Thedor 30, 229: Knights Sparring

Knights Sparring
Summary: Sir Shepard Kerrigan and Sir Ronan Crawford pair off for a sparring match while their squires do the same. Count Aldren Haravean watches.
OOC Date: 30/01/2014 (OOC)
Related: Nothing particular we've bothered to post.
Aldren Shepard Ronan Kierne 
Practice Room, Darfield Castle
A large room has been devoted to the training of the Rioga. There are weights stacked across one wall while another is devoted to a long weapon rack and a huge training mat. People move about in constant activity, always training.
Thedor 30, 229

As the days of winter wear on, the turn of seasons inexorably marching towards the spring thaw, activity amongst the fighting men of Mobrin has steadily begun ramping up. Practice yards and chambers have been busy, and the practice room of the Rioga has been no exception. Knights and squires are already filling this space, instructing and sparring, and besides the brief interruption and lull that came with the Queen's death and the week of mourning, the Riogans seem even more driven than usual, with their recent losses and misfortunes no-doubt fuelling their determination.

Sir Shepard Kerrigan is not a Knight of the Rioga, but he has been welcomed here after having "defended the honor" of Knighthood by thumping his liege, Count Aldren Haravean in a sparring match. Aldren isn't exactly shy about his opinion that the hallowed status of knighthood is overrated (This does not in any way, however affect his opinion of -individual- knights, several of whom he's just fine with…Shepard included). So here "The Green Knight" is, currently instructing his squire…a boy of an age that likely means he's new to the job…in his swordsmanship, watching the young man viciously attack one of several wooden training dummies here, building his strength and speed with the weighted sword as he works.

Kierne Kincaid is here already wearing his padded gambeson. He's brought a helm and is picking out a pair of wooden wasters in anticipation of sparring. He and the Duke usually do arms practice in the mornings but today they are to meet with Sir Shepard Kerrington.

Ronan arrives likewise wearing a heavy padded gambeson of deep blue. He looks around at those who are already at pratice, then looks for his squire, "Kierne! There you are. Is all ready?" The Rioga isn't wearing armour but he is carrying a practice helm.

Aldren too, has found his way here today. From near the back and undoubtedly just finish thumping some lesser knight he emerges, sweat stained and exhausted looking. He is handing over his help to HArlik when he spies the other two. "Lord Shepard!" He shouts. "Getting the boy ready to spill some Lanny blood?" He muses before seeing Ronan as well, "And you seem to be doing the same, Duke Crawford." He says warmly. He looks both boys over and adds, "Lets see 'em have a go at each other.." Looking to both men to see if they approve.

"Good day to you, Duke Crawford." Shepard calls out when he spots the man, touching his hand to his chest and lowering his gaze for a moemnt, before adding a reasonably friendly smile. He's wearing his own training garb, though his helm rests on a bench nearby, along with a training blade he selected earlier. "That's good, Peyton, you need to be faster returning to guard position, though, and don't take yourself off balance with your lunges." The tow-headed young man's form is indeed decent, for a squire of his age.

When Aldren appears, Shepard quirks a bit of a grin towards the man, "Indeed, Count Aldren. He's only been in my service since shortly before I came to Darfield. My last earned his spurs around this time last year." He looks to Ronan and Kierne, then chuckles, "I've no objection, though I suspect Young Sir Kierne has considerably more training and experience under his belt. Doesn't mean Peyton can't learn from him though." He smiles to Ronan once more, "Though I believe you suggested a spar when last we met, Your Grace?"

Kierne looks around at Aldren's voice and suggestion. He looks to the younger boy and grins, "We could, if allowed. If he won't go too hard on me." The Kincaid gives a wink, "I'm good with the youngers, Sir Kerrigan." As in he gives his word not to hurt Peyton if he can help it.

"Aldren!" Ronan rumbles, "Good to see you, Your Excellency." A look then to Shepard and a nod, "Up to Sir Shepard but I have no objection. Indeed, and I are to spar ourselves." The Duke accepts the wooden waster that Kierne hands to him, a good long reach it has but then Ronan is a tall man who can use a large blade.

The Count nods to Shep. "Aye. I had heard you knighted him And, if he is any indication Peyton here is lucky to come into your service." He gives the boy a nod and turns to Ronan at mention of a spar. "Well, that does sound a bit more interestin. I would be loathe to wager upon such a thing. Lord Shepard is an incredibly lucky man." He grins at his brother-in-law and backs away to watch who will begin, and, if he catches his breath perhaps calling winner on a recently tired knight. Upper hand and reputation to regain and all that.

"Fetch my blade and helm and then go see what Young Sir Kierne can teach you, Peyton." Shepard instructs the squire, who does indeed move with alacrity to retrieve the requested items and hand them to his Knight, before saluting, and moving off with Kierne to spar himself. Shepard straps on the helmet and lifts the blade, moving to an open patch of ground upon the training mat and saluting Ronan with his own long blade. The facsimile of a bastard sword. Seems he's eschewing the shield for the moment. Of course a few of the other knights and squires nearby gather round to watch if they can spare the time and attention.

"Ready when you are, Your Grace." Shepard notes towards Ronan, bringing his blade up into a standard defensive posture.

Kierne looks pleased to be so entrusted and will take the responsibility seriously, to try and show Peyton a few things - and also to feel out Peyton to see what he already knows! It's entirely possible they might get a chance to pair off again in the future.

The Duke puts on his own helm and gives the waster a few swings to get a feel for it. "I have sparred with few aside from Kierne himself of late, so we'll see if I have accumilated some rust of late for you to knock off, Sir Shepard." A huff of breath to Aldren, "Wager away! I shall not be offended if you bet against me." He raises his waster to salute the Kerrigan knight. The waster he carries is more like a great sword, slower perhaps but with great reach and heavy enough to be more effective against plate if it were a real fight. The Sutherland Rioga studies Shepard briefly ere he moves in to test the others's defense with a half swing that pivots with his left hand on the pommel to bring the tip up suddenly for Shepard's helm.

The Count pays little attention to the squires now as the action begins. Looking on he places his arms behind his back and observes. No plans on killing either man in thte future but he does hate to be bested so he will make note of movements and style. His face passive and giving no hint of favortisim.

"Indeed we will, Duke Crawford." Shepard smiles at his comment of potentially being rusty, but sees no sign of said rust when Ronan makes his swift attack. Still, the Greenshire knight's well-trained reflexes kick in, and a sidestep and a quick tilt of his head causes Ronan's strike to ever-so-narrowly miss his head, even as his own blade sweeps in a horizontal arc and his feet shift a half-step forward, aiming a strike towards the lower-left side of Ronan's torso. The smile fades, not into any expression of anger, but simply one of intent focus.

So now they begin, Ronan feeling out Shepard who defends himself swiftly and well. The Duke's face can't be easily seen since he's wearing a helm that conceals it but his dark eyes are visible at times through the slit. He observes how the Kerrigan moves, how he grips his blade, where Shepard's eyes are focusing upon his own person to see if he can pick up tell-tale hints that may telegraph where the other knight intends to strike. That instead of watching the blade, which he can see peripherally well enough without focusing upon it.

His own stroke missed barely, and this time it is Ronan's turn to evade, catching Shepard's blade with a rotation of his wrists that make the big waster seem light in his large hands. He likewise is focusing upon his opponent as they begin to circle in the age old dance of men of war. The Duke has no sooner passed off Shepard's blade then he suddenly steps in without the slightest hesitation, trying to take Shepard in the right shoulder!

The Count just continues to look on. Seemingly approving at both mens ability to evade thus far and whispering afew words to his guard. The other knights and squires watch on as well giving up there /ooohsss/ and their /whews/ at the spar as it continues.

Shepard recovers from his strike quickly, remaining well-balanced on his feet as he shifts slightly so that Ronan can't lock his blade with his and potentially take him off-balance with the greater mass of his weapon (and let's face it, of the man himself). When Ronan's next strike arcs towards him, Shepard's torso twists so that once again, it passes him by inches. Then another shift of his feet, forward and slightly to his left, and he attempts a swift thrust towards Ronan's upper-chest, trying to sneak through his defenses before he can recover from his own strike!

So far so good. Still warming up and feeling out the other man. No need for a quick, risky and decisive finish as a battle requires, when possible. Ronan can take his time, always pushing to build stamina, endurance for hours of battle. Take time to access Shepard and to try something new. Again he keeps his own blade in line close to guard, twisting his wrists to pivot the long waster to push Shepard's blow offline. Minimal movements, nothing grandiose, no need for powerful, energy wasting swings that would leave himself open. Not yet.

The Duke drops his waster low, pushing Shepard's point down towards the ground and he steps in close, raising the /back/ of his blade to try and suddenly ram the pommel hard into Shepard's helm in a sneaky backhanded attack up so close the blades themselves are pushed well to the side if only for that moment! can he ring Shepard's bell?

Harlik mumbles something to Aldren and he scowls. Now he makes his way out saying. "Ehh. They could be at it all night at this rate. LEt us see to it quickly then."

All well-trained knights know that it's not just the sharp bits of the blade that are a weapon, and that lesson serves Shepard well when he jerks his head to the side to avoid the pommel strike Ronan aims at it, unfortunately with his blade pulled out of position to set-up the strike, his counterattack is lacking in force, and easily turned aside by Ronan's larger blade, leaving Shepard's right side exposed for the briefest of moments.

One would think that a man of Ronan's size, strength, and reach would want to stay out and not get entangled in close with blades locked. But he's learned a few tricks. Shepard does evade his blade's pommel, "Good!" he barks, and uses his entire body to pull his blade back along between them - with force of strength. It does free up Shepard's waster but in turn, the Duke side steps aroudn toward's the Kerrigan's left and bring his own blade high enough to make a slash for Shepard's neck as he moves to get free of the other man and a long stride of distance to re-open between them, hopefully leaving his own blade back up in a guard position as he does so - Ox guard.

Shepard's blade does make contact with what would be Ronan's head-severing strike, but all it does is end up angling the blade downward slightly, instead smashing solidly into Shepard's shoulder rather than his neck. The force of the strike does send him into a bit of a sideways stumble, and while in a real fight, he likely just lost his arm, this is sparring, where you learn to fight through the pain and distractions, so his footing is swiftly regained, and another swift strike launched towards Ronan's upper arm.

Well, then again if this was a real fight, they'd be wearing armour and very likely plate. So it's hard to say how much the armour would protect from such a blow. Ronan was aiming to try and slide his blade where he could get between pieces of plate and wedge the edge under rather than assume an enemy would come at him without. So it's hard to tell.

Still, the Duke grunts as the force of the Kerrigan's blade has to be caught on his guard. Instead of edge against edge, the Rioga has long been trained to catch the edge of Shepard's blade against the flat of his own to protect that edge. Ronan keeps moving on his feet, still pressing towards the left to get around at Shepard's back if he can, forcing the Greenshire Knight to keep pivoting or back off. Pressing the same side to try and wear him down. Dark eyes are sharp, sweeping the two blades around and then Ronan tries to lift his own blade up and see if he can catch Shepard's gauntleted hands with his blade!

Shepard does indeed see fit to try to put a bit of distance between them but soon regrets his decision as Ronan's swift upward slash nearly strikes him right across the wrists, but Shepard narrowly pulls his arms back, and the blade instead only connects with the other edge of one gauntlet. Another bruise to be had, but he probably wouldn't have lost his hand. "Well struck!" He exclaims, and then brings his own blade up, attempting to shift it further upward before Ronan can bring it back into a guard position, and then he shifts to the side, launching a swift horizontal counterattack towards Ronan's abdomen.

This time the Rioga simply steps to Shepard's right, counter to his pattern of movement and thus when the other knight's blade slashes for his gut, he's not where it is aimed and it's too late to correct. Very possibly Ronan is simply getting some luck on his side with good timing, as it does happen sometimes. For otherwise they seem to be fairly well matched. Quick for a man of his side, the Duke presses his attack the instant Shepard's blade is swinging and starts to miss. In he steps, bring his own blade around from guard to thrust stoutly for the Green Knight's heart! Thankfully it's only a wooden waster, if he connects.

Shepard actually spins full-circle, not in any sort of flailing, but simply so he can use the momentum to bring his own blade around, connecting solidly with Ronan's large waster. Now the two swords do lock together, and the two knights test their strength against each other for a few moments. Despite Shepard's somewhat smaller size, he's certainly plenty of strength, and when it seems neither man can gain an advantage, they both push off and take a step back before resuming the mock-duel, this time with Shepard tilting his blade in what looks like it'll be a quick thrust towards Ronan's leading thigh, but then the blade suddenly whips upward out of the feint, attempting to rake right along Ronan's side.

And indeed, Shepard's fient this time works! The large Crawford is fooled into dropping his own blade to block low even as he steps to turn and remove his leg from range if he can, but it for an instant leaves him somewhat open above. The tip of Shepard's waster hits soundly against Ronan's Gambeson and slides across it! Startled with the contact, feeling the force of it, he steps back, "Bravo! A very good hit, sir."

One good breath he takes and then he comes again to close. Ronan licks his lips and tastes sweat, breathing up somewhat with their exertions. It's his turn to make a fient for Shepard's helm, aiming it seems for the man's eyeslit of his helm, then to twist and drop his blade down to sythe around for his hip instead.

Shepard almost falls for it, but just in the nick of time his own blade shifts and comes down while his body pivots, pressing down Ronan's blade ever-so-briefly with the clatter of wasters colliding, and then Shepard takes a cue from his own opponent, shifting a half-step forward, twisting his blade to trail along his body, pointing away from Ronan as he swiftly pulls the pommel straight towards Ronan's helmeted noggin!

If only Shepard could /see/ the wolfish grin that Ronan gets on his face inside of his helm, "YES!" Even if the trick doesn't work, he likes it Mikie! He evades it /just/ enough but feels the force of the blow sliding harmlessly against his helm and off again - it was very close! Now it's the Duke's turn to be tricky again. Ronan steps /foward/ right into the Green Knight and … STEPS intentionally on Shephard's forward foot! Right on it, to pin it down with a stomp and then the Rioga doesn't even try to bring his blade up and around, Ronan tries instead to SLAM his shoulder as hard as he can into Shepard's sternum in an attempt to knock the other man right off his feet. More easily done perhaps if Shepard suddenly finds he can't shift his forward leg to step back to correct his balance?

Even as Ronan is trying this brute force tactic, his own sword is coming up in the hope it will render Shepard vulnerable to an overhand powerful blow for the other's helm.

Shepard brings his lead foot back just in time to avoid having it stepped upon, and a sound comes from beneath his helmet that might be a laugh of enjoyment comes when Ronan's shoulder strikes his chest. Without the foot holding his down though, he's able to maintain his balance, and brings his blade up to deflect Ronan's overhead slash. The wasters clash together again, and Shepard quickly pulls his blade free, his weight shifting again as he thrusts his blade towards Ronan's midsection once more, seemingly trying to push him back and a bit off-balance.

Ah hah! That's the spirit! And now as their wasters clash, two men pitting themselves against one another like bulls in the field, the Crawford Rioga begins to force his advantage in reach and height. The longer the lever, the greater the force, which he now proves as Ronan begins to pound Shepard and deflect his blows. Suddenly a lot more aggressive, the Sutherlander makes a hard thrust for the Green Knight's thigh which hits soundly, then locks up blades briefly before he manages another lighter hit against the man's helm. Shepard's counter blows are likewise blocked or turned expertly, until the last catch them evenly.

Shepard has the satisefaction of at least making the Crawford breathing harder with the effort, "Very good, Sir!"

"You'll have to forgive me, Your Grace, I'm still looking for that Darfield Destrier that just trampled me. Did you see which way it went?" Shepard replies with laughter in his voice, breathing heavily himself while holding one bruised side. But he straightens and salutes Ronan with his blade while several of the other knights around hoot and holler. He pulls off his helmet, smiling brightly, "It seems this day is yours. And that rust was not so much a concern." He chuckles, "I'll have to beg the opportunity to salvage my dignity another day, however."

Ronan checks himself and steps back, holding his next blow. His deep baritone laughs, "Every man does well enough to get a hoof print or two to bruise his body and learn by them. I've certainly had more than a few over the years." As Kierne and Peyton had stopped their own practice to watch, the Duke now hands his waster and then his helm over to his sqire, "Aye, request granted. You fight well, Sir Kerrigan. You've brought no shame upon your House nor unto your liege today."

"Thank you, Your Grace. It was certainly the hardest spar I've had in quite some time. Good preparation for what will come in the spring." He smiles over to Peyton, who takes his helm and waster, replacing the latter in one of the racks along the wall and bringing the former along with him. Shepard bows to Ronan, "It was an honor, Duke Crawford. I will look forward to the next match…" He chuckles, "After the bruises fade." He grins just a touch impishly, "Or perhaps after you're spent from wedding festivities." He adds, "Though I suppose my own will not likely be long after."

"Outstanding, Sir Shepard. I look forward to it." Ronan's dark hair is damp with sweat, curling this way and that after he scrapes a hand through it. "Indeed when I return from Sutherland, you and I may face one another at tournament." A dark brow is raised, "Ah yes, you are to marry my lovely cousin, the Lady Lynette Kincaid. You will do very well by her, lord Shepard. She'll keep you on your toes, Sir." A chuckle escapes the Crawford Duke, "I trust my wedding won't wear me out too much that I should be kept from competing. Though I fear I've not jousted in some time. A dreadful lack upon my part but tournaments never were my focus."

"Good. That's precisely what I need." Shepard notes of Lynette with a bit of a grin, "But regardless, I'll see you on the field at tournament if nothing else." He chuckles, "I competed fairly heavily when I was a fledgling Knight, trying to make a name for myself. Then I saw -real- combat and suddenly the pageantry…lost much of its' appeal. Only a few competitions since then." Shepard shrugs a shoulder and grins, "But I could hardly turn this one down, given the host…."

Ronan gives a nod to that as he stands resting, sweat cooling, "Exactly. My first hard battle I was … 18, and saw much death. War is ugly and not to be taken lightly. Yet, sparring and tournaments can help keep a man sharp, so long as he doesn't forget what's real." A clap of a hand on Shepard's shoulder, "I hope you will come south and see Sutherland, Sir. If not, I'll certainly come to your and my cousin's wedding, if I'm able. You need only name the time and place."

A gesture is made to Kierne to gather up their things in preparation to depart.

"Yes, that's what kept me competing, the need to stay sharp." Shepard agrees, then laughs, "We will see, as to your own wedding, it may be that I will be immersed in the rather elaborate courtship rituals of Lakeshire over the next few weeks. I suppose it will depend on Lady Lynette." Shepard smiles, "In either case, if by chance I do not see you beforehand, please accept my sincere congratulations. May your marriage bring your house great prosperity and many sons and daughters." Peyton gathers up the remainder of their equipment, and awaits Shepard's departure, which seems to be scheduled for soon after Ronan's. Indeed, seeing the Duke is about to depart, Shepard touches his hand to chest once more and bows slightly, "Good eve to you, Your Grace. Until next time."

Hand to chest with a light bow is given back to Shepard who has been most courteous. "I will hope my cousin and my uncle will care to attend, but there are many matters for House Kincaid to tend to and I understand that." A pause and a faint smile, "I hope the Gods agree, and I thank you, Sir. I shall hope for yours to be equally blessed."

As they take their leave of one another, Ronan rumbles something low to Kierne about not getting bathes drawn, but going instead to the public bath in the castle he's heard about but never yet seen. Kierne who's also cousin to Lynette, and who's Uncle is also Aidan, was listening with interest but he now lifts a brow in surprise, "As you wish my lord." Shepard seems to have put the Duke into good spirits as they leave.

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