Chapter 69: Sparring with Akiko. A Stalker?
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In the clearing deep inside the forbidden forest, Axel and Akiko faced each other bare-handed.

Axel rubbed his side where the kick had landed. They were just sparring, so of course it didn't hurt. But it was more of a mental blow.

'Well, this brings back memories…' he thought, feeling the overwhelming gap between them. This gap is why he had quit hand to hand combat in favor of knife. Though at that time, the gap was due to his weak body and with no combat instincts.

This time though, in comparison to his opponent, he had superior physical stats, better dynamic vision, and better instincts. But still, with his crude hand to hand combat skills, there's not much he can do against this fighting machine trained professionally with the best techniques.

Swish

Akiko didn't give him time to think. She was on Axel once again as she swung her long leg to kick his face. But it actually turned out to be a feint as a roundhouse kick was coming for his face before he could counter. When he blocked that, he was instantly trapped in a grapple as his head was enveloped between Akiko's thighs.

!

In the next moment, he was flung to the ground with an incredible force, knocking the breath out of his lungs.

'Not so easily!' Akiko might have overwhelmed him with her skills, but she would have no idea that this much beating couldn't even put a dent to Axel.

[Pain Tolerance: 87%]

Yep, this was the same guy who took Cruciatus for ten minutes straight with a perfectly conscious and sane mind.

BAM

Not even a second after he had fallen, Axel had already freed his hand to land a solid punch across Akiko's cheek, flinging her off himself. He then flipped backwards off the ground to take distance.

'She got me good,' he thought, deactivating his Arcane Eyes. He had activated it at a very low intensity just when she had started attacking.

Cracking his neck, Axel recalled the series of attacks he had faced in their brief exchange just now. They were all part of a single move, synchronized in a way that defending against everything would be very difficult, much less counter with his crude brawling. Especially since now she already knows that injuries have no effect on him. And he also can't use too much force since he doesn't want to hurt her too badly. Suffice it to say, he can't beat her like this.

But…

'This is good.' A grin threatened to break from Axel's face. Before getting the system, he had never received any sort of training. But, he had still managed to be skilled at many things. At that time, all that he had learnt was through observing, relentless practice, and real fights. And in those fights, you couldn't afford to try something you weren't good at. The things he had observed were pretty also mediocre since you can't find many experts on streets.

But now, he had someone who had mastery in many techniques. And, she's also not trying to kill or maim him. This is a perfect opportunity to learn. What more could he want?

Her moves which he had seen under slight usage of [Arcane Eyes] played in his mind and he started to absorb and assimilate.

Meanwhile, Akiko was still stunned as she felt a familiar pain in her jaw. She couldn't even understand how she got punched. Not even a second after she had hit Axel with a deadly combo, a punch had landed on her before even she could recover. So, how did he recover?

"My turn."

Before she even came out of her shock, she heard Axel's voice as he attacked her with a few rough punches with his non-existent style.

'He really is an amateur at this,' she thought, easily deflecting the first few punches. But then, a series of master jabs were suddenly thrown at her, almost catching her off-guard with the familiar combo.

'This is!' She exclaimed in her mind as she blocked the suddenly thrown kick to her side, mirroring the move she had just gotten him with in their very first exchange. This was the very same combo she had used against him. But surprisingly… the kick actually turned out to be a feint, similar to the second combo she had used on him!

The incoming roundhouse kick came so quickly that she could only brace herself to block it.

BAAAM

!

The force generated was enough to knock her to the ground even after that as her arms went numb.

?!

What was this power?! It was much more than what he has shown untill now. If she hadn't defended in time, another trip to Hospital wing was in order.

"Oh… my bad, I couldn't control my power properly since I was trying it out for the first time," she heard Axel's casual apology at that moment which made her realize... that he had been pulling his punches all this while. Her jaw might have been broken otherwise.

But now the question is, how much strength does he actually have?!

That's how their Hand-to-hand to training began. Since he had run out of surprises and they were both trying not to seriously hurt each other, Axel got beaten up most of the time due to his low experience and skill level, but Akiko could no longer disdain him for it. He was getting better with each exchange!

Akiko took her task seriously. Along the way, she gave him instructions and pointed out his flaws from time to time. By the time they were done, Axel had at least gotten something good out of his beating.

[Arcane Martial Arts: 2%]

Yep, he had finally unlocked this thing since he had gained the threshold mastery required to unlock the skill.

Plus, he could now train his [Heal] by healing the injuries he had gotten from the exchange. Overall, he'd say today was turning out to be a very productive day, adding his earlier exploits in the Chamber of Secrets.

Rotating his arms and shoulders, he looked at Akiko resting against a tree trunk, "Thanks. I learnt a lot, and it was a nice warm up."

All his muscles which were stiff from too much intense training had loosened now. He felt like he could do better than yesterday.

"?" 'Is he kidding?'

Akiko, who was panting slightly due to the exertion with her aching body resting against the tree trunk, didn't find Axel's joke funny. If this was a warm up, then the real workout would kill anyone.

Not knowing Akiko's thoughts, Axel exited the clearing. He would have liked to keep training, but it was already time for classes. Exiting the forbidden forest in stealth, he went to physical training class as he canceled his Stealth.

"Who did this to you?!" Asked Daphne as soon as she saw him.

"Don't worry, it'll go away soon," said Axel.

"You still haven't answered my question,"

Axel didn't hide it, "I was training with someone."

Daphne was surprised, "It was just one person? Did they cheat or did you not cheat?"

She didn't know exactly how strong Axel was, but she knew that If it was just one person, Axel wouldn't be beaten unless he doesn't cheat or the other party takes him by surprise.

A hint of a smile crossed Axel's face. "I was holding back." Even when she doesn't know much, she still has absolute faith in his sleaziness.

Daphne rolled her eyes, "Whatever." She then grabbed his hand as she began dragging him away.

"Where to?" He asked, looking at her weak hands trying to drag him.

"Hospital wing. We can't have you attend the physical training class like this, can we? It must be painful," she said worriedly as she lightly poked a particularly nasty bruise on his arm which hadn't healed yet.

"What about the class?"

"You think I give a fuck?."

Amused, Axel let her drag him as she carefully steered him out of the crowd. He didn't know why, but he recalled the conversation he had with Martina this morning.

'I've just… stopped trusting people due to certain reasons.' — that's what he had told her at that time. But, looking at the blonde pushing aside other people to take him to the Hospital, he realized that he did, in fact, trust this girl to some extent.

'Though… her mental defenses are too weak for me to tell her anything,' he thought with dissatisfaction. It didn't help that she was weak as fuck.

"Oi," he called, tugging her hand.

"What?" Asked Daphne, still busy navigating through the crowd.

"Let's not go to the Mahoutokoro classes. I'll train you instead," he said out of nowhere.

The Mahoutokoro classes weren't compulsory, but one would have to do homework and assignments if they're not attending them. Though, in the past few days, their popularity among the students had reached the peak. The classes were fun and such valuable knowledge was being taught on such a rare opportunity, no one was willing to skip them even if the school begged them to.

But, Daphne didn't even consider any of that as she stopped for a moment. "We'll be training?...Just the two of us? Sure!" She exclaimed, finding the prospect too good to be true.

Not because Axel was going to teach her some priceless knowledge though. She didn't know that. She was simply happy for a different reason altogether.

"... Yeah, I guess?" Answered Axel, wondering if she misunderstood his question. He was asking her to skip the class that everyone was so pumped to attend.

Though, Daphne only nodded her head blissfully as they continued on their way. "Skipping classes together… Isn't this progress?…" Along the way, Daphne kept murmuring strange things in a low voice.

As they exited the crowd, Axel turned his head back, only to see no one following them. He quickly wrung his hand out of Daphne's grasp.

"What happened?" Asked Daphne, looking like a puppy who had been kicked.

"Nothing." Replied Axel coldly.

'What's wrong with him these days?!' Thought Daphne despondently. This wasn't the first time Axel had suddenly pushed her away. It has been happening for the past few days and she's really beginning to get worried.

On the other hand, Axel sighed. For the past few days, someone has been following him from time to time. Usually, it's not an uncommon thing for someone to follow him, but this person is actually extremely skilled, making him worried.

He has been cautious from the beginning. After dinner, he always goes into stealth to go to his secret hideout, he's also in stealth when he's alone wandering in the night or going to training in the Forbidden Forest. The rest of the time, he's usually in public. So, the stalker hasn't done anything yet. And Axel also hasn't done anything either since he wants to catch this person alive with no chance of escape.

'Is it the organization already?' This was his main suspicion. He wasn't exactly ready yet. And he had been careful to not show off too much power in public these days, to make them lower their guard and not show any real weakness either.

That's why, Axel had been careful not to be too friendly with Daphne in public these days. If they find out that he has a close relationship with her, they might use her to get to him. But, how could he explain this all to Daphne? As he already lamented, her mental defenses are too weak. Though she HAS been training since an early age and she has talent, so there's hope. But for now, she'll just have to suck it up. He'll start training her as soon as he's handled this skilled stalker, whoever it is.

At dinner that night, Patricia came to sit beside him.

"What is it?" Asked Axel in irritation.

Patricia smiled, "Why? Can't I sit here because I want to?"

"Of course you won't. You usually sit with students with a powerful family background."

Axel wasn't the one who said this. It was Luna, who was sitting on the other side of Axel.

Axel gave the dreamy girl a thumbs up while eating, "Good girl. Perhaps there's hope for you yet. You observed right. Just don't say these kinds of things right in front of the person in question."

Not to anyone's surprise, Luna was still mostly friendless, at least in house Slytherin. Axel had been trying to help her whenever he could. At least through his guidance, she now doesn't hesitate to call Martina on the slightest problems, so it's mostly Martina's problem now.

Still smiling, Patricia ignored Luna's comment. "You know, it's been really hectic in the Slytherin House these days. I'm in a very precarious situation right now."

"So I heard," replied Axel, putting more tasteless boiled food in his mouth.

Patricia sighed. There's no beating around the bush with this guy. "Actually, a lot of Slytherins are dissatisfied with your nomination as the seeker. And they need proof of your qualification now."

"So what? You want me to give a trial now? You think I need one?"

Patricia smiled fawningly at him as she put a hand to his shoulder, "No! of course not. You're the best one I've ever had dear… But, I'm facing a lot of backlash now. I'll —"

"Lady Patricia," said Axel, cutting her off as he removed her hand, "I'd like to say, I'm deeply apologetic, that I don't give a fuck about your situation. You had promised that I won't have to go through any hassle. Don't say empty words if you don't have the ability to back them up. I'd sooner play for Hufflepuff than give a trial to those arrogant bastards when I'm already doing them a huge favor by playing for Slytherin."

Patricia looked horrified, "You can't —"

"I actually can, princess," Axel grinned. "There's no rule banning the students from playing for another house. And there are a few precedents of it happening as well. I've done my research." Actually, Daphne did it for him, but who's gonna call it out?

He was already aware of the Slytherins' dissatisfaction with him. And he wasn't about to be the one to bend in front of them. If they went too far, he had the option of playing for another house team. Giving another house a trial was much more preferable to this. Some might think he was arrogant, but he was not. He was just THAT good.

Patricia was really terrified now, "Axel, please don't leave. I'll...I'll handle everything. If you leave, it's over for me."

Axel grinned inwardly. Earlier, she was all but demanding a trial, but right now, she's begging him just to stay. Well, let's not tell her that he also doesn't want to leave. It has too many complications. Besides, the worse the team, the more he'll shine. And right now, after all the players had left with Alaric Malcolm, the Slytherin team was filled with a bunch of losers aside from Patricia. He'll be the only star in the field.

"Well, behave from now on. Use your Slytherin mind to deal with the situation. I'll give you the Quidditch cup." he said dismissively as he finished his dinner and got up to leave.

Exiting the Great Hall, he once again felt the same feeling, as if someone was following him. Usually, he would just ignore it and disappear at a turn after a few corridors. But not tonight.

Tonight, he's going to take action.

. . .

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