Chapter 164 – Damien’s Fight (Part 1)
Damien struggled to find Daichi after their party made an introductory splash with the other students only to be foiled by lack of possible direction. In a huge academy with portals taking students anywhere and everywhere, it was just as hard to find someone due to the space as it was due to the inability to really go anywhere without having somewhere in mind already.
Eventually Damien found himself at the infirmary where Leo and crew were leaving.
“Seems you didn’t get off too bad.” Damien said in a monotone voice.
“At least until Professor Lydia finds out what I did.” Leo chuckled. He’d long thought about how she’d react with that temper of hers but hadn’t bothered to say anything as only brothers who’d fought side by side in hell could truly appreciate the horrors he’d have to endure from Lydia in the future.
Leo had already explained everything to Marcos as they’d caught up and shared their stories of the past few weeks. Leo mentioned how he’d trained with Daichi and Damien and came to be on fairly good terms with the both of them. Marcos was less focused on who Daichi was than he was shocked and confused to find out his best friend and the last person in the world he would have expected to get along with Damien do just that. As amiable as Marcos was, in the presence of Damien his face lost all its happy-go-lucky sprinkles and he became a quiet and reserved young man.
“I actually went looking for her. I couldn’t find her.”
“What the hell!? Why would you go looking for her! We just left!” Leo’s face was ripe with resignation.
However, it was mock outrage. Off to the side Thomas stood in a corner innocuously taking note of their interactions and of Marcos’s demeanor.
“I couldn’t find Daichi and figured he might have ended up going to speak with her. I couldn’t find either of them anywhere.”
“Hmm… Yeah the last name thing is a weird coincidence. You think it means anything?” Leo didn’t care either way but he did note that Daichi had seemed a little perturbed after Alex had commented on it.
“I don’t know… I can’t imagine how it could be anything more… Right?”
“What do you plan on doing about your match” Marcos finally commented.
“What’s it to you?” Damien spoke without even thinking about it and immediately shut his mouth.
Leo gave him a long hard look and Thomas put the pieces into place.
“I am the representative for the first years. It means something as our reputations are on the line. What happens in your match could affect all of us.”
Damien shrugged “I don’t have much of a plan. I’ll go in there and fight. That’s that.”
“He means he’s going to lose.” Leo shrugged just as easily. Receiving an equally unpleasant look from Damien to match his own.
“Can he win?” Thomas finally chimed in, deciding to act as more than a fly on the wall and opting for an unusually short comment.
“I doubt it.” Leo didn’t even hesitate and Damien continued to stare.
“Let’s face it. You’re not really any stronger than me and I took a hard fight with the B squad. If Alex is that much stronger, I doubt you have much of a chance.”
Damien didn’t retort. He had nothing to say. He could feel the mood in the room drop and felt it was all because of him, something he wasn’t used too.
“I’ll figure something out.” Damien nodded at them and walked away feeling too uncomfortable to stay.
They watched but didn’t say anything. Leo wasn’t about to speak up for him, not if it meant casting aside Marcos who Damien clearly still had an unfounded grudge against.
After Damien left they began discussing everything Marcos had gone through. From unilaterally becoming the first year’s representative to the bullying and hassling that Alex had instigated out of nowhere since their first meeting. Alex let on that although he couldn’t figure it out at all when the bullying started, figuring it had to something with how he got the position and not being respected.
Today had more than proven one of Thomas’s suspicions. It had little to do with him, and more to do with how he was treated by the council president. The only thing they couldn’t figure out was why she would go out of her way to treat him in such a way that she had to know would pit Alex against him.
They left and stayed in Marcos’s accomodations for the rest of the month. Marcos had plenty to take care of, mostly a lot of mentoring that he himself was pretty much unqualified to do. Leo stuck to training, he’d realized he’d made leaps and bounds of improvement due to his time spent with the professor and Damien/Daichi but that he still had far to go.
Leo felt a little glum at the realization that the relationships they’d built up during their training seemingly disappearing the moment they’d left her side. He’d chosen Marcos over Damien at first chance, not even thinking of a scenario in which he wouldn’t choose his best friend and Daichi had run off. He could only slightly hope that Damien had found Daichi and was getting some much needed advice before his match. He’d spent enough time with him to know that he wasn’t the terrible dick he made himself out to be. After some more introspection he corrected himself, ‘He is as big a dick as he makes himself out to be, but he’s not as terrible a guy as he comes off.’
The month came and went and Marcos along with several slightly confident first years, something they’d all lacked until Marcos had fought a good match and Leo had drawn the match to a close with Zach proving that there were several dark horses in the first years that weren’t so easy to handle by the older students. They hadn’t suffered a single indignity in the past month and it was enough to give them a much needed shot of confidence.
Leo was already there before Marcos arrived with his small entourage. A group no matter how lare would get noticed immediately and Marcos yelled as loud as he could the moment his eyes met with Leo “Over here! We just got here!”
The stadium was packed with every second year student as well as several third year students, a rarity for most matches. Only exactly during the time of their appointment did Alex and Damien enter the stadium through a portal.
“I see you didn’t keep me waiting” Damien shouted.
The previous anger in Alex’s face was completely gone and in it’s place was a mask of calm. Last month Alex had lost his cool but he’d had plenty of time to calm down and realize he was in a superior position.
He accepted the match without a care in the world, but the reality was far from that. He was not only expected to win, but he had to do so extremely decisively. After having several people within his network ask for time and information on Damien. Alex found out a little nugget of knowledge that he’d wished were unfounded and untrue.
Even with all the bluster and bravado Alex projected, he was the meticulous sort. He never started a fight without knowing who his opponent was and whether he could win. He’d accepted the match with Damien in anger but after putting him aside due to his year and family. It was only after he cooled down that he had some of his lackey’s gather as much information as they could on Damien. From what little they’d managed to gather on Damien as he was a new student, Alex learned that he was a straight forward and below average swordsman. At least by his own standards.
Alex slowly walked towards the middle of the stadium disregarding the many looks gathering on his back as he gazed at Damien with a look derision. The look said ‘This is beneath me, you’re beneath me.’
Damien’s fists were clenched and for the first time before a fight, he felt butterflies in his stomach. It was the same feeling he used to get before he would spar with his grandfather. A feeling that didn’t inspire confidence as he’d never managed to beat his grandfather even once.
There was no gong, bell or someone to shout ‘begin’. There was only two young men staring one another down.
“Ugh. It’s like a pigsty in here. Are you planning on seeing any sunlight anytime soon?” Lydia’s face was disgusted as she walked into the private hall allotted to Daichi in the second floor.
Normally most students would only ever have access to the first floor during their time at the academy.
Those who distinguished themselves were the only ones privy to the knowledge contained in the books in the higher floors. Daichi had fallen in love the moments he’d entered the library.
The rows upon rows of books as far as the eye could see had left him nearly drooling. It was a strange sensation for Daichi, but he felt as if he belonged, as if everything he’d ever wanted or needed was held in that very room. It wasn’t true of course, but for a child who thirsted for knowledge who’d been raised in what was essentially the ‘boonies’ he was enthralled with this library. There were more books in the first floor of the Lumea Library than he’d seen in his entire life combined. It left him both awed and fulfilled. Giving him the sensation that all the years he’d spent waiting for this day had truly been worth it.
Instead of taking him directly to the higher floors Lydia gave him free reign of the first floor for the day. Even going so far as to put the first floor on lock down from the other students. Something that aroused no suspicions as the library was the most important aspect of Lumea, random shut downs were a common occurrence.
She let Daichi who showed a clear love of books wander at his leisure. Hoping that perhaps he would choose the books premised on the basics. Explaining the simplest things in detail. Letting him learn from the ground up all the things he’d clearly missed teaching himself all these many years.
There was no disappointment on Lydia’s face the following day. She’d come back to find Daichi huddled in the middle of a large stack of books closing in on him like a slowly growing mountain from all sides.
She didn’t interrupt, she merely watched in amusement and slight contempt as he par oozed the books seemingly skimming each one with little effort and little focus before turning to another.
It was only as he stopped several times seemingly referencing something from one book to another, flipping through the pages in a moment to find the information he was looking for that she angled herself into a better position as she stealthily hung from the rafters above him watching as her amusement turned to awe at the realization that he wasn’t skimming books at random but genuinely consuming information at a pace that left her astounded.
What left her most curious was whether Daichi could truly read that fast or whether he was simply memorizing everything he could for later. Hoarding knowledge, like some before him. He wouldn’t be the first man who’d stepped into the halls of the library thinking himself a genius with an eidetic memory seeking to memorize all the knowledge in the library only fall into despair when the knowledge became too much that they fell overwhelmed as they burned themselves out.
It was nearly an entire 9 hours from the moment Lydia returned and began watching Daichi to when he finally decided to take a break. The impression he’d left on her was one that would be burned into her mind, and the day had clearly taken a toll on him as well. Instead of his usual meditation, Daichi laid down right where he sat surrounded by books and simply fell asleep as if he were in the comfiest bed he’d ever owned.
Lydia took her leave to get him food and water, realizing he would likely stay in the library for a while. She’d already decided how to proceed.