Friendly sparring in the Chantris gym...
Friendly sparring in the Chantris gym…
Location: the Gymnasium in Chantris Manor
Date: August 12th, 14 (OOC Year 2017)
Summary: Iolion invited Veronica to meet him at the Chantris gym and they spar. It ends with a knife at his throat and him "stealing" a kiss.
Characters: Iolion and Veronica
NPCs: none

It isn't quite eight o'clock in the evening, which means it was uncommonly early for her to receive a couriered message from Iolion. He's just enough of a traditionalist to prefer using Trumps for special occasions and intimate moments; the more routine things should be handled in the more routine ways. This message was written in his own hand, in some deep blue ink on heavy paper, given to a courier and delivered to Veronica at her suite in Chantris.

I'm in the gym. Stop by for a workout?

Yes, he was actually *in the manor* when he sent the note. Sigh. Unwilling to emerge from the gym covered in sweat and looking like hell, no doubt. Actors are so predictably vain.

When Veronica arrives at the gym, he's wearing something more suited to a workout than to the street: loose-fitting trousers of some light linen, shirtless, and … currently climbing a salmon ladder, one-handed, blindfolded. He's a good twelve feet off the ground headed upwards, the horizontal bar making a loud CLANK noise with each step up the ladder. Over by the fencing salle, a pair of jackets, masks, gloves, and sabres have been set out - presumably for whatever he has in mind.

Veronica doesn't arrive immediately as she needed to dress for the occasion. When she gets there she is wearing a short sleeved, smoky almost black gray colored, pull over blouse which is loose enough to not restrict movement but tight enough not to risk getting caught in anything and a pair of black skorts that reach half way to her knees. Her feet are bare except for a pair of sandals laced up her lower legs to just below her knees with leather strips that overlap multiple times before they are tied.

From near the top of the salmon ladder, Iolion hears someone arrive. His response to this is to invert himself, wrapping his feet around the bar with the speed and precision of someone who's been working on his climbing, and then lowers himself so that he's hanging bat-like from the bar, his weight pressing on the tops of his feet, using them as a hook. Fully inverted, arms folded across his chest, he regards the door. "Begging your pardon, but if you aren't the Lady Veronica, I'm going to need to ask you to leave. I have an appointment with her to fence. Assuming, of course, I can talk her into it, which should be one of the easier things I've ever attempted to talk her into."

Suppressing her Mon accent and leveraging her Collegia training to mimic a Amberite nobility accent, Veronica says, "Begging your pardon, sir, but anyone in the family is permitted use of the gym. Unless you're pretending to outrank the Duchess?"

"There exists such a thing as courtesy; I'm sure it's beneath you to be known as one who would discard courtesy towards a kinsman," Iolion answers matter-of-factly. "But, you know, should it be your will, I'm certain we can settle this at saberpoint. Either way is fine with me. Do excuse me; watch out below."

And then he just drops from ten feet or more above the ground, headfirst, onto the hardwood floor of the gym, using his forearms to break the fall. It's as violent as being thrown from a horse and every bit as sudden, yet he's straightening up and dusting himself off before the echo of his impact fades. The damned resilience of Oberon flows in his veins, apparently.

Veronica is standing there exactly where she had been when she spoke, well out of the way of Iolion's landing point and visibly fighting off laughter. "I'll cross sabres with you, m'lord Faris al-Farik," she says in her normal Mon accent after he lands. "Is that why you invited me here by the way?" she asks indicating the swords and fencing gear off to the side by the salle.

He "looks" at her, or at least he would be if he weren't thoroughly blindfolded. The expression on his face is pleased, though: apparently, not being able to see her is no bar to his imagination of seeing her. "I never quite know how to greet you," he says after a heartbeat or two. "I apologize for my lack of etiquette." His tone is warmly amused, though, even while at the same time slightly self-deprecating. He takes a pair of steps towards her, gauging where she stands by her voice, and reaches out to fumble for her wrist: taking it, he lifts it so that he can envelop her hand in his own clasped ones, squeezing briefly before letting go.

"If I'm going to live in this city, the least I need to do is be able to use a sabre like a gentleman. It will be a wonderful way to scandalize Mom, who's never seen any point in using any weapons other than rude ones. Imagine the shock! The horror! Deirdre's son, a … a *duelist*! And I thought, your former profession being what it was, you might know something about that art."

Seeing as how a smile would be missed by Iolion, Veronica laughs appreciatively at the squeezing of her hand. "Are you saying that you don't currently know how to fence," she asks with incredulity in her voice. "I thought that al-Farik was a great fighter… what do you do in those famous Souk fight-arena-debt paying things then?" she follows up.

"I never said I was helpless with a blade. I said I don't know how to duel. And if you're wondering what al-Farik is known for, mostly he's known for cheating — to the extent one can cheat in a forum where the only rule is to prevail." And then he's moving in close to her, almost as if he were to brush his cheek against hers, but holding back just a fraction of an inch: being guided by when he can feel the heat of her own skin, and stopping at that nearest point.

"You look good, you really do,
"The pride of Boogie Street.
"Somebody must have died for you
"A thousand kisses deep."

Apparently, being blindfolded hasn't harmed his vision. Ironically appropriate, perhaps, given the events of their first meeting.

"So…" Veronica starts to speak while examining the sabres out of the corner of her eye, "… to evaluate you should we do a straight up fair dual or an anything goes to see where we stand against each other first?" The poetry or song quote elicits a smile but with the blindfold on his only hint of that is how the curl of her lips affects her vocal tones.

"It honors me that you trust me so much as to permit the suspension of rules. But where you're concerned, Veronica, I do not trust myself enough to suspend the rules." His smile is a slightly wistful thing, but he doesn't linger upon it, nor does he expect her to make any response to the admission. "Formal rules of dueling. I need to learn how to not make a fool of myself. But I invite you to use whatever dastardly tricks you've ever seen or heard of introduced into a duel. I will play by the rules; I do not ask you to."

"Alright," Veronica says, "Just remember, you gave me permission." She walks over to the gear and starts dressing, pulling the pants that go along with the jacket first right over the skorts she wore to the gym. At the same time she asks, "You aren't going to try to do this with the blind fold on are you?" in such a way to suggest that she thinks the idea of doing so is ridiculous.

He follows after her, of course, albeit a bit awkwardly due to lack of sight — it's surprisingly hard to walk a straight line when one cannot see. "Of course not," he answers her as he fumbles around at the table to find the outfit, identifying each by touch, and getting dressed without benefit of vision. Then, 'looking' over towards her, he breaks into a smile. "I'm just demented enough to think seeing me like this puts a smile on your heart." He waggles his eyebrows above the line of the blindfold, then turns away to remove the blindfold and don the mask. Now, picking up the saber, he heads to the end of the salle.

Having heard his hypothesis, Veronica intentionally suppresses the smile she was wearing as she watched him nearly stumble on the edge of the salle and instead puts on airs of mild annoyance long enough for him to see it and then grins and winks at him. She finishes getting dressed and lifts her sabre as well before mounting the salle and taking position at the opposite end.

Veronica's Montevalnan heritage is on full display; dueling is an art to be perfected. As for Iolion, a new shading of character is revealed: at some point in the past he was taught how to use a blade like a soldier; efficiency replaces grace, power replaces precision. The two go charging at each other from the very get-go, her perhaps to teach him the importance of seizing the initiative, him perhaps to demonstrate this is a lesson already learned: and if her precision has the edge over him, his own parries are violent enough to almost jar the sabre from her grasp. The two of them close until they're body to body, separated by crossed blades, and Iolion appears intent on making this into a full pass where he and Veronica will end in each other's corners.

After a particularly jarring parried strike from her opponent-uncle, Veronica makes a faint noise and, though arm position and body language, feigns an injured wrist for a moment to attempt to get Iolion to let his guard down. It almost works but he is able to react fast enough to step back as she violently brings her knee up in an attempt that, in a real fight, might deprive Princess Dee of having grandchildren from this particular Chantris-son any time in the near future. Following that Iolion seems to keep a particularly close eye on his great-niece for further dirty tricks but she continues to focus on keeping his guard up and his footwork smooth, almost dancing with him as they maneuver each other into the corners opposite those they began in.

The knee strikes home in the middle of Iolion's thigh, with force that would leave most men staggering for a day or two but which Iolion doesn't even notice. Now comes the task of disengaging himself from her, much as he might wish to do otherwise; now he beats her blade back as he back steps towards her corner, the better to complete the sally. But it's still an open question: will he successfully disengage? Or will she be able to score a point here on the downside of the first sally?

Veronica stomps with her left foot and then strikes towards the left which he parries with a flick of his wrist. Then, stepping back, she pirouettes counter-clockwise and parries his riposte before stepping in close for a clinch during which she attempts another stop… this one aimed at Iolion's instep with the goal of temporarily crippling him to gain an advantage on him.

Seeing Veronica's poorly fitting mask fly from her during her pirouette, Iolion swiftly throws his off as well to keep them on equal "footing" right before the step in towards him, in an attempt to smash the top of his foot, may in turn be judged a mistake: it leads her into a lunge which he's already anticipating, moving towards her, his left hand taking hold of her wrist as if it were a manacle of iron.

Ah, but going after the /right/ target, that's the problem. To close for a blow to her midsection to take the wind from her, or to close for a kiss to those lips. In the heat of the moment, given only a split second to commit fully to one or another, he makes the wrong tactical call and leans in to deliver a fierce kiss. It's the sort of thing he would've tried to justify later as an attempt to throw her off-balance, but unfortunately, she was really quite depending on that: because while he's occupied immobilizing her sabre wrist and kissing her, he's entirely too besotted to notice what she's doing with her off hand until she's holding a dagger against his own throat. Smart money says Iolion hasn't noticed it yet; but man, he's going to be at a disadvantage when he does.

Veronica allows for the kiss, even going so far as to nibble at his upper lip. His first indication of a problem is likely her deep throated chortle but any doubt is vanished as he hears the distinctive scratching-scrape of hair being cut as she shaves the hair beneath his jaw by drawing the knife blade's edge up along it from his neck to his chin. As she draws back from the kiss, if he looks down by moving just his eyes, he will see a narrow bladed knife being held so that the flat of the blade is barely visible. "You're dead," she says, "Were this a true duel I could have disemboweled you or slit your throat."

Veronica, monologuing to herself, thinks, (So typical of Io, to try something like that. Who does he think he is, his uncle Bleys? If he were as irresistible as he thinks he is he'd give that redhead a run for his money. It wasn't even the best mid-fight kiss I've ever enjoyed. Right…) At this point there may be a slight change of expression on her face as the tenor of her thoughts change. (… Wait. What the hell did I just say? GODS DAMN ME. No, we're not doing that again tonight,) she thinks as she waits for his reaction to her last comments.

For a span of a half-dozen heartbeats the world and everything in it are still: Iolion, his face a scant half-inch from Veronica's, close enough they can feel each other breathing, close enough the only thing that fills their senses is each other. Just … /there/. Just … /presence/.

One heartbeat.

Two heartbeats.

Six heartbeats.

"Worth it," he murmurs before closing in for another kiss. This one isn't meant as a distraction: this one is a simple surrender to the moment, surrender to the intoxication. There may be a steel edge against his flesh, but that would only bother him if he didn't trust her utterly. As it is … there's no reason to fear, and every reason to kiss. To kiss with sincerity, with ardor, with emotion. Something real.

And something far deadlier than the knife against his throat.

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