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“Are you enjoying your new teacher?” Sandra playfully smirks at me.

 

"I don't know; are you enjoying living with Richard?" I try to sound malicious, but I realize how silly I sound half-way through, and by then, it's already too late to stop myself.

 

“I am actually,” Sandra raises an eyebrow at me. “Is that really what you were going for?”

 

“No,” I huff as I work the forge’s bellows. “I just couldn’t think of a good comeback there,” I sulk.

 

“You’re losing your touch, Aaliyah,” Sandra playfully elbows me.

 

"I can't have a witty remark ready all the time. Besides, Tabitha hasn't taught me anything yet," I complain.

 

“She’s been here for four days now!” Sandra exclaims. “What have you been doing?”

 

“I’ve been busy with work.” Sandra puts her hands on her hips and gives me a look that says she isn’t falling for my excuse. “What, I have,” I try to defend myself. “I had to finish the work I started when she arrived. Then, it was my back-to-back break days I spend with my parents.”

 

“And today?” Sandra asks me.

 

"Today, I'm making helmets for the village," I motion to the steel heating up in the forge.

 

"Helmets, really?" Damn, Sandra's mom-look is leveling up faster every day.

 

“Helmets are important,” I pout.

 

"Why are you hesitating? You seemed excited to learn from her a few days ago," Sandra gives me a questioning look.

 

“Because she’s crazy!” I finally shout in frustration.

 

Sandra is surprised by my outburst, but she quickly raises a hand to her mouth to stifle a laugh. "That's rich coming from you. What makes you think she's crazy?"

 

“You only need to talk to her for five minutes to see she’s crazy,” I retort.

 

"That's funny; mother hasn't said anything about her acting weird." Sandra doesn't look convinced. "Mom has complained that Lady Tabitha is too quiet and hard to talk to, but nothing extreme.”

 

I snort, “Tell your mom to ask about her master. Then we’ll see if her opinion of Tabitha changes.”

 

“No way, I’m not using my mom to prove you’re right. You do remember she’s living with my parents, don’t you?”

 

“I didn’t see all this concern for your parents when you used Tabitha as an excuse to leave,” I snarkily grin at my friend.

 

Sandra folds her arms, “That was totally different.”

 

"Now, who doesn't have a comeback?" I tease.

 

"Your horrible," Sandra elbows me in the side again, but this time she tries to put her back into it. "Is she really that bad?" Sandra asks me after her elbow fails to break through Mana Skin.

 

“She gets this crazy look in her eyes every time we pass by each other in the village. You’ve seen her walking around in her armor, right?” I ask my friend.

 

"Lady Tabitha is kind of hard to miss; she always has her armor on and sticks out amongst the villagers. I overheard she's been patrolling the village with a blank expression on her face like she's bored or something," Sandra tells me. I do not doubt that she's bored; there's no longer any danger to the village, so the battle junky can’t get her fix. “She doesn’t approach anyone, so people just leave her alone and try to avoid her.”

 

“Yeah, so imagine how creepy it is for me when she approaches me every morning after my run and randomly throughout the day to ask me if I’m ready to train with her. I’d agree to get her to stop asking me, but she always asks with her hand on her sword and a vicious smile on her face. I shiver just thinking about it.”

 

“You’re scared of her?” Sandra asks, surprised.

 

“I’m reluctant to spar with her,” I clarify.

 

"You're scared of her," Sandra repeats herself. "It's okay to be afraid of her; dad told me he thinks she's around level 85. That is pretty intimidating."

 

“Try 95, and I’m not afraid of her. I just… I Just don’t want to lose again,” I admit to Sandra. “I know I need Tabitha’s help to grow stronger, but I’m reluctant to find out how weak I am.” I stare into the forge’s fire, remembering how easily Pacore beat Master and I. Sparring with Tabitha will probably be the same thing.

 

I hear a giggle from my side, and when I look over at Sandra, I see she's trying to hold back more laughter. "I'm sorry," she waves her hand, trying to apologize without laughing.

 

I frown at Sandra. “Is this funny to you? This isn’t easy for me, you know.”

 

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry; it’s just funny to hear you call yourself weak,” Sandra feigns wiping away a nonexistent tear. "You know you're getting caught up in your own head again, right? Just let the lady teach you, and soon you'll surpass her at the monstrous speed you've always have." Sandra gives me a confident smile, but for some reason it doesn’t look like it’s reaching her eyes, almost as if she’s just telling me what she thinks I need to hear and not what’s really on her mind.

 

I blink in confusion, but just like that Sandra smile has shifted into her usual bight smile. Did I imagine that?

 

Regardless, I think she’s underestimating Tabitha a bit or not fully understanding the Pandora's box I'll be opening once I finally agree to spar with her. I haven't known Lady Tabitha for long, but I doubt she'll stop pestering me just because I agree to train with her a few days a week. If anything, I expect her to hound me even more once we start.

 

“Will it make you feel better if I’m with you tomorrow?” Sandra jokingly offers.

 

Fine, she thinks I'm exaggerating? Let's show her the real Tabitha. "Would you really?" I ask, smiling. "You're probably right; I'm just exaggerating. But it would mean a lot if you join me tomorrow, even if it's only for emotional support.

 

"Sure," Sandra agrees immediately. "Worse case, I get to watch Lady Tabitha throw you around a bit," Sandra jokes.

 

“Thanks, I’m glad I can always count on my best friend,” I say sarcastically.

 

"And don't you forget it," Sandra laughs for a bit, and I find myself smiling along with her. No matter what happens, I still have the support of my family and friends.

 

Reaching for my tongs, I remove the small steel ingot I've been preparing. The steel glows a beautiful red as I shift it over to my anvil and start hammering away. I need to take special precautions as I start working on the metal. A helmet's shape is very important.

 

When making a helmet, you need to factor in the area it covers and all the angles you're working with. The purpose of a helmet is to deflect a strike's force and keep the wearer from having their brains scrambled. Whether the helmet is deflecting arrows or a blade, you want anything that hits the steel cap to slide off, preferably away from you.

 

The problem is I’m making these helmets so anyone in the village can wear one. That might seem like a good thing, but if I want my helmets to be universal, I can’t use any of the designs that would cover the entire head. Helmets that cover the back of the neck, face, and eyes offer a superior defense, but they limit your sight, are hard to move in, and uncomfortable unless fitted for a specific user.

 

When Master Del taught me how to make armor, I assumed all helmets would look like those I saw in moves. The types of helmets with a faceplate that hilariously drops down when the hero leans in to get a kiss, those kinds of helmets. However, I've long since realized movie knowledge shouldn't be trusted.

 

There are plenty of helmets that cover the entire head and neck region, but in reality, most helmets were simple metal caps that anyone could wear. They have more openings for your opponent to exploit, but cap helmets offer more benefits for the inexperienced fighter, like the people in our village.

 

With all this in mind, I decided to make the helmets for the village resemble my own. My helmet is modeled after the standard army helmet from my past life, a dependable design that’s been in use for forever. The helmets stand out with their modern design, and best of all, they're proven effective. I might not be able to replicate the advanced materials used in earth's modern-day body armor, but I’m confident my helmets will do their job against arrows and the occasional sword blow.

 

I pray my helmets never see use, but you never know when you're living this far in the woods. Knowing that Pacore has taken me as his student, my time in the village is limited. If another goblin horde shows up when I'm no longer here, I don't what there to be a repeat of what happened at the beginning of the year. And that involves switching from making only weapons to making universal armor that anyone in the village could wear.

 

“So, why helmets?” Sandra asks me when I move the metal back into the forge.

 

“Because helmets protect your head,” I sarcastically reply. “I’d thought you know that, great mage.”

 

“Funny,” Sandra dryly remarks. “I mean, why are you making helmets first when you could be making breastplates or something?”

 

Pulling my metal from the forge and moving it back to the anvil, I explain my reasoning to Sandra in between my strikes. “People already have leather vests and other clothes they can wear in a fight. Animals and goblins instinctually go for a person’s face. I’ll get to breastplates and other pieces of armor, eventually. But I’m not sure when I’ll have to leave the village; I want the armory to have at least enough spears and helmets for everyone before then."

 

"I heard about the goblins from father. Was it as bad as he made it sound?" Sandra's concerned eyes drill into my soul, and I don't miss how she puts a protective hand over her abdomen.

 

“It wasn’t a fun experience,” is all I tell her.

 

"My master would take us on short hunting trips outside Drey. He had us practice our magic on small groups of goblins a couple of times. One of the other students once commented on how easy it was to kill all of them with a single spell, to which our master replied that he hopes we never have to deal with stronger goblins."

 

"He was probably referring to horned goblins; there were two of them in the horde we fought. Big bastards with a lot of fight in them," I grumble.

 

“Do you think I could take one?” Sandra asks me.

 

"I don't know," I honestly tell her as I continue with my work. "I only fought one of them, and it was back when my level was a lot lower. Plus, you still haven't shown off many of your spells yet. Were you one of the people who thought killing goblins was easy?"

 

Sandra shrugs, “Throwing a fireball into a group of goblins is easy, but then again that applies top most things.” I find myself struggling not to feel jealous of Sandra. Ever since I reincarnated, I wanted to figure out how to throw a fireball; and standing in front of me is someone who knows the spell but isn't allowed to share it with me.

 

“Who knows, that might be all you need,” I remark, focusing on the helmet taking shape in front of me.

 

Now that Sandra has me thinking about it, I wonder if I'd still have trouble against that horned hob I fought? Much has changed since then, and I'm curious how I would stack up if I encountered another goblin above level 50.

 

Sandra shouldn’t worry about another hoard attacking the village, what we experienced was the first in the village’s history. Plus, If we had someone throwing fireballs into that mass of goblins like if Sandra was around, we might not have lost as many people as we did.

 

I shake my head; I shouldn’t dwell on what might have been. The only thing I should think about is how to improve myself and the village. And that starts with me sucking it up and starting my lessons with Tabitha tomorrow.

 

I can only imagine what that battle junky has planned.

 

**********

 

“That was a good run,” Mom smiles at me. “Want some water before you finish up by yourself?”

 

“I’ll take the water, but I’m not running my second course today,” I tell her.

 

“What’s the occasion?” Mom asks.

 

"I'm going to train with Tabitha today."

 

"Oh! Are you starting today? That's news to me," Mom's eyes narrow menacingly. "Maybe I should go with you today?"

 

I give mom an apologetic smile. “I would love for you to join me, but you promised you and dad would try to avoid Tabitha.”

 

Mom’s face softens, “But what if something happens?”

 

"It will be fine," I try to reassure her. "I already talked to Master yesterday to let him know what's happening, and Sandra's coming along too."

 

“Aaliyah!” I hear my name shouted.

 

“Speak of the devil,” I turn to see Sandra walking over to us.

 

“Morning,” Sandra smiles at mom and me.

 

“You’re going with Aaliyah, dear?” Mom questions Sandra.

 

Sandra looks between us and quickly understands what’s happening. “How could I let her go by herself?” Sandra moves to my side and wraps an arm around my waist, trying to pull me closer to her. I have to physically relax my body before Sandra can move me with her low Strength.

 

"See, mom, everything will be fine," I reassure her.

 

“I’m sure it will,” Mom cynically remarks. But she doesn’t push the subject further and opens our front door. “Sandra, dear, would you like something to drink? I’m sure Aaliyah will need a few minutes to get ready,” Mother asks, holding the door open for us.

 

“I’ll take whatever you have,” Sandra politely accepts mother’s offer while we follow her into the house.

 

“I’ll be just a minute,” I tell Sandra after the three of us have our shoes off.

 

“Take your time,” she tells me as she and Mother move into our kitchen while I walk to my room.

 

Pushing open the door to my room, I grab my armor I have hanging on the wall. I don't see Tabitha's training being easy, so I plan to treat this like I'm going to war. Donning my kaglese armor, I make sure each strap is secured. My knife and scimitar are tightly fastened to my side before I pick up my axe.

 

I already did my morning stretches before Mom and I went on our run together, but I go through them once more with my armor on to get a better feal for things.

 

"Alright, Aaliyah, let's show Tabitha what you're made of!" I try psyching myself up for the battle to come, but all I do is make myself embarrassed for yelling that out loud.

 

Confident I have everything I need, I walk back to the front of our house. Mom and Sandra both watch me approach the kitchen table in my armored splendor. I puff out my chest and put on a cocky grin under their scrutinizing gazes to hide the embarrassment I’m still feeling from what I said in my room.

 

"Yeah, girl! Ready to show Tabitha!" Sandra mimics my voice, and she and Mom burst out laughing. I feel my face start to redden, realizing they must have heard me a minute ago.

 

"It's okay, dear," Mom tries to console me in between her fits of laughter. "We all need to be cheered for sometimes."

 

Mom's words only make me more self-conscience over what I did, and Sandra nearly doubles over laughing. "Thanks, mom,” I manage to mumble. Well, that’s one way to cut the tension. “Let’s go, Sandra,” I move for the front door.

 

“What, no more words of inspiration?” She pokes fun at me.

 

“Let’s go,” I hiss to my friend.

 

“Alright,” Sandra stands up from her chair, still giggling like a schoolgirl.

 

“Hang on a moment,” Mom calls out to me. She walks over with a full waterskin in her hands and offers it to me.

 

I take the offered water despite not holding it correctly because of my axe, instinctively thanking Mom.

 

As soon as I take the waterskin from her, Mom wraps her arms around me, being careful of my axe. “Promise me you’ll be safe.”

 

“I’m probably about to get my ass kicked again,” I point out to her.

 

“Promise,” Mom demands.

 

“I promise I’ll be safe,” I shift my axe to my shoulder and use my free arm to return Mom’s hug.

 

“Good, now go show that soldier why she shouldn’t underestimate my daughter!”

 

"Sounds like a plan," I smile. Mom releases her grip on me, and I'm able to set my axe down and attach the waterskin to my belt.

 

Sandra slips her shoes back on while I change into my thickest boots. We wave goodbye to my mom, and soon we're standing in front of my house again. I turn to Sandra, “No more jokes?”

 

She looks at me with a straight face and says, "That was beautiful." I snort, and the two of us laugh together.

 

“So, when does Lady Tabitha usually show up?” Sandra questions.

 

"I don't know. I try to avoid her, but Tabitha seems always to show up the minute I finish my run." And like a bad horror movie, no sooner than I finish talking, does Lady Tabitha round a nearby house. Sandra and I immediately notice the armor-clad knight.

 

"Okay, so that is a little spooky," Sandra says off to my side.

 

“Wait for it,” I tell her.

 

Sandra casts a sidelong glance at me, not understanding what I mean, almost missing what I was talking about. Tabitha and I make eye contact, and as soon as she sees me in my armor, a feral grin immerges on her passive face. Her hand flashes to her sword's handle and grips it like she's afraid it's going to run away from her. Tabitha wastes no time and starts walking quickly in our direction.

 

I ignore the goosebumps forming on my skin and turn to Sandra. “Told you.”

 

“Dear gods,” Sandra exclaims. “I thought you were joking.”

 

“You should see her when she’s talking about Pacore.”

 

"Is this what it was like when the goblins were charging you?" Sandra asks me, nervously gripping her forearm and shaking under Tabitha's pressure as she nears us.

 

I scoff, “The village would’ve been destroyed if the goblins had half the presence as Tabitha.” Obviously, I’m embellishing a bit, but I’m sure Sandra gets what I mean.

 

“I take it you’re finally ready to start your lessons,” Tabitha stops a few feet in front of us and grins at me. She barely spares Sandra a glance, entirely focused on me.

 

“I am,” I say, trying to sound more confident than I really am.

 

"That's good," Tabitha mumbles in an ominous voice. "I've been getting bored waiting for you," she swings her shield off of her back, and I watch it magically fasten to her arm. "Prepare yourself!"

 

Wait, does she expect us to fight here!? What am I thinking; of course, she does! I clear my throat, getting her attention. “I think it would be best if we take this somewhere else,” I suggest.

 

A tiny bit of sanity returns to Tabitha's eyes, and she glances around us at the homes nearby. "You should be prepared to fight anywhere, but I guess we can work up to that. Do you have a spot in mind?"

 

"I thought we could use the quarry outside the village; it should be nice and private there," I tell Tabitha. "That's where I dueled Pacore," I add that bit of information in, hoping mentioning her master will make her more agreeable.

 

Tabitha's grin widens, hearing me mentioning her master. "Show me where you tried to best Master Pacore." You can feel the excitement radiating off her.

 

I glance to my side at Sandra. I should make sure Tabitha's okay with her joining us, but I don't think I'll have a problem convincing her. “Senior sister Tabitha?”

 

“What is it?” Tabitha asks, sounding annoyed that I haven’t started leading her to our sparring site yet.

 

“When I had my fight with Pacore, he brought two people to observe us. This time I would like to bring my friend Sandra; she won’t interfere with your lessons.”

 

Tabitha's features soften at the mention of her master, and for the first time, she really looks at Sandra, who's standing next to me. Tabitha's judging eyes scan every inch of Sandra, scaring my friend enough she takes a step back.

 

“A mage, huh,” Tabitha dryly remarks. “You must have been the one using magic on the fields.”

 

“Yes, that was me,” Sandra meekly admits without Tabitha even doing anything to pressure her to answer.

 

I know how Sandra must be feeling; it's hard to stand up to someone twice your level, especially when they're radiating such bloodlust. Tabitha is only twenty levels higher than me, and even I feel intimidated by her.

 

"Do you know any healing magic?" Tabitha excitedly asks Sandra.

 

"I'm sorry, but I don't," Sandra hangs her head, not wanting to meet Tabitha's fevered gaze.

 

Tabitha lets out a disappointed sigh. “I should’ve expected as much from such a remote village.”

 

“If you need to be healed, our village does have someone who can use basic healing magic,” Sandra offers.

 

Tabitha shakes her head. "I've met her. I don't need healing, and certainly not from someone so unskilled as her. I was merely curious if I could have you heal Aaliyah during our training.”

 

"Heal Aaliyah?" Sandra asks, not understanding the meaning behind Tabitha’s words.

 

"Training is much more efficient with a decent healer on hand," Tabitha tells Sandra with a sinister smile on her face. I swallow back a nervous lump in my throat.

 

Sandra backs away from Tabitha. Either ignorant of Sandra's feelings or just not caring, Tabitha continues talking like nothing is wrong. “Even if you can’t use healing magic, I’m sure you can be useful for something. Now, will you show me to this quarry?” Tabitha turns her attention back to me.

 

“This way,” I motion for Tabitha to follow, happy to end this conversation.

 

I start walking towards master's clearing, and Sandra rushes to my side, keeping a wide birth from Tabitha. "I take back everything I said,” Sandra whispers to me.

 

Glancing over my shoulder, I check to see how much space we have between Tabitha and us. I don't want to say anything if she's listening in on us. Thankfully, Tabitha is trailing behind us by a good ten feet. I don't think she's a Senses build, so as long as we whisper, she shouldn't hear us. That said, the armor-clad woman looks content to give us our space while she watches us like a hawk. "Apology accepted," I whisper back to Sandra.

 

“You sure you want to do this?” Sandra quietly asks me.

 

“It’s a little late to back out now,” I snort.

 

Sandra moves closer to me. “You don’t have to worry. If anything should go wrong, I’ll immediately run back to the village for help.”

 

"Gee, thanks," I reply sarcastically as if that would help.

 

It doesn’t take long for the three of us to swiftly make our way to master's clearing, and instead of seeing master resting on his bench, as usual, he's waiting for us close to the clearing's entrance, wearing his full armor and brandishing his hammer. Master's eyes quickly fall on Tabitha as she follows us into the clearing with an excited grin on her face. She doesn't look the least bit concerned to see master wearing his full gear.

 

“Is this the place?” Tabitha asks me, scanning the clearing.

 

“Almost,” I tell her, pointing further into the forest. “The quarry is just up ahead.”

 

“Let’s go then,” Tabitha eagerly starts walking through Master’s clearing in the direction I pointed out.

 

Now Sandra and I are following her deeper into the woods. I’m sure no student of Pacore would get lost in the forest when there’s such an obvious trail.

 

“That her?” Master follows along with us.

 

"That's her," I confirm master's suspicions. "Tabitha Leres, Pacore the Deathless' student."

 

Master hums thoughtfully. "There's a dangerous air about her; how did Camden agree to let her live with him?"

 

“She’s usually stony-faced and quiet while she patrols the village. She got like this when she saw Aaliyah in her armor,” Sandra informs Master Del.

 

“Do you think you’re in any danger?” Master asks me.

 

I shake my head no. “Tabitha may be crazy, but I don’t think she would do anything to threaten my life. Pacore did order her to watch over me and the village after all, and I don’t see Tabitha disobeying her master’s orders.”

 

“I’ll be watching just in case,” Master reassures me. I wonder how Master Del would stack up against Tabitha? Both of them have close to the same level, but after our fight with Pacore, I’m not sure if Master has the skills to fight someone who’s trained for battle.

 

I see a break in the trees up ahead, and soon we hear Tabitha exclaim, "This will do nicely!"

 

As soon as we leave the trees and look down into the quarry, Tabitha jumps over the ledge, and superhero lands on the rocky ground below. "The two of you should stay up here," I tell my two companions.

 

Master hums in agreement while Sandra shouts at me, “Good luck; don’t die,” while I walk over to the ramp leading down into the bottom of the quarry.

 

“Thanks!” I shout back, walking deeper into the quarry. I could’ve jumped over the side like Tabitha or used Air Walk to reach the bottom quicker, but both would’ve given away information on my stats and skills. I’m about to fight a person I have no confidence winning against, and I don’t plan to shoot myself in the foot before the fight even begins.

 

Tabitha watches me as I slowly make my way over until I stop fifty feet in front of her. “How is this supposed to work?” I ask, nervously tightening my grip on my axe.

 

Grinning, Tabitha slowly draws her sword and takes a stance with her shield directly in front of her. “I need to see what I’m working with, so let’s start with some light sparring.”

 

Without asking for my opinion or stating any rules we should follow, Tabitha charges me!

 

I wasn't expecting such a sudden charge, but I still instinctively kick backward to keep my distance from the woman. Pacore barely moved during our fight, and I thought Tabitha would be the same way considering she's using a shield. The fight has just begun, and I've already misjudged my opponent.

 

Tabitha issues a battle cry as she uses her shield as a battering ram.

 

Dodge, or meet her strike?

 

I only have a split second to decide as she closes the distance between us.

 

My instincts are telling me to flee, but I can’t let them cloud my judgment. I won’t stand a chance if I only try to avoid her.

 

Raising my axe, I extend Magic Threads and prepare to meet Tabitha’s charge. Her smile widens when I stop retreating and ready myself for an attack.

 

My heart threatens to beat out of my chest as Tabitha enters my striking radius. “Ahhhhhhhhh!” I yell, releasing the air from my lungs and swing my axe with all my might.

 

I'm rooted in place, and I'm confident in my Strength. Tabitha is rushing me, so her stance won’t be solid enough to counter my strike. And just for good measure, I activate Weighted Strike to put more force behind my swing.

 

Take this! My axe reverberates in my hands as it slams into Tabitha’s shield. A smile forms on my face with the clean hit.

 

Only Tabitha doesn't go flying as I predicted. My eyes dart to the ground and see she's somehow switched her stance in a split second, and that isn't the worst of it.

 

Tabitha adjusts her shield, so my axe skims across its surface. Even using Magic Threads, the force behind my swing empowered with Weighted Strike destroys my balance. I panic and try to pull my axe back, but Tabitha doesn't miss the opening I left her. My eyes track her sword as she raises it to slice at me.

 

However, watching Tabitha raise her sword is another wrong decision. Because I was so focused on her sword and trying to fix my stance, I don't even notice her slamming her shield into my chest, sending me rolling across the quarry's floor. The strike is even more effective because she hit me when I was out of breath.

 

Gasping, I scramble to my feet.

 

Tabitha doesn't wait for me to catch my breath and continues her attack. I'm forced to use Flash Step to gain some distance between us, or she would've hit me a second time before I could've recovered.

 

“I see you’re good at running away!” Tabitha shouts as I dodge away from her sword that came mere inches away from my chest piece.

 

I use Flash Step again to try and position myself behind Tabitha for a counterattack, but as soon as I swing my axe at her back, her stance immediately shifts again, and she brings her shield up to block me.

 

Fuck, that's definitely a skill!

 

Again, Tabitha uses her shield to deflect my strike, but she doesn't use it to counterattack this time. The blood drains from my face as Tabitha's sword lands on my left shoulder and slashes diagonally down my chest.

 

The screeching sound of metal colliding stabs into my ears as Mana Skin does little to stop Tabitha’s sword. I stumble backward from her strike, and thankfully Tabitha doesn’t pursue me this time. Glancing down, there's a significant line carved into the front of my armor.

 

Did she just try to cut me?! Like actually cut me!

 

With a shocked expression, I look up at Tabitha, who has a happy look on her face. "Good, your armor isn't just shiny. I can swing my sword without worrying about cutting you too deep. Let's continue!" Tabitha runs straight at me again like a runaway bulldozer.

 

Gods damn it! I throw my axe horizontally at the charging woman. Drawing my scimitar, I watch Tabitha gracefully jump over my flying weapon and continue her charge unperturbed by me throwing away my weapon. She’s taking this too far! If I’m not careful, I’m going to get seriously injured!

 

Let's hope my sword works better against her. Tabitha was easily deflecting my axe with her shield, and the strength behind my swings was doing more harm than good.

 

I swing my sword at Tabitha, and like my other strikes, she quickly raises her shield to block me. But this time, I don't have all my weight behind my swing, and I don't lose control of my weapon. Taking a step back and adjusting my stance, I'm able to bring my scimitar up and block her counterattack.

 

I lock eyes with Tabitha as we push against one another with our weapons. It was an excellent decision to swap weapons; maybe now I'll stand a chance. My lips start to rise into a grin.

 

“Why did you change weapons?” Tabitha’s question quickly stops my smile from forming. “You switched to a weapon that uses weaker skills, stupid choice.” I don’t have time to comprehend Tabitha’s words before she breaks our deadlock with a flourish of her sword.

 

Tabitha steps in and delivers three rapid slashes across my chest piece, one deep enough I feel it cut my clothes underneath. I'm knocked backward for the third time, and our fight hasn't even been going on for three minutes yet!

 

"Is this really all that you have?" Tabitha asks disappointingly.

 

For just a moment, I wish it was Pacore standing in front of me.

 

I went into this fight not underestimating Tabitha and prepared to lose, but I never could've predicted our fight to be so one-sided.

 

I’m in serious trouble!

 

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A note from kosnik4

5,400 words.

 

How's everybody's week so far, enjoying the constant releases? I hope so.

 

 


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kosnik4

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