Chapter 18
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They were, all four of them, the duke and the adventuring party having left, in an empty cavern below the earth. Nathaniel was standing in the middle, with a blindfold on his eyes, and smirking.

"The bet still stands. If the three of you can't lay me down on my back in an hour, you will do whatever I say for a month," Nathaniel expected for the to chicken out, but the three charged at him instead.

Nathaniel dodged Samuel's kick and grabbed his leg and threw him in the general direction from where Adam's mana was coming from. He heard a crash and two groans and raised his hand to block a punch coming from Constantine.

"Well, Lich, let us see what you can do. Don't disappoint me now, ok?" Nathaniel jumped over Constantine's attempt to swipe his feet from beneath him and twisted the blonde's arm behind his back.

Nathaniel leaned into Constantine and whispered.

"If you can't lay me on my back in an hour, you will have to watch me take Adam's first real kiss," Nathaniel laughed and bounced back as Constantine zapped him with necromantic mana. He must have really pissed off the necromancer, if he was using mana to fight in a hand to hand.

Nathaniel tripped on something thick, and he barely managed to right himself in the last minute. That thick thing tried to wrap itself around the warrior's leg, but Nathaniel jumped up. Only to have to do a backflip mid-jump because a finger brushed his back.

"Adam, really now? I thought that you were out of the running," Nathaniel didn't get a response. Instead, what he assumed was Adam's tail whipped at him and hit him on the chest. It wasn't hard enough to topple him down. Which, Nathaniel supposed, was because Adam didn't want to hurt him.

Nathaniel felt a slight breeze coming from above, and he backed away. Seconds later, he heard someone crashing on the ground and rolling away.

"Samuel, nice initiative. But, honestly, you can work on the landing," Nathaniel heard a groan that sounded pained and figured that Samuel would be down for some time. The axe warrior heard slithering sounds that went in the direction of the fallen former prince and congratulated himself on getting two out of three opponents out of the running.

The slithering sounds stopped, then Nathaniel heard the sound of rustling fabric and the slithering sounds went out of the ring.

"That means you are forfeiting, Adam," called Nathaniel with a chuckle. He heard a huff and something from Samuel that sounded suspiciously like fuck you, and then he had to dodge a roundhouse kick.   

Nathaniel heard a chuckle and then, the ground under his feet cracked.

"Constantine, if you keep on using mana, I might just bite," Nathaniel undid the mana weights on his muscles and he speeded to the necromancer. Only to have multiple hands reach out to him.

"That is cheating," Nathaniel dodged a bony tail and wondered what the necromancer summoned just now.

"Hardly. It was cheating that you wanted a hand-to-hand. That is your area of expertise," retorted Constantine, and Nathaniel managed to pinpoint the necromancer's location.

Speeding up, Nathaniel undid the last of his mana weights, and he was gone in a blink. He hit something solid and wind picked up around his fist.

"So, we go all out?" Asked Nathaniel with a feral grin before he unleashed a barrage of punches on the barrier that was separating him from the blonde.

"If that is your wish," suddenly, bony arms wrapped around Nathaniel's ankles and pulled him away from the barrier. The being slammed the warrior on the floor with such force that Nathaniel felt one of his ribs crack. 

Nathaniel groaned. This hadn't been fair at all. But, the bet was still active, and he had lost. Pulling off his blindfold, he saw that the barrier had more cracks than whole patches on it, and that what was still holding to his ankle was the skeleton of a Naga.

"What would you have me do, necromancer?" Nathaniel really hoped it was not something like a demand for him to leave the dungeon and never come back.

"You will train those two, from now on. Seeing as there is no chance for them to ever learn my style of fighting," Constantine was smirking down on him, his golden eyes twinkling and his hair ruffled.

Nathaniel saw that his cheeks were flushed and that there were beats of sweat on the necromancer's forehead. That assured the warrior that he had given as good as he had gotten, despite losing.

"Your style of fighting?" Spat Nathaniel. "You mean: your style of cheating."

"Don't be a sore loser, now," Nathaniel found the sing-song way in which Constantine said these words annoying. "You can't expect a necromancer to be a martial artist. That is just silly. I bet you are pants at magic."

Well, Constantine got Nathaniel there. The warrior stood, the Naga finally letting go of him. If Adam could ever be even half as strong as this Naga skeleton, then he would be able to protect himself just fine. Nathaniel would see it done. No matter how big of break he had to take from adventuring.

"Well, why are you standing there? Come over here, you two," Constantine went to the corner of the cavern and sat down on a blanket as both Adam and Samuel made their way back into the ring.

Nathaniel considered what sort of exercise he could have Adam do. Judging by his physique, he already did plenty to stay fit. And, the dungeon core didn't have legs, so, that excluded a lot of the conventional exercises.

"Samuel, start running around the ring. Adam, hm. Come over here," Samuel took off running as Adam slithered closer to Nathaniel. Nathaniel got in a fighting stance and Adam mirrored him.

"Now, try to grab my ankles. I will tell you what you do wrong," Adam swiped at Nathaniel's legs with his tail and attempted to wrap his tail around the warrior's ankles, only for Nathaniel to jump up.

"The tail is too obvious. Everyone would expect it. Try with your hands," what followed were hours in which Adam tried to get down to the ground too fast for Nathaniel to jump up or sidestep. He knew that snakes could strike in a blink. But he was finding the mission difficult. Still, by the end of it, he was covered in sweat and his muscled tingled pleasantly. So, despite not landing even a finger on Nathaniel's legs, he felt like he was making progress.