Bai Qi walked around the dozens of floating weapons and whistled. As he slowly made his way around, he stopped in front of a spear.
He reached out his hand, and ran his fingers alongside the cool metal head of a spear, bringing his arms down to the simply decorated wooden body. He grabbed the floating weapon with his two hands, pulling it aside. He looked at Elder Xing for confirmation, but Elder Xing just shrugged, and sat down, bringing up a chair behind him.
"These swords felt the most comfortable in my hands," Elder Xing said. "Take your time to find the weapon that best fits you."
Bai Qi nodded. He took the spear and swung it around a few times. Brandishing the tip in front, he aimed out and stabbed the air with a clean thrust, swinging the wooden body around his side in an arc. He followed up the swing with a low thrust, sidestepping, then a high stab, turning his body to accelerate the spearhead. This was done in a smooth fashion as if he had done it a dozen times before, and was just putting on a rehearsed show.
Elder Xing whistled. "Picking up the weapon a bit quick, don't you think? You've used it before?"
"I don't know," Bai Qi said. "But the movement's seem familiar, so maybe."
Bai Qi put down the spear and looked at the dual swords lazily floating next to the staff. He hovered his hands over them, thinking, unsure of something, before grabbing the pair.
Bai Qi thought back to the move Elder Zing had done, and swung the swords in a half arc upwards, crossing them in front of him. He held the swords in that cross for a few moments, then looked back towards Elder Xing. "Is there a way to get something I can hit in here?"
Elder Xing nodded and brought up a wooden dummy.
Bai Qi dashed at the dummy, slashing it at with both swords, lunging downwards. He followed up the downward slashes with his left hand, cutting the dummy upwards in a near-vertical slash. Then, a horizontal slash from his right-hand sword, moving his feet to keep his balance, and a horizontal slash with the left sword, before stepping forward and stabbing both swords firmly into the wooden dummy, the left one into the throat, the right into the stomach.
"You've trained with swords before," Xing asked, "as well as a spear?"
Bai Qi shrugged. "Don't remember."
"Your movements are still quite rigid, but to chain attacks like that, you must have been extensively trained."
Bai Qi shrugged again. "The dual swords don't feel right either."
He moved to the daggers. The grip in his hands felt cold and rubbery, while the blades themselves had a nice weight. He swung them around a few times and shook his head.
"These just feel too short," Bai Qi commented.
"Those are throwing daggers." Elder Xing replied. "Try these."
Elder Xing put away his swords and walked over to the arsenal of floating weapons. He skimmed through, before stopping at a similar set of daggers, but these blades were slightly longer and curved outwards. He handed them to Bai Qi, taking the throwing daggers away.
Bai Qi stabbed out with one of the daggers, then pulled back, and swung with the other, arcing his attack on the same spot on the dummy.
"Let's try a change of pace," Elder Xing suggested. He took out his swords again. "Attack me. The blades are dulled, they won't cut but might leave bruises."
Bai Qi looked at the dummy one last time, before turning his attention to Elder XIng. He put his left foot out, his right foot supporting his body, in fighters pose, bringing up the knives in front of him, and beckoned Elder Xing to come at him. Elder Xing complied, swinging his right sword towards Bai Qi's stomach. Bai Qi blocked that easily by bringing his left hand down to meet the sword, and slid the blade towards Elder Xing's hilt, stabbing out with the dagger in his right hand at the same time.
Elder Xing simply smiled and turned his left hand, bringing it up to his face, catching the dagger as it came close to his face, he then pushed out with both hands, causing Bai Qi to stumble backward, losing his balance.
"Very good," Edler Xing said. 'You'll need a bit more than that if you want to catch me off guard."
Elder Xing suddenly dashed forward, slicing his words from different angles, Bai Qi forced to move backward as the blades clanged together, a strike coming from one direction, then the next, then the next. Bai Qi slowly backed up, the fast pace forcing him to defend. A slice upwards was followed by that same sword coming back down, threatening Bai qi with every step he took backward, his daggers dancing haggardly as he tried to keep. Even in that pace, Elder Xing pulled back on some sword swings, giving Bai Qi a slight moment between each strike, enough to keep him on his toes, yet he slowly ramped up randomly, some strikes moving faster than others, and one such sword swing caught Bai Qi, hitting his dagger hard enough to make Bai Qi wince, and drop his dagger from the impact on his wrist.
Elder Xing took a step back, letting Bai Qi pick up his dagger.
Sweat was beading up on Bai Qi's forehead, as he gasped for breath.
"It seems you're familiar with more than one weapon. If you can beat me with any of these here, I'll be done for the day," Elder Xing said. "I'll give you a break, as it seems you're exhausted from a short bout."
Elder Xing moved away, letting Bai Qi sit there for a few minutes. He went back to his chair and brought up a screen in front of him, paying Bai Qi no mind.
As Bai Qi sat there on the ground, rubbing his wrist, he looked at the daggers. After all that, he still didn't feel any sort of connection towards them, and while it seemed like he knew how to use them, it was mostly instinct. It was the same with the swords, and the spear, the same basic movements, all from instinct, nothing really standing out.
* 'Human weapons are fundamentally flawed.' *
The voice took Bai Qi by surprise, as it had been a few days since he last heard it. After the blackout episode, a small part of Bai Qi had hoped it was gone, yet to no avail.
* 'You seem to be ignoring me,' the thing said, hitting Bai Qi's sentiments directly. It tiled its body, a sideways smirk mocking him. 'Don't be, I can't kill you yet. The contract hasn't been fulfilled.' *
* The thing just kept the pasted smile on its face, not bothering to respond. 'You've had an interesting last few days. Finally finished the beads, have you.' *
"What did you mean by yet?"
* 'Yet is such a difficult thing to define.' *
"What did you mean by yet??" BaI Qi asked, alarmed.
* 'They finally let you out, huh? Elder Mu's garden is quite nice.' the thing said, ignoring Bai Qi's question. *
His question made Bai Qi hesitate, as he just realized something. "Can you look through my memories?"
* 'You're asking a being, who's tethered to your soul, if it can see your memories,' the thing said dryly. 'Simply calling you an idiot wouldn't be enough of an insult.' *
Bai Qi kept silent at that remark.
* 'The dual swords are nice, but any heavy weapons or anything that can suddenly change trajectories can get past it quite easily.' *
"What do you mean?"
* 'Those daggers should do for now. Ask if you can use your elemental powers.' *
Bai Qi hesitated, before looking at Elder Xing. Then he nodded, as the things advice had always been good so far. "Elder Xing, can I use my elemental attacks while using the dagger?"
Elder Xing looked up from his screen. "Are you sure? I won't use any magic."
Bai Qi nodded yes.
Elder Xing stood up, waving the screen away, and stretched. "I don't see why not."
As they got into their stances, the thing spoke again.
* Elder Xing's not a bad teacher, but the earth attribute can be used for much more than simple spikes and obstacles. When you dash in, try to visualize the earth under Elder Xing, try to push him off balance. Use the displacement to attack twice, not once.' *
Bai Qi dashed once again at Elder Xing, this time keeping the things advice in his head. Using that same feeling from before, where he multitasked with the beads, he split his concentration into two.
This time, Bai Qi struck out first, slashing up with his left hand, while simultaneously bringing up his right hand to support his dagger, bracing his hand. Elder Xing turned his body, bringing up his right hand to block both daggers, while spinning to attack with his left sword. As he did so, a spike jutted out of the ground, and Elder Xing jerked his head to dodge it. Trying to regain his footing, Elder Xing stepped to the side with his left foot, only to have the ground give away, as there was inexplicably a hole where he was trying to step. As one of his left foot sank, Elder Xing leaned forward, using his knee to catch himself at the edge of the hole. His back to Bai Qi, and put in a position where he was essentially on one leg, thrown off balance,
Bai Qi didn't hesitate to follow up on the opening that gambit had given him, bouncing back from the sword blocking his dagger, and using the bounce to pounce forwards.
Elder Xing furrowed his brows, as he rotated both blades to cover his back, causing Bai Qi's blades to bounce harmlessly on the middle of the blades. Using the split moments after the impact, Elder Xing pushed up with his right leg, which was still above ground, to propel himself forward, away from Bai Qi.
* 'Don't let him move away from you,' the thing warned, 'His back is still towards you, stay by his side. Try to use the wind to push yourself forwards, can't let him catch his breath.' *
Bai Qi nodded, leaping forwards at the same time Elder Xing did, keeping the distance between them the same. As Elder Xing turned around, he slashed out horizontally, but Bai Qi was out of his sight, keeping low to the ground and coming at him from his blind spot on his left. Elder Xing attempted to stab out at Bai Qi with his right hand, but it was useless. The match was over.
Bai Qi held a dagger at Elder Xing's neck, having ducked under the wild horizontal swing, and directly in front of Elder Xing, too close to him to have his swords be any threat.
Elder Xing laughed, dropping his swords in defeat. "Amazing," he said, taking a seat. "I'm getting too old for this. "
Bai Qi smiled. "You were holding back and didn't use any magic. I'm also tired from this little fighting, you barely broke a sweat."
Elder Xing let out a big laugh. "You know, Da Lao was the one who taught me how to wield dual swords. To think you would come along and break apart the fighting style with two daggers."
Bai Qi flopped to the ground, dropping the daggers.
They both sat there in silence for a few minutes.
"So what now," Bai Qi asked.
"You've chosen daggers as your choice then?" Elder Mu replied.
Bai Qi shrugged. "The daggers are nice but feel the same as the other weapons."
"You don't like them?"
"They feel too short."
"What about the other weapons?"
Bai Qi shrugged again. "I don't want to feel like I'm nitpicking, but each weapon seems weak in one way or another. The daggers are too short, the spear feels too long, dual swords don't have enough power behind them. Something like a longsword, which has power, doesn't have enough mobility."
"No weapon's perfect," Elder Mu said, waving his arm to make the arsenal of floating weapons disappear. The daggers and swords by them also faded away. "It mainly depends on your fighting style."
"Yeah," Bai Qi said, agreeing. He looked down, seemingly bothered. "But I don't have a style, nothing seems to fit."
Elder Xing laughed. "You're young enough, you'll figure it out sooner or later."
All my immediate family members, including me, have managed to successfully get better :))
Finals are coming up soon, so that's one of the reasons I've been somewhat absent, but after finals, I'll try writing more. Things are looking up.
This chapter was very fun to write, close to 2k words, and fight scenes were all played out irl to make sure placements correct, hope you enjoy :))
I've started to take up drawing, though I'm complete sh*t at the moment. Maybe in the future when this becomes bigger, and I get better at drawing, I'll make a manhwa out of it, who knows.
If anybody who reads this plays Paladins, I just started the game, ode fun, looking for ppl to play with, it'll be fun :))
Discord is https://discord.gg/B7xQSKS
If the link doesn't work, hit me up at Paradoxicality#1088
Stay safe, and be careful.