Chapter 15: Continuation..

As a follow up, and before the two bandit's behind her could recover from the shock, Val pulled two daggers from her belt and stabbed them hard on the chest, killing one instantly and severely wounding the other. Her speed and precision were spot on.

Reks put out his bow and drew his sword as the fourth bandit came at him, swinging. Reks met his blade with his own and they both started exchanging blows.

The fifth bandit, a shirtless man, turned to Max, smiling. Max tried to run away, but tripped over some roots and fell backwards. The bandit laughed. "How pitiful." He said, waving his sword around, savoring his kill like a maniac. "You're weak. You don't even deserve to walk our land." The big man raised his sword. "Death will be a blessing for you, boy."

But luckily for Max, Val had finished off her opponent and had spotting him, but she did not go to his rescue. Instead she watched and smiled. Max's eyes widened in realization. She was going to let the bandit kill him!

I don't wanna die. At the beginning Max had wanted a quick and painless death. But now things have changed. Now, he wanted to live. And that sudden realization awakened something deep within himself, and a strange and unexplainable feeling surged through his entire being. He felt renewed.  He raised his hand with an urge to destroy. He felt a warm sensation spread through his body and accumulate in the palm of his hand. But before anything could happen, a sword emerged from the bandit's chest and blood oozed out of the wound. The bandit looked down at the blade, baffled. Then he convulsed once and died. Behind him, stood Reks, holding the bloodied sword. "You alright?" He offered Max a helping hand.

Max accepted the help.  "Thanks." He looked at Val who was pretending to look surprised instead of disappointed.  "Don't mention it." Reks said. "I wonder," He looked at the dead bandits. "How did they find our camp?"

"We should move out and make camp somewhere else, before more of them find us." Val suggested. "Who knows how many more are lurking about."

"You're right." Reks nodded, although he still had that thoughtful look on his face that said he knew something didn't make sense but couldn't really explain it. "They knew I was a mercenary." He stated, as if that was enough explanation.

Max was just glad he was alive.

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Mas stared at his hands in deep thought while Reks and Val ate and discussed the bandit ambush from earlier. Max couldn't explain nor comprehend what had happened to him back there. That feeling...what was it? He wondered.

"Max?" Reks said. "How are you feeling?"

Max looked up at him. "I-I'm fine." He looked at Val who was staring at him with her hateful gaze. It was obvious she forgot to mention that she had wanted that bandit to kill Max. Reks had probably been too busy to notice back then. Still, Max said nothing of the matter, he was too preoccupied with what was happening to him to care. First there was the White Tiger he saw, then the Judge at Vahall, and now this...all these strange feelings...what was going on? None of this was normal. He remembered what the bandit had said to him. You're weak. Those words rang in his head on and on, for they were true. He had been too busy thinking  of how to get back home that he never considered, up until now, who he was here. In Altia. That's when he made a decision: If he was going to survive in Altia, then he needed to get stronger. "Can you train me?" He asked Reks, who looked up surprised. Even Val seemed to show a measure of shock. "What?"

"Train me." Max repeated, with confidence in his voice. "Please?"

"It will not be easy while traveling." Reks warned. "It will mean we'll have to slow our pace and it'll take us longer to reach the Seer. It will be a tiring and heavy burden on us both, especially you, Max. Are you certain you want to take on this challenge?"

"I do." Max said without hesitation. He was determined to go through hell if needed if it meant he wont be helpless any more. "I'll do everything you tell me to do. I just want you to make me stronger, so that I can fight for myself."

Reks smiled, that knowing smiled he showed back at Vahall when Max said he had amnesia. "Very well." He finally said. "Tomorrow we'll make camp earlier and begin your training." 

"I want to start now."

"I like your determination Max, but I think its best if we start slow. No need to kill yourself tonight."

"Please?" Max begged.

Reks sighed. "Very well, then."

"You've got to be joking, Reks." Val wasn't too happy about it. But then again, she was never happy whenever Reks decides to help Max in anything. "You can't be serious about this. Or did you forget who's after us? Why we are running?"

Reks ignored her and stood up. He walked to the nearby tree and grabbed two long and thick branches to use as swords and handed one to Max. "Come on then." He said. "First show me what you know about sword-fight. If you can land a single blow on me, then I will begin your training tonight. If not...well then, we'll start tomorrow, like I said."

The End

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