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Deadlock Or Breakthrough

][ A B S O L U T I O N ][
Well, this wasn't how he wanted to spend his time planetside. Ideally, it wouldn't be knee deep in packed snow with his midnight slacks soaked through and sticking to his alabaster legs. Ideally, he wouldn't be freezing as he stood there arguing with a near silent Jedi Padawan as his breath left his mouth and sank as a near solid ice to crash into the ice from which it came. Ice to ice, he supposed. Why the hell was he even out here, exposed to the elements, lips chapped and skin flushed from the frigid temperature that was carried on a knife sharp wind that slashed and hacked at his coat. He let out a chuckle and shifted his weight as he watched the boy intently. Perhaps now, he'd actually speak to him.

Serenity, stranger. Peace, stranger. That was part of his argument, that there had to be peace. There should be peace throughout the galaxy. But, no matter how much they spoke of peace, no matter how the tried to convince others that it could be truly achieved, it was only a slogan of theirs. They don't fight for peace, they never have. They fought for civilization, a democratic one at that, one without a hand to guide them. They contest and "maintain" civilization because that could potentially bring about peace, however temporary and fleeting that peace may be. Always the same staple topic, a favorite by the way they sprouted it at every convenience and inconvenience. Yes, Inon did align with the Empire. Yet, his allegiance was also to another individual, another organization all the same. But, the boy needn't know petty details such as that. Too complicated to attempt to explain how he fit into the bigger grand picture of it all. They didn't have time for such stories and ballads to recount how it all came to be.

Inon scoffed and raised an eyebrow as his vibrant green eyes bored into the Jedi's own. He shifted his weight again, leaning back on his heels as he relaxed in stance and expression. He closed his eyes, pale lids hiding green orbs that appeared to see everything as they peered at a person with a surprisingly calm intrigue, even as hundreds of disembodied voices raged and screamed in his mind. His head cocked to one side as he gave a small smirk to the boy.

Finally, Inon decided to break the overwrought silence between the two opposing men, the smirk widening into a twisted smile.

"Do you truly believe what you're telling me, little one?" A small jeer that a man who appeared to be his junior, if only by a few years. Again, the frostbitten wind cut deeply into his back and sides as he stood like a light stone pillar. Inon uncrossed his arms and spread his arms out to show his wingspan, his head hanging as though to mock death. His eyes shot open, minute and abyssal pupils dilating and contracting as they gained focus past the glaring sunlight that reflected off of the billions of tiny mirrors around them.

For the first time since they began "talking", he took a good look at the boy across from him. The first thing he observed about him was the man's eyes. They were a golden hue, searching and analytical. His face was chiseled, telling of his growth just as Inon's face was now pointed and sharp with hollowed cheeks. The boy's cheeks were fuller, youthful. But, he'd never been exposed to the Dark Side. At least, he knew, not in the magnitude in which Inon presented it. He knew that his presence within the Force was quite... tempestuous, turbulent, and volatile. A stark contrast to the carefree and glowing presence of the boy. Inon's eyes lit up and widened slightly as they dilated with mirth.

He saw himself in his eyes, suspended in two shining drops of bright yellow water, himself dark and tiny, in fine detail, the lines about his mouth, everything there, as if his eyes were two miraculous bits of sun-like amber that might capture and hold him intact if nothing else would. They reflected each other so well, yet they quarreled and insisted that the other was entirely incorrect in his convictions. Inon waited for the boy's move. Would he give in and strike Inon or would he simply look on and ponder?

[member="Cenric Marus"] | [member="Asha Hex"]
[member="Inon"] | [member="Asha Hex"]

His fingers tightened on the hilt of his training saber.

Cenric had never thought he'd be in a position like this, had never thought he would end up here, not this soon. He had always wanted to fight Sith, he had always wanted to stand on the field of battle and go toe to toe with his enemy. But he knew he wasn't ready, not near enough. He didn't know the man in front of him, he didn't know his past, his history, nothing. All that he knew was the taint of the darkside that hung around him like a scourge. It pressed and flowed, a subtle stream slowly coursing through the landscape.

The filth of it settled on the young Padawan's tongue.

An odd sort of nauseous feeling settled in his stomach, and he started to feel like he was going to throw up. He wasn't ready for this, not yet. Cedric had taught him some things, how to use the force to make himself faster, how to keep someone from your mind, the things he needed for survival.

Standing where he was though it didn't seem near enough.

The training saber flipped around within his hand, the hilt falling gently into a cradle of his fingertips with the emitter facing backwards. The stance was an odd one, but it was how he felt more comfortable. The force wasn't his greatest weapon, not in this fight or any other. If he wanted to win this, if he wanted even a chance of surviving he would have to get in close. The training saber couldn't kill, it could barely cut, but it was enough to knock out most organics with a couple of slashes.

He hoped that remained true for Sith. "I do!"

Cenric called out to the man as his fingers tightened further until his knuckles turned to white. Amber eyes darted around the landscape, searching among the trees for anything that could be of help. He knew that he was at the disadvantage, but he wouldn't lie. The Padawan believed in the ideals of the Jedi, believed in what his father had taught him.

Always would.
][ A B S O L U T I O N ][

That same twisted, sadistic smile plastered itself to his face, adding to his dilapidated appearance. He hadn't bothered to wash his tuxedo yet. It was still stained a light shade of crimson from the blood that had once poured down his neck. The wound that formed an “ear to ear” smile across the middle of his neck still fresh and of a faded red color, it was just beginning to scar over from his little encounter with Sokre.

He watched as the boy drew his training saber and positioned himself in a sort off backwards ready stance. So that would be his path. Very well. Inon, of course, carried Ardor holstered on his right hip for a quick and easy draw with his left hand. But, he highly doubted that he would need it in this case. The boy could strike at him until Inon’s arms were tired, but he might only land a few well-placed blows if he were quick enough. If he got past his emerald eyes. Not many did, but if the boy did… Inon had plenty of options available in regards to dealing with his little scrappy Padawan. He stood, waiting and expectant, an appraising look in his eye as he stared into the Jedi’s golden eyes. His gaze was unwavering.

He saw the tension in the boy's stance. Feet roughly shoulder width apart, forcing the snow to stand aside and allow him to move as he felt he needed to move in order to confront Inon. Chest leaning forward and slightly to the left, giving away his intended strike long before he would make the move to lash out. Hands holding the training saber hilt as though this would be the last time he would feel the smooth metal in his death grip, knuckles tugging at unmoving skin and skin white as the snow in which they stood. Eyes scanning and flying around to search for anything, something to aid him in this confrontation. Perhaps his vain hope would turn out to be true. It was unlikely that it would. They were far out and not many ventured along this route. The boy's jaw clenched, teeth pressed tightly together, in anticipation and a keen sense of determination. He was attempting to portray confidence and firmness. He was failing miserably.

Everything betrayed the little one, whether intentional or accidental. It was blatantly obvious that the boy was nervous and unsure. He oozed inhibition, leaked fear of what could happen, of one possibility becoming his new torturous reality before could even begin to fathom the scene that may unfold all too quickly around him.

“Do it then. Maintain the peace and order you strive for and strike me down or injure me enough to eliminate the threat I pose to you and your Order.”

He opened his palms and held them outwards, palms facing the young Padawan. His invitation was very much still on the table as Inon’s bloodshot green eyes twinkle anew with an amused glint in them.

Inon opened himself to the Force, allowing the void in him to gape slightly wider than before. A harsh, bone brittling cold swept into their immediate area. He allowed himself to slowly grow in power as he waited patiently, burning holes to the boy's skull with his glare. Inon heard the screams grow in his ravaged mind, wailing to be unleashed upon the soul unfortunate enough to arouse their ire, his ire, their Lord’s ire.

He let that damned smirk mar his stunning facial features still, waiting and full of excitement. “Come on boy.” The words acid as they left his tongue.

[member="Cenric Marus"] | [member="Asha Hex"]
Two men stood beyond the plumes of snow and jutting ice, one maniacal in his confidence the other humble with uncertainty.

The Force hung heavy on the air here, where stark white graced the horizons unmarred by civilization. That age old contention, the battle between light and dark, which had played out for millennium now, lingered between them. And there she stood, aloof from it all as snow flurried around her like a blanket, a muted onlooker in the distance.

A line had been drawn in the snow. Hilt drawn, hands splayed, acidic words imposed upon the serene landscape, the tension was brewing and soon enough the two would come to blows. Asha had always despised the way in which affiliation and the actions of men and women who were not even present, many of whom were long since dead, preceded practitioners of the Force. Almost as though who they were, who they could be, their autonomy, was eradicated the moment they came upon someone with differing viewpoints.

No more were they themselves, instead they became nameless servants to a cause. And that was no way she wished to live her own life. Thankfully, although [member="Jericho"] had his own battles to fight when it came to eradicating the darkness, she had never been raised to do so. She saw the men in place of their doctrines.

"Such a waste," she muttered to herself, as she observed them both. Why was it that life was always one of the first things to come to mind when such collisions occurred? Or, more aptly, the taking of life.

The Jedi was being goaded, a somewhat subtler form of dun moch exuding from the Sith, and his next choice would turn the tides. Asha did not know yet what part, if any, she had to play in this. It was far too easy to entangle yourself in another's business, especially when it was your belief that the Force had led you to this fixed point in time.

[member="Inon"] [member="Cenric Marus"]
[member="Asha Hex"] | [member="Inon"]

His fingers tightened again.

The decision to attack wasn't an easy one. In a round about way the Sith was actually right. He had sworn to uphold the Jedi code, had sworn to fight evil all around the galaxy. If he backed down now he would be a liar, nothing else. But he also wasn't stupid. He knew that the man was goading up, trying to get him to fight.

Cenric had no idea why.

Perhaps the man was trying to prove a point, perhaps he was trying to lure him into a trap, but either way it didn't really matter much in the end. The man was a Sith, Cenric was Jedi. No matter the words that were tossed around, no matter the bait that was tossed onto the floor, the truth of the fact was that Sith were evil. The Darkside of the force twisted and corrupted, it broke and snapped everyone eventually, no matter how powerful they were.

It was a fact he'd learned more than once reading in the archives. A powerful Jedi dabbled, attempted to study the darkside, and then they fell.

It happened again and again, and the galaxy paid for it. Cenric took in a deep breath, his stance shifting slightly as he took a step forward. The training saber erupted into life with a loud snap-hiss, the weapon buring bright blue.

Then he broke into a dash.
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Inon chuckled to himself softly as the young Jedi Padawan broke out in a sprint towards him, breaking through small mounds of snow at his feet to propel him towards his enemy. He tilted his head back and gathered the remaining energy that he would need to counter his intended attack, he felt the void in his heart open wider and allowed the Dark Side to wash over him, a controlled tidal wave of liberation. It appeared that the boy was as susceptible to his little taunts and prods at his pride and dedication to his Order. His little one still had so much to learn about self control. After all, if one can't control himself, how could he expect to control and command the Force properly? But, he had time to learn and understand all of it if he didn't do and get himself killed.

Six meters apart now, as opposed to their former fifteen meter distance. The Lord of Lust laughed aloud as he channeled the energy that he currently held in a tight knot in his chest, surging it towards the boy's mind. It invaded his body, cut straight to his core, gripping something inside him in a steel vice. But, that was only a small peek of the Horror which would proceed to break past the barrier he maintained within his innocent mind and ravage his sanity. His pushed further into the little one's mind and spread panic and fear throughout his entire being, laughing like a madman as he inflicted such torment on the poor Padawan. This was invigorating, it'd been quite some times since he applied the Force in a mental capacity to an organic victim. So, far, it was going quite well, if he said so himself.

But, more importantly, it was... fun.

How he enjoyed watching others buckle and fall, crying out in pain and pure terror as they yearned only for release from the cacophony of anguish that wrecked all of their self-righteous pride and confidence. That was likely that the boy was experiencing. A lack of confidence, a lack of decisiveness, a sense of panic and doubt. An inhibition which Inon could easily twist to plunge the miserable Jedi into utter and absolute insanity on a whim. He taunted the boy, fully aware that he could be heard yet it was likely that the younger man couldn't express himself as clearly as he'd like.

"Come on, Padawan. Get up! Defend your precious Order, your ideals. Stop me!" Inon glanced at him, smiling like a child who just received the present they'd wanted for the longest time. In thurth, he had waited for a moment like this for a while now, a moment when he could experiment with his newfound power that he was given. Consider this his test run and the boy was his little lab rat. "C'mon, you can do it. Just get up and you can get back at me. Take revenge and end your suffering."

He watched on, examining the boy as he continued to struggle. "Let's go, little one. Make your Master proud and resist. You aren't truly this weak, are you? Shame that people think so highly of Jedi."

[member="Cenric Marus"] | [member="Asha Hex"]
She wasn't going to get involved.

And yet the more she allowed this to continue, the stronger she felt that same pull of the Force urging her on. Corruption was seeping through the snow, working its way not only forward to the Jedi but back toward where she stood, twisting tendrils of toxicity that threatened to latch onto her ankles and drag her back down into a state of despair she hadn't truly felt since leaving the Graveyard. And if that is what she felt, being on the fringes, where such was not even intended to exist, then what the boy must have felt was unimaginable.

Her eyes fell over their bodies, looking for any tells, for the subtleties that most believed to be obscured only due to their absence from their facial expressions. The Jedi was struggling with the sense of duty he was forced to adhere to, and it was he she was focusing upon in that moment. The underdog, he who had been put on the backfoot through taunts.

The static which had lingered on the air, that sickening tension, finally broke. She watched as he broke into a sprint, felt the fiery passions of the Sith bolster in response until it was all she could do not to choke on the depravity he poured forth from his person.

Though her movements were far slower in comparison, though she knew she would not reach them in time, Asha began to walk closer. She didn't even realize it at first, her feet seemed to move of their own volition as they did so often, but soon enough half of the ground had been covered as she made her decision.

She could only hope that too much damage had not been done by the time she reached them.

[member="Inon"] [member="Cenric Marus"]
[member="Inon"] | [member="Asha Hex"]

The trouble with horror, panic, and fear was that they were all internal problems. They were things that plagued the mind, they were things that pressed on you and pushed at you, but they were all things that could be overcome.

Cenric felt doubt.

He felt fear, he even felt terror. It was all there, dozens of emotions that poured in on him that shouldn't have been there. A part of him knew that it was all wrong, that he shouldn't have felt any of those things and that they were tricks of the mind. Yet they were still there. His heart still beat faster and his eyes caught glimpses of things that didn't exist. The emotions were false, but they felt real enough to the young padawan. Yet they were still only that, emotions.

There were no chains that bound him.

No whips that lashed him.

Fear was just an emotion. It was ones own decisions whether they were held back by it or not. Cenric's father had told him that all soldiers were afraid, no matter how brave. Only madmen did not fear. It was overcoming that fear which made you a hero, fighting back against the plague of doubt and horror that lay within your heart.

So that was what Cenric did. With all the terrible emotions weighing on him Cenric fought back, not with the force, not with the power of his own thoughts, but the only way he knew how.

In a blink the Padawan curled his fist and simply punched the Sith in the face.
][ A B S O L U T I O N ][

It was a beauty to see things change.

It was a pleasure to see that change unfold and come to bear fruit. That seemed to be the case with this young Padawan of his. He seemed to be able to break past the dread that Inon imposed upon him.

Good boy, grounded one too.

But, there was another. One that he felt slowly creeping their way towards the pair of men. They were interested, neutral and balanced in Force presence. He couldn't pinpoint their intent or their possible motives of wanting to move closer to a deranged duet as they, not in the focus he dedicated to maintained a small seed of fear in the little one's mind. Why would this being - person - want to entangle themselves in a conflict that may as well be as old as time itself, or rather, the conception of time itself. What purpose would it serve to become involved? Were they looking to defuse the situation entirely? Did they seek to stroke the flames of their encounter? He couldn't be sure, but he knew that he would find out one way or another.

He chuckled coldly as the boy landed a solid punch across his pale jaw, the impact hard enough to break skin and allow the crimson fluid of his own blood bring an exquisite duality to his soft features. Simultaneously, he reached out, diverting his attention. At once, the boy was pushed back and Inon invoked a spirit to bolster his abilities, exposing the boy to an ability known as Mind Shard. He forced thousands of tiny spikes of pain throughout the Jedi's mind, the effect likely spreading to a "physical" manifestation in triggering a feeling of inhuman agony inside and out of his fragile frame.

While he held the Padawan at bay, he turned his head to look over his shoulder the approaching person. She was a ginger, her hair and her eyes were what stuck out most to him. Her hair was a bright reddish-orange, protruding against the white snow covered trees. Her eyes were a odd mixture of grey and blue from this distance. Whether that was true or not at a closer range remains to be seen. He watched her for a moment longer before looking back to the boy once more.

Inon pushed forward, probing deeper into his boy's mind. He could see them. All of them. His fears, his worries, what made him panic and break down, the things that made him writhe. There was one in particular that drew Inon's attention. It was a fear, a worry that he would never be good enough with the Force. He may not ever master the Force like others within his Order and that prospect crippled him and broke him down on the inside, even if he didn't express it through some type of language.

A smile creeped onto Lust's face.

"Why so scared, pet? Afraid you'll never be a true Jedi because you can't master the Force? Such a pity. Even I could teach you to call upon it when necessary."

With one hand, he caught it, crushed away its flame and amplified the Shard with the Padawan's most prominent fear, piercing his mind and soul deep enough to create an exit wound if he'd stabbed the man with a knife or shot him with a blaster. Inon's eyes sparkled and the outer pinkness increased until it was almost a blood red as he stared the boy down.

"Such a deprived one, aren't you? So eager to lean, yet lacking the strength to do so. It's almost admirable, your spirit. I suppose I can applaud you for that."

[member="Cenric Marus"] | [member="Asha Hex"]
[member="Inon"] | [member="Asha Hex"]

The Sith spoke of fear, of lacking, yet the irony so thick that Cenric couldn't help but laugh through the pain. Shock settled through his system, his mind splintering with agony as a wide grin spread across his face. Some might have thought that madness touched him, that insanity had reached his mind through the agony he felt, but it wasn't that.

His voice cracked into half a screech as he fell to the ground in front of the man, fingers clutching the hilt of his saber.

He knew what this was. The pain that pulled through him. It was agony put into it's purest form, the kind that the Sith drooled and suffered over. It was what they called power, but it was a lie. The strength did not belong to them, it did not belong to this man. It belonged to what he had surrendered too. The spirits, the darkside, whatever they wanted to call it. Cenric knew it, he knew it with his whole heart. He might have no mastery of the force, he might barely be able to lift a pebble.

But at least he could stand on his own.

The Jedi let out a scream, looking up at the Sith as his fingers tightened. "No. No fear."

He told the man through his grin.

"Not right now." Fear was something to be overcome, to battle. He may not ever be the greatest of the Order, he may not ever be the pinnacle of strength, he may not ever even reach the rank of Knight, but he was already a Jedi. A padawan yes, but he had a Master, and he had his respects. That was enough. That was resolve, and that was all he needed.

Cenric let out a roar, then bounded forward. His bright blue lightsaber burst into life and stabbed at the Sith's chest.
][ A B S O L U T I O N ][

"You.... I like you, Padawan."

He said just in time to put Ardor up in a basic defensive block so that their blades crossed and formed an 'X' shape. He pushed back, forcing their blades closer and closer to the Padawan's neck. He held it there for a moment with experienced ease before dropping their blades and slashing up at the hilt of the boy's training saber.

Seems Ardor might actually knock of her rust today.

Interesting and tedious all at once.

He pressed forward, leaning into the Jedi Padawan's guard as he smiled. "No fear, eh? How amusing..." Inon shifted his weight to his dominant left foot, placing right slightly behind his left and pivoting on the ball of his right foot and the heel of the dominant foot. As the purple blade was brought down in a deadly arch, he abruptly changed his momentum and grunted as the sudden adjustment tore at muscles that were somehow already raw. Perhaps, he wasn't quite ready for such a physically demanding task as a melee duel. But, ready or not, he still had to fight and rise to meet the challenge that was made to him. Rather, the challenge he invited the boy to make.

He'd wondered if the boy had noticed yet. Perhaps he wouldn't.

Perhaps the girl, whatever her name may be, would or would not notice about him.

Maybe he'd reveal it, maybe he wouldn't.

It all depended on how things worked out from this moment in time and on past the "here and now". The boy had a spark of ambition about him, of determination and willingness to stand and face all he came across, by the looks of it. It was indeed quite a rare sight these days in those at the same ranking as he in both Orders. But, it was a shame that the Jedi shackled him so. They shackled his potential, chained him and called that freedom or learning. The only thing that still puzzled his mind was why he allowed them to do such a thing. Was he really so complacent at his core? Was he so naive and susceptible to ancient lies and pleasantries that no one bothered, or had the courage, to question in the last few millennia or so.

That thought, of course, begged the question of if they would be trapped in this endless little cycle, where old things that new forms and old problems become new with circumstance and messengers. But, that was enough wondering for now. He needed to focus on the task at hand.

His goal was not, nor had it ever been, to kill the little Padawan. It was to test him and to see what one could be capable of. Well, that was at least part of his reasoning.

[member="Cenric Marus"] | [member="Asha Hex"]

Cenric's blade bounced off of the Sith's, the bright blue of his training saber slashing upward as he took several leaping steps backward from the other man.

He needed a moment of rest, a pause.

Splitting agony still gnawed at his skull, vision was still blurry, and he could feel his muscles protest at the simplest action. Whatever the Sith had done to his head was still there, lingering and sending small reverberations throughout his form. He could move, he could breath, but everything was labored, heavier. His expertise was with a blade, but none of it was any good if he couldn't focus long enough to act on his natural instincts. A breath pulled into his lungs.

"You can still be redeemed." Cenric spoke calmly, betraying the sweat that beaded on his brow.

The words of his master rung in his ear, what Cedric had told him about the Sith.

"There is a path back to the light." Talk. He wasn't great at it, but he could try. "No matter what you've done."

A heavy lidded blink pulled over the Padawan's eyes, another breath filled his lungs. The grip on his training saber tightened slightly. He just needed a minute to regain himself, to push the pain to the side. He could last through this, he could escape it. Perhaps he wouldn't win the day, but he would survive.
][ A B S O L U T I O N ][

He felt the small jolt of electricity arch through him as he moved slower than was needed, the blade kissing over his wrist as he brought Ardor up in a hasty block. He grinned. Good, the boy had caught him off guard. Perhaps the little one held more promise than he'd initially believed.

Interesting Jedi, this boy.

He was full of surprise and Inon enjoyed this aspect of him quite thoroughly.

He saw the Padawan retreat and a smirk creeped its way onto his features. He saw it, a small moment of hesitation. The boy was hard pressed and now that was multiplied substantially as Lust advanced, following the Jedi's retreat with long, wide strokes that expended little energy on his part. "Oh, no, dear boy. You aren't slipping away so easily," he said upon seeing his little one retreat. Then, upon observing his ragged breathing pattern, "Winded, are we?" He made a final step in the boy's direction and paused, before spinning and bringing his violet saber back in a powerful blow that threatened to cleave the younger man in two if he did not react or, at least, move out of the blade's path.

As he brought the saber over his head and down to strike, he could feel the seeds he'd planted in the boy's mind begin to blossom in a more physical manner. He was starting to move slower and breath heavier. His very thinking began to cloud and perhaps even wander around aimlessly at this point. Who knew? Well, the boy did, certainly. But, Inon could only guess the effects and act upon those assumptions. Not that he liked that method of action, rash actions often held unseen consequences to all parties involved. Assumptions were dangerous for similar reasons as well.

Redemption. Was that his tactic now? To attempt to turn him with a few words.

Smart, but outdated and ineffective at the level the boy spoke at. "Redemption? I do not seek redemption. I have never been a part of the Light, nor will I ever be. What I seek are things that I either already have within my possession or things that I am gaining as we speak." But, he had to confess. The young one's sense of duty was admirable. Even if it was misplaced.

[member="Cenric Marus"]

His lightsaber flicked up, catching the edge of the Sith's blade and holding it in place.

Cenric could feel himself getting slower, but this was what he did. Lightsaber combat, the physical, it was the only gift he'd ever really had. His master had said that the force came to everyone in different ways. Some were gifted within the mind, some could lift moments, and others just improved themselves. Cenric wasn't entirely sure if that was true for him, but at the Temple he had been the best Padawan at lightsaber combat. He had done it so well even a few of the Knights had shied away.

They were in his domain now.

A smile touched on his face as he continued to speak. "Then you are lost."

The Jedi Padawan pushed forward for just half a second, making it seem like he was going to overpower the Sith. Then suddenly he dropped away, using the Sith's own forward moment to hopefully drag him forward and force him to begin to fall. At the same time he stepped to the left, his training saber coming up and slashing towards the mans ribs.

His weapon wouldn't kill, but it would hurt and stun.