The next couple of sparring matches went about the same as the first. I won each of them by relying on my stamina pool. The opponents' technique was alright, but I'd been practicing a lot longer, so I held an advantage there that let me wear them down. The advantage wasn't so great that I'd be able to win within the first few moves like I knew Dad could with me... even accounting for the difference in stats.
The sun was hanging low, just above the wall. There was time for one or two more matches. I volunteered and was paired with Micah. He was a taller-than-average boy with tanned skin. We circled each other at the start. I'd seen some of his matches, and he was decisive in the counter against most of his opponents. His skill was a step above the others like mine was, so I guessed we'd be fairly even with the winner being decided by some combination of base stats and luck.
I was the one to break the stalemate with a low sweep at his knees. He jumped back and attacked from above in a downward strike. I sidestepped and blocked it at an angle so it would get deflected and stepped towards him. His left hand let go of his sword and came at my face, forcing me to duck away. The pommel strike I had planned was no longer an option. Instead, I laid my shoulder into his left hip. He lost his balance and nearly fell over but caught himself at the last moment.
We both put space between ourselves and began to circle again. This time, it was his strike that initiated the exchange. He lunged forward with a chop. I responded by blocking it and pushing his sword to the side while stepping closer to him. My blade swung across from left to right causing him to duck and roll backward.
Again, we circled each other. Several more indecisive exchanges followed with the end result being that we were both breathing heavily as our stamina wore down. The next exchange would be the last I could muster with any degree of skill. Anything more would be slow and in poor form.
I was the one who attacked this time. I kept the sword forward and lunged with a stab. Micah sidestepped and slashed towards my left side. I pulled my blade from the stab to meet his. It was a weak block and I was barely able to defend the strike. I kept my blade against his and slid mine down to the hilt on his. He pushed forward like I had hoped he would. He had leverage on my sword and used it to slash at me from above. I moved to my left and let his blade get slightly redirected by mine so that it missed me by a few inches. Since he was so kind as to lowe my blade for me, I struck with an upward motion, hitting him square in the chest. He fell back and sat on the ground.
"That's the match!" Mr. Lowrie announced.
I placed the tip of the training sword against the ground while catching my breath. I reached a hand out to Micah that he took.
"Great fight," I said.
"Thanks," he replied, a hint of sadness in his voice. I didn't think he lost many bouts against kids his age.
I helped him up and then walked back to the sidelines.
"Wow!" Max said. "I can't believe you really did that!"
"Thanks," I smiled.
There was a notification I saw at the end of the fight that really made me feel even better about winning.
All Stats +1
I supposed that fighting all afternoon--and winning, for that matter--had been enough to push me over the edge. it wasn't that I hadn't gained some experience fighting Dad, but it was only a drop in the bucket compared with winning against a tough opponent like Micah.
I went into the guard station that sat in the middle between the three training areas and found Dad talking with one of the other guards. I called out to him.
"James! How was the first day?"
"Dad, I'm level 2!"
"Already? You must have won a lot!"
"I won every fight!"
We talked about the matches I'd fought on the walk home. He was impressed but also understood that I'd trained a lot longer than most, if not all, of the students I fought. Not to mention that my stats were comparable or better in many cases. That I won as much as I did was to be expected, but a loss or two sprinkled in wouldn't have been a shock either.
We arrived home to see Mom waiting for us. She looked somewhat worried when she saw me, but relief hit her face when she saw my smiles.
"How'd it go, my little champion?"
"I won lots!"
"How was he, Dear?"
"I watched a few matches and he did well. According to him, he didn't lose a match today, which I find pretty amazing."
"Wow, great job James!"
I was sore the next morning. Mostly from the muscles and training, but also the occasional bruise from some lighter hits I'd taken. For the rest of the week, I continued to help Mom in the morning and spar in the afternoon. I did end up losing about half of the time when I was paired against the seven-year-olds so that by weeks end, I'd gained one to END and CON. Swordfighting reached its second level as well in the process.
Dad promised to take me up the wall during the weekend. I was hoping to see what the monsters looked like and what the area around the city was like. I was excited about the possibilities.
While laying in bed, I thought to check my status before I fell asleep for the night.
|Name: James McPherson||Level: 2||Class: None||
|AGI: 12||CHA: 9||CON: 10||END: 13|
|FIN: 14||INT: 15||STR: 18||WIS: 17|
|Black: 10%||Blue: 10%||Green: 10%||Orange: 10%|
|Red: 10%||Violet: 10%||White: 10%||Yellow: 10%|
|Reading Lv4||Language Lv2||Archery Lv1||Swordfighting Lv2|