As I turned around, I saw the man that had been calling me. He was one of the few individuals around here that didn’t wear a robe. He had black hair, a mustache, and a beard. His shoulders were well developed, and he looked to be about six feet tall. He had black pants on, black shoes, and a darker than blood-red shirt.
“Greetings. I am Graldor, I manage the entry to the Elementary Training Grounds.” He said, in a rather dull voice. It wasn’t deep, and he didn’t change his tone.
“Hi. Uh, what do I do now?” I asked.
“I’ll give you some basic training, if you prove yourself, I’ll let you enter the ultimate training course.”
“And if I don’t prove myself?”
“You go back from whence you came.” He answered.
“Well lets get started then. I'm Danny by the way.”
“Nice to meet you. What training have you had prior to this?” He asked.
“I haven’t had any, I’ve just relied on my senses.”
“So how the hell did you get here? This is an elite training course, you’ll get killed if you don’t know what you’re doing.”
“I’m here because I happen to be a god. Nise’evuv.” I chicly replied.
“Nise...but how? You were sent away during The War...it can't be you...”
“It is. I'm here. And I want my training.”
“How do I know it’s you...why weren’t you escorted through the arch? All important people are escorted...you can't be Nise’evuv...” He bewilderingly replied.
“There is a somewhat large crisis in that other room.”
“Crisis? What could have possibly happened?”
“I killed six of them, and badly injured the second in command. But I was graciously allowed entry to here. You see the leader and I have become friends. We have a few mutual needs. So lets just get on with the training.” I replied.
“How could you have killed six of them? Eight on one is hardly fair.”
“Lets not dwell in the past. All that you need to know is that the leader is unharmed, and he wishes for me to complete my training quickly. Now do you have a problem with that?”
“No...Well I guess not. But how will you survive the training?”
“You could always help me, by starting!” I said arrogantly.
My reputation preceded me, so I would use that to my advantage. By making him fearful, I could make him do what I wanted. And what I wanted, was training. I needed to fell that sense of overwhelming power again, and get out of here as quickly as possible, so that I could see Alison once again. This voyage had kept me too busy to think about her, but I needed her, I needed to get out of here.
“I'm waiting. Now kindly hurry the fuck up.”
“Yes my lord, right away.”
I like the reference to me as a lord, Lord Nise’evuv had a nice ring to it. A ring that I could definitely get used to.
“What does this training entail?” I asked.
“I will soon teach you some basic, but highly effective techniques, that will help you survive. Then if you prove yourself worthy, you will pass into the Elemental Training Grounds, where you will be trained by one of the Elementals themselves. One never knows which Elemental will train you, but you need not worry about that.”
“Who are these Elementals? And why will only one of them train me?” I asked.
“They are the guardians of their element. Awe-Untoel, the guardian of flame, powerful and ruthless. Thorack, guardian of wind and air, elegant, and extremely fast. Boodum, guardian of earth, strong beyond belief. Kileyitar, guardian of water, master defender, and healer. Secidile, guardian of metal, supreme tactician and ruler of techniques.
“They each have their strengths and weaknesses, and each of them will kill an average warrior with one hand. You don’t just decide to fight them, they choose you, and you had better be prepared.”
“So what do I do in order to prepare myself?” I asked.
“Firstly you learn to strengthen your punches. They’ll be tough, and won’t be hurt easily.”
“Okay, I'm ready.”
He turned around and walked towards a near by wall. I followed, and soon saw why he was going there. There were blue mats on the walls, and the floor was covered in black protective cushioning. He stopped near the wall, and gestured for me to approach. I walked forward, and stood at the wall.
“This wall is covered in cushioning, it’ll help you to strengthen your attacks. Now assume an offensive stance, and punch the wall.” He said.
I stood an arms length away from the wall, put my left foot slightly in front of me, and my right behind me. I clenched my fists, pulled my right fist backwards, then tightened my muscles, and let my fist fly at the wall. I relaxed my muscles, and swung inwards with my shoulders, to add speed to the punch. Upon nearing impact, I once again tightened my muscles, and exerted some extra force.
My knuckles hit the cushioned wall, and I quickly recoiled my hand, assuming the offensive stance once again.
“The stance is good, but the punch is lacking essentials. First and foremost, you should never retract that quickly, the follow through is very important, but we’ll work on that. Secondly I’d like for you to not tense your muscles before striking.”
“Okay. Anything else?”
“Yes, this time try pulling your hand back to your ribs, and turning your palm upwards. Then as you punch, twist it the right way around, and swing your shoulders with it. Then I want you to hit the wall, and keep forcing your fist into the wall, for the count of ten.”
I did as he said. I pulled my fist back to my ribs, then threw it at the wall without tensing first. I twisted my arm to the correct position, and used my shoulders to catapult my fist at the wall. I tensed just before impact, and made sure that my arm was still bent a little.
Once my fist hit, I kept applying pressure. I pushed my fist into the wall, and used the muscles in my arm and shoulders to push into the wall. I counted to ten, then pulled my fist away, once again adopting the stance.
“Much better. That was almost perfect. Now I want you to hit consecutively with both hands until I tell you to stop. Concentrate, and don’t count too fast. Only stop when I say so.”
“Sure, I’ll try that, but how does it strengthen my punches?” I asked.
“If you force your muscles to work, and over exert yourself, they will build quickly. Now by keeping pressure on the wall, your muscle get used to forcing against an immobile object. When you hit a person, they will give in much more easily than a wall, making your punches considerably more powerful. Even after only a few hours practice.”
“One more thing. On the count of ten, exert some extra force, picture your fist piercing through the wall.”
I clenched both my hands again, then pulled my right fist back to the punching position. I flexed all the muscles in both my arms, preparing them for the furious fists that were soon going to fly. Then I concentrated on the task at hand, and ripped by fist through the air, towards the target. My fist hit, I counted to ten, on ten, I pushed my fist ‘into’ the wall. I pulled my right fist back, and let my left fist fly. It to hit the mark, I counted to ten, pushing against the wall the whole time, then applied extra force on ten. I pulled my left fist back, and while doing so, I unleashed my right fist. I concentrated on my fists, and the impact with the wall, I concentrated on tightening my muscles and pushing into the wall. I concentrated on doing it properly, so that I could see Alison...
I fell into a sort of trance and didn’t realize how long I had being punching the wall, I was only brought out of the trance by Graldor putting his hand on my shoulder, and telling me to stop. I was yanked back to consciousness, and suddenly felt a searing pain in both my arms and hands. I lifted my hands towards my face, and I immediately saw them covered in blood. I looked at my knuckles, but didn’t see much damage, just a little tore skin, yet a lot of blood.
I then realized the pain in my upper arms and shoulder. My biceps were tingling and burning with the heat of a workout. My shoulders were slightly painful, and my triceps hurt to.
“Why didn’t you stop me sooner?” I asked.
“It is important to push yourself. But that said, I did try to stop you, but you didn’t respond. I was close to yelling at you, but you didn’t flinch. So I shook your shoulders and that seemed to work.”
“Yeah, but my knuckles are now bleeding.”
“Let me see them.”
I lifted up my hands, and showed them to him.
“It isn’t bad, just a few minor tears in the skin. The bones look absolutely fine.”
“It doesn’t hurt that badly, so I guess it’s nothing much. What next?”
“Well judging from the imprints in the cushioning, you seem to have those punches sorted, so lets move on.”
I looked at the spot on the wall, and saw it had bloodstains, and two inert imprints of my fists. Such imprints were the result of powerful punches, my few punches before that trance of mine had hardly marked the protection. I guess the practice had paid off.
“So what’s next?”
“Lets spar. It’ll give me a good overall outlook on your fighting ability.”
“Fine with me.”
I walked away from the wall, and into an open, but still padded area, and adopted a defensive stance. Graldor shortly followed, and he to chose to defend. I had no idea how strong, or how experienced a fighter he was. So I’d let him make the first move.
“Lets get this party started. You can have the honors.” I said.
“If you insist.” He replied.
He lunged towards me, right hand raised in the air, hoping for it to hit home in my chest. I sidestepped the punch, and threw a punch of my own, aimed at his ribs. He hadn’t expected my movements to be as quick, and my punch caught him off guard. My knuckles collided with his left ribs, and I kept applying pressure, like had taught me to. Surprisingly my fist hardly hurt, even though it was cut. I turned my attention back to my punch, and counted to three, while forcing my fist against him, then threw his body off my fist.
I pulled my arm back, and stood defensively once more. Graldor steadied his balance, and turned to face me, adopting an offensive stance.
“What can I say, I'm a natural.”
“We’ll see about that.”
He lunged forward, with his right fist aimed at my face. I lifted up my left arm to deflect the punch, but he had other plans. He had sidestepped to my left, and was quickly bringing his fist down to hit my undefended left side. I started to move my arm down, but I was too late. His feint had worked.
His fist collided with my underarm, and I felt his incredible strength. My arm, and whole left side pulsated with enormous amounts of pain. My left arm burnt and felt as if it was going to fall off, and all my whole left side was on fire. He had hit the huge nerve center in my armpit, and it was making my arm go numb.
I took a moment to gain my composure. I looked up, and saw him standing a few feet away, near to the wall. I hadn’t even noticed his withdrawal. I was still holding my arm up, and I had no feeling in it anymore. I dropped it, and it went slightly limp.
“We’re only sparring, you aren’t suppose to take hits personally.” I said.
“Well I did.” Replied Graldor.
“Then how will you judge my skills?”
“No need, you have proven yourself.”
“Does that mean I can through to the Elementals?” I replied ecstatically, I’d be able to see Alison soon.
“If you had proven your worthy, yes. But you proved that you’re not worthy of the Elementals.”
“What! Why? We just started!”
“I’ve had enough.” He replied.
“It was one fucking punch! Don’t take it so personally! It’s affecting your judgment.”
“And who are you to judge?”
“I'm a god.”
I was enraged by his insolence! He was denying me training because I got the better of hit once. I put the pain in my arm aside, and charged at him. My blood was boiling, fuming. I was ready to do the world a favour, and kill this bastard. As I ran, I lifted up my numb left arm, and prepared to use it as a battering ram. He saw this coming and started to move out of the way. But time had slowed down again.
I saw him slowly slither away, but I was much faster than him in this state of euphoria. The last time, time had slowed down, it was difficult for me to move. But now, after consuming six of The Learned Ones, it was considerably easier to move, but still impeding.
I raised my left arm to the height of his neck, and gave one last burst of energy, before hitting him. My forearm impacted with his neck, but I wasn’t ready to stop. I carried on running, lifting him off his feet, and into the wall behind him. His shoulders hit, and his head slammed against the padded wall. His feet were off the ground, but I lowered them, keeping his body against the wall. I concentrated on speeding time up again, and as I visualized it normalizing, it did.
“I'm not going to let you keep me out of training, Graldor.”
He was choking, and his face gave away the fact that he was surprised.
“How did you do that?”
”I'm more powerful than you think.”
“I don’t care. I’m not letting you pass.”
“You have to.” I replied.
“Over my dead body.”
“So be it.”
I thought back to a trick a friend had taught me, and I pulled my left arm away from him neck. I simultaneously shot my right arm towards his chest. I made my hand into a palm heel, wrist bent upwards at nearly ninety degrees, thumb parallel to my hand, fingers bent. I knew that because he was against a wall, when my palm hit his chest, his head would be whipped forward. So I pulled my left arm backwards, and made a second palm heel.
As my fist hit his chest, his neck bent, and his head came forward. My left palm was already there, and it hit the bottom of his nose. My hand counteracted the force of his head swinging forward. It broke his nose. I kept pushing into his head, and when his head hit the wall, I forced his nose bone through his skull, into his brain.
His eyes were in shock, and blood was gashing out of his head. I felt his energy leaving his body, and prepared to take it in. With my hand still on his head, I closed my eyes, and thought back a few seconds to his death, and then to his present state. I opened my eyes, and his body looked the same, but I knew his energy was available to me. So I clawed my hand around his head, and motioned for the energy steal.
I felt his energy enter me, up my arm, towards my shoulder. My arm had its feeling back, and wasn’t sore anymore. I felt his energy curse throughout my body. Making me stronger. I looked upwards, and screamed out in joy. I pulled my arm away, and felt the energy steal completing.
I had all his power, along with the power of The Learned Ones. I was stronger, faster, and more ruthless.
Graldor’s body had slipped to the floor, and there was an opening in the wall, where his body had been. It was large enough for me to walk through. It was the entrance to the Elementals.