That night, her cries kept me awake. The feeling of the answers looming out of reach haunted my thoughts every time I closed my eyes. Everything was in place, but nothing was clear. How could I find out who 'She' was if 'She' was connected to a group I knew nothing about. I couldn't sleep as the answers remained laid out for me, yet so elusive.
Eventually, I gave up. I sat up and tossed off my blankets. I had already settled back in to my room at the castle, and the rest of the Rose family was enjoying their new spaces. Kai didn't stir as I stomped to my closet and pulled on old leathers I brought from home, not bothering to tie back my mane of hair that frizzed around my face. Quietly, I managed to slip around the dragon who insisted on always sleeping just inside my room, nearly blocking the door. Once I was free, I began to make my way to the front of the castle where morning practices took place. The memory of meeting Kyra for the first time, a bitchy red dragon, fueled my frustration even more as I pushed through the heavy doors. As I expected, equipement had been lazily pushed up against the side of the castle where it was safe but still accessible. I rummaged through it until I found the dummy setups and wooden weapons, which were good enough for me. After spending more time than needed struggling to put the dummies together, I began to hack away at them with a wooden sword. No powers were in sight, not when they were the cause of my problems. I slashed and jabbed at the crude 'person,' panting and sweating as it began to fall apart from my brutal attacks. However, I had to admit it was therapeutic. I felt my mind drift away as I hit something solid over and over, my thoughts evaporating into mindless repition. It was good practice as well, and I even switched between hands as I worked away at using up my anger.
By the time I felt exhaustion seep in, the sun had begun to rise. My sweat dried on my skin, and I was beginning to see that my leathers were going to be too warm for the approaching summer weather. I grimaced, considering whether or not I'd have to wear dresses.
"Is the dummy that disappointing that you have to grimace at him?"
I whirled around, lifting my practice sword. Across from me was Dmitri, the Darkblood specialist. Someone I hadn't seen in a while, but still tolerated, and sadly, still found extremely attractive.
I looked away, blushing at my own thoughts. Inappropriate! I scolded myself, running my hand along my neck. Underneath my hair was a pool of sweat that I gagged at, causing the specialist to laugh.
"You don't usually hack at things all night, do you Cloud?" Dmitri teased. I crossed my arms, lifting a brow.
"How did you know I was here all night?"
He shrugged. "The dummy. You sweating. The fact that it's just become dawn. You also seem to have a lot of your mind," he listed, counting them on his fingers. He then looked up at me, smiling. "You're not the only one who blows off steam by mindlessly hitting things."
I looked away, this time blushing from embarrassment. On the other hand, I couldn't deny that letting off steam had helped my thoughts find peace. There were libraries in this castle -- I would find them and learn what I could. Then I would sneak away to meet with the woman, who I thought of as Spirit, and get my answers.
Then maybe I'd know what I wanted to do, and which side deserved my helped. Or maybe I'd figure out how I'm actually supposed to bring the two bloods together. Either way, I would visit Spirit again.
"Why are you here so early?" I countered, glancing at Dmitri before starting the process of cleaning up the broken dummy. He watched, smiling in amusement as I picked up pieces of wood and torn cloth.
The man shrugged, running a hand through his hair. His eyes, a strange colour that was almost caramel, were fixated on my every movement. "I like to start warm-ups before everyone else. Most of the Lightbloods don't even stretch before they begin sparring. Not only are the offensive abilities dwindling away, but we train improperly as well."
Initially, I was surprised by the wise observations. Then I realized, once again, that he was a specialist, and it was his job to be smart. I shook my head, grinning as I returned the wooden weapons to their bag slumped against the castle. Dmitri remained where he was, watching me just as curiously as I watched him.
"Go on," I prodded, "do your warm-ups. Go have fun, kid."
Dmitri rolled his eyes, loosening up his neck and shoulders. He raised his eyebrows, staring at me with a challenge in his eyes.
"You seem a little fiesty, Cloud. Can you even back up those words? You're the kid here," Dmitri snapped, amusement in his eyes despite his offended tone. The warrior then caused my cheeks to redden as he shed his leather tunic, allowing the sunlight to shine on his bare skin. I looked away, trying to peer down on the people in the Valley instead of staring at the abdomen of the specialist.
I growled, bringing myself back to the time when Dmitri teased me about being a werewolf -- but I wasn't one. I had proven to be more than that. Stronger, with more power than I knew. More questions as well.
"No," I spat, "but I have dignity. And you're being such a twelve year old right now, Dmitri."
From the corner of my eye, I saw him open his arms, as if inviting me to fight with him. My growl deepened, and I pushed away any inappropriate thoughts as I lifted my gaze to stare at Dmitri.
"What a lovely show," I snickered, "but it's unimpressive. Get to work."
I turned away, heading for the doors. My stomach was grumbling, begging for something to fill it.
However, I stopped immediately as Dmitri planted himself in front of me, the blade of a very real sword against my neck. It glinted in the sunlight, warm against my skin as he grinned at me. I growled again, lunging back so that I was out of the way of his blade.
Dmitri smirked, giving his blade a few testing swings. I snarled, fingers folding into fists at my side. "Back off, Dmitri. Unless you want me to make fun of you some more."
He rolled his eyes. "Enough talk, Cloud. You want to mock me? Do it. Only if you can kick my ass first -- not in Darkblood. You're meant to be a soldier, you know," he pointed out. I sighed, moving back to where the dummy had been set up, watching as he sauntered toward me while swinging his blade.
A fist versus blade fight? Hardly fair, I thought, positioning myself to be on guard. My instinct was to reach for the power of my blood, but I faltered. This was me as a soldier. Not a Darkblood.
Dmitri lunged at me, and I dodged it with ease. However, I couldn't attack. I didn't know how, I was still a Lightblood girl who was immune, and untrained.
Am I supposed to learn and dodge at the same time? I thought frantically as I slid under a jab to the throat. The unison of the two bloods had given me better physical abilities just by nature, ones that didn't count as Darkblood. That meant I could probably last by just dodging for quite a while, but I could never defeat him by evading him constantly. We would both tire out.
I set my jaw, scowling as I bounced away from his attack.
This would take some time to work around.