"...Aldrest... Aldrest," Arum taunted me with his sneers as I had him pinned down on the ground. The blades of my swords were crossed and in close proximity to his neck. "Look at the young man you've become in appearance but not in mind. Come on, slice my neck, hate me..."
My hands quavered causing the blades to shake slightly and Arum had caught sight of that. He was taking advantage of my hesitation to kill him, the fear. His scimitar was far from him, he laid flat on the ground waiting for my next move.
"You are just like your grandfather," he jeered, "after fighting a deadly battle and finally had me down he hesitated like the coward he was. He couldn't kill me as much as he wanted to. You know why? He was restrained by love, he cared for his son very much. Is that what restrains you Aldrest? Are you a pacifist like him? You certainly must be, you are brandishing his swords..."
"Shut up!" I snarled, my mind having several flashbacks to my childhood. I had an assassin as a father, who shortly after being named Black Soul Hunter he broke his oath of protecting and serving Azahla and became a criminal. I also had the grandfather, who was the greatest of Elders and who was also unable to capture his father. Arum killed my grandfather, he stabbed him in the back just as he was leaving. Arum never met the dying eyes of his father. Some years later, Candravar caught him and locked him up. He took care of me and accepted me in his Academy, just as I was finishing my first year, my father committed suicide.
"Have no mercy on the people that have harm you," he seethed.
A pain shot through my unharmed leg as he pierced the flesh with a hidden dagger. I contracted in pain, and he pushed me to the ground. He quickly ran to get his scimitar and faced me once again. I jolted to my feet, trying to ignore the waves of crushing pain that washed my body now and then. Blood was flowing out rapidly, I fought hard to keep my eyes from closing and falling into unconsciousness.
"What about your friends? The ones you've made in the academy?" he prowled in a circle around me, inching closer each lap. "Surely you've made some! Or has your past tied you down and prevent you from making any?"
"Quiet!" I assaulted him with a double slash of my swords, but he backed away and my arms were left dangling, my head hung low over my chest. His words were crashing and stinging my heart painfully like cold rain. I strained my mind to find a contradiction to what he said, something to prove him wrong, but was unable to. I was a loner in this world.
"You were brought alone to this world and by the same condition you will perish!" he shouted, charging towards me, his scimitar drawn before his face. I deflected his attack just in time, but the force made me slid backwards on the ground. The wound in my leg was slowly ripping apart. I stooped down and closed a palm around the wound, gritting my teeth to prevent me from screaming.
I jerked up my head as I heard my name being called, not by Arum. It seem distant and wavering but I could recognize that voice. This was not real, I had to get past Arum to find the truth and finish with this mind game. I straightened myself and united my swords as one, I sprinted toward Arum with great agility and speed. A different energy burst inside me, a desire to buried the past once and for all and to free the chains that were pulling me down. I brought my sword up and he deflected it, I kicked him in the gut and sent him reeling backwards until his back hit against a wall.
"We are finished!" I placed the tip of my swords on his neck, ready for the final blow.
That voice again, pleading and merciful. The same voice that made my life in the academy a bearable living hell. The voice that could made a smile settled in my lips after a fierce battle against my ego. Shizuma.
My energies wavered as my blade inched closer to his neck. Arum had a triumphant smile in his face.
"Be merciless," he whispered almost imploringly.
"I am not you," I said softly. Swirls of smoke surrounded Arum as his face slowly fade away, in his place stood Shizuma against the wall. Her eyes were welling with tears and she had many scars on her limbs.
"...Aldrest, wake up," she whispered.
I tried my best to gave her a warming smile which came out crooked. Relief invaded her as she returned me the smile. I dropped my swords on the ground and collapsed on her arms. Now I realized it was all an illusion and the person I've been physically dueling was Shizuma, all her wounds I inflicted on her, I had to apologize. I had defeated the demon in my mind and heart.