“Why?” I muttered when my eyes finally opened. It was as much a “Why did I have to hurt so much?” as it was a “Why couldn’t I have just died?” I sat up, stretched, and attempted to stand.
I put standing on hold and tried to recall what I could of the fight between Traynur and myself. I found it hard to remember a lot of parts, and the the ones that I could remember made me wince at my own stupidity. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he refused to teach me. I sighed and shifted my position in bed. That was I saw that my room had a visitor.
It was Traynur.
I didn’t trust myself to speak, not after yesterday, so I nodded at Traynur and waited for him to start.
“What you need to realize Juewuhl is that in a few short weeks, you will be eligible to be chosen for Arena fights. I will not be there to guide you step by step in those fights, so I see no need to pamper you with that attention now. You need to learn to think for yourself while you still can. Matches in the arena are to the death, if the victor so chooses. I want to make sure that the choice is yours to make and not your opponent’s.”
He paused to see if I was still with him. I nodded my understanding. I was very relieved in truth. When I had been told that the matches were fights to the death, I figured it was kill or be killed. But if you could be granted mercy, I might last more than a day or two.
Traynur continued, “If it wasn’t clear to you then allow me to eliminate any misunderstanding. I will not warn you of all the dangers, I will not give you all the information, I will not go easy on you. I will expect you to uncover the dangers by yourself, I will expect you obtain the information that you need by yourself, and I will expect you put all your effort into surviving. Yesterday was your first and only chance. If you challenge me to a fight like that again, I will try and kill you with the expectation that you will defend yourself. If you lose, I will not consider it any fault of mine. I am not here to cater to you, I am here to train you. Is that understood?”
“Good. You will meet me in the arena in two hours. Your first sparring match has been planned for tomorrow. You have work to do.”
I started to protest, but the look in Traynur’s eyes stopped me from uttering another syllable.
“I’ll be there.”
“Be sure that you are.”
I set about doing a few stretches in bed to work out some of the stiffness and soreness. I would have to start as soon as possible, because in the condition I was in right now, it might very well take me 2 hours just to make it to the Arena.
When I deemed I was ready, I let my legs hang off the bed and over the floor. I slowly lowered them until I could feel the firm ground beneath my feet. Then little by little, I shifted my weight off the bed and onto my legs.
I was standing. That was a good start.
I was just limping out of the dorm area when Pailadyn caught me,
“Hey! You’re awake! I caught parts of the fight during my own battle. I was afraid he’d killed you. I hope you feel better soon so you can do well in your match tomorrow!”
“Thanks… I can barely stand but I guess I’ll just have to deal with it.”
I began to continue down the hallway when I was nagged by a question,
“Just curious, how’d you know I have a match tomorrow?”
“Cause I’m your opponent!” She said with a cheerfulness that felt more suited to discussing weekend plans than a potentially harmful fight.
“Oh. I see… that’s, that’s great.”
“Uh-huh! See you tomorrow!”