Re: Blades and Bullets

She were still only holding the scabbard of the blade looking at her Lieutenant. He dark eyes enjoyed the visage, his physique kept in fine form due to the reggimento and its strict conditionings. And she were not adverse to looking at an attractive man. But the Lieutenant, Dante, did not stir her like Captain d’Ezzelini had.

He smile and it is a nice smile. Not the come get me smirk on the practice field. Nor the turn of lips when he were derogatory to her. This was the genuine one he could have with friend and family. And Mercedes she like it a great deal. It turned her tight puckered lips into a genuine smile as well.

“The dirt is where all men came from, and all men eventually return. Even if it is not your station Lieutenant. I hope the only one to return you to it, is on high, and not of your pride.”

She raise a brow and one side of her mouth. When he only smirk at her. Then he act shocked and surprised she would accuse him of gambling.

“How much?” and he acted so surprised. “What on earth do you speak...?”

And he is laughing. She is not certain if he is laughing at her or with her. She know. The other men grumbling at their losses anyone with sense enough understood it. Then he pull two silvers and he cannot even keep a straight face. She look at the silver and at him.

“I did not wager, it is not mine. But we make a pact now... if you use me to fill your pockets against others I get a fair cut from here on out. Normally I use this ring...” And she show him her ring of gold and Red Jasper. “…As my wager, but, I think maybe a quarter is fair if you use the funds to supplement the Reggimento or cut in the Capitan. Agreed?”

And she wait for his answer. He obviously wondering about her and she in like about him. She had heard the story, second hand about his wife and bebe’s. And she understood returning to what one knows by heart to distract the soul. No need to think when one can act in motions so familiar they need no eyes to follow. To take out in practice the ire in the heart. She understood all too well the emotions.

Perhaps Dante would see it, she were certain Marco knew. The rage in her as she pass one test and then another. It simmers just under the skin, casting small sparks in her dark eyes. She not one to scream or rage her anger. No. She were one who let it sit, just under the flesh like an amour of ire and she strike when it were certain to be a killing blow. And maybe the men would see it, and come to know it and help her… or at least keep her from burning everything down when she find the deserving mark.

word count: 510

Re: Blades and Bullets

The pair was getting to know one another in their own manner... the beginnings of an odd relationship... and to his divulgence of wagering. “No, you were unaware of the wagering Signorina... that was the idea of it all... but *we* did alright... and these are yours...” As he moved his hand a bit to emphasize her coins in his hand. “And yes, you shall be privy to the next wager...” and to the ring, he shook his head. “No need Signorina... but if you insist to raise the stakes, then that may be an option...” and he winks at her.

With the ring on her finger exposed, he smiled, his gloved hands reaching hers, his fingers simply rotate her hand, and fold her fingers back over into a fist. Gently, he pats her hand. “Tis yours Signorina to do what you will... but if I was you, I would savor any attachment to it... for wagering, we shall always have an option. But each Reggimento usually provides for his, or her, extra funds...” Then he let go of her hand and smiled as he emphasized *or her*; a feat he would need to get used to.

Soon they would go on their own paths... she on leave; his, back to his quarters in the barracks. And he would tip his hat and smile to her... “Bueno Sera Signorina...”

word count: 230

Re: Blades and Bullets

The Captain had just finished his paperwork. Such menial tasks, but it was a requirement in being the commander of the Reggimento Signorii di Notti. Most of the time spent nowadays were paperwork, and sometimes he missed the daily grind of patrol; but he had delved himself into the rebuilding of the Reggimento from a band of thieves and brutes, to an honorable group. Four years was a long time to rebuild, but it had been worth it... A Legacy? Who knew... all he could do was to do his best and leave the future to the men he trained.

And to alleviate his mind of the drudgery of paperwork, he ventured to the window... and as he looked out at the empty training area, all he could do was smile and remember her.

word count: 135

Re: Blades and Bullets

Lieutenant d’Ettore curl her fingers over the silver and they make their pact. She smile at him with amusement. And nod ascent to him. Fair enough and it again show he were a good man. No wonder the Capitan trust him so. The Zonatta’s trust him so. And as they work together in her training, she were trusting him more and more.

“You all are so moral, but, sneaky too. I like the honest inventions that you and the Capitan are capable of. I strive to learn from the best in many manners Lieutenant.”

And he speaks about sentiment and her ring. It were just a ring. One she had had for a long time and it had often decorated several pots in her life, and always seemed to find her hand again. She tap it and smile up at him.

“I have not lost her yet. But if I do it will be honestly and well done. Never wager what you cannot afford to be without!”

And they broke of one another. Dante with a proper fare well and she with a salute to him. She not know that Marco d’Ezzelini were thinking about her and how she had stormed their barracks. She not know that while he watched Dante press her he were worried about the force of it. The blades dancing and that she could get harmed. But he had offered the wicked smile when she pass his moral and ethics test.

That smile.

And with Dante’s dismissal she hurry to gather her supplies and take her leave.

[Split with Insights and Explorations ]
word count: 270

Re: Blades and Bullets

She had only been gone a couple of days... and he stood at his window again after hours of frustrating paperwork. His mind wandered to the thought... No one would enjoy the cold of winter after a week of spring weather... and she had been just that... a spring break in winter. That had been the closest analogy his mind could fathom, as his mental *winter* shrouded his mind after she had left on her leave.

He did not know what she was doing right then, or the night before... and he had no right to even inquire of it before she left... Yet his romantic mind jerked and rolled at common sense... that she was with him in an open field... a blanket on the ground, and a basket full of favorite entrees... his boots off and to the side... no belts for weapons, no cases for shot and powder, nothing but them... he is a white shirt, open to the chest, and soft, dark, gentleman trousers; she is a yellow print dress, white lace revealing an olive toned skin about her neck and shoulders...

Tomas: “Captain... Captain....” And a sharp knock on the door trim and a voice echoing the room shook him back to reality. “CAPTAIN...”

He turned around sharply, a bit embarrassed about the absentmindedness. “Yes Tomas?”

Tomas: “Sorry to bother you Captain... but there has been another act of murder, this time in Sestiere Santa Croce.. the popular ceisebo, Henri Elamaine... and three others...”

Marco just nodded as the young man began to describe what had been found and who was in charge... and turned to his desk to begin writing in the ledger; for he was keeping notes, a sort of journal, on the grisly murders. “Return to assist d’Ettore.” And he received a salute and he returned it back to the young Reggimento.

But something else formulated in his mind... Mercedes’ welfare... Yes, she had been training with d’Ettore for days, but that kind of experience with murderers she had not been accustomed to. Maybe he was overthinking the facts, but he did care for her... and the very thing he thought himself capable of, was failing. And that was his job above others... that selfless service... all which was concerned about her welfare.

Would it be a viable concern, or prove over-thought?

word count: 394

Re: Blades and Bullets

Mercedes was gone on leave for two days and single night. What she had done few truly know but where on the outer isle Dante d’Ettore did know. For should one of the commanders had to know where to find her if she were needed by the reggimento. But to what means she had found herself no one but god and the little sparrows would truly know. And her mood when she returned were like a breathe of freshness. She were smiling and bright, less pensive and quiet.

She spend the later morning from her return off Vignole to tend to chores at the Drunken Duck. She had another purpose at the Inn this day and found Papa Zonatta to thank him for the insightfulness regarding the Lieutenant. And try to pry some more information from him. But the elder was as quick in mind as her youth and divulged no true secrets. Just smiled and told her little else.

She return early enough to spend that time in the armory pulling blades and aiming empty pistols to find a set she liked. Now if she could only try shot from the pistol to be certain it were the right one. Which she knew she would get in the coming week and had marked a few others she had liked as well. For they held shooting practice as well in the training yard and she could test them all eventually. And she knew this week they would test long guns. If she pass she would be paired with Dante d’Ettore to learn about Patrols. And likely be tested over.

The thought squint her eyes. Sneaky Men.

And she knew Dante would be full force on her with the training of her blade. So she take her new acquisitions and go to the vacant training yard. She find a dummy they usually use for shooting and she set it up. Then she start slowly from the first form of a posta drill. Learning guards - or posta in Italian - is a key part of learning to swordfight. This drill is a short sequence of moving from guard to guard in sequence, taking a pass forward step in between each one.

She is not perfect, far from it. Her previous association with a longer blade had been the Machete and it required strength with chopping motions. Not finesse and fluid directions. And Mercedes move through each set, when she loose form she break and start again and finally move to repeat the sequence with more speed. And it were definitely a dance, feet and arm placement that moved to balance and shift the balance into or away from her dueling partner. She would work with many of the other recruits as well and the challenge was always the taller men with longer reach. But many of those men relied on that reach and their strength, rather than pure skill and she just needed to work on her skill and reflex to overcome such.

And she smile when her blade sink in the heart of her dummies form. She imagine a shadowy figure of a man. A man who had leant over her fallen father and shook him while searching his attire. And she would see that man, soon enough out from the shadows and in chains… she really did not want to kill him. But the strike on the fighting dummy did please her a great deal.

word count: 577

Re: Blades and Bullets

Marco was pretty much a social pariah... though being a direct descendent of Ezzelino I, patriarch of ancient Veneto family, he was the youngest of six sons of Pilippo d’Ezzelini and Esmeralda Sangria of Portugal, being sixth in line in family pyramid, he would hold no title, nor expected such; but he was able to enjoy the fineries of nobility in his youth, to include growing up an educated man, mainly under tutors in London and Paris...

But it was his time in the Venetian marines that seemed to change him. He grew up under the Empire... and he loved Venezia... but the wars seemed to change things... he had witnessed first hand the declining state of the Republic... and when he returned, it was to corruption within the Reggimento... to the highest levels... and the Council of Ten and the new Doge, granted him the position of Captain... since then, he had fought a war of cleansing the Reggimento... even with limited numbers, the path to honesty and loyalty to the Republic was difficult. There were evil forces at work even in the depths of government. But he never despaired, never stopped trying...

And the training area was empty this day... and he had just closed the ledger on yet another murder case... and hearing activity below his window, he peered out, and saw something that made his smile, as if a new sunrise had just occurred. Brandishing a sword, he exited the back way so he could work his way down to the training arena without observation. And he smiled as she was testing herself against the firing dummy.

Now she had fine form... with a sword of course... and he watched her dance alone. Oh, Marco was far from Dante’s equal with sword, but he was very good... alas, he was a better shot than swordsman... and he smirked when she sunk the sword deep into the firing dummy... Suddenly, he stepped from the shadows and slammed his sword down on hers, pinning it in the dummy. “Signorina... never leave the sword embedded in your opponent, as you should be ready for his compatriots...” and he smirked at her.

But to his surprise, she had rotated her whole body, under her own arm, never releasing the sword, and withdrew it ever so swiftly. That move freeing her sword, had only been seen by him once... by Dante d’Ettore... a signature move taught to d’Ettore by Venetian Guild member, Ludovico Zanotta. The unexpected move stunned him enough to proffer her time to return upon the attack... and he was now on the defensive...

Steel clashed against steel... and she danced the plight of swords very well... although Marco did gain some advantage and attack, alas it was repelled, and he was forced back to defense.

His step and his voice was stuttered, paced to movements and sword strikes... “You Signorina.... have, done... very well...” steel crashed against steel with each break of his sentence.

word count: 501

Re: Blades and Bullets

Lost in her private pleasure of piercing and imaginary fugitives heart Mercedes did not hear or otherwise see Captain Marco d’Ezzelini as he entered the training yard. And she look at him with large doe eyes as his blade pin hers. And he tell her, her error.

Suddenly, he stepped from the shadows and slammed his sword down on hers, pinning it in the dummy. “Signorina... never leave the sword embedded in your opponent, as you should be ready for his compatriots...” and he smirked at her.

She had rotated her whole body, under her own arm, never releasing the sword, and withdrew it ever so swiftly. It were a move that Lieutenant Dante d’Ettore had been forcing her to perfect. It gave her an advantage over the long reach of the men. And her Capitan had been surprised by it and she were able to press him back to a defense because of it.

“I truly hope… My Capitan… that you… are not his true… Compatriot.”

She were surprised and hoped that he had engaged her in such a manner to test her. Praying that she could best him honestly rather than by happenstance with an uncontrolled false strike. She were hoping that like the Lieutenant her Capitan would not be easy on her. And that unlike her Lieutenant he would not hide a strike, even a false one, from her. She hoped that she could earn the Capitan’s trust, to never have things hidden between them. One day, in profession and perhaps more so…

He were pressing her now and such thoughts were left to action. They danced; each taking their forward press and each taking their retreat in the back pass. She thought he were being light on her. Mercedes understanding that Dante were the better, they say the best, swords man the barracks had. But she had no idea he had been training her so skillfully. Nor sharing secrets taught outside of the reggimento to him by a professional warrior’s guild. She would be honored to know that someone thought she were worthy of such an education.

“You Signorina.... have, done... very well...”

They were both breathing in time; in stance, in motion and beading with light perspiration. Not truly out to maim one another but certainly testing each other. Her confidence was showing maybe a bit too much. When she faultier in her perception of his reach and step well within his striking radius. It were common for experienced fighters to keep their extensions short to draw their opponents into a false sense of safety, when in reality their strike was much further in reach. Mercedes had underestimated his reserve and fallen prey to a classic error. She realizes it too late to correct and wonder how hard the lesson will be. Dante had forced to the dirt. And Marco?

word count: 480

Re: Blades and Bullets

Had his reasoning for joining the training area been purely personal? They were pretty much alone on this day... and he was proud of her for practicing. But he had decided at the last minute to surprise her... but the surprise would be upon him... as her most familiar move was unexpected... and he set upon the defense as she spoke. But he only offered her a smirk, and a wink as he began to parry hard at her... he could tell that Dante had been teaching her well, as she was able to handle her own quite efficiently...

He was not easy on her, for he did not wish to anger her... even if it meant defeating her earlier than desired, but so far, she was doing well on her own. There were moves, skips, and hops that were unexpected, and even as experienced as the Captain was, there was a reason to have d’Ettore as trainer of the sword... and now that experience was being gifted to her... and she defended well, and attacked hard, setting him on the defense.

Steel against steel, shove to shove, bump to bump, they parried and danced to the ring of the sword... and both were getting a work out... Around stairs, in one door out another of the main hall, the ring of steel resounded loudly. And as he backed her to a large column, he spun one way then counter-acted the turn to meet her; thus causing her to unexpectedly to run into him, expecting him the other way... and he shoved her to the wall, and his sword pushed hers away and pinned it to the wall with his hilt; and he moved in toward her with a dagger in his hand. And as she stood still, weapon extended outward from her, pinned by his sword, her attention was not on the dagger... and he smirked as she struggled. Tapping her hip with the unseen dagger, the smirk got bigger.

But it was then that the scenario was completely in his own mind. Envisioning their faces inches away, Marco did something he had never done before... as the situation in his mental presentation presented itself unlike this ever before... he took advantage of a situation and kissed her unexpectedly... and she pushed against him and enveloped a kiss that would last a lifetime...

But yet, in reality, she did push, catching him in a brief millisecond of victory, and absentmindedness... and as she pushed him backward, her foot between his, causing him to stumble; his ass hit the dirt, his face flushed... not from being tripped, but to his own mesmerizing daydream... and when she swung her sword downward to force him to capitulate, he blocked and rolled out away from her, and he rose before she could advance upon him further. “Well played Signorina... Dante had taught you well...” that accolade hopefully hiding his own fault.

word count: 491

Re: Blades and Bullets

He had doubled back, and they near collide. He prepared and pushed her sword away, shoved her back into her wall and her attention is on her sword. Hilt to hilt and trapped by stone. And when he taps her hip with the daggers blade she was going to curse but when she saw his smirk, his face so close to hers the word was swallowed away.

They were pressed into the wall he leant over her to hold her weapon and press his dagger in a killing point if pressure were used. But she did not feel the dagger on her hip, or the strain of his hilt holding her blade prone against the brick. Not once she saw his eyes watching her, his lips turned into that smirk. His chest rising and falling in time with her own breathing. Mon dios She were in trouble.

And she push him. He trips and falls simply because they were both distracted. She feels bad he hits the earth but he quickly rolls. Even before she can think to pin him with her blade. Par favor mon dios. she needed the strength of saints to not lean into him and press her mouth to his when he were so close.

No, she had no idea he were envisioning the same thing. Well maybe not the same thing but a kiss. Then he spoke, broke the dreamscape and congratulated her for the skill. She blush and not because of his praise. She can’t slow her breathing, even though they are no longer pressing one another. And when she look at him, risen and proud of her, does he see the same in her eyes?

She still can’t speak. She feel silly. A fool. A cow eyed girl and he only teaching her. Her voice when she find it is forced.

“Thank you My Capitan."

But she know he could have struck her easily before pinning her to teach her that there were other dangers then the one you focused on. And it would be a death on the field.

“You had me. And let me go.”

Where it the ability to strike her or?

word count: 365

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