You know what?! I’ve had it with this bullshit! Fuck you, Lorn! Fucking Fuck!
I was screaming in my own head; the only thing actually leaving my lips was incoherent yelling as I attempted to return each blow that Lorn threw. We’d been fighting for maybe an hour at this point. Lorn showed no sign of tiring, but my lungs were burning, and I was sure my sight was beginning to tunnel because of the lack of oxygen I was taking in.
Lorn’s fist flew past my cheek, a shallow cut forming.
I brought my right fist into her ribs, just below her sternum, and I could hear the air leaving Lorn’s chest.
Lorn responded by latching down on my forearm.
Then backhanded me with her free arm.
On impact, my sight blacked out, and I could just barely hear a ringing noise. By the time my sight was back, Lorn was trying to straddle me, raising a fist as if she were about to punch down. When she finally rocketed her fist towards me, I brought my arms up, blocking my face and upper chest as the sound of a dull thud could be heard. After her first hit, my forearms went numb, and I did my best to hold them up. After the fifth strike, Lorn seemed to slow in pace, giving me a window to direct one of her punches finally.
“You have a lot of nerve trying-“
Lorn attempted to dissuade me; however, I locked the arm that I directed into the ground with my own left arm. With Lorn locked in place, I looked directly into her eyes. I could see the moment she realized what was coming.
“You try it, I dare you, bitch.”
Lorn swore for what felt like the first time in my presence.
I yelled as I forced my right arm up and forward. I could feel a faint cracking inside of my right hand as I forced it into Lorn’s jaw. Her head was thrown back as the force of the impact was transferred. Going by prior knowledge, I thought it might've just knocked her out. Surely enough, after my reach hit its limit, and I dropped my arm, Lorn slumped on top of me. In most cases, this would be no issue. But we were both worn ragged, and I would be surprised if I’d be able to stand. It wasn’t until I felt my lungs scream particularly loudly that I realized I wasn’t breathing anymore.
The next moment, I sucked in as much air as my lungs could hold, catching my breath as we lay there in the field.
“Ah-… -ah… -ah…”
It was just me breathing in such a ragged fashion; Lorn was breathing, but it was as if she were sleeping and hadn’t just participated in such a fight that would have left us both bloodied.
Is she… out?… She’s done… finally… a reprieve…
I relaxed my body; the exhaustion started to run its course. I still had roughly one-hundred mp left, but I didn’t exactly know where to spot the difference between normal exhaustion and mana exhaustion set in,
Fuck me, how many times are grown-ass adults going to fight me? I’m eleven, for fuck sake. Is this kind of training normal?... Mnnnn… Mnnnnn!
“Grrrrr, why the hell does everyone have to beat my ass?! I’m just a kid, aren’t I? Can I not do any training without being abused?”
I complained aloud, uncaring of who heard, as Lorn was asleep and the others too far away.
…Seriously, what the fuck? Callum’s beating… that was at least chaperoned… but this… is this acceptable?! AND WHY THE FUCK AM I SO ANGRY SUDDENLY?! FUCK! This whole time, I’d put up with it, but NOW it's getting to me. My emotions feel heightened, and my thoughts have been clearing up just slightly as of late.
The surge of emotions was spiking once more as I struggled to grasp what was going on. The fact I could have just been beaten within an inch of my life, or how my nose and knuckles in one hand felt broken, and I was bruised all over.
The frustration finally drove me to tears as I lay there.
Lorn tilted her head some, just barely making eye contact.
Wait, was she awake the whole damn time?
“Are you okay?”
I was sure I was obviously not ‘okay.’ I could feel tears streaming at this point, my brain felt like a jumble of wires that was burning up, and I couldn’t think of anything else other than venting.
“Do I look okay?”
I started, meek and at a whisper.
Lorn held her tongue, looking to the ground.
“Is this kind of thing normal? Fighting kid’s like this?”
At this question, I felt her lifting her own weight and dropping herself to my side. We were both lying on our backs, staring at the sky.
“No, it is not… in fact, your mother is probably going to give me a fair earful later.”
I turned my head, looking to her.
“For you, it’s the only way… I had second thoughts this whole fight until I felt that punch when you had me on the ground. When you hit me as hard as you could, I knew it was needed.”
Lorn didn’t bother tilting her head, continuing to look skyward.
“As I said before, you need to learn how to use mana-burst as best you can. It’s all you have, and I’m speaking from experience. As far back as I can remember, I’ve only been able to use mana-burst. And many a time, I realized I was under-equipped.”
“Again, though, why fight me so early?”
“Because it’s the best you can do for now.”
Lorn sat up, propped up by her elbows.
“The experience draw; The more you fight or work at this age, the faster you’ll grow. I could teach you how to fight, how to deflect, how to hit or be hit. But all that would mean nothing if it didn’t come to you at the moment you needed it.”
She looked down at me for a moment before looking forward.
“By the way, you’re too experienced at fighting or grappling for some random child. Care to explain?”
“It came to me…”
There was silence for a moment before Lorn said anything.
“Sure… I’ll take that answer for now…”
What is that supposed to mean?
“Do you have any questions?”
Lorn asked, looking back at me.
“Could I get healed first?”
Lorn waved back to where the others must have been after I asked this, gesturing a few times as to stop someone before nodding and waving towards us. When she was done, she laid back down.
“Beryl’s on her way; she’ll need the experience with healing.”
That and you probably do not want to talk to Mama yet.
“Okay, what next?”
Lorn asked once more.
Beryl isn’t even here yet.
“Why did you fake the knockout?”
“Ah, it wasn’t faked at first. After my mind came back to me, I wanted a breather. Since you couldn’t tell, I took advantage of the moment.”
Beryl still wasn’t here yet, and I began wondering how far we’d moved out.
Question… questions… oh
Lorn responded, lifting her chin slightly.
“Uhm, emotions. Does this mana-burst thing do something to them?”
Lorn then looked at me as if I were talking nonsense.
She asked in a perplexed manner.
“I’ve been all frustrated and angry lately. Like when I can’t do stuff. Mama and Beryl pointed it out to me today… “
Lorn continued to look at me as if she were confused before smirking and stifling a laugh.
She cut her sentence off halfway, trying to stifle another laugh before failing.
“Hahaha, Kiyomi, you- that has nothing to do with mana-burst. It’s just a different way to bleed off your mp. It’s not something that would affect you that deeply.”
Lorn was now wiping a tear from her face.
“Kiyomi, you’re a fresh bleeder. It will get easier with time, but your emotions may be high for a while.”
I asked, still confused.
“Kiyomi, your brain is getting hit with a flood of hormones and a bunch of other things. It just means you’re growing, hahaha.”
Wait, puberty? Fuck, I just started bleeding last week… Puberty… fuck me…
Just as I dropped my head back and processed what Lorn was saying, I could just barely hear Beryl slithering up through the grass.
“Kiyomi, are you okay?!”
She stopped just over me; her face was twisted into one of worry before looking to Lorn in anger.
“Why did you hit her like this?”
“You’ll learn as time goes on, child, if you truly care for Kiyomi’s well-being, you’ll skip the squabble and administer aid. Start healing.”
I couldn’t see Lorn, as I was still looking at Beryl; Lorn sounded as strict and no-nonsense as before we started our own fight.
“What the heck?!”
Beryl whispered to herself in response to Lorn’s orders.
“Are you okay, Kiyomi?”
Beryl asked, bringing her hands to my face until they were just hovering over my skin. Green light began emitting from them as she began channeling mana to heal me.
“I think I’m mostly good, probably could take a look at my hand and arms, though. How’s Vaughn? He holding up okay?”
Beryl smiled at my question.
“Kiyomi, don’t be concerned with him when you’re hurt yourself.”
Beryl said, smiling weakly as she continued to work.
“Vaughn’s fine; Mister Callum started going easy on him just after you and Miss Lorn started fighting. He’s resting in the shade right now. Your Mother said we could all go after you, and Miss Lorn were done, but now I think you should rest too.”
“Heh, Beryl, I’ll be fine, we can go play. I’m feeling hungry though; maybe we could go get food together?”
I proposed, Beryl, looking up as if to debate an answer before responding with a smile.
“Sure thing, the three of us.”
After That, we fell silent. Beryl continued healing me, and once she finished. Next, she begrudgingly saw to Lorn. Apparently, I managed to chip a few of her teeth and knock one completely free. She spat out the pieces that were pushed free as Beryl healed her. When Beryl was through with her, she stood and stretched before addressing us.
“You three can go ahead and go, but before you do. Kiyomi, take this.”
Lorn produced a small vial from her trouser pocket.
“If you ever feel tired out of nowhere, take one of these. Your mother made them for me, but seeing as I’m no longer the only person with my condition here, you’ll need it too.”
“Wait, what condition?”
I asked in a worried tone.
“It’s not life-threatening. It’s more so an inconvenience. You should have some on hand either way.”
Holding it towards me, the vial was filled with small, chalky, golden tablets. Hesitantly I took it, looking Lorn in the eyes and searching for whatever hint I could get.
“We’ll also have some things to discuss in our next class, understand?”
Lorn asked. After I nodded in response, Lorn turned and walked away towards Mother and Callum. Vaughn was passing Lorn, true to her word, he was free to go with us. He currently looked in better shape than when I’d last seen him.
“Oh? So you survived Uncle Callum’s beating?”
I asked, with a mocking tone as he approached.
“He was nothing.”
Vaughn waved it off, showing a cocky demeanor as if he wasn’t just beaten with a stick.
Beryl responded whilst rolling her eyes, probably being the one that saw to Vaughn after his second portion of training.
“So, I’m guessing you two both had a plan already?”
“Yeah, mostly. We were going to walk around the city for a while. Hang out some just outside of the gate where we did before even. We should probably get food on the way, though, since it’s outside.”
Vaughn answered my question, offering a hand to help me up. After he helped me up, the three of us began walking back to the forge before leaving. My sword was with us today since Lorn and Mother were both here, and I didn’t know if either would remember it, considering they might argue. After grabbing my sword, we made our way out of the forges to the streets.
“So, you both still up to training with me? Orrrrr-“
I asked the two that had tagged along. Since both of them had gotten a full taste of what learning alongside me was going to be like.
“Kiyomi, for me, training isn’t much different. Mother Cressida was my magic teacher before, and now I’m apparently learning from her senior, so it’s okay for me. Vaughn?”
Beryl looked to Vaughn, searching for his input.
“I’m… fine. As long as I have you two to pick me up.”
Vaughn smiled awkwardly; it was easy to tell that he was swaying on it. Callum and Lorn were fairly extreme in their methods; apparently, both were rather harsh in comparison to the average teacher or trainer.
Was I just that isolated thanks to having no one to compare to? I mean, Lorn already said that wasn’t the norm. But still…
“Well, considering we’re all willing to keep up with it, I think Mama might train us in the field in maybe a year. She said something about my first hunt happening since I started my bleeding.”
“My Mothers’ said that would be the case. So, I was expecting it.”
When Beryl finished, Vaughn also spoke his mind.
“My father said the same thing; he couldn’t give me much insight, though. He was never an adventurer, so Callum is my best bet.”
These two, they’re a bit more dedicated to this than I could say for myself. I don’t think I really have a choice.
“Well, I guess that settles it. Tomorrow is a rest day for you two; I’ll be learning with Mother again and miss Lorn the day after.”
Beryl grimaced at the mention of Lorn.
“I don’t like her very much; we had no idea what kind of training you were doing. That was way too far.”
Bless her heart; she’s getting protective.
“That’s why I feel I can’t back out of training with Callum. I saw that fight, Kiyomi. I can’t let you go through that alone and feel okay.”
Vaughn said with a shrug.
“On that note, we should really move on from the topic. If we waffle on it all night, we really won’t be having fun, will we?”
I tried derailing the conversation and distracting the two from going on a rant.
You two really shouldn’t worry about me like that.
As time went on, the mood began to shift to something much lighter. Beryl and Vaughn found themselves engrossed in a conversation conveniently enough, which allowed me to think back on Lorn’s words from earlier.
I’m growing… hormones… all that time; what’s it been at this point? Roughly a year and a half? Damn… nearly two by earth standards.
I looked to Beryl and Vaughn; I walked behind them as they walked side by side.
If my theories were right, and I did… pass on. Then that means my brain is underdeveloped, right?
I looked at my hands.
I AM a growing child. Maybe, since my brain is under-developed, my mind being crammed in the way it was caused the cloudiness? My thoughts should become less and less cloudy as time goes on. It could also be the altered decision making? My anxiety? Maybe that was the hormones? I was originally trying to act the part so I wouldn’t out myself by knowing more than I should, but half the work feels like it’s happening naturally.
I asked myself, thinking of how the cloud that was on the edge of my thoughts and decision-making could have been this.
Maybe, it's how I managed to land these two as friends? It doesn’t feel like I’m playing a game with some random kids when we played catch or tag. They feel like my peers, rather than children… Am I parsing things right? Or am I just overthinking it? As a matter of fact, I’m caring for them a bit more than I thought I would… Ugh, my brain hurts. Let's think about something else.
I continued to argue with myself as we now were exiting one of the side streets, greeted by a now bustling Brenton Plaza.