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Artist: Nujabes/Idst - Song: BattleCry - Word Count: 433
Ryuzaki had gotten up early this morning, and he'd been watching the men set up a small arena since sunrise. It wasn't anything too impressive, just a few mats laid over the dirt, and a circular fence that was only just now nearing completion, but it was enough to draw his interest. He put his sandals on and grabbed his sword, then made his way over to see what was going on. The first few men he spoke to were too busy to be bothered, but eventually he ran into someone who had just taken his break. The worker explained that they were slapping together this small arena to incentivize sparring, the higher ups wanted their subordinates to pursue their training a bit more in their free time, and thought that this would help. There certainly seemed to be a crowd gathering around the arena, but Ryuzaki wondered how many of them had plans to participate. A few of the shinigami standing around were obviously here to spar, but he hadn't met any of them in the past, and had no idea how strong they were. Oh well, if there was going to be sparring he would participate, no matter how the participants matched up. As eager as he was there was no way he could get into the arena immediately. Others who had been waiting longer were already fighting with each other on who was going to fight first, and he hadn't even gotten close yet. Gradually the workers began to filter out of the area as they completed their assigned tasks, and Ryuzaki readied himself for his match. There were two combatants in the arena already, but he hoped to be able to get in after they were finished. He noticed as he watched the two fight that they were incredibly evenly matched, and about as strong as he was. Maybe a little weaker, but they were really going at it. It took a long while for the two in the ring to end their fight, neither of them was able to gain an advantage over the other, and their fight simply continued until one of them became too tired to carry on. Ryuzaki was standing directly outside of the arena as the sparring ended, and he claimed the next sparring session. He made his way to the center of the arena and then turned to face the remaining crowd. He hadn't found a sparring partner before he entered the arena, so he addressed the crowd and invited anyone interested to join him for a bout.
Abalia was, on this particular day, rather lacking in any work to do. She was already on call, but it seemed as though there were more than plenty of other members of her division that were far more qualified than she to stay on patrol, and so it seemed as though there was little she could actually do herself. It hardly surprised her, though, as these days it seemed as though she could hardly get anything done herself. So when she saw a place for a bit of sparring being erected...well, she knew it would probably be a bad time, but she hardly wanted to slack off.
As she made her approach toward the arena, Abalia picked up a voice calling for a partner. Well, that certainly worked out well, didn't it? Raising her hand and pressing forward through the crowd, Abalia made her way up to the arena, calling out as she approached, “I would like to join you, if you wouldn't mind.” He had of course invited anyone, but for all she knew he was looking for someone a bit more apt than she, and Abalia could hardly blame him were that the case.
Nevertheless, she made her way up into the arena, holding out her hand as she approached Ryuzaki. “Abalia Sesshouin, Fourth Division. A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mr...?” The last thing Abalia wanted was to be rude, of course. She didn't recognize the man offhand, which meant he probably wasn't someone she should be expected to know, but it wouldn't do to go without proper introductions.
Artist: Nujabes/Idst - Song: BattleCry - Word Count: 333
Ryuzaki watched intently as the woman approached the arena. He hadn't seen her among the crowd gathered around the arena previously, but that was no matter. There would be more than enough time for everyone involved to get a turn in the ring, after all, it had only taken him around thirty seconds to find a sparring partner after he had entered the ring. Everyone seemed incredibly eager to prove themselves, maybe building this thing had been a good idea. Ryuzaki noted that the woman possessed good manners as she introduced herself, and he followed her example.
"Of course, you're welcome to join me. I'm Ryuzaki, with the First Division... no last name at the moment. I'll figure it out one day, although I haven't learned much since I arrived in Soul Society.. I'm sure my family lived here, I'm just not sure where, or what their name was. But enough about that, let's get down to business, shall we?"
With all of the formalities out of the way Ryuzaki unsheathed his zanpakuto and assumed a combat stance. He pondered for a moment on whether or not he should strike first, and almost did, but in the end he decided against it. He would defend for the time being, and see just what his opponent was capable of. It was the polite thing to do after all, and it would be best not to overextend himself. He'd never met this person before, and there was no way that he could know what they were capable of, although the woman in front of him did not look particularly dangerous, he couldn't be certain with the people that were running around this place. Ryuzaki held his blade in front of his body in a defensive stance, with his feet spread wide, and waited for the woman to attack. He would feel out the battlefield for a bit before he made any attacks of his own.
Abalia nodded once, both to herself and to Ryuzaki, as she took in what he said. That was quite interesting, wasn't it? Perhaps she would ask him about it once this was over, if that wasn't pushing too many boundaries of course, but for now she too drew her zanpakuto. The moment she did, however, it was plain to see for anyone who looked that she had only the bare minimum of an understanding of how to properly use it. She had a practiced-enough stance, and it wasn't the worst thing in the world, but it was apparent from the shifting of her hands, the consistent rebalancing on her feet, and her generally obvious amateur posture and body language that she had only the barest knowledge of how to properly use this.
Nevertheless, Abalia watched Ryuzaki carefully for a moment, doing her best to consider how to handle this approach. Did she swing from above, below, the side? How quickly should she swing, should she move around him first before doing so? These basic questions were the extent of her actual thought, though, as the deeper ideas of swordplay and combat were not something she had much experience with beyond what she'd learned in the academy. Ultimately, Abalia decided on a simple downward slash, though between her poor form and obvious signaling with her body language, it was plainly telegraphed for anyone to see.
Artist: Nujabes/Idst - Song: BattleCry - Word Count: 301
Ryuzaki wondered for a moment if the obvious attack towards him was some kind of feint, but he quickly realized that it was not. The girl didn't seem to possess much experience with sword play, and her attack was easy to read. He blocked the slash aimed at his body with his own blade, and found that it was not too hard for him withstand her blow. He deftly steered her blade away from him to the left, and pushed it aside. She was left wide open, and Ryuzaki imagined that if he tried he would be able to land a solid blow against her midsection rather easily. He didn't want to take a chance of ending his bout so prematurely though, and when he did swing his blade there was very little force behind it, and it traveled slower than one would expect of a sword. He wondered how his opponent would handle this simple attack. He expected that almost anyone would be able to fend this attack off, even an untrained and unskilled opponent would have a good chance of blocking his blade. Ryuzaki thought for a moment that maybe he wouldn't gain very much from a bout with someone who didn't possess very much skill, but very quickly afterwards he decided that it would be fine, that didn't matter. How was anyone ever supposed to learn if they had no one to teach them what they were doing wrong? If his opponent continued to have a very hard time perhaps he could show them a thing or two that would make this fight a bit more interesting for both of them. At the very least, Ryuzaki would do his best to pass on any knowledge that he thought would help his sparring partner.
Abalia was, thankfully, not so completely hopeless that she could not block his strike, but she still definitely didn't handle it as effortlessly as one might have hoped. She raised her zanpakuto quickly enough, but despite the lack of strength behind his blow, she was at least knocked a bit back by it. She quickly assessed the situation, trying to think of how to respond here. She could attempt some sort of parry-type move or just step back, maybe go on the offensive? He was undoubtedly more skilled than she, even if she had no hard evidence to definitively make such a claim.
After a moment more of hesitation, Abalia pushed back against his sword, using the (rather scant) opening created to make another very obvious swing at Ryuzaki from the other direction. This time, however, she took a step along with the swing, the idea in her mind being that it would help to either carry the blade along or at least give the attack a bit of misdirection.
Artist: Nujabes/Idst - Song: BattleCry - Word Count: 320
He saw that she planned to attack once more and as the blade came at him once more, from the other direction this time, Ryuzaki brought the flat of his blade up and braced it with the back of his arm. His block worked fairly well and as he heard the blades clash he found himself face to face with Abalia, who had apparently stepped in to her attack, and gave her a small smile.
"Maybe we should try something a bit different? I can show you a few things about how to wield your blade more efficiently and confidently, if you'd like that is. I know it can be difficult to get down at first, but it really only takes a bit of practice. If you'd follow me please?"
Ryuzaki hoped that he was being polite, and not simply rude. He understood that some people would take offense to him saying such a thing, but he truly had the best intentions in mind. It hadn't been very long at all since he'd found himself in this exact same situation, perhaps his training had been handled a bit more... esoterically though. What with all of the animal people. He still didn't really know what had been going on there. He preferred not to think about it.
Ryuzaki walked towards the arena's gate, opened it, then made his way to a grassy area that contained a few small trees and a couple of flower bushes close nearby. It would be better to let others have their turn sparring if he was going to be taking a break from combat for the time being. Perhaps he'd be able to re-enter the ring before the day was out though, who knew. He removed his sandals and let his feet rest on the damp grass, then held his sword by his side and waited for Abalia.
Even though she knew all too well that she wouldn't be able to do much to her opponent, Abalia still found herself faintly surprised at the casual air with which Ryuzaki blocked her strike. However, as he offered to teach her outside the ring, she found herself flushing ever so slightly, not at the idea of going with him, but more in embarrassment that her being in the ring was, in all likelihood, doing no one any favors.
Nevertheless, she nodded at Ryuzaki's offer, and followed him into the small grassy area. Her gaze wandered to the flowers for a moment, struck mostly by what a lovely area this was in which to train, and thought about exactly why she was here. In an ideal world she could simply talk down those who had done wrong, bring them to justice through peace and give them the tools to better themselves. But she was no fool, and the world was far from any sort of ideal place. She had no chance at protecting others from violence if she lacked the ability to fight back, and with that in mind, she once again looked to Ryuzaki.
“Thank you for this, sir. I am truly honored that you would take the time to advise me.” Bowing deeply, Abalia found herself much more comfortable here than she had been in the arena. Was it that she had a more structured learning environment here, or was it simply that she was comforted by having a superior to guide her? Perhaps a little of both, but this wasn't a thought she lingered on for long at all.
Artist: Nujabes/Idst - Song: BattleCry - Word Count: 490
Ryuzaki noticed that he'd made the girl blush and he felt bad for bringing it up. It was for the best though, as the sooner one began to learn the faster they could improve. He began to demonstrate basic techniques with the sword, something every beginner needed to get down before they could advance further. As he did so he listen to Abalia speak, and replied.
"Don't worry about it, it's my duty to help others in the Gotei. Watch the way I do this until you feel like you understand it, then give it a try yourself. We'll keep at it until you've got it down. These are some of the most important steps to becoming proficient with the sword. The basics. Everyone has to get them down before they can be any good."
He continued to perform the most basic of motions with his blade. If you practiced enough then you wouldn't need to think much about what you needed to do in response to your opponents attacks. You could rely on your body to defend itself, and focus on planning your attacks. In truth, this was still good practice for Ryuzaki, it was good practice for anyone. The basics are always something that you should try to keep at the highest level you're capable of.
"Alright, now you try. Try to do everything exactly as I've shown you, and make sure to keep a firm grasp on your zanpakuto. It seems like you could use some work with where you position your hands as well. I think these things combined could give you a great boost in your ability very quickly. When you perform these exercises make sure to keep your hands one hands-width apart, and grasp firmly. Your index finger should touch the guard, and your thumb should sit here, just out of reach of your middle finger. Hold tightly with your pinky and ring finger, less so with your middle finger or you can squeeze tightly with that as well for now, if you find your fingers lack strength. Your index finger and thumb are situated more loosely, and assist in control. And lastly. "
Ryuzaki stepped closer to Abalia and placed his hands on her arms, twisting them gently so as to adjust her grip. Her new grip seemed to keep the blade under control much more easily
"Hold your blade like that, and you should have a much easier time using it. This will keep your edge where you want it, and make sure you're able to land a good, solid hit on your target. After all, it's not much use to hit your enemy with the flat of your blade. "
After adjusting her grip Ryuzaki continued to demonstrate the correct way to perform the exercises he was asking her to perform, and waited for her to show him what she could do.
Abalia listened carefully to Ryuzaki's every word, taking his instructions to heart to ensure she didn't forget his lesson. She adjusted her grip on her own as best she could, but Ryuzaki's hand was undoubtedly still required to get her into an actual proper place. After ensuring she had a good grasp on the actions she was supposed to be taking, Abalia made sure to keep her grip as best she could and began her practice at the basics Ryuzaki had shown her.
Almost immediately she was struck by how much more natural the motions felt, though she had to actively correct her grip on her zanpakuto several times. The most difficult part was easily the placement of her fingers, but nevertheless she made sure to correct herself any time her grip slipped even slightly out of where she had been instructed to keep it.
Perhaps a normal student might have asked Ryuzaki what to do next, but Abalia knew all too well that it was poor form, as well as harmful to one's own learning, to rush a lesson ahead. She kept on with the forms she had been shown, practicing them each in order, even as her hands began to rub raw. She had hardly used her zanpakuto often enough to form much callus, and it clearly showed from the state of her palms and her fingers, to say nothing of the faint winces she began to show after awhile. However, she said nothing, made not a single complaint, and pushed on regardless.