Chapter 159 – Challenge Accepted
“What are you talking about? Are you actually related to Haeru? There’s only one Seishin family of note in the city as far as I know. Haeru’s family was fairly famous due to his great-great grandfather being being the only one to foresee the great change years ago. Their famous. Are you one of them?” Damien responded in confusion.
Daichi slowly considered the possibility that he was in fact related to Haeru. The guy he got along with the second most at the beginning but who he hadn’t seen since he began training under Lydia.
‘Wouldn’t that make me his great-granduncle or something?’ Daichi winced as he thought about it.
Coming to terms with his father surviving the change was one thing but being faced with the very real possibility of now knowing and meeting possible relatives left Daichi unsure of how he was feeling before his pragmatic nature took over.
A dark thought crossed his mind ‘The only reason I know of what my dad did is because of that old man who gave me his book…’
Too many possibilities began swirling in his mind as Daichi stopped each and every one of them from forming. ‘I already knew that he wants to use me. This shouldn’t be a surprise… But… Still…’
Alex was looking at Daichi’s face intently trying to figure him out. He was under strict orders to befriend Haeru.
Daichi stood in befuddlement for only a few seconds before his expression turned overcast.
He himself couldn’t be sure of how he felt at the moment but his thoughts were too focused on the significance rather than thoughts of family.
‘He knew. Did Lydia know? I knew they wanted to use me from the moment we met… But…’
Daichi had understood that he was being used by the vice-headmaster upon their first meeting. He’d all but admitted it himself, seeing as how Daichi wanted to use the resources of the academy for his own benefit he saw no harm in a mutually beneficial relationship. This sudden discovery left him soured. Not because he was being used, but rather because he suddenly felt like a fish in hot water. ‘I don’t like that he either knew or suspects…’
Daichi felt like he was threading on thin ice. Training for weeks to months with Lydia had given him a clear understanding between the differences between them. Although he himself possessed far more insights into the element and nature, more so than Lydia and perhaps most of the people within the academy. Lydia possessed the ability to kill him without him being able to use most of those insights.
This was one of the leading reasons he so readily interacted with Leo and Damien. The reason why he trained so diligently trying to leave a good impression not on his peers, but his ‘teacher’. Daichi was fully aware that he was vulnerable and now that feeling was suddenly amplified.
Without so much as a second glance Daichi turned around and began walking away. The previous inkling of desire he had to show off a little in front of a crowd and Alex now completely doused and gone. In terms of experience he was still a teenager, without realizing the consequences he’d been close to showing part of his hand unnecessarily until Alex had spoken. He’d even said perhaps one of the few things that could dissuade Daichi from taking action as he jump started Daichi’s pragmatic personality.
“Where are you going?” Alex spoke firmly and in a loud enough tone for Daichi to hear but his words fell on deaf ears.
Alex inadvertently took a step forward only to have Damien step sideways to meet his gaze “I believe you have several challenges to be met.”
Alex grit his teeth and sneered. He only looked backwards at Zachary with a sliver of disdain before walking away himself. “You’re not worthy.”
Damien not one for being insulted with name on the line “Are you so scared that your reputation means so little to you? Walk away then.”
Alex truly didn’t consider Damien or Leo worthy of challenging him but he too had a family name worth too much Dignity for it to be sullied then ignored. Giving a glance back at Damien “The distance between us isn’t worth my time. Learn the rules then speak to me. You insult your own family name when you act like a child.”
Damien sneered “All I see is a coward hiding behind rules.”
Alex walked away with a dark expression but he didn’t take the bait. At the moment he was only thinking about reporting the possible news of another person being related to the Seishin’s.
Leo was stuck staring at Daichi’s back with a confused expression as he glanced over at Marcos.
In the stands Marcos after knowing Leo since childhood could read his expression like a book. Turning to Thomas who’d moved next to him after his arrival he whispered something in his ear as Thomas made a move and jumped down into the arena walking past Daichi with a discerning glance at him.
Walking up to Leo he put his arm around him and gave him a smile “That was a great match! I was a little surprised. I didn’t think the first years had another monster! We’ll have to have a chat hehe!”
Leo locked his arm around Thomas’s shoulder “What’d you expect! If anything I’m kind of irked the fight was stopped! You should have seen what I had coming!” Leo shouted looking at Zachary with a quick glance not a shred of concern in his eyes.
They began laughing and discussing the fight as they walked out of the arena with people reacting differently to the entire scene.
From the odd looks to the surprised ones. Most knew of Zachary’s volatile personality so few would actively insult him right in front of him. Yet very few of these spectators didn’t come to the same conclusion: “He has the right to be so cocky!” making them look at him with envy and jealousy. Almost no one harbored any good feelings for Leo as it had already spread around that he was a first year.
A first year drawing a tie and then belittling Zachary, a member of the top 10 of the second years was no different than saying ‘Everyone beneath this guy is not even worth my sight’ the way he was carrying on and laughing about the fight being a ‘piece of cake’
Damien had been wondering how to help him walk out of the arena without having him lose any respect but that problem had been resolved right in front of his very eyes. He could tell Leo was probably having a hard time standing up. He didn’t know how bad the consequences of using Lydia’s skills were as he was still working on understanding the basics of <Boost> but he could imagine after seeing Leo’s quick burst of speed and remembering Lydia’s numerous warnings.
Alex was almost out of the arena when he glanced upwards towards Marcos. A sneer crossed his face as he inwardly thought about how lucky today had gone for him before that forming sneer was washed away. A look of shock hung on his face as he stilled altogether.
The light in his eye and the woman he’d long decided was to become his wife, was standing in all her resplendent glory next to Marcos. Her smile beaming as jealousy flared to life like a wild flame within Alex’s heart. ‘What is she doing here? Why is she talking with him?’
Alex’s confusion was slowly converting itself to anger to fuel the flames of rage burning inside of him. ‘She came to watch him. She came here because of him’
At that moment Alex had already completely forgotten the news of reporting anything to his family. The only thing he could focus on was his anger. The inability to understand why Gwen, a goddess amongst men would even bat an eyelid in Marco’s direction.
Most of the crowd had grown quiet for a short while when Gwen had walked into the stadium unnoticed, but once she’d removed her hood. Even the students who didn’t immediately recognize who she was, were paying attention to her. She was a woman who needed no introductions; her very presence drew the eye to her. Her beauty undeniable regardless of personal preference or taste.
Seeing Thomas and Leo join Marcos beside Gwen with Damien and the mysterious new comer too Alex’s sight was going white.
His jealousy making him irrational and controlling to the point that the mere presence of other men around the woman he’d already deemed as his was making him breathe heavy.
“I accept your challenge Damien.” Finding no other outlet he spoke without thinking accepting Damien’s challenge in a desperate attempt to release some of his anger on someone.
Damien’s gaze turned to Alex. Although he hadn’t shouted or yelled, he’d been focusing on him this entire time. Damien wasn’t the type to ignore personal slights of honor, much less one to his family name. He’d walked off stage because any more goading would only tarnish his name even further.
Damien didn’t speak or say anything else as he began to walk towards Alex, but he hadn’t gotten more than two steps away before he felt a hand reach out to grab his shoulder, as he turned to look to find it was Daichi he was a little surprised.
“You can’t beat him yet. If this is about honor just take a step back. Tell him the challenge is for a month from now and learn to use Boost by then.” Daichi whispered so that only Damien could hear.
Damien nodded subconsciously. He turned to face Alex still undecided as he heard Daichi whisper one more thing “I don’t know why, but that guy is fuming right now. Look at his fists. Making him wait a month will deal him a greater blow than actually landing one on his chin would right now.”
Damien’s eyes immediately found what Daichi meant.
Although Alex looked grim, he wasn’t revealing much more than that. An outsider would just assume that he was some sort of gloomy individual, prone to a depressive demeanor. Upon closer inspection though, Damien noticed Alex’s hands were bleeding. It wasn’t much, but there were a few droplets of blood dripping down his clenched fists.
Something about his demeanor and expression, made it so that virtually no one in the crowd looked at anything other than Alex’s face. It was almost as if by instinct people were looking at his face to judge what they should do, much the same as animals will stare upon the eyes of a predator looking for the slightest indication the need to run for their lives was upon them.
Damien shouted “Good! Then it’s agreed! One month from now we’ll duel in this very arena. I should hope that you don’t turn tail and cowardly withdraw with some new excuse. I will be waiting for you!” a sense of satisfaction coursing through him as he saw Alex bite his lips before he turned around and walked away without giving Alex a chance to respond.
The crowd looked at this unexpected turn of events with surprised looks and excited faces.
Damien didn’t wait for the others as he walked towards the top at a fast but even pace, unwilling to let Alex get the last word.
Daichi smiled at Damien’s act. He was a little pleased he’d caught on so fast. He wasn’t too used to having people around him who could put their feelings aside and ‘act’ when needed, but his smile slowly wilted as he followed behind Damien. Thoughts preoccupied on his own dilemma.
Alex stood in the middle of the stage as the crowd began to talk with his eyes fixated on Damien’s back. His hearing was impeccable and he could use mana in ways most of the students here couldn’t. Although he couldn’t hear, he was certain the reason that Damien hadn’t accepted the match right then and there was because of Daichi.
Alex barely registered Damien’s response only recognizing that he had somehow been dismissed yet again by another person as he watched Damien turn around and walk away. The fury eating away at Alex was the only thing keeping him from moving and attacking someone right then and there. Staring at Damien’s back was the only thing allowing Alex to keep himself from looking towards Gwen who in his eyes was shameless flirting with Marcos.
The whispers of the students continued but most of them were waiting to see what Alex’s reaction would be. They had all seen how fearsome he could be, and this was the first time any of them had ever seen so many disrespect him and get away with it too!
Gwen’s eyes were nearly closed as she purred with satisfaction, as she patted Marcos’s hand “I hope you really aren’t hurt. Just let me know if there’s anything I can do to help kay’?”
Marcos nodded as the back of his neck filled with sweat. He couldn’t tell what game this girl was playing, but by now he more than understood that she was the reason that Alex had a sworn vendetta against him. He took over for Thomas as he walked off with Leo seemingly not a care in the world with Thomas following closely behind.
The crowds had parted for all of them. This was no small fighting force.
Marcos had managed to lose gracefully against Zachary. He had even made him serious momentarily. Something that not all 2nd year students could say themselves. All of this of course came in second to the most important fact; He had some sort of connection to Gwen!
She was virtually an idol to the male and female students at the academy. She was strong enough to be within the 2nd year counsel through her own power, had a strong backing due to her family and just (yes, just) as importantly; She was absolutely stunning. She was a beauty unable to be ignored no matter where she went, and her very presence and company next to Marcos elevated his standing within their eyes in a good and bad way all at once.
Leo had successfully forced Zachary to a draw. Proving himself strong enough to match a top ten’er within the 2nd years while only being a first year himself.
Damien had bravely challenged Alex to a duel, and whether he won or not. Some were already speculating that there was something special about him too for Alex to have agreed to the duel. Whether he was stupid or not everyone in the crowd was currently Damien’s biggest fan. Either he would give them a big surprise worth respecting him for or he’d make a fool of himself and get beaten to a pulp; no matter what it would be a joyful form of entertainment.
Daichi was the most mysterious of the ones who’d gone on stage and so he had made little impression, but a few people in the crowd had taken note of him. His position within this group of new faces had not gone unnoticed to all.
Multiple students were already getting ready to re-tell the story of what had happened today as everyone in the crowd were breaking out into conversations now that the show had all but ended.
Daichi and the rest of the group made it out of the arena and made their way to the nursery, figuring Leo could use a check up.
While the rest of them were speaking were speaking to the nurse, Daichi’s nerves got the best of him as he made his way out. He already knew where to go and he didn’t want to put things off any longer.
He was going to get answers.