Tiragarde Keep (M L): Ask Master Sergeant Pavel to spar?

From Create Your Own Story

Making up your mind, you walk over to Pavel. His eyes are closed, the wind tugging at his hair and little droplets of water spotting his scraggly beard; he looks entirely at peace, which is much better than you can do with your first assignment ahead of you. After a moment, he turns to face you, and you salute crisply. "At ease, Private," he says, smiling. "What can I do for you?" When you tell him you'd like to spar, his grin widens; he loves to be made to feel useful, you've learned, perhaps fearing that he'll be forced into retirement soon. "Gladly! Let's just clear a space." He pulls a piece of chalk out from the leather satchel at his side and marks out a ten foot diameter circle on the deck, then walks over to a rack of practice equipment and tosses you a blunted sword and buckler.

By the time he grabs his own gear and steps into the circle, a small crowd of idle sailors has gathered to watch, and many more look down from the rigging; it's been quite some time since anyone's gotten up the nerve to challenge the famous Master Sergeant, and you can see why. Lean and fit despite his advancing age, his practice swings are swift and perfectly controlled by his strong wrists and calloused fingers. You begin to wonder what you've gotten yourself into, but judging by the grin that still fills your opponent's face, he has no intention of simply crushing you and moving on. He loves to teach, you remember; hopefully his lessons aren't terribly painful.

"Ready when you are, then," he says, moving his sword and shield to a guard position. It's clear he's waiting for you to make the first move, and you know that how you do that will greatly affect the outcome of the fight. You could go in for a fast and furious assault, battering at his defenses and trying to bring him down quickly but leaving yourself vulnerable to counterattack, or you could play it safe and only strike to lure him out; since you're younger and more energetic, you might be able to wear him down if you fight defensively. Then you spot the positions of his feet, and realize that you might be able to take him down with a good kick to the backs of the knees, though that has little to do with swordsmanship.

Do you:

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