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Chapter 1: Chapter 1 : The strongest one yet?

"Use your weight behind your strike. Do not just swing your arm. Move your legs. Shift your hips. Swing with your entire body." , Gordenso barked

The little ones tried their best. Some of them have been training for a day. Some over months. Some graduate early. Some take many years. This was the daily life at Arkshoka central academy, the premier school in the country. This is where the elites of the country sent their children. Early morning was for textbook lessons and the afternoon was divided between swordplay, archery and magic.

Gordenso was a strict, no nonsense teacher. He has been teaching for years. He has seen and heard every excuse. He knows every method there is to improve his students. He has seen them all. The most pitiful of students achieving great heights and the most prodigous ones falling because of their own pride. But this year was different. This year was a crop of geniuses. Some of the students were so proficient it was as if they were born with a sword in hand. If Gordenso were to pick the best of them he would probably pick Dmityr Roenfel, Isana Munos and Lucius Lascaris. These three were the best students he had ever seen in his teaching career.

Dmityr, at only 10 years of age, used a sword two times heavier than Gordenso's sword, a full grown adult's sword. What he lacked in technique, he made up for with brute strength. Isana was the opposite. So swift, so graceful, yet so powerful. She was younger than Dmityr, but equally proficient. Gordenso often wondered who would win if they fought to the death. Then he'd remember they were 10 year olds and he was thinking about a fight to the death. He'd always get embarrassed.

And then there was Luscius. Luscius Lascaris from the house of Lascaris. Son of the legendary military commander Norman Lascaris and grand enchanter Emilia Lascaris. The house of Lascaris has always been good with the sword. Even then, nobody expected Lucius. At only 8 years of age, he had almost mastered everything Gordenso knew. In a month or two, Gordenso would have nothing to teach him.

"LASCARIS! ROENFEL!" Gordenso called out

"Yes Sir" said both in unison.

"You'll have a short bout with one another. Wooden swords. When one of you lands a hit, the bout will be over," barked Gordenso, "The rest of you, watch them. See how they move. Pay attention. Learn from their techniques and their mistakes."

Gordenso would rather have Isana spar with Lucius. But unfortunately, she's been ill. Stricken with pneumonia. Although she is recovering, it will be a while before she can come for training. As such, Gordenso had no choice to have Lucius spar with Dmityr. Now Dmityr was a fine swordsman. But he was too rash. The purpose of the spars was to refine one's techniques. But Dmityr thought different. He fought to win. And this has ended up hurting a lot of students. 'But Lucius should be fine,' Gordenso thought, '"That boy works miracles" he muttered to himself with a smirk.

The students gathered forming a ring. In the midst of the ring, Dmityr, Lucius and Gordenso. Gordenso handed them their wooden swords and stepped away. There would be no Bell, no signal whatsoever to indicate the start of the spar. The two students would themselves decide that. Meaning, the spar had already started when Gordenso handed them their swords. It was now just a matter of who striked first.

Lucius lunged forward, sword held with both hands and lashed from below. Dmityr brushed it off with his sword as it was nothing. Dmityr struck with all his might. It was very slow. Almost surprising. Lucius could not believe how crude Drmityr's technique was. He could block it with his eyes closed. He smirked and raised his sword to block Drmityr's.

It was as if thunder struck his hands. Lucius' sword went flying out of his hands. His hands were shaking. They felt cold. He would never have imagined Dmityr to be this powerful. He was on the ground, eyes wide open. His breathing was erratic, his heart was pounding in his chest. From this angle he could appreciate Drmityr's form. A ten year old, that had a physique similar to an adult. There was no way he could win against someone like that. "Give up Lucius. You cannot match strength against a Roenfel" said Dmityr. Lucius knew it was true. He couldn't. This was a monster.

Lucius caught a glimpse of Gordenso, who nodded at him. He suddenly remembered his training. He rolled back and started running to the direction his sword flew into. "When one of us lands a hit, the bout is over," said Lucius laughing and repeating Gordenso's words. He expected Dmityr to follow. But Dmityr just stood there. His face was red. Brows frowning. The veins on his forehead and neck pulsated. He was definitely angry.

Lucius picked up his sword but was afraid to come within reach of Dmityr. All of a sudden, Dmityr sprinted towards Lucius and slashed at him. It was slow enough to block. Had it been anyone else, Lucius would have won. However Lucius didn't dare to block again. He jumped out of the way. Drmityr's sword hit the ground and the impact was not only felt by Lucius but the entire crowd. Everyone was taken aback by the impact. However before the crowd could process what happened Dmityr swung again. Lucius barely avoided it. This was no longer a spar. Lucius knew if he were to be hit, he was done for. He wondered if Gordenso would stop the fight if needed. Lucius was no longer fighting. He was just running, like a helpless eight year old would. He was no longer thinking like a fighter. He was just trying to survive. Each time he escaped, and the sword hit the ground, the impact would reinforce his fear.

About ten or so more attacks later, Lucius realised that even though he was no match for Dmityr, Dmityr was no match for his speed. Dmityr too was giving it his all. And yet he wasn't able to hit Lucius. A bit of confidence returned to Lucius. He began analysing openings. He could do one of two things. The first is to let Dmityr tire out. But, Dmityr seemed to have endless stamina. And it seemed as if Lucius would tire out first. Jumping out of the way to avoid those attacks was taking a toll on him. So he chose the second option.

He baited Dmityr. Dmityr swung his swored. He dodged. He went behind Dmityr and smiled. 'Yes this will work!' he thought. He kept doing this for a couple of more times to confirm his calculations.

Then for one last time he baited Dmityr. Dmityr swung. He dodged, went behind Dmityr. Dmityr turned back and Lucius' wooden sword was in fornt of his neck. Game over.

Lucius had eventually realised that each time Dmityr swung, he needed a moment to lift the sword back up again. Enough time to go back behind Dmityr and hit him. The impact from Dmityr's attacks combined with his fear for Dmityr was masking the opening. But once he calmed down, it was right there before him.

"Very Well Done. Bravo!" Gordenso exclaimed clapping his hands. The rest of the students cheered too. Nobody thought that Dmityr would ever be defeated. He wasn't defeated till now.

Lucius looked at Gordenso and smiled. "DON'T!!!!" Gordenso shouted. Lucius was confused till he looked back a Dmityr. Dmityr had swung his sword again. "The spar is over when one of us hits the other!!" yelled Dmityr. Lucius had no time to react. He couldn't dodge. He tried to bring his sword in front of him in an attempt to block it. But he wasn't fast enough. Dmityr's sword his right forearm. There was a cracking sound and a sharp pain shot up his arm. The pain was immense and he felt lightheaded. Everything faded out. He saw Dmityr's face. Then he saw his forearm. It was bent backwards and two white things were sticking out. Before he could figure out what was sticking out of his arms, everything went black.


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