NFG Season One - Music, Go, Falling Down Your Chair

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Description: After torturing all recruits physically, Ariastra finds a new way to torture Ichika. It's so harsh, Ichika falls down her chair. It's probably just because Ariastra didn't want to lose that game of Go.

Spending the night on Mount Shasta had been more than Ichika had expected. But she is surprised to find that she is not nearly as stressed about everything as she normally would be. With her precious schedule thrown off, she'd needed to move things around quite a lot to squeeze back in the schoolwork and extracurricular reading that she places on top of that. And yet. The lessons she had learned on the mountain far outweighed anything she could have found in books or the assignments of her tutors.

And... for the first time in her life, she's refusing to sacrifice the things that are important to her.

She sits down at the piano in the lobby of the hotel, and runs her fingers across the keys briefly, silently. Just a few short months ago, this would have been the first thing to be cut. Her obligations to school, family, community - they far outstripped this. And yet. The hotel staff haven't complained or tried to stop her; in fact, a few have said lovely things.

And it does calm her so much.

So. She makes the time. And she begins to play.

Her fingers dance across the keys, and she relaxes into the piece. A rising, hopeful, sweet melody that speaks to her of love, of hope, of partnership. There is no doubt in her. In these moments, it is simply a matter of hitting the timing, making the movements that she has memorised so well. That memory of hers has always been a gift; easy to just, find the space she had been in before and let the music speak through her.

If only everything came so easily.

Ariastra is aware she hasn't been available lately. When you think something will go quickly, but instead it takes forever, and then it stops you from doing what you set out to do. She would say duties, but her kids weren't just a duty. Life getting in the way is all.

She makes her way into the hotel lobby just as Ichika plays the piano. Well, she doesn't know it's Ichika until her eyes set on her. She moves closer but silently. There are things to be said, and maybe Ichika wishes to talk too. But this is too much of a peaceful and beautiful moment to disturb. This time, a wave of the water of the universe from the bouncing stone of Ichika's life. She fully intends to let that circular wave runs its course.

She settles quickly. Letting Ichika play. She doesn't do anything to show her presence unless her pupil ends up filling her around somewhat. Or finishes and sees her.

Ichika plays through the song, and only when the last notes have faded does she look up from the keys. When she does, and she sees Ariastra there, the girl startles lightly. A faint, embarrassed look crosses her features - but, she tells herself, she hadn't done anything wrong. She has nothing to be ashamed of. She was just, taking five minutes. Slightly more, maybe. But not much more. She's allowed to do that.

She stands up from the piano and gives a low bow. "It is good to see you, Ariastra-sensei." She says, and; well, now Ariastra can see the new clothing that had much such a stir with her parents. And social media. Which she's starting to regret trying to interact with more than she used to.

"I hope you have been well? Lightheart-sensei and Peng You-sensei have, ah, certainly been keeping me busy. It has been, a fascinating time since... the kitchen, and everything. But I did want to thank you for your support with, all of that."

Ariastra doesn't make a sound, she appreciates the whole song, and Ichika plays it so well. When she sees her, she smiles at her. "Well done. You did it extremely well."

THen there is the greeting. "It is good to see you as well Ichika. I apologize because I have not been very available between round one and now. But I am here now if you need anything." She does see Ichika's new look. She doesn't bring it up, however. At least not yet, unless Ichika does. She treats Ichika just as before.

Busy, keeping me away from helping you all. It is a shame. Now this shouldn't happen again. I want to be here." She frowns. She wasn't happy about it. "The soup kitchen was something. A great initiative overall. I will be curious if you come with anything else." She smiles at Ichika. "So, anything I can help you with right now? Except teach you Piano, you are above my skills." She chuckles.

Ichika scratches behind the back of her head, "Ah, well, it was Buck's idea, really, I only helped organise it." She says, which is absolutely true - albeit, she had taken the vague concept and thrown herself into it with the kind of ferociously focused energy that Justice High was famous for. She steps out from behind the piano, gathering up her bag with her, and nods her head, "There, were actually some things I was hoping to discuss with you, if we could?"

The girl closes the cover of the piano, to the disappointment of some of the staff, and walks over to the chairs she had sat at before, to have her discussion with Buck and Chevy what seemed like a small lifetime ago.

"There's a funny thing about that song, you know? It's called Marriage of Love, written by Paul de Senneville, but it was uploaded online under the wrong name. Now, most people think it is a work by Chopin. That's, sad, don't you think? A simple mistake, and Senneville-san has been robbed of the legacy for one of his greatest pieces. Just because people don't know any better."

"There's a difference between having an idea and setting it up to make it work. Great on Buck for having the idea truly, but you did great work too. Don't minimize it." Giving credit where credit is due.

She then nods her head "Of course." She follows Ichika to the chair once she is done with the piano. She also waits for Ichika to take a seat before she seats herself.

She listens to Ichika as she explains the song mistake. "It is very sad. It's even more sad when you know this kind of thing happens a lot more than anyone knows. There is a lot of unfairness in this world at times." She sighs. "May the truth reach the most ears it can."

She cracks her bones a bit, and she looks at Ichika, but she lets her come at her own pace for what she wishes to discuss. There is no reason to push her, at least not yet.

Ichika nods along with Ariastra's words. And pulls out a small travel Go set from her bag, setting it down on the table between the pair of them. She doesn't address it right away, though. Instead she looks up at the ancient woman with those brilliant blue eyes of hers.

"Yes. I think about it a lot." She says, "The world doesn't acknowledge us all equally. Some are forced to languish in obscurity, never seen for their talents. Others, by luck or birth or both, are forced into a spotlight they can't endure. If there is one thing I could change, it would be that."

She smiles, though. She doesn't want to get bogged down in such heavy thoughts too much; better to keep moving! That's something her teammates have really helped her recognise in herself. "Lightheart-sensei said that you would be the best to talk to about the technical aspects of fighting." She says, lightly. "I thought, if you wouldn't mind, maybe we could discuss that over Go? Ah... that is, assuming, you've played before?"

It IS a bit of an assumption, but Ichika can't imagine that there's many things Ariastra wouldn't have done in five thousand years. And playing Go is always how she's made the best connections with elderly members of her community.

"Also have to remember, the grass always looks greener in someone's else lot. A lot of people tend to forget everyone has their problems. It's a good idea to remember. Someone you hate has problems too. Someone you admire has problems too. It's not a fighting lesson, but something to keep in mind."

After that, she shares the smile with Ichika. She's happy to be here right now, that much is evident. "Talking about Lyraelle, she's has been helpful?" She didn't ask about Peng. She knows already he's helpful. "Anyway, yes, I can help you with your questions. I should be able to answer most of them." She doesn't say all in the slight case she really can't for one. "Over go is perfect. Go is amazing. It was invented so long ago, about half of my age, if I recall. Yet people still play it. A good game to talk about technical things. I approve." Even if she doesn't say yes, she played it before Ichika can probably tell.

She takes her seat now and allows Ichika to pick her color. She wonders if she prefers to start or play second.

"Lightheart-sensei has been excellent." Ichika confirms, nodding her head. "I, didn't think we would be very compatible at first, but, actually, I think we've helped each other a very great deal. She, may ask you for assistance herself, soon, but, ah, I don't want to talk on her behalf..."

She sets out the board - and there's a test, here. If she took white, it would signify that she thought she was a better player than Ariastra. Unless she took a handicap. But she doesn't want to presume the woman's strength; facility in one or even many areas doesn't mean that carries over to everything. She does, though, presume that Ariastra is the better player. So she plays it safe; passes the woman the white stones, does not take a handicap, and instead places her first stone down, staking a conservative claim on her side of the board.

"Peng You-sensei said that I ought not to be so hard on myself, and instead, I should let my teachers guide me as to where my flaws are." She says, trying to keep it as conversational as possible. "So, ah, I would be interested... from a, technical, perspective. Where do you feel I went wrong against Greene-san?"

"This is good to hear." She nods her head, and that's it for that until Ichika adds Lyraelle might need her assistance. "I will communicate with her. I don't expect you to be our secretary. Thank you, Ichika." She gives a smile.

Ariastra observes as Ichika sets the board. She nods her head she takes the black piece. Observing the first stone she places it down. Then uses one of her white ones to put it down. Ariastra definitely can't do everything. She seems to be bad with most musical instruments for example but Go is strategic, so that was a different matter.

"Yes, you do tend to be very hard on yourself." She ponders, replaying the match in her mind. "You held your own in much of the match, but I have a question of my own. Did you think you could support the explosion, or did you tell yourself you had to support the explosion no matter what?" It might be a weird question, but she is going toward something.

Ichika begins to play. And she is more defensive with her play than she would normally be; ordinarily she favours an aggressive strategy, but with Ariastra she wants to try and get a sense for the woman's own preferred style. And her skill. It's always a fascinating thing when you take on a new opponent; there is doubt about the gulf between them. Probably, Ariastra is the better player. Probably. But it is not a definite thing, and Ichika finds that exhilarating.

"I did not expect it to be as potent as it was." She admits, "I thought that with my chi protecting me, the best answer would be to blunt the explosion with my own energy and carve a path through to victory. I knew that Greene-san could not take much more. As it turns out... ah, it was a very close-run thing. If it were a game of Go, it was decided by only a single point. But it was still a miscalculation."

Ariastra follows. She doesn't seem to think much about her plays. She doesn't even seem to pay attention. Her plays even look like they might be mistakes. Perhaps it is a tactic. Perhaps she's really poor. It should show itself further in.

"I am going to be blunt Ichika. Could it be that subconsciously, if you're about to win, you sabotage yourself? Of course, if your chi had been protecting you enough, it would have made things different. It wasn't a bad move per se." She looks into Ichika's eyes. "I am wondering if it's you thought you would support it and win. Or you thought you wouldn't and that's why you went with it?" She's not accusing Ichika. She wants to see if her hunch is right. "Djamila was your first match. It was important, and you lost. Buford wasn't scheduled, not important for points. You won. At the soup Kitchen, not important for the ranks in the tournament. You did amazing. Back to Nixie, you were doing good. Then you pushed with that, and boom, you lost. So it makes me wonder if you have a blockage or something deep inside perhaps you're not admitting?" She reaches and pats her hand. "If you tell me I am wrong, then I will respect that. I at least have to ask."

Ichika doesn't discount the theory out of hand. She does listen very careful. She also begins to push on those areas of the board where she perceives mistakes to have been made. If Ariastra is skilled enough to turn things around on her, she will see how it is done; if not, she will know in future what handicap is needed to bring the pair to a more equal game. Now that things are moving at a pace, though, there is more to it than just that. She wants to make a beautiful game; to have a pleasing pattern when all is done, not a chaotic squabbling mess. There is definitely a LOT of thought and intention to Ichika's moves, and she doesn't even try to hide it.

"I think it is the opposite." She says, honestly. "My subconscious, my instinct, is what summoned the shield. If I had trusted it and concentrated on defense, I would likely have emerged unscathed. However, I thought I saw an opportunity; to reshape the power that my instinct had given me and push outward. I was overeager and I overthought things. Fadel-san..."

Her voice turns a little sour, there.

"Made me very angry. Maclanky-kun made me even more angry. But with Maclanky-kun, though it took me a while to get there, I trusted my instincts and they did not steer me wrong. It is when I try to be too clever, or let my thoughts be clouded by anger, that things go... wrong."

As the game continues, Ariastra seems to be turning things around. Appear weak in certain areas, only to come back strong, yet it is not a one-sided game by any means. Is she trying to see perhaps if Ichika will follow her instinct, or will she overthink this too?

"Good, you analyzed what I said and came forth with the problem. Do you understand why I don't outright tell you what's wrong? Why I don't usually tell it to you straight?" She pauses to let Ichika think about it before she continues. "Anger gives strength, but it makes people dumber if it's not kept under control. Out-of-control anger about your opponent shows them you think they were right in what they said." She looks into Ichika's eyes again. "If you think I am wrong. If you think you get angry because it's false, think for a moment. If you thought it was false, there would be nothing to get angry about. Uncontrolled anger is most often than not because something struck a cord inside."

She takes a deep breath. "For example, you think your form was near perfect. Then your opponent destroys you. You get super angry. 9 out of 10, it's not because you know you are better than that, and it shouldn't have happened. No, it's because it made you feel weak. Makes you feel like. 'Damn it, I am not strong, I can't do this, I am weak. But I will show them!' Then mistakes happen even more.'

She takes pause. "I will tell you right now Ichika. You are good enough and then some. You don't need to prove you can win. We all know you can. You need to go out there, keep a cool head, fight as I know you can, and beat Genie. Again, not because you need to prove you can beat Genie, but because you totally can beat her at your best.

Ichika's natural instinct is to push; and the more they talk, the more the conversation is engaging her more than the game, the more she follows that instinct, and the more she makes forays into Ariastra's territory. She's not reckless with it. When it comes to Go, she has a very good understanding of space and the risks that can be taken. But she's not playing defensively any more, not at all.

"It is an interesting puzzle." She says, and then, she stops playing. Instead, she picks up the small plastic container which has all of her stones in it.

"In the world of Go, there is only one resource. Your stones. They are your ability to attack and defend. They are also your life. In the world of fighting, though. I think that there are three things. First, there is your body. The amount of punishment you can take. This is the most important resource, because it governs your ability to use the others. Then there is your stamina. How long you can make body move and obey demands of it. And finally..."

She hesitates, here. "I have been calling it 'fighting spirit'. It may not be the best term. But it is emotion, will, desire, intent. All of those things. In my fight with Greene-san, I swallowed my fighting spirit many times to maintain a clear head and not risk going too far. But as you say, anger also gives strength. So do many other emotions. If I had allocated that resource more wisely, made a more beautiful shape with it, and demonstrated my more potent techniques... perhaps I would have changed the outcome. In the first forays, I was scared that she would make a fool of me. I wanted to avoid that more than anything. And, I think that I did. But that refusal to take risk likely also cost me victory."

emit Ariastra wants to prove a point here. Go might not be as involved as an actual fight. But the state of mind can affect it. Ichika knew when to transition from defensive to offensive without getting reckless. Ariastra doesn't care about the win or loss in this situation.

"You are correct. With Go you need to know what to do when. The opponent does not have better pieces. He does not have stronger pieces or faster pieces. It's your mind against theirs, on an even basis."

She smiles "As for fighting. One could make a case ability to take punishment, and stamina are two different faces of the same coin. One can learn to push their body through pain and exhaustion. At one point, it even becomes the same. You fall exhausted because of too much pain. You give your body an injury because you pushed it too much. They are not mutually exclusive. They also can be pushed further by a strong will. Just need to know when it's good to push beyond your limits and when to pull back. It comes with instinct and experience.

As for anger or the fighting spirit. It's not bad per se. You simply need to always be in control. Any emotion is a poor master. Yes even love, as it can make you do very stupid things. But if you are the master of your emotions, then they will always give you strength one way or another. When the body and mind find the equilibrium, it's when someone because of a force of nature. While in a fight. A fight for positioning in a tournament. There is no friends or enemy. You can be pissed off at a bitch after the fight. But during the fight, the bitch is just an opponent like any other. She has strong points, she has weaknesses. Don't give her more weakness to exploit. Same for a friend. During the fight, they are just another opponent. If they take a bad blow, it's not the time during the fight to check if they are ok. If they are not ok, they can call it quit. Otherwise, you can continue to press your advantage. After the fight, then you can help your friend and make sure they are ok. There are only two things that matter. Putting the necessary emotion in your body, but your mind always clear."

She stretches a bit. "Imagine your body is an earthquake, ready to destroy anything in its path. But your mind is a glass of water. Flowing with the earthquake, but not a drop of water falls out of it because you are in control. If the glass spills all the water on the floor, it means you are no longer in control. Your emotions are."

"You seem to have a great instinct in your case. Use it, but don't push it further than it guides you.

Ichika nods along with the explanation, a very intent expression on her face, those brilliant blue eyes of hers locked on Ariastra. She doesn't seem terribly interested in the game at all any more; she has ceased placing pieces, more focused on the conversation. The game served many purposes; icebreaker, distraction, and of course it is just fun... but the conversation has moved far beyond the need for any of those things.

"It goes the other way as well." She says, "If I want to, I can push my body to give me more fighting spirit. That's what I did when you asked me to show you my best. From a cold start, it takes a great deal of effort to push to my strongest techniques. But when the fight is already underway..."

She sets the container of stones back down on the table. "It is an easy thing for me to force my fighting spirit, or to trade temporary pain for a great surge of strength." She has split the stones into three piles. "I can shift my resources between these areas. But. This is where things get difficult. Because doing so is still, very conscious, for me. I must think about it. Have a plan in my mind, a path to victory, and execute it. It is not yet... instinctive."

And then she looks up from the stones, back to Ariastra's eyes. "Do you think that such a thing can be trained? It seems, difficult, to study to cease to think."

She does not urge Ichika to play. She saw what she wanted to see with it. A win or a loss will not give further information. The conversation is more important, and she is giving her focus on that. It's good.

"Yes, but in that case you have to think of the consequences of doing that. There is a reason to do something, anything. Just need to do it at the right time. Then it falls in the category of risks vs rewards. First of all, your life is a precious gift. So if the risk is to lose your life. The reward is better to be at least one life in return or many. But that's outside the tournament. Nothing will go to that extreme in the tournament.

"You can never make a path to victory from the beginning of the fight to the end of the fight. Because almost certainly, your opponent will not do everything you expect him to do."

"You can learn it, For example." After Ichika is done with her stones, stands just enough and sends her fist at Ichika's face. If Ichika does not deflect it, it stops right before touching her nose. But she figures Ichika has a good chance to deflect this with her arm. She waits on further commands to see how Ichika reacts to this. Instinctively of course, but also mentally after the fact.

It's not the first time Ariastra has told her about the possibility of death. It takes her back to the soup kitchen; the fanatics who had seemed perfectly willing to kill, or die, for reasons she still couldn't really grasp. It is where she had started thinking that they are, all of them, being prepared for more than just the tournament. For some greater purpose. But. If she lets herself think on that too much, she will be swallowed by it. She has to stay focused on the here and now; to walk the path in front of her. If there is more, she will reach it at the proper time. Not before.

"Yes. The plan has to adapt." She agrees, "Your opponent will always react to what you are doing-"

She's cut off by the sudden flung fist. Her instinct does kick in! And, she topples off her chair backwards, her legs flail, she kicks the table - and stones are sent spilling all over the hotel lobby!


Ariastra is making a big deal out of life or death because she doesn't need to worry about it. Not in that sense. If someone watches her fight and takes an example of her without a care for their own life. Then it's really bad. But of course, this is not explained that way, so it may not be readily apparent at all. Perhaps there is almost more about that.

"So unless you're incredibly lucky you will always change something on the fly. I am happy you are aware of that. Not surprised though.

To her defense, she tries to catch Ichika's arm when she topples backward. She didn't exactly think such a drastic reaction would happen. Still, it was instinct. It proves a point, just not in the best way. She goes immediately to Ichika to help her up. "Oh my, are you alright? You reacted instinctively to this. This is a better scenario than not reacting at all. Though in this case, not the best response. It's also my fault." She takes her hand if willing and pulls her up. Then she proceeds to get down on one knee to start picking up the stone. "I am pretty sure you won't want to have any more surprises from me." She chuckles, and she doesn't seem to give a shit if others are looking at them. "So in this case, you just need to change the flight instinct to a more constructive one, but that's it. Next time, I will do a meditative fight with you. Meditation clears the mind. If you can keep it up during the mind, it's a good way to see how a peaceful mind is during a fight."

Ichika is far more prone to embarrassment, but to her credit, she recovers more swiftly than she would have even a few days ago. She takes the hand offered to her and gets back up into a crouched position at least, after which she also begins to gather up the stones. With the two of them, it only takes a couple of minutes, during which Ichika is contemplative.

"I've never had much luck with meditation." She admits, as she sits back down. "My mind... won't, stop, a lot of the time. In combat, a couple of times, I've been able to make it clear. And once, it was FORCEFULLY cleared for me, which was horrifying. But, mostly, I'm always thinking. It's difficult to make it stop, honestly."

And as she talks, she's... resetting the game. Absently putting the stones back onto the board in the exact same order in which they were placed originally.

Ariastra had too much happened in her life to feel embarrassment from much of anything. Besides, to her, people are but a blink in her life. People's judgment is nothing to be scared or shy about. She just picks up the pieces with her until she says something again.

"Well, if you are willing to try it with me, it might surprise you. If it doesn't work, I will remember you did warn me it's not working with you. Sometimes, different ways work is all." She smiles.

She goes silent after that as she realizes what Ichika is doing. Photographic memory perhaps. She hands her the stone she has and doesn't say anything until Ichika is done. "Do you have photographic memory Ichika? Could you see how the board was before in your head with perfect clarity?" She has to ask. Then a one-point training can take a different direction. This fall might have been useful after all.

Ichika nods, "Of course. I'm happy to try anything. I've done many things I didn't think I could, because of the guidance of you, the other Sensei, and my teammates."

The question, though, has her run her hand through her hair, making it splay more than normal - a nervous gesture that she's, actually been doing less of recently. But it's still not a habit that has quite been solved completely. "Ah, well. Yes." She says, simply. "My memory is... extremely good. Uhm. It's, the reason I have been able to do all the things I have done. And it can be difficult at times, too. My fights, for instance..." She gives a soft sigh, and looks up at the ceiling.

"I am trying hard to take Peng You-sensei's advice and not be hard on myself. But every time we speak of them, I remember them. All of them. The good parts, yes, but also the failures. Especially the failures. And I think, 'what if I had done something differently'. And then my mind tells me all the opportunities I *didn't* take. All the possibilities I didn't seize. Everything I could have done differently. But no matter how clearly you remember something, you can't change it."

"You will end up doing many things that seem impossible now. One day you might guide a young person to fight. Directly anyway. You will inspire new fighters at one point just by fighting." Almost as if she knows, but if she does, what does she know?

"Great memory is a blessing and a curse wrapped in a gift box with an alarm on it." She sighs. "It makes it easier to learn, but you know that already. But it also makes it easier to judge yourself. You know exactly the problem. Because if only, if only. With the time you probably spend thinking about it, you see the problem(s). But why didn't you see it then."

After a moment. "It's ok Ichika. It's hard, but do you remember what I told you about fights? That your mind must be clear, whether it's a friend or an enemy, until the fight is done. That applies to what you remember. If you remember your fight. At that moment that is it yourself you see doesn't matter. You're in a fight, and your mind must remain calm and in control as it takes all the knowledge it can from that fight. We will try to work on that too, if you wish at one point. Just try to keep it in mind is all.

Ichika smiles faintly, "It's a difficult thing for me to understand. That people would take inspiration from me when I have not performed particularly well, in terms of results. But, then, I also take inspiration from people who have not achieved great success but who persevere regardless. So. Perhaps I should not be so terribly surprised."

Everything that Ariastra says makes a great deal of sense. And before she joined the Project, she would have thought it ridiculous to believe that anyone could help her calm the hurricane that is her mind. But now? All things seem possible.

"If you can assist me with, all of this, I will be very grateful, Ariastra-sensei. It feels as though I am learning so many new things every day. When I think about who I was when I first fought Fadel-san and who I am now, I have changed a great deal. I am excited to see who I will be when the Project is at an end."

And then, she grins. Which may be the first time that Ariastra has actually seen the girl look... relaxed; impish, even, as those bright eyes sparkle.

"And I look forward to winning the final tournament as well~."

"Ichika the young woman who persevered. Granted you're not the only one, but you have your own way." She smiles. "I am not worried about your future. You will do just fine."

"I will do my best when you feel it's a good time. I know there is another match for you coming. I don't want to put too much pressure. I am sure there are already quite a few things to think about. Also, you're unique, so doesn't mean something working on someone else will work the same on you. But I am ready to take the time to work it out with you."

Ariastra smiles as she sees her relaxed and with what she says too. "You totally can. If you do, or shall I say when you do, I am carrying you on my shoulders in celebration.emit

Ichika nods her head at the mention of the next match.

"Bouvier-san." She says, "I have reviewed her match against Kuroiwa-san and her match against Osterlund-san." She folds her hands on the table as she considers how to phrase what she wants to say next; to collect her thoughts.

"My impression of her is that she has a great deal of natural power and little technical skill. Which is dangerous, because it makes her unpredictable and any hits that she does manage to land on me are likely to be extremely painful. As you said, it is difficult to have a plan and stick to it rigidly when the fight begins. But when it comes to her... the only plan that I can reasonably have is to try and hit her more than she hits me, I have no other starting point to go from."

Ariastra listens to Ichika's review of her opponent. She nods her head. "it is a good initiative to review her matches. Gives you an idea of what to expect."

She continues to listen, she smiles, and she also looks amused, but not in a derogatory way. "You can bring the pain too." She chuckles. "As for her unpredictability. I would say observe. Sometimes in what appears to be chaos, there is a certain order to things anyway. If you can discover a pattern, a tick, anything that can give you insight to better know when you can take someone's hit. Versus when you should get out of the way versus powering through. Also if you learn to read any opponents, you can detect what has hurt them more vs what they took well from you. You don't have to do it, but I am thinking with your photographic memories, you would spot patterns easier. Maybe see when someone tenses their muscles to hit stronger or go lighter on their feed to attack faster. The little details. Does it make sense?"

Ichika nods her head, "Yes." She agrees, "I... actually, ah, have always just, been able to tell."

She smiles apologetically, "When I say that I view fighting as composed of those three things, I don't mean just for me. I ah. I can't, fully explain it. But I think it is part of my, connection, to the world." This may take a little more explanation, so she closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, and when she opens them again, she fixes Ariastra with her gaze - hard eye contact, brilliant eyes burning like sapphires.

"Miyama-sensei severed my connection to the world somehow, and that was when fighting stopped making sense. My mind quieted and it became difficult to even swing my sword. But when it is there, things just tend to... fit together, and I can see what I should do. It obviously isn't perfect, or I wouldn't have the difficulties I do, but I *know* that Greene-san and Buck were only a single strike away from being felled in our fights, for instance. I know it. As much as I know my own name."

"I approve then. If you know that, it can only get better and we can also work on that. Maybe even quiet your mind that way." She seems excited at that prospect. At least it shows in her eyes.

She listens to Ichika further. She's trying to explain something that goes beyond words. The least Ariastra can do is give her her full attention. She looks back, her eyes a pool of chocolate.

She makes a face when Ichika tells her of having her connection severed from the world. This is horrible, seeing as all is one one is all in so many ways, but Ichika got through. It shows her strength.

"Nothing is perfect, but we push ourselves to be the best we can be." She smiles again. "I think you at least have a good base if not more. Now if you can put those readings of your opponents with readings of yourself at the same time, something like what happened against Nixie, will not repeat. I think you have most of the pieces of the puzzle that makes you, you Ichika. They just need to be put in order. Until you use all of your skills to be able to read most situations and reply with the best answer to them. It doesn't mean you will win every single fight. Some fights have situations where it seems we are not meant to win due to different factors. Though in NFG, you still have all your chances. I believe in you. Whatever happens in NFG, it's a foundation. Maybe, in the end, you will finish on top. Maybe you won't, but we will make sure your foundation is very solid so it doesn't crumble under your feet later."

Ichika smiles at the encouragement, and nods her head. "It is a selfish thing for me to admit, but... I don't believe I will ever stop, now." She says, and finally she lets her gaze break so it isn't quite so intense.

"Fighting alongside Chevy and Buck, pushing myself beyond what I thought was possible... even if I lose every fight, even if I am considered a bad joke, even if my parents or Imawano-sensei *forbade* it... I don't think I could stop. I never knew I needed this, until I got it. But I have to know how far I can go. I, hope, that I can find a way to square this desire with my responsibilities as a member of the Super Elite, but, imagining stopping now? Before I have done everything I can? It would be less painful to cut off my own legs."

She loves the intensity Ichika can give. There is something about her. She has all her life ahead of her. She's not old. She is still discovering herself. At least on something. Yet she is dedicated. It will go well for her. Ariastra is certain of it. "No one is asking you to stop. No one who cares for you is."

She listens to Ichika speak about how she feels. "Nobody will ask you to cut your legs off." She winks. "You have quite a few people who believe in you. I will be there for your match. I will see you win against Genie. I am calling it now. I won't think less of you if you don't win, but you're going to win. It's how I see it. You're ready now." Ariastra says, with no hesitation in her voice. "And once you have that first official win, the sky will be the limit. Though I expect you to not get a big head over it. Otherwise, I will need to do something about that." It doesn't look like she is worried, it's more like some playful banter.

"To be honest, I don't care if you lose all of your matches, or win them all. As long as you try your best and find what makes you happy in life, I will be in your corner."

Ichika gives a soft laugh, and then stands up. "I appreciate your faith." She says, and... she means it. Once, she would have taken the confidence as added pressure regardless of the assurances Ariastra gave; she really does want to win and prove that she can overcome these obstacles. But after having it so clearly demonstrated to her, over and over again, that she is obtaining great lessons from her losses? And that this is the real expectation of her tutors, at least, if not everyone else? It is easier for her to let that go.

"I ought to attend to my schoolwork. I have a lot to catch up on, and that was the deal I struck with Imawano-sensei. But, thank you for your advice, Ariastra-sensei. And your support as well." She packs away the Go set quite quickly; divvying the stones back up into their containers and then sliding the set into her satchel.

"I will look forward to finishing that game with you next time we talk~."

"I've seen all types of people in life Ichika. Probably too many. But I am happy I've met you and to have you on our team." She smiles. There is not much else to say right now. There will be a match, and Ariastra will be there. She said what she thought would happen, with what she observed. She could be wrong too, but it's ok. Ichika is learning, and she's already very different from the girl they recruited, so everything will be fine.

"Yes, this is important too." She smiles again. "It's no problem, it's why I am here. I will be more present now. I don't intend to disappear again like what happened. Probably we will discuss your Match with Genie. At one point anyway, alright?"

For the game, she nods her head. "Do not try to cheat. I will remember where we were at too." She gives a wink. Teasing a little bit. Then she lets her go, pondering the whole encounter and what she will do next.

Log created on 09:38:29 06/29/2023 by Ariastra, and last modified on 04:42:24 06/30/2023.