Zane leaned against the cave wall waiting for Jasper to reappear. He had been anticipating an all out brawl against Jasper for a while, and despite being overpowered by the minor confrontation the day before he was undeterred in his firm belief he would win. However this time he carried another sword of normal size on his hip. This one had faded orange hilt with a beaten scarred crimson sheath that was shredded so bad in places it revealed a gleaming silver blade. He placed his left and on its hilt boredly tapping his index finger on the top of it.
"Ah waiting for me are you?" Jaspers voice wandered up from the hall his footsteps silently falling against the hard rock floor, " I thought you weren't going to show."
"Ha ha, I can't back down from a challenge. You of all people should know that." Zane replied excitedly standing properly now walking towards Jasper with a confident grin, " So where are we taking this?"
"Same place as yesterday but since it's late so no one will watch you lose." Jasper said leading the way to sparring area.
" I'm afraid that's what I was going to say but in any case it's a bit earlier to judge the outcome don't you think? We are of course opposite ends of combat techniques." Zane said lightly jogging to be beside Jasper as if proving they were equal.
"I see you brought a more conventional blade. Are you unsure of winning this battle with that monster?" Jasper jabbed at him turning into the sparring area which was lit by dim torches that gave the dusty and worn ground and orange tint.
“Let’s just say it's back up plan and I have grossly underestimated your abilities if I resort to using it." Zane replied breaking away from Jasper putting a good ten foot distance between them as the readied themselves in the arena.
"Oh trust me Zane even if you do use that blade I will still crush you." Jasper sneered unsheathing his blades in a menacing matter his dark brown eyes staring into Zane's forest green ones. Zane returned a smile lifting the monstrous blade with immense force that hovered inches over the ground picking up a cloud of dust.
" I think I'm done with talking, you?" Zane said while Jasper nodded, " Let's go!" Zane yelled excitedly giving Jasper a few seconds before charging at him expecting him to move left or right to avoid him. Jasper darted back expecting Zane to slice outwards but instead Zane had stopped the Charge. They met each other’s eyes again, this time Jasper darted forwards, quickly and quickly manoeuvring around Zane's seemingly motionless defences, he mocked a slash which Zane reacted to accordingly swinging the massive blade around to block, Jasper ducked under readying himself for a true cut this time but instead met air as Zane had planted the sword into the ground flipped over it. Zane was different from yesterday less stiff and more fluid. As Zane feet hit the ground Jasper had managed to close the distance this time for sure he was going to hit Zane, and there was nothing he could do about it. Zane however managed to bring the blade in between them repelling Jasper's swift and calculated attack. Jasper jumped back wondering how Zane had managed to change so much in the time of a day. Zane smiled proudly.
"I noticed that fighting you yesterday you movements where fluid, fast, and calculated. There is no way stiff, unflowing, brute strength could simply beat that. So I have tried to add that into my style admittedly I haven't got the hang of it with this thing, but I would say I'm getting somewhere." Zane said in response to Jaspers look of surprise.
"Don't get to cocky Zane you just picked up a new trick, that won't change anything." Jasper responded as the two circled each other challenging each other’s patients. To which Zane ultimately lost as he charged forward sweeping his sword upwards giving Jasper an opportunity to flank him as he effortlessly avoided tip of Zane’s blade. Zane however carried the energy spinning around this time forcing Jasper to leap back narrowly missing the sword again, before Zane jabbed forwards continuing to push Jasper with more strikes, constantly on the offensive. Jasper however was very good at avoiding each blow or diverting it entirely last moment, but he needed to throw Zane off for a moment to regain his ground. Zane lunged again allowing Jasper to deflect the blade and get closer. He jabbed at him effortlessly slicing through cloth, and just enough flesh to draw blood before getting behind him. Zane stepped away and spun around to keep Jasper in sight with a look of pure excitement; his smile grew wider as he witnessed the small trickle of blood from the wound.
"Finally." Zane said, " I think I can take this more seriously." His face hardened a bit while the smile remained as he raised his sword up and charged at jasper who rolled away but Zane followed him swinging downwards just as Jasper evaded the swipe, the sword collided with the ground causing an explosion of dust and dirt as his blade rung through the air. Zane didn't wait for the dust to settle as Jasper watched his blade swing through the dust shortly followed by the battle happy Zane, who sidestepped his knives and went for another slash; shaving some material off of Jaspers shirt.
"Getting closer!" Zane yelled happily swinging the monstrosity as if he meant to severely hurt Jasper who ducked under it and went for slashes at his abdomen, but Zane had managed to take a step back. Zanes sword came down upon Jasper who in the last second caught the blade with his two daggers but even so the edge dug lighting into his shoulder drawing blood. Jasper was breathing hard signs of exhaustion were on his face while Zane was breathing hard but was not showing the same amount of exhaustion he removed the blade and jumped back placing the tip of sword on the ground so he could lean on it.
"You know Jasper, I'm gonna openly admit something I think is common knowledge between us but never been acknowledged. I don't like you, and I think it’s because I think you look down on me, and you never smile. You never seem to enjoy yourself in any matter, and hey that's up to you it's not wrong, it just bothers me. However it is mostly because I think you look down on me is why I dislike you. I also have to admit I have been waiting a long time for this. I've waited a very long time to see if there your superior attitude actually held merit. So prove it to me! Prove to me you're superior, or be crushed." Zane said readying himself again, as Jasper stood back up his face partially hidden by his shaggy hair, while he looked down. Zane charged not waiting for Jasper to respond to his comment. Jasper charged at him, their blades colliding again as the two passed each other, Zane turned finding a new and deeper wound on his side. Jasper turned likewise, as blood pooled below the tips of their blades. They both stared coldly at each other while acknowledging an unkind between them rivalry. Both wanting to put an end to it, but at the same time knew that they couldn't because they both detested and relished it. They clutched their new wounds and acknowledged this was not over but was going to continue another day.
"I didn't use my other sword." Zane stated as Jasper sheathed his dagger.
"And I did not lose to you." He replied while Zane placed his blade on his back.
"And neither did I lose to you." Zane said turning his back to Jasper hiding the pain he felt from the wound that he had received from him. Zane was sure Jasper was doing now with the wound Zane had inflicted on him, “See you at lunch tomorrow." Zane called back before exiting the sparring area.
The next day Zane entered the dining hall early looking around to make sure Jasper wasn't around so he could freely clutch his side if it burned with pain. Layla had already started preparing breakfast, but was at front of the serving area. Zane bet there was no really good time to ask if she wanted to take up the sword and fight along side the rebels but he had to follow orders.
"Good morning Layla!" Zane called out cheerfully to her with his regular smile.
"Morning, what are you doing up so early?" She asked returning him a smile that wasn't completely convincing but was better than nothing.
"Taking a walk collecting....fresh errr, cave air, but that's not everything Ceri wants me to ask you if you want to join the in on the fight against the sorcerer, by taking up the sword. Its entirely up to you, he also insists if you do decide to take up the sword that I teach you how to fight. Don't say anything about it now though; give it a good think, alright? You know where to find me when you do make up your mind. Sorry to distract you."
"Oh it’s no problem, but I do have to get back to work, and I will think it over. See you later Zane."
"Alright take care." Zane said with the same smile trailing off into one of the side tunnels brushing by Jasper as he did. Zane's smile grew as imagined Jasper overhearing the whole conversation and how much it would bother him if Layla did indeed say yes. While Zane continued to walk down the hall the chatter among the guards reminded him of the new arrivals yesterday. He wondered what they would be like? Where they fighters? Helpless refugees seeking protection? It was also strange that there would three new arrivals in the same month. What was going on in the evil empire? Excitement slowly filled Zane's body at the idea of the empire weakening leading to an immenent invasion lead by Ceri while the empire was weakened. Maybe Ceri was receiving reports of weakness in the empire and that's why he had asked him to train Layla. Lost in thought Zane managed to walk straight into girl who proceeded to berate him for not watching he was going.
"...Stupid Idiot, next time..." Her mouth was then covered by a man who was apologizing to him.
"Sorry about my sister, Tanya she's a bit of a fire cracker, we're also new here and she isn't used to it." The man said struggling to keep Tanya's outburst under control.
"Oh that's no issue." Zane smiled," You must be new arrivals from yesterday. My name is Zane Kobiano pleased to meet you. Also sorry for wandering into you."
"Yeah well next time if you don't I will make sure you do!" Tanya spat fiercely managing to remove the man's hand from her mouth.
"One again don't mind her, and you can call me Durn." He said holding out his hand.
"Nice to meet you Durn." Zane said shaking his hand, "Anyways I need to head off, but if you need any help I will probably be in the storage area."
"Oh I don't think that will be necessary, one of you comrades Jasper is looking after us. You don't happen to know where he is by any chance?"
"Dining hall." Zane called back before walking down the corridor on his own.