Whatever Blackthorne's inner demons might have thought of the situation, they were disappointed by the end result of Jackie's request. Her shift ended without further concerns from the random tavern goers, and she led him out to a certain location near the town wall.
Blackthorne took in the sight of the training yard, his inexperienced eyes readily noted the wooden dummies, practice weapons, and startling lack of anyone else in the area. "So, is this place not used frequently?"
"Ah, the guard only uses it before their shift changes so that they can prepare for their coming duty. We're between moments now, and should not be disturbed," said Jackie. She walked over to a small sheltered area and grabbed both a wooden sword and a shield.
"Shouldn't I get some of that going on?" he asked her, a slight hint of a smile on his lips.
"The fact that you don't have a shield, or even a skill for its usage, is disturbing due to the size of your sword..." she said critically, "But let's work on skills you actually possess while using your actual equipment."
Blackthorne looked to his short sword then back to the apron clad chef. "I suppose this is where I say something about it not being the size that counts, it's how I use it."
"If you knew how to use it, we wouldn't be here," she said lightly.
Jackie took a practice swing with her sword then punched the air with her round shield. "Bit flimsy, but they'll have to do."
"Are you sure you want me to use an actual sword?" asked Blackthorne, his tone slightly nervous.
"Of course I do, but we'll have to settle for that poor thing you have chosen to equip," she countered with a warm laugh.
"She laughs at your popcorn shrimp," muttered a hateful voice inside his mind. "Fuck her in the gizzard."
Blackthorne muttered something about her not having a gizzard which caused her to quirk an eyebrow. Upon his dismissal of her request for clarification, she shrugged then took up a guarded stance.
"Learn by doing," she said. "Attack me."
His initial assault was as timid as the voices claimed his popcorn shrimp to be. He rushed in with a half-hearted and anemic assault that clearly insulted the warrior chef. As Blackthorne's sword flashed downward, she lightly deflected the attack to the side with her shield, side-stepped, and shifted her sword and grabbed the blade. The next thing he knew, he was on the ground. His ears rang and his vision swam for a moment as he tried to collect his wits.
"Do we know what we did wrong?" she asked him, her features nothing more than a cold mask of disdain.
Blackthorne blinked slowly while multiple images of Jackie's cool features swam in front of him. He tried to speak, but it took a moment for him to manage to form words.
She sighed loudly and shook her head. "You're going to die a painful death at a young age if your attacking spirit is so weak."
"What did you do to me?" he asked after he managed to reorient himself.
"A simple pommel strike, nothing more was needed," said Jackie.
"One hit dropped me?" he asked incredulously. He was sure such a thing could rattle a brain, but to do so with such precision hurt him in ways that had nothing to do with the ringing in his ears.
"A mild breeze might drop you, if you continue to fight like that," she said in a mildly offended tone. "We're going to need to start you with the most basic of tasks."
Blackthorne nodded and rose to his feet, but remained on unsteady legs. He doubted he had much, if any life force remaining after her casual dismissal of his skills.
"Shall we begin?" she asked in a tone that bespoke many things. The look in her eyes was one that almost dared him to say something stupid.
"I would appreciate it," said Blackthorne in a somewhat more humble tone that before.
The look in her eyes shifted slightly, and became one of slight suspicion. "So, you do not mind taking lessons from a woman?"
"Should I?" he asked her curiously, and with apparent sincerity.
She raised her shield upward to slightly obscure her face. Had Blackthorne been able to see behind that bit of wood he would have noted a slightly approving smile.
"Very well, follow my lead," she said. Jackie took a few steps back then over-exaggerated the way that she stood while she wielded her weapons. "Put your butter knife away. You're so green that I need to teach you how to walk, before you can even learn how to hold a blade."
Blackthorne nodded to her and followed her instructions as carefully as he could from that point onward. He started with the most basic sword stance, the advancing and retreating step. Despite its highly simple nature, they worked on it for several long minutes.
"No, no! I told you, the direction of your knees is most important. Stop worrying about the position of your toes until you know that much!" she told him in an irate manner. "Point your forward knee where you intend to go! Your feet will follow."
Irritated by her demeanor, but eager to acquire actual sword training, Blackthorne accepted her words and did his best. The swordsmanship information the system granted him did give him some idea of how to use a sword, but the type of training that provided was so minimal that even his knowledge of basic footwork was lacking.
A few minutes later Jackie nodded. She continued to watch him advance and retreat in single step motions for a while then said, "So, he can learn... Good. Now for passing steps..."
Jackie returned to her slightly exaggerated stance from before and bid Blackthorne watch her carefully. Her next movement was almost insulting. She took a step forward by moving her back foot to the forward position.
"That's..." said Blackthorne.
"One hundred steps. Go," she said without concern for his ego. Jackie walked to his side and watched him carefully.
He nodded then took a step forward. Before he could take a second step, however, he found his feet kicked out from under him and the lovely night time sky greeted his eyes once more.
"You walk like a drunken pig," she said without any heat in her tone. "Remember the position of your knees and to walk on the balls of your feet, otherwise you will become accustomed to star-gazing tonight."
Blackthorne rose to his feet once more then returned to his proper stance. He exerted greater care as he stepped forward this time. When she attempted to kick his back leg out from under him, he merely shifted his weight and remained standing. Albeit, he wobbled like an idiot in the process.
"Better," she said. "Continue."
Every so often she would kick one of his legs out from under him. Sometimes he successfully kept his balance. Most other times he fell on his ass. Whenever he fell, he was instructed to start over from his first step. In this way over an hour passed before they moved to the next stepping method.
Throughout the night Blackthorne never drew his sword, but he learned several methods for moving while maintaining control of his body. He learned not to waste his momentum by directing it upward when he took a passing step, as he wanted all of that force direction toward a forward motion. He learned to step around an opponent while keeping his footwork and balance intact. Most of all, he learned that Jackie took even the most basic of movements seriously. She would gladly put him on his ass if he did not step with exact precision and maintain his proper balance.
As midnight rapidly approached, she called a halt to their training. The guard would soon arrive to train before their shift change.
A slight smile crossed her lips then she playfully cooed at him. "Such a good boy! Baby learned how to stand and take his first steps, tonight."
He offered her a sour expression which brought a brighter smile to her lips. However, his words were far less annoyed. "Thank you for taking the time to teach me."
Jackie tapped her sword against her shield briefly then nodded. "Of course. I have to prepare you for the future, after all."
Uncertain why she was so concerned about his future, all he could knowingly do was offer her his heartfelt thanks for her concern. She offered him a mysterious smile then returned her equipment to the training shed.
Covered profusely in sweat, bruises, and mild lacerations, Blackthorne trudged back to the Screaming Onion for a much needed rest. He paid Scraggles for a week's worth of rent without meals then washed off before bed. The real world called briefly to him and he must obey for a time. However, he was not able to escape his walking torment without Jackie extracting a promise that he would return for more training as time allowed.