Content Warning: This series contains cartoonish violence, including the death of humanoid monsters and non-graphic death of people, and mild nudity and sexuality.
Karp stumbled back and thrust her staff into the ground in a last-ditch effort to keep from falling. The ringing in her ears nauseated her till she dizzied. Basic armored combat with her master, Korg the Whitecoat, ended the day's training. Before training for the first time, Karp had insisted on learning to fight in full plate armor, but The Whitecoat insisted she learn armored combat in chainmail instead. Fighting in plate armor was usually a battle of attrition. The loser would tire first, and Karp was too physically weak to outlast most opponents. Karp's intelligence and keen natural desire to understand her opponents and exploit their weaknesses gave her the best chance of victory. In light armor, she could outmaneuver her opponents, surprise them, or retreat and make the best use of her cunning. It was the right decision, but every time Korg's staff connected with her minimal protection, a shockwave traveled through Karp's chainmail hauberk and thick leather under-armor. The pain bore deep into her muscles and bones, a painful reminder of every little failure.
The Whitecoat shuffled his feet while he waited for Karp to make her next move. Karp leaned on her staff, analyzing all of Korg's movements.
his right foot leaves the ground, and his left hand raises slightly and returns. then his left foot and right hand. if i attack his left side as his right foot lowers, that moment of hesitation as he switches from lowering his hand might be enough.
As Korg's right foot lowered, Karp shot out the end of her staff toward Korg's left shoulder. In one flawless motion, the right side of Korg's staff rose, swung around, and knocked away the incoming blow. The left side dropped down, shot up, and struck Karp's chest, knocking her into the air and onto the ground. If Karp's skill showed that she had been learning to fight for three years, then Korg's expertise reflected one hundred years of training.
Karp rolled onto her stomach, coughing from the dust that lined the training field. She then attempted to take The Whitecoat unaware by raising her staff for a downward strike as she rose from the ground. The staff whiffed through the air and struck the ground with enough force for the end to lodge in loose dirt. Karp hadn't even seen Korg move, but his staff connected with the back of her leg and she dropped to one knee.
˝Oh, what's wrong? You're not getting tired, are you?”
Karp loosened her grip on the staff and concentrated on the world. The sky shook, and the ground circled. Cracks formed throughout her field of vision, and the view of a room filled the cracks. Cabinets and a roof appeared through the voids. The swirling ground tore to reveal a dirt floor. The sky, forest, and field shrunk into little cracks that disappeared altogether. Karp knelt in a room with clay jars lining the walls and wooden cabinets anchored above them. She then started her ritual for when she didn't want to be discovered shifting.
right knee on ground. left heel even with knee. back straight. head looking at end of staff on ground. left hand on fourth notch from end. right hand in center. right arm fully extended. elbow over knee.
Karp repeated these thoughts while committing the feeling to her limbs. After a few minutes, Karp felt comfortable in her memory and stood. She leaned the staff on a small square table in the room's center and started toward a cabinet on the far wall, agonizing over every step. Lifting her feet took all her concentration and each step crashed to the ground. Karp placed a hand on the side of the cabinets to steady herself and used her other hand to swing open a door. She was too tired to accurately move her body around the opening door and accidentally clipped her chest. She reached into the cabinet, removed a piece of paper and chunk of charcoal, carried them back to the little desk, and drew an outline of a person.
Karp looked down at her legs. After a quick examination, she drew a dark circle on the right knee. She stared down at her chest and copied a few lines on the right side of the drawing's chest. Karp cataloged the dirt, stains, and smudges from the front of her armor. She removed her chainmail, placed the pieces on the table, and recorded the armor's rear. After cataloging every ding, smudge, dust, or stain onto the parchment, Karp moved from the center table. After approaching the clay jars that lined the wall, she removed a jar's lid and withdrew a piece of bread, some fruit, and a slice of salted meat.
korg was right; i was getting tired.
Karp bit the salted meat as she walked toward a door in the front of the main room. Free of the armor's weight, her pace quickened. She grabbed the main door's handle and shook. The door rattled but stayed secured. She strolled to a small bedroom connected to the rear of the main room. After crossing the threshold into the small bedroom, she removed her leather gear. Karp finished her meal before lying on the bed and sleeping for the night.