Vincent and Gerd
Leguna started working much harder in the days that followed, even striving for first place.
By the end of the day, he understood how weak he was. While he might be someone normal people couldn't hope to match, he knew his abilities were still insufficient to stand unperturbed in the world. If he wanted to protect himself and those he loved, he first had to grow much stronger.
This sense of danger may be senseless, but Leguna felt it clearly. He always had a feeling that lots of complicated and troublesome things were just around the corner and he wanted to rely on his gifts to solve everything. But after his teacher's scolding, he understood his mistake and started polishing his skills. He resolved himself to never use his gifts again unless it was absolutely necessary.
One day passed after another as he trained with his companions. They did so mostly at a nearby gym, a place specially designed for impetus and magic users. It had special equipment and even hosted classes for rookies. The classes were only available to martial fighters. Magical knowledge was severely lacking in the empire.
"My beautiful Vera, it must be fate that I got to meet you again," Vincent exclaimed.
"You again... Haven't you been beaten up enough? You want another round?" Kurdak hissed.
This idiot had set his sights on Vera. Vera's thick autumn clothing couldn't hide her tantalizing curves. The fool ignored Kurdak and stuck to Vera like an annoying fly. Vincent was a 14-stratum warrior, decently strong. Though Kurdak was only one stratum beneath him, his physique was far better than the man's. At the same time, Kurdak was a mercenary with more than a decade's experience -- oceans more than Vincent.
The two fighting over the woman every day and Kurdak won every time. Fortunately, the two knew their limits and didn't seriously hurt each other. They were in the capital and a huge commotion would ensure the two had lots of trouble. They made sure to rent a space in the training center for their fights.
Vincent went home to rest for a few days, but now he was back and apparently fully recovered. Even Kurdak had to be impressed by his stubbornness.
"No, the tournament's just about to begin. I won't waste my energy," Vincent countered.
"Then why are you here?"
"I'm here to check this little fellow," Vincent smiled coldly, "You don't know how the fights are allocated yet, given how hard you've been training. I've been matched against your friend in the third group. Just think about it. I wonder if any accidents will happen in our match. It's really dangerous for a 9-stratum assassin like him to go into an open fight against someone five strata stronger."
"So you plan to go after him specifically?" Kurdak asked.
"I never said anything like that. I'm only here to give you a heads-up," Vincent snickered. He knew he was slightly weaker than Kurdak, so he wanted to provoke him so he'd strike him in public, which should land him in jail for a few days, even longer if he fought the constables.
"I see..." was all he got out of the man.
"I said 'I see'."
"What kind of reaction is that?!" Vincent yelped frenziedly as he pointed at the kid, "Isn't he your brother? Your best brother?"
"Yes," Kurdak nodded seriously.
"Aren't you worried I'll target him? If I go hard on him, he might just die! Aren't you worried at all?" Vincent looked at Kurdak like he was staring at a fool.
Kurdak merely glanced at Leguna and read the latter's expression. Leguna shook his head lightly.
"I... I'm really worried!"
"Worried my ass! Are you going to have him quit?!"
"No, I won't. He wants to fight, so I won't stop him!"
"Then you aren't f*cking worried at all!"
"Trust me, I am," Kurdak frowned.
"What the f*ck just happened?!" Vincent complained. Why the hell was Kurdak not concerned at all? Of course! The bastard must be trying to insult him!
He could not know Kurdak was so nonchalant because he didn't worry at all. He had trained with his little brother often and knew how strong he was.
What a joke! He can beat me up even without his gifts! How the hell are you going to do anything to him? I should be more worried about you if you piss him off! Hehe... If you really defeat him, I swear to not take a shit for a month!
"Alright, Vincent. Coincidentally, I'm also in the third group. As Mister Kurdak's friend, I won't let you hurt Leguna so easily," another tall, handsome middle-aged man spoke as he approached. Although he wasn't as massive as Kurdak, he was still ripped. Coupled with his air of maturity, he was really attractive.
"Brother Gerd!" Kurdak smiled.
Gerd was a recent acquaintance he'd recently met at the center. He was far more likeable than Vincent and got along well with the group. They had even had a drink together a couple of days earlier.
"Mister Gerd," Leguna nodded.
"Don't be afraid, little one!" Gerd laughed, "With me there, Vincent won't try anything!"
"Thank you, Mister Gerd," Leguna smiled. He knew the extent of Gerd's strength. The man was a 14-stratum warrior. While he could give Kurdak a good fight, he was nothing compared to Leguna. The kid wasn't intent on revealing his abilities, though, so he naturally wouldn't mind if Gerd stood up for him. He seemed like a decent enough person.
Gerd was the center's lead trainer. The things he learned were much different from Leguna and Kurdak. As he was only a lead trainer, the skills he taught were for subduing enemies. The three were different; they focused on killing their enemies. Gerd could never stand a chance against them in a fight, his mentality and skills were brutal enough. They weren't fighting with death in mind in the tournament, however, so that gap was closed some.
"Mister Gerd, do you really want to antagonize me? You know I have a few pretty strong friends in the third group. You're stronger than me, but you can't take on my friends."
Gerd smiled and patted Leguna's shoulder.
"Since I was fateful enough to make this little fellow's acquaintance, I'm willing to oppose you. Also, do you think I can't get in touch with a few friends as well? I'm much nicer than you, so if you have friends in the third group, then I have a couple more!"
Vincent's face changed. He knew Gerd had quite a reputation. In terms of connections, he really couldn't compare to the man. He didn't dare to get on his bad side. He glared at the two men before he left, not forgetting to check Vera out lustfully.
"Worried?" Gerd asked.
"A little," Leguna answered, "Vincent's really strong."
"Don't. Nothing will happen with me around--" He turned to Kurdak. "--Ain't that right, Kurdak?"
"Alright. The tournament's starting in two days. Since there's nothing else, let's get a drink. My treat!"
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