I made my way to the arena and sat in one of the rows of bleachers that lined the walls. There was still a good hour and a half until my training with Traynur, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to watch the people that I could end up fighting in a few weeks. I kept an eye out for Shroud power, fighting style, and physical attributes.
My eye was drawn to a male with a Shroud that had lots of sharp curves. His Shroud power was fire, much like what Traynur had used yesterday, and he seemed very at ease in using it. He was very aggressive, but his aggressiveness left him open to more attacks than was prudent. He covered this with his ferocity, which was enough to keep his opponent purely concerned about about defense than about any form of counterstrike. His strategy was to keep his opponents from thinking clearly. If his opponent, another male with a shroud that looked like a ninja outfit, had taken a moment to observe his opponent rationally he would have caught the fact that all of the fire came from the pyro’s right hand. If he dodged to his left and charged, he could get in a strike or two.
I had just begun to switch my attention to another pair when someone sat down next to me. His Shroud truly looked like a robe, and his hood was shaped like a crown.
“Why aren’t you out there with the others?” he asked.
I tried to implement my lessons and instantly put my mind to work. Who was this man? Was he in charge of the arena? Why was he asking me these questions? Did he mean me harm? Something about him struck me as odd, but I couldn’t quite place my finger on it.
“You do your teacher well Juewuhl, but there are times when you can sacrifice alertness for civility.”
He read my mind. Was that his Shroud?
“Yes it is. I’m very interested in your story Juewuhl. How did you get here?”
“I’m not entirely sure.”
“Hmm… you aren’t lying. With your permission I’d like to-“ he stopped and cocked his head for a moment. “Well I was going to suggest that you allow me to inviestigate your mind for hidden answers, but it seems you have prior obligations. In fact, you will be needed in less than a minute. We will meet again. Goodbye Juewuhl.”
Then just as suddenly as he had arrived, he stood and was gone. I took a few guesses at the identity of the stranger until a shadow fell over me. I looked up to see Traynur standing over me.
“Are you ready to begin?”
Hauling myself to my feet I grunted, “Yes.”
As we walked over I considered how to ask Traynur about the man without making it an obvious question. What did I know about the stranger?
“I think if I ever become a poly-shroud I’d like to choose mind-reading as my next shroud.”
Traynur looked thoughtful, “That is a very rare power. One I have tried to learn but failed to obtain. To obtain a power that can read others thoughts, I belive you’d have to concentrate on other’s thoughts as you were attempting to gain that particular power. The only person who has successfully learned mind-reading is Monark, and he is reluctant to share the secret.”
“So that’s his name.” I muttered to myself.
“That’s whose nam-“ Traynur looked at me for a moment, then put the pieces together and allowed a smile to cover his face. “Congratulations Juewuhl!” And then his face grew serious and concerned, “You met with Monark? What did he want?”
This probably wasn’t the best time to try this, but I had my own question that needed an answer.
“Simply answering that question goes against my training.” I said with a grim smile.
“I see. I will you trade you then. An answer for an answer.”
“Deal. He asked me how I got here, told me what I was thinking, and said we’d talk more later.”
“Ok. That’s good. If he ever asks to “investigate your mind” I suggest removing yourself from his presence immediately.”
He noticed my questioning look and elaborated.
“It’s not that he’s evil, I just don’t trust him completely. I think his mind reading power goes farther than most people think. Remember, don’t assume. Especially when it comes to him. Now what is your question?”
“Everything is black. How does the material compare in sturdiness to my shroud?”
“A good question. Nearly everything you see, whether black or not, is made from the Shroud. Not everyone chooses combat powers, some choose construction, others choose gardening or cooking.”
“You’re saying that my blades are made of the stuff as the training dummies.”
“I am. The sturdiness of a Shroud created object is dependent on the will of the creator. You can break anything Shroud created, if your will to break it can exceed the creator’s will to keep it together.”
“Ok. So I guess that means we’re even?”
“Yes. Now let’s get down to business. I don’t want you to lose too badly tomorrow.”