Steel and Spell

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Chapter 19

Days passed since I started my training with weapons, and I got better and better very quickly. I had been training with several different weapons like a sword, a bow and arrow, and a knife.

Firstly, the bow and arrow, it took me a while to take the hang of it. The only thing that helped me was that I have a good aim, but apparently a good aim it’s not really that useful when you can’t even grab the bow correctly. After three days, I finally could at least shoot a tree.

The sword didn’t take me long. It was the first weapon I started to use. The moves were similar to the ones I used in the fistfight, and like it, it also depended on reflexes. Thank God I have good reflexes if not, it would have taken me years to learn sword fighting.

And lastly, my favorite, the knife. It was the quickest to learn and the most comfortable one also. Somehow having the leather handle of the knife in my hand, made me feel comfortable and safe, so when it was time to fight, I would move with more confidence than with other weapons. Sadly, I depended on the sword. It was the only one that could protect me in almost every possible scenario of a fight.

I learned also that the metal which Cassius sword is made of and his necklace protects him from the spells and magic of the wizards. The metal, that is called Calieum, is so rare that only a few get to have something made of it. Since Cassius was a prince, he had more facilities to get it. My sword, of course, wasn’t made of Calieum, so I was hoping not to have an encounter with them, at least not until I felt I was ready.

On the other hand, my relationship with Cassius was just...great. We didn’t fight anymore and actually agreed on some things, which it was almost a miracle. We had fun while training (including kissing and everything) and I was having the time of my life.

Honestly, if I had known before that traveling to a parallel universe would come with that experience, I would have surely accepted it faster than I had at first. Do not get me wrong, I still miss my family and Hannah like crazy, but at that moment I felt like I had a duty to do. I had this need to get all the answers to the questions roaming in my mind, and most of them were concerned about those damn mages.

Why would I be involved in a fight that has been developing for thousands of years? I was just someone that somehow ended up accidentally in a parallel universe.

I had been thinking about this one morning, while Cassius and I were doing sparring with the sword. I had been letting my guard down too constantly, and Cassius noticed my focus wasn’t in the fight.

He put his sword down and sighed.

“What is it Lib? I know your mind is not concentrated.” He said softly.

I shook my head. “Nothing, don’t worry.” I gave him a confident smile and put my sword up.

He looked unsure, but anyway we continued sparring. I made myself a mental note to concentrate on the task at hand and dismiss all those nagging questions in my mind.

We continued fighting, and I could feel he wasn’t using 100% of his skills. I smirked internally and used this as an advantage. I started striking faster, making him walk backward. He fastly realized what I was doing and started to take action. He stopped moving and kept his feet still. He moved his sword expertly dodging my attempts to hit him. I moved my sword to his left and the crashing sound of the sword sent adrenaline through my veins.

Quickly, he started taking control making me go into defense mode. I was sweating bullets and it became harder and harder to avoid his strike. My breaths were ragged and my face flushed. I was about to give up when I heard a loud neigh behind me. Both of us stopped and looked behind me. Lucy was trotting towards us, Her wings were flapping making her look bigger than she already was. She was huffing and looked pissed.

“Woah, Woah, calm down.” I said dropping the sword. She stopped and tried to move to the side but I put myself in front to protect Cassius.

Cassius on the other side, was pointing his sword towards her.

“Fuck Cassius drop the sword! Don’t you see you’re making her nervous?”

He reluctantly put down the sword and put his hands up so Lucy could calm down.

“It’s okay Lucy, we were just practicing, I’m not harmed. See?” I started stroking her neck to calm her down. Her breathing was heavy and she stomped her hoof on the floor.

“Aw, she cares about me and protects me.” I put a hand on my chest and was overwhelmed with her cuteness.

“I win!” I exclaim triumphantly and Cassius scowled.

“Not fair! You have a fucking Pegasus protecting your ass.” he exclaimed angrily.

“Don’t worry, we both know that if Lucy hadn’t arrived I would have been screwed,” I say honestly, shrugging.

He smiled. “Still, you have improved a lot. I’m proud of you.” His eyes looked at me with adoration and my heart melted for the tenth thousand time. He started walking towards me, but Lucy huffed and glared at him. He glared at her and I laughed.

I walked towards him instead and grabbed his face softly between my hands. “You’re like a child.” I gave him a kiss and he grabbed my hips. “Well, I certainly don’t like her, and less to share you with her.” He started giving me feather-soft kisses on the neck and I giggled like a five-year-old.

“You’re indeed a child. Didn’t they teach how to share in kindergarten?” I said with a smile on my lips. I had been smiling quite a lot and it was hard not to.

His face moved from my neck and looked at me confused. “What is kindergarten?”

I looked at Cassius, and he was looking at the forest in deep thought. We were sitting on the grass, taking a break from the sparring. Days ago, he went into the forest and came back worried. I tried to convince him to tell me what was wrong, but he was too damn stubborn to tell me. I drop the subject when I realized it was impossible.

“So, when are we going to start our trip?” I asked excitedly.

We hadn’t been talking much about his return to his home, focusing more on the training, but at that moment I thought we were ready to go.

He gave me a small smile and snaked his arm around my waist.

“Soon, I think you are ready.” He said with a proud look on his face.

I returned the smile. “You’re damn right I’m ready.”

He kissed my forehead and I rested my head on his shoulder and sighed. I began to imagine what it would be like to be with his family, in the castle, everything. Would it be like in the fairytales and the Disney movies? Or it would be like Game of Thrones? Cassius’ voice interrupted my thoughts of dragons a princess trapped in tall towers.

“I need to go to the forest for a while. It won’t be long.” He said stroking my hair, making me relaxed.

“Be careful, okay?” I kissed him quickly but he grabbed the back of my neck and the kiss was more than just quick.

We broke the kiss for air as I got dizzy, my lips tingling, aching his lips just one more time. A smirk was on his face, knowing the effect he had on me. I rolled my eyes and stood up.

“Go before I punch you in the face.”

His smirk didn’t go off while he stood up and kissed me quickly on the cheek. He went into the cabin and got his cape. He got out with the hood already on his head and the black cape trailing behind him. His sword was on his belt as well as the knife. He looked exactly as the mysterious rogue I met months before. But at the same time, it felt like another completely different person. The rogue was a stranger to me, a possible threat. This guy was the person I wanted to be every second of every day. Did I love him? No, but sure as hell I was falling for him head over heels.

I threw him a kiss with my hand. He pretended to catch it put it over his heart. He smiled and winked at me. With that, he disappeared into the woods.

“He is cheesy...”

I decided I wanted to practice more and I went for the sword and the knife. They were practically mine since I was the only one that used them. I put a coat on since the wind was freezing me to the bone and started to look for Lucy. She usually made me company when I was alone and I basically talked and rambled about everything and nothing at the same time. I just pretended she understood me, and she wasn’t bothered by it.

The howl of the wind resonated through the clearance and the woods. The winter monster had arrived quickly, and I knew the snow was going to come soon. I came from a place where summer was 24/7, and if it rained it was a miracle. I had never seen snow in my entire life, so I was kind of excited for the winter.

I took out the knife and started practicing aim, so I threw the knife towards the tree countless times while I talked to Lucy.

“You know Lucy, I would give my left foot to have my guitar here or an iPod.” I looked at her and she just blinked. “Okay, not really, but you understand the point.” I threw the knife and it stuck in the middle of the tree. I went to get the knife and chuckled.

“I guess one starts to appreciate things when you don’t have them.” I took the knife out and walked away from the tree to throw the knife again. “The guitar was a constant reminder of my dad and what he did, so I stopped playing it to forget about the man, but now, it just feels like the one thing I want to have to feel close to home.”

I threw the knife again, this time with more force, and it stuck in the tree once again. I looked at Lucy and she was eating grass while wagging her tail happily. I smiled and sighed. “I’m happy too, and it feels like the first time for a long while.”

The hours passed and eventually, I got tired and went to sit on the grass. Lucy laid down beside me and I started to stroke her back. I sang for a while, trying to kill time, but I started to get worried. Cassius said he was going to take a while, not all day. I swallowed my nervousness.

More hours passed and I got hungry so I went to look for berries. A bush was full of them, and while I took a few berries, Lucy ate the whole bush. My worry started to increase with each passing minute.

Once again to kill time, I grabbed the sword and started to practice sparring moves. I looked at the sky and it was getting dark. It was almost dusk.

“What if the mages trapped him? Or worse?”

I was starting to get impatient, my chest feeling heavy and my throat clumped in anxiousness. When it was almost dark, I decided I had enough and went to look for him. I knew it was terribly dangerous, but I would have never forgiven myself if something happened to Cassius and I did nothing about it.

I told Lucy to stay where she was and I walked inside the forest to look for Cassius. My breathing was heavy, my hands were sweaty while they gripped with unnecessary force the handle of the sword. My eyes darted everywhere, and my body tensed with the most minimum sound.

The more I entered the forest, the more my senses focus. Everything was dark around me. The cold wind whispered through the trees and their moving silhouettes made me eye them suspiciously. The crickets sang, making me company in my suicide mission. At some point, I knew I was being watched. I breathed in and out trying to calm myself. There was someone behind me, I knew it, but every time I turned around there was nothing.

Suddenly, I heard steps behind me loud and clear. I turned around as fast as lightning and there it was. A silhouette of a man who was leaning on a tree, watching. I took a sharp intake of breath while my heart hammered against my chest. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I was too scared that if I did, he was going to kill me.

“Well, well, well, look what we have here...” The mage said suddenly in a sinister voice.

“Who are you?” I said keeping my voice under control. I wasn’t planning to show weakness.

He chuckled. “Your nightmare darling.” His eyes lit up and they were bright violet. Everything was in slow motion from then. He had a wand on his hand and he made a fast move with it. Purple sparks exploded and lightning was moving towards me. I didn’t move. It happened too fast to do it. I closed my eyes tightly, waiting for the pain that was going to signalize my death. Nothing happened.

I opened my eyes to see the pure look of confusion on the mage face. He did again the same spell, but this time I didn’t close my eyes. I saw the explosion of sparks and the lightning that was supposed to hit me. Supposed, because it went straight through me and hit the tree behind me.

The mage was as confused as me. “This is...impossible.”

Confidence started building inside me and I smirked.

“Sorry to break the news, but you are fucked.”

I ran towards him before he could react and grabbed the collar of his shirt. He was still confused, I could see it. I grabbed his hand where the wand was and twisted it until he screamed in pain and dropped it. I punched him straight in the nose and heard a pleasant crack. Blood started dripping off his nose and he groaned in pain. I took the knife out and looked at him straight in the eye.

He looked at the knife with determination and fear. "Just kill me!"

I rolled my eyes. “Oh, shut up.” With the back of the handle, I hit him hard on the nape, knocking him out cold. His body dropped to the floor and I let out a shaky breath. My limbs were shaking and the adrenaline was so high I felt dizzy. I took deep breaths and started to analyze the situation.

First of all, I was alive. How did that happen, I don’t know, but I couldn’t be more grateful towards God, and knowing why I was still alive was not on my priorities. Finding Cassius was. I knew that my best chance at that moment to find Cassius was to interrogate the asshole laying on the floor. I sighed in frustration once I was more calmed and started to take action. I took the legs of the guy and started dragging him towards the clearance.

He was very heavy and I was doing my best effort to keep moving, meaning that I didn’t care what happened to his head, his arms or his back in the process. His head got hit by numerous stuff more times than I could count, and each time I muttered to myself "sorry not sorry".

We got to the clearance and I dropped his legs without giving a damn. I was covered in sweat and the muscles in my arms burned. My breathing was ragged and I closed my eyes to take a moment to rest.

“Liberty!” I heard Cassius' voice behind me and I turned around to see that it was really him. I ran towards him and hugged him.

“Oh god, you’re okay. I thought the worse when you didn’t come back.” I said with a slight tremor on my voice. He hugged me back and I look up to see his face was covered in bruises and had a bloody nose.

“Shit, they beat you up quite badly.” I said trying to see if he had more injuries.

He chuckled and looked at me and his demeanor changed instantly. “Where are you injured? You are covered in blood!” He said looking at my clothes. I looked down and saw that I was covered in the mage’s blood.

“Oh, don’t worry, it’s not mine.” I said making no-deal about it.

His face changed from worry to angry. “What were you thinking? I told you it was dangerous going out into the woods alone! What if the mage had thrown a spell? You would be dead by now!” His eyes were glaring at me and his jaw was clenched and his hands were grabbing my hips a little more tight than usual.

“He did throw a spell. It went straight through me. In fact, if you had let me keep talking, I would have told you I beat the crap out of the guy and knocked him unconscious, and better yet, I brought him here for interrogation.”

I turned around and pointed with my finger to the body laying on the ground next to a tree. “Believe when I tell you it was not easy. He may look thin, but he is fat as a cow.” I said trying to bring humor to the tense atmosphere.

He looked surprised, to say the least, and he kept looking back and for between me and the mage.

“How...” He said still not processing what I said.

“Doesn’t matter. I think it’s time for an interrogation.” I said looking at the unconscious body, determined to get answers for once and for all.

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