Valiant - Backpost
Location: Stark Academy Grounds
Timeline: July 11, 2005
Angel focused hard as she pulled back the cord on her compound bow until it was fully drawn and should have locked, taking three deep slow breaths as her arm protested the long hold of a full draw. Her instructor had turned off the locking mechanism that would reduce the strain on her arm once the bow was fully drawn, stating that she couldn't always count on such things. She'd further taken away Angel's quick release, requiring her to learn to be accurate without all the bells and whistles the bow came with. Angel had saved for nearly a year to afford the Hoyte Carbon Element RKT, it was the most amazing thing she had ever owned.
And at the moment it was trying to kill her. Her arm wanted to cramp but Angel just took another breath and sighted her shot reminding herself that she was good at this, that she could do this, she'd done it without the lock or the quick release a thousand times.
She loosed the arrowed on her exhale watching the arrow thunk cleanly in the inner circle just to the left of center.
"Again," the instructor said coldly, but there was a slight twitch, the barest hint of approval as the tiny girl came so close to perfect. This was, after all, Angel's 10th such shot... in a row.
"Gah, can you believe that snot nosed brat?" Angel heard as she drew an arrow from the quiver at her waist and nocked it.
"You mean the puny ginger?" It was a payer, a particularly annoying payer, and his equally annoying girlfriend. They were a year or two her senior and while she herself was a puny ginger, she knew they weren't actually talking about her.
"Can you imagine being that ugly and sucking THAT bad?" the blond girl said, her pony tail swinging as she laughed.
Angel loosed, over correcting and hitting just right of center this time.
She drew another arrow trying to block out the noise of the two gossips as they continued to make fun of the young boy who was on his first day on the range.
This time she didn't over think it, she let her body do the work. And hit dead center. Sighing she rolled her shoulders, loosening her protesting muscles as she took a sip from her water bottle. She made a face looking down at the water she'd just drank. She'd been too focused on her work and not kept an eye on it, now the water was brown and silty, some payer having poured a handful of dirt... or worse, into the clear liquid.
Setting down the bottle she looked back at her teacher, wiped her mouth to make sure there was no dirt on it and smiled, "What's next?"
"Broadhead," the instructor said, holding out a new quiver and her quick release.
With quick practiced motions Angel unstrapped the quiver she was wearing and took the new one, strapping it in place carefully so she could draw quickly. Only once that was done correctly did she slip the leather of the quick release on her hand expertly and wiggled her fingers until the familiar tool fit well.
"Pin point drills from idle."
Angel nodded relaxing her arms at her side and waited.
"3rd circle, lower quadrant."
These arrows were heavier but Angel pulled one out, nocked it into place and clipped her quick release in one smooth motion as she raised her bow and took the shot. With a satisfying thunk the arrow hit, it was high in the circle but it was close enough. She relaxed back to her idle stance.
"Ohhh cry little baby," the payer's words pulled at Angel's concentration, as the younger orphan struggled and tears welled. The payer was making 'wa wa' motions at the younger boy while he struggled to learn to control the bow.
The bell rang then and the others began packing up their things.
The group of payers were still laughing and Angel ground her teeth, "Professor, if you could excuse me, I'd like to help Bishop before we go."
The instructor nodded, a tiny smile playing over his firm set lips as he glanced at the payers and back to her, "Behave yourself," was his only warning as he walked away.
Angel beamed at her favorite teacher and slung her bow across her back before kneeling next to the little boy. He was built stockier then she was, by a lot, so she figured he could probably draw her bow just fine. "Here," she said, loud enough that the payers could hear her as she unclipped the bow from her back and offered it to him, "Try mine." She helped the younger boy get his hands right and walked him through nocking the arrow, "Now I want you to draw back and take a deep breath in real slow, out, and back in, then as you exhale I want you to picture Jezzica's face last week, when she had that big pimple on her nose, can you see it?"
The boy nodded, sniffing but drawing the bow as best he could.
"Good, now sight down your arrow and pretend that pimple is the center circle, so when you let loose no matter where you hit you'll get her!" Angel said encouragingly and stepped back so he could loose the projectile, "Try to pop that zit!"
"Oooo right in her butt chin!" Angel said, clapping her hands, as the boy hit the target for the first time all day, "Let's see if you can get her right between the eyes next."
Angel chanced a glance back at the offending group of payers and saw Mike, Jezzica's boyfriend starting her way, hands in fits.
"Uh.... gotta go kid," Angel said, smiling, taking her bow, and starting to walk away, "But you're doing great! Keep practicing!" She called this last as she took off running muttering "Stupid... stupid... stupid," and pelted off the course towards the one place she knew better then any payer, the stables.
Cat had just finished putting her own bow away when she saw Angel streak past. Frowning she turned and raced after her friend and roommate. Angel was always the faster of the two but Cat could keep going for a long while after Angel dropped. She didn't notice the payers trying to catch up with the two girls as the made a beeline right for the stable.
Meanwhile, Brann hung his floor broom in the storage shed and stepped out at the stable when he saw Angel and Cat race around the corner. He wiped sweat from his brow and reached for his shirt, smiling. "You're a little late. The stables are mucked and the horses fed and watered. What's up?"
His smile fell when he saw a group of paying students cut the corner, fast on the girls' heels. He stood his ground and gestured for the girls to get behind him. "KYORT!!!" He yelled out for the stablemaster, silently hoping he got there before anything happened. I can't touch a hair on their heads, no matter what happens, he remembered the Headmistress' words grimly.
Angel slid to a stop panting and gripping her side, "Jezzie... picking on.... Bishop... I... made fun...butt chin..." she trailed off, they knew each other well enough that was all she had to say.
Cat snorted as she raised a brow at Brann's protective response before turning and looking at the group of payers. "Oh look the monkey's escaped from their cages again." She said with a smirk as she crossed her arms over her chest, standing beside Brann and more than ready to take on anyone trying to get Angel.
And nobody saw Kyort until it was too late.
As the Payers closed in, Mike coming in with his fists balled up, he swung and...
Kyort landed in front of him and took the hit, right to the cheek. He stood, not having hopped or staggered, his body absorbing the blow from the athletic teen like a side of elephant absorbing a hit from a toddler. Kyort rose to his feet even as Mike realized, with horror, he had just hit a faculty. Kyort of all people. In the face.
His face registered, surprise, shock and then started with fear as Kyort's hand closed on his face, his fingertips getting the younger man all the way around his hairline and he yanked him forward and turned ninety degrees and shoved him backwards, straight into a fresh pile of horse dung, where he sprawled and slid a few feet.
"Dumas," Kyrot growled at the horse, "sit."
The horse, a chestnut twelve-hands high Tennessee Walker who was standing in the open stall and had obligingly dropped the mess, sat.
Kyort turned to the girls.
"Jezzica, Audra and Jennifer," he told them in his scary growling voice, "curry the horses, clean out their mangers, feed them and wash that," he pointed to Mike who was being held down by horse-ass, "off. Then you get the clean out the sheep and goat enclosures and sweep the stables."
"No!" Jezzica shouted defiantly. Kyort took one step and suddenly he was in her face, nose to nose.
"Your boyfriend just took a pot-shot at me," Kyort said softly, "the penalty for that is expulsion. As accessories, you're looking at suspension at the least. Your father is a Federal Judge and you were sent here because you make too many problem for him at home. Suspension from the last High School of any reputation that would take you, for a big-ass fee I will add, will do his reputation no good. And I know what he told you will happen if you manage to get yourself kicked out of here," he grinned at her like a feral animal. "Do you remember?"
She had started crying halfway through.
"Now you three get to work and I'll be over here somewhere makin sure ya do what I told ya," he warned and stepped back. He turned to the three of the orphans and made a short head motion signing to "git".
Angel was still holding her side and gasping though it had a distinct edge of laughter to it but she nodded taking Brann's and Cat's hands, pulling at them to leave, quickly.
"You heard Kyort," Brann offered his mentor a curt nod of respect. "Let's go."
Cat wrinkled her nose at them before darting back and giving Kyort a hug and a whispered thanks. Then she once again joined her friends.
Brann let Angel drag them to a safe distance before he fell back laughing hilariously. He mimicked Kyort pointing down, "Dumas," he barked, "sit."
That sent him into new gales of laughter.
Cat smirked for a moment before she joined Brann's laughter. It had been funny as hell to see the Payer trapped beneath the horse as he sat on command.
Angel was grinning and shaking her head.
As they settled Bran drew tall and solemn, planting his fists firmly on his hips. He cast a stern glance between the girls. "Somebody want to explain what that was all about?" He looked at Angel, "What happened to Bishop?"
Cat looked at Angel expectantly, she knew that Bishop had been having some issues, then again she had issues with archery too. Just not her thing at all but it was something that Angel liked and so Cat tried to learn at least a little so that Angle didn't talk circles around her when the topic came up.
"Jezzie and her bitch," Angel was of course referring to Mike, her voice was still a little thick and breathy, she was not built for the run she'd just put her body through, "were making fun of him. First day on the range, he wasn't doing well, they pushed him to tears. I was just trying to, had him picture Jezz with that boil on her nose last week as the target. Told him to 'pop that zit,' but he missed and hit low so I congratulated him for getting her in her 'butt chin,' cheered him up, pissed them off." Angel beamed at them both going back to her deep breaths.
Brann's lips twitched against the urge to smile but finally his face gave in. "Okay, that was worth it but why run to me?"
"Um... lets see, you're twice my size and I knew you'd protect me? Besides, I know that stable better then any Payer, if you weren't there I could have hid there for days without them finding me," Angel said with a laugh.
Brann's chest swelled with pride that Angel's first impulse was to seek his protection over Kyort. He stood boldly in defense of the littler orphans but he never expected his peers to seek him out. He caught the girls giving him a knowing look and shrank defensively, "What?
"Yeah trust Angel to run and hide behind Brann the Valiant." Cat snorted.
"Don't start with that again!" Brann grinned bashfully past beet red cheeks.
Angel was grinning but her words were serious, "We all know that you, actually both of you, will take a blow meant for us, honestly I knew they were wusses and that if we put up any kind of resistance they would probably back down, but Cat and I just don't look that intimidating."
"Wait, I'm intimidating?" Brann tilted his head stuck between the impulse to cheer, "hell yeah, I'm intimidating!" and cringe, "Oh, god, I'm intimidating!" His posture however appeared to give way to the former as he flashed a self-satisfied little smile.
"Wait, I'm not intimidating?" Cat looked at Angel with mock shock. She knew people underestimated her because her small size.
Angel just rolled her eyes, pointing at Brann, "Tall, strong and athletic," she pointed at Cat, "short, curvy with Attitude, capital 'A.' To the payers, he's the threat."
Branned leaned against the fence with a big grin. "Tall, strong, and athletic: keep talking, I'm liking this!"
Cat snorted. "I am too a threat."
"Just because you are a threat, doesn't mean they see you that way," Angel pointed out, she turned on Brann, "You, quit fishing for compliments, you are wonderful and you damn well know it."
"Yes, but it's nice to hear," He laughed, his cheeks redder than ever.
"Plus it's fun to make his face match his hair." Cat cackled with an evil grin.
Brann shrugged meekly, casting his gaze down. "It's nice to know you feel you can come to me. I like knowing you trust me, that I've earned it." He peered from under his lashes, "You know I'll go to the wall for you -- any of you -- if it comes to it."
"Just like you know I'll talk circles around anyone for you," Angel said with a grin, "for now though I think Brann the Valiant has earned himself a shower."
"And I would be more than happy to whup up on anyone stupid enough to pick on either of you." Cat said with a grin of fiendish delight. "But yeah, Brann, you need to hit the shower. Mucking out stalls makes you fragrant."
"Not half as fragrant as Mike," Brann beamed wickedly.
Angel laughed merrily, "Come on," she motioned back to the castle, "let's all grab a shower before dinner."
"Yeah, we're all sweaty." Cat wrinkled her nose.
"Some guys might find that appealing," Brann smirked as he fell in behind them.
Angel sighed dramatically dropping back to take Brann's arm, "Sadly not my savior."
"You'll find better than me someday." Brann smiled at her. "Better smelling, at any rate."