"No. No. Didn't feel that either."

I stopped, panting for breath. Lucifer looked as fresh as he had when we started. 

"Put a little more into it." he offered, as if it was the simplest thing ever.

My knuckles were bleeding. I wiped them off on my suit, grossed out.

"Do I have to?" I asked, looking around. 

I wondered briefly how quickly Lucifer could run. I figured it would be easier to test that than to keep trying to land a hit on him.

I turned, strolling around as if gathering my strength, and then made a dash for it. 

The suit moved wonderfully, stretching as I ran while still supporting my body - and the material was surprisingly breathable.

I was an inch from an exit when Lucifer had materialized in front of me, wagging his gloved finger.

"I don't think so, commander."

I was too tired and frustrated to go back to failing at punch-throwing, so instead of stopping I fell to the floor, sliding underneath him like a pro baseball player. I jumped to my feet and kept running, trying not to think about how much everything hurt.

Lucifer appeared in front of me again but I turned my body sideways to pass him on the left, twisting in the air to avoid his reach.

I hit the ground running and when Lucifer appeared a second time, I didn't move to dodge.

I felt something overpowering my fatigue and paranoia - something ancient coursing through my blood, drawing me to my instincts.

My feet sped up, pounding into the dusty cobblestones mercilessly. My mind was clear and focused and I pushed past the pain.

Just before I collided with Lucifer I raised my fist, driving through with my shoulder to deliver a smashing blow to his gut.

To my surprise, he staggered back, giving me an impressed look.

"You've earned yourself a long break, commander. I didn't know you had it in you."

I gave a mock bow and when I straightened up the devil had disappeared. 


I sighed and started to make my way back into the castle, moving up the stairs in a slow daze. I bumped into someone and apologized profusely, before realizing it was Eversio. 

He continued walking but stopped suddenly, turning back to look at me.

"Commander?" he asked incredulously, "Is that you?"

I made a bothered face.

"I know I'm a mess. You don't have to be so rude about it."

"Sorry," he offered, "I didn't recognize almost look as though you've been scrapping with someone."

I held up my hand, letting him see my busted knuckles through the half-glove. 

"You think?"

Eversio looked concerned.

"What happened? You weren't attacked again, were you? And what are you wearing?"

I felt ridiculously aware of his gaze on my tightly-clad body and pushed the hair out of my face.

"Your dad and I had a sparring match." I explained, continuing up the stairs, "And he was nice enough to get me some workout clothes."

"He's teaching you how to fight?!"

I couldn't resist turning back to see Eversio's horrified face.


"He's like the personal trainer from hell!" Eversio hissed, adding, in a low voice, "No pun intended. I'm pretty sure he's killed people after promising to show them a few pointers."

"Do you have a better idea?" I asked, folding my arms.

Eversio looked to be thinking.

"I might not be the cold-blooded warrior my father is, but I can teach you a thing or two about swordplay."

"I'm pretty sure he could, too." I replied, remembering Excalibur.

"I could do it without chopping you to bits." Eversio explained, "Believe me, Lucifer has next to no qualms with getting himself a new commander if he has to."

True enough.

"What do you want in return?" I asked, "Things usually aren't free around these parts."

"Take it easy with the training. If Lucifer sees you aren't as completely obsessed with fighting as he is, he'll lose interest."

I pondered it for a second.


The End

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