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Episode 81 - Official Training ‘5 KM’
Today’s atmosphere at the Paladin’s training ground was… dark.
Currently, the Paladins and the Crown Prince were gathered together in a circle with blank looks on their faces. This weird mood was caused by the announcement of Louis’ and Aedelak’s enrollment letter that had arrived 2 days ago.
2 more months..
They only have two more months with Louis and Aedelak before they leave for the academy.
‘Haaa…’ Everyone sigh in unison.
It wasn’t that Louis and Aedelak were never going to return. In fact, they have to return home every 3 months from school holidays. Yet, the reason everyone felt sad was that they had long been used to seeing each other almost every day of their lives, like a routine, that hearing that it would be quite some time before they could see Louis and Aedelak again felt odd.
“Weird… To think that we would be seeing each other less now is weird. Think about it, you’ve been with me ever since I was born.” Crown Prince Ren stared at the sky with a defeated look on his face. - They’ve all been together since birth, especially so when they first started training as Paladins 2 years ago!
“We won’t be seeing brother Louis and sister Aedelak often now…” Ron Graeme followed Prince Ren to look at the sky and sighed; His sigh made everyone sigh again.
“It’ll be alright!” A girlish voice rang in their ears. This voice belonged to Euria who still retained her baby-voice.
“It’ll be alright!” Euria repeated, not knowing that her comforting them was making everyone’s heart more bitter.
“Our Euria has grown up now huh?” Crown Prince Ren laughed bitterly. In his mind, he felt that Euria was probably dealing with this news the hardest, however, she stopped to console everyone by keeping a calm front.
Hearing the Crown Prince’s words, Euria shook her head. “Sister said that the house would be peaceful and wonderful once brother is gone!” Euria brought out her brightest smile as she said that. She added, “When brother is gone, Neia said that she would take over brother’s library and study room!”
“.......” Everyone blinked at Euria’s words before slowly turning their heads towards Eugene.
“.....” Eugene blinked her eyes, refusing to answer the questioning look on everyone’s faces.
“She said that she would give me .. a qua… Hmm, how do you pronounce this word again? Quar.. Quarter!” Euria’s voice became excited! “She would give me a quarter of brother Louis’ room to me alone! And that I can do whatever I want to with it” Euria’s eyes sparkled greedily.
Her eyes shone with so much greed that they couldn’t help but gulp air down their dry throats.
“......” Louis raised his brows at Eugene. -So this was your aim?
“What about sister Aedelak?” Ron Graeme asked, glancing back and forth between Euria and Aedelak. “She will also be leaving! You don’t feel sad at her leaving?”
“Well…” Euria hummed, bringing her index finger close to her chin. “Sister Aedelak is Elder sister’s caretaker so... I am not very sad.” She shrugged her shoulders, forgetting about her tearful cries from the other day.
“.....” Everyone stared at Euria with speechlessness. --This child is cruel!
“So if Euria isn’t sad… Is Eugeneia sad then?” Prince Ren turned his head towards Eugene, only for her to stare at him blankly. Without replying to his words, her face says it all.
‘Are you really asking me that question?’
“......” Crown Prince Ren blinked at Eugene’s facial expression before pitifully glancing back and forth between Louis and Aedelak.
‘Louis, I pity you! Aeselak, I pity you!’ Prince Ren shook his head, his hands crawling behind Louis’ back and giving him a pat to the back.
“.......” (Louis & Aedelak)
With the gloomy atmosphere completely disintegrating into thin air, the Knight-Paladins, and Soldier-Paladins split up and went back to their respective spots.
On the Military side of the training field, one boy and four girls stood side by side as cool spring breezes gently brushed against them. The five waited for the arrival of Duke Amos Rodriguez so that they could begin their training of the day.
Upon waiting for their training instructor to arrive, Eugene started to become buried in deep thoughts. It has been a few weeks since they’ve begun Paladin training yet all they did was run around here and there, doing small errands for Duke Rodriguez or Duke Marleigh. --They have been basically doing nothing but sit around for the past weeks.
Annoyed, Eugene decided to threaten Duke Rodriguez last week, to leave with Euria and Aernest if he didn’t begin their training this week. Although Duke Rodriguez looked panicked, and mentioned that he would immediately prepare their training program, Eugene didn’t know if he would keep his words or not.
“He’s here…” Aernest quietly whispered, hearing heavy footsteps walking towards them from far away.
Within 30 seconds after Aernest’s words, Duke Amos Rodriguez appeared at the entrance to the training field.
“Good morning everyone!” Duke Rodriguez shouted from afar. He walked towards them carrying 5 logs of wood with multiple strings attached to the logs.
“.....” Eugene stared at Duke Rodriguez blankly before hearing someone beside her sucking in her breath. “??” She turned towards Aeselak whose face turned pale from fright.
With 10 steps, Duke Rodriguez arrived in front of the five, his mouth breaking in a wide grin unfitting from the rest of his body as per usual. The logs that looked to be Euria’s size from afar became humongous once Duke Rodriguex stood in front of the children.
‘...What?’ Eugene blinked at Duke Rodriguez, not understanding what he was doing.
“Good morning children!” Duke Rodriguez roared into laughter.
Breaking out of their confused shell, the five greeted the man in front of them in unison. “Good morning teacher!” They shouted, their necks stretched to its full power to look at the man 190cm tall.
Duke Rodriguez dropped five logs in front of the children with a loud crash. Looking at the five with dust flying around everywhere, he seriously said,
“Today will be the day you three officially begin your training. Seeing as your body has been getting used to exercising now, we will begin today’s training by running 5 km.” Duke Rodriguez pursed his lips into a straight line.
“I am well aware that you three run five kilometers on an everyday basis, so today we will tweak that a bit.” He glanced over at Aedelak and Aeselak before smiling.
“Today, you will be running with logs attached to your waist and must run to the end goal within one hour. Although the logs aren't heavy, it will wear you down as time passes, but even so, you must complete this training by the one hour mark.” Duke Rodriguez walked around the five, continuing on.
“If you fail to run within the one hour time limit, you will automatically be excused from any physical training and must study strategies and tactics with Duke Marleigh instead.” Duke Rodriguez stopped in front of Aeselak as he said that.
“After running, you will be tested on your flexibility before you can take your break. The last task you have to do by the end of today is memorizing 10 basic defence moves. This, Aedelak and Aeselak will help you with. If you fail to memorize these moves, five kilometer running will be added to tomorrow’s training. But if you three manage to memorize these basic defence moves, from tomorrow onwards, you will be trained at the main Military base.
At Duke Rodriguez’s words, everyone gasped in surprise.
‘Military camp?’ Eugene widened her eyes and took a glance at Aedelak and Aeselak. The two sisters also looked incredibly surprised! ‘Is going to the Military base new for them as well?’ Eugene quietly thought to herself. Aedelak’s and Aeselak’s reaction didn’t align well with Duke Rodriguez's words, which means that it was probably the first time they’ve ever heard of this matter.
“... Well then! Let’s begin?”
With Duke Rodriguez’s words, the five children bound themselves to a log and prepared for the run. The three took a few steps forward to feel the weight of the logs and they were indeed heavy. Although the weight wasn’t too heavy to run with it, the logs would eventually become a headache later on in the run, like being chained down by someone.
“Alright! Please get behind the line and once I say the word, you may start. Remember! You only have 1 hour! If you can’t do this, you will not be allowed to physically train here!” Duke Rodriguez repeatedly warned them at the start line giving Euria and Aernest slight anxiety.
“Will we be able to finish in time, sister?” Aernest worriedly whispered to Eugene.
“We have to.” Eugene replied without hesitation. It’s not a question of are we able to, but a, we have to.
Glancing back at Euria and Aernest who went slightly pale, Eugene sighed. “Make sure to follow behind me. If you are able to, you will be able to complete this in time.” Eugene confidently said, stretching her feet around.
Pacing will be the key factor to completing this run in one hour. If the children can push themselves over their limits and follow well, she was confident that she can bring them to the start line in time.
“Endure it…” Eugene whispered loud enough for everyone to hear.
“Begin!” Duke Rodriguez shouted, turning the hourglass upside down.
Without further ado, Eugene and Aedelak stepped forward and ran before the others.
In Eugene’s mind, she already had a rough calculation of how many minutes they were going to jog and how many minutes they would have to run for. They will be jogging for 5 minutes to warm their bodies up before slowly adding speed. From there, Eugene will decrease speed to rest and increase speed in intervals. While this method of pacing will increase their mileage, at the end of the day, it’ll still be up to the children if they can endure this or not.
“Are you alright Youngest miss? Young master?” Aedelak spoke after Eugene increased their running speed.
“Yes!”,“Yeah!” Aernest and Euria replied back in unison.
“Make sure to simultaneously inhale and exhale through both your nose and mouth! Also! If you can’t run anymore, shout it out! Otherwise don’t talk at all!” Eugene warned the two children, plus Aeselak.
After a while, Aeselak ran behind Aernest and Euria, not because she wanted to, but because she was not good with enduring pain. She studies with Duke Marleigh because she wasn’t capable of training physically with Duke Rodriguez. Truth to be told, the only thing she was physically capable of, is defending herself from surprise attacks. Other than that, she was practically useless.
Studying with Duke Marleigh did not mean she was smart, but that studying was the only thing she could do. She wasn’t her older sister who was capable of doing anything. In fact, her sister was advised to study with Duke Marleigh because she had talent in that area, but if her sister had chosen that area like her, no one would be able to protect the twins if anything happened, which is why her sister had to train with Duke Rodriguez.
With her breathing becoming erratic, Aeselak slowly became left behind. Her, being in deep thoughts isn’t helping her run but in fact making it harder to run.
“Sister Aeselak? Are you alright?” Aernest shouted out, sensing and hearing her footsteps getting further and further away from them. There was something in him that wanted to look behind but stopped because of Eugene’s next words.
“Don’t look back! Keep running. ” Eugene shouted. If everyone got out of the zone, it’ll be harder to run.
“....” Aernest bit his lips, worried for Aeselak.
They were about halfway to the finish line now and he could feel his body becoming heavier and heavier by each passing second. Although at first he was confused as to why Eugene would suddenly slow down and then suddenly increase their pace, he now understood why. Most importantly, he felt grateful when Eugene would slow down, that way he can catch his breath and rest his burning legs.
“Don’t… Don’t give up!” Euria painfully chanted. Her breathing rhythm was getting worse over time, bringing a frown to Eugene’s eyebrows. “Breathe slowly Euria! Breathe properly!” Eugene raised her voice.
“Calm yourself down from any thoughts and just follow after me!” Eugene added.
Euria weekly nodded and calmed herself from any thoughts. This however didn’t last long as her legs began to slow down and which made her panic.
“Sis… Sister.. I’m dying” Euria cried, tears forming in her eyes.
“.....” Eugene closed her eyes for 2 seconds before re-opening them. “Alright. If you ever get left behind, make sure to never give up. Run in intervals like we just did.” Eugene advised Euria.
“Most importantly, don’t cry!” Eugene put importance on her last word.
“Okay!” Euria weakly groaned, her figure left behind as Eugene, Aernest, and Aedelak turned around the corner. Gritting her teeth, she bared through the pain and tried to not increase the distance between them.
“Euria!” Eugene shouted. “If you can’t complete this, we won’t be able to see each other as often when we train!” Eugene tried motivating and convincing Euria to keep on running.
“.... Ah! Noooo!” Euria shouted, taking a sprint and sticking close behind Aernest. ‘That can’t happen!’ Euria bit her lips.
This motivation stuck with her until they hit the 40 minutes mark. By then Euria couldn’t even think of training with her sister. Slowing down by a lot, she was eventually left behind to run alone.
Not just Euria, but Aernest too was slowing down by a lot. The sun getting warmer and the rise in humidity was not helping him at all. However, he gritted through his teeth as he pressed on. In front of him, he could hear Eugene’s and Aedelak’s uneven breathing but because they didn’t complain, he too couldn’t. All he knew was that they were almost there at the finish line!
‘Almost!’ Aernest wiped his forehead sweat with his arms. The word almost prayed repeatedly on his mind and as if his wishes were answered, far away the figure of Duke Rodriguez stood.
With Duke Rodriguez waving a white flag around as if urging them to run faster, all of a sudden the three had adrenaline pumping through their blood! Like that, the three took their final spurt and sprinted towards their end goal!
“You pass!” Duke Rogriguez shouted as the three fell down to the ground.
Their energies were completely wiped away with that final sprint. They didn’t even care that they laid down on straight dirt.
“Haah… Haah!!” The three erratically breathed in as much oxygen as they could.
After a while of having their breathing systems back in order, they glanced towards Duke Rodriguez whose eyes and mouth broke out in a big grin. Below him stood an hourglass which still had sand flowing below, indicating that they completed this run before the one hour mark and with spare time.
‘There is still around 5 minutes left… So we completed this run in 50 minutes?’ Eugene's eyes slightly got wide from the realization. There is enough time for Euria!
Author's Note: Phewww... I relate well with Aeselak and Euria~ But yeshh! We shall train the characters now!!
(February - September 2020)
(September 2020 - First half of 2021)