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October 31

The bright light behind me struck me like a flash bang and as I lost my balance while spinning, I saw another.

“Holy shit, man, calm down. I know you need to be rough for me to learn but come on.” Arrow after arrow blew up behind me; I nearly lost my balance on this now frozen lake.

“You need better training; you have the vision but not the mobility. To be a marksman, you have to be able to dodge attacks as to make your mind sharper and more aware. So what better to train than explosions?” His chuckle kind of sickened me to the point of distracting my mind even a bit.

My leg leaned to the left a little more than intended and the arrow hit me directly in the right leg. Then, here came the explosion; that damn explosion felt like a thousand knives stabbing my leg at once. My leg blew off in twenty different directions, tendons and arteries, all of it. The worst part is the healing did not prepare me for pain but made my leg itch horribly.

He didn’t even give me enough time to stand up on my new leg as he shot another my way. “Oh shit,” I looked at the nearby lakeside as I ran to distract my mind, only to see Kyoko standing there, still in her formal attire.

What is she doing here? Is she already done? I need to get to her.

I ran at Kyoko with a speed of a wounded animal but I was making it there relatively efficiently. I was nearing the spot when the old man teleported in front of me.

“No, no, no. It is not play time yet, you can’t talk until training is over.” He held the bow to my chest and fired.

I was sent flying back ten yards coughing up blood and pouring flood from my chest. I am so happy that he knows I can regenerate because I believe he would have shot more than once if I didn’t.

“Do you know my secret yet? It involves the bow. Here is a hint: it involves its makeup.” He gave a quick glance at me and raised the bow to fire again.

He shot four arrows in my direction; instead of running I held up my arm to just take the damage. I braced for impact when a bright blue light appeared where my arm was before and I saw the explosions disappear around me. “The hell?” I quickly saw the arrows hit the light and freeze on impact before dropping.

“Good boy, good. You materialized a part of your power. I guess humans can be mystifying in this world. I know I am.” He said as he walked towards me smiling.

“What does that mean? ‘I know I am’?” I said with a bold expression on my face, endearing but stern.

“I was a human like you. How do you think I can know everything around me while being blind, have astral projection, and reinforcement? This lake isn’t actually frozen, yet you can stand on it because I made it viable. This bow is random matter that I have willed it to take form in the shape of a bow.” I was amazed at the fact he was also a former human but who could have saved him?

My mind switched to a different subject. “Who saved you and also didn’t you wonder why you were?” If he was saved by someone like Kyoko or…?

“You may have not seen her but my savior was in the back. She isn’t doing very well. She saved me and I managed to become an Alfertain once I crossed the border. I was being attacked by a near invisible enemy and she came to save me. Sadly, they were too strong and got to me, I was already bleeding out. That was the moment I realized someone was willing to risk their life to save me. Because of that, I fell for her immediately. She and I have been married for four years now, very happily.” Staring off into the distance while reminiscing, you could see his happiness shining.

I saw Kyoko staring almost blankly at Aster’s words in shock. “Shia? She’s here? May I see her?” She walked onto the ice and tripped a bit as she started sprinting. She put her hands on his chest to gain balance.

“Why, yes. But may I ask why? I have heard her talk about you a few times, did you work with her?” He said looking, not at her but almost through her. “I see, right this way, both of you.”

He led us back to the shop and showed us to the back room, Kyoko was almost fainting as she held onto my arm tightly. I can see the hope and despair on her face, I hope everything is okay.

Once he opened the curtain to the room, we saw Shia lying down on the bed to the back of the room barely conscious. Kyoko ran to her bed almost in tears, “You’ve… been here the whole time? I heard you abandoned the Royal Guard but hid here, right under the Ushian’s watch? You could have had Jalac call for me. You know that I will always be on your side.”

I looked over to Aster and said, “Why is this making Kyo so sad? Are they related?”

“She is Junlos’s older sister. She treated Kyo as a little sister almost to the point of being a mother figure to her. She left for the mission to take me out, you know the rest. After she saved me, we hid here and she fell ill two years later. We weren’t allowed to send any mail out because we were considered outsiders until recently. Hehe, it is kind of stressful looking back but I believe we have been each other crutches. I hope you feel the same when the time comes; Kyo has the same demeanor as Shia. I hope you’re ready for the hard times.” That’s all he said before he went silent while looking at Shia and Kyoko.

“I… I am so… happy you came. I am sorry I couldn’t,” She gave a ragged but quick cough. For being sick for two years, she looks really healthy. Maybe she is in an upswing?

“They will be after… you, I… hope you know. Your father must be enraged that you let this one go,” She looked at me, I didn’t know for sure so I pointed towards my face. She gave a curt smile as she turned back to Kyoko.

“You need to have Aster train him while we chat, I will make some tea.” Aster understood as he led me out of the door to the lake.

“Okay, we need to train in your materialization of offense not just defense. Half humans who are put into the Alfertain or Ushia class are able to materialize and reinforce weapons and shields. Pick up the sword in front of you and think as if it is a dagger.”

This man loves to smile a lot, maybe he wants to see me fail or he wants to see what I can make. I am so ready for this.

Dagger… Dagger… Dagger… “No luck. I was attacked last time and it appeared maybe there is something that triggered it, attack me.” I held my hands up with the sword hilted on my left hip at the ready.

Aster took about twenty steps back and drew a red hilted machete out of thin air. He was already half that distance in a second and half that a second more.

Damn, he is quick and I felt the murderous intent radiating from him. He can go from grinning like an idiot at everything to serious in a second and I felt it.

My hand was on the hilt of the sword and my other on the handle. He was within twenty feet of me when I clicked the button on the hilt and the hatch released. The sword was way shorter than I had thought it was, almost half of the original length.

I swung forward with all my force and my blade struck his with a force enough to cause a small shockwave around us.

The dust settled quickly, both of us panting. Aster was still standing but about ten feet backwards and with a deep cut on his cheek. “Well… that went well. Now look at the sword.”

I looked down to see that the blade was no longer a sword but a round bladed dagger.

“The ways reinforcing works is that if you take a bigger weapon and change it into a smaller type; all of the length condenses into magical damage and the shape of the original weapon changes. We need to work on materialization next. Are you ready?”

I couldn’t speak; I was too invested in staring at the slowly fading dagger as it changed back to its original shape. I looked up at him once it was done.

“Amused, I see? Well, let’s go to the next exercise. I think it should go well like this did.” He reached up to his face and felt the cut. He didn’t even flinch, this guy is good.

We walked towards the end of the lake where a rock the length and height of an average size SUV was sitting, unmoving. The surface of the rock was almost perfectly smooth except for a few gashes and indents from previous training sessions.

“Visualize that you are holding a weapon while holding your arms in a position like holding a fully strung bow. You need to focus completely and entirely on the moment you put your hand into the final moment.” I knew what I needed to do, so I had to start from the beginning.

I stepped forward and blocked out my surroundings except for the birds chirping, even Asters voice was out of reach of my thoughts. I held my left hand to my side clutching like something was there. I let out a deep breath as my eyes then shot open.

I reached above my shoulders behind my back, grabbing the air while going through the motions. As my hands started to grasp the air in front of me, I started to feel actual sting. Matter on mind, as if nothing else was viewable, the bow appeared.

The silence started to build as I counted out loud, “One… Two… Three…” I released my right hand and a blast of blue light flew from my hand. And with a thump, the rock fell in half down the middle horizontally.

I felt a tap on my back and turned to see Aster smiling, “You didn’t hear anything I said did you?”

“No… no, I just locked onto the rock. I visualized the rock as not being there but also keeping aware that it was. I let go and here you have it.” I was proud at my achievement but also spent.

“I think I need a rest after that.” I was about to drop to the ground.

“Agreed, you did well today. Let’s go see how the girls are doing and I will whip you up a mean protein drink. Let’s go.” We marched back to the shop to see the girls laughing between themselves like it was normal. But I felt it was forced. What happened here?

“Hey guys, Denny how was training?” She said with reddened eyes and a sad smile. I walked over to her and held both of her hands and requested her to come with me outside.

I closed the door behind me slowly until the click rang out. Still holding her hands, I looked into her eyes calmly as to not upset her.

“Okay, I know this was sudden but I could tell something is wrong. You don’t need to fake a smile just to keep me at ease because it only does the opposite. I don’t want to see you sad or cry over anything if I can help it. Please… tell me.”

She calmly held back her tears, “she told me that she’s dying because the pills my father gave her that stopped the illness she has from spreading ran out. She proposed that we should sneak in and take them, but that is not something that I want to do.”

“I see, so your father has the pills that can save her or at least make her a little bit better. He must be dangerous if you’re being cautious. Who is he, anyway?” I was still holding her hand so I felt all of her nervousness in her twitches.

“He is kind of… the… king of the Underworld.” My eyes flew open and I fell down on my butt but not in fear but surprise. This girl in front of me was a princess?


Submitted: November 23, 2014

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