Lessons Begin


Max.jpg Jhorn.jpg

Date: 2011.04.13
Location: EW - Top Paddock
Synopsis: Max finally makes good on his promise to teach Jhorn how to fight.
Rating: PG
Logger: Max

Late afternoon sees the hot, southern sun beating down on bowl and forest alike. Jhorn passes the pens at a slow walk, observing the milling animals inside and watching the skies for the potential of seeing an actual feeding. No such luck today though.

His wandering pace continues as he enters the area set aside for managing the weyr's beasts, curiosity casting his dark gaze over weyrfolk and animals going about their daily business. Muscles and dirt. The tang of straw and sweat. Senses in over-drive he eventually catches the eye of a buff fellow walking by with a shovel in hand and asks directions for finding Max.

Late afternoon would usually find Max out and about checking on the progress of work as the day starts to draw toward an end. Today however, he’s in his office pouring over a map, brows pressed toward each other in a frown of concentration. The buff fellow that Jhorn approaches lifts a brow and gives the lad a long looking over before uttering an unintelligible grunt and thrusting his chin the way of the beast manager’s quarters.

Nonplussed in the least by the stoic manner of the directions, Jhorn thanks the man heartily and heads for the office, his steps a little quicker now that his goal nears. Pausing in the doorway he watches Max for a moment, noting the man's concentration, then clears his throat with purposeful volume.

With the energy of the beast caverns ebbing and flowing as ‘hands move about their daily tasks, it’s only when Jhorn clears his throat that the beast manager glances toward the doorway and a smile appears. “Jhorn, you came,” as if perhaps Max maybe doubted the young lordling’s determination to train under him. “Come in,” he beckons as he rolls the map up and sets it back to the tube lying on his desk. Propped against the door side of his desk is an open carrysack with what contents are visible, proving to be rolls of bandages and what looks suspiciously to be a leather flight helmet though it appears to be misshapen in the area that would cover the ears.

Once acknowledged, Jhorn doesn't hesitate to step fully into the BeastMaster's lair, his head swinging left and right as he takes it all in with sponge-like curiosity. Among other things, he spies bandages and a helmet and his heartbeat quickens. What has he gotten himself into?

Among the youths he schools with rumors abound concerning Max - hints that there was more to the tough-eyed, dark-haired man than just managing the weyr's livestock. It was an irresistable mystery for someone with a bent for romanticizing adventure. So with whispers of getting fed to the wherries should he fail still ringing in his ears, Jhorn sought his first lesson.

"We agreed," he answers matter-of-factly to Max's tone of doubt. With his grandfather and father both in good health it doesn't appear he'll be Holding anytime soon but still the mantle of leadership has been dutifully ingrained since the day he was born. Responsible to a fault, their training arrangement was a committment he wouldn't miss.

Unaware of the whisperings and speculation that might surround him amongst the youth down at Landing, likely spurred on by offhand comments made by young Nikro no doubt, Max casts a glance over Jhorn’s attire as if to determine whether or not the lad was going to need to change before his training session or not.

A nod of head is then given to there having been an agreement in place, “Aye, that we did.” Approval evident in his tone for the teen having met the commitment made. He then moves to the private area of his makeshift quarters. Speaking as he draws his shirt over his head, “In what areas did your tutors instruct you? Sword, knife, bow, fists, staff?” Max hands out several options for Jhorn to respond as he changes from everyday work clothes into a pair of black shorts and a white sleeveless vest type affair, attire that will afford more ease of movement than what he had been wearing.

Jhorn has donned an outfit that he deemed suitable for the lesson, much to Kaskan's amusement as he sent the boy on his way. Technically speaking it should work: dark trousers cut of a tougher material with a loose, flowing shirt in hunter green belted around his trim waist. What brought a slight smirk to his guardian's face, however, was the unmistakable quality of the clothes. Obviously made specifically for Jhorn the cut and style compliment his growing wiry frame perfectly, finely detailed stitching adding elegant touches that betray a skilled crafter's touch. To the Southern Boll scion these are playclothes.

While Max changes, Jhorn takes advantage of the chance to wander. Slow, idle steps move him about the room while dark eyes roam curiously over the various items kept by the Beastmaster. Fingers itching to touch, he keeps them clasped behind his back. “Bow and knife mostly,” he calls back over his shoulder. A touch of pride there. “And staff - though nothing like I've seen Kaskan do.” Whimsy. “Some sword, though only wooden ones.” Disdain. “Nothing of fists…” Tentative pause is thick with hope. “Could you teach me that?”

Having sat down on the edge of his mattress (yeah, still no bed frame, folks) to lace the Pernese equivalent of running shoes, Max glances up at Jhorn a faint glimmer of amusement in his eyes for the lad’s chosen attire. “You ain’t worried about getting’ those mussed up?” He keeps the amusement out of his tone however, realizing his world is very different to the one that Jhorn comes from and not wishing to cause the lad any discomfort.

For a moment or two, he’s quiet, watching as the teen takes in his quarters and then offers wryly, “It ain’t much, but its home.” Even although he could likely afford the best rooms at the tavern down at Landing, what he has at the Weyr suits his purposes for the time being.

Standing and crossing over to retrieve the carrysack leaned against his desk, “Fists eh?”

The crooked grin that fits into place suggesting he’d assumed that might be the option Jhorn would choose. Tipping his head toward the doorway, “Right then, let’s get this show on the road.” And he takes off at a jog, simply expecting the teen to not only follow but keep up with him. Down the wide aisle of the beast caverns, out into the bowl and then up toward a paddock at the topmost part of the Weyr that’s screened by a line of trees.

Glancing down at his clothes, Jhorn shrugs, his sheltered upbringing showing through in cheerful ignorance. "S'ok, they're not my good ones." Even away from home and the watchful eyes of those concerned with propriety he maintains an innate awareness of his appearance, though he may well be adjusting his opinion of what's suitable after a vigorous workout.

Jhorn maintains his serious composure up until Max nods and starts out ahead of him. He really wasn't sure what to expect from the mysterious man - whether he'd stick more with traditional training or be willing to show Jhorn some of the edgier or more advanced things he was dying to know but considered too young or too ranked to learn. A wide smile erupts then, beaming across his youthful face like the first beams of morning sun. "Right!" he chirps enthusiastically and trots out after Max instantly, keeping practically on the man's heels all the way to the paddock.

The distance from beast caverns to paddock, while not too far, is enough to get the blood going and warm limbs, which likely had been the point. Breathing shallow, though not heavy and barely a sweat broken, Max slows and then comes to a halt under the shade of the trees where a feed bag hangs from one of the lower branches. The carrysack is slid off his back and dropped to one side and then he puts an assessing glance over Jhorn to see how the lad has faired with the run.

“So,” he says hunkering down and unpacking two rolls of bandages and the oddly shaped flight helmet, “you ever been in a fight with one of the other lads? Had someone push you around or needed to defend yourself?” In a bid to ascertain what if any experience Jhorn might have in terms of hand to hand combat. And then he beckons for the lad to come closer. “Hold out your hands like this,” he demonstrates by extending a hand palm down with fingers splayed.

Jhorn arrives in high spirits despite the slight sweat weighing down his straight, dark hair, his clothing making a difference already in the southern heat . His breathing is quick, but just as much from excitement as from exersion. Youthful energy courses through his veins, not at all intimidated by the temperature. Stopping beneath the tree he watches Max unpack while rocking on his heels. A shade of chagrin colors his voice as he replies honestly, swallowing the temptation to brag. “No. Came close once… but he backed down.” Moreso because adults intervened and the other lad was immediately transferred to another hold but his pride holds on to that detail. Expression flowing from pinched to stern he reflects both youthful exuberance and future Lord Holder calm like an open book.

Stepping forward as Max gestures he lifts his arms and holds out his hands as requested, coal black eyes intense with eager curiosity.

With Jhorn’s hands held out, Max takes one of them and starts binding it with a bandage while he listens. Lacing the strip of cloth through the fingers, over the knuckles and across the back of the hand several times before neatly tying it off, he then moves to the other hand. What he says might come as a surprise to the teen, “Always best to try and avoid a scuffle if you can. Problem is some just ain’t up to hearing reason.”

With Jhorn’s hands now bound, Max stands, takes out another two rolls of bandages and starts deftly binding his own hands. That done he cants his head toward the feed bag hanging from the branch, a crooked grin in place, “You ready?” He doesn’t wait for a reply instead, closing his own hand into a fist, the lesson begins, as he notes, “Never ever, close your thumb into your fist for that’s surest way to get it broke. Always keep it on the outside.” Several more tips are given ending with, “Keep your body relaxed and your weight balanced on the balls of your feet, that way you can more easily move about and sidestep your opponent’s blows.”

Without further ado, Max moves and braces his shoulder against the back of the bag, getting a firm grip on it to avoid it swinging about too much and gives a Jhorn nod, “Now hit it.”

Expression as serious as the Red Star, Jhorn watches how the bindings are applied and nods crisply at each new piece of advice, murmuring sounds of acknowledgment. The sucking sound of a sponge drawing in water is nearly audible as the boy soaks in every detail, determined not to miss the smallest minutia of the lesson he's wanted for so long. Once wrapped, he stretches tapered fingers then curls them inward testing the tautness and restriction of the bandages.

As Max braces himself behind the hanging bag and directs Jhorn to hit it a wide smile lights up the boys face, edges tipped with mischief. Having seen fights even if he hasn't participated in any, he has a glorified image of a fighter's stance. Hunching broad shoulders he ducks his head slightly and steps up to the bag, putting one foot in front of the other and rocking back and forth between the two with a prancing bob. Feeling confident he juts one hand forward, thumb out as instructed, and smacks it into the front of the bag.

“Ha!” he declares, beaming.

The stance that Jhorn takes to has Max working hard to contain the amusement that wells up behind a carefully bland mask, the lad’s enthusiasm contagious. All allowed to present in a grin once the teen’s fist makes first connection with the feedbag. “Not bad. Now use a left, right, left, left, right combination. Throw the punches from your shoulder and change your footing as you change fists so that you step into each hit. That way you’re putting your whole body into it. Boxing,” he adds, “is like a Gather dance except that you’ll be fighting each other for the right to lead. The trick is to always draw your opponent in. Make him do all the hard work and come to you.” A few more tips are given on posture and stance and then Max nods for Jhorn to begin.

“The kidneys, the diaphragm, the nose, are all soft spots. Protect yours and aim for your opponent’s. If you get the shot in, don’t get cocky and relax your guard, get brutal and keep at him. Don’t give him a chance to recover for he’ll come at you madder’n a bull just castrated.” This the running monologue as he braces for Jhorn to carry out his instructions.

Jhorn grows serious again, or at least as serious as a teenage boy can get while sizzling with excitement. Bouncing on his heels as before, he juts his fists out alternately as Max's directs, trying to move his feet at the same time. Staring at the hanging bag while Max speaks he recites the directions mentally, eager to get it right and punch again. Straight, shoulder-length locks swing forward with the swift motions, getting in his way and earning a sharp jerk of his chin. The overall effort is sincere, though still comical in its exaggeration.

At mention of Gathers the straight line of his lips curves just slightly to one side. Those particular events he's been to a'plenty, always encouraged to meet, greet, and make contacts - including potential future brides via the dance floor. He's managed to keep his own hormones respectively in check but, ever the romantic, can't resist the idea of a heart-deep love - much to the annoyance of his guardian. Finding out about Kaskan and Rio sent him into a flurry of determined matchmaking. So applying boxing to a dance sets well with his understanding the mechanics.

Kidney, diaphragm, nose - Jhorn punctuates each with an airy jab. The reminder to not get cocky reins his enthusiasm in slightly, shoulders straightening as he stands a bit straighter.

“Like this?” he pipes.

Watching every bounce, bob and jab though not with overly critical eye, Max keeps his shoulder braced against the bag as Jhorn lays his damage to it, approval evident for the boy’s willingness to learn and overall passion with which he approaches the instructions given. “Now you’re getting it,” he states, voice full of encouragement and then stepping back and taking the bag with him a devilish grin appears, “Now try hitting it while it’s moving.” And he gives the makeshift punching bag a hard shove in Jhorn’s direction, he himself moving over to his carrysack while still keeping a weather eye on the lad’s progress and extracting that odd looking flight helmet.

He’ll wait until the heavy feed bag has stopped swinging by its own momentum and then arrive back at Jhorn’s side and set him with a challenging look, “Reckon you’re ready for some one on one with me?”

Jhorn is thoroughly enjoying himself. Punching the bag with abandon he tries to keep all the instructions in mind but they get a bit jumbled as enthusiasm carries him too far. One mighty swing glances off the side of the moving bag and momentum sends him stumbling forward several steps before he can regain his footing. Chagrined, he shoves sweat-heavy hair out of his view with a snap of his chin and moves back into position. The extra clothing is definitely making a difference as the youth bears damp rivelets running down his back making the material stick to his skin, and quicker breathing as lungs work to keep his temperature down. His expression reflects only eager anticipation though – to suggest a break is inconceivable.

At Max's challenge, Jhorn's eyes widen into huge black pools and a full smile returns, a touch of mischief slipping into his tone as he pipes with obvious exaggeration, “Only if you're ready to be embarrassed by someone half your age, Sir.”

The hair that keeps falling in Jhorn’s eyes along with the way his chosen attire starts to hamper his movements, does not escape Max’s attention. He says nothing just yet, eyes quickly averted to save the lad’s pride when one of his punches goes wide and he ends up stumbling forward. One can be sure that were this not Jhorn’s first lesson, comment would have been passed and corrections made where needed. However, the beast manager is well aware that to dampen the youth’s enthusiasm so early in his training, might go a ways to curbing it later on down the line.

Once he has Jhorn’s attention again, the mischievous smile and tone are met with a faint smirk and the following words, “Half my age, eh? Figured you for older than ten.” All jokes aside Max gestures toward the lad’s sweat drenched tunic, “First of all, strip off down to the waist,” he himself removing the light sleeveless vest he’d been wearing, “and then put this on,” holding the oddly shaped flight helmet out to Jhorn.

"—mmm, —ourteen!" comes the muffled protest from within Jhorn's sweat-soaked tunic as he pulls it over his head. Raised, crossed arms unfold to whip it to one side where he slings it over a nearby bush, keeping it off the ground without thinking despite it's dirty condition. Without any hint of shyness he slings both arms in a wide, round arc that brings them back around nearly in a self-hug and back out again, movements quick and loose. Youthful, wiry frame is full of promise, with a tallish gangly height for his age that's currently outpaced his limbs but bodes well for a broader, muscular build later. His skin is smooth, unmarked by injury or puberty's growth, and cast in the even caramel tone of the southern-born. Eyeing the helmet with a dubious lift of dark brow Jhorn takes the headgear and turns it around noting the disfigurements. "We're not flying, are we?"

“Fourteen? Jays, I’m not that old,” Max responds with laughter in his voice. “So you got a girl yet?” faint tease held in his tone. An appraising look is sent over the teen once he’s gotten his shirt off, likely assessing his future potential in the same way he might do a young runner colt. “Naw, not flyin’. It’s so’s I don’t end up bashin’ your brains in by accident,” that given with enough of a smirk so as to weave the idea that perhaps Jhorn might be in danger of just such a thing occurring.

Waiting until the Bollian teen has the headgear in place, Max rolls his head from side to side, stretching out his neck muscles and then gives a roll of well defined shoulders before shaking his legs out. He then drops into a typical fighting stance, frame held loose and fists brought up to chin height in readiness, dark eyes sparked with anticipation and mouth curling around a crooked grin. “C’mon little man, show me what you got,” a bandaged fist jabbing out in an attempt to tap lightly at the side of Jhorn’s protected head, unless the teen sees it coming and bobs out of the way.

"No," Jhorn answers the first question - perhaps a little too quickly - as he puts on the helmet. Romantic that he is, he may have set his sights a little off-base but either way he isn't about to get into that when manly pride is on the line. Slapping the side of the headgear lightly he gets used to the awkward weight of it, pausing only to snort loudly and return his trainer's smirk with one of his own, his expression clearly doubting the man's claim.

Watching Max's warm-up, Jhorn does the same to a lesser degree, his attention split between watching and copying. As Max strikes an opening pose Jhorn's ear-to-ear grin blossoms, anticipation spiking as he mimicks the other's stance. Wound like a spring - even tighter after Max's teasing taunt - he ducks out of the way of the incoming tap but then over-compensates by celebrating with a drop of his own fists and hooted, "Ha!"

A short laugh is all that greets Jhorn’s rather quick reply but Max lets the topic of romance rest where it is for Faranth knows his own personal life is a monumental mess at the moment. Amusement lingers further as the Bollian teen seems to discount the type of head injuries the experienced fighter is capable of inflicting but again, he makes no comment, instead putting his focus to getting down to the business of sparring.

When Jhorn successfully dodges the first swipe aimed at the side of his head, approval sparks across the beast manager’s expression. However, with Max having led with his right, his left is lightning fast and purposefully stops an inch short of actually bopping the lad on the nose, while keeping an eye on his young opponent’s fist for any strikes coming his way. “Never drop your guard,” he notes as he bounces backward with smooth grace, “and always be aware of your opponent’s feet and eyes for they’ll give you a hint of what he plans to do next.”

Jhorn never sees the second strike coming. Surprise widens his dark eyes to rounded orbs of ebony shock as they focus on the fist in front of his nose, lips parting with an unspoken exclamation. Chagrined, he re-sets his stance. Wrapped fists rise to hover about his chin, balance shifting from one foot to the other. Determination courses through his veins, tightening wiry muscle just beginning to thicken toward a broader build.

Narrowing his focus, Jhorn attempts to follow Max's instructions and watch the man's eyes and feet but instinct more often pulls his gaze to fists and face. Matching the beastmaster's movements he shifts in counterpoint, keeping up with fair speed but without the skilll to match or out-guess. Youthful energy refuses to keep pace, however, moving him to try and sneak in an upper-cut when the two bob closer.

Jhorn’s surprise earns him a wink from the beast manager and then he’s back to business, bobbing and weaving about the Bollian teen, jabbing at him here and there but careful to always draw his punches so as not to inflict any damage to the lad. One or two aimed at him are allowed to land with a soft grunt given along with a good-natured flash of a smile and nod of approval along with more instructions.

"Keep your centre line protected by keepin' your body slightly twisted away from your opponent," Max draws a bandaged fist down from his head and over his chest and abdomen in demonstration thereof. "If you see a blow comin' to your body and know you can't avoid it, tense your muscles to lessen the impact. If it's comin' for your head," demonstrating by taking another light swipe at Jhorn's helmeted head, "let your head go with it or risk gettin' your neck or jaw broke." In the Southern heat and humidity, a light sweat starts to sheen across his muscular body despite the fact that they're working out under the shade of trees. No doubt a break is soon to be called.

Jhorn takes to the continued instruction energetically, quickly making small improvements as he applies the various strategies. Whenever a jab lands true he grumbles and sets his jaw, determined not to let it happen again… until the next time. Soon his hair is soaked and clinging to his skin, occasionally getting in the way as he bobs or ducks. A sharp jerk of his chin usually clears his view, but also leaves him open to another strike from his kindly trainer. The addition of angling his body makes a bigger improvement to his stance, though control will come with time. For now his youthful features set in firm lines of concentration, so intent that he's earns another thunk to the head before he knows what's coming. Annoyed, he nods to the correction given and feigns a thoughtful bobbing then suddenly lunges forward and tries to imitate Max's first maneuver of leading with his right only to follow with his left.

That hair that continues to get in Jhorn’s eyes and hamper his concentration is given a narrowed flick of attention but Max says nothing just yet, using it to his advantage. The sudden lunge from the Bollian teen was unexpected and as a result his bandaged fist makes sharp contact with the side of the beast manager’s head, clipping his ear against his skull with a sharp bite of pain. A low growl spills and Max’s fists come up blocking the second blow and aiming one of his own to the lad’s kidneys, again, pulling his punch as he grunts, “Now you’re gettin’’ it.” Approval rather than annoyance in his tone, for having been left with a throbbing ear and whatever other blows Jhorn was able to get through his guard.

With breathing only marginally laboured he lifts his hands and gives a time-out signal a grin starting to from across his features. “Cut that hair of yours and you might just have the makin’s of a decent fighter some time up in the future,” the lad’s physique already showing signs of promise. “Thirsty?” that last asked as he takes a step back to where he’d dropped his carrysack earlier.

Jhorn is actually surprised to make contact with his first jab, having expected it to be blocked and the second following through like Max pulled on him earlier. When the opposite happens he's too slow to take advantage of it to drop more blows, but success goes far in smothering the spike of annoyance that pushed him to it. It isn't completely gone though, as Max's near hit to his side is pulled back and garners another grumble despite the compliment given. As Max calls for a time-out Jhorn takes a deep breath and lets it go on a long sigh, hopping on each foot a few more times for show before calming down completely.

"Cut my hair?" he echoes, sounding incredulous. "Nah. I'll just pull it back next time." The offer of a drink is gladly received, earning a nod as the teen swipes a forearm across his brow. "Wearing you down already?"

Throughout the brief sparring session, Max had been aware of Jhorn’s frustrations but rather than do or say anything to appease the lad, he’d let it remain in place and as expected, the lad had used it for motivation something that counts as a high mark in the teen’s favour with the beast manager.

A ‘skin is extracted from his carrysack and tossed over to Jhorn and the contents will prove to be watered down fruit juice rather than just water. A laugh sounds out for the lad’s reaction to cutting his hair, “That works when you know you’re goin’ to be fightin’ but what you gonna do if someone jumps you, eh? Ask him to hold up a moment while you tie your hair back?” Amused more than mocking. As to the quip on wearing him down, Max sends a good-natured cuff to Jhorn, not intending to make contact, “Cheeky pup.” And then more sincerely, “You’re doin’ good, Jhorn.” That being high praise from a man who very rarely compliments his own fighters adopting the stance that his silence will push them to work themselves harder.

Jhorn is used to praise and compliments, much of it automatic because of his rank rather than sincere. With Max it's different. The Eastern Beastmaster is under no obligation to Southern Boll and has no reason to woo the favor of it's heir. Like the teen's guardian, Kaskan, Max has a toughened, worldly-wise veneer that appeals to the impressionable youth, his honesty plain rather than self-serving. The man's chiding remarks only re-enforce that view, keeping Jhorn grounded.

A wry grimace greets the mentioned scenario. With no logical excuse available he simply reaffirms with a petulant, "I like it long." So do the girls, but again he isn't going to give the man any more fodder with which
to tease him. Ducking from the playful jab he takes a swing back at the man's extended arm, pushing off any contact with a touch of remaining irritation.

Uncorking the skin Jhorn takes a long swig, lowering it as Max offers praise that brings some of the gleam back into his expression. Pup, indeed! Tossing the skin back with a straight throw he adds, "Thanks."

He likes it long. Yeah, Max understands the other benefits that could have but rather than speak a tease he simply sends an amused smirk and offers the following advice, “You wanna keep it long, you could always just take to wearin’ it bound back all the time.” See? He understands. Mmhm.

The smirk deepens into a grin when Jhorn takes a playful swing at him in return, the residual irritation coming from the Bollian teen noted as Max catches the skin tossed his way. “Ain’t got a bad throwin’ arm on you. Ever had a go with knives?” this as he wipes a forearm across his brow and then drinks deeply of the watered down juice.

Jhorn tilts a dubious sidelong look at the older man, sensing amusement behind the advice but not wanting to offend by calling him out on it. The suggestion is sound, after all. A compromise of sorts is met by his silence, merely acknowledging the advice with a shrugged nod. Actually he has worn it that way at times but not so much since coming south. Personally, he thinks it makes him look older and more mysterious.

The question of knives perks his interest, shoulders straightening with a touch of pride. “Knives? Yes. Rarely miss the mark. Not too bad sparring with long-handled either.” Good enough that he’d pushed for training with a real sword, in fact, but only to be denied. Rolling his shoulders he rubs at the back of his neck, keeping muscles from tightening after the extra exertion. Youthful energy may keep him hopping now but he’ll feel it in sore muscles later. Olive-toned skin is covered with a glistening sheen of sweat, the tops of his trousers darkened from the runoff. Trim hips and length of leg hint at height yet to come, his balance sometimes set askew as his body adjusts to new growth. A natural easy confidence is his though, an extra layer of responsible maturity set on his young shoulders for the future that awaits him.

Watching the southern southerner (as Jhorn mentally dubs him by virtue of Eastern being even further south than his own southern-based home) with an eye for detail, curiosity rises. The hushed gossip and wild conjectures of the other boys is remembered. “How’d you get so good at this?” he asks. “You explain everything so well – I can’t be the first person you’ve trained.”

Max has been on the receiving end of some pretty crushing blows due to having had his vision blurred by hair falling into his eyes. These days however it’s kept just shy of doing so. Not because he’d liked to keep his hair long but more because he had been terrible at getting round to actually having it cut, in the same way he’s very rarely clean shaven, his jaw usually shadowed with dark stubble as it is now.

Taking another swallow of juice, he tilts the skin Jhorn’s way in offer of more, openly impressed with what the teen says of being skilled with knives both throwing and long-handled. “Good skills to have,” he comments with a nod of head. And where he’d looked set to add more, his words are stalled by the young Bollian’s question. Guards drop into place and for a long time he regards Jhorn in silence.

Eventually, realizing that the lad is clearly not one to be easily satisfied with an evasive answer, Max’s lips purse and then settle around a smirk that holds a faintly cocky edge to it and he poses a question of his own as arms folds across his chest. “What you know ‘bout the underground fights that go on?”

Jhorn meets that look head-on, dark brows slowly rising and smile spreading in unison. At first he expects Max will give him a typically adult answer, some vague platitude meant to curb his curiosity, but as the moment stretches hope rises. Straightening his shoulders he reins in confidence as best he can, encouraging his trainer to see trustworthy maturity despite being skinny, shirtless, and drenched in sweat.

Posed with a question rather than an answer he tilts his head, dark heavy strands blown across his view by a passing breeze.

Expression turns thoughtful as he says, “Just rumors, mostly. Never actually seen one or know of someone who claims to have fought in one.” He pauses, caution lacing his demeanor. How much to say of the wilder stories he’s heard, particularly those concerning the man standing across from him? Making a logical jump he asks, “You’ve trained fighters?”

Max utters a low chuckle that holds little mirth. “I’d be more surprised to hear you had seen one,” due to the lad’s position and likely sheltered upbringing though he says nothing of the Bollian teen not having met someone who had actually fought in them. Lips curve toward a wry line and he answers honestly. “Don’t usually train fighters one-on-one,” as he’s currently doing with Jhorn, “But I’ve trained a few.” That’s more Yaron’s job but that gets left unsaid. His dark regard that had been sitting heavily on Jhorn breaks away as the beast manager moves back toward the make-shift punching bag. Apparently the break is over.

“I knew it!” Jhorn pipes before he can stop himself, wide smile breaking free. An added layer of pride lifts his shoulders a little higher. Used to having the best teachers and most skilled trainers, it’s entirely fitting to Jhorn that he ran into Max the day he was hiding from Kaskan and not just pure luck. A streak of disappoint lances through him as Max moves back to the tree, apparently ending the discussion. Not wanting to let it go he follows with a light bounce to his step, arms bent at the elbow to demonstrate his readiness. Ever so subtle, he tries for more information between a couple of practice jabs at the air. “Soooooo…. does that mean there are fights around here?” he asks, cheerfully casual.

The beast manager’s mouth twitches toward amusement at Jhorn’s exclamation but he says nothing, merely giving a nod toward the punching bag for the lad to proceed as he positions himself behind it once again. Dark eyes send a guarded look to the teen but all Max will give on the subject is a carefully phrased, “Not here at the Weyr, no.” Implying that indeed, fights do occur somewhere within the Weyr’s sweep area. The rest of the training session then spent alternating between setting the Bollian lordling to the punching bag and sparring one-on-one with him pushing him a little harder each time before it’s time for them to pack up and head back to duties and studies.

Jhorn isn’t nearly satisfied yet but the bits revealed by the weyrman are enough to plant a new resolve in the youth’s determined psyche. His attention is diverted quickly, however, as the lesson resumes and concentration is required to soak in all the directions, suggestions, and corrections given by his trainer. For a while he gives in to the southern heat and sweat running down his back to finally learn the rudiments of professional fighting, pushing on stubbornly even when Max boxes his ears to make a point.

Survivor - Eye Of The Tiger

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