Yeah I know, I accidentally called the last thread "original FANfiction". That was stupid. Anyway, on to chapter 9.

In this Chapter Mina and Sain go through two ordeals. I didn't want to spend too much time on the first one since its kind of lame, and the second one though vicious isn't as challenging either. I just wanted to put Sain and Mina in a life and death situation. I could have dragged on the second challenge longer, but I think it was sufficient to get across what I wanted with what I wrote.

Btw, you may notice the chapters getting longer, and that's because I was more thorough in these next ones due to the fact that we start going into spiritual energy; what it is and how it works. The later chapters are even longer, but that's only because they were more fun to write. Anyway, enjoy.

Chapter 9
The first few days of exams were easy, but Mina and I could care less about those now. What we were really interested in was the training we would receive once school ended. As soon as the bell for the last day, both of us went into full sprint and headed down to the forest where we met Pawe the other day. Everyone else just looked at us as if we were crazy.
He was already waiting for us in the clearance and we quickly greeted him.

“So what are you going to teach us today, sensei,” Mina said enthusiastically.

“Sensei?,” I asked wondering what she was thinking.

“Yeah you know, Japanese for teacher,” she explained.

“I know but why would you-“

“Enough”, shouted Pawe. “Let’s get started. For your first test you have to close your eyes and look for me. You have one hour. If you do not find me by then you two will not be eating dinner today. Understood?” explained Pawe.

“So wait a minute, we are going to play hide and seek?” I asked astonished, thinking this was stupid. We had barely arrived, and he was already asking us to do something. What kind of training was this anyway?

“Oh yeah and I forgot to mention, I set up traps all over the place. If just one of you gets caught in a trap, you will not receive dinner for a week. And did I mention that you two won’t be leaving this place until your training is over?”

“Hey you can’t force us to stay here, we can always just walk away you know,” I said, but Pawe just stared at me and I started to imagine what he would do to me if I didn’t listen.

“If you disobey my rules make no mistake, I will kill you,” said Pawe in an eerie yet serious tone. Mina and I were both regretting getting here as fast as we could. I was going to argue again, but I re-visualized what he would do to me if I did that.

Mina and I closed our eyes and counted to ten as he instructed us to do and we could hear Pawe starting to run through the fauna. Once we were done, we opened our eyes and the vast forest engulfed us. Where would we even start?

“Should we split up or search together?” asked Mina.

“I think we should stick together. That way we will be able to detect traps easier with two pairs of eyes, and we could help each other if we get in a pinch.” I explained.

“Do you really think he’ll kill us?”

“Hard to say, but I don’t want to wait and find out.”

We slowly made our way through the maze like forest and searched through every bush, tree and shrub that was in our path. Somehow we managed to trigger four traps but luckily the other was there to save the one who triggered it.

“Be more careful next time,” I told Mina, who had sprung up all the traps. She was really impatient but luckily I was there. Otherwise she would have been hanging upside down.
Fifteen minutes passed, then thirty, and yet we still couldn’t find him. We practically searched a half mile radius from the starting point and didn’t find anything at all. Ten minutes left and no such luck.

“Hey Sain, this is a test to help us heighten our sense of detection right?”, asked Mina.

“Of course it is, that’s a stupid question. Why do you even ask anyway?” I asked irritated. I did not want to spend the night here, especially because of the mosquitoes.

“Well what if instead of using our eyes to find him, we use our detection to try and locate him?”
I never thought about that, but she was definitely up to something.

“Let’s do it then,” I said.

Mina and I both closed our eyes and tried our hardest to focus. It was harder for me because I never paid any attention when it came down to detecting spirits and stuff. I had only acquired a small ability after being in a short coma after that one incident, so I wasn’t exactly up to par with my “power”. I was starting to get frustrated when all of a sudden I picked up something up. It was faint, but it was spiritual energy no doubt.

“Can you feel that Sain?” asked Mina.

“Yeah, its small but I can sense it coming from over there,” I said as I pointed close to the starting point.

There were four minutes left in the challenge, and yet the signal was still so far away. We went into a full sprint but to our dismay I set off a trap. Luckily Mina pulled on my arm and the noose barely missed my foot. A second later and I would have been hanging upside down from a tree. We didn’t have time to stall, only three more minutes left in the challenge. Finally we arrived at the site where the signal was coming off but we didn’t see anything, just a bunch of rocks. It was the same pile of rocks that were near the starting position, and surely Pawe couldn’t hide there, or could he?

Mina got closer to the rocks and inspected them carefully. Then she began tapping her knuckles on each one. She stopped when she heard one that sounded differently than the rest and she tried to pick it up. It was hollow, but even so it was still heavy. One minute left; I had to help her. She picked it up from one side and I did from the other, and surely enough Pawe was hiding there, sitting in a meditation stance. We wondered how he was able to stay there without any air but we quickly saw the air hole on the side of the fake boulder. I just glowered.

“Wow, you guys made it just in time”, said Pawe in a tone that didn’t make it seem like a big deal.

“So what was the point of that?” I asked unimpressed.

“The point of that was to fine tune your sensing abilities. Sensing is fine and all but there are some spirits who are barely detectable or that hide their energy. I was lowering down my spirit energy close to zero to see if you would be able to detect my presence and you two managed to do it; I’m impressed.

For the rest of today I will maintain my energy close to zero and you two will continue to try and detect it until you two can pick up my signal in no more than a few seconds. We will practice this every day until you two are able to master it and find me faster.

At first I didn’t think it would take so long, but boy was I wrong. It took us a full day to completely master it, and afterward Mina and I could detect the slightest hint of spiritual energy. We even acquired the ability to detect regular people, even though it was still hard to distinguish them since their energies were always around the same range.

The good thing is that summer break started which meant that we could focus on training. Mina only had a month before she needed to go back to Germany, so we needed to rush. Our next exercise was a bit more intense than the last, and I swear that I almost died.

“Our next exercise will feature you guys lowering down you spirit energy”, explained Pawe.

“Right now you both have more energy than regular humans should have, so you are easily detectable. By learning to hide your energy you will be able to gain the upper hand on your enemies by catching them off guard and giving yourself openings.”

“Quick question,” I said raising my hand. “What type of enemies are you talking about? People can’t detect energy anyway, unless you are talking about demons or devils or something,” I snickered.

“That’s exactly it,” shouted Pawe.

“Huh?!” Mina and I both exclaimed confused.

“Yes, demons do exist. You two have been lucky not to experience any but they are dangerous. They can’t hurt regular people; they can only cause misfortunes. They’re the reason people have bad luck or get hurt; basically they manipulate things from the other realm, the spiritual realm. But it is different for us who have a heightened sense. Demons can touch us and hurt us if they so choose, which means you have to be ready. You might get hurt badly, or even worse you’ll be dead before you know it.”

Mina and I were in shock. We weren’t aware that our special ability came at a price. So far we hadn’t experienced anything; we didn’t know what dangers we could possibly run into and yet it was still hard to believe.

“Okay concentrate on the task at hand,” yelled Pawe. It was hard to believe he was our age, since he was so demanding, almost like a general leading his troops.

“Aye, aye sensei,” said Mina confirming my analogy. It’s official; she was an idiot.

“You will have to lower down your spiritual energy for a whole hour. I will summon a spirit monster that is incapable of sensing low energies. If you manage to complete this task, I assure you that you’ll be able to hide your energy with ease. However if you can’t maintain it, well… lets just say that the Minotaur spirit will have some fun cutting you to pieces. So… shall we begin?”

He didn’t even give us time to respond, he just got into his summoning position, and Mina and I rapidly went into deep concentration. If the bear spirit he obtained was able to destroy a tree in half, just imagine what the Minotaur spirit would do?

I closed my eyes and tried to my hardest to concentrate; it was extremely difficult to do. It was like trying to separate two liquids by hand; almost impossible. Mina seemed to get the hang of it pretty quickly. In no time her energy went from max to nearly anything at all. I wasn’t focusing at all because I was still focused on Mina who was able to manipulate her energy with ease.

“Concentrate!”, yelled Pawe, but it was too late, the Minotaur spirit had already detected me.

“Sain!”, yelled Mina.

I felt a sharp pain down my back, andt the strong sensation of open flesh coursed through my body as the blade slid from the upper part of my back all the way to the bottom. The Minotaur was preparing for its second strike and I was severely injured; I wasn’t sure if I would be able to dodge it. Mina jumped in front of me and spread her arms to shield me from the next strike.

Was this the only thing I was capable off? Had it truly gotten to the point where the person I cared about had to risk her life to save mine? No, I would have none of that. If anything I was here to protect her.

I squinted to try and get my eyes to focus and tackled Mina from the back. We both lunged forward and escaped the Minotaur’s deadly slash. Somehow Mina was able to lower down her energy, but I could see she was struggling especially after the harsh tackle. I held back the pain and tried with all my might to lower my energy level. I wondered why Pawe didn’t summon back the beast; was he really serious when he said we might die? Was he going to let us die even though the eagle spirit said we would need his help in the future? (what ever that meant)

Mina got up from the floor dazed and tumbled forward. She managed to get her balance after a while, and saw that I wouldn’t be able to move by myself. Carefully, she put one of my arms over her shoulder and helped me walk away from the beast how was swinging recklessly now that he couldn’t detect us.

I tried my best not to move too much. Every time I moved it was harder and harder to keep my energy down. Mina could tell that I was injured badly since I winced at almost every step we took. I wondered how she was able to keep her energy so low after what just happened. You would think that it would fluctuate all over the place, but it was almost so stable that at one point I wasn’t able to detect her presence even though she was standing right beside me. She laid me down right next to a bunch of leaves and immediately took off my shirt. The injury must’ve been worse than it felt because she gasped aloud. I tore a piece of my ripped shirt and dipped it in a small puddle next to me and tried my best to clean up the wound.

“Here, let me do that for you. You’re in no condition to be moving around,” she assured me.

She took the rag from my hand and gently started cleaning the wound. I closed my eyes and focused on concentrating. I don’t care if I whimpered and moaned at the pain, I just didn’t want to mess up and have that darn monster on our tail again. Mina meanwhile finished cleansing my wound and then gave me a worried look.

“I’ll be right back. I’m going to try and look for some herbs,” she said as she disappeared through the lush forest.

I felt extremely useless but I knew that if I continued to move my concentration would be lost, and that was the last thing I wanted. Instead of focusing on the pain I tried my best at the task at hand. Focusing and trying to do what Mina had done so easily.

At that moment the stupid beast burst through the foliage. I was pretty well hidden behind some shrubs and bushes, but if I was able to see it, then surely it would be able to see me. It walked slowly with is menacing figure trying to locate its injured prey. It sniffed the air and got closer and closer to my position.

“You have got to be kidding me,” I whispered as I slowly started to lose hope.

The darn thing stopped using his sense of detection to find us and had resorted to looking for us with its sense of smell. It smelled the blood that kept oozing out of my injured flesh, and in my crippled state there was nothing I could do.

I focused as hard as I could to lower down my energy, but I knew that it no longer mattered. Inch by inch it kept its pace as it walked towards me, making sure that I was really there. That’s when I had an idea. Its sight was pretty bad probably because it was already night-time, so it had to rely on its other senses. If I could somehow trick it then maybe I would have a chance at escaping the damn beast and give me more time to pass this challenge. I checked my watch and was relieved that there was only twelve minutes left of the ordeal, which I could probably drain if I got away from it far enough.

Slowly I picked up another rag from my tattered shirt and rubbed it as best as I could on my blood soaked back. The Minotaur was now only about five feet away from me, and it continued dashing forward. I used all my might to throw the rag away from me, which caused some bushes over there to rustle. Suddenly the Minotaur stopped its advance. Right now it was literally 2 feet away from me, and I could see its ugly face displayed by the moonlight’s glow. It lifted its snout in the air and tried to get a sense of where it should go. That’s right, it took the bait! It changed direction and was heading towards the rag I had thrown.

I used this time to get myself up and started walking. My eyesight was blurry, but I squinted as hard as I could and just kept moving my body forward. Panting and sweating, I dragged my injured body across the forest hoping to drain away the last eight minutes of the terrible ordeal. I cursed my inability to see, because I wasn’t being careful and I stepped on a bunch of twigs. Immediately the beast locked on its new target as it dashed in a mad rush towards me. There was no way that I would be able to escape it now, so I turned around and braced myself. Instead I was surprised to sense a strong energy. It was Mina and she had revealed herself to the beast in order to get its attention off me.

“Mina, what are you doing, get away!” I shouted as hard as I could even though my throat hurt.

Immediately the beast turned its attention towards me again, seeing as how I was the target closest to it. Meanwhile Mina came rushing from behind the beast trying to do whatever she could to stop it. The creature swung at me again and for the most part I dodged the slash, but I didn’t come off unscathed. Wincing, I carried my tortured body father away from the creature, and then turned to face it again. This time my right shoulder was injured and I couldn’t lift up my arm as well. Mina continued her attempt at distracting the hideous monster, but it was still fixated on me. She was releasing all the courage she had and luckily she grabbed hold of its weapon.

Mina and the Minotaur struggled to see who would gain possession of the sword that had injured me more than once. It was a futile attempt by Mina; the monster was easily twice as big as her and maybe five times as strong. She was easily tossed aside as the creature regained control of its weapon. Mina’s determination was strong; she tried to grapple with the beast again, but the monster had other plans. Instead it slashed at Mina with full force and fortunately she dodged the attack, but wasn’t ready for the monster’s second blow and was taken down by a hard left punch.

“Mina!” I screamed as my body filled with rage.

The monster meanwhile used his attack to take advantage and was going to attack her with another slash. In the meantime my body felt as if it was taken over by power. I grew hot and felt the pain reduce to nothing but a sting. What was happening to me?

“Screw it,” I said to myself as I suddenly stopped the stupid concentration. I felt my entire energy surge into my body, along with some extra energy that I didn’t have before. My spiritual energy easily increased close to double what it used to be. I dashed over to Mina’s side and I could tell my speed increased for some peculiar reason.

Once second I was ten feet away from the commotion, and the next I was in front of Mina’s sprawled body, facing the enraged monster. It continued its swing with full force but I didn’t budge. Mina just sat there and closed her eyes waiting for the blow, but was shocked seconds later when she realized the blow never came. Instead she opened her eyes and was amazed at what had happened.

I stood there with my right arm hanging, still damaged from the monster’s earlier blow. My left arm on the other hand was holding off the monster’s attack. The beast tried with all its might to continue the swing, but my arm wouldn’t budge.

I stood there, holding onto the blade. Blood trickled down my hand as the edge had made a minor flesh wound, but that was it. To finally end things, I squeezed my hand and the creature’s blade broke like a toothpick; the pieces all falling to the floor in a useless heap.

However, the monster wasn’t finished yet. It summoned another weapon from its back; this time a long and pointy spear. It looked more like a trident than a spear had it not been for the sickles being close together.

I guess the immense spirit energy was too much for my body to handle because it slowly disappeared and I was on the verge of loosing my balance. Mina was behind me and she grabbed a hold of my body so that I wouldn’t fall, and we both closed our eyes as we waited for the creature to connect with its new weapon. Instead it just vanished into thin air. There was not a trace of it, not even the pieces of the broken sword that had fallen on the ground.
“Second challenge over, you pass,” said Pawe in a laughing voice.

Quickly I glanced at my watch and realized the time was up. I wanted to kick his *** so badly, but I wasn’t in such a great shape. Mina sighed with relief and we both fell on our knees exhausted after what had happened. She still hung onto me, and she began to treat my wounds.

“Hurry up and recover, because the third challenge starts in an hour,” said Pawe.

Now I really wanted to kill this guy. I just let out a muffled groan as Mina continued to treat my wounds quietly.