Goosebumps went all over Sera's skin as she stared at her opponent. Minutes ago she had still felt lucky that he had been unable to shake her off, but now, that she was standing here, she deeply regretted following him.
As soon as they had reached the dojo, a wooden, black-roofed building that was almost as big as the servant quarters, Marcis had challenged her to a duel. He didn't even give her the chance to properly greet the woman teaching them!
"Hold the sword at a lower angle," Oria's advice came from somewhere behind her. "It will be easier to react to his attack that way."
"Don't worry, he won't hit you for real."
Sera couldn't believe her. Not only has she never wielded a sword before, but her young master also seemed eager to defeat her, too. It was impossible for her to win!
They were only using wooden swords for the training, but Sera knew he would still end up hurting her in some way or the other. But even though she knew, there wasn't any fear to be found in her, which probably was the sole benefit Sera's seal had aside from hiding her demonic self. It allowed her to keep a clear mind, and maybe find a way out of this trap.
Subconsciously, Sera's grip grew stronger. She knew she couldn't even dream of defending herself if she failed to predict Marcis' attacks. Even if she managed to do exactly that and block Marcis' sword a few times, her luck would surely run out sooner or later.
Oria didn't seem to care the least about the chaos that had settled in Sera's mind. After correcting her stance for one last time, she simply stepped back and left the combat area to her apprentices.
"You may start!"
Marcis had only waited for this single command. He charged right at Sera, lifted his sword high into the air and made a large swipe downwards.
Sera held the sword above her head, trying to block the attack, but it was far stronger than she had imagined. She had somehow stopped it, but both of her hands were hurting as if she had hit a massive wall instead.
"Attack him," Oria's shout came from the side. "He is wide open!"
There was no way Sera could follow this command, as Marcis was already attacking her again, using an even more large swipe. This time, she couldn't help herself but just jump to the side and watch Marcis' sword hit the wooden floor instead.
"Don't just let yourself get cornered! Attack him!"
Sera's body already moved forward, as if only following the stranger's command. It was only a single step, but that was far more than enough to get in range for her own attack. Before Marcis has found his balance again, a dull hit could be heard. She had hit his shoulder, just hard enough for him to know that he had lost.
«I have hit him! I have really hit him!»
The boys' face turned red immediately. He didn't seem to feel ashamed, but rather angry instead.
"You dare to hit me?!"
"Separate," Oria ordered them, "back to your starting positions!"
Marcis' didn't listen to their trainer, instead he attacked Sera again, so sudden in fact that she wasn't even left with a chance to react to it. This time, he didn't perform another one of his needlessly wide swipes, but thrust forward his wooden sword instead, into the stomach of his opponent. Sera immediately tumbled over.
"Separate I said! Separate!"
"I have only taught him a lesson."
"He has never held a sword before!"
Sera couldn't even follow their quarrel. She was still on the ground, squirming in pain, coughing and fighting for air as their loud voices filled the dojo.
It was only when Marcis ran out of the dojo in rage, that silence returned and Oria checked up on Sera.
"Is everything ok?"
"It- it hurts," Sera somehow managed to squeeze out.
Oria didn't waste any time. Before Sera could even react to it, the swordswoman had already pulled up her shirt.
«She will find out!!»
Contrary to Sera's fears, Oria didn't try to expose her chest. She just laid bare her stomach so she could examine the wound.
Even if she had decided otherwise, the swordswoman would probably never be able to tell her real gender, as Sera was still too young for there to be any real difference to a boy's body. If there was one thing she would be able to comment on, it would be her still being too skinny.
After giving her body a single glance, Oria's attention shifted onto the oval bruise she found slightly to the left of Sera's navel. There was blood leaking from the wound, but it wasn't too much for it to pose a real danger. Still, it hurt, enough to force tears into Sera's eyes.
"That mark will stay for a while..."
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