“Blues! Please step forward!”
Head held high, FeiWan obeyed, and so did another blond boy, this one with unusual short, curly hair.
Unlike the other royals, FeiWan had actually gone to the trouble of undoing his intricate braid, getting rid of all the beautiful but heavy jewelry, his deep-red hair tied into a simple ponytail that reached all the way down to his waist. Rotating his neck and shoulders, he looked as if he was ready to take on an entire army.
“Take your positions.”
Both boys jumped over the running waters, all the way to the wooden platforms where they stood with apparent ease.
FeiWan raised his sword, green eyes glistening under the sun from sheer anticipation, legs flexing, ready to jump.
“I give up!” the other boy shouted over the raging sound of the waterfall, and FeiWan’s body immediately relaxed, a cold mask descending over his face. The blond boy smiled, bowing respectfully, but he didn’t even spare him a second glance, quickly making his way back to dry land even before the judges had called his victory.
“FeiWan, plus one point. NamRin, minus one point.”
ZaiWin watched him from afar.
It was true that it had been six years since they’d last seen each other but, even though he had obviously learned how to control and even mask his anger, the light twitch on FeiWan’s forehead could never deceive him. He had actually wanted to fight, he concluded, feeling slightly surprised. He had always thought that FeiWan would expect and even demand exactly that kind of submissive attitude. After all he was a royal, not a mere noble blood.
“Reds! Please step forward!”
Taking a deep breath, ZaiWin forced himself to concentrate on his own fight. The boy that was to be his adversary was much taller than him and at least six or seven years older, the oldest of their small group. With wavy, coppery hair and eyes the color of the sea, he glared at him with clear despise, especially taking into account how much smaller he was when standing beside him.
“Take your positions.”
Though he would have liked to be able to jump directly from the stone closer to dry land to the platform he had chosen to occupy, ZaiWin knew his legs were too small for such wide jumps. In fact his muscles still ached from the previous day, and, as to be expected, the rock’s surface was dangerously slippery beneath his feet.
Finally reaching his platform, he leaned back and forth, trying to regain his balance and get used to the constant movement. As he’d watched the others do, he bent his knees, allowing his body to relax, forbidding himself from fighting against the movement of the water beneath his feet. He’d just gotten the hang of it when the order came.
He didn’t have to bee a Seer to know what would happen next.
Clearly underestimating him due to his short height and black hair, his adversary immediately jumped to attack him, probably wanting to put an end to the fight as soon as possible.
Stepping to one side to avoid contact, the platform beneath his feet practically turned upside down, forcing him to jump back, but not before he kicked the wooden board towards the other boy.
Clearly a better fighter than the boy that had been unfortunate enough to be paired with GinWan, his opponent landed not far from him, quickly spinning around and using his sword to split the wood board in several pieces before it could hit him.
Frowning, he stared at ZaiWin with renewed attention, in a mix of anger and indecision about what he should do next.
Regaining his balance once more, ZaiWin straightened his back, holding his sword in his right hand, hiding the blade behind his arm. The sword he had fought with before was much lighter, the blade longer and thinner than this one. And, of course, his real sword was completely weightless. But he was quick to adapt. In fact it didn’t matter at all if what he held in his hand was a sword or a tree branch. Since he was not allowed to take his opponent’s life, as long as it didn’t break on impact, anything would do just fine.
Without taking on any of the fancy positions of normal sword-fighting, just standing there as if he’d decided to take a rest, his adversary couldn’t help stare at him in confusion. Especially at the way ZaiWin held his weapon. Was that a stance of defense or attack?
Frowning in frustration, the copper-haired boy flexed his legs and jumped to a new attack, swinging his blade, aiming for ZaiWin’s head.
Now completely familiarized with the constant swinging of the platform beneath his feet, ZaiWin took one small step to one side but, this time, didn’t jump back, spinning around to counter-balance the platform’s fluctuation and keep it stable. Stretching out his hand, he was just in time to grab a handful of soft, wavy hair, pulling the other boy back just as he was trying to jump away from him. The platform swung dangerously when the boy fell back against him, almost tossing them both into the water, but ZaiWin managed to control its movement, pressing his sword’s blade against the other boy’s neck.
“I-I-I give up!” he immediately announced, panicking at the cold feel of steel against his skin, and ZaiWin released his hair, retracting his blade.
“ZaiWin, plus one point. BanDai, minus one point.”
He jumped his way back to firm land, wiping droplets of water from his face from when he’d kicked the board, and rejoined the others.
“Eh, and they call you the youngest Swordmaster of out time. Such an ugly fighting style is really appropriate for filth like you!” FeiWan breathed as his passed by him but ZaiWin ignored him.
He couldn’t care less if it was ugly or beautiful. Only pampered kids like him could think like that. All he cared was that it was able to keep him alive, as it had been proved on more occasions than he cared to count.
“And this concludes your duels in the water arena. Now, white waves, follow me,” one of the men instructed and FeiWan, MinXin, BanDai and NamRin joined him, walking away towards the trees.
“Black waves, follow me,” the other man indicated and FanSai, GinWan and ZaiWin obeyed.
So FeiWan wasn’t really in the same group as him, ZaiWin thought with a sigh of relief. Which meant that, since he hadn’t fought him now, he would not have to fight him at all.
The same could not be said about GinWan, he realized, looking back at the dead boy they’d left lying on the river bank. As long as they belonged to the same group there was always a chance that he might be paired up with him.
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Bio: Sophia CarPerSanti was born with her mind lost in another world. Not too strangely, writing is her only passion since childhood, and so there's not much one can do to correct what was weird right from the start. Once deprived of writing total mental breakdown follows and yeah, nothing good comes out of it. And so there are a lot of books and manuscripts inside boxes and drawers just waiting for an opportunity to see the light of day. I hope you enjoy my beloved ones as much as I enjoyed creating them ♥