Bonus Material for between Soulfire and Resolution! The Doctor found an extra page in Z's room...
If you haven't read the first journal yet, check out the Journal I: Soulfire page!
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The nurses found this in your room.
I figured you would need it, so I put it in your journal.
Take better care of your things!
A few days after I had arrived at the encampment near Relis, Miku and I had decided it would be nice to just take a look around and watch the others fight, instead of spending our meal-time inside. It was a nice change of pace to not participate in these duels, and to watch the pros perform their day to day preparation.
In the middle of the camp were mages lined up next to each other, and across from each of them was a muscled human, ready for hand-to-hand combat training. The wizards cast their magic spells or threw their daggers, while the humans had to keep up a reasonable speed to keep up with them. The humans, however, enjoyed this training, as a way to show their power to the mages. Stein pitted them against each other to make sure his people were versed in all types of combat.
The strange thing about this camp was that there were males and females of both races sparring against each other. I questioned Miku about the matter, having thought about it for the first time since I had arrived. He laughingly gave an explanation, saying that because male humans are generally stronger at lifting and moving objects than the females, hence only the men were considered for soldiers in Teuran. As we walked down the paths around the training area, I listened to my friend go on to explain the strengths of a female.
“Women are faster,” he had explained, “more defensive, but more in tune with the Soulfire than men. They can create life, and gain their strength through the will to protect it. Their maternal instincts work alongside their fighting. The projective, adventurous side of a man works usually better with an offensive fighting style.”
In the middle of one of the fighting rings, I saw Jen sparring against Stein. As Miku had stated, the lady's movements were faster and more agile, while Stein moved slower, seemingly putting less effort into his attacks.
“Well, you seemed to have found a perfect example!” Miku said, patting me on my back. As he started over, he said softly, shaking his head, “Those two, always testing each other…”
Miku and I made our approach, taking our places just outside of the circle. I was a bit disappointed when I saw that they continued only fighting each other hand to hand. Jen was dancing circles around Stein, or so it seemed, as she kept attacking from in front, then behind, constantly switching off. Stein kept his guard up with his eyes closed, and I could tell he was sensing her movement to block her assault.
I took notice of every movement, seeing two of my friends testing each other’s abilities.
My mind started to try and piece together a way to combine the two fighting styles. Power and speed were necessary on the road to victory. I had seen that in Relis, and this fight did remind me a bit of that moment. Miku then started laughing without explanation, interrupting my imagination.
“You can’t see some types of Soulfire yet, right?” he asked me, the sounds of the fight making it sound far away, “So you can’t see what’s really going on?”
Again my humanity had apparently left me in the dark. To me, the two in the circle were just throwing punches and kicks, it was nothing special except for the almost untraceable speed of the woman. Stein seemed relaxed and didn’t move much, so I thought it was just a relaxing session. The fight was much more heated than that I learned, when Miku asked me his next question.
“Would you like to feel it instead?”
The thought of being in a ring against the man whom I’d seen do amazing things and a woman who had such spirit and skill, it was a bit unnerving.
My voice rattled as I said, “I’m not sure really, I’ve only practiced cutting and focus really, I can’t fight like that!”
“Oh but Z,” he began, smiling as he said it, “I don’t mean fight against them! Go on in and…”
He suddenly pushed me into the circle!
“Don’t get in the way!”
I stumbled into the training ring, breathing out. As I entered, I felt pressure and heat increase all around me. When I tried to inhale the air from inside the battle area, I choked. Coughing, my eyes struggled to keep themselves open out of fear of drying out. It was an intense change of atmosphere.
The heat must have been coming from the two fighters, even though they didn’t even notice my presence. Every time Jen would attack Stein and would make an impact, I felt a shockwave emanating from them.
Before I could tell what was going on, I felt a hand grabbing my arm.
“Time’s up!” Miku’s voice called seemingly from a distance.
He yanked me out of the circle, and I was glad to cool off from the strange atmosphere inside the training arena. Once I had exited, still coughing from the choking heat, I looked back to where they were fighting and saw it as calmly as I had before.
“So,” I asked, huffing through my words, “Explain?”
“Jen over there uses her heat magic to increase the temperature around her. This whole place would burn if we didn’t have the training circles for her.”
The idea had crossed my mind, but I stayed silent as I caught my breath and stood straight up again.
“Her magic comes from her opponent. It takes massive amounts of Soulfire to generate that kind of energy, so with each hit she absorbs their energy using Life Magic,” he happily explained, waving his hands as he said, “releases it in an instant.”
“But that takes a lot of focus, doesn’t it?”
Miku nodded and snickered, “We did have a tough time in the beginning, but now it seems to be more her way of relaxing.”
I assumed that Stein could draw on massive amounts of the life energy, so I understood this training very well all of a sudden. Jen’s magic pulled on the massive amounts of Soulfire, but the transition of that power and the level of output was under her control. She could take as much as she needed from the powerful human-mage, and he could stand the heat around him through his hardy nature. It was really the perfect training for a mage like her.
“Wow,” was my only reaction, then I paused.
The responding "Hey!" that Stein shouted revealed that we had interrupted their training, which of course I would blame entirely on Miku’s actions. He and I bowed to Stein, then to the woman next to him. Jen was still wearing her dark crimson colors, but instead of a dress, just pants and a shirt. It seemed to be made of a light material, and obviously non-flammable.
“So, you up for a go, Miku?” she said, he hair in tangles from the harsh training.
I was surprised she still wanted more exertion, but I think that Miku might have posed less of a challenge than Stein.
“Always,” he replied, and I saw Stein smile at the two beginning their walk to the circle.
He then turned over to me, saying in his calm way, “Well, that was a rush, always good to train with her, relaxing.”
“I couldn’t stand it in there for a few seconds,” I replied, a bit ashamed.
“Oh don’t worry about it,” he said, brushing off some ashes at the tips of his sleeves, “you’re still new, to me this is like a massage.”
I assumed that the extra energy taken from him was minimal compared to how much he had in reserve. Unlike Jen, he hadn’t even broken a sweat.
“Ah, I guess that’s why you seem so calm?”
My mind was contemplating the fact that he could stand in the circle for so long, give up his energy, and block all of her attacks so effortlessly. If it seemed like a massage to him, maybe this was a favor Jen would do for him to help him tire out and sleep better.
“Of course, Z” Stein replied, then asked something completely out of the blue, “but you’ve had that before, right? That feeling of being welcomed home. I know about what happened, but your suffering gives us a reason to fight Xan'dros.”
“I have felt that welcome before, but you know, home has seemed so far away, for so long,” I said, growing sadder. My eyes began to tear up from thinking about it, “I couldn’t save my city because I wasn’t prepared, I had only ever wished for the kind of peace that home brings…”
My frustration kept an intense weight on my shoulders. I thought about going to the Philosopher’s Gate one day, that last argument with Neiko. Losing all everything had left a scar that was easily reopened by memories. Drops of sadness rolled down my cheek and plummeted to the ground. I felt a great affinity, yet jealousy for the small spots they painted, sinking lower into the soil, retreating from view.
“Remember Z,” Stein said in a calming voice, “you weren‘t able to save them because before that, you had to concern yourself with other things. Only now did you come and find us.”
Through the tears I saw the blurry outline of a man with pride. His words were true, I was almost carefree a few days before, only worrying about Neiko and me not making some kind of established pair. I would have just been glad to see her face, instead of Stein‘s, waking me to say it was all a dream.
“Regrets are useless," he continued, “all we can do as people is make the future better.”
I nodded and wiped the tears from my face. He was right as he always had been. The strange thing was that at that moment, I felt more rage than fear or regret. The pain caused by the memory had been subdued somehow with the ambition I had felt to change what was coming.
“Then I guess it’s time I get even more serious then, for her.”
Invigorated, I lifted the invisible weight back onto my shoulders and re-realized the importance of what I had to do at that moment. However, it didn’t seem as heavy as before. I had found, through his words, the determination to continue through life and train. I resolved at that moment that I would never let something like Teuran happen to anyone, and that my tears came from the will to have done something. The will to continue, however, dried those tears and made me want to fight.
As things stood, one of those important people I had lost that day was not lost, only misplaced. I rubbed my eyes with my sleeve and pictured her in my mind, the girl whose passions burned brightly.
“You might be a bit obsessive towards it,” he said in a gentle voice, “but it was everything you had. I understand, but you can’t let your future be held back by the past.”
For the first time since they had started, I looked into the training circle where my other friends had been sparring with throwing knives. Jen’s skill with the knives involved her quick movement, concealing her throws to confuse the opponent. Miku was relaxed, so I assumed the temperature had fallen since my visit into the circle.
I told my master without looking at him how I felt, “I’m going to stop crying, Stein. I’m tired of running, and if I can learn more, help more, or train more, let me know.”
The good man let out his usual chuckle at my remark, and patted my shoulder.
“It’s no problem at all.”