Adventures of Zeleon
The next morning arrived, Leon was still fast asleep until he heard rustling in the room, waking him up. As his eyes adjusted to the light of the day, finding Courtney rummaging through dresser drawers. He bit his tongue to not yell at her, so he didn't alarm the castle of an intruder. He opted to snap his fingers, which made Courtney turn around very slowly with a nervous facial expression. She forced a smile as she inched towards Leon.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"I-umm….was watching you sleep initially, and wanted to maybe find out a dark secret somewhere in here."
"So….first you were being a Katie, and then you decided my clothing drawer is a wealth of information for my personal life?"
"I….you stop making too much sense!"
She ducked under the foot of the bed to hide her embarrassment, as Leon yawned and stretched, hopping to his feet as he looked at Courtney.
"What are you doing here anyways?"
"I wanted to see you, but I also didn't want to wake you up. You looked so peaceful and I didn't want to disturb you."
Leon sighed as she gave him a puppy dog look with her big silver saucers, he sat on the bed and she quickly hopped to her feet to sit next to him.
"You don't have anyone do you?"
"Did I really make it that obvious? Ughhhh, forgive me. I've been running solo for the past 15 years or so, it's not the greatest existence but it's my own. But after meeting you yesterday, I think something sparked. Something screamed at me. 'Don't miss this opportunity to connect with someone again!' It's weird, but true."
Leon smiled as he was reminded of a similar situation back at home. He patted her back, and exhaled deeply.
"No. I actually understand it completely, besides, I want you to help me get better. You've been around for a long-"
Courtney cut him off.
"Choose your next words oh so wisely…."
"....you're so much better a fighter than I am."
There was a knock on the door and Courtney disappeared like a whisper in the wind, leaving Leon by himself. He went to the door and opened it, finding Serena looking up at him, in what looked to be pajamas but she could've walked out into town as is and look fancier than any old person on the street.
"I apologize, did I wake you?"
"No, not at all, I've been waking up for the past few minutes."
"Ah! I see, did you make a decision yet?"
"I will be the new Guardian."
Leon's answer was almost instant, putting a smile on Serena's face.
"Then, let's eat and get started today. Make sure to wear loose clothing, you'll start training with the retiring Guardian. He's a close friend of my family from back in my home village. He's older, but he became Guardian for a reason."
Serena left the doorway as Courtney hopped back down onto the balcony as Leon closed the door.
"I guess I should leave you to it then shouldn't I? Good luck against him, he's much more than he looks."
"Thank you. Now get out of here before someone screams vampire or something and sends everyone in a panic."
Courtney huffed a bit at his words before standing on the balcony railing. She balanced herself on it almost too perfectly as if to rebel against everything he said purposefully.
"Whatever you say Leon."
"I'm beginning to think my words and personal space are officially null and void with you around."
"You catch on fast~ta ta!"
In her sing-songy voice she bid farewell before she disappeared from the balcony with no telling where she landed.
"I wonder what Leon meant by I was being a Katie? It's probably an earthly thing I don't know."
"I...do not know how to handle her, and she knows it. Pure evil at its finest."
Leon got dressed in loose clothes, wearing stretchy cotton pants and a shirt, both brown in color, and no shoes, just socks still being indoors. He headed down two flights of stairs to the first floor as he wandered through several rooms before finding the dining room. He used the slippery floor to his advantage. He took a five step head start and slid into the dining room with a big smile on his face.
The room was large with one long, massive table that could probably fit a fully stretched anaconda without its head or tail hanging off of it. Atticus was at the head of the table, with Katrina and Serena seated by his side. Leon looked as there was a place set both next to Serena and one that was placed near Atticus distancing him and Katrina. Wisely, Leon chose the one next to Serena as he'd rather sit near her than between the two people whom his run for Guardian only draws ire.
"Theatrics at the table will not be tolerated in the least bit, you have no business making a grand entrance when you're not anything or anyone of nobleship or an important role within Zeleonian society." Atticus' words were the first ever directed towards Leon, when they first met, he never even spoke to him. However, Leon chose to ignore Atticus' words and began eating with them instead. Katrina looked at Leon as she seemed surprised he had no retort to Atticus.
"No snide comment Leon? That seems very unlike you based upon what I studied about you."
"I can pick and choose my battles, right now he's not what I'm focused on today. Becoming the Guardian is everything I need to say to any belittling comments you or he have for me."
"You are a perfect storm to irritate anyone around you."
"I'll take that as a compliment."
Atticus being the pig he is, finished the most food in the least amount of time, got to his feet as his butlers cleaned up his mess on the table.
"Giving the silent treatment like a woman then? That's perfectly fine, your actions will show why an Earth scum should never be considered for guardianship again. Especially for a lower middle class street fighter, raised with the guidance of only a mother figure at that."
The last comment made Leon plant his utensils on the table. As he was about to get up, Serena planted a hand on his shoulder firmly to make sure it wouldn't get physical. Leon obliged but did not hold back his fiery words.
"At least I can take care of my own mess, fight for myself, and not be so damn pathetic or petty. Also, my mother would whoop your ass in a fight Atticus. She's tougher than you could ever wish to be, only knowing the posh lifestyle you were born into."
Atticus never turned back to look Leon in the eye after what he said, he marched out of the room without a word. Leon went back to eating his food, as Katrina looked at him stunned.
"You left him...speechless."
"Are you really surprised by that, Katrina? No one challenges Atticus like that anymore except for me. But as his wife who has a gift, he'll take my word as written gospel. Leon is the first and only decision he's met with this much pushback, besides the new treaty I want."
"I...I guess so. Still, making father angry like that might cause serious consequences."
"He can throw as much as he wants at me. It makes it all the sweeter when I prove him to be the fool in the room." Leon finished his breakfast, and got up from the table, carrying his dirty dishes back into the kitchen and washed them up himself. As he did back when he was at home.
He ran back upstairs afterwards, picking up his shoes as both Serena and Katrina had finished their meals by the time he'd made his way back down. Katrina made her way past him up the steps, wearing surprisingly basic pajamas that were a baby blue color. She looked at him and spoke directly into his mind.
"How are you so honest?"
"I keep a realistic idea of myself in being honest, as well as other people."
With the brief response he left her be as he went to the front door as Serena patiently waited for him.
"Are you prepared Leon?"
"As much as I possibly can be."
The pair headed out the door as he forced his shoes on when they were outside. They walked the perimeter of the massive castle that towered over them, into the gardens that grew along the fence line.
"Where are we going exactly?"
Serena walked through the seemingly thick brush as Leon looked confused as she wasn't being cut up by it. He followed her, finding the brush to be completely harmless hiding a pathway that the metal gating seemed to go through.
"If you're wondering how, that plant life is a living being that only reacts to a predator or a threat. Meaning that if either of us had a weapon we'd be badly cut and bloodied. Keep that in mind."
Leon nodded along, despite being slightly confused by the plant's intelligence. They headed down the secret path bringing them to what looked like a dojo. It was small and kind of run down on the outside.
"You sure this place won't collapse on us?"
"I promise you it won't."
Serena opened the door, and offered Leon to go in first. He shrugged and went along with her urging, which was almost a mistake as a throwing knife was tossed at him, he's had things tossed his way so he felt it coming and moved. He looked up to see a man who looked to be in his mid 40s, dressed in loose fitting beige attire, with a smug grin on his face. Serena followed in behind him holding back a small laugh, as a big smile befell her face.
"What the hell?! That could've actually killed me!"
"Twas the point young one. Danger is everywhere."
"Yeah, yeah. Danger is everywhere, always be on high alert, take yourself seriously but not too seriously. All of that is in like..every other movie back home."
Leon wasn't wrong but his tone left a bit to be desired with how dismissive it was. Serena looked at him and patted his shoulder.
"Leon, this is the retiring Guardian Gwilym, he's the one that will train you."
"That will be Master Gwilym to you Leon."
"Master is a bit too far for me, and-"
Gwilym cuts off Leon abruptly.
"If you wish to earn the right to call me something else besides Master, then you'll need to knock me off my feet!"
His voice cut through the silence around them sharply. Leon surveyed the surroundings, seeing everything around them was worn down including the floor. But there was no raised level, it was flat with the back wall having some weapons on it. His silence made Gwilym speak again.
"Are you up to it or not, arrogant one?"
"I'm up to it."
Leon responded quickly after he'd finished looking around, Serena sat on a side bench that was inside. Leon walked about 5 paces away from him. Gwilym was about 3 inches shorter and gave up a weight disadvantage as well, but Leon was on high guard as he got in a short stance.
"Come at me!"
Gwilym spoke in a commanding tone, Leon hesitated at first, trying to get a feel of his surroundings before closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. He opened them once again looking focused, ready to take the challenge given.
Leon shifted his feet forward, seeing Gwilym move his left hand out front. He kept to his left; in most cases in his past a left hand lead usually meant their right hand is the dominant hand. Leon closed the gap using his height and longer legs to get into him in three steps, grabbing his right arm and with the help of a bad board protruding from the floor and attempting to shove him back to the ground.
The elder Gwilym caught on to Leon's tactic and used some fancy footwork going backwards holding his balance with his lower center. He laughed, seeing Leon wasn't to be underestimated.
"Quite observant for being so young. But you should know it would take more than just that."
"I'm aware of that."
Leon stomped on the board making it tilt upwards forcefully, the quick hands of the retiring Guardian caught it in his hands. He proceeded to make his move, making a firm heel kick into Leon's gut, forcing him backwards, pushing into him and giving a reverse elbow hitting him flush on the jaw.
Leon was left staggered but still remained on his feet.
"I see why this guy has been Guardian, he has no wasted movement thus far. There's no windows to catch him off guard."
"I can see the natural ability in this kid, he's rough but I see what Serena saw in him."
The two were in a standoff, staring each other down. The silence was broken as Katrina hurried herself in; panting away heavily as she seemed to have run a long way urgently, still being in her morning clothes. Serena almost jumped to her feet as Leon quickly turned around looking at her along with Gwilym.
"Katrina, what brings you here so urgently?"
"It's...father! Agh...he called for a...major announcement!"
"A major announcement? Nothing good could come of that. I bet it's to paint me in a more negative light somehow. But I'm curious, so let's go check it out."
Leon had the last word as the group of them left with Katrina lagging behind a bit.
The turnout of the crowd was large, you couldn't stand anywhere without accidentally bumping a person next to you. While the sky above was somewhat cloudy, the body heat of the people would've made you hot in a jacket. They were lined back several hundred yards outside the King's castle.
The four moved out in front of the castle while Atticus began his speech from his main outlook over the city.
"People of Zelenia, I'm touched by your turnout today on such short notice!"
"Ahhh. There's that PR voice that every person of power must have."
"I have a groundbreaking announcement on something that's never been done before in our history. As you know, the Guardianship has been highly exclusive since its inception, and usually only one person handpicked can try to be one. However! This year shall be different! This year marks the first ever that we shall hold a 32 person Guardian Tournament! Those who've never gotten a chance shall finally be able to do so!"
The crowd roared in response to his words, to the point they were deafening. Leon and Gwilym were in shock, as Katrina looked up to her father with admiration. Serena looked like she was hiding just how angry she was as she bit her lip in frustration. As the crowd quieted from Atticus' signaling he continued his speech.
"We will also have a very special guest participate in the tournament as well. Handpicked by my dear wife and Queen of the humans, our first ever Earth human Leon Atkins will try his hand as well! It's a year of firsts and excitement! More information will come later. But, do look forward to six months from now! You are now dismissed to your regularly scheduled day."
"Excuse my french, but what the fuck just happened?!"
"What just happened was my father just made the odds for you that...much...tougher."
Katrina poked his chest with each of her three words as she walked back into the castle triumphantly. He looked to Serena who in a silent huff marched into the castle, leaving Gwilym to put his hand on Leon's shoulder.
"Odds are against you, there's a lot of hungry contenders that will come at you like their life depended on it. For some, it may be their life goal, for others it's a way to bring notoriety to their name as a warrior. I must ask, what is your goal as an Earth human, on a planet that hasn't meant anything to you until mere days ago?"
Leon paused thinking of his answer carefully. A very serious look came over his face as he looked at Gwilym.
"I want to break the grain. Change the planet from these lackluster core values that bind it. My planet has similar issues of different cultures as well as opinions. War is the last thing humans want, being the most in number doesn't change that they are the weakest. My mom will likely kill me when I return; making her think I'm dead. But, I have the opportunity to do something positive for the first time in my life."
Gwilym paused after he spoke, such powerful words coming from a 16 year old was unprecedented. A soft smile came over his face.
"Well said, young one."
Serena made her way up to her and Atticus' bedroom, finding him sitting on the bed as if waiting to get an earful from her.
"Atticus. What was that?"
Her voice carried anger but was surprisingly controlled. He looked up at her and gritted his teeth, holding back words that might haunt him if he dared say them out loud.
"I don't want him as Guardian. Period. That Earth human would tarnish the prestige of that position! He has no reason to actually care for this planet; if you were to miscalculate, Zeleon would be doomed."
"Atticus listen to-"
He cut her off with a booming tone that reverberated through the castle walls, echoing even down to the lower floors.
"I HAVE LISTENED TO YOU! ALL I'VE DONE IS LISTEN, AND I'VE MOSTLY AGREED! HOWEVER! I WILL NOT LET AN EARTH HUMAN BE THE GUARDIAN! IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE!"
He breathed heavily after the outburst. Serena only shook her head at his childishness. A rare look of intensity came over her face, her voice somehow exceeded it.
"Atticus. I will make you look like a fool. He is not a prediction, he is not a guess, or even a gut feeling. Leon Morello Atkins will be the next Guardian, by any means necessary!"
Serena showed a side of herself that emanated confidence along with a hint of smugness. A stark contrast to her normal high class demeanor, but it was apparent Atticus lit an untameable fire inside her. She stepped out of the room with her head held high, as Atticus could only grumble to himself after her powerful display.
She marched through the hallways as she soon met Leon on the upper steps leading up to the living quarters.
"5am sharp, we start training. Do not wake up late. We have much to do in very little time."
Her determined facial expression backed up her words, as her eyes could have burned a hole through him despite having to look up to him. Leon wasn't sure how to respond, but he sighed to calm himself down in front of her.
"Alright. I probably wouldn't have slept that well on a foreign bed a second night in a row anyways."
His response made her crack a smile, even if only for a moment.
With a head full of thought, Leon went up to his room to find Courtney already laying in his bed. He calmly shut the door behind him, and sat on the left side edge of the bed, opposite of her. Courtney gave him a puzzled look as he didn't even speak a word.
"No exclamation to give me?"
"Not today. Just...a lot to think about in a really short time frame. I lied to Gwilym in a way, while my words were truth, my passion was a facade. I don't know if I have the drive that others do, or even the skill to do it. For the other contenders this is their life's dream; for me, it's something I decided yesterday. Do I even have enough within me to get that far and win out?"
Leon's words of worry and concern made Courtney sit up and look at him wearing a smile on her face.
"No amount of mental preparation will be enough in six months, that is with little doubt a feasible possibility. You weren't trained for this, your life up to now has been within the lines of normal for a 16 year old. You have the greatest advantage however. You have no reputation, other than being an Earth human. You're a complete unknown. Anything you do will be unexpected, and that's how you must see it. There will be a level of nerves, if you didn't I'd question your mental state of being. But...just don't worry about where you are now, worry about how to improve from now until then, okay?"
Leon nodded his head after listening intently to her wise words. After taking a deep breath, he spoke with a much more calm demeanor.
"Thank you. Stress is something I am terrible at handling still. But I needed that to get myself on the ground again."
"It's no problem at all Leon. You need us and we need you, but I'd rather it be much more as friends than as business. Business is simply dullllllll! I was serious for centuries and it was a waste of time. I'd rather go and see what your planet is like! See and experience new things!"
"You talk like an old woman."
Courtney huffed and turned away from him.
"Just because I'm a vampire doesn't mean that's not hurtful."
"I-ughh...I'm sorry for calling you old…"
She turned to look at him again and smiled softly.
"Now! Let's go over potential threats in the tournament, knowing your opponent in anything is…"
"Half the battle."
They spoke the last three words in unison, as they went over potential opponents through the afternoon.