I decided after the battle on the top of the mountain and watching Korack leap over the cart that this was an ability that I wanted to learn. I asked Partakkis if she knew how to perform the great leap. She laughed at me and said that she was a Tail dancer not a Skyraider. The only skyraiders that I knew in the village were village leaders or Korack. There was no way I was going to ask him for anything.That night I ate dinner with my friends Dremnin, Hanna, and Partakkis. Dremnin reminded me that we had seen Stilicho perform the great leap during the fight on the mountain top and that he had been friendly. I saw Vridich and Suulin at another table talking Fafnir and went over and sat down. I asked Fafnir if he could deliver a note to Lord Stilicho for me. Fafnir pulled some paper and a quill out of his pouch. Ready to write he looked at me and asked what you would like to say.
Lord Stilicho Alaricson,
I would like to learn the ability Great Leap. I would like to ask you to train me or if you do not wish to, please show me to some one who could. I will admit that I do not have any wealth as I am a newly accepted newot, but I would be willing to work for you in the evenings and on my day off.
Ardor Zomay Skram.
Fafnir took the note and rolled it up and put it in his pouch. “I will take it there strait away”, he said and jumped off the bench and headed up the hill.
The next night as the Unchained were sitting around an evening fire Fafnir brought me a note from Stilicho.
It would be my honor to train you in the magics of Great Leap. In return, if you would be so inclined, you could teach me how to swim. I have been teaching Kerick the Great Leap skill as well. Meet us at the Steelskull home every evening except for Sunday, after supper, and we will begin your training. Please wear whatever gear you would wear if facing battle, as it is important to train with the weight and feel of a combat situation.
Lord Stilicho Alaricson of Konigsberg
I was excited that He was going to train me in the great leap. I had Fafnir take back a thank you note.
Thank you Sir for accepting my request to be trained in the ability great leap. I will be at your home as soon as the evening meal is over. As far as gear goes, I merely have the clothing that I wear. All else was taken from me. I would be more than glad to teach you how to swim. I have never taught a non tailed swimmer, but I’m sure that I would be able to work something out.Ardor Zomay Skram
When Ardor arrived at the Steelskull home, he saw what appeared to be a mock battle going on, each man there well armed and armored. Stilicho has a wooden sword, and a footmans shield. He is wearing chain mail. He and Honus are lined up in front of Draiden, Kerick and Hakka. Their shields are locked in a tight formation, each protecting the other with each others shield, in a formation you recognize but have never seen, called a shield wall. You see Honus lunge forward with a massive Crystal Vikings shield, smashing into the space where Hakka’s shield and Kericks overlap, with enough force to fell a Rockhorn Thundra! They are pushed back a little, but they hold their ground, their shields locked together helping to absorb the blow. He then swings a large wooden sword at Hakka’s head. The big man starts to duck, and then instinctively raises his shield to meet the blow. Just then, Stilicho lunges low and slams a vicious blow with his wooden sword high into Hakka’s shin with a loud crack. Howling in surprise, the big man falls, opening a gap in the middle of their small line. Honus kicks his shield aside, and Stilicho levels the tip of his wooden sword at Hakka’s exposed torso. The fight ends.
Hakka is rubbing his shin, where an old battered looking steel greave absorbed most of the blow. He looks mostly frustrated, but that blow had to hurt.
“You’re getting it! Just got to watch out for that tricky bastard.” Draiden says with a grin on his face.Eldwulf the dwarf is there too. “You did good that time Hakka. The art of holding a shield wall isn’t easy to learn. Takes time to master it. These men have been practicing it for many years. So don’t take it too personally… you’re doing it right. Most name-givers you would fight in Barsaive don’t know the first thing about attacking a shield wall… and the Passions know no Theran knows about it either.”
Always serious, Kerick kneels down, props his shield against his knee, and begins rubbing dirts between his hands, readying for the next bout.
Stilicho helps Hakka to his feet. “Do you see why you have to duck instead of raising your shield? If you keep your shield level, that blow could not have hit your leg high enough to make you fall. All it can do is bruise your ankle. Plus when you raise your shield, you weaken the line because the shields aren’t locked tightly and a hard push from the front or behind, could cause the line to buckle.”
Hakka nods. “I’m sorry lord. I’m starting to get it. Shall we try again?”
Just then, Elwulf notices you as you approach. He coughs, signaling to the others. They all turn to see you. Stilicho immediatley replies to Hakka. “I think we’re done for now Hakka, we will be doing something else. More Great Leaping, an art you can help teach this time.” Stilicho walks over to you and shakes your hand, clasping your wrist in the Konigsberg fashion. “Well met Ardor. I was glad to see your message from Fafnir.” He smiles broadly. “We have been training on these days, or whenever we can manage the time. You are welcome to join us at dawn on Sundays for more shield wall instruction, if you’d like.” Without waiting for a reply, he continues. "I have a few things for you. With that he goes into the Steelskull home, and a minute later comes out and hands you a worn wooden footman’s shield (which appears to be of dwarven make), a wooden sword, and a dented iron helmet which looks to be made for an ork. “We can’t have you practicing without the proper gear, now can we.” Noticing that the helmet won’t fit you, he tosses it to Eldwulf. “Think you can make that thing work for him?”
He then hands you one more thing… your tail mace. With a wink he says; “I don’t think anyone else around here can use this thing.”
Kerick, who was buffing out a notch in his training shield, was watching you warm up. “Interesting, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a tail dancer at work before.” he says flatly.
Stilicho turns to Ardor, as he was chatting with Draiden, “A good point about your weapon Ardor. You should work with a weapon this is similar in size and weight because the balancing will be different.” Stilicho looks to Hakka. “Hakka, let Ardor borrow your training sword.”.
Hakka, trots over to Ardor, sweaty and dirty from the morning fighting. Without a word, he hands you a massive wooden replica of a troll sword. You are surprised by that, because a troll sword is too heavy for humans to use one-handed, but you are sure you saw Hakka using it with one hand. You realize that Hakka is flat out the biggest human you’ve ever seen, and if any human could wield a troll sword in one hand, Hakka would be the one. He stands in front of you waiting with a calm expression on his face, and with a start you realize that he was expecting you to give him your smaller sword in return.
Ardor took the giant sword From Hakka and said, “Then I guess I should use it this way”, and turned the troll sword upside down and held it by the blade. Skram then handed Hakka the practice sword and shield. Ardor swung the sword like a hammer using the hilt as the head of a hammer. “I think I can make this work.” he said the Stilicho. Skram looked back to Hakka, “Thanks Hakka”. Ardor moved forward to take a position next to the men, “So what is first?”
“For starters, we’ll start out with something small.” The group starts to walk over to where a boulder is sitting. The boulder is laying next to the trees in front of the entrance to the Steelskull home. There is a large fallen tree about 10 yards from the boulder. Everyone from the group clusters around this downed tree. Kerick and Draiden learn some of their gear up against it. Stilicho motions for you to sit. Kerick and Draiden sit on either side of you while Hakka stands. Stilicho begins speaking. “Ardor, the key to being able to perform a Great Leap, is beyond strength. It requires great agility and concentration. You must visualize your path through the air, and your landing. You must see yourself as though you are looking at yourself from above and as you see your feet, feel the magic coursing through you, and make your body move, take in your sights and sounds as you are, but also as though you watching you execute the jump that you visualize.” He pauses, and turns to Hakka. “Hakka, from where you are, jump over the boulder.” Hakka, with a grunt, leaps from a standing position over the boulder. The jump defies normal strength, easily skirting the boulder with plenty of room to spare. Clearly Hakka was tapping into magic of some kind.
“It is your turn Ardor. Remember that the trick to the Great Leap is feeling the magic as you leave your feet. To make that magic happen, you must force it into you through your mind by concentrating as you move your body. It takes great agility, but is difficult because magic is hard to master.” With that he motions for you to begin.
Your first attempt you fall on your face, Angry you jump to your feet, expecting mocking laughter. There is none. Stilicho continues to coach you, and the others offer tips and encouragement. So many failed attempts go by that you lose count. It feels like hours have passed by, and perhaps they have. You are sore, frustrated, bruised and dirty. Your legs feel like they have no strength left. You nearly give up, but as you were making what you felt had to be one of your last attempts of the day, you suddenly you feel a twinge of unnatural power as you leave your feet at the beginning of a jump. You see yourself, as though watching yourself from above, leaving the ground and floating, as if the world had slowed down, through the air. You nearly clear the boulder on the jump, but the surge of illogical power and lift, startles you, and you lose your concentration, and instead you fall onto the top of the boulder. All of the men cheer for you, and the rush was so exciting that you are invigorated. You now know what you have to do, and that you can do it. Your next jump is a success, you clear the boulder. This would be an impossible feat without the use of the Great Leap ability. You make a few more jumps for the day, and at times some of the others join in, leaping much further than you can, and with better accuracy, but you get better with each jump. Eventually, you are so tired and wore out that it must end, and Stilicho, seeing your obvious fatigue, interrupts the fun. “Great job Ardor! You’ll be leaping great distances before too long!” He clasps your shoulder. “It is time to retire, and for you, recover. Next week we will begin anew, and you must remember the feeling that creates the magic.” With that, you and the others grab your gear and head into the reach, to a large hall in town that functions like an open tavern. The hall is run by dwarves. You can barely walk and are terribly dehydrated. Stilicho buys everyone a round of drinks. After you are done, you say goodbye and walk home, know that in spite of your exhaustion, you are going to have to work tomorrow. Life is good.
Ardor Zomay Skram
3rd Circle tail dancer