A whole month had passed since that wonderful moment.
Solana and I spent countless days in each other’s company, whether it was during gruesome training regimens or leisurely passing the time. Even when her parents urged her to spend some time with them along, she begged them to bring me along. We were inseparable.
Today was no different. The two of us dueled as we always did from the confines of the white tent. It was much harder to schedule training time after the New Perfi Guardians returned. No children were allowed to train without parents to supervise. Now that the Castle was filled again, the tent was only available during TE, drastically limiting my development.
However, I saw it as an opportunity to push myself even more. I needed to improve in a much smaller timeframe. Solana drove that fact into my head ever since we found out just how restricted our time became.
Solana swung a fist towards my exposed cheek. Before it could connect, however, I slammed my forearm into hers, deflecting her punch. As soon as our arms collided, she swept at my feet. I kept myself planted in a robust fighting stance: knees bent, toes pointed outward, just as she taught me.
I launched a jab towards her stomach, in hopes of exposing her face. She diverted the hit with her thigh, allowing me to knock her to the ground. Solana tumbled to the ground, only to roll backwards, creating plenty of room to safely get back up. I decided not to chase her and return to my defensive stance.
Solana smirked at me, a sign that I made a good decision. As quickly as that smirk faded, she was in front of me again, preparing her counterattack. She feigned a right hook, then sent a knee towards my abdomen.
My first instinct was to block the punch, but I knew that wouldn’t help me. All of those danger reflex exercises taught me that trusting pure instinct would result in disaster. So, I cupped my right hand and caught the incoming knee, holding my other hand near my face.
Before she could exploit the opening on my right, I pushed down on her knee, forcing her to stagger backwards. I crouched down and charged at her waist with enough force to knock her on the ground.
I slammed my hands onto her wrists, pinning her in place. She squirmed and fidgeted, but was unable to free herself from my grasp.
“Did I finally win?” I grinned.
“You know, for once...I think you have me beat.” Solana chuckled.
“Music to my ears!” I yelled, basking in my success. “It only took a month, but I finally beat y—!”
Startled by the sudden noise, I shot upwards into a fighting stance, keeping my distance from Solana, in case she tried any cheap trick.
I turned to find the Master standing in the tent flap, clapping at us. The Master never left the throne room, unless he had important business to conduct. What could bring him here of all places?
“Master!? W-what are you doing here?” I lowered my guard.
“I’m here to congratulate you, of course,” he smiled pleasantly.
“Congratulate me? For what? All I’ve been doing for the past few months is training.”
Solana slowly picked herself off of the ground. “You passed, Elijah,” she giggled.
“I passed? Passed what?”
Solana and the Master shared a hearty laugh. Meanwhile, I remained completely oblivious.
As their laughter dissipated, the Master spoke, “Elijah, you have completed your basic training with Solana. Congratulations.”