Chapter 39:

Volume 2, Interlude A: Their Training

Heroes of the Past

Bartholomew fell to the floor, tripping on one of the many invisible strings Lilith wove. Once his foot contacted the string, a loud explosion triggered. He emerged from the resulting smoke, coughing and charred from the blast.Bookmark here

“You’re still not agile enough yet,” Lionel commented, offering him a helping hand.Bookmark here

“Thanks. I still don’t know how you manage to slip through all of that without any trouble,” Bartholomew said.Bookmark here

“Practice and a lot of bruises,” Lionel replied, glancing over at Lilith.Bookmark here

“Don’t look at me like that. You were the one who kept asking me to use my powers over and over,” Lilith remarked.Bookmark here

“You were willing to do it. It really helped out a lot, Lilith. I appreciate it,” Lionel said, giving a small grin.Bookmark here

“Whoa, you being nice to people, what’s gong on here?” Bartholomew asked, staring at his trainer in awe.Bookmark here

“Shut it, Bartholomew. I know when to thank someone if they’ve done something for me,” Lionel said.Bookmark here

Lilith and the two men stood in their training facility. Unlike Tess’ group, they didn’t have the connections or access to a large range of amenities. Instead, they utilized a warehouse space set up by their former leader.Bookmark here

“Bartholomew, if you can’t get through my wires, then you have no chance at weaving through Tess’ chains,” Lilith stated.Bookmark here

“I know, but aren’t we suppose to be working together now?” Bartholomew inquired, preparing for another attempt.Bookmark here

“A temporary truce. However, if we were to ever fight them, I’m sure you know what I’m getting at. Lionel, show him how it’s done,” Lilith explained, gesturing toward the senor team member.Bookmark here

The leader donned black gloves and then made knitting motions in the air. Bartholomew and Lionel’s sharp feline eyes only saw bits and pieces of her wire building. She finally completed it and gave a small clap. Her laser trip wire setup became visible, glistening in the dim building lighting.Bookmark here

“You did this on purpose!” Lionel exclaimed, glaring at her.Bookmark here

“No idea what you’re talking about, Lionel. Go and show your protégé what you can do,” Lilith denied, taking a seat on the floor.Bookmark here

The man grimaced and contorted his body in a multitude of ways, zigzagging through the wires. Nearing the end, his fingertip brushed a wire, preventing a perfect escape. Lionel shouted out in anger and then a loud boom followed. He emerged from the blast, clutching his right arm.Bookmark here

“That was uncalled for, Lilith. You could’ve made your point some other way,” Lionel accused, dropping down to his left knee.Bookmark here

“Honestly, you should be apologizing to Bartholomew for being such a bad master. Let’s try again tomorrow, Bartholomew. I want to try something else,” Lilith scolded, ignoring Lionel’s potential injury.Bookmark here

“Uh, shouldn’t we help Lionel first? His arm is bleeding,” Bartholomew revealed.Bookmark here

“Not sure what you’re talking about. Lionel, meet us in the ring when you’re finished taking care of that,” Lilith directed.Bookmark here

Lionel nodded, opening the first aid box. Bartholomew gave him a sympathetic look, but didn’t offer any assistance, after Lilith gave him a sharp look. Three minutes later, Lionel rejoined the two, his right arm bandaged up.Bookmark here

“Lionel, spar with Bartholomew. You know the drill,” Lilith commanded.Bookmark here

“You…. fine, I’ll do it,” Lionel agreed.Bookmark here

Bartholomew warmed up in his corner of the ring, hesitant about the upcoming fight. He understood Lilith’s intent, but didn’t agree with it. Lionel glanced downward at his injured arm. Lilith entered the ring, signaling for both to start.Bookmark here

Lionel began with quick jabs, testing Bartholomew’s reaction time. His protégé avoided all of them, luring his master into the corner and predicted Lionel’s power upper cut. The man missed, stumbling into the post. Bartholomew leaped into the air, attempting to catch his opponent off guard. Lionel grabbed him, attempting a jumping cutter, but with his injured arm was unable to finish it off.Bookmark here

“Almost got you,” Lionel commented.Bookmark here

Bartholomew grabbed Lionel, swinging him into the ropes. As he rebounded towards Bartholomew, Lionel tried a jumping knee strike. Bartholomew countered, ducking and then clotheslined the man. Lionel’s protégé took a deep breath and went for a standing shooting star press. At the last moment, the feline hero raised both knees up, causing Bartholomew to roll away from him in pain.Bookmark here

Lionel grabbed the nearby ropes, hauling himself up. Bartholomew also returned to his feet, already charging towards him. Lionel executed a bicycle kick, knocking his friend to the ground. He then climbed the ring post ropes and leaped off, targeting Bartholomew’s chest with his left elbow. Lionel’s elbow dug into Bartholomew’s chest, causing his opponent to gasp for breath. Lilith slid into the ring, declaring their match over.Bookmark here

“You okay?” Lilith examined the man’s right arm.Bookmark here

“You already know the damn answer. I might have tweaked it more by doing this,” Lionel replied.Bookmark here

“Just wanted to see how well you performed with an injury. I would have stopped you if your arm really was in danger,” Lilith explained.Bookmark here

“If there’s one thing I know about you Lilith, you’re not a demon like Kyoi. Even though I’m still angry about my arm, I get it,” Lionel said.Bookmark here

“Good. Bartholomew, your reflexes aren’t up to standard. I’ll get someone else to help you out considering Lionel will need to rest,” Lilith reported.Bookmark here

“How much faster do I need to be?” Bartholomew inquired.Bookmark here

“This fast,” Lilith answered, wielding string inches away from his neck.Bookmark here

“She’s right. Tess’ people, when they’re actually serious, are even quicker than that. I’m not even talking about Kyoi. En, the dual elemental user, would have already knocked you unconscious if he did what Lilith demonstrated,” Lionel agreed.Bookmark here

“You guys are ridiculous, but I’ll get there one day,” Bartholomew declared.Bookmark here

Lilith stayed behind after the two men departed. She entered the ring, holding a stopwatch in her right hand. After generating her web of strings, the woman glanced downward at the time.Bookmark here

“Still a little bit off,” she muttered and continued on, practicing until her intended goal was met.Bookmark here

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