Sain and Mina struggle to complete the third challenge in this one. I added a small scene involving an injured rabbit. The reason I wanted to add this scene is to add a bit more character into Pawe, and to show a small "soft side" of Sain. Plus it gives insight as to the extremes one would have to go through if they were stuck in the wild. And there is also the introduction of demons. As I mentioned earlier, Mina is not as feeble as I made her seem, she was just scared atm. Anyway, enjoy!!


Chapter 12
The third part of our training was harder than I expected. I tried and tried, but I could barely get my energy to rise by one percent. Not even the stupid hand sign worked and I was about to go to the surface to ask for a tip, when I remembered what Pawe said.
“This training might take you longer than the others, so you will get a break every two hours. If either of you two come to the surface before the time is up, you’ll have to answer to me and my bear spirit, got it?” he said menacingly.

I had already been injured by the last training exercise, and I surely didn’t want to go through that again. Waiting for two hours was obviously the better choice rather than receiving a beating of a lifetime. And it wasn’t that I was afraid of getting beaten up; I went through that a lot while trying to maintain my gang, it’s just that this situation would mean life and death and I wouldn’t be able to protect Mina if I died.

Mina’s ability to control energy did catch me by surprise, and this wasn’t the first time. Not only was she able to detect energies better than me, she was also able to lower her energy even when we had to face the Minotaur. Now she was even able to raise her energy quite a bit; a task that seemed to be nearly impossible for me. Of course, she wasn’t having such an easy time either; her energy wasn’t bigger than five percent more than her usual energy. There had to be an easier way to do this, and I was determined to find out.

Two hours passed, and none of us managed to complete the task. Pawe did his dirty trick again and this time threw a pebble down our tubes. I was prepared for it, but Mina was not and she nearly drowned. I had to drag her up to the surface so she could get some fresh air.

“What was that for, you *******,” I told him.

“I imbued those pebbles with spirit energy, so you should have been able to detect them. I was testing your focus,” he said slyly.

“Are you okay Mina?” I asked worried.

“*cough* I’m fine *cough* *cough* I was really scared that I would drown,” she said as she continued coughing. “But it was really my fault, I wasn’t paying attention. I’m sorry for making you worry.”

“Tch, you shouldn’t be apologizing for anything, in fact Pawe should be the one on his knees apologizing to you.”

“I’m sorry,” Pawe said in a tone that did make it sound like he was sorry, so I calmed down a bit.

Mina and I didn’t have any food left so we had to go foraging for some. Pawe wasn’t going to let us leave the forest because he thought we would just run away and forget about the training. I wasn’t sure if there were fish or not inside the river, but I didn’t let the chance slip away. We had been submerged inside the water for 3 whole hours, yet Mina was still afraid of drowning. She decided to go look for mushrooms or any other edible things we might find.

After a while I gave up on fishing. I sort of knew nothing would come up, since there aren’t a lot of species of fish who inhabit moving water, no matter how slow the current is. Mina came back with some edible mushrooms along with some acorns and figs she found growing nearby. I brought a small rabbit that I had found injured behind some shrubs. At first I was against killing it, but it seemed like its leg would never heal properly, and it was not going to make it in the wild. Mina and I both loved animals, so we were both reluctant to kill the rabbit. We were both on the verge of tears, though Mina showed it more than me. We could tell the rabbit was in severe pain now, and both knew that one of us would have to send it out of its misery. Besides, we were out of food and who knew how much longer we would have to stay in this darn forest. At that moment, Pawe quickly approached us and took the rabbit off my hands. He grabbed the poor creature by the ears and quickly cracked its neck, and the rabbit was dead in an instant. Mina began to cry and I wanted to console her, but I was crying as well.

Who knew I had a soft side?

“What did you do that for?” I asked Pawe, who somehow pissed me off for killing the creature without remorse.

“You have to make do with what nature gives you. Besides, the creature was suffering. The least you can do now is be thankful that it’s providing you with nourishment. We are all animals in this world, so there is nothing unnatural about killing an animal for oneself. Just as long as you honor what you receive and not let it go to waste. Besides, you two will probably be here for a couple more days so you better get used to it.”

“You jerk,” was all I could say, while wiping my tears. I really couldn’t come up with anything to counter his train of thought, which pissed me off even more.

Pawe quickly made a small fire beside the river and we cooked the rabbit along with some of the things Mina brought back with her. Once the rabbit was done we were ready to eat. I have to admit that the food smelled great and the meat looked so tender and juicy that I forgot all about the rabbit and how it was killed. Mina was still a bit reluctant to try to eat it, but eventually her stomach told her otherwise. By the time we were done, the sun was already beginning to set. Pawe let us relax for a bit, and Mina and I talked about our training so far and how we both thought that perhaps Pawe was a bit of a sadist. We both thought that Pawe would let us rest for the night, but things weren’t going to go so easily.

“Alright now let’s return to our training, change to your swimsuits again, we are going to try to go again for another two hours.”

Mina and I changed reluctantly and we headed into the cold water again. I swore that Pawe would pay if we got hypothermia. Having a full stomach did help a bit, I was finally able to raise my energy unlike before, except not as much as I would have thought Our goal was to increase our energy to double the amount, and I was only able to get in five percent more. This training was going to take forever. Finally our two hours were up, and Mina and I ended up with almost no progress at all. The first couple of days had gone pretty smoothly, but this training exercise was slowly starting to suck. At least we had learned to detect low energies and suppress our own, so we had made some progress. We got some intro into healing, though we still needed work on that. Pawe said it would be easier once we got the other two things down. Meanwhile Mina and I both changed and were ready to fall asleep, but Pawe set down a condition. Mina and I had to sleep separately this time; he said he didn’t want anything funny going on. Not like it would; Mina wasn’t my girlfriend or at least we hadn’t formally said it. I think it was just Pawe’s way of torturing us further.

You would think that we would finish this training by the next day, but unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way. For starters, the water made it very difficult to concentrate. During one of our breaks we both tried the same thing on land and realized that we were able to gather ten percent more energy than when we tried it underwater. How in the world were we supposed to accomplish this task underwater?

Three days passed, and then four, but our progress didn’t change much. We were only able to raise our energy by two percent for each day we tried it. The fifth day was the worst because we didn’t get anywhere, and Pawe yelled at us saying how we were losing focus too easily. During those days we ate so many different things. We ate more mushrooms, we were lucky enough to catch some fish (though small), and we ate some squirrels, small birds, a raccoon, and more rabbits. It was really hard for Mina and me to watch Pawe kill the creatures, but he made sure we did it at least once. I did break a squirrel’s neck and felt bad about it, but Mina didn’t think badly of me. When it was time for Mina to give it a try, she just ran into the woods and didn’t return until after the meat was cooking. I would have run after her, but Pawe assured me that she would return once she got hungry. When she finally gave it a try, she didn’t cry even though she felt bad about it.

Things kept going like this, and pretty soon we were one day away from completing two weeks of training. Pawe didn’t grow impatient, but Mina and I were the exact opposite. We craved for some actual food that we didn’t have to see get killed in front of us. We wanted to rest on a comfortable bed and relax like normal teenagers do. We just wanted to end this training as soon as possible. And we got one step closer by the seventh day.

We were submerged underwater again for the fiftieth time or so, and I started thinking of a way, an easier way to get our spirit energy up. How had I done it before? I wondered. There must be an easier way to do it; otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do it when we were attacked by the Minotaur. I was deep in thought until something sparked inside of me. It sounded stupid, but perhaps I had found an easier way to do it.

Before when we were being attacked by the creature, I had gotten angry at it when it hurt Mina. Perhaps emotion was the key to this exercise. I decided to give it a go. Instead of concentrating on raising my energy, I thought of how the Minotaur had hurt Mina. Immediately a lot of thoughts started passing through my mind. I imagined Mina in a corner as the creature was preparing its strike. I envisioned Pawe transforming into that bear form of his and getting ready to attack Mina. I even thought about how the bullies had tried to hurt Mina just a couple of days after she had transferred. In my mind Mina was crying and pleading for help. She was about to get hurt by the Minotaur again, and it was up to me to save her. If I hesitated for even once second, Pawe would go rushing to her in no time. If I just stood there, those bullies would gang up on her and perhaps hurt her.

This got my rage going, and I was bursting with anger. Immediately I felt my energy rise from a mere ten percent increase to a whopping eighty percent. I kept envisioning Mina in tough situations, and thought about how it was up to me to save her. Little by little my energy increased more and more. Mina was surprised by how much my energy increased that she lost concentration and just stood there looking in my direction. Eventually I got it to be at exactly double my original amount, and tried my hardest to maintain it. I had to constantly adjust my focus so that I wouldn’t gather more energy than I had to, all while thinking of Mina in horrible situations to keep my anger going steady.

Two hours had passed and it was finally time to resurface. We were already used to detecting those spirit imbued pebbles, so we didn’t have a problem with that anymore. However, as soon as we resurfaced Mina wanted to know my secret. We talked about it for a while and I taught her how to do it. Surely the next time we went under we would be able to do it.

During the next round I could tell that Mina had understood what I had told her. Immediately her spirit energy skyrocketed and pretty soon our spirit energies were twice what they had originally been. Now all we needed to do was concentrate. As the minutes slowly drained away, it got easier to maintain the high energy level. We no longer needed to think of things that made us angry, and we were able to keep our energies raised without using

emotions to aid us.

We resurfaced again, except this time we had smiles on our faces.

“Good job to the both of you; it seems you finally passed the test. I must warn you though; in real battle you won’t have time to manipulate your emotions to aid you. Raising your energy has to be second nature. And do you two notice something different as well?” he asked.

“I know, our energy, its starting to replenish faster,” responded Mina in her happy tone.

“Yes, that is true. However, its still not up to the standards that it should be, but we’ll work on that later, for now just rest up and we will try it once more so you can get the hang-“

He didn’t get to finish the sentence. Instead we were all shocked to sense such high energy readings coming from the sky above us. We saw a bunch of disfigured creatures flying in the air, and Pawe seemed to recognize them right away.

“grozit, I was afraid this would happen. It seems that our training has attracted a small group of demons. You two are still not ready to handle demons of that caliber, so try to lower your energy. Hopefully they’ll lose track of us and disappear,” he explained.

But it was too late; they had spotted us. One by one they swooped down from the sky and began amassing on the ground in front of us. There were twelve in all. Eight of them didn’t look so frightening; in fact they looked like pushovers. Even without our last training exercise, Mina and I could probably take them down. It was the last four that worried me. Two of them seemed a bit more advanced than the other eight, and the last two looked more powerful.

“Six level ones, two level twos, two level threes, one level four and a level five; Not good,” was what we overheard from Pawe.

“Wait, you can rate them?” I asked bewildered.

“Yeah, every thousand bundles of energy determine a demon’s level. A level one demon’s energy ranges from one to one thousand. Level twos range from one thousand to two thousand and so on. You and Mina have energies that fall within the two thousand range, while mine ranges in the five thousand. You’ll only be able to take on the level twos or lower,” he explained.

“Yeah but we can double our energy now, so we can take on level threes and fours now, right,” asked Mina.

“That is correct, but there is one thing you should know about demons… they can raise their energy as well.”

As soon as he said that Mina and I looked on helplessly. Pawe would probably be busy taking on the level four and five demons while Mina and I had to take care of the level ones through threes. And not to mention the fact that we were still in bathing suits AND to top it all off we were still regaining the energy we had accumulated and used before. We were really deep now; how were we going to handle this.

We could feel Pawe’s energy rise drastically now so we knew he had merged with his bear spirit. Now we had a bit of an edge, since his power easily doubled that of the level five demon.

“I’ll take care of the strongest four, you and Mina finish off the rest. Good luck,” he shouted.
“Wait how are we going to do that if you haven’t even taught us-“, I said but Pawe quickly disappeared. His energy was so powerful, and he was moving so fast that I couldn’t detect him. His battle had already started, and now ours would begin soon.

“Hahahaha, look at these simple fools. It seems they don’t even know the basics yet,” mocked one of the demons.

“Wait a minute, you guys can talk?” I asked, both impressed and astonished.

“Of course we can, after all we used to be humans. Don’t you know how this all works?” asked the demon, and suddenly all eight started laughing.

“Well you are both going to die, so we might as well tell you,” said one of the stronger demons.

“When humans die, they normally turn into ghosts, angels, or slayers. Most humans turn into ghosts. However if a person’s mind is deeply corrupted they can turn into demons as soon as they die. People who go through this transformation are usually stronger demons, hence the demon’s your buddy up there is facing. All of us here either used to be ghosts, and we grew to resent it, so we turned into demons. Its’ more fun anyway because once we kill you we gain your spirit energy for ourselves. It’s a fun way for us to level up, kind of like an RPG, wouldn’t you say?” mocked one of the least strong but uglier demons.

They all took their formations and surrounded us. Mina and I stood back to back as we eyed each of these ugly creatures. This really sucked, how were we supposed to beat these things, do we just pummel them or something?

Two of them came at us at once, while the other six readjusted their positions. In fact, both of them were coming for me, and the others just made sure to encircle us perfectly so we wouldn’t escape. I noticed that one of them was moving a bit faster than the other, so I decided to target him. I raise my energy a bit and rushed towards him. The good thing is that these small fries looked like actual humans, only more zombie-like. If they had looked demented like the ones Pawe was facing, I wouldn’t know where to strike.

I caught that demon with a swift uppercut and connected with a quick jump kick which sent him flying. The other was mere inches away when I landed on my feet, but I grabbed it by the arm and threw it over my shoulder. So far so good. I wasn’t even aware that the others were already attacking Mina. She had roundhouse kicked one right in the face, and jumped on another ones shoulders before bringing him down by driving her knees hard on its back. A third one was coming for her while she was still recovering her stance, but I quickly gave it a strong left hook as I quickly came in from its blind side.

We may not have any moves on our arsenal, but at least our strength and other parameters increase when we acquire more energy. I made sure not to gather so much energy. We still needed to take on the strongest of the eight, and our energy wasn’t recovering as fast. Mina seemed to have more of a kung fu approach when fighting while I used my street fighting abilities at its best. Not only was Mina able to hit them with devastating blows, she was able to counter them effectively. I could tell she was nervous though because she made a couple of mistakes, but gladly I was there to help her out.

I wasn’t so perfect myself. I don’t know if I was shaking out of fear or excitement, but as I kept pummeling the demons into the ground, one of the tougher ones almost got me from the back. Mina came out of nowhere and drop kicked him out of our perimeter.

These level two demons looked less humanly than the others. They began looking like insects since their mouth slits were vertical, and they had some shark fangs within. Even their arms and legs looked thicker and stronger, so we had to be more careful with them. They seemed to have a higher reach than the other six. It didn’t take us long, but pretty soon we had the six level ones on the ground either knocked out or incapacitated.

We still had to worry about the level twos. No matter how many times we hit them, they kept getting up and coming at us. I pushed Mina out of the way as one of them nearly speared her with a sharp claw looking thing that had protruded out of its arm only a second earlier. This was going to be a long fight. One of the level two demons began doing what seemed to be gathering air in its lungs, and then it just suddenly opened its mouth. All I saw was a glowing ball of energy flying towards me. I didn’t have enough time to respond, and it hit me straight in the chest.

I lost my breath as the sphere connected and launched me several feet away from where I stood. Mina ran over to me, but one of the demons on the floor seized her by the foot while the level two creature tackled her, and she landed a couple of inches away from me. I was hurt but luckily not injured. My chest was throbbing though. I grabbed Mina by the hand and she seemed to be alright as well.

“You’ll never be able to beat us no matter how hard you try,” mocked the level two demon that shot me. “If you keep on fighting us, we’ll just get back up. Now if you had a purification weapon; now that’s another story.”

Mina and I had no idea what it was talking about, but it probably meant we had no chance. At that moment Pawe came in front of us, and he looked like he had gone through hell and back. He was dirtied, but not hurt. In fact, he was covered in some black soot-like powder, and the demons were nowhere in sight.

“So which one of you wants to die first,” jeered Pawe.

Realizing that their stronger comrades had been vanquished, the other demons quickly fled the battle scene. Mina and I fell to our knees and we were glad we had escaped with minor injuries.

“You two okay,” he asked.

“Well besides some possible broken ribs I am fine,” I joked.

“Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. They all seemed to be newly formed demons. They couldn’t pack as much power into their attacks despite their energy, which was how I was able to take them down so easily,” he said proudly.

“What’s that black stuff on you?” Mina asked.

“It’s just the black energy from the demons. Don’t worry it should disappear soon. Those demon souls are gone for now; probably being cleansed.”

“I’m sorry but what? “ I said confused.

“I’ll save that for another day. You two still have to finish your training. Besides, you have gotten a taste of what demons are capable of, so now you know why this training is necessary.”

Mina and I had thought this training wasn’t so important, but we had just experienced something that told us otherwise. If we were going to survive, we had to get better at our training. Or else there wouldn’t be a next time.