Episode IV: Dire Straits, Pt.4

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Tuesday morning—a lapse from the title feeble flower in need of protection. The very thought left Syreene with a glassy expression on her face as she finished getting dressed for school, looking up at the mirror while she slipped on her shoes. Last night's affairs haunted her mercilessly. She stroked the back of her neck, her eyes swelling up from the realization of how helpless she still was. Syreene could barely stare up at her own reflection, looking down at her wrist tucked beneath her cuff. "I made you a promise. A promise I intend on keeping."

An abandoned anger simmered inside the teenage war-sage wannabe. She flicked her bracelet down, and stripped off her blouse. Within the depths of her closet, pulled out an unworn ensemble. The fast application allowed her to disregard Cabil's heeded words, slipping into a high-collar black vest with matching shorts, her leather fingerless gloves, and mid-calf brown combat boots. She hadn't the slightest idea of what was in store, but anything's better than doing nothing. After confirming her brother's absence, Syreene jotted down the address and left.

In the court, Syreene spotted Narus practicing on a standing Wing Chun dummy. After being escorted to the kind priest, Syreene tipped her head down to Marvi in thanks before she parted. The courtyard's massive space seemed almost endless. Syreene couldn't help but grin ear to ear, absorbing every inch of its grand splendor, not to mention, newly found freedom.

Nearly tripping on her step, she felt captivated by the candid priest. Foolishly, she clasped her hands on her cheeks, hunching over as to conceal her excitement. "Calm down, Sy! He's got to be like 12 years older than you! And he's a priest! I don't think he could even have a girlfriend. Besides, he wouldn't be interested in someone like you, some weak schoolgirl whose only asset is her charming good grades! ... Well, you do have a nice rack..."

"Good morning!"

"Rhah!!" Syreene flared her arms up, completely startled by the barefooted man now in close proximity. "Oh god! You scared me!" She flustered, "No, I was musing! Yeah! You know, sometimes I get lost in some very spiritual stuff. Heh, yeah, deep stuff, psychological... stuff... "

He chuckled, amused by her whimsy. "Good to know! I'm pleased to see Cabil had a change of heart."

"Sure!" she said sheepishly.

"Delightful! Let's get started right away." Syreene followed him to the center of their training field, a swarm of intimidation inoculating her. Her teacher seemed so sure of himself, uncomfortably so.

"I um, just want you to know, this is my first time. I've never even practiced with my brother. My late foster father—"

"—Late?" Narus interrupted.

"Yes. He died in the demonic outbreak years ago. That's why Cabil and I live together alone now. My foster mother went missing, although I don't recall... everything that happened that day. It's all very faint."

"I do apologize. I didn't realize you were stripped of two families."

"Yea, I really did mean it when I said Cabil's all I have left. Luckily our father did pass on his pyrogenic genes to my brother. My friend Emie told me that elementals could be taught though, particularly to elfins."

"Yes, well, I don't know of any elemental urja. My specialty rests with the martial arts and blades."

"That's ok. I still need a good starting point." She gawked at him as his face glowed with confidence, positioning himself to lunge at her. He was so, angelic. Soft spoken, tender hearted. Cut off from a ditsy daydream, Syreene suddenly found herself in training, already step dodging a straight jab.

"Hmm, first mistake. No follow up. You saw an opportunity to defend yourself, but you failed to act on it."

"Wait, I didn't even know we were starting!"

"If anyone charges at you in a similar fashion, you counter or dodge, then defend. Find a weak point on his person, usually around the head, and exploit that weakness. In this case, you could have swept and followed up with a swing into the side knee. Or if you're bold enough, a joint finger jab to the eye. There are a couple of options, but those are the simpler ones at your disposal. Shall we try again?"

One, two. One, two. His movements were so fluid, and she noticed how easily she kept up with him. Her first lesson, she surely got that one down. The second lesson too, just an adjustment on how to protect and shield your head and returning with an upper cut. Ok, next lesson, elbow to sternum, second follow up, arm lock. Now this was getting more intricate! The next wave would surely keep her entertained as she practiced what she learned using various angles of introduction with Narus. But he suddenly caught her off guard with a foot sweep.

Fear of falling prompted her to grab onto his long ponytail, a risk of having 150 + pounds of weight colliding with her against the grass. But the tug cushioned her fall, and he managed to catch himself just barely bridging his body over hers. She tensed, and the tap of his glasses dropping on her forehead forced her to wince. She felt his nose flick hers before a light graze of his lips found Syreene's. Her face beat red, a passing memory triggering something deeper than butterflies.

"Kess?"

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