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Customs [Fanacorps Training/Military Exchange]

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Settling into her role happened quicker than Ayero had anticipated. After reuniting with Ariella, the Fanalis woman was filled with a renewed strength, finding the energy to tackle her duties head on. The more she thought about it, the more she looked forward to learning the ropes of Kou’s military. As of now she looked at this as nothing more than a mission, only wanting to gather information and not thinking that she’d want to immerse herself in eastern culture more than she would have to.

She’d been under the care of Lieutenant Hojo for the past several days, the man serving as a both a guide and a tutor. She’d already picked up some pointers from Azix during their journey on Kou customs, so there wasn’t too much of a shock when she began her formal learning. Hojo was patient with her, correcting her mistakes with a firm yet gentle voice. He noted how the woman seemed a bit stiff and uncomfortable, but chalked it up to her being exposed to an entirely new culture and didn’t bother her about it.

When it came time to test her skill in battle, Ayero’s eyes lit up and she practically sprung back to life. She’d endured learning about strange customs and gestures that made little sense to her, unsure if she’d be able to remember how to act properly. The prospect of getting to show off what made her shine excited the woman, eager to show Hojo that she was far more skilled with a blade than with politics.

Even the thought of using a Kou styled blade couldn’t put a damper on her enthusiasm. Unsheathing the eastern weapon, Ayero faced Hojo with a spark in her eye, waiting for the man to draw his own weapon. When he only shook his head, Ayero frowned.

”Colonel Shiba, we won’t be using our own weapons to spar.” The dark haired man shook his head, a laugh riding on his tone. When he saw the look on the young woman’s face, he corrected his voice so as not to offend. ”I’m afraid you misunderstand. We will be sparring with these.” The Lieutenant produced a pair of wooden swords, similar in shape and design to a traditional katana.

The disappointed look on Ayero’s face twisted into confusion as she gripped the handle of the bokken. Why were they going to use these? She glanced up at Hojo, trying to get a read on what he was thinking. Did he not think that she was skilled enough to handle him? The man’s face only reflected his calm demeanor and she sheathed Gyatso. And I spent my spare time learning how to use this weapon, too. Oh well, it’s better than nothing.

Ayero’s training with a katana went fairly well, all things considered. The woman had an eye for weapons and the skill to recognize how a blade was being handled differently. Kou styled swordsmanship did differ from Reim’s though, it was more…refined and graceful. Parts of it reminded her of dancing, and she mused to herself that perhaps leaning to properly wield a katana would help her skills (or lack thereof) on the dance floor.

Of course, there were mishaps. She broke her first few bokken, the wooden training swords not made to stand up to Fanalis strength. But she soon incorporated Kou’s sword-style into her movements, able to appreciate the fluidity that the style allowed for.

”You did well. Is the blade your weapon of choice?” Hojo began the conversation in an airy tone as the pair sat down for a mid-day cup of tea. He already knew the answer, but he wanted to see what the woman had to say. He watched her bring the cup of tea to her lips first. At first she thought that the drink was bitter—she didn’t verbalize it, but Hojo could tell that she had to force it down. He was a perceptive man, something that helped him communicate with and understand his soldiers.

”It is. Though I prefer the Scimitar to Reimian blades, even.” Ayero looked down at the drink in her hand, swirling it slightly and watching the loose leaves and spices dance around. It wasn’t as if she never had tea before, but she was unused to the exotic flavor and hadn’t decided if she liked it or not.

”A Balbadd type of sword?” Hojo ventures, his voice holding a note of curiosity. Ayero looked up, setting her cup of bitter leaf juice onto the low wooden table separating them.

”It’s the sort of weapon I learned swordplay with first. I’ve used greatswords and other western type blades, but the scimitar is the one I’m most comfortable with.” Making herself more comfortable, the Fanalis woman leaned back on her hands and studied Hojo’s face.

”I see.” The man took a sip of his tea, taking a few moments to savor the earthy flavor. ”Were you not raised in Reim?” He peered over at Ayero from behind the cup, eyes flaring when he caught her flinch. He raised his head and put his cup down onto the table, but before he could apologize, Ayero spoke.

”For a part of my life, no. I didn’t learn swordplay in Reim.” She casually waved her hand to the side, trying to dispel the Lieutenant’s concerned expression. ”It’s not really a big deal. I used to travel when I was younger, between Balbadd and Heliohapt mostly. It’s only natural that I would pick up their style of weapon play first.”

Hojo stared at the Fanalis woman for a few moments, trying to decipher the tone in her voice and the expression on her face. Had he upset her and she was just covering it up? When Ayero reached for the tea, he was surprised to feel his own shoulders relax. He picked up his own cup in kind, and a comfortable silence settled between the two as they drank.

When they were done, Hojo was surprised to see that the red haired woman had finished off her cup, this being the first time he had seen her drink an entire cup of tea in one sitting.

”Would you permit me to see your skills with a Scimitar, Colonel?”

The Lieutenant’s request was meant with a confused expression that melted into a smile, followed by a grunt of affirmation.



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