Cover your head. Overhead swing. Bash. Don't use your offhand. Sidestep to the right. Bash. Left swing to right swing follow-up. Overhead feint into bash. Uppercut. Don't use your offhand. Don't use your offhand. Don't use your offhand... This phrase repeats itself in my head, as if I have to remind my body, a shameful beast, to stop trying to wield the flail with both hands. My right hand constantly seeks out a handle longer than the one I have, shield left to hang on my forearm as it claws its way towards my weapon. Every step, every swing, every parry, my body throws itself in it, in what I recognize to be true desperation and determination combined. I can recite the entirety of combat manuals from memory, yet my body refuses to acknowledge proper form and technique... Instead it mimics the actions of monsters and beasts that act purely on instinct. A beastial knight... What a strange sight I must have been in my past life. A life that is over, its ways should end with it. I catch my breath and return to training. Shield and flail, attack and defend, crush through and incapacitate. Disable, don't kill. I have to believe.
Battle felt natural to me, as much as I wished to drown out the voice, it kept urging me to fight. It spoke to me, a voice most foul, most disgraced, no doubt shunned by all creation and destined to exist in the purgatory of my own failed existence. I am a knight, sidekick of a great hero, a Dream-maker, who will fight in the name of justice and all that is good, to protect the people against corruption and evil. I must believe in this cause. Must believe. Must... My thoughts suddenly went numb, my vision a blur... Was what I bare witness to truth, or merely a trick of the light? I banished it, showing true darkness to this new assailant. I know not where he came from, his form familiar yet foreign, he came at me with murderous intent. Remember your training... Remember the manuals... Remember... His speed was unmatched, his technique flawless, his attacks came from all directions. This was no normal foe but one blessed, by wind of speed, sea of flow, flame of might and earth of toughness. His barely visible visage moved with grace and ferocity, a perfect harmony of light in the dark, shedding no shadows. No manual would teach techniques to fight such a foe. No stance would be advantageous. No strike would find purchase. No, my training is useless, I... Am useless. His attacks pass right through my body, wisps of my very essence being drained away and fading into nothingness each time my form met with his own.
I fall. My knees are too weak to support the crushing weight of my body. My arms too heavy to lift my shield and flail. My eyes too scared to meet with his own. A pitiable sight is Noct, a creature of no virtue, of nothing but vice, a weak, disgusting creature... Only one thing does he deserve. One thing alone... I drop my shield. I let go of my flail. I hang my head and await my destruction. My opponent prepares the final strike. A fitting end for Noct... But not for It. My opponent strikes with the piercing rays of the sun, thrusting my chest open entirely, a direct shot through the heart... One thing It lacks. With my control weakened, the voice takes over, right hand shooting up to hold my opponent's stuck in place, pierced through my chest. My left hand shoots for the hilt of my flail, my gaze seeing darkness, our faces meeting each other briefly before it begins... The crack of bone and sinew echoes for miles, breaking the defeaning silence that gave pause to our battle. The flail sung, a hideous choir, words of blasphemous acts translated into pure violence. All knowledge of battle and its conduct is replaced with that of vicious bloodlust. My opponent was hurting, his body momentarily toppled and lay on the ground, my own visage now being the one to tower above us both. As my body bloats with unnatural strength, I beg for the voice to leave my enemy be, yet it is now completely in control of everything I do. My opponent stands again, both combatants preparing for another bout, an epic to be passed down as a legendary tale by bards of every corner of this world and the next. This standoff is graced by the presence of a deep sea, one who's bottom is imperceptible, unknown and incomprehensible. That phrase, a sentence that always claws at the depths of my mind, returns to the surface, loudly proclaiming its malevolent intent again and again. "I will kill your shining light."
In what seemed to be a fraction of a moment's shard, I am able to see, deep into the depths of my dark core. The images make little sense, yet maybe... If I can put them in the right order. My past... This is my past! What was words of cursing became cheers of support, my turn to urge the voice to assume direct control of my body and continue the battle. I am certain, this battle, this fight, is what triggers the images, what grants me insight! If it continues, I will certainly remember! I will certainly... I stop, frozen solid, as a voice calls to me, speaking my name repeatedly. Dream-maker... His words were like a ram that broke through my gated defenses, entering the castle of my conscience and dragging me out to the world. Before I could react, the battlefield had retreated from my vision, my eyes seeing an empty field of mostly sand and some paltry greenery, as well as my heroic friend, his faceplate about to dig itself inside his head, its metal twisted from the worry and muscles of his iron cheeks beyond all recognition. With my surroundings now in check, I felt a sharp pain in my left hand, the ball of my flail pierced into my palm as I held a tight grip around it. A tree trunk, broken, holes across its wooden cadaver, stood before me where my previous opponent was. Was this a dark truth I was reliving... Or merely a trick? Another lie of the ever lying light?
Bellamy's heroic gaze pierced right through my practices, his analytical mind too complex for any simple man to ever truly understand, he analyzed the situation in but a single second, most likely replaying the entire battle and all of its limitless possibilities inside his head, an unlimited amount of combat potential lay bare deep in his virtuous soul. Regardless, he humbled himself as a true hero would, and with words my pathetic ears fail to truly understand, I managed to make out the following words. "Brutal. I never thought you could use a flail's head to punch people with it. Could do without the palm stabbing thing though. Think you can show me how to do it?" I rushed over to the Dream-maker, the most pure of hearts, one that weighs heavily upon its heroic host, thinking carefully how to explain myself. With my meager talents before this most powerful knight, I swiftly came up with an excuse, something the wretched creatures that resemble one such as I are masters of. I looked up at Bellamy, smiling due to his presence alone, and gave him the answer that befitted a hero of his caliber.
"My dearest friend, maker of dreams, hero of man... My techniques are meager and false. Please do not attempt to replicate them. These are not the manners of a knight."
These are not the manners of a knight.
These befit not a hero's fist.
These are naught but the howl of the night.
These are just...
*The manners of Beast.*