The Silk Fox
Location: Stormholm Caer, Harkania March, Cymeria
Song let out her breath and slowly brought her arms to her sides. Straightening, she stepped into the next move of her form, the formal choreographed routine of her martial arts discipline of Zhî Lû.. She had ridden to the massive hold of the Stormdanovich family located on the mountain known as Daranau Eira, or Thunder Snow, the day before with various dispatches from the High Elder. Rather than have to send a courier on her heels back to Sanctuary, she had been given quarters for the night and told the High Lord would see her later that morning.
In the meantime, Song used the time to practice, enjoying the sunlight on the great terrace as well as the roar of the waterfalls where they burst from beneath the hold and fell to the splash pool far below. The sound of the water soothed as it also inspired the young woman. The next form required total concentration as it involved the use of the small pair of swords commonly called butterfly swords. These were a matched pair with an overall length slightly less than her forearms. Each sword was specifically designed for her right and left hand. The left handed sword was concealed beneath the sleeve of covering her right arm and vice versa. If it were too hot or confining to wear robes, the elegant little swords fit easily into belt or boot or back sheathes.
Song's swords were marginally more slender than other blades of their kind from her father's homeland of Xia with hilts sized and fitted to her hands which allowed the blade to be a bit longer as well. They could also be tethered to her wrists with a flexible cord allowing her to throw them and snap them back into her hands in a single effortless move. She had not sacrificed much off their breadth, however, as they had to stand up to the much longer and heavier swords commonly used in Aereth. The lethality of the butterflies lay in the wielders fighting ability for the swords had to be incorporated into the elaborate forms of the Zhî Lû.
Sliding each hand into the opposite sleeve of her workout tunic, Song withdrew the swords and immediately moved into a whirling dancing motion, rotating the blades in blocking, parrying and thrusting moves without pause. Had she had a living opponent, they would have been hard put to defend against her speed and ability to wield both swords at once. Coming to the end of the form, Song again bowed to the Four Winds as she slid the swords back into their specially crafted sheaths.
Loud clapping startled the young woman and she tensed, almost going for her swords again. Her eyes flew to the massive form of the High Lord where he leaned against the opening to the terrace. He had obviously been there for awhile but Song's concentration on her form had kept her from noticing. She watched with wide eyes as he straightened, walked toward her and held out his hand. Carefully, as she did not want any of his High Guard to mistake her movements, Song pulled the left handed sword from its resting place in the concealed scabbard on her right forearm. She recalled that the High Lord was left handed.
The sword seemed lost in his large, long fingered hands. He examined it carefully and handed it back, seeming to notice Song's tense posture. A glint entered the icy blue eyes and he almost smiled, "Relax, girl! I do not make a habit of throwing the Guild's Magi to the rocks below."
As usual, Song was entranced by the man's deep voice with its odd, but not unpleasant accent. She caught herself...after all these years, the accents of Harkania should not seem odd to her...maybe it was just the big man's voice she found odd, thinking that, like the Vanir, it should be guttural and hoarse rather than clear and resonating.
"Teach me," the High Lord said simply and nodded toward the terrace where she had been working out. At the same time, he took in her dress...the straight legged silk trousers, matching tunic and bare feet. He glanced at his own slim fitting breeches, sleeveless tunic and boots. Crossing to a bench, he sat down and pulled off the tall boots, "This will have to suffice," he said as he joined her at the center of the terrace.
Song took a deep breath, held it and released it as she slid the sword back into its sheath, "To practice the Way of the Fox, Fúkèsī zhī lù in my father's tongue but commonly called Zhî Lû now, you first must find your center..." As she began explaining, Song noted the High Lord's intense interest and attention. Suddenly, he was no longer the frightening Lord of Thunder but a student seeking to learn the Way of the Fox.
Thus began Song's first training session with the High Lord.