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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 27: Slade 220
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Slade sat on his front porch, and considered his recent fights. He had learned over the years that going over them could lead to improvement. There had been the warfare professor, who had shown him the value of discreet preparation of the battleground. And he quirked a grin as he thought of the gift of Sif, Ullr, and the Norns as he had dashed across the low hills to face the spy. Running that fast had been a wonder and a joy.
“Thank you Sif, Ullr, and the Norns. By your help, I was able to protect my friend, and stop an enemy.”
Nothing seemed to happen, no sky-cracking thunder, but he was glad to have made known his gratitude anyway. And he was generally not used to big shows.
He remembered tumbling poorly out of the way of Morach’s spritish arrow. Derek knew how to do such, and Slade could see the value in that. If he could dive, tumble, and come back to his feet, that would be most useful in a fight. But that would have to wait as Derek was not in any condition to give training right now, Slade knew. So he put that one to the side, and considered more.
Then with a facepalm, he remembered the number one preparation for exercise: stretching. Not wanting others to see him, he went out behind his house, waved at a curious creature in a cage in the zoological area nearby, and began to do stretches. First he touched toes, and swiveled his back. Then he sat down, and spread his legs wide, and reached for the toes. It burned, but it was a good burn. Soon, he was bending more, and he decided to try to touch his forehead to his knees. He did not quite make it, but after that, and some more stretches, he got up, and he felt noticeably more limber.
Then he practiced his quick draws and lunges combined, twenty at a time for his right side, followed by the same but with his dagger on the opposing side. As he did this, he became aware that Shella was watching him, and desiring to put on a good show, he sped up. After thirty minutes of this, with other moves involved as well, he came panting to a halt, and shook his head to knock free sweat drops from his drenched, long blond hair..
“Just like a dog.” Shella said, her voice holding obvious disapproval, and yet underneath it approval. “Let’s get you to a bath.” Things proceeded most satisfactorily from there from his perspective.
Later, they went to lunch, and he decided to give the stretches a week to see if they were going to do enough good to be worth continuing. So far, he liked the sense of greater liquid flexibility in his legs.
He told Kondor about it, and the black man shook his head.
“Remember, we were worried about an arms race? Now we hope that everyone becomes strong. And you have a personal arms race with the Universe.”
“So Joe, how would I become stronger?” Slade asked, and Joe paused.
“Nerve strikes. I’ve never used them, but I know the human nervous system, and I can show you where to hit, and the effects, at least on humans.”
“The effects?” Slade said, and then noted that Kondor was holding back a grin. “Oh. I’m the guinea pig.”
“Best way to learn. You can come along, too, Shella; you’ll enjoy this.”
“Yes.” She put her hands under her chin, and smiled. “It does sound fun.”
It was fun, for Shella and Kondor. Slade had less fun as he had various nerve clusters poked, jabbed, and thumped. But he kept on, and tried to visualize how to use these with the flat of his sword blade, or with a punch or side of the foot kick. Finally, Joe chased him off, and Shella told him with obvious false sympathy that he had been very brave. He valiantly resisted the temptation to tag her funny bone.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eleven other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #480: Versers Think. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: