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Elegant Pugilism (Closed/Unarmed-Practice Major Mission)

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Haze's elegance was... bizarre. Elegance in combat was typically associated with sharp and precise cuts, perhaps the flick of the whip or maybe the pulling of a trigger in a steady hand. Haze's combat focus had always been bludgeoning attacks, leaving red sores on her opponent and denting skulls through powerful smashes; typically these things were associated with tactless brutes. Perhaps she was the exception that proved this rule?

She had entered the training arena in the dead of night, a choice bizarre for a student let alone the academy's own Eminence P. Haze. She had felt a twinge of nostalgia, a flutter in her heartbeat but it was probably nothing more; yet it had lingered within her for hours on end. It had arisen when she passed the major missions board and saw it, a mission based in unarmed combat. How long had it been since Haze last fought unarmed, how long since she fought a bag? She shook her head, binding her hands with simple hand wraps. This has been foolish, she'd dressed up for the occasion to; opting to wear her more streamlined tube top and trouser outfit over her usual dress. No jewellery would adorn her tonight. Wandering through the various training rooms, passed dummies and targets, she eventually found herself face to face with a punching bag. She heaved a deep breath; steam carried on it, goosebumps rose on her skin, being so late there was little reason to heat the room. Whatever, she'd just draw heat out from within. She stepped in right; fist meeting with the bag and a shockwave shaking the chain above... but she paused short of the next blow.

She ran her hand over her face, steeled her brow and turned from the bag. She had to stretch first, even Goddesses have to stretch first. She drew her right arm across her chest, raising her left fist up across it. She pulled, feeling her skin rub against her chin, before mirroring the stretch. She'd repeat this five times, making sure she could feel a twinge in them, before moving on to her neck. These stretches were simple, just left to right and left to right before up and down and up and down. She reached both arms behind her back, right from the top and left from the bottom... try as she might; she could get the fingers to touch but could never lock grasp. Mirroring this she found the same... Regardless, legs, yes! She had good, powerful, legs. She stepped into lunge after lunge, then sitting and stretching out to grab the foot. She didn't feel the burn, something was certainly missing. She rose from the floor and began to jog, it was light but by the fourth circuit she could feel the sweat beginning to form on her brow. Steeling herself, refusing to let such a petty jog best her, she began to sprint; cycling the hall five more times before finally stopping. Wisps of steam released both on her breath and from her body, she glanced around herself... identifying a camera in the room. She didn't want any watchers, let alone a recordings!... But she had nothing to cover the camera, her warmup was already complete.

She scowled to the box in the corner but began to stalk her way toward the bag. It had been drawn into the centre of the room, ample for assault on all sides. She drew her fists in close to her body, breathed in the cool air, began to slowly sway left to right, released and threw a proper punch. As the bag resounded she refused to halt, she took a wide step left and pummelled the bag back toward it's centred position. When it arrived she stepped in right and dealt a twisting blow with her right fist, pushing it bag and as it swung back she dealt a blow with her left. This felt like... it felt like...

Many years ago Haze had been a student at an academy, another small island academy like Syne itself, she had been down-troden; her family bought her in... she hadn't really earned it. She'd been harassed and bullied for her ineptitude, unable to answer questions in class and unable to win a single spar. Armed, unarmed, regardless; she had lost every time. As she drew back her fist and struck the bag once again, she couldn't help but recall those times; she begun to circle the bag bobbing her shoulders as she released a flurry of left jabs. She had been so weak, having her aura unlocked upon arrival... she hadn't even known her semblance. Purple, as she was called back then, locked herself away in a training room and refused to leave until she was stronger. She had little in way of strength but she had resolve in spades... she couldn't help but feel the opposite was now the case or... was she lacking...

She threw an underarmed right blow; the other side of the bag bulged at the force. She threw in a left hook, if the bag were a person that'd have been a solid head blow. She felt her breath growing faster, it was time to get more serious. She took three steps back before lunging forward. She blitzed passed the bag to deliver a solid left jab, landed passed the bag and turned on her heel; delivering a left straight before beginning to strafe around the bag's left side. She relished the jingling of the chain, throwing gut punch after gut punch after gut punch with her right, circling back to where she had begun she took a step right. But it was a feint! She quickly ducked in left and threw a hook, drew her right fist into her side and released an explosive blow. She opened her right hand, brought the bag in as it swung close, opened her left hand and dealt palm strikes all the way up the bag's left side... but with the last blow she found herself leaning on the bag. She collapsed to her knees with it in her grasp. This reminded her too strongly of that time...

She had worn bright yellow... a red choker around her neck, simple... less fancy clothes. That blue haired brat, she must have worked for months without a break. She'd wear frills and temporary tatoos on her shoulders, amp herself up to become a Huntress. She thought so highly of them, defending the estate from monsters. She was willing to break herself in two if it meant achieving her dream, if it meant she'd become stronger she'd fight anyone and anything... but when the beatdowns got too much for her she'd become a recluse, training day in and out... how many classes had she missed? Where did she find that resolve, her optimistic red eyes that shone through the dark. Making fighting a passion... had she even cared for the wealth when she trained? Had that been her goal?

Haze rose, wobbling on her heels for a moment. Her lungs burned, her legs burned and her arms... her arms were on fire. She looked to her hands, a couple speckles of blood had worked their way through the bindings... but this was nothing like the gnarled state she had once been in. Red soaked bandages... then again, her aura control had been far worse... at least, in the beginning. But her hands had still bled toward the end hadn't they? She shook such thoughts from her head, scowled once more at the camera in the corner. What had she been doing? This had been a massive waste of time!

She threw the bandages to the floor, aura healing the wounds and left for her bed. She'd find the feeling no longer haunted her dreams, for now she truly understood it. Maybe it was time... to look back at her roots.

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