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Training under the Fang [Private | Training]

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the god of death
a man watching from the shadows

   Along the winding Shu-Fang River in the Jade Dragon Mountains, a secluded meadow was nestled deep within the mountain pass. The meadow was covered with withered flowers and grass swaying back of forth in the winter wind. The air was crisp, but it didn’t bother the lone figure with a black crown clad in a sapphire blue kimono sitting on a pile of rocks. The man’s silver eyes stared emptily at the other side of the meadow. Finding solitude in the middle of the war was rare. Battles raged in most secluded locations of the country such as a swamp or ravine. The man was grateful for finding this little sanctuary but decided it was time to do something other than sit and shuffle through his thoughts.

Adrastos stood and took off his kimono, exposing his chest and arm muscles to the frosty breeze. He unsheathed his newly bought sword and twirled it around. The weapon was different than the sword Tenma wielded: it didn’t need to be held with two hands. Of course that meant he’d have to learn how to use this sword.

Before he could begin, however, a sound of rustling made its way to his ears. The sound came from behind, and was quite bizarre. It was as if a pair of wooden planks were hitting the ground in a rhythm similar to that of footsteps.

For a moment, the magician assumed Nox, one of the leaders of the Shadow Society, found him. The boy had an uncanny ability to find what didn’t want to be found, and Adrastos knew that even he was no exception despite how hard he tried. However, Adrastos felt the gaze of an angry predator behind him, a presence that was nowhere near the snake-like qualities of Nox. He turned his head slowly as a sickening sensation coiled in his stomach until his silver eyes met the sight of an old man, walking on a pair of geta that only have a single horizontal supporting plank.

The geta increased the old man’s height by more than a foot, and yet this man could still be considered short by anyone’s standard. Both hands were resting behind the man’s back. The old man’s hair was a similar hue to Adrastos’, however of a darker shade from age. A single blade adorned the man’s side. The chill would not dissipate despite a wide smile blooming upon the old man’s face. Though the old man’s eyes looked closed, it was apparent he could clearly sense his surroundings. “Who would have thought I would find something interesting while taking a stroll? Child… Who is your teacher? Where are you from?”

Adrastos narrowed his eyes on the old man. Was it his imagination or did he seem vaguely familiar? The magician, being highly suspicious of the elder, chose his words well when he spoke so as to not reveal too much. “Where I am from is no concern of yours, especially since it shouldn’t matter. As for my teacher, which one? My previous magician master? Or the berserk warrior?” Being unhandy with a sword, Adrastos wished his wand was on hand so he could defend himself in case of an attack. Sadly, the wand was somewhere in his tossed aside kimono and out of immediate reach.

The old man’s mouth opened, mirthless laughter escaping his parted lips. “Cunning and sly… And a magician. You might be from the Shu family. Well, with an esteemed guest here, how could I not entertain you?” The old man’s hand fluidly moved to his sword. At the same time as his hand touched the hilt a flurry of motion and sound began. The old man reduced the distance in an instant, with the sound of his blade leaving the sheath only reaching Adrastos’ ears just as the old man was already moving towards him.

The movements could, perhaps in another situation, be considered comical. The old man was spinning in a clockwise fashion. If this were all it was, it wouldn’t have been terrible, yet somehow the old man had a frightening burst of speed propelling him towards Adrastos. There would be time to defend, however the blow looked as if it would be quite heavy due to the speed behind it.

Adrastos clenched his teeth tightly, but kept his body loose enough to be able to react and strong enough to withstand the blow. He didn’t dare push forward to intercept the man. The magician planted his feet into the ground and with sharp eyes, watched the old man’s blade until it was time to parry. “Your speed is impressive considering your age,” Adrastos noted. He wanted to say he wasn’t from the Shu family, whoever they were, but didn’t want to give too much away to a stranger he just met. Then again, even if they had known each other for a long time, Adrastos still wouldn’t have told this elder the truth.

When their swords clashed, Adrastos spun to the side and stepped farther away from the man. His eyes narrowed at the man.  The magician was right to have never left his guard down, and there was no way he’d drop it now.  However, he had gotten lucky in parrying the blow. The withered prune in front of him was clearly no novice like Adrastos. If he attacked again, Adrastos wondered if his luck would continue. “Who are you?”

The old man re-appraised Adrastos. “To have received my attack, even if it was just a casual one, I guess you’re alright.” A certain degree of hostility dissipated, however it was not yet clear that he would cease altogether. “The fact that you’re not shaking in your boots, or putting on airs in front of me… You’re likely not of the Shu family. Still, accompany this old man for a while longer and I just might be willing to grant you an interview.” A small crater appeared beneath the old man’s feet as he was suddenly propelled forward by the force of his leg strength. The blade, previously swung with a single hand, now had two hands grasping the hilt. In-route the blade swung backwards, entering a swallow-tail position.

With exquisite timing the old man swung his blade in a diagonal direction, looking to bisect the magician from the left shoulder blade down to his right hip.


Adrastos stared at the crater that was formed. The only thought running through his head was there was no way he’d be able to parry such an attack. The magician braced himself for impact and clenched onto his own sword with both hands. When the old man’s blade was close enough, the borg activated to protect Adrastos automatically. He wasn’t sure if he should admit to being a novice or give him a snarky remark about not caring about an interview with a shriveled shrew. He was, however, beginning to grow annoyed. The old man didn’t tell him who he was and attacked as if he was doing it out of amusement to toy with Adrastos. His silver eyes stared coldly at the old man, waiting for his next move.

As the old man’s blade struck against Adrastos’ borg, cracks ran down the edges. Initially the attack was meant to follow-through in a cleaving motion, however the strength of the Borg was quite clear. The old man pressed down on his sword, using the strength of the clash to propel him away from Adrastos. “Your swordsmanship is lacking, but the fact that your borg has defended you against that attack and is still in tact… You’re a little strong. Hmm. I suppose you barely qualify to hear this Fang Mu’s name.” The elderly swordsman revealed his identity, however he carefully watched for Adrastos’ reaction as he did so.

For a brief moment, Adrastos felt a little offended. Only a little strong? Barely qualify? The magician damned that old man for making a fool of him, but held up tongue. When the name Fang was mentioned, he narrowed his eyes once more and let loose a scoffing sound. He smirked, “So that kid is related to you? You’re much too old to be his father, so I’m going to assume you’re his grandfather. Fang,” he shook his head. “I never thought I’d meet another one. Tell me, do you keep up with that grandson of yours, Fang Vardreth?” Adrastos ran his hand over his blade slowly as he looked at it, only glancing up every now and then. “He always kept me in his sights, but recently the presence of him and his men have been absent according to my subordinate.” He lowered his arms but remained attentive of the man before him, waiting for his response.

Fang Mu was somewhat shocked to find a person who knew his grandson. Sheathing his blade, Fang Mu immediately provided the information he knew; Vardreth’s group was camping in one of the mountains, defending a supply chain line. He obviously felt no worries providing this information, the carefree attitude showing his stance. A prudent individual would first try to ascertain whether or not Adrastos was an enemy, yet it did not seem to be a priority for Fang Mu.

Adrastos clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth. So Vardreth left without a single word? “Really now? It’s a shame to see his talents squandered by the likes of Gao Yuan Zu. Put in charge of defending a supply chain? I see him and his group taking on the offensive, initiating the attack and destroying the enemies before they knew what hit them.” He ran his hand through his white hair. “Would you mind passing on a message for me? Tell him Neo Mortem is willing to pay generously for his mercenary company to work for him.”

Fang Mu sighed and nodded. “I will pass the message along. I was truly hoping you had ill will towards him. I believe you would have made a good grinding stone for him.” The old man threw his head back and laughed. “It’s fine, though. This old man has already told many of his old enemies and friends of that child’s whereabouts, and that he has one of the six legendary weapons from my set. He’ll have plenty of guidance in the future.” Without waiting for more, Fang Mu turned around and began walking away.

"Wait a moment,” Adrastos said as he took a step forward. “Perhaps if we meet again, you could teach me how to be a better swordsman. I would be honoured if you taught me, and I can think of none other than you seeing as how my original teacher is in Heliohapt. I doubt she knows I got pulled into this war, and I’m sure Dan Feng will have my head when she finds out I started training without her. I can only think of becoming better to please her, and I need to become stronger if I am to achieve my goals.”

Fang Mu paused in his steps, frowning. “Eh, it’s true that my two disciples are out. I suppose I could help a little. My training regiment isn’t easy, however, so be prepared. Follow me, to my territory.” The old man continued walking forward, heading out of the meadow and towards one of the mountains. As they drew closer Adrastos would see the steps leading up the side of the mountain, zig-zagging back and forth. At the base stood a few buildings, a courtyard, and a gate leading to the stairs that go up to a mid-way point of the mountain. Many individuals walked to and fro, completing various tasks and trading with passing merchants for food and the like. As soon as Fang Mu stepped past the threshold of the courtyard, all activity stopped. All of those in robes bowed to Fang Mu. “Greetings, Master Fang!” A chorus of shouts greeted the old man, who ignored them and walked to the gate. Adrastos was not stopped as he accompanied the old man to the stairs.

“Try to keep up. Don’t use magic.” The old man began a leisurely pace up the mountain, taking the stairs just as any other normal human would. The main difference was in what he would call leisurely, and what others would; this was nothing less than a hellish push up the stairs.

Adrastos had to gather his things quickly so the old man didn’t leave him behind. As they strolled closer, the magician could hear people bustling around, but when they passed the courtyard, all activity stopped. This man, Fang Mu, was clearly respected and highly regarded in this small town. Adrastos wasn’t stopped either, which was odd given that Vardreth wouldn’t let him out of his sights. Nobody here seemed to suspect the magician in the slightest, or they didn’t do so vocally.

For an old man, Fang Mu booked it like he was still in his prime. Adrastos was determined to keep up without the use of magic, however. He kept up his pace, trying to not fall too far behind the old man. “What is this place?”

“This is a place where those who wish to learn from me gather. Every single person in a robe is a martial practitioner. From the few buildings at the bottom, to the steps, and to the buildings on the mountain; it is all a part of my estate.” Fang Mu paused, glancing back to Adrastos. “Those at the bottom are the weakest. They do not have the strength or stamina to last in my training. Those who can ascend these steps have decent foundation, and can learn from the senior disciples of the estate.”

Fang Mu’s speech was even, his lung capacity and breathing techniques showing their strength as they continued onward. “I only have two official disciples. Even the strongest of those who learn here are able to be considered disciples in name at best, while only those with both strength and talent are considered true disciples.”

Adrastos swallowed his saliva. “Only two? I suppose that’s to be expected. What happens to those at the bottom?” The magician was glad he exercised in his spare time, but wondered if even he’d be able to keep up. After all, exercise didn’t mean a whole lot when you were pressed to do something your body wasn’t accustomed to like climbing stairs at a seemingly impossible speed. “Who are the two official disciples?”

“Zeriken and Benai. They are currently with Vardreth, evaluating him for me. One is a Magician, who incorporates spells into his fighting style. The other is a fighter who prefers stealth.” Fang Mu didn’t go too far into their capabilities, only advising of a few things about each. Neither of which seemed like an exact fit of the old man’s style, however, which could look strange at first thought; why would a Magician and an assassin learn from a warrior? As if to cut this question off, Fang Mu spoke some more. “My training, aside from the basics, pits individuals against one another so their personal style can be developed. Weakness of their own learned, and covered, as well as gaining practical experience against other styles.”

Adrastos felt like the names Zeriken and Benai sounded familiar but nothing came to mind. No faces appeared. There was just a blank slate. The magician wished that if he had met them to have at least spoken to the magician and gotten tips on his fighting style. Sadly, no conversation existed that Adrastos could recall upon, leaving the technique of incorporating magic into swordmanship up to him and him alone. The magician cleared his throat. “It sounds like quite the challenge. When do we start?” If any weaknesses were found within Adrastos, he’d snuff them out as soon as possible. He’d have to get to that step first, leaving no room for failure.

“Hmm? You’ve already begun.” Fang Mu referred to their trek up the mountainside, which had already taken them some time with no clear end in sight. “You’ll want to take these steps up and down at least once a day. What physical training have you already been doing? It isn’t often a Magician can handle these steps.” The old man couldn’t help but give a slight compliment, as there was a great deal of truth to his words.

“I do push ups, pulls up, jogging… Anything I can manage to do while in my spare time. I will admit that these steps are a bit challenging though… I don’t climb stairs or cliffs all that often, least not before I came to Kou.” Adrastos wiped the sweat from his brow. “I’m sure the more I climb this staircase, the more I’ll become accustomed to it. What should I do in my spare time? Between the climbing?”

   
“Fisticuffs with the other trainees. I’m not sure how much you’ve actually been in a close range fight, but if you plan on fighting up close be used to getting hurt. Anything goes, here, but try not to kill anyone.” Fang Mu continued to lead Adrastos up the stairs, however the end was finally in sight. Another gate showed up not too far off, which lead into a new courtyard. They would find themselves on a decent sized flat portion of land overlooking the mountain range. There were several buildings up here for residencies, with a particularly large building directly across from the gate. The nearby sides of the mountains had forests that could be explored, and there were several areas set aside for dueling.

   
The magician nodded and immediately went to work on training his body and fighting skills. Having already started by ascending the steps, he sprinted his way toward one of the areas to duel. This marked the first day of his training. For days, his body was drenched in sweat and covered in bruises. His muscles screamed in agony. Adrastos endured through the discomfort. He got beaten in duels on numerous occasions, but he never backed down. The magician descended and ascended the stairs, not once but twice daily, at dawn and at dusk. Between the climbs, he dueled others. Within two weeks, Adrastos had improved greatly. He no longer gasped for breath while climbing the stairs and defeated half of his opponents. He nearly killed his dueling partners by week four. The more time passed, the less bruises painted his flesh. Then, by week seven, he had nearly perfected this section of his training, or at least felt he did. The thrill of fighting with bare hands was exhilarating. Adrastos was getting his hands dirty so to speak; he relished every minute and couldn’t wait for the next step of his training.

MAGOI : 480/480
STAMINA : 200/200
Warrior Training WC : 3,120/500
Fang Mu : #cc000
Neo : #0000ff


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Training under the Fang [Private | Training] 3oCk1sb

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Trait Points: 4/11 | SoS: 1
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