The Flight of The Draykes
When I awoke, my bedside was crowded with a lot of worried faces that were blurry until I blinked a few times, and they came into focus.
Mustering a weak smile, I nodded to Ares, Damon, Celine, Teacher, Calm Teacher, Sir Patrick, Sir Dustin, my brother, and Sia.
For a moment, there was silence before it was broken by the clamor of voices asking in various ways about how I felt at the moment.
Moving about gingerly, I checked my internal circulation and fell silent.
Then, looking up, I forced a smile and raised my hands as I told everyone that I was fine.
But I wasn’t.
Not even close.
My insides were destroyed for the most part. The nerves were pulsing angrily; red as though they were about to break at any second. They were also wider than I remembered. Much wider. But the warforce flowing through was barely a trickle.
My heart was where all the warforce lay concentrated, coiled around the hole in my heart.
I must be terrible at faking things because the silence that fell in the room was worse than before.
Then, faces turned away, their expressions twisted in pain as they knew the truth, much like I did before they looked back at me with pity in their eyes.
Some of them didn’t look away, though. They were the ones who had been there since the beginning of the escape. Though the pain in their eyes had not changed from the ones who did look away.
As one, they asked what they could do for me.
Honestly, losing the pity and pain in their eyes would be a really good start is what I wanted to say, but I forced down the words, and politely declined their help, before I struggled to my feet.
The world swayed as I gained my feet, but there was a strong arm under each of my own arms, and a hand on my back.
Thankfully looking at Teacher, Sia, and my brother. I walked a step forward carefully, and despite the assistance, I fell forward and straight into the arms of Ares, who caught me firmly and pushed me back onto the bed, ignoring my feeble protests that I’d be fine.
Then, I was back where I started from, and to escape from the gazes; I pretended as though I was exhausted and closed my eyes.
An hour later when I opened them, I saw that none of them had left, and a surge of warmth spread through me, and despite my best efforts, a tear dropped out.
Then a warm body was in my embrace and I cried, and cried for what I had lost.
A long time later, I looked up, and was about to apologise when I noticed that all the people in the room also had wet eyes that they were wiping surreptitiously.
A weak grin crossed my face as I looked at them, and I thought that I truly wasn’t alone. They might look at me in pity, but none of them had left my side, and that’s all that mattered.
Besides, didn’t I tell the teacher that no matter the path, no matter the cost, I shall be an immortal?
Determination filled me, and my heart beat weakly in response, before with a thunderous sound, It began beating powerfully; filling the room with the sounds of my heartbeat.
Smiling fiercely, I exclaimed, “Don’t you worry about me. You forget, I have much to live for and this is not going to get me to give up. Nothing can ever make me give up!” and I moved Sia aside gently before standing up on shaking feet that nevertheless held on under my focused willpower, and I took one step forward… then another.... And another. Then, I bowed individually to each of the gathered people.
As I carried out the last bow, my vision darkened and I pitched forward, only to stop as I was caught by my brother’s brawny arms that trembled as more tears openly fell from his eyes.
Murmuring out, “I’ll be alright… wait and watc-” - and I fainted.
When my eyes opened, I was in darkness again, and this time; there were only two figures in the room - Sir Leonidas, and Sir Galen.
As I stirred, their eyes snapped open, and they looked at me with concern.
Still weak, I didn’t try to hide my grimaces of pain as I moved around, for what did I have to hide in front of these men who I called my teachers.
Which was not to say that I had to hide in front of the others, it’s just that I didn’t want them to worry… whereas in front of my teacher’s, I could forgo that concern and address the root of the issue.
“What went wrong?” I asked wearily.
Exchanging glances with each other, the two heaved a sigh, and then Sir Leonidas said, “To understand what we were doing, do you remember the lesson about your triggering of warforce and the container that was a cup?”
Nodding, I recalled what he was referring to. The container lesson.
Basically, it meant that a body before awakening was like a cup. After awakening, the cup becomes a bucket.
Without awakening, however, if warforce is added to the cup; the cup only has three choices… namely to expand, to shatter, and to use the warforce faster than the cup is being filled.
If it expands, it can contain more warforce. If it shatters, it can never contain warforce again. If the warforce is used faster than the cup is being filled, then the cup will expand slightly and be able to hold warforce in the future too.
But voicing the doubt I had, I asked, “Isn’t that only meant for non-awakened people? The container thing?”
Shaking his head, the Teacher said, “No. As you progress in ranks, the amount of warforce that can be carried by your body increases and the quality also becomes better. Thus, an iron rank when compared to a silver rank is leagues apart in terms of the warforce they possess. But then, their consumption of the warforce is also vastly different.”
Nodding, I could barely follow along, and noticing that; Teacher said slowly, “To put it in simple words, right now - Your body is awakened and your container is a bucket. But into that bucket, we put in enough water to fill another three buckets. The intention was to stretch your nerves so that they could hold more water later, while using the excess water to shock your heart into reaching Iron rank.”
Realization dawning, I looked up at him and said, “It didn’t work, did it?”
Shaking his head in sorrow, the Teacher said, “No, it didn’t.”
Closing my eyes, I squeezed out, “Why?”
This time it was the calm teacher who spoke; “I was supposed to heal your nerves after the warforce had expanded them. It would have left damage on them, making it such that reaching silver rank itself would have been incredibly difficult for you. But something went wrong. Your heart didn’t reject Leonidas’s warforce… but it sent it to all other parts of your body… causing another false awakening.”
“False awakening?” I questioned.
“That’s just the name I gave it,” Sir Galen said as he ran his fingers through his hair. “Since I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
Confused, I waited for him to speak, and obliging; he continued to say, “Basically, your bucket just became a much, much larger bucket. But, it didn’t happen because of awakening, since you’re already awakened. Also, you didn’t reach iron rank…. but,”.
“but?” I asked, thoroughly confused now.
“You reached pseudo silver rank…” Sir Galen finished with a heavy sigh.
Almost jumping up and cramping as the motion brought up pain from everywhere in my body, I exclaimed, “Isn’t that a good thing?”
Shaking his head, Sir Galen explained, “No! If your bucket and nerves were compared to a river channel… Right now, the river channel has been expanded by a large degree, but it is almost empty since your warforce is pitifully less. This means your nerves are drying up as time goes.”
I paled since I knew what drying up of nerves meant. It meant I could no longer circulate the warforce.
Urgently I asked, “You have a solution right?”
The teachers looked at each other and shook their heads as they said, “Iron rank… is still the only solution.”
Throwing off the sheet, as I said, “Then let’s get me to Iron rank!”
Shaking their heads again, Sir Galen spoke this time; “It’s not that easy. If the condition to reach iron rank was one bucket of water before, currently it’s become three or four buckets of water for you.”
Stunned, I quickly understood, “That means it’ll take a longer time?”
“2 years was what I said before. Now I can’t say how much time you have left and how long it will take you to reach iron rank at all.” Sir Galen said in a small voice.
Sinking back down into the sheets, I heaved a long sigh before I looked at the two teacher’s who looked back at me with their heads lowered.
Then smiling, I said, “It’s alright! We’ll find a way forward.”
Hesitantly, the teachers looked at each other before Sir Leonidas said with his voice breaking a little, “We do have a way…, if you can trust us again.”
Waving my hands, I incredulously looked at him and exclaimed, “Of course I trust you both, teacher! Don’t you ever say something like that again!”
A small smile spread across Sir Leonidas’s face, before he said, “Do you remember what your training was after you used to trigger warforce?”
Suddenly, I had a bad feeling, but I nodded my head anyway, a little weakly.
The bad feeling was confirmed as Sir Leonidas said, “We might have to carefully infuse warforce into you, and get rid of the excess....”
“By? Get rid of the excess by?” I asked, the bad feeling increasing.
“By beating you…” Sir Leonidas said, with the grace to at least look ashamed as he looked away.
“.... It’s the only way,” Sir Leonidas defended himself.
Raising a hand, I said morosely, “I understand. Hellish training starts again.”
Then flashing a smile at them, I said, “I’m in.”
“Huh?” they chorused and then looking at each other, they whispered, “it can’t be that easy, can it?”
“I’m in,” I repeated.
Continuing, I said, “I trust you both, and whatever it takes. I will become an iron rank. The sky can fall, the earth can shake, but I will stand tall.” then feeling the heat inside me grow, I patted my heart where I could feel the horn of valor sleeping.
Grinning fiercely, I whispered, “Bring it on.”
And a new day dawned.
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