Private Tales Platinum and Blood

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Mars Pallatrix

Proctor
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32
Character Biography
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Iron Maiden.

Epithets were a great honor bestowed upon the most renowned, successful Dreadlords. It was a testament to an individual's might and reserved for those that have committed only the most heinous of atrocities against their fellow man. So, when Mars Pallatrix learned that Noel's peers had begun calling her the Iron Maiden, he thought it to be utterly ridiculous. She was good, but only for her age. For heaven's sake, the girl couldn't even manipulate iron.

With the changing times and pressure from above, he overlooked these trivial affairs. Let these kids play with their nicknames, he told himself. Once thrust forth into the real world and after witnessing true strength, they would play no further.

Thok. Thok-thok. Thok-thok-thok.

Some of the most spacious rooms in the castle were utilized for weapons training and sparring. As Mars walked the halls, he stopped outside of one such room, where Noel, ever diligent, trained alone. Several dummies lined the walls, as did racks that carried all manners of weapons. At the middle of it all was the Iron Maiden, who had pulled out a single dummy and was practicing on it.

For a while, the old Proctor let her be. Then, her movements slowed, and as she finally stopped to catch her breath, he spoke.

"Never leave your back to an open door," Mars' cold voice echoed off the walls. The man always walked with a powerful gait, but his footfalls were deathly quiet as he stepped into the room. The Proctor stopped a comfortable distance away from Noel. "This is a free period. Most of your classmates are outside."

He could tell when the girl had something she wanted to say but had reservations in saying it.

"You may speak your mind."
 
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Noel

Iron Maiden
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147
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Whacking away at wooden practice dummies was quickly becoming the norm for how Noel spent her free periods. More and more of the initiates were spending the time resting or they’d refuse to spar with the onyx-haired girl. Worse still, a few of them were taking to hobbies like calligraphy or painting during the time.

Such a waste.

After another series of strikes she took a deep breath in and relaxed her shoulders. She’d grab a towel, wipe the sweat from her brow, and then-

Pallatrix’s voice came as a surprise, her control just barely able to resist taking a step back. She tensed again, it was impossible to be relaxed in the presence of Proctors. Especially the ones that pre-dated the revolution, the ones who actually knew what they were doing. And then came his admonishment for the open door.

”Yes sir, it won’t happen again.”

The next piece of prose was more difficult to respond to. Was it a trap? A test? Before the upheaval it was clear why the initiates were here. To better themselves as warriors, to become living weapons. There wasn’t time for individuality or thought. They received orders, took orders, and failure was punished until the very concept of failing had become a foreign idea. But now they had free periods. They were encouraged to share their opinions in history courses. They had poetry classes every Tuesday with Proctor Rivas.

Noel’s nose scrunched, lips went thin. ”Overseer Iver,” one of the non-magically inclined guardsmen whose only purpose seemed to revolve around reporting the going-ons of the academy to the military, ”he indicated that we could spend our free periods as we wish.”

”I choose to spend mine improving.”
She had a long way to go if she was going to become an Archon one day.
 
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Mars Pallatrix

Proctor
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32
Character Biography
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Mars could have spit. Clarence Iver, whose only talents were paper-pushing and browning his nose with the shit of his superiors.

"Improving," Mars quietly echoed and began pacing around the room, fingers outstretched to touch hilts and handles of racked weapons as he walked past them. "In the last year, you are among the very few who have kept their dedication to improvement."

The Proctor stopped.

"What are your goals, Schwarz? Your ambitions?"

Did he want to help her reach her target? Yes. Would he voice this desire? Absolutely not.

Mars, who in Noel saw vast potential, knew she needed subtle guidance to reach her peak. None of these buffoons could provide the instruction she needed. However, Mars, who clawed his way to the top despite having what his superiors deemed inferior magic, could.
 
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Noel

Iron Maiden
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147
Character Biography
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”My goals?” A quizzical look shaded her expression.

Noel watched the Proctor like a hawk as he paced across the floor. The academy had trained her to become her best self. Strong, intelligent, obedient, and prior to last year it had encouraged her to be ruthless. Sometimes to the point of bloodthirst.

But with all of the psychological evaluations and other changes the recent shifts in the program had introduced, no one, especially not a Proctor from the ‘old ways’, had ever asked her what she wanted.

A gulp of saliva forced its way down her throat. ”Sir, I want,” to become the youngest Archon in Vel Anir’s history? To surpass every Dreadlord who came before me? No, a reasonable answer that was grounded in reality would best serve her here. ”I’d like to become stronger. Better than the rest of the class.”

She mentally braced herself, prepared for the aged Proctor to lash out or criticize her answer.
 
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Mars Pallatrix

Proctor
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32
Character Biography
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"Your goals," he said again. There were many things that Mars would disdainfully regard, and only a few that roused in him annoyance to an irrationally high degree: an untidy workspace, answering a question with a question, and repeating himself.

Noel had done one and made him do another. The Proctor's eyebrow twitched.

It was beneficial to her that her answer was to Mars' satisfaction. Ever so subtly, the hard lines of his face softened. The two were not so different; they were exceptionally skilled individuals held back by the grand designs of fate. If Mars had been born with Arne Kellmir's abilities, he would be standing as the apex of Anirian might. He did not doubt such thoughts had also crossed Noel's mind at some point. But, alas, one must play with the hand they are dealt.

"Speed," he raised his thumb, "and application," his forefinger. She had been seeking to improve the former for some time - he was keenly aware of this. It was something she could train on her own and would no doubt raise her stock, but what Mars believed would truly set her apart would be a more creative application of her present abilities, which would only come from experience.

"If it is strength you seek, Schwarz, you will find it. This room, every evening. Starting tomorrow."

The tail of his coat whipped as he turned to exit the room.

*****
The evening of the following day, as Noel would arrive at the agreed-upon room, Mars would be awaiting her. He stood, menacingly, in the middle of the room, wearing an old, white lace-up tunic tucked into black trousers. Dangling from his waist was a sword and plain dagger.

He'd been standing there for an outrageously long time.
 
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Noel

Iron Maiden
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147
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Noel could see the patience on the proctor’s face fading from the twitch of his brow. She’d been here since she was a small girl and over time you got to read the minor gestures that proctor’s would make before they became irate. Pallatrix was one of the good ones, or at least, one of the ones who didn’t seem to entertain himself by senselessly beating children. Though, there wasn’t any part of her that wished to test him as she’d learned long ago that you never made a proctor angry with you.

Mars used his thumb and forefinger to count off her shortcomings whilst she stared at him, eyes focused. She nodded vigorously, night sky hairs twirling from the motion, when he suggested training every evening. ”Understood,” she offered while waiting precisely enough time for the proctor to walk down the hallway before leaving the room.

What had she gotten herself into?



Throughout the following day Noel had been required to attend a seminar on the principles of fighting unarmed against an armed opponent. Afterwards there was the mandatory sparring, magical focus training, a free period (which she spent whacking away against yet another wooden combat dummy), and even a brief talk about how to process your feelings when taking a life. Riveting stuff. A long day… that was supposed to culminate in a private lesson with proctor Pallatrix.

However, as the sun began to set Overseer Iver stopped the initiate while she was on her way towards the training room. “Ah, Initiate Schwarz, you’re not in your dormitory?” A head shook and she spoke as frankly as she could manage. ”No sir, a bit more practice before bed.”

“Very good but don’t push yourself too hard,” he added before jotting something down on his parchment and walking off.

Once she had entered the training room she spotted the proctor that had offered help. Assistance towards her goal of reaching Archon as quickly as possible. With a stoic face she pulled her platinum staff from its holster on her back and stared down the teacher before her.

Had he been waiting long? She couldn’t quite tell and it was disarming to just stand there in the silence.[/hr]
 
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Mars Pallatrix

Proctor
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32
Character Biography
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"No restrictions," Mars flatly stated. "Use whatever tactics, tricks, and magics you desire."

His sword rasped against its scabbard as he drew it. Though not a man that clung to material things, the blade was something of a treasure to him. It was an elegantly crafted weapon, its steel appearing to glow as torchlight danced off the blade. The edge was perfectly sharp and made it his ideal tool for separating mens' souls from their bodies.

"Should you fight with even a mite less than what you are capable, I will not be merciful. Consider your life to be on the line, Schwarz, and fight like it."

Mars folded his off-hand behind his back and took a sideways stance towards Noel, and the point of his sword snapped into place as he raised his arm.
 
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Noel

Iron Maiden
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147
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Consider her life to be on the line? A smirk tugged on the corner of her lips. It had been nearly one year since any of the proctors issued such a warning. Since she had truly felt like death was a possibility within the walls of the academy.

Noel’s face returned to stone as she stood slightly and sized the man up.

Then, in a fraction of a second a platinum ring expanded from her back and curled its way around the fingers of her right arm. It protruded outwards and elongated into a staff, the end of it quickly creating a triangular spear tip. Simultaneously, the silvery-colored gauntlet on her left wrist warped itself and formed a large circular shield. Armed with a spear and shield her legs widened into a fighting stance.

Her gaze narrowed as she pointed the end of her spear towards Pallatrix, issuing a step towards him. Three of the strips of platinum that made up her skirt detached and floated up, circling around her body and forming sharp edges on their tips. She didn’t have the focus yet to control more floating platinum without sacrificing her skills with the polearm. Nor did she possess the control to fling them faster than a light toss, which would be easily deflected by someone like Mars Pallatrix.

Still they served a purpose as she approached the proctor, steps ramping up in speed, the floating pieces of metal keeping pace and moving forward with her momentum. Noel held her breath before lunging forward with a thrust of her spear aimed at her opponent’s center. All three pieces of platinum soared idly towards Mars as well, at different angles from the spearhead.

Noel raised her shield slightly, anticipating a dodge and preparing to parry a counter.
 
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Mars Pallatrix

Proctor
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32
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Mars, who was at a sore disadvantage regarding range, forsook his sideways stance and drew his dagger with his free hand.

Ever so subtly, the Proctor shuffled his feet back as the Apprentice took the initiative. Were he sufficiently armored, he could let the sharp plates orbiting Noel bounce off of him, but even with their current speed, they would tear through his tunic like paper.

Mars skipped back as Noel reached the full length of her lunge, aggressively parried the spearhead down with his sword and dagger, and swiftly deflected two of the platinum shards, dodging the third. His footwork was efficient, and the Proctor did not miss a beat, and as Noel pulled the spear back, Mars danced around her side and tested her with a quick thrust of his sword.
 
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Noel

Iron Maiden
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147
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He had deflected not one but two of her shards of platinum. They scampered off across the flooring, moving too far away for her abilities to summon them back. Then, lightning quick, he countered as she predicted but the move came even faster than she had anticipated.

Luckily, her shield was positioned to deflect the strike but it set her off balance and forced her back two steps. Noel took in heavy breaths as she stared down her opponent. This was the reason every initiate feared the Proctors. No matter how much 'better' you believed your magic to be, no matter how many hours you trained, the Proctors had seen all of this play out hundreds of times prior. It was like trying to fight a mountain.

No matter how much effort you put in, no matter how hard you tried, it was hopeless.

Noel wasn't one to give up, she twisted her toe inward and flung just her spear forward towards his left leg, leaving her last floating piece of platinum available incase she needed it to defend herself.
 
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Mars Pallatrix

Proctor
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32
Character Biography
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What Mars found most fearsome about Noel's ability was not its versatility but rather the fact that there were no apparent tells; the magic worked with just her mind and needed little to no setup to work. Though still green, he was still wary of any tricks she might be hiding.

Despite that, he backstepped and avoided the swipe with relative ease, though now he was back at a distance that favored the Apprentice. The Proctor's eyes flicked between the shards that had skittered across the floor and made mental notes of where they were positioned. Was it that she wouldn't or couldn't control them?

Mars' features remained unstirred as he began to circle Noel, his weapons lowered by his sides, and his gaze set firmly on her like a predator ready to pounce on its meal.

The aging Proctor shuffled forward, sword outstretched and ready to swat her spearhead away, dagger primed to strike any opening. Then, like a viper, Mars lunged and unleashed a flurry of swift, light cuts and thrusts.
 
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Noel

Iron Maiden
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147
Character Biography
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Proctor Pallatrix was a vicious opponent to behold. Noel had believed, perhaps foolishly, that he had committed an error when he stepped backwards to avoid her strike. It was an aggressive maneuver to lunge forward like that but many of the other initiates would come to the same logical conclusion of stepping away to avoid the strike. Which was, precisely, what she'd want them to do. At range she held an advantage with her polearm which was a fact most of the other trainees discovered far too late.

But Mars didn't try to instantly recover the ground he had lost, as many of her classmates had in the past.

Instead he eyed her up, similarly to the time she had seen a pack of wolves circle a deer in the wilderness. Then he moved, faster than she would've expected for someone his age, and in a whirlwind of motions to boot. She used her shield to block the first slash of his blade, her spear to try and inflict injury but he switfly avoided it.

Soon he was too close, her spear was less helpful in this proximity and she didn't have the time to manipulate the metal into a club. Noel tried swinging her shield to knock her foe back, regain her advantage, but in the process her legs suffered no less than three cuts from the Proctor's dagger.

Eventually she managed to break away by using the last piece of floating platinum to strike back at his daggered hand while pushed off from his sword with her shield. Noel breathed in deep blows while the sting of her cuts weighed on her mind and blood slowly dripped onto the training floor.
 

Mars Pallatrix

Proctor
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32
Character Biography
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The platinum shard was handled with relative ease but opened his guard, leaving the Proctor unprepared to take the push head on. Mars took three stumbling steps back before he regained his balance. It was the right decision for her to retreat. Apprentice blood would have soaked the stone beneath them if she pressed on.

The Proctor's guard dropped, and his posture straightened. The lines of Mars' face rarely softened, and this was no special occasion. Despite that, his normally baleful gaze regarded Noel with some form of sincerity.

"You do not make the most out of your magic, Schwarz." He sheathed his weapons and began to pace, thoughtfully stroking his beard.

"Your way of fighting lacks gaps and is perfectly textbook, but that makes you predictable. It might work against your peers, who lack experience, but even Proctor Nellis would make quick work of you." A one-armed man whose only role was overseeing the infirmary. His healing magic was potent but extremely painful to experience. "When you are out there, your enemies will not understand your capabilities, such as I do."

He stopped and pointed to each of the shards scattered around them.

"They would make a great trap, no? And your spear, could you suddenly change the trajectory of the point to evade an opponent's guard?"

Of course, none of that would work against Mars, but he was to prepare her for the future.

"If you give your opponent an abundance of information to process, you will create countless openings to exploit."
 
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Noel

Iron Maiden
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147
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Oxygen filled Noel's lungs as she tried to regain her composure, prepared to go on another strike, only to see the elder Proctor put away his blade. A mixture of disappointment and relief ran up her spine. She'd have liked to try again, perhaps a different approach would yield victory. Yet the sense of relief washed over her as she realized what she had known from the onset. She never really stood a chance.

She took in the criticism in stride, eventually letting the platinum shield and spear resume their normal shapes.

"I am still struggling to control metal when in the heat of combat," it was why she was visiting Proctor Mikhail so often. His control over fire magic was practically legendary and his ability to instruct others to master their abilities had cemented his role at the academy decades before Noel was born.

"But," she started as she made firm eye contact with the tutor, "I can re-direct the direction and velocity of my spearhead." Although her speed wasn't where she'd have liked it to be.

One of her black eyebrows lurched upwards and she dared ask a clarifying question, "you're suggesting I should have waited before floating the shards?"
 
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Mars Pallatrix

Proctor
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32
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"I am still struggling to control metal when in the heat of combat."

"In due time."

"But I can re-direct the direction and velocity of my spearhead."

As he attentively listened to Noel, Mars' pacing took him to one of the shards, which he knelt to pick up and turn in his hand.

"Though you wish to be faster," he seemed to echo her thoughts. "Raw speed is, of course, a valuable characteristic to possess, but timing is just as important." Perhaps even more. Mars, who could only briefly mantle his abilities, understood how impactful strategic timing could be.

"You're suggesting I should have waited before floating the shards?"

"I am suggesting,"
he stood up and flicked the shard towards Noel's feet. It skipped across the stone floor and bounced off the sole of her shoe before coming to a stop in front of her, "that your enemies will never suspect a blade in the back."

He squinted at the girl.

"I will train you hard, girl, until the day comes you force me to use my magic."
 
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Noel

Iron Maiden
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147
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"I'm ready," Noel's jaw was held tight, her gaze unflinching.

For some students the challenge from Pallatrix likely would have been unsettling. Since they were so small they stood beneath his knee they'd viewed all of the Proctors as if they were gods. Impossible beings to overcome who had bested them, in some cases tortured them, and who seemed to possess everything the average student lacked.

For Noel this was another challenge to overcome. If she was ever going to accomplish her goals of becoming the most powerful Dreadlord from her class, become the youngest Archon in the history of Vel Anir, she'd need to be able to dispose of Mars Pallatrix. As well as every other Proctor at the academy.

If he was offering to help her improve? All the more reason to take him up on that offer.

The next time they sparred she'd be sure to try and fling a shard of platinum directly into the back of his spine. If he wasn't powerful enough to defend against it then he wasn't worthy of teaching her anything.
 
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Mars Pallatrix

Proctor
Messages
32
Character Biography
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Several days passed where Mars would relentlessly drill Noel, and the two conversed almost casually about her improvement, but they did not spar until nearly a fortnight later. It was clear the Proctor had taken no small amount of time and painstakingly crafted a regimen specifically for the girl.

During the eve of their next spar, Mars found himself practicing his style on the dummies. He had finished minutes before Noel arrived, and a healthy sweat formed on his brow and gave his skin a shine.

"Let me see you try to catch me sinister," he said, pinching the blade of his sword in one hand. Mars let it go and dropped the smallsword at his side before raising it in his stance. Dagger held tightly in his left. "I'll warn you; I'll be pressing you harder today. There's a warning you'd not get from a real enemy."

Eyes widened like a predator, and his demeanor tensed. His intensity was sobering.

"Now guard!"

He swiftly thrust his sword at her clavicle, pulled back in a feint, and slashed at her shoulder.
 
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Noel

Iron Maiden
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The training had been intense, reminiscent of what she'd experienced before the revolution. A part of her had longed for such things. Training that straddled the line between excessive and dangerous. She'd found that it had always made her stronger, better, and more focused.

Now the Proctor stood before her. Noel readied herself and took in a deep inhale of oxygen.

Since her previous defeat they had yet to spar again. She understood why, in her own training regiment when she had bested another student so badly as for it to be embarrassing she avoided sparring with them again until they proved themselves. Her loss at the hands of Mars Pallatrix, while expected, had been one-sided and the harsh training he had provided was meant to prepare her.

"Right," she replied before he exclaimed for her to guard.

She took up a stance quickly, legs apart, a towering shield being created from her platinum skirt. He had critiqued her that she too often relied on blocking or parrying when simple evasion could sometimes be the best practice. Taking those words to mind she moved deftly to the side to avoid his first strike near her upper torso.

But then the teacher pulled back and instead came at her shoulder.

Just barely she managed to raise her shield and deflect the attack, far too winded to counter. Despite the training she was against a man who had spent three of her lifetimes perfecting his craft.
 
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Mars Pallatrix

Proctor
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32
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Mars' sword skittered against her shield. It was a light blow, hardly enough to throw the girl off balance, but that meant for a quick recovery on the Proctor's part. Sidesword retracted, dagger lashed out. Quick, alternating blows between main and off-hand clattered against Noel's shield as an unfriendly reminder of Mars' presence.

He would attack from all angles, mixed in feints, and dance around the girl with efficient footwork. Though retired from active duty for well over a decade, it was like he'd never lost his edge. His moves were precise and wasteless; each blow meant to maim or kill. And despite that, Noel held her ground brilliantly.

In just a week of his careful direction and hard lessons, Noel had passed the threshold and begun her journey to greater heights. She always had the drive for it, just no one to truly give her what she needed. Guidance.

Mars pushed harder and harder, ever on the advance with a flurry of cuts and thrusts.
 
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Noel

Iron Maiden
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Every movement was perfect, ferocious, and she could barely keep her head above water. She'd improved immensely in the short time that Mars had been training her but he was far fiercer, far more precise, than any of her classmates. It was like sparring simultaneously with Fermin and Edric. Maybe even more intense.

A block of her shield deflected on blade only for it to be replaced by two more strikes in quick succession. And those were replaced by a dizzying array of additional counterattacks.

Finally, as if realizing that his next strike likely would've found its way into her flesh, the Proctor relented and allowed the black-haired student a reprieve. By the time the assault was over Noel was heaving oxygen through her lungs

"Proctor Pallatrix," she said as she wiped the sweat off her brow, "why did you become a proctor at the academy?"

There was no judgement in the question, only curiosity, as Noel believed him to be far stronger than she. At least for now. However, she couldn't think of a worse fate than hitting a wall with her own abilities and having her only option be to return here decades later. To this terrible place.
 
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Mars Pallatrix

Proctor
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They had moved to the weapon racks along the wall. There was a water basin between the door and the first row of swords. Mars splashed his face there.

A long silence. The intensity of it is sobering.

"It isn't exactly play you'll be doing, come a year from now."

The aging Proctor frowned down at the water, its surface disturbed. Oh, the poor girl, and how she must soon assume her womanhood and enter a contract of brutal caution. For as long as these children could remember, they had used cruel means to prepare them. Oh, how they'd failed.

"My magic," he dipped his hand into the basic. Slowly waved it around. "Is foresight. Pre-initiative, if you will."

The Academy was a place for broken men and women to continue and make themselves useful on the backlines when their time at the front ended. Of all of the Proctors that wore their disfigurements and injures for all to see, Harkenov with that limp in her gait, Amoto the burns all over his body, and Arne Kellmir with that missing leg of his, Mars was the only one without any apparent disabilities.

"I have never been cut by an enemy," he admitted.

And yet, there he was. And there was that silence again.

"I am here because I am coward, Schwarz," he admitted a truth. "It is as simple as that." And a lie.
 
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Noel

Iron Maiden
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Noel waited with bated breath as Pallatrix played out the quiet. She couldn't tell if it was a difficult subject for him to speak on, if he was pausing for dramatic effect, or if he was annoyed at the question itself.

After an eternity he spoke and she listened.

As she listened wrinkles began to form across her forehead. A coward? That didn't seem right to her, not with the way he fought. It was intense and unrelenting. And he'd always managed to avoid her own strikes, which, now made sense as he revealed his magic to her.

"That doesn't," she stopped herself. Noel hadn't made it this far at the academy without learning a few things. Chief among them was to not call a Proctor a liar. "I mean, I see."

Failure wasn't in her DNA. And while she respected Mars she couldn't help but think of a life at the academy, working as a Proctor, as being a failure. Not when her dreams were so lofty, her goals so high.

She swallowed and stared at Proctor Pallatrix. "I know there will be dangers after graduation, likely ones I'm not even aware of." The world had changed so much since the revolution. "But I, well, I have to be ready for it. I want to," no there wasn't enough conviction in the word, 'want.' There was a much better to way to phrase it...

"I'm going to become an Archon." The youngest in Vel Anir's history if she could manage.