Short Stories

Let’s Fight!

So this is my dear boi’s 11th story, hey? It’s a good thing I prewrote the Intro Arc, though, to be honest. Cause writing is getting harder as I have Stuff to do *cries*. Anyway…is this where we learn more about Robert’s past? *gasps* Stay and find out…

April 29, 444 EoP. Monday 16:00

Given that he survived a whole week of school, Robert was feeling tentatively hopeful that his high school years wouldn’t be an entire waste of his low energy levels.

But of course, the fun was only beginning.

Monday’s Combat class, for starters, had decided to inflict ultimate suffering upon him. After warm ups and a few laps, Miss Harintan said that they all were ready to start pairing up—perfect, since the class was now even numbered and no unlucky sap needed to pair up with the teacher—and practice combat moves on each other without the use of powers.

Uh…I’ve only been here for a week???? Robert tried to mentally project to the Combat instructor.

Either she didn’t/couldn’t read minds or the instructor was just ignoring his look of alarm.

“Go on, pair up!” Miss Harintan barked, waving her hands towards her students.

Right…so who do I pair up with? Robert screamed to himself, glancing around. He did see Denise briefly shooting him an apologetic look as Ausma dragged her for herself, and everyone else was pairing up, except…

In front of him, a girl with a dark braid so tight, Robert could almost understand why it seemed to be jerking for freedom, flashed her dark eyes at him in a glare. Ah…Sedarah Bour, I think, Robert sighed internally. She was the one who I also judged, which was the only one called for, by the way, considering how she treated my brother.

Out loud, he smiled. “Do you mind pairing up, Sedarah?”

She only glared at him and shrugged.

Nice scowl, Sedarah. It really brings out the hatred in your eyes. This should be fun…

“Remember, class. No powers…one use of them and you’re instantly disqualified. And no losing on purpose, either.” That last part had been directed with an emphatic look on Robert (who sighed). “Now spar on my count of three.”

As Robert readied himself in a fighting stance—one he was sure he was getting wrong—there was a mild foreboding feeling in him as Sedarah did the same, her eyes penetrating his soul with murderous intent. Right…what was that about my class having more to them than meets the eye, Jovan??? Did you mean that in a good way or in a they-are-plotting-death way?

“One…”

Of course, he was being unreasonable. Sedarah didn’t want to kill him.

“Two…”

Maybe she just gave hateful looks to everyone in general, not just him.

“Three…”

The field exploded into activity as sixteen kids raged into combat.

Robert, on the other hand, had frozen and almost missed Sedarah’s snake-like advance towards his person.

The wind that her punch—which he had narrowly dodged—left behind flung his messy black hair back and increased the speed of his heart rate by…well, a lot.

“Hey!” he yelped as she turned to bring another blow on him. “You remember I’m not powered, right?! Control your punches??”

She didn’t…but lucky for Robert, he at least had the stamina to dodge her blows.

Okay…Sedarah definitely wants to kill me, he internally panicked, then pushed off the pavement and ran.

Clearly, no one had been expecting that move.

Some of his classmates paused for a split second to stare before returning to their practice fights. Sedarah, on the other hand, he could hear pounding behind him at a speed he was definitely not going to outrun.

“Ashanra, what are you doing? Get back into the fight!”

A quick glance behind him showed that Sedarah wasn’t relenting in her pace, so Robert ignored his teacher and his aching legs and increased his speed.

“Stand and fight, you coward!” the girl growled at him, her deep and melodious voice sounding quite grating to his ears.

I DON’T WANT TO DIE!

“Oh, for the love of—” he heard his teacher as he breezed past her. “It’s only a practice bout, Ashanra! I will stop it if you get hurt!”

But he couldn’t outrun Sedarah forever, either, so…

Breathe, Robert. Breathe and remember what Jovan told you…when facing a relentless force, use whatever you have to deflect it.

What was it that he had, though? The only advantage he could see was that Sedarah wasn’t allowed to use her powers—her sentient hair was the only one, if he remembered correctly, and that was bound—to beat him. Except, clearly the girl had had some former training considering the force of her punches and the bloodthirst in her eyes.

He finally skidded to a stop to face another oncoming blow, one that nearly unbalanced him had the fence not been there to spring him back into place.

“Ashanra, Bour, get BACK to the middle of the field!” Miss Harintan shouted.

Sweat poured down Robert despite the weather-controlled but still-frigid mountain air. Between remembering to breathe, not panicking, and keeping his eyes on the snaky girl, he was just glad he could still muster a thought.

She’s fast…good at combat…and is definitely not going to go easy on me despite my obvious lack of powers and stamina. I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to hit her or win, which means I have to lose in a way that won’t get me hurt and also make it look like I didn’t do it on purpose.

Again, he dodged another of her blows. This time, though, she’d anticipated it and grabbed his arm, twisting it behind him.

The pain that exploded on his shoulder wasn’t pleasant…not the least bit. It was quite a shock, really.

Oof!!

After exclaiming that, Sedarah loosened her grip on him, allowing Robert to pull free.

“Sorry about that headbutt…you surprised me,” he managed to apologize, forcing his voice to stay calm, and slowly backed up again towards the middle of the field.

Most of the kids had finished their fights, with a bit of bruises and bleeding scratches to show for it. Fortunately, they weren’t too focused on him and Sedarah’s very one-sided fight in favor of cheering for their friends still in combat. Denise seemed to be one of those still engaged in it, and the only one watching him was Greg.

But Sedarah was still advancing despite one of her eyes tearing up from the pain of his forceful hit, and Robert’s shoulder wasn’t feeling all that great, either.

Right…I’ll have to figure out a way to lose without getting hurt…

She was readying another punch and running towards him.

She’s aggressive, Robert’s brain all but yelled at him. And she’s a little arrogant too. Use that. Surprise her and use that surprise to take yourself out.

But Sedarah’s punch might be a feint.

Sweet scorching snow…

Taking a deep breath and balancing himself, Robert tried to steady his racing heart (and flinch and flight response) and focus. As Sedarah was nearing, he sidestepped her blow, as expected. But before she could react with her countermove, he launched himself at her.

Surprised, Sedarah blocked his launch with her arms crossed, throwing him to the ground but, fortunately, not hurting him too badly.

Oh…good, Robert thought as relief flowed through his veins. His heartbeat slowed in his chest and he could see Sedarah’s face stretched into a look of uncertain shock as he lifted himself up and smiled. “Good job, Sedarah…you’re clearly a better fighter than I am.” He held out a hand as he’d noticed the fighters do in the previous three classes after a bout.

And in that moment, Sedarah’s expression turned from surprise to disgust. “So you’re too cowardly to take a few small hits,” she muttered as she gripped his hand and shook it quickly. “Loser,” she added maliciously at him under her breath.

What? Are you too good to win against a weak boy with no fighting experience? he internally retorted while keeping his sedate smile. “Yes, I did lose, didn’t I?” he replied pleasantly and dropped his hand.

She ignored him and waltzed back to Miss Harintan.

“Good job, Bour,” he heard his teacher tell her. “You clearly know how to fight properly. But your reflexes and control need a little work. You could also stand to be less aggressive and calmer, but overall, impressive for a first bout without powers.”

The instructor turned to Robert next, a frown on her face.

“Ashanra, while I know you haven’t had much fighting experience or much practice, you could stand to run away less and practice defensive maneuvers. But you keep a good cool head during fights…” She frowned at him, but her stern and militant face lacked its usual severity. Her eyebrows furrowed rather than bristled, and her lips pursed rather than thinned.

Besides her, Robert could see Sedarah shooting him with a threatening look. Her meaning was pretty clear. “Tell the teacher I used more force than necessary and you’re dead.”

Except, of course, assuming is impolite, as I’ve so clearly and unfortunately learned during my time here. Robert suppressed a smirk and straightened. “Of course, Miss Harintan…but as you said, Sedarah has to work on her control and her blows came a little more forceful than what I could handle at the moment. Maybe one day, though.”

And back was their unforgiving teacher. “No excuses. Do better next time and try not to run away.” She left him with that as she walked over to the twins to discuss their performance. Briefly, Miss Harintan turned her head back to them. “And go and practice forms until everyone else is done.”

Finally. Robert breathed a sigh of relief. The tension he’d felt on his shoulders left him, and he was just about to join the spot between Greg and another boy he recognized as Vincent Arcadi until Sedarah’s presence resounded the alarm bells in his mind.

“You don’t belong here, and neither does your powerless brother,” she whispered with little-concealed contempt.

In another age, the fact she’d only said something instead of acted something would have relieved him. But at her last words, something inside Robert flashed like lightning, and before he knew it, he was staring expressionlessly down at Sedarah, sprawled on the floor.

He opened his mouth to retort but then realized what he was doing, and that Greg and Vincent were staring at him, eyes wide or mouth open. Did I just—? He shook his head. Just shut up…control your anger. Jovan doesn’t need to be defended. Not yet, at least…

Leaving the shocked girl with a muttered apology, Robert schooled his mind and walked towards Greg and Vincent, head a little down.

“What was—Vincent, did you see that??” Greg sputtered at the blond boy next to him. He jerked his head around, nearly flinging his glasses off. “Robert, did you just—”

Robert blinked at the two of them innocently. “Sedarah fell, right? I didn’t see it happening…” Which was the truth, to be honest. For all Robert had seen, a leg-sweep had nothing to do with Sedarah’s fall and it could have been the slight breeze instead.

“She must have tripped…” Vincent uncertainly suggested as he made space for Robert to join them.

Robert nodded as he tried to calm his irritation towards the terrifying brat. “Must have…”

….that you have been trolled by my intro blurb thing.

Cause if you want to learn about Robert’s past, then you’ll have to force me to finish Arc 2….

Anyway! Sedarah is one of the “irritating ones” I mentioned last week. Unfortunately for her, my hero isn’t a weak shoujo manga protagonist who quails under bullies or verbal barbs. Most likely he’ll go, “lol, you’re not wrong” but we won’t talk about Robert’s lack of self-preservation.

Actually, he seems to have an abundance of it. Wonder why. :))))

©Lemon Duck, 2021. All rights reserved.

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