Book 3 Chapter 7

“Go for the eyes, Lucci!!” SoYa cupped his hands around his mouth, giving a grinning call out over the practice ring.

It was unusual to see Zemi Dreigiau stripped down to a set of oversized pants and a tank-shirt with his usually wild hair pulled back in a fighter’s knot. The Arweinydd held a padded practice sword in one fist, though at the rate that he and Lucci exchanged blows, Zemi hardly needed the weapon.

“Lucci-boy, tighten your grip on that weapon! Straighten your arm when you thrust! Do it like you mean it! You aren’t gonna hurt me none, so don’t fret,” Zemi encouraged with a wide grin.

Dancing about on the balls of his feet, the Dreigiau was in no danger as Lucci’s practice sword hardly came near him.

Lucci is holding back…

SoYa could sense the reluctance in the way that Lucci swung the practice sword. Not that the boy didn’t want to learn, just that he seemed really hesitant to strike at Zemi, even if it was for training.

“Come on Lucci! Stick it to him! You can do it!!” AsaHi shouted leaning over the padded railing.

Zemi gave the girl an arched-eyebrow, “Heeey… who’s side are you on?”

Seeing his opening, Lucci gave a quick little thrust, marking Zemi’s side with the blackened tip of the training blade. As the Dreigiau turned to observe himself with amused surprise, the boy darted back with a wide, playful grin.

“That wasn’t very sporting of you,” Zemi teased warmly, a soft chuckle rising from his throat.

“I don’t think the bad guys are going to worry too much about what’s sporting,” SoYa grinned at the boy’s antics.

“True enough,” Zemi nodded with a wrinkled nose. Moving into a low crouch, he once again assumed his battle-pose. “You must be serious if you really want to learn how to fight.”

The boy nodded and let out a heated breath, wiping his brow on the back of his hand. He wore a padded practice jerkin and a cap that seemed a size too small on his head. His form was slender and wan, like one who had grown taller faster than muscle could keep up with. Despite that, Lucci had a strength to him when he put it behind his thrusts.

This is moving slowly. We don’t have a lot of time before battle comes.

It didn’t help that this was Zemi’s first time training someone in swordsmanship. Not that Zemi was a bad teacher, but it was obvious that his own battle skills heavily relied upon the power he held as an Arweinydd. The training session was a disheveled attempt at putting a practice sword in Lucci’s hand and letting him swing it around with little discipline.

It’s too bad that Father wouldn’t help… he used to train the best warriors back in Nefol.

Again, SoYa watched as Lucci came for the Dreigiau, only to be met with dodges, feints and a series of blocks. Eventually, the boy hunched over to catch his breath. Zemi eyed him and leaned his own padded weapon against the railing.

“Well, it looks like you could use a break. How about we pick this up again later once you’ve had some rest?” the Arweinydd tilted his head.

Lucci just nodded in return, still fighting to find his breath. So Ya could see that determination was written on his brow. So was frustration.

Zemi means well, but I’m not sure this approach is working.

Undaunted, Zemi just gave a huge, fanged grin. Ruffling AsaHi’s hair as he walked by, he hoisted himself easily out of the training ring.

“Ew, don’t touch me with those hands. You need a shower, Zemi,” the girl teased, pulling away from him.

Zemi paused for a moment, as if considering the possibility of his kind owning an odor of a bodily sort. Then he shook his head, “Nice try, Sunshine. But Arweinydd don’t sweat.”

“So you think!”

“We don’t,” the Dreigiau argued.

SoYa waved a finger at him, “You can’t smell your own self, you know?”

“Really?” he paused, a glimmer of slight concern crossing his face.

“That’s right!” AsaHi teased more. “Don’t tell me you’re not even wearing deodorizer?”

“What’s that?” Zemi squinted at her.

Both SoYa and AsaHi groaned, then laughed at the stricken face of the Arweinydd.

“Someone needs to educate you in the ways of Earthian hygiene,” AsaHi winced.

“Guess who just offered to do it?” Zemi arched an eyebrow at AsaHi.

“Whaaaat? Not me!” she protested.

“You will show me this deodorizer-thing.”

AsaHi turned to blink at SoYa with a what-should-I-do look.

SoYa was still laughing, however. One hand waved the girl off on her new-found plight, the other wiped at his eyes. With no other option, AsaHi found herself walking towards the waiting compound and the explanation of personal hygiene.

Lucci leaned against the fence not far from SoYa. He gave a tired look, one that expressed the knowledge of the lack of focus in his training.

“You think you’re finished in there?” TsuYa strode out towards the training ring, dressed down in a dark blue padded sparring outfit, tailored especially to his form. One easy leap had him over the railing, picking up Zemi’s discarded training sword with a sharp frown.

SoYa felt something within his stomach do a nose dive.

He isn’t really going to go in there and lay into Lucci, is he?

“Tsu, what are you doing?” SoYa tried to keep the alarm out of his voice.


Lucci backed away, pressed against the nearest railing as if looking frantically for an escape. One hand grasped for his practice sword as TsuYa’s intimidation began its grim advance.

TsuYa flourished his training blade in a few smooth sweeps of his arm, closing in on the frightened boy. A predatory grin touched his lips as he urged, “Come on, kid. Show me what you got.”

The boy shook his head vehemently.

“What? You won’t get in trouble, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

Still, Lucci shook his head, fear reflecting in his silver eyes.

“You’re really such a coward?” he chided, eyes never leaving the boy’s face. “What a shame. I wanted to see what it would be like to fight a Sygnus.”

“Tsu, stop it. This isn’t funny,” SoYa swallowed, half inclined to hop the rail. He knew that neither Father nor TsuYa were too fond of the boy Sygnus, and all too often, his brother took action against things that he didn’t like.

“Arm yourself!” TsuYa commanded, something in the depths of his eyes glittering.

Lucci straightened a bit. His silver eyes shot to the side as his fingers closed around the grip of the little practice blade. The tip of the weapon quivered as the boy lifted it in a defensive position.

“Lucci…” SoYa’s fingers gripped the edge of the railing. The inside of his mouth was dry with anticipation, wondering what it would come to… what he would have to do… to stop real injury from occurring.

“Alright kid. Give it to me,” a smug expression slid over TsuYa’s face.

Lucci crept closer, adjusting and readjusting the position of his fingers. He focused on TsuYa’s sword, feet moving awkwardly, without confidence.

The boy’s swing was slow and predictable. TsuYa’s own sword met with it in midair. Just a light twist of the wrist – he made it look so easy – and Lucci’s sword was dislodged from his fingers, flying off across the grass. His silver eyes gaped at his empty hands for a second before the point of TsuYa’s sword leveled at his chest.


“What do you call that?” TsuYa muttered.

A breathless squeak broke from Lucci’s lips.

“Go get your sword and try it again,” he commanded, lowering his practice weapon.

SoYa arched an eyebrow, surprised by his brother’s tone of instruction. Even Lucci glanced up in astonishment, silver eyes questioning if he had heard the order right.

“Well?” TsuYa leaned back on one heel. “If you can’t even pick up a practice sword and take a swing at me in here, how do you expect to fight the enemy?”

“But…” Lucci swallowed, trying to express his uncertainty. “I don’t understand.”

Neither do I… Tsu, what are you up to?

“Look, don’t push your luck,” the warrior grimaced, turning his face away for a moment. There was a planted sort of disgruntlement there, the fake kind that SoYa learned to see through years ago. “If anything happens to you in battle, Suzume will cry. And I don’t want to deal with it the next time I see her. Understand?”

The boy nodded slowly, trying to hide the astonished smile that threatened to cross his face. He seemed to know not to question unexpected kindnesses that TsuYa offered.

Instead, Lucci silently walked over to retrieve his sword.