Currently, she was trying to persuade Nat to stop training and join her and Gran for the elf quarter opening.
Nat, as usual, was being obstinate. "I don't have time for worthless pleasures; I need to train more." Nat pulled her arm free of Fiora's grasp and turned away. She walked over to the practice dummies and began to swing a large broadsword.
Fiora shook her head, "Come on Nat, I know you don't use the broadsword."
"I'm learning." Nat answered as she began to swing her sword. The blade sliced through the dummy's arm, which regenerated quickly.
"No you aren't; you're swinging a giant piece of metal. A real broadsword user would have sliced clean through that magic dummy. You don't have the arm strength." Fiora reprimanded.
Nat whirled around and glared at her former leader, "You think I don't know that? You think I'm just messing around and being depressed and worthless like you were?"
Fiora visibly winced, and Nat's stance softened, "I'm sorry about that."
Fiora shook her head and crossed her arms, "No, you're right. No matter what rebound or magic affected me, I let myself fall into the bottle. I was worthless, and I was weak. Gran helped me break out of it, and I'm here to break you out."
Nat scoffed and turned back around, throwing another swing. "Break me out of what? I'm just training."
"Exactly," Fiora walked in front of Nat, staring her directly in the eye, "I've talked to your sparring buddies and the keepers here. You've only been training since you recovered. You haven't had fun, haven't gone into the dungeon, haven't eaten properly, and you haven't cleaned yourself properly in days."
Nat turned her head and sniffed under her arm, "Smells alright to me."
"Your nose died." Fiora said flatly, "Why do you think no one comes near your practice spots?" It was oddly deserted around the two girls.
"Screw them; I don't need anyone here anyway. Move please." She gently used her sword to push Fiora out of the way as she began to swing again.
Fiora crossed her arms and tapped her fingers in thought.
"You know, Gran went to bring Jonas back."
Nat paused for a brief moment before continuing, "So?" She asked.
"He's suppose to be here in a few days. You want to look like you do when you see him?"
"I don't care about him; he was weak before and I doubt he's become anything more since he left us." The way she said it though, it almost sounded like she meant to say 'me' instead of 'we'.
Fiora grimaced, 'Alright, so that approach won't work . . .'
A little gleam appeared in her eyes, "You know, no matter how much training you do, you'll only get weaker if you don't eat properly."
This time, Nat sighed and stopped swinging. She turned to look at Fiora, leaning on the handle of her sword, "I don't have that much money left for food since I don't have an income anymore."
Fiora nodded her head, her arms still folded, "Well, the passes Gran got us not only get us into the quarter, but it also means a free meal at any tavern or restaurant in the area. Not only that, it'll give you a discount for the weapon stores."
Nat's face twitched violently in conflict, and then her stomach growled loudly. The two ladies stared at each other before Nat coughed awkwardly.
"Well, I guess I could give it a look."
"Good," Fiora placed both hands on Nat's shoulders, "That being said, they'll only serve someone presentable."
Nat's face paled, but her weakened form was no match for Fiora's grip. She was helpless as Fiora dragged her out of the guild's training ground and to the baths.
Gran waited patiently outside the Mage's Guild in Duran. He had made an appointment earlier that day, and he had nothing else to do in the meantime.
The door opened and a young boy in a mage robe walked out, "Adventurer Gran, the mage you requested will see you now."
Gran nodded and followed the young boy inside. The apprentice led him to a doorway and opened them.
Inside, the room was round and the floor was wooden. Targets were placed on the far wall and a dummy stood in the middle of the room. The boy bowed and closed the doors behind him as he left. A man was sitting in the middle of the room in meditation. Gran almost didn't recognize his friend, who was now shirtless and muscular with a few burns on his back.
Jonas turned his head and smiled at Gran, "It is good to see you again Gran; it's been awhile."
Gran nodded, "I'm glad to see you too, my friend."
When Jonas got up and turned around, Gran saw the old scars from the dungeon, along with more recent burns across his solid chest.
"You've changed." Gran observed.
Jonas chuckled, "Yes, I imagine this is a small surprise to you. When I struggled during my recovery, I came to conclusion that my weak body was the reason why I was a burden."
"You have never been a burden." Gran stared at his friend with resolute eyes.
Jonas smiled gently and walked over, exchanging a hand-shake. "I appreciate that comrade; but it is not false to say the princess died protecting me."
Seeing Gran's silence, Jonas chuckled, "Don't worry, I don't blame anyone anymore, especially myself. My master helped me to cope with the shock; he taught me the only way to stop similar things was to learn from my mistakes and get stronger."
Gran gestured toward the targets and dummy, "I can see that. But, what is with those burns?"
Jonas winked, and pulled a stone out of his pocket. He threw it at the dummy, which shot out a fire-ball and blocked the stone. The fire ball disappeared a meter from the dummy.
Gran frowned, "You've been practicing close range spell casting?"
"No," Jonas said simply, "I've been practicing battle magic."
Gran whirled around to stare at his friend in shock, "Battle magic? Jonas, how could you be so reckless? Battle mages . . ."
Jonas nodded, "A normal mage casts magic by channeling magic into spell. A battle mage casts magic by channeling magic into their won bodies. I was always merely 'adequate' at casting spells, but until recently that was good enough for me." He held up his hands in a shrug, "As it turns out, I have a rather high aptitude for battle magic."
"Allow me to demonstrate."
Jonas motioned to Gran to move, then approached the dummy in the middle of the room. Taking a calming breath, he raised his arms and positioned his hands in front of his body, his fingers creating a triangle.
"Ignite!" He cried out suddenly.
Flame burst forth from the triangle, covering Jonas's body in a flaming armor. He reached down into the fire, and pulled two sword of flame from the armor.
"COME ONE!" Jonas yelled at the dummy, and ran at it.
The dummy began to shoot balls of elemental energy: water, fire, earth, and air. Jonas's sword slashed through the earth, absorbed the fire, blocked the air, and avoided the water. His body blurred as he dodged the onslaught, his foot work augments by the power of flame. Reaching the dummy, he performed and X-slash and cut it into two pieces, ending the attack.
Coughing, Jonas extinguished the flames and waved his hand to disperse the smoke rising from his body. He grinned at Gran, "So, what do you think?"
"You are much stronger." Gran admitted, "But is that worth a shorter life? Channeling magic into your body will ensure you don't live past 50."
Jonas shook his head and placed his arm on Gran's shoulder, "For us humans, it's important to do as much as we can with the time that we have. With this power, I can make sure I shine as bright as possible in this brief time. I'm sorry if this saddens you."
Gran shook his head and gave Jonas a rueful grin, "It's not like anything I say would make you change your mind."
"No I don't think so." Jonas gave a small laugh.
The laugh turned into a chuckle, and then both began to laugh as loud as they could. It was a happy sound, but one could still hear the melancholic note somewhere within.
When they were done, Gran shook his head, "Well, the reason I came was to invite you to the opening of the elvish quarter. We're done growing the buildings, and we want to welcome everyone."
Jonas pondered for a moment, "I believe I've learned everything I can here, so this is as good a time as any to return to the dungeon town." Jonas clapped Gran on the back as he walked to the door, "Come on then, let's return to adventure!"