Leafiara (prime)/Tales/Balancing Act

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Original Story: Eoantos 27, 5119

[Town Barracks, Training Grounds]

The cobblestones here are worn and faded from countless hours of training and weathered by the elements. Wooden racks and tables clutter a corner of the grounds, providing a wide assortment of training weapons and armor. Uniformed militiamen carry out practice drills nearby. A thick oak door leads into a two-story brick building, and on the other end of the square resides a small grey sandstone edifice. You also see a battered wooden training dummy.

"That marks three hours!" Leafi called out to the group of new recruits training with her. "We'll call it a ten-minute break!"

Most of the group nodded, lowering their training swords and starting to wipe the sweat from their brows, and several went to pick flasks of water out of a nearby knapsack--but a few continued their practice swings, working on their form. "And even for those who want to keep going through the break," she added, "it can be good to pace yourself. If you overwork your muscles, you can defeat yourself before you even come into contact with an enemy. You might think you're fine now and be unable to move tomorrow without some serious empathic care."

Leafiara took a quick mental count of those who hadn't gotten a flask of water and went to gather one for each of them. "And how're the katars going for ya, Darro?" she called to a nearby giantman, shadowboxing with the unorthodox horizontal-grip blades--jab, uppercut, hook. After the recruits had asked Leafiara about her own primary weapon, most still wanted larger swords, but he'd lit up at her demonstration.

"Feels natural already!" he called back. "Takin' me back to my days brawlin' in the Icemule tavern just like ya said!"

Leafi flashed a wide grin and nodded once. Never know, maybe he's the next Svardin up and coming before my eyes. She shook her head with a smile, then placed a hand over her vaalin-traced red gold locket--sending a pulse of warmth and affection over to her fiancée Lyrna as she taught archery at the far west end of the courtyard.

Leafiara finished gathering up water flasks and began tossing them over to those who hadn't collected them earlier. "Can't be so focused on the basics of the blade that you skip the basics of sustenance," she said. "I'll repeat this... all of you have overcome the first hurdle of fear, but there are many other ways to defeat yourself before even engaging the enemy. "

A half-krolvin woman winced as she caught the flask, then regained her composure. "I won't forget again!" she practically shouted. "I won't slow us down or hold us back! I may be new to this, but I'm here to stand and fight!" She closed her eyes and took a drink.

"It's because you're new that you can learn and grow the most in the four days we have. Pup had the right idea. He and I don't seem to agree on much, but..." She looked over toward another area, where another group of recruits gathered with Puptilian as he showcased the proper form of swings from several angles, slashing into a training dummy freshly marked with numbers at key points of the body. The crowd practiced repetitions of his movements and he walked among them, correcting the occasional poor form and giving a brief nod to a half-elven woman, directing her toward the training dummy.

"This is the best use of our time."

Leafiara paused, then smiled to herself. "Besides... If anything, you've all got me fired up! This is the most invigorated I've felt during this whole war--and the first time I've felt confident I made the right choice joining the militia."

"Af'er all th' fightin' an' bick'rin' last night?" asked a dwarven man, grunting with surprise. "Now ye feel it?"

"Yeah." Yeah, now I feel it. Thadston and I were always aligned on ending the witch, so I tried to convince myself my time in the militia would mean something as long as we ended Raznel, but something told me that alone wouldn't be enough. It was the way I felt. It was Saranja and Khylynnia voicing the same concerns. It was my conversations with Shinann. ...and now I understand. I was out of balance, out of harmony. Two things motivate me, but when I first put on a badge I was favoring the one less dear to me, thinking it was at odds with the one more dear to me.

The group of recruits looked expectantly at Leafiara, who'd uttered only the one word, and she grinned in return.

"For years, I've absolutely been consumed with revenge on the witch. ...but even more than that, and longer than that, I've been consumed with a love of this crazy frontier. Marshal, militia, or civilian, we're on the same page now and we'll show the witch what we're made of!"

The diverse group of recruits grinned, nodded, grunted, barked in response. Leafi rubbed her forearm against her brow, wiping away sweat--and made sure to brush the back of her hand against her eyelids mid-motion, stopping herself from getting too misty-eyed.

"And that's our ten minutes, so right back to it! No excuses. No regrets. For the Landing!"