Merakh, A'dan


Merakh is one surprise after another to A'dan.


It is late night of the sixteenth day of the second month of the first turn of the 12th pass.


Igen Weyr

OOC Date


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The Pit

One does not enter The Pit so much as descend into it. Why else the name? The Steen ancestors paid for their square footage with sweat, excavating the area and building curved walls up around it. Wide, smooth steps descend into a large entry area that overlooks the pit and galleries. Floors, ceilings and walls have been whitewashed with limestone paste, increasing the amount of light reflected back from the numerous glow baskets hung on the walls. A rounded doorway to the north leads one into the business' office. Continuing on through the lobby brings one to another set of six stairs that descend into the galleries surrounding the sand-filled pits. A low wall separates audience from combatants, but even at its highest point, those in the galleries are never more than twenty feet away from the action. The sand is raked daily, with fresh sand added whenever the blood to soil ratio becomes too great.

It is the forty-sixth day of Winter and 44 degrees. It is a clear night.

Narloth: Randiest dragon ever. Statistically, it's unlikely for bronze to catch green. Just by the numbers. There's so much competition. But really… Narloth: Ungainliest dragon ever. And so, as he often does, A'dan finds himself working off some post-flight aggression. It is, perhaps, the secret to A'dan's fitness. Or possibly the secret to the deeply furrowed brow and overall humorless demeanor. Who knows? The sand bag he's punishing has a pretty good idea. Under the galleries of The Pit are rooms where fighters can spar or practice. Braziers keep the room's temperature warmer than the outside air, but it's still cold. The bronzerider wears loose linen pants, brick red. Glowering at his shadow where it falls on the sandbag, A'dan twitches up the leading leg of the pants before executing a flurry of moves, elbow smashes, jabs, short kicks. Poor, poor sandbag.

The effects on the Weyr for any kind of flight is aggravating, but it's only one drawback. When measured against the possibility of getting a face full of Thread, it's really not such a bad proposal, and there are usually others to work off aggression and randiness with. Tonight, here in the pits under the Pit, there are several that have had the same idea as A'dan; then again, not as many as might have, since some at least are out enjoying the other traditional post-flight activity. That's why, as a woman trails through the facilities, there's not the level of cat-calls as would be there otherwise, and she's free to amble along, looking for a sandbag of her own to abuse. That plan is cut short when she sees the pounding A'dan is giving his: she walks closer curiously, and her hands settle on the bag to hold it still for him. No words, really, but then none are needed, right? From the look of her, she's probably suffering pangs of the same frustration gnawing him. It's been a long day of keeping the calm and having people speak to her boobs.

The catcalls were a sure sign that there was a lady present. Dimly registered as something to investigate after the sand bag had PAID. Hop-step forward, left jab, left jab, right. Light colored eyes narrow as a figure - she of the catcalls, no doubt - comes into view. A'dan tracks her in his periphery, still pounding the bag. Elbow, knee, knee, knee. The sandbag frame scoots along the floor with tenor hoots. A'dan takes a hop-step back, bouncing on his toes. She's moved from periphery to middle of vision and is… bracing the bag? A'dan shuffles forward! Kick, kick, KICK! Right, rising elbow drawn into a knee, knee, knee! Downward driven right, a finishing blow to the foe surely fallen under the barrage. A surge of ire at the intrusion? A display? A'dan hops back, grimacing, hands dropping, chest going a bellows. He takes the woman in at a glance, blinking as he comes back to himself from a fighting haze. Good reach. Low center of gravity. Light eyes tick around the room, lots of folks are looking this way. Not a rider. Not unless she's new. Eyes go back to the woman. Best to get in close. Stay low. Close. A'dan blinks, hard. Damn dragon. "Thanks."

The Woman, as she surely will be known ever afterwards, does not seem to be bothered by the hooting coming her way; then again with the way she walks, all sleek muscle shifting under skin, is surely an indication that she's used to being around fighters. As A'dan delivers his thanks, she inclines her head, braid swinging a little. "You're welcome." Her eyes flick, cat-like, to the bag then back, and she gives a few steps backwards, clearing space around herself. "I'm looking for an opponent myself." That inspires another round of hollering and more than a few obscene offers, but the woman just smiles slightly, blue-grey eyes narrowing. "You look like you could use one." Sweaty, clearly frustrated, and just as clearly in need of more of a workout than he can manage from a poor sandbag, it's clear she picked A'dan as her source of exercise. "Or are you, too, infected by the idea that women can't be fighters? I'll be glad to prove you wrong." Him, and those around them.

Sleek muscle shifting under skin is noted. As is the easy comfortable grace of training and the feline edge of someone with keen situational awareness. She was present, this woman. That fighter's ease is easy to spot, but strange to see in such a pretty guise. A'dan backs away a step, chin lifting, "Not looking for company." Or to pound some poor woman into the mattress. Mat. MAT. DAMN DRAGON. He has no answer that he cares to share regarding her taunt. "I am!" is the tamest of the myriad calls, some directed at A'dan. He has no answers, or in fact any regard at all apart from that one glance around the room, for the 'spectators.'

There's a flick of an eyelid for that, not much at all, before she moves. She's fast; with a lower average muscular weight than a male her size, and the advantage of long legs, she's on him before he realises perhaps, and the punch that flies out of nowhere impacts low on his abdomen, right into the floating ribs. An aggressive move, but she's often had to beat men into seeing her as a fighter, and there'll be nothing new there now, except the spine-tingling recognition that this time she might be playing with fire. Her body was behind the blow to leaven maximum force, but she's already spinning away to get enough space for a nasty, debilitating kick to the side of one kneecap, and if that lands at full force he's going to be in a world of pain.

"Hnngh," A'dan grunts at the impact. Woman notwithstanding, a punch -a well-placed punch at that- to the short ribs hurt. A'dan curves around the impact to steal as much momentum from her as he might without moving. Before he can lock that arm up, she's spun away, slipping out of sweat-slick hands. There are a few ways to deal with incoming strikes. Get out of the way by closing the gap, by getting out of range, or by meeting the strike with one of your own. A'dan goes for a mix of first and last. Neck hot with angry prickles, A'dan's feet slap the mat in a stacatto as the he shuffles up, leg lifting, folded, to disperse the force of her kick on the meat of thigh and calf before it fully extends and she can thrust those those hips into it. Hips. NARLOTH YOU SON OF A- He grunts -it's simply a Weyr of pain, but she has his full attention. He drops his leg pivoting his hips and torso into a straightforward body check meant to connect before her foot came down and she could balance properly. "Get. Off." He grates, shuffling back, hands lowered but at the ready, because this broad clearly has a chip on her shoulder.

The kick strikes against meat, not ligament and bone, and Merakh's teeth bare in a pretty little snarl. It doesn't stay pretty for long; the sweep is fast enough that she lands solidly on her back, gasping with the impact-pain as her head cracks and her back thuds solidly. "Can't," she manages to grit out. "You've not done anything to get me off yet." Raunchy, ribald, yes, not a woman that shies back. Her legs lift, and the tunic flips enough to show a great stomach contracting as she coils, flicks and hops to her feet in a quick, dirty kip-up. A crab-circling movement starts around him, eyes narrowed for the next impact site: her mind plots out weaknesses, tries to gauge him, but ultimately she needs more data.

A flare of satisfaction at the well-planted shove and the resultant minimal-effort throw. He winces at the crack of the woman's noggin on the mat. He's twitches forward, a hand going out to help her up, and then she's mouthing off. And springing like a feline to her feet! A'dan's eyebrows flicker up and draw down, neck prickling as she circles. He doesn't move, just watching her, turning his head to keep her in sight, weight on the balls of his feet. "I get it. You're tough." He shrugs, "You don't have any thing to prove." True enough. His ribs ached. And that kick was gonna leave a nasty bruise. "Back off." Before you bite off more than you can chew.

The difference in her posture is instantaneous; whilst she's not insulted by what he said, she's pausing certainly, that and arching her brows high. "I'm sorry," she says, hands slowly sinking to her hips even though her head is spinning from that blow. "You're not the only one here that wants to fight, has frustrations to work off. It'll be easier to work them off together; I've no patience for those cat-calling idiots back there." When she does circle back to easy sight, she treats the poor, frustrated rider to an up-and-down stare, frank and appraising. "A simple sparring match," she suggests. "We keep it clean, I don't try to kick your leg sideways, you don't try to punch my nose off. If that's not to your taste, understandable." She can certainly go and work her frustrations off somewhere else.

As her posture eases so does his. A little. The apology is not acknowledged, light amber eyes tracking the woman's movement. His eyes flick to the men at their practice, some are still eyeing the both of them. "Clean, huh?" He snorts, "'Those idiots'" he tosses his head at the -well, they're crude for sure, "Can break you in half. You saunter in here, throwing insults and kicks?" Incredulous. And that kick? He steps forward, head lowered, "What were you thinking, opening with that kick? On a stranger. In a practice room?" He looks down at his knee, he can't see, but the bruise is already forming. "You could have grounded me with that kick." Grounded. As in no flying. As in no flying Thread. "Because you're frustrated? Take it out on him." He gestures at the sandbag. It's got a dopey face scribbled on it. With names scrawled on and scratched out so many times they're all more or less illegible.

Wait, he's a rider? What the hell is a rider doing below the Pit, in a place where bloodsport is de rigeur? Merakh's posture slowly straightens, and the light expression she had disappears totally, wiped off her face. "I thought that opening like that would save me from getting punched and then raped, rider," she says quietly. "Nevertheless, you are correct in that I would have grounded you until the leg healed. You have my apologies; my name is Merakh, should you wish to lay a charge with Guard-Captain Ladivos. I will admit to the matter." She gives him a jerky nod, then carefully walks away.

Out on the Sands, no holds barred bloodsport. Here under the galleries, it's just a practice room. A'dan looks around, this room was like any other to him. Smellier. Imagining it from her perspective for a moment, it's a radically different place. "Hey," he calls. He trots a step after the woman - Merakh. "Hey!" a hand to her elbow. "Women fight here too." He levels a glare at the oglers, "As many of these boors ACT like you're the first woman they've seen since their mother's nethers," he raises his voice to be heard by said oglers, "You're not."

She allows him the hand to her elbow, but there's the slight twitch of fingers that suggests an aborted attack, the tension in a body that, just seconds ago, was loose, relaxed and ready to kick backside. "Thank you." She's not looking at him, she's looking at the ribald oglers, and them she's giving the death-stare. Her "Thank you" comes again as she turns back to face him, this time softer. That's not to say she doesn't look irritated, but instead she sinks down easily to her haunches. One leg braces on his thigh, the other scoots his pants up neatly to investigate first the knee, then the bruise higher up. "You moved quickly," she approves neutrally. "That's good."

Puzzlement flickers across A'dan's ample brow, What is she thanking me for? He barrels on, "Even so," A'dan notes that twitch and drops his hand, giving space. "I'd sheathe that look if I were you." A'dan looks between her and the practice room rowdies. "The nasty ones will get nastier and the nice ones won't care fo-hey!" She's dropped into a crouch and is tugging his pants totally the wrong wa— What? He snorts, "Not quickly enough," he answers, wry. Current situation included. The bruise looks exactly as it should. A broad red patch on well-muscled thigh and calf. Hot. Temperature. Sheeze. The patch is warmer than the surrounding area. Those light touches breathe new life into the frustration he'd been pummeling down. He grunts, stepping back. DAMN DRA— Oh. Huh. He holds a hand out for Merakh to pull herself up by, "Not in the nose."

Her nails can be felt through the material as her fingers tighten, tiny pin-pricks on the back of the thigh that's as much pleasure as warning. She's trying to hold his thigh still, but who knows what confused bodies do with those signals. She tests the temperature of that bruise, placing the back of her hand to it in a little to-and-fro as she frowns. "I know how to handle them," she admits as she takes the hand's assistance to stand. "Not in the nose," she agrees. "And nothing in obviously … sore spots." Her hand withdraws, she follows suit and sinks into a fighter's ready stance, arms idly ready to ward off blows.

Muscles tense at that nail-pressure. A breath slowly forced out. Neck prickling. "Mmmmm," A'dan rumbles dubious acknowledgement of Merakh's dismissal of an entire room full of Pit fighters who moments ago she asserted were going to punch and rape her. At least, that had been her rationale for opening with a debilitating kick. Unless he'd misinterpreted. Confusing, this one. His arm tenses as she levers up, bracing against her weight and as soon as she's about to settle, he twists her hand forward, rolling her arm up on itself and behind her back, he steps close, a mistake, but all the better to quietly rasp, "Sucker."

Misunderstandings persist on both sides, but one thing that is absolutely clear is that he did, indeed, catch her with that sucker-lock. Her back arches as her arm is swung in behind it, and there's a wince of pain fleetingly visible. A'dan is good, make no mistake about it, but he's used to fighting men likely, and women, especially supple, athletic ones, have greater joint flexibility than men sometimes expect. Seconds later, with another second of pained brace, she's out of the lock and darting away, shaking her wrist out as she eyes him tightly, bouncing on her toes in anticipation. The men in the distance roar their appreciation of that view. "Anything you want to exclude right now?" she asks tightly.

"Anything that would ground me." A'dan's used to fighting men to submission. Or unconsciousness. Merakh slipping his hold says that his work's going to be cut out for him tonight. He watches her bounce (and bounce and bounce) in anticipation. Dirty trick. He narrows a look at the woman, Merakh. Circling to her left, most folks were weak on their left sides, hands held loose, ready, A'dan rasps, "Who are you?"

There's a small, slight frown at the question. She told him who she was, what else is necessary? "I believe I already told you that, sir. If you'll kindly give me a list of what will ground you, I'll look out for it." It'll hamper her severely, since she likes to fight dirty, but that only makes it more of a challenge. A slgiht pause follows, with more uncertainty following. "Are you… quite okay with this, sir? You look a little tight around the eyes. Problem?"

She told him her name. The question is more than that. "Oldtimers," he shakes his head. At her request for a list, A'dan draws up, hands dropping. He lifts his chin, considering the woman closely. They see eye-to-eye. Physically. "Is that a taunt, or do you really not know?"

Pause. Blink. Pause. "I'm a Nowtimer," she shares calmly. "Born and raised near enough to here, not four hundred years into the past." Her mouth twitches, and she tilts her head. "I was joking, of course, but it only goes to prove my point — you're more keyed up than normal today, it seems. Can you spar and not just beat the shit out of me, or do you want to do this another time? As for your first question, I don't think you've earned the right to anything, rider. Not yet."

Considerable brow furrows, "Nowtimer? Where did you learn to fight?" As if he's not standing in exactly the place where, some decades ago, there were -albeit primarily for the novelty- women Pit fighters. Nowadays, women just don't do that. Much. That anyone acknowledges. He was more keyed up than normal, but he just squints at the assessment. What did she know about it? His eyes widen in shock, "Beat the shit out of you." It's a statement. Offended. The matter of earning and rights, tabled.

That question gets a bitter look to wash across her face. "Here and there, rider. Places where, if you don't fight, you lie down and take it and lie about liking it, okay?" She takes her braid up in one hand, flicks it in a circle around her neck to shorten the long, liquid length of it, and attacks. This time it's much more like a sparring session: her legs have just enough force to deliver a butterfly kick to one shoulder, so that it'll graze the skin and count as a point, not a bruise. Her knee flexes, snaps, tries to kick again, this time to the outside of one arm to measure his reach.

A full on glower at Merakh's revelation. So. Like Igen. He watches the flip of that long braid. A liability, that. A distraction! He twitches his head away from the first quick kick to his shoulder and then she's kicking again, he raises his shoulder folding his arm in much the same manner as he'd folded his leg to take the brunt of the lightly delivered kick. She could have all the points she wanted. A stutter step forward, and A'dan balls fists in the fabric on either side of Merakh's collar and jerks her sharply towards him. What he does next, depends on her…

No. No. Merakh's arms blur and her legs lift as she rolls backwards; with one planted on his hip there's more than enough momentum to gently toss him onto his back, then roll afterwards so that she's on top. It's avoidable, of course, as the one thing of such a pin is that one has to mean it, and she's not taking any grip remotely strong enough to really pin him down if he should wish. "Bad move," she whispers down at him with a delicious, wicked grin. "It could be dangerous to your health."

Oh. Whoa! "Ugnh," A'dan goes over, landing heavily as he goes and she ends up atop him, his hands still balled in her shirt. Merakh doesn't get much time to gloat and he makes no rejoinder to her taunt other than to shove her torso away and whip a leg up and over her shoulder and neck, bending her back. Hands release her shirt - he straightens her arm, braced again the leg he just raked her off of him with and locks it against his thigh. Get out of this one, squirrely.

This fall is his; she gives a surprised huff as he kicks up and around, leg dragging her back into a painful pin. With the acute tortion through her shoulder and arm joint, and the way his leg pulls her back to make the joint pop, she's quite ready to tap out, a light stippling of the other hand's fingers against his side. "Nicely done," she mentions. The guys leering at them, disappointed that she's going to get her ass kicked so soon, start drifting back to their own training.

A'dan releases her the moment she taps out, legs relaxing, hands releasing her arm. "Nice throw." He lets her extract herself and with a quick curl of belly muscles and tucked legs, rolls backwards over his shoulder, rising smoothly to his feet. He goes to his gear and snags a tunic for himself, only fair that she had stuff to grab. Right? He shrugs into it, head popping out of the neck-hole, "Less mouth. More fight."

There's a look of reluctant respect in her eyes at the ease with which he gets back to his feet, and the look she gives him is frank. Yes, there's a rill of excitement quivering up her spine, but there's more to interest her than crude sexual attraction, and it's that interest that drives her to start circling, start looking for weak spots again. There's a quick flick of action, a few testing open-hand attacks against the periphery of defence his arms form. This time, it seems, she's content to wait for him to make the first move.

Nowtimer. A'dan still can't fathom that. He'd met plenty of oldtimers who could handle themselves. And nowtimers too, but in the context of Now. A conundrum, this woman. He studies her as they circle. A glow to smooth skin. She's not sweating yet, just aglow. All muscled curves and… Focus. Fit as a feline. Like a Zingari acrobat. Probably bendy like one. Focus! Mentions of a troubled past. A chip the size of Valiuth on her shoulder. Questions piling up, but, true to his direction, 'Less mouth. More fight,' he voices none of them. He hadn't earned the answers anyway, according to Merakh. When the attack comes there's little warning. A hook of his heel to catch her foot just as she's putting weight on it. Again, what he does next, depends on her reaction…

The ankle goes easily, hooked out of the way by his foot, but little happens; she retained just enough weight on the rear not to fall on her face. The foot lifts, slaps down again in an explosive thud, dust puffing up gently. One slap against his closest hand, another, open-palmed and just barely worse than a gnat's sting. They trade attacks for some time. It doesn't get boring, that; the flurries of kicks and blows, until her heart begins to race from exertion — much more trouble like this, since she has to be careful for two of them. Breath races, and her cheeks start turning red with exertion, tunic sticking to her back. It's surreal, the experience, senses combining until she feels the movements with her bones, tracks his attacks by ear. Her eyes flicker for opportunities. She only has it moments later, and arms seek to tangle around him for a simple over-the-shoulder throw, which will not only take him down to the ground, but her down to one knee. Even now she's careful — not too much force. It's the first time she's had to be gentle with a man. It's odd. Unexpected. Inviting.

Strike, counter, parry, feint, dodge. Repeated. Remixed. Time melts into a world of focus, a dance of aggression rising in intensity. A'dan relies on brutal finesse, it's not so much that he's quicker (he is), or stronger (he definitely is), but that he's in just the right place, with the right pull or push to keep Merakh off balance. At least, that's the aim. In a straight up fight, with no restrictions, it would be no contest. But with the paramaters of 'no lasting harm,' she's good. Very good. Her timing is excellent and, even if he's heavier, stronger and faster, there are moments where good timing and simple mechanics overcome every disadvantage. Like now. A vertiginous moment finds him THUD on his back, arm locked against Merakh's leg. He slaps the mat, a stacatto submission to the lock. The lookie loos across the room roar. This would definitely get around. "Had enough?" A face not made for smiling particularly doesn't, but there's a notable lightening around the eyes.

"No," comes the soft answer in a low, husky alto as Merakh trails her fingers down the line from wrist to bicep and drops his arm out of the pin. She didn't take advantage of it to bear down, to enlarge a shock-born reputation in the onlookers' eyes. Luckily her back is to them, so they miss the intent, indolent stare she gives him. Poised like that, she's red-cheeked and glowy and more than a bit sweaty, more than a bit needy going by her body's line. Her eyes flick around, and she leans closer to mutter something to him, soft enough that only the occasional word drifts about.

Merakh mutters, "… … I … you … give me … won't … … … … you're …" to A'dan.

With them said, however, she wanders away cheerfully and slowly, with an inviting sway to her hips. "Coming?" she calls a little bit away. "I could use a bath." And then… and then other things.

There's no mistaking that look. The trail of fingers. The shifting press of her body against his outstretched arm. An unvoiced grunt tightens his throat. And then she's purring in his ear and sweeps away. Turning his head to admire that saunter, still on his back, he calls after her, ample brow amply furrowed, "You're sure you're a Nowtimer?" 'Coming?' Why, yes. Round 2: Ding ding! He rolls to his feet and stretches. "Bath sounds good." He pads over to collect his things, get dressed. Where's her stuff? He scowls, It's cold out there. Ah. She's collecting it. Lean curves vanish under layers of warmer clothes. On the sleeve of a shirt, a patch of the Igen Guard. "You a recruit?" Incredulous.

That reaction invites a gurgle of laughter. "Yes, I am. And yes, I'm a recruit as well. Perhaps if you give it a bit of time, you'll find something else that you can't believe either." She snugs on the pants and cold-weather jacket properly over her exercise clothes, ignoring the rolled eyes and leers she has to stride past to get to the exit. "Come on, it's freezing." She has to wait at the entrance for him, but doesn't plan to tarry there. They have plans to attend to, after all, and backs to be scrubbed.

A'dan's response to the leers and the leerers is silent, a flat look under a raised brow. "I'm certain that's true," the bronzerider acknowledges trailing along behind that slow roll of Merakh's. Quite certain. What? He shoves the door open with an arm braced over Merakh's head, "After you." The two exit and A'dan's eyes flicker as she passes before him. "Uh. A'dan, bronze Narloth's." By the way. Since we're… Right. The door thunks shut behind them.

(continued in More Mouth Less Fight)

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