassa, this was easier than just talking about it. Her words failed her too often, or were the opposite of what she intended. They always betrayed her.
Cassie wasted no time, a renewed focus about her as she swept low for her legs. Neassa blocked it with her shield, as predicted, and took the pommel to the face for her efforts. She swore but was at least quick enough to turn her head to take it with her cheek rather than her eye, it wasn’t ideal but it was definitely the lesser of the two blows. There wasn’t as much of an impact as she expected, Cassie must have at least tried to pull the move but hadn’t quite fully succeeded. A sting spread across her face, like static on her skin as her cheek numbed and reddened. Her shield met the upwards diagonal strike mid swing, Neassa pushed up as the blade glanced across her shield and held it, knocking the sword up to throw Cassie off balance and create an opening for herself. She swung with her sword at Cassie’s chest in a feint and moved forward in the same action as she brought her shield round to slam into her.
Neassa was staying true to her push the offensive style of fighting. She expected that Cassie would be hesitant to use her magic, it wasn't something she could just pull at the last second to save injury, it was up to Neassa to protect herself. Knowing that her shield could be easily bypassed by magic, she bolstered her defence with Annulment for anything that managed to sneak by, that should dull the pain by half at least. Still, that didn't mean she could be careless.
Posted: Jun 5 2018, 04:13 AM
‘I prefer to call it practicality,’ Cassie returned, more out of habit than anything, too focused on planning her approach to notice Neassa’s distraction.
Cassie’s lips twitched in morbid humour, the temptation to do exactly what Neassa requested her not to rising for a moment in remembered anger. She tamped it down easily enough. Neassa had only ruled out being pummelled into the ground, after all. ‘Deal.’
Still, she tried to stick to her sword play, for her own benefit if nothing else. She wanted to improve, and honest practice was the only way to do that. But Neassa had ignited what Cap had called her belligerent streak, and what she had called her competitive streak. She wanted to win now, and she had a far wider repertoire than Neassa could ever hope to have. And some ten-years-younger voice in her wanted to show Neassa what a full-fledged mage could do. One not hindered by Circle teachings, malnourished and exhausted after being on the run. Slaughtering mindless darkspawn in front of her was child’s play. Fighting a real opponent? That was completely different.
She half-pulled the strike at Neassa’s face, expecting Neassa to block it and taken aback when she didn’t. Oh well. Neassa wanted a proper fight. She’d apologise later.
The diagonal block Cassie hoped Neassa would miss, but expected she wouldn’t. She was proved right. What she didn’t expect was the heave that threw her sword arm out and wide, leaving her torso open to whatever abuse Neassa deemed fit.
Not if she could help it.
She grit her teeth – channelling without staff or hands was possible, just a lot harder. The sword she barely caught; the air seeming to thicken around it to slow it down to a stop. She had a full grasp of it by the time the shield swung in, bouncing back like she’d hit it with a bat. Neassa was still too close; she needed some space.
She should have practiced that footwork thing, but it was too good an opportunity. She twitched her fingers and seized hold of Neassa, lifting her easily. Ten feet up was a safe distance. True to her word, she didn’t slam her down to the ground. She just suspended her there, smiling.
‘Still think I should use magic?’ she asked cheerfully, lifting her sword and gently poking the air an inch away from Neassa’s shirt to make her point. The sword was long enough for her to run Neassa through, even at that height. She was tempted to prod her stomach with it, not to harm just to tease, but seeing as she hadn’t tested if the blade acted like a normal sword or not when encountering flesh she decided against it.
Posted: Jun 7 2018, 12:48 AM
Gradually at first and then firmly, her sword seemed to meet an invisible barrier. The arc of her strike slowed to a halt, gripped by magic she couldn’t cut through. Her shield bounced back a good few inches away from making contact with Cassie, unable to push closer and then she too was caught in the same grip. Neassa glared, predicting what would come next. She had seen Cassie fight, knew her proclivity for force magic, her favoured tool. ”You little shit.”
Neassa was shaking her head as the same magic that had halted her assault came to wrap around her. ”Don't you do it-” her warning went unheeded, she might even say that it was gleefully ignored.
The ground evaded her, falling away beneath her feet as she was raised up into the air, a familiar and unwelcome magic drawing her up and out of reach. Neassa scowled, her instruments seemingly rendered useless in a single move.
“Really?! You couldn't even go two minutes...I said if you have to-” she was still managing to wave her sword arm accusingly at Cassie, it wasn't an easy feat with the air pressing in on her and usually she shouldn’t be able to move at all. She could only guess that her Annulment was responsible for her slight mobility, that and how desperately she wanted to smack that smug look off of Cassie's face, that was considered willpower, right? She shook her head. “I guess it's my own fault. I wasn't clear enough.” Sometimes she forgot Cassie was a Tevinter, somehow managing to see past the accent or perhaps even growing comfortable with it over the years, the last thing she expected. Of course Cassie couldn’t take basic instruction without first subverting it to her benefit while acting all along that she was still within the rules.
Neassa had done a lot of that herself when it came to mage hunting and the rationality behind mage slaying. I had to kill him, he had a stick that looked like a staff- She was a repeat offender for asking for forgiveness rather than asking for permission but Cassie was enjoying this too much, thinking she had already won. Neassa was determined to keep this from being just another one of those things the Warden Commander could breeze through.
She weathered Cassie's cockiness, smiling back. “My use of anti magic might seem cruel otherwise.” Neassa swiped at the teasing blade. She glanced down, thankful heights didn't bother her and in her infinite wisdom she decided she could take the fall.
Spell purge pushed against the force magic. The anti magic gnawed away at the strings that held her up and stretched out towards the source. Free, Neassa dropped like a stone, legs braced for the landing. Her shield travelled ahead of her, launched at Cassie's face, a bad habit of hers. A shield couldn’t protect you if you used it as a projectile, Neassa knew this, but she clearly wasn’t afraid to take a hit if the fresh bruise on her cheek was any indicator, besides, it would at least give Cassie something else to focus on.
She didn't see what happened to her shield, couldn’t tell if it hit or was knocked away as her visibility was reduced to nothing by a wall of dust that billowed up as she landed. Ordinarily it may have offered Cassie some cover but her magical sword was practically a beacon, giving her away. The same couldn’t be said for Neassa, who was far less easy to spot within the dust cloud. Neassa didn't give herself time to absorb the pain in her legs, moving straight into another offensive, the fact that she could move meant that nothing was broken at least.
She came lunging out of the dust, leading with the sword in a heavy strike.
Posted: Jun 29 2018, 01:42 PM
Cassie’s smirk grew at Neassa’s insults, and only grew larger as Neassa tried – and failed – to order her not to. ‘Do what? I’m not doing anything!’ she said, holding her hands out, showing all she was holding was the sword.
She couldn’t hold a straight face long enough. She cracked into giggles, genuine mirth something she’d started to forget the feeling of. She looked up at Neassa, still smiling. Neassa wasn’t – she was still swinging in fact. Impressive.
‘I know, I know. But I did need to – I didn’t have a chance of blocking or dodging. You overestimate my amateur sword skills,’ she said, going for complete honesty instead of more teasing. She couldn’t shrink her smile though, so she hoped Neassa would pay more attention to her voice instead of her expression. For once, she didn’t want her thinking she was taking the mick.
Or... not for once. Not for a while actually; not seriously. Then again, they had both been more honest with each other in the past few weeks; ever since she’d rode over the crest of that hill and saw it was Neassa embroiled in battle against the darkspawn.
Of course, it wouldn’t be them without a bit of light teasing.
She wrinkled her nose, scraping her tongue against the edge of her front teeth when she remembered the sensation of Neassa’s anti-magic. ‘Point taken. Still,’ she paused to parry Neassa’s blade, grinning, but took the hint and dropped her sword away from Neassa, ‘I will try and avoid using magic as much as I can. I won’t pick you up any more.’
She was about to say, ‘I’ll let you down’, when she felt a wall shoving against her magic, breaking and dispersing it, and Neassa dropped.
Shield. Shield. Shield!
Her block was sloppy, and without the strength she needed – the shield smacked into the flat of her blade, which rebounded back into her face faster than she anticipated. She grunted, felt flesh sear and split, but the sharp, digging pain focused her mind in an instant. When Neassa burst from the dust cloud, Cassie was snarling silently, backing up to dodge and make use of her longer reach by swinging in an underhand slash as soon as she saw movement.
The tips of the blades clashed; she’d moved too far back and swung too hard. She over-balanced as her sword bashed past Neassa’s and continued on its chosen path, pulling her with it by sheer momentum she’d expected to be halted. Her side and back were exposed, leaving her open to an easy hit.
Posted: Jul 10 2018, 01:47 AM
”Oh haha, very good, I can see now that you're completely innocent in all this,” Neassa snarked as Cassie played innocent and broke into laughter. She must look ridiculous from down there, hovering mid air and swinging at nothing, and not without any considerable effort. She would tire herself out doing this, maybe that was exactly what Cassie intended. A win by default was a win all the same, Neassa couldn't fight if she could hardly lift her sword arm after trying to desperately cut her invisible strings. Since their arrival in the Deep roads there had been very little to laugh about, especially for a Warden who couldn't even scrape together a good night's sleep thanks to the constant nightmares.
Unfortunately for Cassie, her face was a focus point the ex-Seeker rarely wavered from, even when she was elevated ten feet in the air, there was no missing her smile. See? Far too pleased with herself. “Right, you had no other option but to pick me up,” she was shaking her head, she wasn't buying it in the slightest. “I think it's more likely that you were protecting yourself and showing off all at once,” that sounded more like Cassie. Neassa was complaining just for the sake of it, she knew well enough that Cassie had several far more invasive spells she could have rattled off to deal with Neassa's assault. This was the least she could have done, it was harmless. She should count herself lucky.
She gave an agitated huff when Cassie manoeuvred her blade to avoid her swipe, glancing down to find the woman grinning. “Ugh, you're the worst!”
Cassie promised not to pick her up anymore but Neassa was too busy planning her escape to notice, dropping to the ground with a grunt.
She heard Cassie swear, then a clang announcing the impact of her shield against the magical sword.
Cassie stepped back to dodge her strike and retaliated fast, lunging forward with an underhand swing. Neassa quickly shifted the angle of her blade to defend as she pressed forward again, sword sliding down the length of the magical blade up to the crossguard on the inside of Cassie's swing. That was when she saw blood and knew that her shield throw had been somewhat of a success. Usually she would be energised to see the harm she caused but it rang hollow and almost with a pang of guilt.
Cassie had overreached, impressive considering how obnoxiously large her sword was already. Her back and side exposed. She should take the opening and if this was a real fight, against a real threat, she would have, especially since she could feel her arms growing heavier, too much time and energy spent hitting air. Instead, Neassa clamped her free hand down over one of Cassie's wrists and planted her feet as if she was going to throw her over her shoulder.
She didn't have it in her, a trip would have to do, Cassie was already off balance it shouldn't be too hard to send her to the dirt. With one of her legs planted between Cassie's, Neassa pushed, throwing all of her own weight behind it, hoping her Spell Purge would last long enough to keep Cassie from recovering her magic in time to save herself. Absent magic, she would have to scramble to find her own balance as well as having Neassa's weight bearing down on her.
Posted: Yesterday at 07:48 am
‘I’m always innocent. Except when it comes to frozen turkeys,’ she said seriously, pressing her tongue against the roof of her mouth to try and stop her laughter again.
Cassie gasped, theatrical, her hand against her chest in shock. ‘Me? Showing off? Never.’ Complete bullshit, of course. They both knew she had a dramatic streak a mile wide when it came to her magic – probably the Tevinter in her. It wasn’t her fault she had a knack for magic that let her levitate her enemies, or throw them fifty feet, or rip them in half. The fire, ice and lightning were just window dressing.
She chuckled at Neassa’s frustration. ‘Oh, so I’ve dethroned you have I?’ It was oddly nostalgic, seeing her like this. When she was in the Circle, it had merely been satisfying - pushing the bigoted Templar's buttons until she snapped, whether that involved punishments or not. After joining the Wardens, it had been entertaining - being able to treat Neassa as she had treated her, giving as good as she got without having to keep her nose clean.
But now? It was... strange. Warm. Fond.
She hadn’t anticipated Neassa’s escape at all. She felt distinctly on the back foot from the moment Neassa landed – not only because she was physically wrong-footed, but because the magic that had always been in easy grasp to save her was fuzzy, cloud-like, unable to be taken and shaped properly. She had no back-up, no ace.
Okay, she was rapidly realising she’d relied on it far too much.
She’d expected a solid smack in her side or back, maybe a charge to knock her flat. The hand on her wrist was a surprise, as was the closeness – for one horrible moment she recalled being slung over Neassa’s shoulder and the shattering of a very old, very expensive stained glass window – but the shove took advantage of her already shoddy balance and stole it completely.
She was going to fall flat on her back. She knew it, and instinctively reached out for something to arrest her fall – the only thing being a Neassa still leaning from the shove, momentum aiding Cassie in her unintentional grapple.
Oh, Maker. Terrible idea, bad, stupid-
She latched onto Neassa’s arms and either stopped her fall, albeit looking very strange dangling at such an angle, or, Neassa’s momentum being too high to stop, dragged Neassa down to the ground on top of her.
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