NaNoWriMo 2019 Chapter 8
Disclaimer: This is a NaNoWriMo attempt where quantity trumps quality. This will also be a long piece, so if you’re looking for a quick read, I recommend checking out a different category like Short Stories.
~Chapter 8 Training Time with Fletcher~
Before she can look for Fletcher, Fletcher finds her.
“So I hear that you’re interested in doing some training exercises with your emph?” he asks.
“Yes,” she says, and quickly adds, “But only if you’re free.”
“I’m always free to help people grow stronger. Have you eaten yet?” Fletcher asks.
“Good. I’ll prepare something for you. You’ll need to give your body fuel before you can train properly,” Fletcher says and disappears from view.
She stares at the space he was at just a moment ago.
She does not remember Fletcher as an excitable man. What has she gotten herself into?
She shakes her head to shake off the selfish thought. If Fletcher is willing to take his day off to help her, then she will gladly accept his help. This will ultimately benefit her, so there is no room for her to complain.
She heads down the stairs to the dining room with a sense of trepidation, but the dish the Fletcher prepares for her is lightly seasoned and satisfies her morning hunger without sitting heavily at the bottom of her stomach afterwards. It is a simple yet satisfying dish that she will be happy to eat even if she does not plan to train for the day.
After the others leave the guild hall, she follows Fletcher to the backyard. He leads her through a series of stretches without the emphs, to loosen and warm up their body for what’s to come.
After they are suitably warmed up, Fletcher picks up a practice knife and motions for her to draw her emph.
“Like any kind of physical activity, wielding an emph has a lot to do with muscle memory. Your mind may not remember what you used to do, but your body might. Don’t think too hard about it. Try to swing your emph around,” Fletcher says, showing by example what he means by twirling around his practice knife.
Feeling very self-conscious, she gives her emph an experimental swish. The experimental knife feels awkward in her hand.
“Try a different grip. Or a different hand. You can even try your feet if you feel like it. I’ve seen people wield their emph in weird ways. Don’t worry about making it work. Plenty of emphs don’t make sense but still work somehow. Just try anything you can think of and hopefully you’ll figure out what works best for you. But always remember to put your safety first,” Fletcher advises.
So she tries to slice, stab, spin, throw… maybe not. She tries forward grip, reverse grip, left hand, right hand, but declines to try her foot or mouth or any other exotic options. She imagines enemies in her mind and attack, trying to find a familiar rhythm and failing. What is she missing? What hasn’t she thought about yet?
A sudden shout from her right catches her off guard. Fletcher flashes forward and stabs his knife at her.
She pivots on her left foot and raises her left arm across before her. Her right foot plants behind her and her right hand opens to brace her shield.
Fletcher stops before his knife touches her.
“You look like you remember something,” he says.
“I think my emph is a shield. Or was a shield,” she says. Sheepishly, she bends down to pick up the emph she dropped when she tried to brace her non-existent shield.
“Did you remember anything about using a knife?” he asks, “Anything familiar?”
“No,” she says.
“Maybe you will be more comfortable with a shield. Keep your emph for now and take a break. Drink some water. I’ll be right back.”
Fletcher heads back into the guild hall and returns with a few shields of different shapes and sizes. He picks a simple round shield and passes it to her.
“Let’s start with this,” he says.
She straps the shield on to her left forearm and raises it experimentally before her. Her body shifts automatically sideways to present a smaller target area for a potential attacker to hit.
Even before Fletcher says it, she knows that she feels a lot more comfortable with the shield than the knife.
Carefully but mercilessly, Fletcher stabs and slices at her with the dulled practice knife, which she blocks and parries with her borrowed shield. Her body slips into familiar series of movements, and although there are times when she is half a step too slow or at a bad angle, her blocks are respectable, mostly efficient, and keeps her untouched by Fletcher’s knife.
They repeat the process with the other shields, each shaped differently with different weights and accessories for different purposes. She finds the simpler ones best, and given the choice she prefers a solid well balanced shield to one with an edge, even if her choice weights more.
“We can be quite certain that your emph was a shield, and you likely fought with a team so that you can focus completely on defence while your teammates attacked,” Fletcher concludes, “The thing is, your emph isn’t a shield right now. It’s a knife. And if you want your emph to turn into a shield, you’ll need to learn how to wield it as a knife first.”
At his instruction, she sets the shield she’s holding aside and pulls out her emph once more. He shows her the different ways she can grip her knife, testing her fingers against the emph’s handle until they find a position that is the perfect fit between knife and flesh.
“A knife’s handle tells you a lot about how best to hold it. And in your case, it looks like your emph is telling you to use the reverse edge out grip. That may not be a bad choice for you. The reverse grip is often better during close combat, and if you’re used to tanking with a shield, you may be comfortable with getting close with your opponent,” Fletcher says.
“But the knife doesn’t block as well as a shield,” she points out, “Maybe I won’t be so confident if I don’t have something to hide behind.”
“You could be right. Then it’s even more reason to become proficient with your emph, right?”
That sounds very ominous.
Fletcher teaches her some drills to practice, not just with the reverse grip but the others too.
“In the heat of the battle, you don’t always get the chance to pull out your knife in your favourite grip, so it’s best to be familiar with your knife in as many ways possible, just in case. But no matter how you hold your knife, always make sure you keep your fingers safe from your own blade!”
Fletcher ends their session just as her hand begins to feel sore. They wrap things up with a series of cool down stretches, then collect everything and head to one of the storerooms on the third floor where they keep their spare weapons.
“No one says you can only use your emph as your only weapon. A lot of people carry extra weapons and tools to complement their emph or for utility. When you’re more familiar with your emph, and if it’s still a knife, I can teach you how to fight with a shield and knife,” Fletcher says.
“That sounds great,” she says, “Thank you. And thank you for teaching me how to use my emph.”
~End Chapter 8~
Continue in Chapter 9.
Chapter word count: 1238
Total word count: 11674