RP:Aerial Advantage

From HollowWiki

Summary: Rumors reach Isok about a growing group of warriors and defense experts in the Western Lands. He follows the stories to the clan's temporary training grounds just inside Venturil, where he meets Syrri Darkfoot, leader of Clan Skjoldet. After learning more about the clan, Isok pledges to join, and Syrri hosts an impromptu entry spar between the undead avian and one of her recruits: the half-orc Mar'oken. Avian and half-orc battle in the training circle with alchemically-blunted weapons; wings flutter, tusked lips are split, and a decision is made: pleased with the outcome of the spar, Syrri offers Isok the position of Specialist of Aerial Tactics, and he proudly accepts.

Skjoldet's Encampment, Venturil

Syrri ;; Just inside the gleaming fortifications of Venturil sat a modest encampment that spilled out of the wide open side of the nearest building, over whose entrance was a sign that read, "The Axe & Shield." The encampment itself was a set of tents that bore the weight of a thick layer of dust and grime, positioned in a loose circle around a central training area, with a few wooden combat dummies set up and several youths and adults sparring around them, some with wooden weapons, others with iron and steel, depending on skill level. Each wore the same silver and black livery uniform of the Skjoldet clan, save a particular halfling, whose uniform was offset by the dark blue-gray of her Nightstone armor and the brilliant flash of emerald green tunic that honored her position in the Warrior's Guild. In her small but capable hands was a large battleaxe — indeed so large, it looked nearly the same size as she did, yet it was hefted with familiarity as she danced around her mock opponent, a half-orc wielding a polearm who used it to try and sweep the woman's legs out from under her. Syrri Darkfoot leaped over the weapon and then somersaulted around the half-orc before bringing the battleaxe upward with a jarring clang against her target's thick metallic shinguards. "Two points to Syrri!" yelled one of the bystanders, a tall, sinewy human who was dressed much like the sparring clan-mates, but whose collar featured a small shield-shaped insignia made of sleek ebon metal with mercurial-silver details. Syrri's strike knocked the half-orc off his balance and he stumbled back a pace but Syrri was quick to grab hold of him before he lost his footing altogether. Once he was secure, he grinned bashfully down at his leader, who low-fived him with a jovial spirit. "Aha!" yelled the halfling with glee. "You almost got me that time, Mar'oken." She heaved the battleaxe over to a pitched stand of several other types of weapons, then used both gloved hands to wipe her sweat-slickened hair from her face. "You'll be ready for the pit in no time." "Only with your help, Mistress Darkfoot." The human joined them, handing Syrri a red ribbon which she then offered to Mar'oken as the human said, "Three more of these and you'll be ready for Second Rank Recruit." The half-orc beamed with pride, then bowed to take his leave so he could join the other recruits. "So what's next on today's agenda, Jamie? Any new sign-ups this week?"

Isok had found himself wandering through the plains of Venturil looking for purpose when a few rumors reached his undead ears. A group known as Skjoldet had begun recent efforts to enroll or enlist new recruits. From the sound of what he had heard, Skjoldet may have some similar thoughts on how to act and behave, which includes any lessons on how one should conduct themselves with training and combat. Isok took these rumors to heart and meandered to where the sources claimed Skjoldet could be found. At the moment, the undead avian comes to a complete stop, not too far off from the sparring Syrri and Mar'oken, ice-blue eyes fixated on the fight before him to study their movements. The avian himself draws an impressive figure, standing at nearly six and a half feet and shrouded in used and rusted armor. A peculiar length of chain lies looped and dangling from his left hip, but otherwise, the undead is covered to keep his grotesque, rot-ridden form hidden with a mask. "I’m looking for Skjoldet," Isok chimes in as soon as their bout is over. "Have I come to the right place?" For all intents and purposes, Isok looked the part of his race, and Syrri would easily be able to discern that Isok is, in fact, an undead avian.

Syrri ;; Jamie looked past Syrri toward the approaching avian, his dark brows rising in curiosity. Syrri's own attention was immediately pushed in that direction, too, and she tilted her head back to gaze up at the behemoth of a man; well, most full-sized men were behemoths to her, standing at only three inches past three feet herself. "Indeed you have, friend!" the pint-sized warrior greeted, shuffling quickly away from Jamie (who followed in tow) as she moved to meet Isok halfway across the encampment. "I'm Syrri Darkfoot, Leader of Clan Skjoldet." In those steps between her previous position and her new one standing before Isok, Syrri quickly tried to smooth her silver hair from her face even more, wiping sweat and dust from her brow before rearranging the folds and placement of cloak and tunic and leather. Her azure-and-chestnut eyes swept from toe to wing to brow, sizing up the newcomer as that crooked, joyful grin plastered itself on her freckled face. "Have you business with us, or are ya hoping to join our ranks?"

Isok watched the duo's approach and Syrri’s attempt at swiping away the hair from her face with mild curiosity. Never in a thousand years would he believe that Syrri was the clan leader; strictly speaking, it was due to the shock of her size. However, Isok climbs past that mental hurdle quickly, as he himself is not what his physical appearances seem. She had obviously earned her position through trials and tribulations and was probably very experienced. "Indeed, I do. For both reasons, actually." Isok gives a nod to Syrri’s tag-along to acknowledge their presence, but quickly returns to the matter at hand. "I came to ask a few questions, and if Skjoldet is what I hear it is, to join you if at all possible." Isok shuffles forward in an effort to help close the gap between all involved parties and continue the conversation. "What exactly does Skjoldet intend to accomplish?" Isok's tone is questioning. One hears rumors, and often they hold little in the way of truth. He wanted to be sure of this choice and decided a direct approach was the best.

Syrri's hands settled, folded, against the centerpoint of her belt, and she tilted her head to one side, revealing those skull-white scars on her right temple before they disappeared between rows of silvery braids and the missing ear-tip. "Sure, I'd be happy to answer any questions, Ser …?" Her words hung in the air, waiting to be filled by the name Isok wanted to offer. After, she tacked on, "How about I buy ya a drink and you can tell me what you've heard an' … and I can tell you all about Skjoldet so we can settle any, uh …" Syrri paused to consider her words, trying to find the right one. "Well, any discrepancies. Gotta make sure the stories out there are the right ones." Her grin was fearless and ebulliently earnest. Perhaps even infectious, for Jamie himself could not help but crack a lop-sided smile in his leader's company. Presuming Isok would partake, Syrri was already bustling toward the nearby "Axe & Shield" open patio, which featured a few tables to accommodate patrons of any size and a bright-eyed half-elf to serve pints of Venturil's finest imports. "Now, what I can tell ya right off the bat is that we're a clan with strong ethics. We ain't lawful good or nothin'," she continued with a cheeky nod. "But I hope to instill a certain quality of honor in all members, and to use that honor in helping those in need, whether that's through self-defense or combat." She held up three fingers to the half-elf, who hurried off to fill skeins with what was on tap that day. Syrri turned her attention to Isok as though assessing him anew. "We are, as you can see, a martial group. We're opening up a few academies in the area for training in martial arts and combat tactics—" The silver-haired warrior gestured loosely toward the training encampment. "And barracks are being built to house our graduated soldiers for regional and continent-wide dispatch where needed." Beat. "We are accepting students for training, but if you got the skills already, we may have openings for instructors, too."

Isok offers a chuckle to himself at his own lapse in manners. "Forgive my lapse of character; I was once known as Isok-Shim. Now nothing more than just Isok." Though the avian never partakes in or inbibes any type of alcoholic beverage, he has no qualms about heading towards the indicated place for a meeting and discussion. The avian, without a doubt, followed Syrri’s lead and listened intently. He did, however, take note of her expressive and happy nature and that of her followers as well. For him, this was a good sign and meant that the clan’s leadership was well suited for their respective roles. When Isok reaches the patio, he nods to the server and takes a seat at one of the tables. As for a drink, the undead simply shakes his head and asks for nothing more than water. It might seem odd to some, but Isok carried himself in a particular way. However, it is at this moment that he reaches up towards the iron mask over his features and reveals the ghoulish smirk lying in wait beneath its cover by removing it. "I wouldn’t claim to be overly skilled. I have some experience, but I think it would be best if I was tested; that way, you yourself would be sure of where my abilities lie." As for the rumors, all he had heard was that Skjoldet had planned to train others and attempt to shield those in need from any nefarious deeds. As for their personal alignment or stances on a moral or political scale, he wasn’t concerned in the slightest. "However, you’re further along than what I had heard." Isok was referring to the barracks and facilities being built. It also sounded like they had a system in mind for how they would conduct themselves. "So you plan to instill a type of honor in your members?" The warrior may not have been wholly about honor, but he understood that in principle, honor was a good thing. The simple truths she revealed were enough for Isok to know that Skjoldet is most likely a good match for him. "Do instructors earn a salary and do students pay a fee, or is this all provided to the clan for free?"

Syrri grinned to her newest companion and bobbed her head in a few nods. "It's a pleasure to meet ya, Ser Isok." With the trio gathered near the tables, she thought nothing of the undead avian's preference for water, and the bright-eyed half-elf brought it out without question when she returned with it and two skeins of honeyed mead. Meanwhile, she climbed into a stool at a full-sized table, and rested her hands on its pock-marked rim. "Oh sure, a test sounds appropriate, sure," she agreed with a nod more sober than its predecessors. In truth, it was purely from distraction as her dichromatic eyes settled on the revealed visage. Isok was not her first undead friend, but her gaze lingered a beat longer than necessary; perhaps the warrior was simply committing such features to memory. Her smile hadn't faltered; if anything, it grew a few subtle degrees. "We can arrange a spar to assess where your skills lie and if there is room for improvement. It is also possible to be both student and teacher." She certainly was herself. With the additional questions, the youthful halfling nodded again. "Yep, it's important to me and my students that we can rely on each other to do the right thing, but more importantly, to do what must be done in order to protect our own and those we've sworn to serve." Syrri dipped her chin to Jamie, who retrieved a palm-sized sheet printed with "Skjoldet's Virtues" which were listed as 'Prudence,' 'Justice', Fortitude', and 'Temperance' with a short description of each and the related expectations of clanmates. Jamie passed the card to Isok for his perusal (ooc - and these are the same details that can be found on the wiki page). "Speaking of salaries, instructors do earn a monthly allowance based on experience and role, while room and board are included either on-site at the academy barracks or our upcoming headquarters southwest of town. As for students, tuition is 1000 gold pieces per term for first-year recruits, but we have scholarships available to those who need it, sponsored through fundraisers and monthly events I hope to begin hosting soon." The freckled warrior took a small swallow of her mead and considered the undead avian with a warm expression. "How are we doing so far?"

Isok leaned back a ways and nearly whistled at her words, but the attempt was only stopped by the fact that his half-rotten lips couldn’t meet properly to perform such an act. And though Syrri’s gaze lingered on his features, Isok did not shy away from her. He had grown accustomed to others and their gazes. In fact, since the recent undead ordeal, she had been his most polite interaction, and for that, he already had a positive view of Syrri and, by extension, Skjoldet. "I’m convinced." That’s how they’re doing. Now, the undead avian lifts his hand to slap the table lightly, then grabs his water and downs a portion of it. "I dare say, I’d like to join. How do I go about that?" Once more, the warrior presented himself with a straightforward demeanor, leaving nothing hidden behind a shroud of mystery. This meant that without further prodding or questions, Isok could agree to the terms put forth for both instructor and student. He would find out later where exactly he belonged.

Syrri's grin was, somehow, brighter than ever. "Fantastic!" she declared. "Then let's get that started. Jamie?" The dark-haired human, clearly taking on the role of her assistant, reached into his pack again, this time to pull out a folded piece of paper, which he unfolded and laid out in front of Isok. "Clan application," he assured with a polite smile as he also provided an inked pen. Meanwhile, Syrri continued, "We just need a few details from you, such as how to contact you, what your experience is, and what you hope to gain from Skjoldet." She straightened in her stool and her head tilted to the other side this time. "We should arrange a spar, I bet Mar'oken would be delighted to face you —" At the mention of his name, which Syrri had spoken just loud enough to be heard from the training yard, the half-orc she'd been matched with earlier stepped out of the yard and approached the patio of the Axe & Shield. "Yes, Mistress Darkfoot?" She was still getting used to such a formal designation, but her grin remained fixed on that bright face of hers. "Yes, Mar'oken, let me introduce Ser Isok, who wishes to join our humble ranks. He is in need of a sparring partner for his application …" Her words trailed off and she returned her azure-and-chestnut eyes to Isok. "Unless you would like to pick someone else?" Indeed there was quite an assortment of students and instructors scattered around the yard, their weapons meeting in thumps of wood and the clash of practice metals.

Isok shifts his attention to the form presented and takes both it and the ink provided to him. It took him only moments to list a very shortened version of his military stint in Armantium, long before he was an undead and before it vanished. Lastly, Isok scribbled down that purpose was his main reason for pursuing Skjoldet. Describing that he had been a military man and understood, on some level, that serving with the clan would help aid him in his own training and introduce him to new friends. While others may have elaborate reasons, in his new version of life, Isok only thought to continue the path he had before. When Mar'oken is offered to be a sparring partner for Isok, he agrees without hesitation by giving a firm nod. "I have no arguments with sparring them. Unfortunately, I am currently unarmed. Might I make use of one of your training weapons over there?" The warrior points his heavily gauntletted left hand in the direction of a weapon rack he can spot. When she confirms or denies it, Isok returns the form he had just finished filling out and climbs to his feet.

Syrri leaned up and over, subtly, so that she might catch the words as they're inscribed on the form. She wanted to give him the affordance to write freely but the gods knew she was mighty curious. Straightening once more, her grin renewed itself. "Of course! If they have been claimed by anyone, they'll have a yellow string tied 'round the handle. Anything else is free to use." She took another swallow of the mead, just a sip so that she could maintain a clear head, and she slipped down off the stool and dusted her hands against her leather-bound thighs. Leaving the patio, she curled her finger and thumb in a hook against her lips and let loose a shrill whistle then clapped her hands together, drawing a close to any of the ongoing training. The other clan-mates fell back from the central training circle, pulling the combat dummies off to the side with them to make plenty of room for the entry match. Mar'oken returned to the yard with them, taking up an iron-banded buckler on his right arm and a greatsword with his left, the edge of which was coated in a protective putty to prevent any unwarranted bloodshed. Meanwhile, Syrri produced a notepad and another inked pen to jot down her observations. Holding them in either hand, she put her hands on her hips and announced, "Isok versus Mar'oken — The rules are simple: no below-the-belt shots, and don't try to kill each other. Oh, and have fun!" With that being said, she'd turn her dichromatic gaze upon Isok to see what weapon or weapons he might pluck from any of the available weapons racks, and with a nod given him, she'd allow him to begin the match when ready.

Isok offers a grin to Syrri, plucked his mask from off of the table, and reaffixed it to his head, effectively hiding his features once more. The avian then made his way to the training yard with the group, though when Syrri cleared the clan members with a whistle, Isok merely moved over to the nearest weapon rack. His hands glided over each of the weapons presented until he came across the first that was not claimed by a ribbon. In the end, the warrior turns to face Mar'oken with a peculiar halberd, its sharp edges dull and covered in the same substance as Mar'oken’s. "Though we have just met, don’t hold back and let me learn who you are through your skills." As a warrior, Isok best understood his opponents through a simple clash. The halberd is extended to point directly at the orc in an effort to test the item's weight and balance. Once satisfied, the avian springs into action, flapping his onyx-colored wings to help propel his form forward with a burst of unexpected speed; a few black-colored feathers fall from his wings and flutter to the ground in his wake. The gap between the two is closed in a few brief moments, but just before Isok reaches weapon range, an abrupt shift of direction follows, where his feet leave the ground, aided by his racial ability to fly, and he swiftly circles Mar'oken's flank. Simultaneously, Isok delivers two questioning prods of the halberd's pointed but dulled tip to gauge his opponent's ability in defense. The first was aimed at the shoulder of Mar'oken’s sword arm, and the second was a quick swipe towards his left leg in order to hinder his movements. Isok, however, continues to move, refusing to give up the mobility he carries even after the attack.

Syrri made sure she was out of the central training circle with Jamie steadfast at her side, and she made the first of many notes in her notepad as Isok selected the halberd. Meanwhile, Mar'oken trained his dark olive-green eyes on his newest opponent. He was still in his first year with the Clan and had much to learn, but he wanted to believe his training thus far would not leave him at too severe a disadvantage. Where he lacked the agile wingspan of Isok, he carried a brawny figure and quick steps, and he flexed his hands around sword and shield. "Well met," Mar'oken greeted, and he gave a tusked grin at the request. "We don't hold back here," he promised, much to Syrri's pleasure. The half-orc shifted his stance the moment Isok took flight, buckler drawn up to defend his right side as the sword was held low and close to his left. The first of Isok's thrusting probes connected with the iron banding of Mar'oken's buckler in a defensive block, sending jolts of jarring pain up his muscled arm and he winced at the strength displayed, leading Syrri to mark more notes in her pad. Mar'oken braced himself then pivoted around on the balls of his booted feet, catching the halberd against his left leg with a guttural growl, and he stumbled before catching himself. Following his swift recovery, he continued the pivot, bringing the greatsword upward for a confident slash toward the halberd itself close to the undead avian's hold on it. He advanced with sure steps, and with the greatsword extended, brought the buckler up to knock the avian back with it.

Isok finds that a smirk dances upon his features, though hidden by the mask he wears, for the little triumph had tugged at his pride. Though Mar'oken's defense had been surprising and his recovery from both strikes had been impressive. Isok, however, had little time to revel in his short-lived success and already had to shift into action. The halberd, held in both hands by Isok, dips in a lower in defense, as it had already been in that position from the previous strike towards his opponent's leg, and its bulbous axehead is sent sideways to parry the upward blow. The avian, however, lets out a surprised grunt at the effort required as he matches his strength against Mar'oken the moment the weapons collide. Luckily for Isok, the blade is indeed pushed aside, just enough to deliver a glancing blow to Isok's armor clad form, but otherwise passing harmlessly; the avian's own flight sapping the strength harbored by the orc and sending him further out of harm's way. Isok flaps his wings once and brings himself into the air with a quick three-hundred-and sixty-degree twirl. The halberd, meanwhile, is swiftly raised above Isok's head and brought down with the full authority of his weight, mixed with gravity as he falls to the ground, to collide with the shield thrust at him. This defense acts as a one-two combination and not only halts the shield's advance, but the head of the halberd might indeed push the shield aside and strike true upon the shoulder of the extended arm.

Syrri couldn't help the excited little dance she did, shifting from one boot to the other. Oh, she did love a good fight! More notes were quickly inscribed in the pad, both for Isok and Mar'oken's benefit, while Jamie appeared to be enjoying the show too, albeit more stoically. Mar'oken shifted forward to follow the flow of his attack, sliding underneath the airborne avian as sword and shield either land or miss. His training was one thing, but this avian's tendency to rely on flight was proving a challenge. A good one! But a challenge all the same. He gave a tusked grin, and brought the buckler back close to him again. It was a good thing, too, as the undead combatant descended upon him, stirring up dust-devils all around in the training yard. He had just enough time to draw the buckler over him to catch the full brunt of Isok's weight, and he let himself collapse under it. He hooked the buckler between them, catching the treated halberd's edge against his shoulder in a blow that would not draw blood but would definitely leave a mottled mark for many days. The half-orc growled and swung the sword up, not so much to stab at Isok but to catch him in a tangle of limbs and wings as he tumbled backward, feet kicking up to launch the avian up and over him into the dirt where he'd attempt to pin him down.

Isok had been prudent in his situational awareness, but the buckler catching the halberd and simple tugging and struggling with an orc was futile, especially when the avian had to dodge a sword being thrust at him in the mix. And just like that, Isok’s advantage of flight was being whisked away like candy from a baby; tears might well up in his eyes if he had the time to recount the events. However, Isok had to abruptly respond to the sudden change in tactics as he found himself effectively entangled and tossed over the orc. The avain lands upon his back, the two in a mixture of dust, dirt, and debris that may cloud the vision of those gathered around. But as an undead, Isok felt no pain. He had no need to breathe or even worry about the physical harm that may come his way, and much like the skills he used with a weapon, he was armed with this knowledge. Mar'oken may believe that he has the upper hand, that is until Isok's features slam forward in a vicious headbutt aimed squarely at the nose of the half-orc. Such a surprise might indeed worry his opponent, as the item Isok wore over his face was made of iron and built normally for defense. If that didn’t work, Isok delivered a second for good measure and used this tactic to wiggle his way free of Mar'oken’s grasp, rolling out from under him and coming to an abrupt stand.

Syrri ;; Mar'oken didn't have much time to show pride in his strategy. Between all the arms and legs and wings and weapons, the spar had turned into a coarse brawl, and he struggled to parry the head-butts as blood spilled from a cracked lip. He released his sword in order to attempt to land a few heavy-handed punches to the undead avian's jaw, but soon enough the avian disengaged in the beats Mar'oken took to steady his mind and steel his nerves. It was at that point, the fearless halfling surged forward, stuffing the notepad and inked pen in a pocket and drawing her thumb and forefinger up to let loose another piercing whistle. "That's enough!" she called out, and immediately Mar'oken pushed off the ground, rising to a defeated height and giving Isok a wingspan-wide berth. "Alright, wow, that was, wow, what a fight. Very good job, both of you," Syrri stammered, filling the time with praise as she gave each opponent time to catch their breath — or composure, in the lack of it. "Jamie, I think that's good enough, do you have a pin?" The human shook his head, mumbled, "One sec'," and retreated into one of the tents circling the encampment. Emerging with a small box in his hands, he joined Syrri at the edge of the central training circle. Mar'oken stepped forward to offer up a hand for Isok to shake if so inclined, his grin broad even as the blood dribbled down his chin; then he took his leave to hit up the clinic next door. Syrri took the box from Jamie and lifted it up for Isok to open it and reveal a shield-shaped pin that matched the one adorning Jamie's collar. "Allow me to congratulate you on passing our entrance exam. Should you choose to accept a position in our ranks, I should like to name ya Specialist of Aerial Tactics." She grinned. "It just so happens that I'm looking for a few more avians to fill out our numbers so that we have an airborne unit when needed." Beat. "You would be in charge of selecting new avians for potential recruitment and overseeing their training, but you'll also be expected to undergo officer training and maybe some simple combat courses so that yer team is balanced in the unlikely event yer wings are unusable." Her head tilted to the side and she took a step closer, hand out. "Do you accept?"

Isok came to a stand, his gaze upon the half-orc who had impressed him in this fight. So when the man approached him, Isok pulled the mask away to reveal a broad grin, happy to have engaged with the half-orc, and took the offered handshake. "Well met, Mar'oken. Well met indeed." Truth be told, he would happily face this opponent, as he presented new difficulties that he had never faced before. So Isok was thankful for the lesson. Through this bout, he gained a better understanding of another member and would most likely visit him from time to time as a training partner. For Syrri, Isok’s gaze switches to her and the offered title. "If you believe me capable, I would be honored. Of course, I will continue my training as well." Isok gave a firm nod and accepted the task presented to him, happy to have purpose back in his life once more. The avian would accept the pin offered as well and wear it proudly. "Thank you for the opportunity."

Syrri's grin was as brilliant as Kafzhash as it drifted toward the horizon. "I believe ya more than capable," the halfling warrior replied. "Jamie here can take any request for accommodations you might need for your room or office, and you will probably need to be fitted for our uniform. I believe we can work you into the training schedule within the fortnight and in the meantime, you are welcome to sit in on our morning classes to get a deeper feel for our regimen and our current students. Jamie and I meet here three times a week just as dawn breaks, for our officer's training, too." Her grin grew even brighter, if possible. "We are delighted to have you with us, Ser Isok. And, please don't hesitate to come to me with anything, I serve you as much as you serve with me."