Light Seekers #10 – Нур

The glowing ball of fire is sitting high in the sky as I wait for the dojo to open. It’s called the Élia, named after the queen of this city, Éliane. Her magic lights it up for 13 hours each day. We’ve been here 43 days by their count, and I’m growing restless. Levi is trying to build a life for here, it seems like his dream came out of nowhere. He’s been making money by working as a courier. It turns out he can use magic to adjust gravity; I just make him nervous. He’s been making a lot of money, paying for the room, and most of our food. I learned about this place called a dojo where people learn to fight. I clean the uniforms, mop up the sweat, file some paperwork and in exchange I get some money then I get a spot in the early class.

“On time again, I like that,” Nelli greets me.

Nelli runs the dojo, she can fly, but prefers to walk before classes to warm up. She says she’s 63 but her reddish hair is only just now starting to show some spots of gray. She tall and thin, not what I expected a fighter to look like, but I’ve seen her embarrass multiple people at once without getting tired. I start by sweeping the floors and rolling out the mats I wiped down last night. Nelli does some stretches and looks over her lesson plan for the day. Slowly students begin to file in and practice stretches. She gives me the wave to start stretching as well. Once everyone is here she takes her place in the front of the class.

“Pair up, we’re doing some sparring this morning,” she gives the order and people start to pick their partners. “No, you two pair up,” she points to me and another student.

I don’t know his name, but he’s the best fighter, “I don’t think I’m ready for that,” I object.

“No, you two will bring the worst out of one another,” Nelli gives me a slight shove.

He’s never taken off his mask during training. It’s similar to my own, more helmet than mask. Some kind of shiny and hard black material. Three red straps meet in the front of the mask, three small knobs on the right side, silver pieces bulging from various points look like needles. I’m not eager to fight him, but he’s already taking up position. I give one last look at Nelli before taking up position.

He’s ruthless, I get hit almost immediately. He’s the best in the class, and I’m the newest, there wasn’t anything else to expect. The problem is, he’s not pulling any punches, or kicks. I’m getting really tired of being hit. I take a wild swing, forgetting my form and for a moment, I swear I can hear him laugh. He sweeps my legs from under me and I fall har on my back. Yeah, I heard him laugh this time. Screw him.

I stand up and throw a series of punches with no form, just to lure him in. He lands a kick to my torso that knocks the wind out of me. I don’t let go of his leg, I just stare into that strange mask of his as he tries to yank his leg free of my arms. I twist my body and throw myself to the floor, bringing him with me. I manage to lock onto his ankle and twist. He starts to kick at my hands, but I don’t want to let go. Eventually I can’t feel my fingers and I’m forced to release his leg. We wrestle for position, and I manage to get some punches in before he locks an armbar onto my left arm. I refuse to give up but he’s got me in there. Am I stubborn enough to let him break my arm? Does he want to win that bad? I start trying to throw punches at his knees but knees are harder than fists.

“Alright, good job boys,” Nellie pries us apart. “You can call it a day.”

“Good match,” the masks distorts his voice but he extends his hand.

“Yeah, you too,” I shake his hand.

“I’ll be seeing you around.”

Nellie lets me go without cleaning today, maybe she can tell I was upset. I don’t like to lose and I couldn’t seem to do anything he didn’t have a counter for. Still, it’s nice knowing he respected me enough to shake my hand. He never shakes anyone’s hand. I spot Levi and decide to tag along for the rest of his deliveries today. He’s not interested in the story of my fight, just the ide of running his own shop one day. I may need to leave him behind if I want to get out of here. But, I don’t want to be out there in the wild all alone.