Jump to content
Electra

Life Less Sedentary, Life Evolutionary

Recommended Posts

It took two passes over the West End for Raina to find the Espadas School for Self-Defense, mainly because the first time around, she'd discounted the building covered in plants without a second thought. Why would a dojo have a rooftop garden? On the second time around, Merlin and the GPS colluded to convince her to at least make a landing and check it out. With a much put-upon sigh, Raina landed and dropped her invisibility as she slung her broom over her shoulder, not willing to admit aloud that Merlin had been correct. The laughter coming from inside her backpack was galling enough. 

The school looked sort of like a business and sort of like a house, to the point where Raina wasn't sure if it was okay to just go in or not. Better safe than sorry when it came to just barging into somebody's house, she decided, with only a thick hint of bitterness, and knocked loudly on the front door. 

Share this post


Link to post

"Best two out of three? Though, honestly, it's hardly fair. I know you can trounce me with a weapon in hand... Well, of course I cheated!" The lower pitched responses were muffled by the door and distance but Talya's clear, clipped tones came through as she approached the door to open it. The woman who opened the door to Raina's knock was of average height but, really, that was the only thing average about her. Blond, barefoot and dressed in yoga clothes, she looked more like a movie version of a fitness instructor than any sort of self defense expert. But for the faint sheen of sweat from working out and the escrima sticks resting against one shoulder, Talya didn't exactly fit the part.

"Can't expect to win without cheating," she commented, although whether it was directed to Raina or whoever she'd been talking to was more of a question. Talya offered the girl a friendly smile, "Hello, my dear. Come in. The dojo is open."

Talya held the door open to punctuate her statement ushering the girl in before she let the door shut behind them.

Share this post


Link to post

"I'm not making excuses, I'm just saying I won't fall for the same thing twice," a male baritone protested from behind the broken wall that separated the entrance area from the rest of the school, accompanied by a soft grunt and a creak of padded floor that suggested someone swinging up onto their feet. "Next time you lift your leg like that I'll have you flat on your back and -- oh, hey!" If the blonde woman could have passed for a movie starlet in the classic mold the man with tousled, dusty brown hair that appeared behind her did a passable impression of a romantic comedy lead. A lopsided grin set in angular features and a day or two of rakish stubble greeted the teenage arrival along with a wave from a bare arm wound with lean muscle that made Raina think of a swimmer or gymnast more than a body builder. "Claremont sent you over, yeah?" he asked, brushing damp bangs back from his forehead and picking up a clipboard lying on the unmanned reception desk and lifting the first page to scan the sheet behind it. "Sanderson?"

Share this post


Link to post

"Uhhh..." It took Raina a second to even register the fact that she was staring, the way she sometimes concentrated on the TV when Dylan Sprayberry or Ansel Elgort were on screen. But this guy was older, so maybe more like Tom Felton? That worked. He was just so good looking. And the woman who answered the door was nothing to sneeze at either, but that just made Raina immediately feel a little bit jealous. She wondered if they were sleeping together. That was inappropriate, she reminded herself, then reminded herself that she didn't care because doing appropriate things was stupid, then she reminded herself that either of these people could beat her up really easily if the rules of polite society stopped being in play. But she could still wonder, if she did it in the privacy of her own head... 

Merlin pulled her hair surreptitiously from inside her backpack, jerking her brain to an abrupt halt. "Sanderson, that's me, yep!" she confirmed with all the cheer she could muster. "I'm Raina. Here to learn how to fight things without throwing fireballs at them. Or if you guys are busy, I could just clean up the place," she offered with a slightly manic grin, hefting her broom. 

Share this post


Link to post

"Only throw fireballs at Erik. He's much more flame retardant than I am," Talya suggested as she followed Raina back to the room with an amused look on her aristocratic features. Leaving Erik to shake hands, Talya headed for the side of the room to put down her batons and find a towel to wipe off her hands with. Her amused gaze traveled to the swordsman as she added, "Also far more invested in not letting the walls catch fire. He's the one paying the mortgage, after all."

The broom garnered a bemused look from Talya, "As much as it might be nice to have someone else clean up the place - menial labor is ever so tedious - I am certain that your headmistress will be most put out if we treat the students she's sent over as servants." 

Dropping the towel back on her bag, Talya dusted her hands off one last time to rejoin Erik and Raina, "I'm Natalya." She offered her first name and her hand. Her grip was surprisingly firm for how fine boned and delicate her hand was.

Edited by alderwitch

Share this post


Link to post

"See, I can tell you haven't dealt with enough of these Claremont kids because you think you can joke about that, Talya," the man in the sleeveless workout shirt drawled, shuffling through a stack of paper until he found the form he was looking for and handed it to Raina along with a pen. "Not even a little fireproof, do not try to set me on fire, please and thank you. Also, fill this out." The page was all fairly standard fare, with spaces for emergency contact numbers, relevant medical conditions and so on. "Like she said, I'm Erik, good to meet you. If you're feeling nervous about today don't sweat it too much, we're just going to be getting an idea of where you're at, figuring out what'll work for you." He sat on the edge of the desk and gripped the molding with both hands in a way that unintentionally caused his pectoral muscles to flex distractingly behind his thin top. "Cool?"

Share this post


Link to post

"Well I said without fireballs," Raina reiterated, then somehow lost her train of thought when Erik sat down on the desk. "Um, yeah, that sounds good. I'll do that." She could hear Merlin laughing from inside her backpack, and resisted the urge to drop-kick it into a corner. She filled out the form, leaving vast swaths of it blank and the school itself as her only emergency contact, then stood up, trying not to blush as she handed over the form to Erik. "Okay... so what do we do first? How do I learn to defend myself?" 

Share this post


Link to post

Talya, personally, enjoyed the unintentional show from her position slightly behind Raina's shoulder. She stepped forward slightly to touch Raina's arm, "Why don't you come see if you can punch me in the nose while Erik watches. Delightful man but he's been over-blessed with good genetics, I'm afraid, and is relentlessly distracting when one is trying to focus. Besides, he can watch and get a better idea of what you might be better suited towards. I imagine we'll eventually be teaching you mostly how to break away from close combat to get to a place you can use... other skills, but right now we need to see how you throw a punch and how you balance."

She gave Raina's arm a light pat and then headed towards the center of the mat, before turning to face the others in the room once more with her usual relaxed stance. "Have you danced at all - with a partner, I mean. It's not all that dissimilar at least in the balance." Of course, Talya tended to fight in heels so her opinion on how one ought balance in a fight might be a little to the left of most folks. "Also in the trying to put your partner on the ground but that's a far more advanced lesson. Balance first, really!"

Share this post


Link to post

Erik took the form from Raina and scanned it briefly, maintaining the presence of mind not to frown slightly until the teenager's attention was on Talya. He'd seen enough kids fill out the same sheet to infer what all those blank spaces meant before he set it aside. The British woman's comment brought his attention back up with a blink. "Hm? Hey, c'mon, I've still wearing a shirt and everything!" he protested, looking a bit like a kitten who'd been called to task for being too fuzzy.

Even so, Talya's proposed plan to start things off was sound and he moved back into the main room behind Raina. "You can stick your broom over by the practice swords, I guess?" Tilting his head slightly to side and pricking up his ears he gave the bag on her back a closer look. "...I think your knapsack is laughing at me."

Share this post


Link to post

"Um, well, I did cotillion in middle school, but that didn't end up having a whole lot of dancing..." Raina, who'd been trying valiantly not to look at all, blushed scarlet to her shoulders at Erik's mock-indignant comment. "He's not laughing at you," she muttered, barely loud enough to carry across the room. "He's laughing at me because he's apparently forgotten who buys the monkey chow around here." In the corner, Raina's backpack opened, seemingly of its own voiltion, then a small brown, black and white monkey climbed out, looking about as amused as a monkey could be. He chirruped at Raina, a sound that was obviously a reminder that she wasn't buying much of anything these days and also he hated monkey chow. 

Raina squeezed her eyes shut, looking very much put-upon. "Can we just start?" 

Share this post


Link to post

"I know you are. It's very sad. No one will complain if you want to take it off and perhaps do some push ups," Talya suggested, laughter clear in her tone. She watched the monkey crawl out without really batting an eye at it, as she turned back to Raina. Her expression gentled at the embarrassment clear in the teenager's features. Sixteen was not an easy age. It might have been a while - a long while - but Talya remembered sixteen. She took a step in towards Raina, her movements matter of fact as she reached out to adjust the younger woman's stance. She nudged her feet slightly further apart with her toes and reached out to adjust Raina's shoulder's with her hands, "Now, you're a lady so most of your strength is going to be below your belly button - it's most unfair, but true - so any punch you make needs to come from your hips, not your bicep."

Once she had Raina better positioned, she mirrored the girl's stance and lifted her own hands up, curling them into fists. "Curl your fingers, thumb outside - if you tuck it in, you'll break your thumb and that hurts, believe you me. You're aiming with the top of your knuckles and hoping to hit, well, any part of me really. Don't worry about hurting me." Talya quickly demonstrated the punch, twisting to show the follow through in slow motion before she brought her arms up to guard. "Go ahead."

Edited by alderwitch

Share this post


Link to post

Raina did her best to pay attention despite her mortification (and her natural inclination to tuck her thumbs inside her fists.) "I'm not really worried about hurting you," she admitted, wryly, "I'm more worried about falling on my ass trying to hit you, and then you having a heart attack from laughing, and then I'll get detention again." She drew herself up, closed her eyes and took a deep breath, then, figuring surprise was the only thing she had going for her, launched a quick jab to the midsection before even opening her eyes. She was rather surprised when her knuckles met flesh, even if they seemed to bounce off immediately. 

Share this post


Link to post

"Haha, oh man, you've got a monkey in your backpack, that's amazing!" Erik crowed delightedly, face lighting up as he hunkered down to grin at Merlin. "Talya, look at his little tail! Haha! Hey little monkey guy, welcome to the school." The instructor managed to tear his attention away from the tiny simian long enough to actually watch Raina's first attempt, rising back up to a standing position and nodded approvingly. "Not bad, Dora the Explorer! The first swing always feels weird but you've got the right idea. You're generally going to do better with your eyes open, though." He gave the teenager a reassuring grin, leaning into the goofball persona a little bit in the hopes of making her a little more comfortable. "Give it another go and you can continue to benefit from these startling insights."

Share this post


Link to post

The hit connected squarely, if not all that strongly, with the blonde's braced forearms. Talya dropped her arns after the swing and gave Raina her attention entirely after her verbalized concerns, "Dear girl, I will laugh my head off when Erik falls on his very toned backside because he's one of the most skilled fighters I've ever seen. It is funny when he falls over. You, however, are here to learn. Sometimes that means falling down but I assure you - you will only get mockery when you've mastered the art and not along the way. Everyone looks ridiculous at some point when learning something new."

Talya turned then to watch Erik making faces at the monkey, "... And some of us look ridiculous most of the time but manage to make it work anyway. It's a very nice monkey, yes," she agreed dutifully, her lips quirking before she turned back to Raina and lifted her arms once again, "Now, this time, more pivot in your hips - like you'd like your fist to end up some where past where my breastbone is. Punch someone at the right moment dead in the chest and it can stop their heart. Go ahead."

With that cheerful thought, Talya added, "Keeping your eyes open will also probably help, it's true."

Share this post


Link to post

"But if I can hit you with my eyes closed, I'm a prodigy, instead of just being minimally skilled," Raina quipped, even as she adjusted her stance to try again. "And that's Merlin, he's my familiar. You can just ignore his commentary, he's just a nerd monkey who couldn't fight if his life depended on it." Merlin snorted and indicated that was what he kept Raina around for, and she wasn't doing a particularly good job yet either, was she? 

"Maybe you don't want me to learn how to punch," Raina suggested warningly. Merlin stuck out his tongue and climbed up on the desk where Erik had been sitting, sensing a more adoring audience. "All right," Raina said, ignoring both the extremely distracting males. "Again?" 

Share this post


Link to post

Erik quirked an eyebrow at the surprisingly expressive monkey while still keeping most of his attention on Raina's second attempt. The startling clarity with which the familiar made his meaning known might have been a tip-off regardless but the metamagi's senses picked up on the warm glow of arcane power that suffused Merlin and waxed as he responded to the teenage girl. Well, hearing her call him her 'familiar' would probably be the tip-off, he admitted inwardly, but either way at least he could assume the nature of the their new student's fireball flinging abilities without needing to make any awkward explanations about his own status. "Again,"  he confirmed out loud with a nod. "Give it some vinegar this time! Or we can let Talya keep describing portions of my anatomy in greater detail but I feel like that's not what your Academy had in mind."

Share this post


Link to post

"Alas, descriptions only go so far. Are you sure you won't reconsider the matter of your shirt?" came the laughing response as Talya dropped smoothly into a proper stance with her forearms raised. She held her hands curled closed but not quite into fists. It wasn't the posture she typically fought in, but she wasn't trying to dodge Raina's shots the way she'd have worked in a fight. Rather, he goal was to ensure Raina actually hit a solid target as Talya was more interested for the moment in measuring the girl's follow through than her aim. Her gaze travelled back to Raina as she repeated, "Plant your feet, twist from your hips and push all the way through. You want to hear a 'thwack'. It's a very satisfying noise. Not AS satisfying as the crunch of a nose breaking but still. Satisfying."

"Whenever you're ready."

Share this post


Link to post

"Just don't do anything I have to explain to the headmaster, okay?" Raina requested over her shoulder to Erik. "It's really hard to convince her that things exist that aren't my fault." Merlin expressed skepticism of the idea as well, but in an absent way, as he was busy looking over Erik's paperwork. 

Raina turned back to Talya. "Follow-through, right." She clenched her fists, set her body, twisted and swung, landing an almost-decent hit to Talya's midsection. "Ouch!" Raina complained, waving her hand. "That hurts a lot more than I thought it would." 

Share this post


Link to post

"Yeah, that's gonna happen," Erik confirmed with a shrug that was understanding even if it wasn't quite sympathetic. "You ever play guitar? Kinda like learning that, just gotta treat the bruises like milestones. Better follow-through that time, though. What do you think, Talya?" He turned his attention away from the answer for a moment to frown at the familiar rifling through his forms and records. Taking a few steps closer to the desk he folded his arms. "You're smarter than the average monkey, right?" he surmised with a cocked eyebrow. "'Cause I do actually need all of that in one piece. An unpleasant amount of my time consists of paperwork these days, and that's without monkeyshines."

Share this post


Link to post

"I felt it. It was a more solid hit," Talya confirmed, relaxing her stance slightly as she stepped forward to look over Raina's hands. "Boxers tape up their hands because its actually fairly easy to break a bone when you're punching a good deal of the time. Hit too solid a bone like, oh, punching someone in the shin for example, and you can crack your knuckles good. I've broken more fingers than I'd care to count, honestly, but I do a great many stupid things with my hands. Punching will be a last resort for you so your fingers will probably survive intact largely."

Talya offered a quick smile, then, since she was standing close to Raina and looked her over, glancing down at her feet with a judicious eye. "What sort of shoes do you usually wear?" She asked which probably wasn't in the normal line of self defense but Talya assumed if the kids were coming from Claremont, they were going to lead very odd, rather interesting lives. "Not in uniform but when you're around and about most of the time and would largely prefer someone murderous to not leap out and attack."

Share this post


Link to post

"Well it depends on what outfit I wear," Raina replied, sounding a little baffled by the question. "Right now I've only got one pair of heels, one pair of tennis shoes, some nice little wedge sandals and sneakers, but someday I'll have a whole closetful again. But these are what I have for everyday," she admitted, indicating the worn pair of tennis shoes she had on. "So what's on the menu then, if punching's a last resort?" 

At the desk, Merlin chirruped absently at Erik, assuring him that Merlin was, in fact, smarter than whoever was keeping Erik's books in the first place, and that the filing system here was a disaster. Erik ought to have all of these records in a database so he could cross-reference student attendance and performance, plus improve retention rates for students who might be persuaded to take new classes. 

Share this post


Link to post

"Hey, these are just the hard copies," Erik protested defensively to the capuchin, gesturing emphatically and resisting the urge to grab the papers out of Merline's little paws. "There's a database! I've got a guy!" Depending on one's definitions the guy actually was the database, since Vince collected the information about the school. He didn't feel the need to add that Vince often chastised him for continuously referring back to said hard copies instead of actually using the database, meaning the artificial intelligence often had to remind him about things like upcoming bills or scheduling conflicts but Erik maintained that the tactile method was just better, for reasons.

He was still paying enough attention to Raina's preliminary lesson to catch the part about having a closetful of shoes again. "Hey, listen, you don't have to tell me what went down exactly, but the Academy is taking care of her, right?" Erik asked Merline quietly in a more sober tone of voice. They were paying to send her to his school, of course, but they usually sent students along in small groups, not alone save for monkey sidekicks.

Share this post


Link to post

"What size are you?" Talya asked then, having absorbed the comment about 'again' without reacting to it. She cast a judicious glance at the girl's feet, mentally judging the size before looking back at her features. Talya offered a smile, "Because if you wear heels regularly, I'm going to teach you how to run in them and fight if you have to. The worst men have to deal with is tight pants or slick soled shoes but lady's fashion dictates a whole host of physical restrictions that can be deadly in the wrong circumstances. Now a pump can be kicked off but if it buckles around your ankle - as most do - then you'll be hobbled in a way that your assailant won't be."

Talya took a step back, letting Raina have a bit of breathing space once more. She turned slightly towards Erik, adding over her shoulder, "We could make that a class on its own, really," Talya told him as he seemed to be talking to the monkey, she turned back to Raina, "Well, it'll take time to master anything. That punch won't slow anyone down just yet. You're young - younger than I was when I started - so muscle memory will be quicker to develop." Talya paused and then tipped her head to the side, "Is there anything in particular that you want to learn?"

Share this post


Link to post

"Size ten," Raina admitted with an embarrassed grimace. It sucked to be tall. "I can run in heels okay, I've been wearing them since I was in pinafores. I've just never really had to do any fighting, you know? I don't even know what to do with my arms and legs except what you see in the movies. I want to learn enough to defend myself if I don't have my magic," she told Talya, very definitely. "Not even to, like, win a fight, but to get away. There are plenty of kids going for superhero at the school and that's fine, they can throw down and throw punches at each other, but I'll be happy if I can live to fight another day." 

Merlin seemed unconvinced by Erik's protests, but he set down the papers when the line of questioning changed. His disgusted expression and brief raspberry were enough to convey the monkey's disgust with the way he and Raina had been treated up and down the line. Bad enough to be removed from home and parents, then placed with strange, unknown family members, but to be left peniless and alone in the world at a school potentially run by dangerous sadists was beyond the pale. Merlin indicated that he had plans to make things better, but he didn't seem to care to elaborate on them. 

Share this post


Link to post

"Smart kid," Erik commented, arms cross as he observed the interaction between Raina and Talya. Just because Erik himself had rarely gone far out of his way to avoid a fight it wasn't like he didn't recognize that it was objectively the better choice. They weren't going to turn every student into a martial arts master in a couple of hours a week but they could absolutely give them the tools to escape an attacker and get to safety. That was the whole point behind founding the school in the first place; every person they made capable of saving themselves was one less person stuck hoping some good samaritan was lurking on a nearby rooftop within earshot. "I wouldn't worry too much about the Academy's administration," he added to Merlin in an aside, remembering the strings the elder Summer had pulled to accommodate his sister, "but if thing go off, you know where we are. Fair?"

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...