Open Chronicles Festival of Lights: Illun Serath

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Never did she think that witnessing fools lose their balance on the ice would be a delightful pastime. Of course, she could have given some constructive criticism, could have shared a grain of knowledge of how to tackle the ice.

Instead, Monroe allowed herself a gleeful snort hearing the latest victim of a cold arse before they took a seat.

Oh gods, she wanted to say something. Her face scrunched up, forcing herself to stare at the not yet finished page of her depiction of the ice and the lanterns. No one featured on the ice in her rendition.

What if he got up again, and did not learn from his mistake?

With a roll of her eyes, Monroe shut her sketch book and sighed heavily. "You know, you need to bend your knees a little on the ice. Widen your feet too. Your balance was all over the place." The usual scowl adorned on her face had softened to an annoyed frown. Her brows furrowed deeper, as if aware she offered some kind advice.

Taking a seat, Osuin remained fixated on dissecting his recent failed attempt at ice skating. It could have gone better, but it could have also gone much worse. It wasn’t that nasty of a spill if he hadn’t sprained or broken anything, he reasoned. He could say it’d gone much better than his attempt last year, in that regard.

Unknown to him, there was another who was also dissecting his attempt at the winter pastime.

"You know, you need to bend your knees a little on the ice. Widen your feet too. Your balance was all over the place." Spoke Monroe. The tone was off putting, but while she seemed harsh and hardly happy, she had wisdom which was nonetheless useful. He had been sliding with his feet barely wider than his usual standing stance. It had seemed natural enough, though it clearly wasn’t when he’d fallen right over.

“Wider stance and bent knees, huh?” Osuin remarked, turning to her. It seemed more stable and more suitable. Osuin had thus far been tackling the activity of ice skating as if it were akin to walking when it was anything but.

“Appreciated. I wouldn’t mind balancing on my feet rather than my rear next try.” Osuin added. With a moment of rest and a bit of wisdom gained, his next attempt may well go better.

Cheeks glowing roses, Alouette beamed at the words of encouragement from her friends and Syr Guernot. It wasn’t only exhilaration going through blood, no longer the physical adrenaline that had roared in her ears, but a gentle warmth of pride that did little to defend her from the biting cold.
It was all she needed to keep her arms and legs moving as she slowly, and albeit begrudgingly, swam to the rocks. It wasn’t graceful, arms and legs kicking out beneath her as if she were a dog, and it definitely wasn’t fast, even if she wanted to get out of the water as soon as possible.
Dark hair plastered to her brow and ears felt like ice against her skin, but still she persisted. She passed by the boat the older squires— no, they weren’t that anymore, they were knights now— had clamored onto, not paying the lovebirds much attention. It made her think of Ketyl. It was rare for her not to want to be by his side, but she knew she looked like a wet rat.
Lou didn’t look back, even to make sure if Arbok and Gruki were following after her. Something told her that they would be at her side sooner rather than later, such was the kinship between squires, even if Alouette seemed to be the one out of place besides Arbok and Gruki.

S-s-so-o-oh c-c-cold.” Lou huffed, using a cold hand to wipe at a even colder nose ands regretting the action almost immediately.

Arbok Gruki Syr Guernot
The topic matters less, than— What a sad statement, if he’d ever heard one. There was no relating to it for him, really, as in his case conversation had usually been in abundance. To the extent that he wasn’t averse to the prospect of walking out of any which one, when it no longer garnered to his interest or kept his attention.

Too short are the days. He tilted his head and met eyes with the kid at the remark that met his offer, a bit of daring mischief in his stare.

“ Does it? “ He asked, scrutinizing the squire’s being sat across from him. Even amongst whomever passionately practiced, the relationship one had to their trade tended to be — conflicted. Hard, manual work with not a single ideal day, but fuck if there wasn’t much to love about it.

Rather this, with my back busted and joints worn, than confined to some office — spoken by one master artisan he’d known. Self-deception?

“ Make sure to remind yourself of that position, once we get to work. There isn’t much book learning involved. “ He shifted on his seat, discarding the empty cup on the table. An errant glance sought the teapots in the distance, ruminant with the prospect of getting up for a refill, but frankly he was much too comfortable presently to do so. In a moment, perhaps—

He folded his arms, leaning heavy against the backrest.

“ You read a lot, do you not? “

"Ugh, sorry about that," Nere groaned out as the pain of the impact hit her.

The person Nere had run into was in good enough shape to crack a joke as she untangled herself from the wreckage, which Nere took as a good sign. A foot came up, blade and all, a little too close to Nere's nose. She parried the blow quietly, a brush of her forearm guiding the blade away. Soon enough, they were fully untangled.

Nere didn't get up right away. She rolled, coming to lay on her back against the ice, arms and legs spread flat. She was dazed, but not because of the fall.

"You alright, Nere?" Alex asked her.

"Yeah, just got distracted by the view," she responded.

The branches of the great tree held up hundreds of, maybe even a thousand, lanterns high above their heads. The impression was star-like. And higher still, the moons glowed, casting silhouettes in yellow and black. She lift her hand up, and measured the size of the moons with her thumb. They seemed closer than usual, but she had spent enough time looking off towards horizons that she knew it was just a trick of the landscape.

"I was reading about Illun Serath, on our way here," she voiced her thoughts out lout. "The moon elves have this story - they say that before founding the city, their ancestors lived underground. Those first elves followed the roots of the great tree Iunae up to the surface. And standing at the base of the tree -- because they'd never seen the night sky before -- they thought that the moons were big lanterns stuck in its branches. Didn't really make sense to me, until just now."

Nere spent another moment looking up at the marvellous sight, imagining what discovering the heavens for the first time must've been like. Eventually, she scooped herself up onto her hands and knees.

There, she encountered a problem. Her natural talent on the ice had allowed her to get this far without ever falling. She had no idea how to get back up onto her feet. Her balance was faulty, one blade drifting far to the side when she tried to heave her weight onto it. Slipping back down, she landed against one thigh.

Tried it again. Scraped to a seat, again.

"Sorry, just a second..."

Alexandra Alcantos Noa
"No more than shoulder width apart."

Her expression dulled to something more of a relaxed frown, a natural state on her facade. At least he was taking on her advice, at least that was what the dawnling assumed as he repeated her advice. Maybe it was the squires she did not like interacting with, as some often talked back or replied with unsavoury manners.

"And you will fall on your arse again." This she managed something that resembled a smile. "Many beginners get too ahead of themselves and the ice collects that token of pride you once held with slippery hands." She nodded to the ice, just as a clumsy squire built up speed before turning, but they panicked and attempted to come to a stop, only to topple over themselves.

Monroe clicked her tongue.

“Noa!” Cymbeline said. Noa refrained from sighing or groaning or any other noise that might have heart the Dawn Knight’s feelings. Syr Cymbeline was the sensitive sort, which didn’t make her weak, but made her too good for the world. It made her predictable in all the worst ways, and so Noa plastered a wide smile on her face and turned to Cymbeline’s voice. She didn’t ask for help but Cymbeline helped her up regardless.

A lantern, huh. Super cool.” Noa said as if she could picture it. She almost could, sort of, just in a different way from everyone around her. As if she could see it all too, Noa looked up. She didn’t see the branches, the lanterns or the moons. All she saw was the same darkness that she usually did. “Man, oh man, it’s beautiful.” Noa said. Cymbeline raised a pale brow but Noa let her grin linger.

Sorry for crashing into you ladies,” an arm was hooked into Cymbeline’s lanky limb and with ease Noa pulled the taller woman towards her. “Enjoy the festival. Bell, can you lead?” Noa couldn’t see the warmth in Cymbeline’s cheek, much like she couldn’t see the beauty that Nere had seen. But it didn’t matter, she felt the magic of it all just the same. Cymbeline said something too fast, surely some words of agreement and a quick farewell to the two strangers, and the two Knights were off. Seconds later, Cymbeline’s dulcet laugh echoed about the ice rink like a wind chime during winter winds.

Alexandra Alcantos Nere Ashorn
"You sure do have a way with words, you know that, sailor?" Alex said with a soft smile. Brawny brute that she was, that Nere had such a softness to her beneath it all. Well, it made Alex feel warm across the cheeks as she crossed her arms over her chest, and stared at the swamp born noble as she just, stared up at the stars. Almost like a kid at rest on a warm beach and not a pirate, fallen onto the ice.

The blind woman spoke up, mentioned the lantern, tilt her head up at a sky Alex was... pretty sure she couldn't see. But then, that hadn't stopped her from skating, had it?

Another woman appeared shortly after. The two seemed to know each other, and with her farewells given, the blind woman was off. Alex just, sorta watched her slowly make away. A laughter in her own chest, bubbled up, and grew all the louder when Nere stumbled to getting up.

Where Bell's laugh had been clear as silver ring, Alex's was throaty and brass warm.

Nere Ashorn
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Flame magick had a curious side effect. Heated the blood. Made the flesh run hot. So he half stepped a bit closer. Sure as sure could be. "There she is,"

His body language was - for the moment - unnoticed.


She pulled her arms in close to her chest, rubbing her own upper arms with her hands. Lorinna pulled her knees up to her chest and leaned her head back towards Hector.

"Can't believe I did felt so strange falling like that. As if I weighed nothing."
He smirked. "You were splashin around in there long enough," he teased, and fixed the towel about her shoulders. His arm looped around her, held her closer as she tried to bundle up and turn egg shaped. "Didn't seem to bother you none,"

He laughed, as her cold skin met his own. Warm to the point of hot as the mote of fire flickered and pulsed its heat. He leaned his head to rest against hers, and found himself in a gentle rock, from left to right.

"I knew you'd do it," he said in that sure way of the young. Showed his teeth in happy turn. "Was a proper rush," he blanked, and tilt his head a bit to the left and quirked his brow. "Felt I might've, dove funny on account of my asymmetry,"
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Arbok about faced at Gruki's suggestion and made for the rocks. Hauling herself up next to Alouette she dripped cold water onto freezing rock.
Her sound was exhilaration and joy.
"Wow, what a rush."
Turning to Alouette she saw how cold she was and sat closer. She was so full of energy as the water steamed off them and breath came out in heavy little mists.
"Hey, you were holding out on us. Never took you for the daredevil type. You got chops Lou."
Gruki was hauling herself up with a heavy slosh.
"Hey, Gruki."
Arbok nudged Alouette with her great arm.
"Dark horse here jumped first. Who saw that coming?"

Monroe was cold and blunt in her response. Difficult to deal with and acrid in tone, and unabashedly honest with her words. Yet as a pursuant, he felt obliged to regard th patience. Besides, this was the Festival of Lights, a time of mirth and celebration. If there was ever a time to try and find a glimmer of warmth, it ought be now.

And he did find it when a smile crossed her face, albeit followed by further sour words. At least it was a start.

"And you will fall on your arse again. Many beginners get too ahead of themselves and the ice collects that token of pride you once held with slippery hands." Monroe said. Osuin turned to follow the nod she gave, and was just in time to catch sight of the clumsy tumbling squire.

“Well that's the way of things, isn't it? It's only ice skating.” He replied, pausing before continuing. As a Pursuant, he also sought to serve as an example towards motivation and morale. Part of that service involved challenging her notions, regardless of the disgreement that might spark.

“There is more pride in trying than not, I'd say.” Osuin added. Perhaps he might convince her. And if not, he could at least honestly claimed he'd tried.

Her brow quirked as he turned the perspective on her words.

"I guess everyone wants different things in the end, and how they achieve it says a lot about them." No irritation or complacent tones were heard in what she said. It was a rare moment where Monroe spoke ill of her upbringing, or at least her veiled revelation.

"We should nurture those that aspire to try. You are right." Monroe was not unreasonable. Her time as a squire put it in place that not everyone had suffered what she had, but she never spoke a word of it. She learned to get by, to pretend she too was like everyone else despite her impatient nature. "But I believe that tough love can be educational. Creates discipline. I know not to make the mistake of stretching my legs wider on the ice because I criticized my own actions until I knew to be aware of it."

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Nacht's eyes lit up as Aarno looked at him mischeviously, considering his question. "Yeah, it does." He'd say with bravado. When Aarno told him to keep up the attitude during the actual thing, he'd chuckle ruefully.
“Listen, I haven’t been here for long, but nothing carpentry could throw at me is worse than a brisk little eight hour physical training early in the morning.” He’d chuckle, remembering a night he had come back tired as hell and unable to even enjoy the dark.

“I live in books some days. Yeah, I read a lot. Don't do it any more than a usual amount though most , given my life has become akin to a tale much like the ones I loved to read. Why do you ask? Are you secretly a bookworm yourself?" Briefly, the image of the two of them reading brought to mind two words: Book. Club. Ah, he could just imagine them sitting there looking smart already!

By the change in her expression, his words had found purchase — though it was a moment more before he'd see what effect they'd carried.

"I guess everyone wants different things in the end, and how they achieve it says a lot about them." She replied, and her tone remained rather amicable. Osuin was surprised, though he didn't doubt her. There was a benefit to her abrasiveness — he always knew where he stood with her.

"But I believe that tough love can be educational. Creates discipline. I know not to make the mistake of stretching my legs wider on the ice because I criticized my own actions until I knew to be aware of it." She replied, and it did cause Osuin to reflect some, but in a manner much different. The Knight Pursuit had been raised in poverty, and sought escape from enslavement that was much less subtle. Yet from different paths that each knew not, they had arrived to similar conclusions. A truth that it was only though self-criticism and elimination of fault that Osuin had progressed as he had, and the process was unending.

“Both fair and true.” He replied, returning smile over the moment of shared wisdom. “I can't deny your honesty. Hah, I suppose we learn through the same process then.” Osuin added. He couldn't deny that he had the exact same plan — just do it again until he'd learned better.

Scattered out on the ice were a handful of clumsy skaters with the exact same learning strategy

Monroe finally allowed a hint of amusement to colour her expression. "Then we can agree on the same principle, but in our own manner of perspective." He had given a worthy conversation, and braved to challenge Monroe in... well, a conversation to start.

"To be a beginner on the ice means you open yourself to be vulnerable to embarrassment. I don't like that feeling." Sliding her belongings into her pack, she got to her feet and moved past the other knight, to where some skates were left for use. She inspected the pairs, testing the the feel by hand before getting busy and removing her own boots to lace up her chosen pair of skates.

"Everyone would be the same flailing fool when they start, but that is only a start. We all need to be a vulnerable fool before we are gliding masters of the ice. Not everyone picks up a sword the same." Monroe stood, determined steps taking her to the ice, and with practiced balance, was able to slowly glide a distance before turning sharply to round onto the resting knight.

"Ready to look a fool again, Syr?"

An unchallenged attitude was as unreliable as an untested blade, and Osuin was quite glad for the exchange with Monroe. Patience had paid off with a valuable experience for both, and furthered respect for the Knight initially regarded as acrid.

“I understand. It's not a great feeling. But we are here among kindred friends, we've no need to fret over embarrassment.” Syr Osuin replied. For him, letting go of shame was a necessity of growth. He hadn't arrived as a brave and stalwart knight, but as a rebellious and frightened former slave. It was the training of the Order that had forged him, and so many more.

"Everyone would be the same flailing fool when they start, but that is only a start. We all need to be a vulnerable fool before we are gliding masters of the ice. Not everyone picks up a sword the same." Spoke Monroe, who had had her fill of sitting and began to move about. Osuin stayed seated, his skates still on.

“A truth there too. All have their beginnings.” Replied Osuin. Monroe’s revelation spoke to all learning something new. Skating had been a skill he’d been long due to learn, and this winter had seen him determined to do so.

"Ready to look a fool again, Syr?" She asked him.

“Hah! Never unready, to that end.” Syr Osuin mirthfully replied as he rose from the bench and strode off towards her, with clumps of snow crumbling off the blades of his skates at each step.

"Bother me none? When you've started got no option but to fall with a little grace. Easier with two little ears. Swimming then felt a better idea than sitting still and shivering."

Lorinna tilted into his warmth, chasing it. She also went after the simple comfort of him against her. She gave a little wiggle to draw herself closer.

Lorinna had spent years as a squire, but she had spent even longer as a wealthy daughter. She had become accustomed to a comfortable, warm fire after a bath.

"How do we get back up?"
Monroe waited with patience as he slowly made his way back to the unforgiving ice. Reaching into her pockets for her gloves, the dawnling casted her gaze to the others taking to the ice. Winter was one of her favourite seasons, and even the harshest storm could not be seen as a fault to her. Ice skating had been one of the first things she learned as a young, young girl, and every year, found the time to partake in the activity.

This was the first time she decided to give advice on perfecting a glide.

"Now... perhaps you should watch me first and note what I do." She backed away, slowly at first, before turning around and beginning to pick up speed. Knees bent, legs not any wider past her shoulders, and a perfect balance as she raced past others stumbling and clutching to one another. There was no need to do anything more than just taking a turn around the frozen lake, to demonstrate the very thing she advised him on.

As she came to a stop, shavings of ice kicked up and she stifled the small smile she wore. "Time to put your learning to the test."

“ Not really. “ He lied at the counter question, lips twisting with thought. “ Used to be, but I suppose a period of ardent studying soured me on the prospect of reading in general. Haven’t picked up anything for a while. “

And all that without considering the fact that the lines kept bouncing about under one’s gaze. Something that didn’t used to be.

“ Even back when I did it was largely non-fiction. With the occasional romance story — the more deplorable the better. “ Can skim to the good parts, unburdened by plot.

“ I imagine this diverges from your preferred genre? “

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Osuin made his awkward way onto the ice, moving with careful steps behind Monroe. His skates slid around, and he struggled to keep in place for a moment until he turned his heel. With the blades no longer parallel, he finally found some stability. He adjusted his stance with small, shuffling steps outwards, finding further stability when he did.

“Perhaps I should.” Osuin jovially replied, quite appreciative for the demonstration. Far from fancy, she still moved with grace and confidence that he too wished to have. She certainly made the activity look easy – but Osuin focused in on the details she'd just given him. She kept her feet wider than he had, but not too wide. It was more of a battle stance than a walking stance. That he could do.

"Time to put your learning to the test."

Whatever motion her turn made was slight and subtle, with the proper skating stance afforing her much more control. A lot of it seemed to be in the spacing and the knees, and these were kept as a priority in mind when Osuin stepped onto the ice. Starting from a stop, he began to pick up speed slowly, pushing the blades against the ice as she had but with a far lighter touch. Skating as fast as she had would take a greater degree of skill.

With Monroe's guidance though, he was already making substantial strides towards that goal.

“A good start, I'm steady.” Osuin remarked as she slowed down, making another stride to maintain his low speed towards her.

Syr Guernot's words of encouragement were met with a raised fist from Gruki. Of course, with one arm out of the water, she only had one in to keep her afloat. Kicking, hard, she struck out after her friends towards dry land. The ice water set a fire in her lungs, and the she-orc focused on breathing through her nose as she clawed and kicked, clawed and kicked.

All the way to the rocks. OIIIYE!

Struggling, weighted down by leaden, frozen muscles, Gruki chattered out a laugh as she heaved herself ashore. 'I c-c-certainly didn't!' She smiled. 'Now, can we g-go towel off? I think my f-feet are gonna fall off!' Gruki tried wiggling her toes. Sluggishly, as if roused from some deep slumber, they heeded her command, though only after they had been given ample time to think about it.

Gruki heard Lorinna's voice, faint against the backdrop of cascading water.

'We could climb aboard the boats,' she suggested, silvery droplets dappling her neck and shoulders like a starry cloak. 'Or we could clamber up the rocks but t-that seems silly, given our op-op... options!' Shrugging, she turned away from Lori and Hector, scooched a little closer to Lou and Arbok. Compared to the water's touch, their bodies were practically on fire.

Part and parcel of the jump, Gruki figured.

'I'd rather not go back in. And isn't the climb just another obstacle to be over... overco- oh, fuck it!'

Arbok Alouette Hector Lorinna Astarel
Cathmore came up three feet aside from him, eyes watching his knees and the stance he adopted. There was no frown, nor was there a smile, and without either indication, he could only assume Monroe did not disapprove.

"Good. Each turn we take on this ice, you should increase your speed. If someone before you is too slow or simply in your way, go around them." With a few strides, Monroe now was positioned before him, turning around to skate backwards after seeing the space ahead had been clear. "If you fall, come to a stop, or crash into someone..." Humour now awakened in her eyes, "that is a round of drinks for ourselves and whoever else joins in on the bet."

She turned, effortlessly gliding around a cluster of slow skaters before making a bee-line for the centre of the ice and cutting through the well worn track on the outskirts. Monroe slowed to come to the side of Osuin, wordlessly watching his strides. If he made even the most minor mistake, she would be quick to bring it to attention for correction.

The cold air stung his face as he raced across the frozen lake with fervor and whimsy. Unable to fully understand the braking mechanics of his newly found source of magic, he bounced off many on his path. Luckily his stature was hardly imposing. Being mistaken for a child gave agency to his more chaotic side. He dipped, ducked, dodged, and dodged some more, tearing a path to the robed figure. As he closed the gap, he began to pivot his feet inward, pizza, pizza, pizza. A breaking technique he learned from another squire while shredding the slopes of Jah'ackson a year back. It didn't work. The blocks of ice defied him as they collided with one another in an attempt to careen him off course. He began to slowly spin. Oh gods. Laughter followed by worry. He buckled down, bent his knees, and slowly pushed the blocks of ice outward, straightening his pose all the while feeding into the pirouette. As his advance slowed he raised his arms with welcome towards the fellow magician.

"Run out? Oh, don't worry. These vials have a run time of about an hour. Usually." His smile faded as he tried recalling the exact time stamp.

"Let us flaunt our ingenuity, friend. My name is Flyn." The figure before him found their feet and had begun their icy journey. Flyn snuck a cheeky cloak grab to propel him in the same direction. Shake n bake.

The cold had no such sensation for Sam, who admired silently the locomotion in the feet of their fellow ice walker. To move so, from instinct, or perhaps due training and diligence to balance, was far beyond Sam in their own estimation. More ponderous and restrained was Sam's venture onto the ice, yet steady was the hat to which they wore. Eyes set forward, all limbs in tandem with the magic coursing about themselves for virtue of their innate intuition on the raw stuff of magic so woven to make ways about the ice, Sam continued on with thoughts to think.

Flaunt ingenuity? Is that what I'm doing by taking the ice by spell instead of blades? Hm.

And then the grab of cloak, and Sam found themselves away, slightly tilted in posture by virtue of such encouragement. Still, balance was maintained as the ice gave elegant passage.

"My name is Sam Fairbridge," Sam said, some minor tremors of alarm and concentration melding in their voice as they applied their theory into practice, their boots gliding without blade, friction malleable for virtue of the spell.

"Where did you learn to do all those manoeuvres?" Sam asked tentatively, gloves upon their own cloak tails as they focused on the magic. A pulse of will here, a manipulation of friction there. For their first venture on the ice, Sam was doing better than most might. Gliding sedately, Sam did move, sticking close to wall for now, as the fundamentals were slowly being learned.

"Where did all this ice come from?" Sam asked, for they were used to seeing such a thing conjured and not form for virtue of their cloistered beginnings. Ice shards were a weapon to be used, or perhaps used to make a drink cooled, not pooled about for such expeditions.

Still, Sam thought, this was rather quaint a thing to do, and began to gain more cheer about themselves as disaster didn't reveal itself to be so close as Sam might have thought.

Flynbul Tosstopple

(Apologies for slow response!)
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Monroe certainly a strict teacher, yet an informative one at that. He could see her gaze roam down, inspecting his form and footwork. He knew well the expression she wore and the meaning behind it. It was the same as he wore when inspecting squires. Here on the frozen lake with Syr Cathmore however, he found the tables turned.

A method of learning he was quite happy to receive. From the talent she displayed, he was clearly learning from an experienced teacher. She was skating far better than the others were. Despite her scrutiny towards his form, she had yet to make a remark or comment – which implied that he hadn't made a mistake worthy of correction, yet.

“Starting slow, naturally.” He'd begun with a push-start before, to begin with momentum he found difficult to obtain otherwise. An erroneous assumption, he realized, now that Monroe had shown him more proper form. Skating faster however, remained a bit of a challenge. Osuin could get up to moderate speed, but though his knees were bent and his feet well-spaced, he wasn't properly pushing into his strides. In part from inexperience, and in part from concern of losing control, his form still had some room for improvement.

Compared to his last attempt though, Osuin was absolutely doing well, and he found it a pleasant surprise.

Monroe turned around to skate in reverse as if it was a natural movement to make. It sure looked that way for Monroe. Osuin felt quite sure that any attempt he made to move backwards would result in him falling right down.

“I've made my peace with the first two. That last penalty sounds costly.” Osuin remarked with a mirthful grin, adjusting his posture slightly to maintain the stance he'd been taught.

“Either way, I'd say I owe you a drink for the lessons.” He added, following along as she led the way, skating backwards before him.

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