A Stake in Secrets

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Chapter 11 - Pearl

I didn’t want to go to the instructors’ tournament.

“Come on, Pearl! What are you going to do all day anyway? Stare at the wall? Come on, just go with us!” Rosie had insisted that I tag along with Garnet and her.

I couldn’t tell her that I didn’t want to go because I hated watching my instructors slash and kill people. I couldn’t tell her how I would replay those scenes in my head time and again.

The tournament was supposed to demonstrate our Clan’s strength, but I kept seeing it bring out the beasts in people. Some of my instructors never looked the same to me after.

That’s why I pretended to be distracted by my sword for most of the tournament rounds.

That is. . . until I saw a little boy begging his mother not to leave him.

Instructor Vadim was going to kill him when another boy suddenly jumped on the stage.

I instantly recognized the dark blond hair and mischievous smile.

I feel a squeeze on my arm and turn to look at Rosie. “Wow! Look at him!” she points to the guy I met at the pomegranate stand and gushes, “He’s. . . gorgeous!”

Around us, other Gneiss girls begin to whisper with excitement.

When the boy flips over our instructor, they cheer enthusiastically.

I sigh. No matter what, the boy is no match for Instructor Vadim. Instructor Vadim is the strongest instructor of them all and has never lost a fight.

He is also someone who has limited sympathy, assuming that sympathy exists in his heart.

The boy asks if he could borrow a weapon from the audience.

Not only inexperienced but also careless. I shake my head.

All of a sudden, I feel my sword slip out of my hands. Rosie flashes me a smile as she brandishes my sword in the air. “Here, we have something!” she yells.

The boy looks down at her and then at me. We lock eyes. For a moment, I seem to forget to breathe, but I quickly snap out of it.

I cry, “Hey, wait! I never said he could use it!” as I try to snatch the sword out of Rosie’s hand.

Making a pout at me, Rosie turns around and throws my sword onto the stage. I’m about to murder this girl.

“You’re cleaning it if there’s blood,” I mutter.

She laughs and says, “You’re already siding with the boy. You don’t believe in our instructor?”

I’m about to defend myself when I hear the boy call out, “Thanks! I’ll take this as payment for the lemonade!” He flashes me a wink and faces Instructor Vadim.

The Gneiss girls start whispering my name. Rosie raises an eyebrow at me and says, “So you know him?”

I mumble, “Don’t mention it.”

The battle begins.

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