13.3: Key to Success

The next few hours were grueling. Solana relentlessly flipped switches with haste. My muscle response was sluggish due to fatigue, but Solana refused to let up. In fact, I thought she might have started sending logs faster.

Melodie sat by Solana after finding someone to take her sentry position. Whenever I was hit by a log, she would rush to me and begin channeling her Essence. Fortunately, I didn’t sustain an injury worse than the first time, but in total, I probably broke every vital bone in my bone at least once.

Still, I only managed to dodge fifteen logs. The only feedback I received from Solana were subtle head shakes, an indicator of her dissent. She hadn’t said a word since Melodie healed me the first time.

I couldn’t distract myself with her though. If I quickly glanced her way, a log would come barreling towards me. My sole focus was on reaching twenty-five by dinner time, which was in another hour or so.

Solana flipped some switches, prompting me to close my eyes. Even though I had a blindfold on, it was easier to zero in on the sounds around me. Whenever the logs flew, I could hear and feel the air against me, telling me where the next log will soar from.

However, my plan wasn’t foolproof. The thin, sharp logs made no sounds when they swung down. It forced me to switch my focus from hearing to guessing, which didn’t help.

Was I approaching this the wrong way? Maybe trying to measure the wind actually hindered my progress, rather than give me the edge.

I thought back to Solana’s explanation of the danger reflex, and how it worked similarly to a “sixth sense.” Maybe her head shaking was a signal. It gave me one last idea: abandon all of my senses entirely. That way, I would have to force the danger reflex to overclock itself.

I sure hoped I was right.

I stood up once more after Melodie finished healing my right leg. I wore my blindfold still, just to get used to the lack of vision. I kept my eyes open, absorbing the black fabric to distract my mind. Diverting the whistling wind was the hardest part, but to counter it, I hummed a low tone and focused on that.

The first logs fell from my left, then the back. Immediately I slipped between the two of them, and another log pierced the air beside me from the front. Not only was I reacting to the incoming logs, I was anticipating the next one.

One by one I danced around the logs. There were a few close calls, like a sharp log nearly piercing my stomach, but my plan appeared to be working.

Eventually, the logs stopped coming. I apprehensively stood my ground, in case she was trying to trick me. Then, a large bell chimed through the tent, and probably throughout the castle.

“Nice job, Elijah,” Solana approved, “You dodged twenty—

She activated another log in the middle of her sentence, which I managed to sidestep just in time.

Now, you dodged twenty-five. Just in time for dinner. Let’s go, because I’m starving.”

“Really? I did it?”

“What did I just say?” She laughed, “Come on, it’s dinner time."

The End

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