This chapter will explain about how spirit energy works in more detail. Hopefully I made it easier to understand. I didn't want to get too technical on it, just wanted to say how it works and where it comes from. Oh and this chapter has some foreshadowing and Sain learns something that is kind of obvious. I also added a scene that I have to admit has some ecchi roots to it, but I just couldn't come up with any other situation atm, considering where they are. Also, does anyone know what that Chinese/Japanese hairstyle? You know, kind of like the one Chun-Li has from Street Fighter? Anyway enjoy.


Chapter 11

When I awoke the sun was still up in the sky. In fact, the sun was even higher in the sky and the sunlight was so strong that my arm felt like it was heating up in mere seconds. I was about to move, when I remembered that Mina was on my chest. How much energy had she wasted that she hadn’t woken up yet? I told myself.

“I see that you finally woke up,” she said in a casual yet tired voice.

I hadn’t seen her face because of the way she was laying, but it had appeared to me that she was sleeping. Guess I was wrong. But if she had already woken up, why was she still lying close to me? She slowly turned around and looked into my eyes. This time I couldn’t read her face at all, was she going to cry or apologize? I had no clue.

“Are you alright?” she asked. “You’re not hurt are you?”

“No, I’m not hurt. In fact, I even feel better than before and it’s all thanks to you.”

“I noticed that my cut is gone, I’m guessing you did that? Thank you so much,” she said in a toneless voice.

“What’s wrong, Mina? You don’t sound like your usual self,” I asked her.

She was very hesitant to tell me. All she did was just look at me and then look away with a worried expression on her face. We didn’t say anything for a while, so I asked her again.

“Are you okay, Mina?” I asked once more.

“I had a dream… but… it felt so much more than a dream, and that’s what worries me,” she told me.

“What do you mean? Maybe it was just a bad dream, don’t worry about it too much,” I assured her.

“Maybe you’re right. I’m just being silly,” she said not so reassuring.

“Perhaps if you tell me about your dream it will help you clear your mind.”

“Okay,” she said began reluctantly. “In my dream we are both in a forest. However, it is not the same forest as this one, it looks completely different and it seems farther away from here. We are attacked by some weird looking creatures and we try to run away, but they keep following us.”

Her hands began to shake and her words began to tremble as she spoke them.

“Somehow they manage to hurt you, yet we still try our best at getting away. They keep coming at us again and again until we are eventually falling and then everything goes blank.”

I know Pawe was a bit sadistic with his second training exercise, but her dream didn’t sound like something he would do. Besides, he said he could only summon the bear spirit and the Minotaur spirit. It was just a dream anyway, so I dismissed it completely. Instead I tried to get her to forget her dream by focusing her mind elsewhere.

“Hey where is Pawe anyway?” I asked.

“He said he’ll be back in a bit. I don’t know what he’s planning though.”

“In the meantime let’s practice what we did yesterday and lower our energy.”, I said.

We practiced it over and over again until it started getting easier. Once we got our energies really low we talked to each other. It made it harder to maintain our energy low whenever we did something slightly like winking or talking, but we were doing better than yesterday; I guess the harsh training did pay off after all, especially since we didn’t have such a vicious creature hunting us down. One hour passed and we thought we would never see Pawe again, when we suddenly saw him appear from the woods; just our luck.

This time Pawe had a sack on his back with God knows what. I bet it had something to do with the next training exercise. He was wearing different clothes now and he looked cleaner than yesterday, so I assumed the bastard went home. What a hypocrite. He didn’t let us go home, but he was able to go whenever he pleased.

“I ran into some people who said they were looking for you,” he grumbled. “I just told them that you two would be camping with me for a while and they believed me. Supposedly some people had seen you heading into the woods a couple of days ago and it just so happen to confirm what I told them, so I guess I got lucky that you two did that. Now I can really keep you here until the training is over.”

I sighed and Mina just looked down. That was just great, now we really were stuck within this immense forest with an overpowered gorilla. If we had known information days ago I wondered if we would really have come here so willingly.

“So what do you have in the bag, chief,” I said mockingly.

“First I will give you an explanation and then you two will follow me,” he said ignoring me completely.

“Explanation of what,” I wondered.

“First things first, I noticed that while you were training one of you somehow managed to increase their spirit energy. While it was fine and dandy, you did it sloppily and you could have died,” he explained harshly.

I had no idea that what I did was really dangerous, but I am glad I didn’t die. This whole energy thing was getting confusing. Meanwhile he continued.

“We can all lower our energy close to zero, but never completely. There’s a reason for that. If someone’s energy ever goes to zero, that person dies, plain and simple.”

Mina and I never knew that, but we didn’t have a reason to lower down our energy to zero, so it was no biggie.

“Now when you are raising your energy it’s a different story. You can only ever raise your energy by triple the original amount you have. So the stronger you are, the more energy you can accumulate. If you have more spirit energy, the amount of energy you can gather will be tremendous. The spirit energy you gather is from your surroundings, so you will always be able to gather energy no matter where you are; almost like an unlimited supply. However, it does come at a price. Whatever amount of energy you take from the environment you eventually have to give half of it out of your own energy. So let’s say you take exactly double the energy from the environment and you used all of the energy you gained from the environment plus half of your own energy for an attack. How much would you have to give back?”

“You would have to give back half of what you took so you would have to give half of your own energy,” Mina answered.

“That’s right, now remembered that you had already used one half of your energy for an attack so how much do you have left?”, he asked.

“You have exactly half of your energy and you need to pay half of your energy so you would-,”Mina said when I suddenly cut her off.

“So you would be left with zero. In other words you’d be dead,” I finished.

“That is correct. Our next exercise will take care of that. You will be able to control how much energy you gain from the environment. If you can raise your energy by triple, that means you take double your energy from the environment and add it to your own to make it three times as much. But remember that you have to pay half of it back so if you took double, you will have to pay back your entire spirit energy. That is why no one gathers more than double their own amount from the environment, because you would have to pay all of your energy and you would die. And there is another thing I have to mention. Your energy gets restored to its original amount after some time. The amount of restoration depends on the person’s power and how adept they are at using energy. For you guys it took exactly six hours to get it back to normal. Our goal for the next exercise will be to reduce that recovery time from 6 hours to just a couple of minutes.”

“Wait a minute, what did you say?” I asked shocked. “How the hell are we going to do that, its going to take forever.”

“That all depends on you two,” was all he responded. “Besides, this next exercise is a bit easier than the last. Follow me.”

He was leading us deeper and deeper into the dense forest, and we continued to walk all afternoon. I guess this was better than fighting a Minotaur and it helped Mina and I relax a bit. Not paying attention caused me to do something stupid. I tripped over a tree’s uprooted root and fell forward and somehow landed on my back. Mina was looking to the side and since she was right behind me, she tripped over the same root and landed right on top of me. I opened my eyes and saw that she was sitting on my lap and was looking at me with a blushed look on her face.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” she shouted at me three times as she got up.

“No I’m sorry, I wasn’t the one paying attention,” I said not being able to look at her eyes after what had just happened.

Pawe just looked at us for a second and continued walking. We eventually made it to a clearing and we could hear running water. We then realized we had arrived at a small river, and the current was pretty slow. Pawe put down the bag and pulled out two swim suits; one for girls and one for guys. At that moment we sort of knew where he was going.

“First change into these, and then I’ll tell you what our next exercise is going to be,” he ordered.

Mina would have to wear a one piece bathing suit just like the ones we would wear at school, and I had to wear some black trunks that felt very uncomfortable. Mina had already seen me without a shirt when we had to take down the Minotaur, but she probably didn’t pay any attention to it since we were fighting for our lives. Now as she stood in front of me I could see the redness spread across her face, and she just turned her sight away slightly, but still looking at me through her peripherals. I looked at Mina, and she looked phenomenal in her swimsuit. She had a nice figure and it was clearly outlined by her swimsuit. She had rolled her long blonde hair into small little spheres and tied them with her head bands, kind of like how Chinese women sometimes tie their hair.

“Listen up,” Pawe interrupted us. “Your next training will be simple. You just have to stay under water. First we will review what you did in the second test, meaning that you will have to lower your energy while underwater. Water is constantly moving so it will be harder to focus, meaning it’s a great way to test your focus. After that, we will go over the third test, which will involved you two raising your energy to twice as much. To make this easier you can clasp your hands together and raise two index fingers and place them side by side. Sure it looks stupid, but it helps. Eventually you will learn to gather energy without using this hand sign, but for now try it out. So let’s begin, first off review what you did over the second test and lower down your energy. You can come to the surface once an hour has passed. Now go!” demanded Pawe.

“Yeah, I don’t want to be a smart *** or anything,” I answered while raising my hand,” but how the hell are we supposed to hold our breath for a whole hour?”

“Oh right I forgot,” he said. Then he handed us some goggles and a long snorkel looking tube.

“You will use these snorkel tubes to breathe. The goggles are optional. The good thing is that our review and the next challenge will take place underwater, so it’s like hitting two birds with one stone,” he finished.

“That analogy would make better sense if he said it was like hitting you and me with one stone,” I joked to myself and Mina.

Mina and I each took a pair of goggles and what appeared to be hand-made snorkel tubes and headed closer towards the river. I stopped at the edge of the water and braced myself for the chilling temperature of the water, and finally took a step forward. Mina on the other hand stopped at the edge, and just stood there frozen.

“What’s wrong Mina, the water’s fine,” I said reassuring. Meanwhile she stood there not saying anything. “Is everything alright?”

“Is it really deep?” she asked worried.

I swam out to the middle of the tranquil river and dived. For a small river it sure was deeper than I thought. I was fully submerged and there was only about a foot between the top of my head and the surface of the water. I emerged from beneath to give my report to Mina.

“It’s not as deep, so the snorkel thing will reach over the water’s surface. We can at least be fully submerged under water,” I said.

Mina didn’t seem too convinced. She shook a bit, and then shook her head as if to get rid of whatever fear she had before and began walking forward. I grabbed her hand and aided her in walking deeper and deeper in the water.

Once we were fully submerged, we began our review of the second challenge. I thought it would be no harder than trying it like we had learned only a while ago, but I guess I was wrong. The moving water carried with it a lot of natural energy, so I was hard for both of us to concentrate. We had to constantly adjust our energy so that it could stay within the desired limits of the training exercise. The stupid snorkel didn’t make it any easier. Somehow the mouthpiece was goofy so the damn thing kept swaying back and forth due to the current. I looked over to see what Mina was doing and she had her eyes closed and had her hands folded up to her chest. Maybe that would help me focus better. I gave it a try, but all it did was made me feel calmer. It felt like I could fall asleep any minute, so I forced myself to concentrate on the task at hand. I opened my eyes and looked at the bracelet Mina had given me as a present, which reminded me of my resolution. I was doing this to protect myself and Mina. I didn’t want her to get hurt; I wanted her to forget all those bad dreams and those horrible thoughts of things that might befall us. I was going to get stronger for the sole purpose of protecting the one I love.

It was then that it hit me; when had I started thinking about being in love with Mina? Surely the thought didn’t appear out of nowhere and I was trying to think how it could be possible? I remembered when we first met how I couldn’t stand her and how I tried to push her away from me. Had things really changed so much since then? What was it about Mina that helped me accept her and how did she captivate my heart?

I admired her because she learned to mature as a person, but surely it was much more than that. I used to hold on to everything myself; no one ever knew what I was feeling or what I thought. Yet I was able to relay those thoughts to Mina with so much devotion and trust, almost as if she would understand me completely. I don’t think I would ever grow as a person if she was gone. I loved her because she was honest and true to herself. I loved her because she learned to advance herself and make friends. I loved her for confiding in me just as I confided in her. I loved her for just being Mina, for being in this world and sharing experiences with a loner like me.

I had fallen in love with Mina, and I had just realized the depth of my love through a stupid training exercise. But many condescending thoughts entered my mind. For one, did Mina feel the same way about me? Second, was I the one that was meant to be with Mina, or was there someone else out there with whom she deserved to be with. I was after all, a lone punk who lacked manners and isolated myself from everyone, while Mina on the other hand was a brilliant girl who was nice, honest, and tried her best to get recognized by everyone. Would our relationship even work out?

I grew out of my daze as I realized that my energy kept rising little by little, so I turned my attention to focus my energy. The last thing I wanted was to start the whole training session from the beginning. I looked over at Mina who was still in the same pose I had seen her earlier, and focused on my part of the ordeal. It seemed like forever, but one hour had finally passed. We realized that time was up because the bastard Pawe threw something inside our snorkels that nearly caused us to choke.

“You’ve mastered the second test, now on to phase 3,” he said smiling.

When training was over, I was going to choke that guy to death.