Wherein C.F.Barrón does his thing...

Fenix vs Talon

Author's Note: Hey, this is kind of an old scene that I wrote and recently revamped. It's from the Fenix Rising storyline but the context of the scene isn't all that necessary to enjoy it I think. It's just a fun fight scene I threw together, that is kind of relevant to the story, but won't make much sense until later. Have fun reading! or Listening! P.S. The audio is REALLY rough because I still haven't quite figured out how to best rig my mic and I'm teaching myself how to edit it all together. So no sound effects yet. Partially because of the whole "still learning" bit, but I also didn't want this to be too cartoony and I don't have access to good sounds anyway haha. I may introduce the ambient sounds next week though and see what people think.

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Fenix let out a long breath and adjusted his grip on the smooth, dark, metal. The staff was not as dark as he remembered, having faded into a flat black. The change in appearance, coupled with the sheer number of runes that not even Wol understood, had led the group of warriors to “test” Fenix’s hard earned treasure. Talon also decided that it was as good a time as any to test the birthday boy, so a sparring match was quickly arranged. Their rink was made of a single piece of white marble and it had been created just after their training grounds, The Eagle’s Pass, had been carved into the base of Palenvar’s Thumb. The slab was always cold to the touch, no matter how warm the rest of the mountain was, but right now, it seemed to burn at Fenix’s feet. The two Eagles faced each other, shirtless and barefoot, in the middle of the large stone platform. Talon stared through his young opponent, calloused hands gripping a heavy iron staff. He was looking forward to the match and would not hold back against Fenix. Their last fight had ended in a stalemate. It was noted as the second time anyone had ever held their own against Talon in a purely physical contest and he had been eager for another bout since. Age had only seemed to toughen Talon, replacing soft inexperience with coarse grit and lean muscle, but it never wore away his child-like need for play time, and that was all fighting ever was for him, a chance to play. He was of average build, and marginally shorter than Fenix, opting to wear his scraggly silver hair in a warrior’s topknot, which he casually adjusted now.

Both men entered the en guarde position, one tense and wary, the other wearing a calm smile. The bell rang, and neither moved. Fenix’s muscles were coiled springs, but blindly rushing Talon was an exercise in masochism. Studying Talon’s stance, he was sure that the old man intended for Fenix to initiate, but if history said anything, the old man’s impatience would get the better of him. The sinewy veteran held his staff in a neutral manner, with both hands evenly spaced apart in the center, his right side facing his opponent, balancing his weight on the ball of his left foot so as to chamber a lunging strike. Talon, too, studied his opponent, though much more absentmindedly. As usual, his old disciple had decided to stick with what he knew best: swordplay. The boy held the black walking stick with the bronze foot facing out, left hand near the bottom of the staff and right hand no more than a span above the left. Fenix meant to wield his staff as a claymore. Typical.

In unison, the two slowly began circling each other, neither moving without the other. The suede-like metal felt slick in Fenix’s hands. Why hadn’t Talon struck yet? More out of panic than hope, Fenix shifted his gaze from the tactical position at Talon’s solar plexus to the old man’s eyes. Frantically, he threw out a mental chain, knowing it would be fruitless, but praying otherwise. A feral grin grew on Talon’s weathered face as he realized what Fenix was doing.

“It must rankle to know that your Empathy can only fail you, hatchling.”

Talon spoke as softly as sand paper and with a hint of a Western accent. He knew his inaction had begun to unnerve the boy, and that was exactly what he wanted. Twirling his iron staff, the grizzled warrior pivoted and entered a martial form.

It was a simple maneuver, but it had been done with such fluid grace that it caught Fenix by surprise. Talon had gotten faster since their last bout, and while the old man raised his knee, pointed his staff back, and jutted his palm out in the signature stance of the Spiral Walkers, Fenix merely took a step back. Trying to read Initiative on Talon had always been like trying to make out shapes in the fog while looking out a dirty window. He had hoped that this last year of constant practice would have lifted that fog, but it was as thick as ever. Talon’s greatest strength wasn’t his vast experience or inhuman speed, it was that he fought entirely on instinct and reflex. There was no emotion in his movements, no grand calculations, nothing but useless chatter went through his head when he fought.

Throwing fear and reason aside, Fenix rushed in with a quick series of thrusts. His strategy was simple, overpower his opponent or wear him down with quick, successive, attacks utilizing momentary explosions of extreme power. He threw his weight behind every strike aiming to end the fight quickly. Talon had other plans, however. Avoiding the first lunge altogether, he deflected the second and third with swift side to side movements and neutralized the final attack with a liquid circular motion, using the end of his staff to redirect Fenix’s momentum. Nearly losing his weapon, Fenix tried to recover my sliding his hands down the staff and swinging at Talon’s ribs in a horizontal arc.

The resulting force of Talon’s block managed to knock Fenix off balance. Talon automatically targeted the boy's feet then, striking and stomping with the butt of his staff as his former disciple stumbled backward in an effort to regain his root. The iron staff was moving too fast for Fenix to successfully pin down or even deflect. Talon himself was moving too fast. Everything had somehow sped up in the last few seconds. His mind reeled at the realization that all he could do was back pedal and wonder which one of his toes he was about to lose. The moment Fenix had diverted all of his attention to his feet, Talon made a lunge at the boy's exposed abdomen. Fenix saw the subtle change in Talon’s feet that telegraphed a spear strike. He saw the smile on Talon’s face. He saw the iron staff moving towards his midsection, and finally he saw that it would be impossible to avoid. The staff was on a direct course for his solar plexus; he was confident nothing would change that. He thought he could remember taking such a blow before, crumpling to the floor in a heaving heap of tears and sweat, when he was sixteen. He thought he could remember a lot of things in those moments: the last year of constant struggle that had somehow still not been enough to prepare him for this bout, the bruises on his shins and arms that resulted from his training as a child, the exact locations of every single crack on the stone steps he ran up and down, and the stoic look on his old teacher's face when he had said he was leaving.

The butt of the staff would inevitably crash into him, but he continued remembering. He remembered the sharp spasm of pain that shot up his leg from a hairline fracture in his shin, a fracture earned in his first formal fight. He remembered the shame on his teacher's face when he learned of the injury. Fenix swore he could remember everything in those moments, but there were things he couldn't recall before iron smashed into flesh and cartilage. He couldn't remember waking to the astringent smell of the goopy salve Talon used to apply to his welts at night. He couldn't remember the satisfied grin on Talon's face when he saw Fenix deflect an arrow for the first time. He couldn't remember the hot summer night when a drunken Talon assured the other Eagles that he believed it when his seven-year-old disciple claimed he would one day be the best of them. He couldn't remember how frantically Talon had scrambled to find something to set the bone, nor his low-pitched mumbling about failing to be there to witness Fenix's first victory. . .

The air sounded off a clang as the two chunks of metal clashed. Fenix wasn’t entirely sure how he had managed to bring his staff up in time to block the spear strike, but he was grateful it had happened. Grateful for the memory of an old man telling him “The animal that survives is the animal with the strongest will to survive.”

Fenix was now in an inner guard, Talon’s staff had come too close for comfort. Meanwhile, Talon had used his redirected momentum to begin tracing figure eights with his favorite weapon.

“You have come a long way, hatchling.” he said nonchalantly. “I wonder, do you remember what you used to tell me when you first came to us?”

Talon flowed from form to form as he spoke. Fenix recognized some of them: Low Hanging Fruit, Rolling Thunder, Falling Pear Blossom.

“I remember everything old man.”

Talon laughed.

“Indeed, you do. ‘Some day I will be the greatest Eagle the world has ever seen’.” He chuckled again. “ In due time, hatchling. I would say. In due time.”

He made a quick swing at Fenix, a swing Fenix didn’t entirely avoid. The newest Eagle felt the welt develop on his bicep almost instantly, even as Talon went back to absentmindedly going through forms. As a boy, Fenix had stood in awe of this man, of how a simple shaft of wax wood transformed into six and a half feet of whirling contusions and blunt trauma in his hands. Talon had mastered every weapon in existence, but the staff was his favorite by far. He drilled it into Fenix’s head that a staff gifted its wielder with control, range, and crushing impact. Those lessons, and the awe he felt during them, only served to salt the wound in his pride now. After all his training, and this last year alone, he was still a child with a stick compared to his old master. Fenix stretched his arm out, testing its range of motion. It was even more humbling to think the small injury might have meant a broken bone had the rink not been inundated with so many wards and protective abjurations. If this were real, the fight would have ended already.

“I did my best teaching you, hatchling. All I ever asked was that you did your best learning. I’m asking you to do your best now.”

Talon spun the staff in front of him now, whirling it into a flashing black blur of iron. His face hardened as he stepped toward Fenix. It was a technique Fenix knew all too well. There was no point in trying to penetrate Talon’s Iron Umbrella, a squadron of longbows hadn’t been able to, even at less than twenty feet. Fenix could only go on the defensive, hoping to outmaneuver or outlast his old master. Marginally avoiding the whirling arcs of the black iron, Fenix tumbled across the platform and planted his feet. My only chance is to wear him out. Talon’s ensuing assault was nothing short of savage, if not experienced, and every other strike managed a glancing blow. Fenix lost track of the welts that were forming on his arms and legs. Welts that should have been so much more. Struggle as he would, his skill was just not on par with Talon’s. The old man wielded his staff artfully, his circular movements acting as elusive attack patterns as well as forming a functional barrier between the two. The simplest of weapons was both shield and sword to him.

After a near hit to his shin, Fenix concluded that he would not be able to outlast Talon. The old man had gotten too fast for that stratagem. “I have to strike back!” he thought. Now using his staff like a spear, he went on the offensive. Whatever happened, he swore he would meet all of Talon’s might with all of his own. Talon’s array of circles was intersected with a series of linear attacks. Then, it happened. It was slow at first, simple, with Fenix’s eyes being able to follow Talon’s movements. Then it built momentum as the glancing blows diminished and then stopped entirely.

Every clash of the staffs rattled Fenix’s arms, the loud clang of metal on metal startling him with its sudden consistency. He was a stranger in his own body now, watching from the inside as it moved reflexively, mirroring Talon’s spiraling footwork and spinning flourishes. Talon too noticed the subtle changes in the boy’s movements. Had he been playing possum the entire time? He idly wondered if perhaps the hatchling had begun to incorporate some of Umo’s tactics into his own style until a glancing blow to his thigh registered. Perhaps it was time to press the young one. He chambered an overhead strike, telegraphing the move so as to bait his former disciple. As the staff swung down, Fenix’s staff flew up to greet it, forming a solid horizontal line. A flick of Talon’s wrist revealed his staff’s true form just as the sudden repositioning of Fenix’s feet allowed him to sidestep the blow altogether. The trap had been sprung and avoided, but Talon merely used the momentum to whirl his tri-quarter staff into another attack. Jiro Charms the Snake collided with Hypnotist Snaps his Fingers. The Razor’s Rush was brushed aside by Mariposa’s Ballet. When The Shield Melting Spear prevented him from using his Iron Umbrella, Talon could not help but wonder how long his disciple had been holding back on him.

Fenix was scarcely sure he was in control of his body. It had gotten hot in the room, a humidity that weighed as much as any armor rested on his shoulders, but still he fought on. The walking stick in his hands spun and whirled in maneuvers he couldn’t recall learning; and, for the first time in his life, the random, lashing, strikes from the tri-staff had not completely baffled his senses. Even when Talon had taken to employing aerial acrobatics to misdirect him, his body had reacted to the immediate threat with a sense of knowing he had never experienced. The slightest tension in his old teacher’s movements telegraphed everything to him. There was a sharp clinking sound, quickly followed by another, and a dull clang but it was not until he saw Talon come at him with Mantis Catches the Hummingbird that he realized he had broken the chains on Talon’s staff. The staff ends were treated as short swords now, their rapid movements woven together into the classic Heaven and Earth Strikes of Skrimm. Several attacks later, Fenix managed a brief withdrawal to calculate his next course of action. The purpose of the Skrim style was to make as much use of both striking hands as possible while always having one hand attacking and one ready to counter or defend. But it had a weakness…My reach is longer, my staff more supple, and the weaving routine cannot keep up with…

Broken rhythm.” thought Talon as the hatchling began wielding the staff as a rapier. The bronze foot darted at him faster than a fiddler’s bow. Had the walking stick always been so thin? He dropped one of his staffs and fought single blade work with single blade work. His movements remained circular in fashion, consistently redirecting lunges and broad strokes. I might have to tire out the hatchling.

Fenix’s skin felt feverish as he continued his assault on Talon. Their movements never slowed, and he marveled at how he had become a typhoon clashing with its twin but he could sense the ending of the match. He felt it before he saw it. A wide attack, followed by an immediate dodge, a counter, a cross- counter, an exchange of thrust and parries until, finally, both found themselves with the end of a staff pressed against their respective throats. Last time, both had collapsed from exhaustion- this time it was a legitimate stalemate and the smile on Talon’s face, could not have been bigger.