Book 2 Chapter 140

Training in the Black of Night

"Admit defeat, child. You are not Mister Leguna's match," advised Kiranou in a surprisingly warm voice.

He was aware how proud Rhodsias was. Such a public loss was no small blow to him. If Kiranou rebuked him on top of his humiliation, it would break him completely.

Rhodsias didn't perform badly anyway. Kiranou, were he to be frank, could not match the kid's talent. It was just that there were always other better at things. It was just too bad it had to be such an arrogant brat of a human! Anyway, the star's two defeats weren't because of his ineptitude, but because his opponent was unnatural.

The brat was a shadow dancer. How could a normal person raise their power by two strata so quickly? How could a normal person teleport through space? Only the gifted had that kind of power. As long as such people didn't die before they learnt to spread their wings, they would become powerful beings. Rhodsias shouldn't be blamed for losing to such a monster.

"If he didn't have those gifts, I wouldn't have lost!" argued Rhodsias stubbornly.

The kid lacked any kind of skill in combat. He was just a fool with good crutches. If not for his two abilities, he would not even be fit to challenge Rhodsias, much less capable of beating him.

"You're right, but he has those two gifts. We can do nothing about that. It may be an unearned, undeserved advantage, but it is power nonetheless, best you acknowledge it. Since you cannot take his abilities away, make yourself strong enough that they don't matter!"

"I understand. I want a rematch! No cheating with gifts this time!"

"Damn brat!" Kiranou bellowed, "How can you be so cowardly?!"

"I must take back my honor!"

"A victory your fight with unequal handicaps on your opponent will not win you back your honor, it will only lose you what honor you haven't lost yet! If you refuse him his gifts, what equal measure of restriction will you give yourself? Will you deny yourself the use of one of your arms? If you lose that fight as well, will you force him to use one arm while you only use your legs?!"

"I..."

His eyes still shone with humiliation and denial, but he obeyed his senior's orders. He saluted the old orc and turned to leave.

Leguna watched the scene unfold wordlessly. The two spoke in orcish, but Gahrona translated for him. He stared at Rhodsias's retreating form with a bitter smile and a shaking head.

"As expected of the kid who has shocked Lance. Your powers are worthy of respect," said Kiranou, now in the common tongue, as he bowed slightly.

Leguna hurriedly returned the bow. According to Gahrona, while Kiranou hadn't broken through to the saint realm, he was in the 19th-stratum. No matter how humble he acted, Leguna didn't dare be arrogantly in front of him.

"This one is undeserving of your words. I just lucked out and got Lady Gahrona's legacy. My skills are still lacking compared to Brother Rhodsias," Leguna replied humbly.

{At least you know how bad you actually are,} Gahrona harrumphed.

Kiranou laughed.

"Regardless, you won your fights and with it the right to be recognized by our common tribesmen. We are a people of our word, Ebony is yours."

"Thank you."

Leguna was glad that Kiranou was keeping his word.

"Since I agreed to it, I will naturally see it through. Orcs have always kept our promises. Alright, let this be it for tonight. You must be tired. I'll have someone arrange a room for you."

......

The night slowly crept in. Bladedge was silent in the darkness.

Leguna put his leather suit on silently and left his room. He crept along the streets.

{Teacher, can't you teach me? Why do I have to go to him?} asked Leguna troubledly.

He thought back to how dissatisfied Rhodsias was with his cheating. They were certainly not on friendly terms at the moment.

{I will, but you have no sparring partner. Without proper practise my teachings will help you none.}

{Sigh, I'm going to be pummeled, I can feel it.}

{Stop complaining. No amount of blood is equal to a life. We have a saying: '@@!#[email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected]@'. 'Pain and injury are a warrior's best teachers.}

{Fine, fine. I get it.}

He found his target not long after.

If the attendant wasn't wrong, we should be at the right place, thought Leguna. He regulated his emotions and knocked on the door lightly.

"Who is it?" asked someone inside in orcish.

"It Leguna," he answered in his broken orcish.

Rhodsias opened the door. His face was wrapped in bundles of bandages. He was unrecognizable. When he saw it was indeed the brat, a look of suspicion flashed across his eyes.

"What do you want?" he hissed.

The brat recited the as best he could the sentence Gahrona had taught him.

"I ounly whant to spar wit you a few tymes."

"Humiliating me twice not enough?!"

Rhodsias's killing intent surged. He didn't think the human would be this arrogant. So it was true humans liked to kick a man when he was down. Did they rub salt in their wounds as well? This wasn't no longer just a matter of humiliation. This lack of propriety and basic etiquette was unacceptable!

"Nonono, Brother Rhodsias, you misunderstand!" the brat waved his arms like a child throwing a tantrum, "I just... well, there's a lot I still don't understand about fighting blind. I was hoping you could give me some pointers. That's all, I swear!"

"You mean it?" Rhodsias asked, his voice still thick with suspicion.

Leguna nodded.

"I will fight in a duel to the death in a few days. Knowing how to fight blind might save my life."

"You have to give up your crutches first. They only hamper you and make it impossible for you to learn! You have strong abilities, but besides them you're completely worthless!" Rhodsias still found the brat's abilities abhorrent.

Leguna cracked a smile.

"I will. I only used them because I absolutely have to get Ebony. I have what I wanted, so I won't use my abilities in our spars again."

Rhodsias still had some hesitation, but the skill to fight blind wasn't a secret technique. Leguna was one of the strongest opponents he had ever faced though certainly also the most unskilled. He really wanted to beat him up a few more times. He had responded to the knock as quickly as he had because he couldn't sleep after the fight earlier.

He stared at the human brat for a few minutes before nodding slowly. Still clapped in bandaged he headed back to the platform with the human boy.

"It would be best if we held back during training. I don't want to be bruised tomorrow."

While his other lines were somewhat sloppy, Leguna had taken extra care to memorize this line very meticulously so there would be no misunderstanding.

"We have a saying: 'Pain and injury are a warrior's best teachers," Rhodsias retorted expressionlessly as he put on his blindfold.

"You actually said the same thing as Teacher... I should have expected this from one of her tribe's descendents..." Leguna muttered in common tongue as he blindfolded himself.

When the two were ready, they called out and started.

Under Gahrona's guidance, Leguna explored the techniques in every bout. They sometimes talked about fighting blind, sometimes about interesting things that happened in their daily lives. The sun rose blindly before they knew it.

Their faces were full of bruises, but underneath puffed cheeks and swollen lips sat two warm, satisfied smiles. Rhodsias was a proud youth, but was not ill-intentioned. His enmity was borne from the fact that some arrogant human brat had come to claim the symbol of their tribe's idol, their patron saint for all intents and purposes.

His enmity had slowly been chipped away by the brat's punches, though, and shaken off by the laughter they shared. They were enemies with the sun's set, but brothers with its rise.

"Hahahaha... Alcohol is a dangerous thing. You actually went into a woman's room! Hahahaha!" Rhodsias laughed. In return he shared his own embarrassing story. Leguna also laughed awkwardly as well.

"The sun is rising, we should head back."

Rhodsias stood up and cracked his shoulders.

"Alright. Mister Kiranou won't ask me to come when we send you off. This is farewell. I hope you win your duel. We still have many fights to fight!"

"Of course!"

Leguna broke into a bright smile.

The two Quasimodo's limped to their residences as the sun cast its golden gaze on the rooftops. They spoke of their exchanges to no one, and not many had noticed either.

Kiranou retrieved Ebony from the sacrificial altar personally at noon and gave it to Leguna. The kid thanked him and set off with Kree immediately.


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