Fable - Ask A Spectral Howl

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The Spectral One
Character Biography

The old forest. Not a place most occupants of the Dreadlord Academy frequented of their own volition. Few paths existed save the ones used to tread between distant academic building or graveyard. To forge off the paths was to take ones life in their hands, for there was more than simply Dreadlords and Initiates to worry about in the old forest.

Chasmine had spent the last several weeks scavenging the unturned areas of the academy in search of the past. In particular, in search of a ghost of the once ruthless Dreadlord Basmarc. A man who, 100 years ago or more, received top praises from his Proctors for carving himself a place in history as one of the greatest swordsmen of his time. She'd expected him to be buried among the rest of the noteworthy dead with a grand marker on his grave etched with words of respect upon his may achievements.

Strange how the mighty and lauded so easily fell.

She found his grave through means of sheer dumb luck, some deep diving in the library archives, and a bit of instinct. Another path, far overgrown due to many years of unkeep, stretched far away from the academy, linked only by a passage through the primary graveyard walls covered in thick, thorny vines. This trail, perhaps only used by the wildlife now, wound and serpentined deep into the forest through old growth trees and large crags. A cemetery for the dishonored where not even their graves were marked with their names.

It was well past midnight when Chasmine reached the location and she wasn't yet sure if she would stay long. Basmarc's ghost had been fabled to linger in the woods, loosing spectral howls under full moons. Tonight the crescent moon's light barely filtered through the fog. She stepped forward into a hodgepodge of jagged grave markers and looked around.

"Proctor Basmarc?" the girl called quietly, pale eyes surveying her surroundings. She felt silly doing so, but she'd gotten greater results with ghosts for less. At least she had a name to go by.

Spectral Omens
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One gravestone jutted up at the clearing's edge, in the shade of a weeping willow.
Moonlight painted a threadbare silhouette in the leaves. A breeze twined the draping branches and gave the impression of a once-over.

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Despite having interacted with a long gamut of various lethal, aggressive, and downright horrible ghosts within the Academy on a fairly regular basis, Chasmine Grey still flinched at the sudden gonging of the voice in the quiet clearing.

She blinked, pale gaze seeking out any ectoplasmatic form within the area. Strange that he spoke and yet did not appear. The nature of his death and subsequent haunting was curious indeed.

"That seems ... appropriate." She mused aloud, "You are the only Proctor to teach from beyond the grave."

"What are your demands, Sir?"
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This was a very specific demand. Chasmine wasn't sure she knew of the blade the voice spoke of, but certainly one of her fellow students might know. At the very least, somewhere on some shelf in the library there was a book that did. For now, it would be best that she not approach Proctor Malvern about switching to a different sword. He barely believed her capable of the rapier and had, at one point, threatened to make her spar with a butter knife.

"Thank you, Proctor."


The next day.

"Hello Henk," Chasmine had followed the much larger student out of their final period class for the day and trotted up beside him with books in her arms and long, white braid whipping about behind her. She smiled up at him as she caught up, finding his long strides a challenge to contend with.

"You are good with swords. Could you help me find a Colichemarde?"

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Chasmine's soft tones surprised the pale-eyed initiate, breaking him from the thoughts that swirled about in his head after the rather obtuse lesson he'd just attended. Some of the new proctors had introduced ideas that were so foreign he still couldn't wrap his head around, especially not when he'd been instructed by the same people for so long.

Still, her appearance was not an unpleasant one, turning to smile back at the young woman with warmth and kindness. "Lady Chasmine. So wonderful to see you. I hope the day finds you well." Rarely did Chasmine go about seeking out others in conversation; surely she had something on her mind?

"A Colichemarde?" He rose an eyebrow, vaguely familiar. A sword, was it not? "Why would you need one of those? Not that it's my business." After a pause, he nodded. "There may be one stashed in the older section of the armories. Shall we look?"
Such a gentleman. No one else called her Lady, and she wasn't sure why he chose to. Chas wasn't going to complain, though.

"I am embarking on a training journey with a dead Proctor," she replied with a far-gazing smile, "and I require a Colichemarde for it. It seemed oddly specific, but I feel unqualified to judge."

Questioning a seasoned veteran didn't seem appropriate. If a Colichemarde she needed, a Colichemarde she would get. Right now? "Yes, please."

The Armory

If she had to guess there were hundreds of swords on display in the armory. Some hung, mounted high on the walls, featuring placards of their previous owners. Some sat gleaming in polished cases, imbued with esoteric powers far too powerful for just any Initiate to wield.

"I'm not sure what a Colichemarde looks like. It's some kind of short sword."

She walked by stands full of varying instruments of cutting and destruction, leaned to inspect an oversized hammer that looked like it aught to be in the hands of Sable Pembroke before pressing on.

"Perhaps they went out of fashion."
Training with the dead? Henk had heard rumors of Chasmine's ability, but he'd never seen it happening himself. Was that a pang of jealousy he felt in his gut? The chance to learn from the long-departed was certainly appealing. A thoughtful hum left the initiate's scarred mouth as he nodded his head to Chasmine.

"Specific indeed, but I suppose even the dead have their reasons, do they not? There is much that neither of us yet know, Chasmine." He reached out, patting her shoulder gently as he led her to The Armory. "Let's go. I must say you have me just as curious now that you've told me your story."

The Armory was massive, but the revolution had changed it. Much newer equipment had been brought in and put on full display, shimmering armor, sharpened weapons and tools brimming with magical energies.

However, if they were to find a Colichermarde, their best chance was moving to the rear of the armory, where many of the older weapons were haphazardly left behind, no longer on proud display. "It's quite similar to a rapier. Some would consider it the 'son' of that weapon. It's mainly used by those of a lighter frame who may find a traditional rapier to be a bit too heavy to use effectively." Breaking from searching the old racks of dusty weapons, his eyes roam over her for a moment.

"Not unfitting of you, I must say."
"Funny," Chas blinked at his words, head tilting slightly as she recalled the previous night's encounter, "that's what Proctor Basmarc said. I am very slight of frame."

She had the training rapier assigned to her by Proctor Malvern, but much as Basmarc and now Henk implied, the weapon wasn't suited to her. Chasmine had only thought that perhaps she just wasn't suited to it and not the other way around. Malvern wanted her to get stronger, but that seemed at odds with his desire for her to also progress with her ability to actually wield the thing properly.

"Your knowledge of swords is wonderfully useful, Henk. ...is that one over there?"

A rack loaded overfull with older swords sat in a back corner alongside stands and tables of dusty weapons.
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"That isn't a bad thing, Lady Chasmine." Henk offered as he dropped to his knees and began to dig through the old weapons. "In a battle, your size and beauty will work to make an overconfident foe underestimate you. I agree that perhaps a lighter sword would increase your skill, but only if it is what you wish."

Perhaps it was blasphemous thinking, but while Henk was envious of her conversation with Basmarc, a nagging voice in the back of his head told him that such an apparition shouldn't be so easily trusted. "Just be careful. I don't want you getting hurt."

It had been a long shot coming here, and unfortunately, it seemed that there were no such blades among the Armory's stash. Odd. Henk wondered why they wouldn't have something so simple in such a vast collection. With a small frown, he turns to Chasmine and shakes his head slightly. "I don't see..."

His eyes flicked over to where she pointed. Indeed amongst the other swords, a worn Colichermarde sat in-between a rapier and a hand-axe. Pursing his lips, Henk reached over and grabbed the blade, chipped and in need of repair, certainly, with part of the hilt broken.

"This is the weapon you seek, but it's not in great condition. Perhaps there's somebody who can restore it for you?"
Henk was painting a picture of someone, but Chasmine wasn't so certain it was her.

"I appreciate your confidence in me, Henk, but you don't have to lie." Her smile hadn't faltered. If anyone was overwhelmingly aware of Chasmine's weaknesses and faults, it was Chasmine herself. "I'm well aware that I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the revolution." And at peace with the notion, too, if her expression had anything to say about it.

"I have never dueled with a ghost before, it will be exciting to learn the repercussions of doing so..." she watched him lift the aged weapon from the pile and moved forward to inspect it within the light of the lantern in her hand, "Well, it would be a poor choice to attend my first lesson empty handed. An old Colichemarde is better than no Colichemarde. Perhaps I can clean it up a bit before."
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Henk smiled. Chasmine was modest, oblivious as to how others saw her. Such innocence was so unusual in a Dreadlord, but it suited her. He rises to his feet and holds out the blade to Chasmine. "I speak the truth. While it's true the revolution has made this place more accepting, what is important is that you are here now. You shouldn't underestimate your own grace, your strengths. They are many.

Placing the Colichemarde in her hand, Henk dusted his trousers off, having collected a bit of dust on them from kneeling. "True enough, there is no telling what that spirit has in mind for you, which is why I advise caution." He crosses his arms. "If I had time, I might be able to fix it myself, but I am not very adept at using my powers in that way, not yet."

Henk led Chasmine out of the Armory, into the empty hall. At this time of day, not many were hunting for weapons. Classes were still in session, after all. Come free period, this Armory would be host to several eager initiates looking to find their next tool of choice. "I must apologize. I wasn't able to be such a help after all."
There were a lot of things happening that did not happen very often for Chasmine. Empathy, concern, and willing aide being three. She followed Henk out of the armory in a silent but bright manner, holding the sword in her hands as if Henk had handed her his grandmother's beloved urn.

"No need to apologize, Henk, you have been unexpectedly helpful. You're very kind and I hope one day the other students can see that, too," a warm, natural smile shifted across her face and for a brief few seconds Chasmine Grey seemed entirely present and in the moment. Yet shortly, a twitch of her head and shoulders, a flinching response, a stuttered and breathy laugh, and the gloss of her gaze returned.

"I should be going now, I need to make this presentable for Proctor Basmarc. Goodbye Henk!" The girl turned and skipped off, long braid bobbing behind her.


The Old Forest Secluded Graveyard

Midnight again. The air was colder tonight and her breath fogged before her as she stepped back into the clearing.

"Proctor Basmarc," she called gently, "I have found a sword. It is aged, but I hope it will do." Chas withdrew the sword from the hook at her hip and held it up in her right hand to present it to the graveyard. She'd spent a fair amount of time cleaning and polishing it, bound the broken hilt with leather, ran the chipped sword edge along a whetstone. These were all things every student was taught to do to keep their chosen weapons in good, working condition, but she'd never had to bring one back from such a state before.

The moon was a little fuller tonight, brighter in the willow leaves, and Basmarc's silhouette was more distinct.


The willow branches curled and twisted, picking up shards of broken tombstone, and knotting into a form much like the colichemarde in size and weight. The wood-and-stone training sword shivered on Basmarc's grave and went still.


The stance he described was very similar to a basic rapier stance; he assumed she knew it.
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It will do for now was more than she had hoped to hear. Chasmine lowered the blade, letting it come to rest in the palm of her free hand as she looked down upon it and carefully considered the state of it. It will kill - once. The girl's lips narrowed, pressing back words of prayer that it would never come to such an end. When she looked up again the training sword of stone, vine, and wood sat awaiting her on the gravestone.

Chas carefully set her sword to lean against a nearby tree and moved forward to take up the training sword. It was curiously well balanced, all things considered, but the bark of the hilt was certainly less comfortable in her grip than leather. She stepped back, setting feet and weight and torso as directed and finding the stance a familiar one.

Her swordmanship classes hadn't been the most terrible. She was light on her feet and agile, but those weren't the points of contention Proctor Malvern had with her.
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Over the ensuing two hours, Basmarc ran Chasmine through all the fundamental moves and stances. Most hewed closely to the rapier work she'd already done.

The spirit offered no explicit praise. He spent his time adjusting the angles of her balance and motion with precise flicks of a weeping willow branch. Not sadistic, but not compassionate in the least. He also made her alternate between the real sword and the training one.

"Come back in a week," the barely-visible spirit said, in a voice that had become a little more human over the course of the night. "Seek out and duel three other people, drawing blood each time."
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Chasmine was left with welts and bruises from the whipping vines of the willow tree and a sense of trepidation at the prospect of having to duel three of her classmates. And draw blood. She placed the wood and stone training sword on the grave where it had first appeared and offered the Proctor geist a wary bow, "Thank you Proctor Basmarc." No need to extend the ceremony. Chas set her Aged Colichemarde back on the hook at her hip and departed under the light of the waxing crescent moon.


Regardless of her aloof and far away nature, Chasmine harbored a very real and strong sense of anxiety concerning these duels. She'd been lingering around the practice yards for the past two afternoons, watching others duel with various weapons and being reminded why she had sought out Basmarc to begin with. Her own skills were lacking - Proctor Malvern had given up on her and, after being told off by Proctor Eva for allowing the other students to cut Chasmine to ribbons during one particularly long and painful training exercise, relegated her to forms with the practice dummies.

Chasmine's forms were well-practiced but not well put to practical use.

She was doing just that (practicing with every comment in mind made by Basmarc prior) when Davi wandered into the area. He wasn't a student she saw with a sword very often, but she recalled he was quite skilled himself, as they all were trained to be. But, and perhaps more importantly for her own misgivings, he wasn't cruel. As good a person to start with as any, right? All she really needed was practice.

"Hello Davi," Chas approached him with her Colichemarde in hand, "would you like to spar with me? I'm learning with the Colichemarde and need to practice."
Davi studied the arena schedule meticulously and now had the ability to visit when it was empty down to a fine art. It wasn't that he was embarrassed about his skill; his talent with different weapons was a continuing surprise for the Proctors who thought him barely a step above a normal guardsman with his 'gifts' - as little as they were. No, it was because Davi preferred being alone. Friends were not a thing that came naturally to any of them despite the forced new classes that had been introduced since the Rebellion. But for Davi it seemed to be harder. Even Edric had friends for fuck sake. He just couldn't find anything in common with the other students here. They didn't have hobbies, their bickering seemed childish and pointless, and the posturing with their magic was a tiresome thing that made his mind wander.

Alone just seemed better.

It was with surprise therefore that he found he had miscalculated this particular visit. He was spinning on his heel to turn and head straight back out when he had spied Chas when she called out in greeting. Maybe Sargent James would get off his case if he could say he'd at least spoken to another student and Chas was one of the few he didn't actively despise. With a sigh and a deep breath he turned back to her and glanced down at the sword with an expression equal parts boredom and resignation.

"Why this weapon?" Most Dreadlords liked to compensate by picking as big a weapon as they could.
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Having had very little interaction with Davi in previous years, Chas found herself pleasantly surprised that he did, indeed, deign to humor her with a response instead of ignoring her completely. She blinked brightly up at him, a small smile present on her surprised expression.

"The Colichemarde?" she asked and looked down at the sword in her hand, "I am small and slight. Proctor Basmarc insisted this was a better fit than the Rapier, and he is a great swordsman so I am not inclined to disagree." The girl clasped her hands with the sword at her front and gently rocked up onto the balls of her feet.

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Davi eyes lingered on the blade clasped between her hands a second or two more before giving a characteristic teenage male grunt and shrug of the shoulders. He brushed past her to go set down his weapons bag and begun to undo the buttons on his fine red jacket. All the while his mind tried to pull up what he knew of Chas' abilities with blades. From what he could remember she wasn't the best of fighters but not the best among Dreadlords was still a fearsome one.

And who was to say she hadn't merely been holding back?

"What type of weapon would you like to try against?" From the sack came his usual curved sabre but he also pulled out what looked to be a short trident. With one flick of his wrist however the metal shaft extended in a series of clicks.
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"Perhaps another sword?" Chas suggested gently, "I have not had much ...live practice with other duelers," though that sounded like she was making excuses, she simply was stating a fact. Malvern rarely allowed her to duel with others now that he couldn't allow them to cut her to ribbons anymore.

Waiting a moment while Davi made his weapon choice, she watched him rifle through his pack with quiet wonder. He really was quite well learned in many weapons - she'd seen him use the curved saber and the trident, both of which were quite unique among the other students. Even herself with a simple sword, and not an imposing one either.

When he was ready, she moved with him out into the open arena, calm as a quiet pond on a heady summer's day, and turned to face him in her assumed ready stance.
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Davi glanced over his shoulder at her then nodded in the affirmative. After shrugging out of his jacket and setting it to the side he snatched up the sabre and sauntered casually back to the centre of the training ring. With a barely muffled sigh he raised the curved blade and slid his feet into position. He waited for a time for her to settle into hers but when she moved no further he only quirked a brow and shrugged.

Without ponce or ceremony Davi flowed forward. He wasn't built as wide as he was tall like a lot of the other students and his movements reflected his slighter and more nimble form. In quick steps he was close enough for their blades to clash having swung his blade down then up in a curve that would open her from hip to shoulder if she didn't block. A simple move to probe her abilities.
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Not being terribly accustomed to the way of things in sparring, Chas remained affixed to her spot to give Davi the opening move. Basmarc had prompted this with the advice that making the first move revealed much about your opponent, but Chasmine didn't have the eye, knowledge, or expertise of Basmarc and could only deduce that, much like herself, Davi was a slim and quick target.

Clear headed and making a big effort to remain aware, Chas met his initial strike with a block. One that was well-timed and perhaps lucky. She paused as she held his blade, equal parts surprised and uncertain of her next move. Usually spars for her consisted of a lot of dodging and deflection, bracing for impact and the pain of a landed strike. She wasn't a creature of offense and she'd not learned much on counter-movements yet give that target dummies didn't exactly have live actions to counter.

Her pale gaze flickered from where the blades held and up to Davi as she swept her block upward and his blade away, stepping back out of range before stepping in again for her own strike - a reaching stab toward his shoulder.
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Davi only raised a brow when their eyes met as if to ask what now. He could have wrenched his own blade back, followed through another quick stab and slash, but he had had much the same advice as she about giving his cards away too early in a fight. Besides, this fight was more for her. She would, he would have hoped, had to actually attack as well as defend in the future. As she pushed his blade away he made a noise that might have been approval and watched with his usual bored expression as she lined up her next attack.

Again, not a move he would have thought a Dreadlord would make. Was she probing too? Davi swung the blade up to batter hers away and made a noise of annoyance.

"Stop looking at where you're going to hit me. And hit me harder, you're holding a sword not a fly swat."
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Of course he batted it away and he needed very little effort to do so. Much as Chas wanted to improve, wanted to do right by Basmarc, she was finding it very challenging to draw on the enthusiasm required to be aggressive. She frowned at his words and annoyed look, the sort of things she usually tried to avoid at all costs. Couldn't stand to be an inconvenience to anyone and clearly she was doing that to him right now.

"I'm sorry," Chas hushed a reply.

Don't look where she's going to strike.

Hit harder.

She pressed her lips together and mustered another swing, one with a bit more oomph for her but likely still easily batted away for him.
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