Published at 29th of December 2018 09:39:59 AM
Chapter 20

[8 hours later - in the infirmary]

Lars lay on his back in a hard white pallet, in the middle of a prison cell converted into a room .

He was judged to be relatively unhurt, but Doctor Philip had decided for him to stay under observation for a further 2-3 days - there were no more compulsory classes or training in this period of elimination battles anyway . Earlier when he had healed himself, the astute boy had intentionally left quite some minor injuries along with 2-3 major ones to avoid any questions that would arise if he were to be found unscathed .

It turned out to be a wise move for the 3 invigilators and even Vizier Murad himself had come to scrutinise every inch of the three trainees bodies . They had even brought along a refined looking middle-aged man who seemed eager to investigate what had happened after the werewolf had knocked Linges out . A dangerous man who raised alarm bells in Lars' mind .

They questioned the wiry golden-haired boy at length, but he kept firmly with his prepared story - an exact retelling of everything that had happened up to when he was knocked out . He even set up a smokescreen withholding the point of his use of innate magic, Breach, to pierce the half-beastman boy's defences . This drew a harsh glare from invigilator Sarin once he cross-checked the facts with the number 1 ranked Linges, along with a promise of severe "tender loving care" once the investigations were over .

Lars' shivered at the thought of having to go through the beatings and torture but reasoned that it was worth laying this rabbit trail and be punished rather than appear "too clean" and trigger further suspicions .

As for the other two trainees . . .

Moira was released very quickly; she had practically no injuries except for a mild concussion from the heavy slapping blow that rendered her unconscious . Her body's critical state earlier had only been due to her brain being dangerously low on oxygen and the cold from being submerged in the frigid waters for minutes on end . She had looked at him longingly as she walked out of her separate cell and past his, but could not stay as she was shooed off by bald invigilator who was in a hurry to bring her somewhere .

'Strange . . . ' It couldn't be for questioning - that was already done and settled under the Vizier's truth-telling spells . Of course, the spells used were merely low-level first tiered spells[1]

Linges' case was even more peculiar . The perceptive youth had heard the nurses and attending physicians discuss his injuries, and the subsequent treatment the tanned barbarian had received .

Despite fighting tooth and claw with a full-fledged werewolf, one from a pure white-wolf bloodline, his only wounds from those aforementioned teeth or claws were flesh wounds . It was clear that the opponent had pulled his punches - or pulled any strike that could potentially damage Linges' muscles or affect his fighting potential . Almost as if the senior werewolf was trying to knock him out but afraid to hurt him too badly . . .

Which led to only one of two conclusions: either a case of infighting? Or a kidnapping . . . ?

Of course, the chattering Arena staff were oblivious to the boy who knew that the answer was the latter of the two . But it was helpful for Lars to find out what had happened to the injured boy right after .

The beastman trainee had only spent 2 hours laid out in the infirmary, sleeping soundly with his black-and-blue bruises and inflamed wounds tended to . After which, a group of elite soldiers led by the middle-aged man had come to wheel him away to someplace else . If the nurses were to be believed, he was being taken away, excluded and exempted from any further elimination matches . And if their wild conjectures were to be trusted further, the only one with the authority to overrule the laws of the Arena was the King himself and his six Dukes . . . [3]

'Even stranger . . . '

Lars wiggled his nose subconsciously as he sunk deep into thought . Based on all the information so far, he needed to clearly define his own objectives and map out plans of action . . . Along with the myriad options and paths to reach those goals .

As to why he didn't seem very worried or caught-up about Moira . . . He too wondered himself . . . ?

If you were caught with one foot on two boats, placed side by side and the boats slowly drifted apart; what would you do . . . ?[4] Where one is filled with a promise of good days to come, full of hope and brightness - while in the other, only tears, longing, loneliness and perhaps only sorrow at the end?

One man would brashly say, "I would, of course, choose the more practical one! The one that is full of promise and hope!" And then make other decisions in his life contrary to whatever he said .

Another, "I would definitely not give up; fighting to the end no matter the odds! For it is not the victory that matters, but the battle!" But for how long . . . ? Only time would tell, not some blustering words spouted out in the heat of the moment!

Lars sighed . Or in this case, perhaps it would be better to think of himself as Mikael . . . ? For he knew, knew and knew and knew that he should be letting go of the past . Only . . . It was too much on his heart and mind, the memories and experiences of 10 years multiplied countless times, lived and relived endlessly due to his blessing/ curse of the soul-imprint - Insight[5] . It felt closer to 100 years . . . !

A 100 years living in a figment of his imagination, a century living in what he thought was a utopia; only to turn out to be a living lie .

His face contorted as he fought the tears that came once again . He had cried enough! It was over! She was not his!

He forced himself to calm down, overwhelmed by emotion and melancholic thoughts . Perhaps if Gardner were still around, he could confide in him . . .

Lars sighed, shaking his head to bring his thoughts away from the past into the present and what he needed to do . How unlucky a life he lived! To lose his "best friend" both in the past life and now!

Not noticing that he was once again drifting off into the realm of his darkened thoughts, he brooded over the same topic revisited again - Sara .

It was time, right . . . ?

Time to get over her .

'Yeah . . . I should . I know it . . . '

He decided on his path, fortifying his resolve and emboldening his heart despite the salty taste of tears as they flowed down to his lips and the sound of his own pathetic sobbing, frightening the nearby nurses .

His gaze firm, he clenched his fists and then clasped them together in front of his chest, then opened his palms in the action of "letting go" .

'From today on, I, Mikael Tumijo, Miller Knight Larsson; I am OVER Sara! Moira is the one for me! She loves me back just how I love her! I won't be a pining p*ssy still whining over the past anymore! YES!' He nearly sat up and fist pumped, so excited was he, hot blood rising to his head and letting off proverbial steam .

He calmed down from his exultant mood .

'Probably . . . '

'Should be . . . '

He looked down again .

'Maybe . . . '

He slumped onto his pallet again; thinking .

'That boat thing . . . Wasn't a good analogy at all . . . ' He sighed, listening to the sounds of dripping water; the ever irritating leaky faucet that was probably done on purpose by the nurses who resented having to pull double all-nighters for a clearly uninjured patient .

'Who am I even trying to explain things to anyway . . . '[6]




Author's Notes:

After many chapters of action, I think it's time for things to calm down a little! Hope you can enjoy things even when it is light-hearted, deep, action-based, passionate or relaxing!

[1] Tiers of Magic:

Tier 1: Level 0 (cantrips which cost only atmospheric mana and mental energy to control) - Level 2

Tier 2: Level 3-4 The dividing line for an apprentice vs . a seasoned mage

Tier 3: Level 5-6 A mighty practitioner

Tier 4: Level 7-8 World-class mages, with one foot into the Legendary realm

Tier 5: Level 9 A legend among spellcasters, wizards and sorceresses

Tier 6: Legendary spells and beyond[2]

[2] Legendary spells are called as such as only Mages at the Legendary level and above can trigger them; though even for those at the Legendary realm, it does not come without a cost .

[3] The Six Dukes of the Kingdom of the Sands: There are 2 men and 4 women, however for the flow of the sentence, I am using "Six Dukes" . When referring to the people themselves, I will be mindful to use "Dukes and Duchesses" . Please point it out to me if I miss it!

[4] In Chinese, the idea of "two-timing" or having more than one love interest is expressed as literally "one foot stepping on two boats" .

[5] Recap: Insight works very simply . It boosts Mikael/ Lars' perception of time by 10 times . Which means every experience and sensation also "happens" to him for 10 times the length of time or 10 times the intensity . . . If you had the choice, would you choose this super-power . . . ?

[6] Don't break the fourth wall! *Psst* you know who . . .