The Flight of The Draykes
4 months passed by really fast.
Every day, I would wake up at 03:00 a.m, go to the prison at 03:30 a.m and then run from then till 8:00 a.m.
For the first month, I ended up puking more than I ate and my already skinny frame became even skinnier - This despite enormous amounts of food.
The sack of food that Thomas used to create for me had easily reached over 100 kilos by now.
It seems that I won’t be able to move about without a kitchen at my service and an entire farm worth of food.
I triggered my warforce 2 times more after that last time and ended up being unceremoniously knocked out and lugged away by my dear Teacher who regarded that as the most important, and fun part of his tutelage.
I finally finished the run without any warforce assistance on the 37th day.
I almost wept that day.
I did weep though - When my Teacher came out with specially made training clothes that were basically leather armor padded with disks that weighed a lot.
It stank after one day.
Sia stopped running beside me by the third day.
I wish I could have stopped running with it from the first day.
It almost knocked me out before the beginning of the run every day for a month.
But I got used to it.
Now the field is like my personal field. When I run, the earth shakes and the people flee!
Hahahahaha- ahaha- ahaha- sob-sob-sob
I don’t want to be a pariah!
Even Ares doesn’t come near me now.
Good old Thomas point-blank refused entry to the kitchen for me.
My sack of food is now delivered right outside my room as though they’re afraid I might contaminate them with my smell if I stand near them.
Bal, the smell doesn’t even go if I have 10 baths in a row.
This is my life.
But it’s a happy life.
Even the beatings that I take every day can’t dampen my spirits.
Harold hasn’t been showing his ugly mug either after the last time we fought.
He might be getting stronger, but so am I.
As for the shield practice,
Let’s just say Sia’s been smiling less and less and is getting more competitive each day.
There were 3 other times I triggered my warforce accidentally.
All three times she begged Teacher for the ‘privilege’ of beating the snot out of me.
I had to watch speechlessly as Teacher and Sia haggled the price for each beating like a pair of cunning merchants.
Am I just meat in your eyes?
Tell me truly!
Am I not Human?
I’m a pig?
Of course, I have doubts. Wha-mirror?
Yes, I am a pig.
I have literally been beaten into a pig, pig head and all.
But today, It is the end of the road.
Today I use the saucer shield and march towards salvation!
Clank, Clank, Clink, Whoosh
The sounds of the sword colliding with the saucer shield sounded out.
The sound was just like a bell plate being lightly caressed by the bell. Melodious sounds kept ringing out but the plate itself was undamaged.
The move that redirection opens up into.
To knock away an attack that is going to hit you.
To frustrate your enemy and make them open to your own attacks!
For the 100th round,
Parry! My misery is overrrrrr...wait, wha-
“Impossible! I timed it right! I got the angle correct! I did everything right! How did you get through my parry!” I howled
Bewildered, Sia looked at me and said, “I seem to have...slipped?”
“Slipped? Impossible. You are- wait a second… it was you Teacher!”
Snickering Leonidas, our teacher clapped out loud, “Indeed, and that my dear students is why a gold rank is at a disadvantage if he is an ordinary man.”
“Now tell me why?”
We sat quietly while thinking hard.
I was mumbling about the unfairness of the whole thing and words like “timing”, “angle”, “everything right” kept sounding out, and right then - Sia suddenly stood up with a yell and said,
“That’s it! Faust calculated everything but he didn’t calculate my slipping up and hence my sword got through his guard!”
“Plus, you’ve taught us redirection which means using the minimum of effort to draw away the attack.”
“That means, we’re open?”
“But Teacher, why would we leave ourselves open like that in combat?” She asked bewildered.
Clapping his hands harder than before, Leonidas had a grave expression as he said, “9/10. I’ll give you 9/10 for that Alessia.”
“As for you Faustus, do you understand what she said?”
I nodded but then shook my head,
“Slipping is something out of our control, how can we calculate it?”
“By preparing for the worst and acting for the best,” Leonidas barked.
“Preparing for the worst and acting for the best,” I murmured
“Aye. An ordinary man won’t do it. But a gold rank who wants to survive or for that matter any man or woman at war who wants to survive will do it.”
“But why a gold-ranked?” I asked in frustration.
“Did you not listen to Alessia boy?”
“Her last question. Why would we leave ourselves open like that in combat?”
“No, I didn’t understand what she meant,” I confessed.
“Alessia, do you want to enlighten him?”
She nodded and said, “Faust, it’s normal you did not understand. Teacher taught me that when using warforce, only use the amount that you require. Not one bit more, not one bit less. So if I was you and I blocked that attack, I would have used only the amount of warforce needed to block that attack.”
“Normally, as you said, the calculations were all right. But I too, would never have thought of the person slipping and as such - after I failed to block the attack - My guard would’ve been open and I could’ve been injured.”
She stopped there - looking at Teacher for confirmation.
Leonidas stroked his chin and spoke admiringly, “truly two monsters. One with incredible thinking, the other....well he’s just a monster.”
“Hey,” I cried out, offended.
“Hehehe, what she said is right and you must be curious why?”
“Let me show you a gold rank’s power.” He said with a gentle smile.
The next second the room exploded.
A sword as thin as a feather and as big as my torso had appeared in Leonidas’s hands and like lightning, gold glows were exploding all around him.
After but a second, the gold glows disappeared and all that remained was a gold armor that seemed...alive?
It was shifting, twisting, and moving like a liquid that had its own consciousness.
This time he slowed his actions down and I could see that liquid rush into the sword while the armor thinned and then a gold glow flashed and a character was formed on the prison ceiling.
Another glow flashed, faster than before until the speed that he had displayed at the starting was reached.
And then faster, and faster, and faster.
Soon, a whole line of words appeared on the ceiling.
“Prepare for the worst and act for the best”
Then as though it never was there, the liquid, which had visibly reduced, receded in a flood and retreated back into Teacher’s body.
Awed, I asked with a trembling voice,
“That.. that...the ceiling won’t fall right?”
Kerplunk. Teacher fell down.
“Why would you ask that you brat?”
I paled further.
“You said "prepare for the worst and act for the best", knowing you teacher, the best is that the ceiling falls down - what’s the worst though...should we warn everybody in the palace?” I asked in fear.
The sound of a fist meeting a numbskull was delightfully conveyed along with the guffaws of Sia which she quickly silenced by biting her knuckle.
After I calmed down, I jumped about excitedly,
“That...that was so cool master! What was that liquid? Was it warforce? Why was your sword so fast? Why did you take that second to form the armor? Was it armor? What does it do? How-no why-no wha-” I screamed delightedly
Cutting me off, Teacher hastily said, “all that for later, but the point being did you notice the core fact?”
I yelled out without thinking, “of course Teacher, it’s that warforce is awesome-!”
“Not that you idiot, I’m talking about the core problem related with the principle of “preparing for the worst and acting for the best?” He shouted out.
Falling silent, me and Sia thought about it but this time, I was the one to speak first.
“Your armor. When you attacked, your armor thinned. After the attacks, it didn’t restore itself. It stayed the same.”
“Yes, and?” Teacher asked with a smile
“That means your warforce is limited and you can’t waste it...Just like Sia said. So you too have the same problem of your guard being open once you miss your block.”
“Almost correct but missing something.”
Scratching my head, I thought hard before something hit me…” an ordinary man.”
“Exactly. An ordinary man would not be able to redirect his warforce in time. But I am not ordinary at all and hence I can fight like this.” He said proudly.
“Then what about us,” I asked, as I pointed towards me and Sia.
But it was Sia who responded.
“We’re not ordinary either, Faust!” She grinned.
“The girl is right. You both are monsters. Through and through.”
“Why don’t you tell him what your rank is Alessia.”
Proudly Sia said, “Iron rank - first-star squire at your service!”
My jaw dropped.
“You..you made a breakthrough?”
“No wonder I found it so hard when we reached the buckler shield! Is that when- Sia congratulations!”
Jumping over, I excitedly hugged her before turning to Leonidas and yelling, not noticing that Sia had gone pink behind me.
“Teacher, you’re really the devi- cough-cough- a bad guy! Why didn’t you tell me Sia broke through!”
Smiling, Leonidas replied, “She wanted to celebrate along with you when you finished this part of the training,”
Turning to Sia, I smiled and was about to hug her again when she hastily backed away and I noticed the words on the wall behind her.
Suddenly, I fell deep into contemplation.