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"I'm sorry, I don't know what came over me," Ari babbled. "Are you hurt?"

But Ghirahim was paying no attention. His gaze was fixed on the blade still clutched in his hand.

That wasn't the skill of a novice. That was proficient sword fighting.

And there was something else. It was ever so faint, but the girl's aura had grown stronger. A flicker of triumph sprang to life within Ghirahim's chest.

This is exactly what I hoped for. There's no telling just what untapped power sleeps in the girl. She could prove a very useful ally indeed.

"No matter," Ghirahim said aloud, dropping the blade, "You've done no harm. Shall we try something else?"

Ari took a step back, shaking her head.

"I don't want to."

Ghirahim had to suppress his annoyance.

Patient. I must be patient.

"Why ever not? I told you I'm perfectly all right."

Ari looked utterly torn, "I-I..."

"Now, now," Ghirahim crooned, "No need to worry. This is a good sign."

"It is?"

"Yes! You said you wanted to be useful, didn't you?"

"Yes, but—"

"Really, Ari, you weren't so silly as to think you could actually injure me, were you?"

The girl hesitated, then relented, "Okay. But...I don't know if I could do that again. I-I don't even know what that was."

"Then why don't we find out together?" Ghirahim suggested, offering her a smile, "What say you we up the stakes? I'll fight you dual bladed."

"Dual bladed?" Ari sqeaked, "But-but we're just starting. You said you didn't expect me to—"

"Ari," Ghirahim said a little more sharply than he intended. He paused to compose himself before continuing, "Let's just say you exceeded my expectations. Shall we carry on our lesson?"

Ari looked like she was going to cry again. Ghirahim had to fight the urge to sneer at her.

If she starts up her pesky blubbering again, I swear

"Okay."

Ari reluctantly retrieved her blade and returned to her starting position. Ghirahim smiled, producing another sword out of thin air.

Then he charged.

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