“I’m glad I didn’t get any closer.” Karas said, standing just outside of the edge of the compass. Callindra saw with surprise that the familiar pattern was actually cut into the floor instead of just blowing the dirt around. “It looks like you could still use a little practice with that Stance though.”
Callindra glanced at a myriad of cuts on her arms and legs that were slowly starting to sprout flower buds and green shoots and shrugged. “It’s how I know I’m pushing the limits. That’s why I practice without my armor on; I don’t want to damage it.” The woman gave her a steady look.
“OK and I’m still getting used to him too.”
Karas shrugged, “I’d offer to spar but I’ve got a couple feet of reach on you.”
“Actually I think the advantage would be mine.” Callindra said with a feral grin, “I’m Callindra.”
“Yes, I remember from yesterday, well met Callindra.” She readied her weapon, “Let’s see what you can do with that thing then.”
Callindra assumed the Heaven and Earth Stance, crouching with one hand nearly touching the ground, sword in the other fully extended towards the sky. “I apologize if I cut you; my control is still slightly off. This blade is a full hand longer than it was before.” She held the Stance for a few moments and then leaped to attack.
Karas was an expert with her Halberd, deflecting and counter-attacking to keep Callindra at the end of the blade’s considerable reach. Callindra used every conventional trick she had learned, but was still unable to get inside her opponent’s guard. She took a half step forward and then flung her body into a backflip, swinging Shadowsliver in a tight arc and releasing him at the precise moment he was parallel to the ground.
The Mithril chain flew through her fingers and she tightened her grip just as the tip touched Karas’s flesh. When the blade paused, she whirled the chain around the haft of the polearm and pulled. As she did so, Karas shifted her grip and grounded the butt of her weapon. Callindra nearly pulled herself off her own feet.
“Nice trick, but I can tell you haven’t used it against a stronger opponent. Now you’re weaponless and I have you at the end of a string.”
“No, it’s just starting to get interesting!” Callindra replied and ran forward. When the blade of the Halberd came to meet her, she gathered her chain and pulled it off course, ducking and sliding under the strike. She regained her feet and her hand found Shadowsliver’s hilt at the same moment. As she brought the blade to bear she realized Karas had released the polearm entirely. Her blade was touching Karas’s ribs but her opponent had a pair of daggers leveled at her throat.
“Well played, you managed to at least take me with you.” Karas said, “Something you Bonded types always forget is that most of us can use more than one weapon. I prefer the Halberd because it keeps the fighting at a comfortable distance most of the time but I can easily defend myself in any number of other ways.”
“I can use more than one weapon.” Callindra said, untangling her chain from the thick wooden shaft of the Halberd, “I just choose not to. Shadowsliver is all I need. All I want.” The blade was still singing like a tuning fork. “One more thing to keep in mind, had I not grabbed the chain when I did you would likely have died. Your defense is good, but you can’t afford to rely on your weapon’s reach to keep you safe.”
Karas snorted, “Your defense is nonexistent. I’d work on that if I were you.”
“It’s too late for me to change my style now. My defense is a fast and effective offense. Besides, if the muscle, leather, steel and weave fail me, the Goddess will always be there.” A breeze rustled across the practice grounds and a small flock of butterflies settled on the Brightstar flowers blooming in her hair.
“Who are you?” Karas asked, her eyes widening slightly. “I thought you were just a runaway at first, but then I realized you were a girl, not a slight boy. Your skills with that blade make me certain it belongs to you and is not stolen; it moves like a part of your body. Those flowers… I thought you were silly, wearing them in your hair but Brightstar flowers aren’t in season for another three months. The wind seems to obey your whim, to play at your feet like a puppy, I don’t know what to make of you girl.”
Callindra faced her, assuming the ready Stance, “I am Callindra Sol’Estin by Glarian Sol’Estin. I am two and a half years old.” The wind gusted sharply and the butterflies startled from her hair in an erratic cloud. “The winds do not bow to my will just yet, but one day I shall be Master of the North Wind.”
“I have heard of ones like you; the Disciples of Weave and Steel.” She hesitated, as though unsure if she should say any more. “You don’t seem to be traveling with a sanctioned Master but you aren’t a Master yourself. Be careful, they know you’re still alive and they won’t stop until they wring whatever information it is they want out of you.”
Karas grounded the tip of her polearm in salute then turned and walked off the rooftop practice floor.