|The War of Wishes II
Author: CortseaM PM
A teenaged boy. A life changed, a path chosen. Walking on the battlefield of shadows. The wars and conflicts waged in other lands will inspire his growth. Be it twisted love, infinite greed, or deadly friendships; all things have a place in war.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy - Chapters: 13 - Words: 39,673 - Reviews: 18 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 10 - Updated: 05-16-13 - Published: 10-31-11 - id: 2966199
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Yes, I know my updates suck ass. If only there was some way to get me away from all the other wastes-of-times I do...
Another two weeks passed.
The daily sparring continued. An endless repetition of three-minute rounds, in which I pushed my body and creative mind to the limit attempting to fulfil her condition: 'pinning her down for 10 seconds.'
To my credit, I was getting better. Faster, more reactive, and slightly better able to read her movements. I could even trip her up once or twice every couple of days. But her recovery speed and counter movements were too fast; getting a pinning grip on her proved to be impossible. At the same time, I was beginning to understand certain parts of her fighting style. The liquid movements that redirected the flow of battle accompanied with direct force when the situation called for it.
Once, I asked her about it.
"It's not based on any style known to human beings. It's a natural style that is developed for beings with parameters exceeding the height of human ability. Some of the higher motions would probably snap your spine if used to the fullest. I wouldn't try copying it if I were you. Quite literally, you wouldn't be able to handle it." Was her reply.
So I continued fighting with what I knew. An odd conglomerate of the many martial art styles I had accumulated over the years, watered down by my inability to access their most advanced forms. The result was that everyday, I was relearning, melding, and testing various parts of what I once thought was concrete. Could this also be considered evolution in a way? Well, I don't want to be so presumptuous as to say I can reinvent these martial arts that have been around for hundreds of years.
"Stop repeating yourself."
Knocking my punch to the side, Saya interrupts my combination and strikes me with her right palm. A direct strike the chest that sends me back and reeling. A week ago, I would have fallen down from such a strike. I consider that an improvement.
"What did I say to you about showing me the same thing more than twice a week? It makes you predictable, and it's sloppy. I know you can come up with something better than that, from all the forms you've shown me. Practice might make perfect, but sparring is not the place to repeat yourself a hundred times."
She scolds me as the 3 minutes for the round times out. Lately she's been more talkative, especially when it comes to my failings in the sparring department. Well, even she must be getting bored after a month of the same thing over and over again. I wonder how long she had originally expected me to have to spar for before I could pin her down. Hopefully not for much longer…
"In a real fight, I won't be fighting the same guy over and over again in 3 minute intervals." I take off my drenched shirt, and toss it to the side. If I had just been normally exercising (since nothing I was doing lately could be considered 'working out'), I probably would have went shirtless the whole time. The castle gardens were certainly warm enough, all the time (due to some magic, no doubt). But because the point of sparring was to train at least a bit in realistic fighting situations, I preferred the shirt on for at least a bit of the time. After all, how many times am I going to have to fight a street fight naked from the waist up?
"Predictability is still a bad habit. Again." The next round begins.
I'm not an idiot…even you shouldn't think that I don't know how bad it is to be predictable.
I move into a defensive posture, waiting for her to make the first move. This was how I started 9/10ths of all of our rounds. The last tenth of the time, I went on the offensive using the same combination, each and every single time. There was a reason for this, of course.
She circled around me, lightly on her slender legs. While this tactic would normally be used on someone evidently stronger than the fighter, Saya preferred to fight like this simply to confuse her angle of attack.
Three punches from seemingly random directions come flying towards my head. I dodge each of them with ease. I counter with an upper cut from the left side. She evades to the left, moving past me, and I immediately follow with a low kick.
"Tsk" Expressing annoyance, she backpedals one step, narrowly avoiding my kick. I push forward anyway, unleashing a series of jabs. They lacked any real power, as I didn't expect to hit them anyway. However one of the reached dangerously close to her temple!
She ducks, dodges to the right, and rights herself again, while simultaneously throwing a light side kick to the my knee. It impacts, and I'm temporarily forced back. But…it really was light.
Over the last two weeks, I had been testing a theory. Saya was under the belief that I was merely being predictable, repeating the same combinations and rotation of techniques over and over again with little deviation or creativity. But in reality, I was testing her reaction time and methodology to my abilities over time. After a certain conversation I had overheard, I had hypothesized that there was some sort of 'time' restriction on something that Saya needed to address. And that something might result in a weakness in her overall physical condition. The last two weeks had proven that.
As one would expect from seeing the same techniques over and over again, her reaction time and efficiency with dealing with my techniques increased as the week progressed. This was only natural. Even a child who has seen the same trick 5 times will learn to avoid it the 6th. But…starting from the start of this week, her reaction times had begun to drop. Even if it was only mere seconds a day, it dropped. In addition, she changed some of the techniques she would have normally used to counter or retaliate. The ones she used now were more inefficient, but less taxing on the body. Her strikes were also several shades weaker. No normal person would have noticed any of these things. No normal person would have noticed the difference of two or three seconds in reaction time to a punch or kick. But I did. Even without my computer-like mind operating at full capacity, these small things didn't escape me.
So Saya had some sort of weakness….something that afflicted her approximately every two weeks, as far as I could tell. And today, I would use that weakness to the best of my ability.
She rotated to my right and feinted moving in. I moved back, and saw her raise the high roundhouse aimed to my left temple. Normally a roundhouse out of the blue is suicide, but with Saya's normally phenomenal speed and recovery, it was something she could pull off. But still, it was slow. Much slower than her normal roundhouse. As much as 2 seconds slower. More than enough time to apply my own burst of speed.
Shock and surprise, as I dive inwards with a burst of speed. I move by body forwards, towards Saya, allowing the kick to miss and hook around my neck. Of course even if Saya was weaker than usual, she would still be more than a match for me. So in order to beat her, I had to surprise her. By displaying a speed that I hadn't displayed all week, and by moving in with an unorthodox technique, that was my only chance!
Ignoring all convention, I merely pulled her into a bear hug, and pushed. Saya was about the same height as me, with me perhaps being just slightly taller. Either way, by closing the distance with her right foot hooked around my neck, I removed all chance for her to manoeuvre out. From this, I merely pushed, and allowed both of us to fall. Despite this, she still struggled to twist so that I would land first.
About half of my back hit the grassy field. As I was holding her in the hug, I took the full brunt of the impact. Still, I bore it, and used my weight to roll us so that I would be on top of her. Using my hands, and one leg, I grabbed both of her upper arms and pinned her legs.
"Ughh….One." Making sure my hold was secure, I started counting while breathing heavily. My eyes were closed in concentration.
She was still struggling, but at this point, she wasn't able to move anything. Perhaps if she used some form of magic she could escape….what would I do then, I wonder?
Only four more seconds! I opened my eyes, and find myself staring directly at her face. Her sky blue eyes stare back at me, and there's still the hint of surprise on her face.
Finally….after a month, finally!
"Haha…hahahaha. You actually did it!" Her laugh and her words, her light breath tickles me in our proximity.
"…From that, am I suppose to assume that you never expected me to pass your test?" Dry sarcasm takes on a whole new meaning when the person's face that you're speaking to is 10 centimetres from yours.
"Hahaha, to be honest, I wasn't sure if I had assigned you something impossible or not. But I had faith in your ability to...surprise me," her tone changes into something thicker. "By…the way, you can let go of me now."
I follow her gaze down to my own hands, currently grasping her upper arms. I also grow distinctly aware of the position of my legs on hers, and the way both of us are breathing. I'm so close to her I can see the individual droplets of sweat flowing down her thin neck towards the upper valley of her very well endowed c-
"Ugh….r-r-right!" I roll off to the right, and spread out on the grassy field. The feeling of cool wind and a light warmth from whatever passes as a sun in this dimension feels amazingly refreshing. That, and the feeling of triumph. I'm totally not red or blushing or anything. It's all the flushed feeling of triumph, if anything.
"So how did you do it? How did you come up with the idea?"
"What, it can't just be a flash of sudden inspiration?" I stare up at the clear sky, devoid of any flying creatures or even clouds of distinction.
"Knowing you? Impossible. I suppose that's why you were being so predictable these past two weeks?"
I grimace. Just like that, she saw through me. So I explained it all to her. I left out the part where I had spied on her on that night, two weeks ago.
"Hm…I see. That's certainly something only you could have done. But really, to notice a 'weakness' in such a convoluted and extraneous way…"
Hey, I worked really hard to hammer out that hypothesis! Don't look down on it like it was a waste!.
"I mean, really, if you could just judge power and magic levels from the aura, you would have noticed it from the first week you were here." She continues on without waiting for my response.
"So what's the deal there? Is there a reason you're weaker every two weeks or so?"
"Do you really think I'd tell you something like that? You don't have to worry about it. Oh, and I think you know this already, but you're nowhere close to my level, even if I'm at my weakest point. So don't try anything funny, kay?"
"Of course not, mistress." I roll my eyes even though she can't see. Similarly, the words come out in a sarcastic tone. "So, when can we get started on the reason that I'm really here?"
"Hmm…tonight I think, will be fine. Take the rest of the day off. You can stay out here…or return to the castle whenever you wish. Just picture the dining room in your mind and you will be transported there." With that, I sense her disappear.
I sit up, glancing at my clenched fist. Following the line of my fist down to my arm, up to my shoulder. The past month has really been something else…even though it wasn't my original intent, there's no doubt that I've physically improved tremendously. Thanks to the whole nature of time distortion, my body has almost matured the better part of a year and a half, giving me a couple more centimetres in height and more importantly, some much needed muscle mass. I wasn't built- but I was getting pretty solid. I mean, I hadn't come here to get better physically. It was a nice side effect, but I was no closer to my original goal of obtaining power.
And I couldn't stay here forever.
A chill runs down my spine. After a month and a half here, the days had started to flow by. I realized with increasing anxiety that the longer I stayed here, the more used to the daily routine I would get. It became increasingly harder to remember exactly how long I had been here…it was times like this that I missed my old abilities the most.
Well, at least things are finally advancing. I pictured the dining room in my mind, and found myself laying on the cold stone floor. Getting up, I leave the room with my shirt. After changing my clothes, I think I'll go hang out at the library until dinner…
Dining Room: Evening
"Oh, how clumsy of me. Excuse me…" Saya waves her hand and the shattered glass from the cup she had just dropped disappears.
"Are you ok?" I inquire because I could have sworn that just moments ago, I had seen her wrist and hand shaking, ever so slightly. Almost as if she was too weak to hold up the glass properly. A curious observation, and almost completely unbelievable.
She looks at me with narrowed eyes, "I'm fine, thank you."
"If you say so. Anyway, can we start, or what?" I finish draining the liquid in my own cup, and stand. The plates and cutlery in front of me disappear as well.
"Very well." She stands as well. The entire table disappears. "The thing you're hoping to learn from me…what was it again?"
"That power…that thing you used against me in my own dream. I don't know what it was exactly…if it was a compulsion or a chain or what, but I do know it wasn't magic. I want to learn that power!" A repeat of things I said a month ago.
"Why that power though…? Why not just learn magic? You hardly have any good grasp of that, considering your apparently recent introduction to this world."
"…I can't learn magic. There's no way for me to become proficient at it…whenever I try, the reservoir of magical energy I apparently possess eludes me. It's like my own body rejects the idea of me performing anything more than the simplest of spells."
"And you've never wondered why that was the case?"
"Of course I have. Ren- someone told me it had something to do with my affinity, "Anti-thesis" or something like that. 'Anti-magical within certain parameters', whatever that means…but I haven't been able to find anything in your library about that."
"Anti-thesis huh? I don't think I've ever heard of anyone call it that before…maybe that 'someone' of yours invented a new term for it. Though I suppose…it is an interesting phenomena. An impossible one, in fact."
"What do you mean?"
"Think about it. How is it possible to 'reject magic' with-in a certain parameter? A rejection of something absolute, and clear-cut. One cannot reject magic only a little bit, or halfway. There have been instances in the past of people who could completely negate magic, or other similar phenomena, but those people cannot be called 'magus.' They are special existences, in complete contrast to those with a link to 'Gaia.' Instead of changing the nature of reality to fit their wishes, they are the ones who are most able to reject alterations to the nature of reality. Though they are very rare…you are still not one of them."
"How do you know?" My mind takes in all this info. If I'm understanding what she's saying, my set of abilities should not be possible. Because a rejection of magic would mean that my ability to manipulate networks and my computer-like mind would not exist. After all, my mind's normal functions are well beyond the normal humans, so I would automatically assume that it is because they are augmented by magic. That was the way I 'changed the nature of reality.' It was proof that I was a magus.
"As you've probably already figured out, magic flows around you and with-in you. You have access to the magical energy, even if you can't use it efficiently. And while you currently seem to be incomplete, there is no doubt that you have experienced magic throughout your life. Hm…perhaps it would be correct to call you a 'new existence.' Though that might be getting ahead of myself, haha," Saya laughs inexplicably.
"Hm, well all that aside, that doesn't change anything. I want to learn that power, that takes the form of a chain of red. That's what you promised me." I refocus on my original goal.
"…Very well. However, there is one last thing you will need to do before you are ready to begin attempting that power."
"Oh great, one more thing? What is this, the twelve labours of Hercules?"
"Nothing quite so strenuous. As a little bit of an introduction, I will tell you that the power you seek is something of my own design, once I got tired of using magic. Also, this incarnation is quite…suited to wards this kind of technique. Simply put, I will require you to break certain mental restrictions you currently possess, and experience a full spectrum of existence."
"Sorry, come again? I kind of lost you near the end there…."
"Well then perhaps this will be simpler for you," Saya smiles a devilish smile, "You only need to survive."
The room begins to blur all around me. Saya no longer stands across from me. The floor, the ceiling, and the walls become indistinguishable. A feeling of intense dizziness overcomes me as the room spins. Somehow, I continue standing.
"Oy, kid, get away from there!" A deep, rough voice sounds from my far right.
When my vision returns, I see myself standing on the deck of a cruse ship. I'm leaning against the railing, and I can feel the gentle movements of the water against the sip. The tropical sun blinds me for a few moments.
I duck instinctively, rolling on the deck of the ship, recognizing the sound from countless hours of watching my friend play those stupid FPS games. The sound of machine-gun fire. Or some sort of mounted turret. A cursory glance reveals that there is no one else on deck except four or five men in what appear to be suits. Each of them is armed with a small pistol.
What in the world…?
"Pirates, I repeat, we have PIRATES. They are approaching boarding range. Requesting immediate assistance. This is the SOS Elizabeth requesting immediate assistance!" It looks like one of the men is talking into some sort of communication device.
The sound of hooks and a board attaching onto the right side of the cruise ship. All of the ships other members must already be below-deck…I duck behind a post and watch as a band of five or six men board the ship.
THIS is suppose to help me fulfill a 'full spectrum of existence'? It just seems like a bad movie plot…
Initiating Broad range Sweep…Three connectable devices detected
Full-system Diagnostic Complete….95% Operational capacity.
A small shock.
The familiar feeling overwhelms me. Even though there is no readily available internet connection, there is a phone with 3G access just two floors below!
My powers were back.
"Atticus…we've picked up a nano-trace signal on the 30th somewhere off the coast of Somalia!"
"What was that?"
"Running double check now…confirming satellite DNA analysis…100% match! The 30th is definitely off the coast of Somalia at this moment!"
"Tsk, how in the world did he end up there…"
"Atticus, how should we deal with this?"
"Mobilize a small force, no more than 5 people! How fast can we deploy to Somalia?"
"It will take us at least 5 hours to have everyone in place!"
"Then start it! Someone get me in contact with Shiva, wherever she may be!"
30 minutes pass….
"Th-the signal! The signal is disappearing!
Several alarms signal in that room, the penthouse of a certain high-rise building. The systems are capable of dealing with any aberration, but will signal at the most abnormal.
"We can't get another lock on the signal…he's gone!"
"DAMN IT!" Atticus slams the monitor in front of him. "Shiva, can you hear me?"
"Loud and clear boss. What's the big fuss?."
"Looks like someone decided to play a little trick on us. Report your progress."
"Hah, I've found it. Record time too, I think. Not even a month…I can begin the transfer ritual even now, if you want. I'm just waiting for your reinforcements…that is, if you don't think I can retrieve him alone."
"Not that I don't trust in your ability, Shiva, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. I can spare at least a squadron for you. Get read to deploy as soon as they arrive."
"Your call, Atticus. Well I guess that means another two weeks of hanging around here…you wouldn't believe the number of fae bites you get around this time of year."
The video call ends.
"Skirmish reported in sector 9! Minimal building damage."
"Send in a recovery team."
The war continued.