With no way for me to dodge this situation, I stood confidently in front of the champion, clad in nothing but a pair of frayed and filthy jeans.
The man wore a victorious smirk that wiped away at the sight of me. His elated fist fell back into the pocket of his tattered jeans.
He approached me with a derogatory snarl, then sized me up. Clearly he thought very little of me. At least the feeling was mutual.
The champion snickered, “A kid wants to challenge me? No worries,” he cracked his knuckles, “You’ll be the tenth in a row to be beaten bloody, maybe even dead.”
I smirked with bravado, even though I was not prepared to fight this guy, “If anyone’s going to the hospital, it’s you.”
“Kid, do you even see this guy?” he pointed towards the body beneath his foot.
“My eyes seem to be working fine, so—”
A slight breeze whizzed away from my face. The man was winding up for a cheap shot. Within that split second, I dropped my weight into a crouch. Above me, the man swung hard enough to lose his footing. While he was searching for his balance, I grappled his legs, and slammed him onto the pavement.
Cheers and hollers exploded around me, but Solana was nowhere to be heard among them. She must have been diluted into the mob. Or maybe, she was observing me, to see how far I had come after our first day of training.
The man flailed ridiculously, like a toddler having a tantrum. He was unable to free himself from my takedown.
He began panting from fatigue. The poor guy tired himself out trying to escape. Out of pity, I released my grip and stood up.
The man regained his balance, dusted off his jeans, and whimpered, “Come on! Don’t just let me go! Where’s your pride?”
I entertained his question, “If I was able to take you down in a matter of seconds, then you’re no match for me. My pride is in letting you walk away from this. I don’t even know your name, but you still want me to fight you. The odds are stacked against you, so just go home. This is pointless.”
“Ha! Come on, we fight for fun, and if that lands me in the hospital, so be it! I’ve lost enough people in my life, but there’s no point. If I’m gone, then I’m gone. That’s li—”
His words made me snap, “You think you’re the only one who’s lost someone close to them!? Do you really think that life can just be tossed away!? What you should be doing is living on, for their sake.”
“There it is!” the man cheered. “There’s that fire I was searching for! Now channel that anger. Come at me!”
A fire raged within me.
Then a blue aura enveloped the circle.