Ascension: The Coming Storm

Chapter 1: Out of the Frying Pan

of the group, then gesturing over for Audra to join him. She looked around the room and noticed that Ravi must have left sometime during their warm-ups.

”In an actual fight, with a rapier, you can not only rely on thrusts all the time, which is why it has a sharp blade. Keep in mind that the closer to the tip you are the less you would cut into something, so you want to start your cut about a third down your weapon. ” He gave a quick demonstration by showing a fake cut against Audras arm.

”You also should keep in mind that the body of your opponent is always more guarded than their limbs. So when cutting, you should keep in mind to either go for the neck, head, legs, or arms, but cutting the body is never out of the question in actual battle. ” He stood straight and held the rapier upright in front of him towards Audra then got in a wide stance. Audra did the same and he gestured for her to thrust her weapon towards him. Her weapon darted forward only for the tip to get stuck on the handguard of his weapon, he raised her weapon upwards and fluidly walked around her right side and sliced into the hide of her armor. If he had a real weapon it would have cut into the leather.

”Everyone practice among yourselves. Take turns striking each other, parrying the weapon upwards, walking off the line then striking your opponents arm or leg. ”

The act was difficult at first, with Audra easily getting poked in the chest when the old knight felt she was doing it too slowly. Eventually Audra was able to parry and slice at a decent enough speed but she was having trouble getting close enough to slice with enough mass behind the edge that would normally create a cut. The last attempt was thankfully the best looking and the most fluid she had done it, then he raised his hand to halt the training. Two men at the entrance of the barracks began to bring in hide strapped to the top and bottom of a stand. A third man began to carry in rapiers, even from a distance Audra could tell these were the real deal.

”Audra you
e first up on this. Ravi has taken a great interest in you. ” Audra instantly became more nervous than usual. What him taking interest in her meant, she wasn exactly sure.

”Is he thinking I could be in the Royal Knights? ” Audra wondered. She didn know what that entailed, she just wanted to know how to fight not be in the military. Surely they wouldn force her to do it. Right?

Audra reached in and grabbed a hold of one of the razor sharp rapiers, making sure to not let the blade graze her. She stood in front of the hide and waited as the knight explained what he wanted to see them do.

”Lunge, come forward, thrust, retract the weapon, cut. The way Ive taught you will teach you how to kill. ”

”But, Sir, isn this just fencing? ” A man in the group asked. The sound of electricity filled the air, then the knight laughed after scaring the man.

”Heavens no. Its very similar tactics, but fencing isn about killing. They will teach you how to hit your opponent and get around their moves. Which is good, but the way they teach you won teach you how to kill, only to hit. Audra, show that wolf whos boss. ” He ordered.

Audra pulled the weapon back and lunged the rapier forward, impaling the hide all the way through. She recovered her stance while moving forward and retracting the rapier, then gave a quick thrust forward which failed to go through the hide. She stepped to the side while pulling the weapon back and gave a quick, and deep, cut into the hide. After she walked back the rest of the group went up to the hide to practice after her, there were a couple that were better than hers but she was still happy to have been able to protect herself against a hypothetical threat.

After everyone took their turns the training was dismissed, Audra returned her armor and put the real rapier back in the hands of the weapon handlers and then began to leave the barrakcs. That was when she heard the bell ringing, and then the smoke in the distance, the scent of ash was heavy in the air.

”The eastern tower is being burnt to the ground! ” Audra watched as guards and families evacuated to the western end of the city, then came the roar. It was high-pitched, almost like a scream, the raw power from the roar was enough to knock people to the ground, including Audra. She felt a hand grab her shoulder.

”Evacuate everyone to the west! ” Audra looked up to see Ravi shouting orders. He hauled her off the ground as if she weighed little more than a feather. Ravi looked at one of the knights that were exiting the barracks.

”We have a Croak Borum, get everyone out of the barracks and get another knight out here to help me take care of this. If we don hurry there won be a village left to defend. Audra, was it? You need to find your family and leave immediately. Go as far west as Nevenal, stay there until the smoke stops. ” Ravi ordered pushing her with the crowd.

Audra took one look back and saw balls of fire flying through the sky, landing on buildings, and enveloping someone that was feeling the fire. Audra tugged at the strings of magic, like an apprentice harpist, summoning water from the air to obey Audras will, she poured it onto the man extinguishing the flames. He looked at her in confusion, silently thanked her then began running with the crowd. Another high-pitched roar shook the ground beneath her, she looked back and saw the Croak Borum for the first time, on the roof of someones home.

The Croak Borum was a giant black lizard, an ashy substance seemed to mist around the beast. Its diamond-shaped head was adorned with spines that seemed to be emerging from its body as did the scales that extruded from its tail. It hissed loudly and shot a stream of fire out of its maw. Audra had seen enough, turning back around, she began to run off into the distance, silently hoping her mother was okay.

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