I finally finish getting dressed then we all head down to the gym. The storm has calmed down to a light shower as we make our way there. Elizabeth is quiet the whole time while we walk over there. When we get there, it looks like the whole class is there. Of course, when I walk up Wayne sees me and smiles making his way over to me.
He holds out his hand to shake, “Welcome back, are you here for the tournament?”
I shake his hand, “Yeah but just to watch, I am not participating.”
He clicks his tongue in disappointment. “That’s too bad, I really wanted to fight the guy who hits hard enough to put someone in a coma.”
“Okay Wayne, that is enough.” Donovan says as he walks up.
Wayne grins then winks at Ariya as he walks by. Tyson bumps Michael out of the way almost knocking him over. I shake my head then look at Donovan. “I see they still haven’t changed.”
He rolls his eyes, “Yeah it’s all for show. So are you at least going to work out with us?”
“Sure I guess”
We start out by doing weights and some exercises. I seem to be able to last longer than I used too. Then they move on to the combat training machines. I just sit down on the bleachers and watch. I see no reason to train, since I won’t be competing.
Ariya and Michael get up there together. You can tell they really don’t mesh as well as everyone else. As a team they are level three with six opponents. Solo Ariya is doing a lot better at level four with seven opponents. Michael alone is also level four with seven opponents. Elizabeth and Melissa together are level five with three opponents. Ronald and Jesse are just behind them with level five with two opponents.
Then I see Wayne and Tyson. Together they are level five with eight opponents. Wayne by himself is level five with four opponents and Tyson is level five with eight opponents. You can tell they are very pleased with their scores.
As I’m watching, Donovan walks up to me and places his hand on my shoulder. “You know you want to get up there and try.”
I shake my head with a smile, “I don’t know, I haven’t really practiced in a while.”
He steps back and motions to follow him with his head. “Come on, just for fun, what can it hurt?”
I stand with a sigh, “Fine but don’t expect much.”
I walk up and grab a sword looking at the machine nervously. I figure its best if I start at the beginning. It makes things worse for me, feeling everyone’s eyes on me. Im not sure what they really expect from me, if anything.
I end up getting to nine opponents in rank one then fail. I can feel Ariya’s embarrassment and remorse for me. Wayne laughs clapping his hands and says to Ariya,“Good thing you got with Michael, because that was embarrassing”
Donovan walks up placing his hand on my shoulder “It’s fine you have been -”
I push his hand off me irritated at my result and with Wayne’s mocking. “I’m going again”
This time I pick up another sword and start again. I get to the exact same spot again and fail. Now I am kneeled down on one knee catching my breath.
Wayne laughs again, “I guess you thought two swords would double your score.”
“Shut up Wayne,” Donovan says,
Then I hear Ariya say in my head, (Just give up, no one expects an awesome score out of you since you been gone so long.)
That just irritates me more, even she doesn’t even expect me to do well. I punch the ground “Damn it!” I stand, “I am going again!" I yell,
Donovan walks up placing his hand on my chest,“Fabien, rest man.”
I look at him in anger,“Get out of my way.”
Then Tyson says, “I don’t think you can carry three swords. Just face it, you’re a rank one loser.”
I glare at him dropping the swords and I walk up to the machine starting it again. I step into position as it begins the countdown. I close my eyes taking in a deep breath as I shake out my nerves.
Ariya’s mood seems to change slightly as she tries to boost my confidence, (Don’t listen to them, you are stronger than them. Remember you are the savant, you have more potential than anyone here.)
The fight begins and I pretty much enter into a trance. I start knocking down opponents left and right. It almost feels like someone is guiding me through these fights. They are telling me when to dodge, when to block, and when to use my power to shield myself from attacks. The fights seem to go by in a blur. I don’t pay attention to the levels anymore or how many opponents I am fighting, just the combat itself.
Finally, I get to where I am fighting seven opponents fighting me. I cover my arm in a shield blocking it from damage as a chain wraps around it. I jerk the person to me as I catch him effortlessly in the air. Then I throw him into another person, and in the process disarming his chain.
I spin the chain around me in a fluid motion catching a polearm being thrust at me. The chain wraps around the bladed head as I jerk it from his hands sending it flying past me into a guy behind me. A guy with a staff strikes at my head just as I fall to my knees, sending a flurry of blows into its ribs and kidneys.
A guy with two swords comes up swinging one down at my back, hitting a generated shield. I quickly spin with one of my legs sweeping his feet out from under him. As he is falling I strike with both of my fists at once into his chest sending him flying back.
By this time, fatigue and the lack of mana is kicking in. Three opponents charge at me at once. I dodge one and magically block the other. The last one throws his spear at me stabbing me in the thigh.
They all disappear and it says, “Match Over”
Everyone cheers and I even see Wayne clapping. I look at see where I got on the board as it says level seven with seven opponents. Ariya gets excited and runs over to me jumping at me hugging me.
Completely exhausted and unable to hold her, I fall on to my butt. She then realizes what she is doing and backs off smiling. Donovan and Jesse make their way over helping me up. They escort me over to the bench to relax. I lie down on it with a deep groan.
Donovan smiles down at me, “You sure you haven’t practiced? You did all that and without any weapons.”
I chuckle still out of breath, “I did take some martial arts classes on the outside.”
“Well that was awesome, it was like you could anticipate the attacks.”
I cover my forehead with my arm. “Yeah, it did feel like someone was guiding me through the fights telling me what to do.”
He looks over at Ariya, “Maybe someone was and didn’t know they were doing it.”
I look at him unsure what he means, “What?”
He smiles, “Nothing just rest, you did great.”
Elizabeth walks over with a bottle of water handing it to me, “Wow that was some sexy fighting. I didn’t know you had it in you.”
I laugh taking a drink, “Neither did I”
“I really think you should change your mind and fight with us. With that talent we might actually have a chance at winning.”
I close my eyes again with a sigh. “I’m sorry, I really want to avoid fighting real people if I have to.”
“I guess I understand. Do you want me to help you back to your room?”
“Sure,” I say as I sit up.
She helps me up and we walk back to my room. I go take a long hot shower then come back out. I head back to my room and crash on my bed just in a towel exhausted. My muscles ache and my legs feel like jello. A few minutes go by then there is a knock at my bedroom door.
Elizabeth peeks in saying, “Did you forget I was still here?”
I just turn my head looking over at her “Sorry my body hurts.”
She steps in with a smile, “Aw want my help?”
“I would love that”
She kicks off her shoes and straddles my lower back. She then leans down massaging my neck and shoulders. I moan out enjoying the feeling of her kneading the sore muscles in my shoulders.
“You really don’t have to do this,” I say,
“But I want too”
Her hands make their way across each of my arms then down my back as she gets really quiet. I’m too concentrated on feeling her soft hands drifting over me to notice. Then I feel her lean down kissing me on the back of my neck.
I groan out, “You are making this very hard not to want more with you.”
“Sorry, I can’t help how I feel”
She slides off of me lying next to me. I turn to face her brushing the hair behind one of her ears. She takes hold of my hand kissing it.
“So what is this guy like you are supposed to marry?” I ask,
“He is a nice guy from a very prominent family, very attractive as well. I just don’t know if I will be able to feel close to him like I do with you.” She says as she scoots up to me.
I put my arm around her holding her against me, looking into her eyes.“Maybe someday the rules will change allowing you to be with who you wish. Also social status wont be a defining factor.”
She begins rubbing her fingers through the hair on the side of my head. “It would be too late by then.”
“Yeah I guess”
We just continue to talk for a while then I change and relax a bit more.