I nervously stood at one corner, along with the other first timers. He stood there, inspecting us from afar. He was tall, and an air of silent menace surrounded him. He stood with a slight slouch to his back, his lanky arms dangling loosely at his sides. He was the Coach.
He kept staring at us, as if he expected us to do something. Finally one of the older first timers plucked the courage to walk up to him and ask him what it was that he wanted us to do. And so the Coach had us line up in front of him. As he stared at us, I noticed something hellish about his eyes. They glinted with malicious light, as if he were the devil himself! Cold sweat trickled down my spine.
"Let me ask you, how long do you think I have been standing here?" His voice was soft, but it was the sort of softness that could cut through flesh and bone faster and more effectively than any steel blade. I started to tremble like a leaf. I also noticed how the seniors had edged away from us first years, avoiding our gaze. "C'mon, tell me, how long have I been waiting here?"
"Um... about twenty minutes sir," squeaked one of the boys, clearly scared out of his socks.
"Twenty minutes?" His eyes hardened. "Lets get one thing straight, vermin. I hate to wait..."
"Move move move move move!" the Coach bellowed at us as we dashed to and fro across the hall. We were made to run across the length of the hall two hundred and fifty times, having to bend down and touch the white line at the end of the hall, under a time limit of fifteen minutes.
My breath came out in ragged gasps as I ran. Sweat pouring out of my head, soaking my clothes thoroughly. I clutched my side, trying my best to ignore the stitch building up there. Several people had passed out after a few laps, and more were fainting as they ran.
I felt the bile rising through my throat as I pushed myself to the limit. I had just made it past two hundred laps, when my legs gave out and I crashed to the floor, hard. My body trembled violently, sweat streaming out of every pore. I must have been lying there for about five whole minutes, before I felt a sharp kick to my ribs. I opened my eyes, and saw the Coach's shoes inches away from my face. I looked up, begging him with my eyes. His own eyes hardened, and he mercilessly pointed towards the track...
"You are not warriors, you're all whimps! I'll be damned if I ever saw a more useless bunch than you lot. What the hell do you think you're doing here?!" The Coach narrowed his eyes "You think this is some kind of joke?! You think this is just an ordinary battle school?! If you do, then stop waisting my time. If you think that I'm being too hard on you slugs then leave. Because if you want to stay, you damn well be sure that you're up to mark. Because if you slack off in my Academy, I'll make sure you never get the chance to slack off ever again. Oh yes, death happens to be part of the training. Did I mention that? You ether meet the mark, or you die trying..."
I spun around, barely managing to block a slash. Sweat poured out of my every pore, plastering my hair to my head. My body ached, and the dozens of cuts I had taken burned. I stepped back quickly, all the time keeping my eyes on the opponent. I struggled to recollect all the battle lessons that I had learnt. It was hard. No matter how hard I tried to remember my previous stances and techniques, the information kept slipping away, like how people sometimes try to remember dreams, but never can. That's when I first felt it. My frustration gave way to anger. I wanted to jump out and slash wildly at my opponent, to hell with technique! But I realized instantly how stupid this would have been, and managed to calm myself down, for now. I then decided to take a gambit and went into direct assault.
Grunting with effort, I raised the blade above my head, preparing to attack. My muscles screamed in protest, my sword arm trembling. Ignoring the pain, I lashed out. The battle was short, it was violent, it was ruthless. My opponent knocked my blade aside with a simple flick of his wrist. His fist slamming into my face, breaking my nose. Then suddenly he was behind me. I tried to twist around and block the slash that I knew was coming. Too slow! I felt the the cold steel open a gash down my back. I screamed, my blade falling from my now limp hand. Flashes of pink and red danced before my eyes and I was faintly aware of the blood flowing down my back, soaking my battle tunic. Pain overrode all my other senses, leaving me blind and deaf to everything else except the pain. Pain so intense that, when the blackness of oblivion came for me, I welcomed it gratefully.
I grit my teeth, and heaved my body over the ledge. Then I rolled to my feet, and continued the run along the platform. Ahead of me I spotted the rope. It was dangling about three feet above platform height and roughly six feet away from the edge. Running off the edge of the platform, grabbing the rope and swinging over the edge of the wall on the opposite side was easy enough. Doing it with weights weighing half your body weight tied to your body was another thing altogether. I ran, struggling every step of of the way. Despite my screaming muscles, I jumped and caught the rope. I figured that the best shot I had of sailing over the edge of the opposite platform was to do it on the first swing, when I had maximum oscillation. That's when things went wrong. I misjudged my timing, and let go about a second too late. With weights weighing you down, this could prove fatal. Instead of landing gracefully past the edge, I fell short. With only a second to think, I straightened out my body, and reached for the edge of the wall. As soon as my fingertips touched the edge, I curled my fingers into the small groove that ran along it. My body swung violently and slammed into the wall. The breath was forced out of my body and my vision blurred. I drew in ragged gasps of air, my chest burning. My half healed back started to throb, and my fingers started to slip.
That's when I heard it. Laughter. Mocking laughter, aimed at me. I could distinctly hear the Coach's voice, his unmistakable cynical laughter. Rage welled up inside me. I tried to compose myself, but this time, I could not. My aching mind and body would not let me. Immediately I felt the adrenaline rushing through my veins. My grip on the ledge tightened. I roared, and with an astounding burst of effort, swung my body over the edge of the wall and landed on the other side. The laughter died down immediately. I looked ahead and, ignoring the pain, ran.
"Hit harder!" the Coach yelled into my ear. I grimaced as the sound waves assaulted my ears. I struck at the dummy again, my hand hardly leaving a dent in the wood. The dummy was made out of wood, with steel restrainers. The wooden bits were our prime target in a battle. And so we were working on it. I struck the dummy repeatedly, legs, body and head.
The Coach walked away from me, inspecting the others. After about half an hour of dummy hitting, the Coach allowed one student to stop. A few minutes later, he asked another to stop, then another, then another, until finally, I was the last person left hitting the thing. He walked up to me, and I expected him to let me off too, but he remained silent. When I stopped hitting and looked at him, he arched an eyebrow and cooly gestured towards the dummy. I turned back to the dummy, and started hitting it a lot harder, my anger rising. Why was he picking on me? Hit. What did I do to anger him? Hit. Can't he just treat me like everyone else? Hit. Whats his problem!? Hit. I was faintly aware of the blood that was flowing from between my knuckles.
"Hit HARDER!" the Coach suddenly roared. I jumped, suprised. I then pulled my fist back and struck the wood. A slight crack formed across the wooden face. "HARDER!" I struck again. "HARDER!" This drove me over the edge. My rage came out in one, long primal roar. I lashed out with my heel, shattering the dummy's wooden legs. I then dropped to one knee, and elbowed the chest, snapping the dummy's torso in two. I then stood up, and, using my other elbow, elbowed the dummy's head so hard that the head flew into the wall behind it and shattered there. I then lashed out at the dummy stand with fists and feet, my blows ripping the stand off the floor and sending it crashing into the wall. I then faced the Coach, looked him straight in the eye, then turned around and walked over to the benches. I hardly felt the pain from my knuckles.
"Today one of you will get the chance of a lifetime, a chance to fight me and not end up dead, like a lot of you ought too. This will be an unarmed duel, no weapons, no restoration potions or salves, nothing." The Coach's degrading tone stung. I clenched my fist. We were sitting in a circle, with the Coach standing in the middle. He then walked along the inside of the circle, looking each of us in the eyes. Some students looked away, unable to bring themselves to look into his cruel eyes. Some met his gaze, but flinched. When he walked past me, I did nether, but met his gaze as steadily as I could manage. This seemed to suprise the Coach. His eyebrows shot up a fraction, and an amused smile touched his lips. I fought to control the rage welling up inside me. He walked past me, looking at the others. He continued walking till he was directly opposite me, facing away. He then spun around, pointed a long, menacing finger at me, and hissed "You!"I did not move for about five seconds. Then I slowly rose to my feet and faced the Coach square off. The Coach stripped off his tunic, his muscles rippling in the light. I moved into one of the battle stances, waiting for him to make the first move. We circled each other, waiting for an opening to strike. We moved in a tight circle just out of striking distance.
I waited a bit longer, then got the opening I was hoping for. I noticed the slight tensing of the Coach's leg muscles, indicating that he was about to attack, so I prepared myself. The Coach struck out suddenly, leaping forward and lashing out with his foot. I leaped high into the air and aimed a counter kick at his face. He ducked it almost effortlessly and moved forward. I landed behind the Coach, rolled to my feet and spun around to face him. He attacked again, sending a flurry of punches at me. I blocked every single one of them, then stuck out with a few punches of my own. I hit nothing but air. Then I attacked. I kicked out twice, feinted a punch, then threw a far deadlier cross punch to the ribs. The Coach swatted both my kicks away and dodged my punches, coming up beside me. Before I could move, I took a solid kick to the ribs and a punch to the jaw. I fell backwards, rolled and leapt to my feet. I attacked again, lashing out at the Coach's legs, but this time I took a full foot in the face. I felt my nose break, and tasted the coppery taste of blood in my mouth.
I circled the Coach again. Then I tried a suprise attack, executing a flying kick, but the Coach blocked it and countered it with a kick to my knee and a fist to my gut. I backed away, then attacked again, feinting twice then kicking at the Coach's ribs, but he saw that coming. He easily caught my leg, twisted my ankle sharply, kicked at my other leg and shoved me backwards. I was sent sprawling. I leapt to my feet and attacked, but I was pelted back with a flurry of blows that seemed to hit every unguarded part of my body. I staggered back, one eye turning a nasty shade of blue. I attacked again. And again. And again. And again, but it was all in vain. Each time I attacked I got beaten up, and yet I could not land a single blow on the Coach. After about ten minutes of trying, I was exhausted. My hands trembled violently, blood streaming out of my nose and cut lip. The skin above my ribs were a mass of bruises that had now acquired a nasty purple shade. My left eye was swollen shut, and I moved rather stiffly due to a damaging kick to my left leg. Why can't I hit him?! Frustration fueled my anger. I clenched my fist to stop my hand from trembling. Why is he so bloody fast!? My fingernails cut into the flesh of my hand, and I felt the blood flowing between my fingers. I fought to control my anger.
"Why do you do that?" I heard the Coach ask. "Do what?" I replied through clenched teeth, venom in my vioce. "Fight that anger. Why do you hold back all that rage?" He was talking softly now, so that only I could hear. "Because," I remembered my previous mentor's words "because to perform best, one must first have complete and absolute control over his body. This includes the physical, mental and emotional." The Coach laughed "They told you that, now did they? Then tell me, boy, why aren't you beating me?" I clenched my fist tighter, my mind barely registering the pain "I have not yet attained complete control over myself," I continued through clenched teeth. "At least there's still hope for you," the Coach's tone of voice had superiority etched in every syllable.
The blow came so unexpectedly, that for a few moments I just stood there blinking. "Let it out," came the Coach's commanding voice "Let your rage out! You want to try to control anger?! You fool! Anger is your greatest ally in a fight!" The second blow made me see stars. "Let it out!" The next blow struck me between the eyes. "Let it out!" A foot slammed into my kidney. "Let it out!" A punch to the jaw. "LET IT OUT!" the Coach roared, punching me in the jaw again, and kicking my feet from under me. I crashed into the floor. Control! I struggled to control myself. Then a sharp kick slammed into my ribs, and I lost it. I let the sheer power of rage surge through my body.
I rolled on my back, grabbed the Coach's arm, and yanked him down. He was forced into a sort of bow. That was good enough for me. I uncurled my fist, lashed out with open fingers, and raked my fingernails through the flesh of his cheek, drawing blood. His eyes widened in shock, then a glimmer of realization flashed through them, and he smiled a satisfied smile. I yelled the vilest of curses at him, and tried to punch him, but he moved away. I rolled to my feet, murder in my eyes, and attacked. I wanted blood! Charged at him, throwing a hurricane of blows. Fist, elbow, knee, feet, anything I could lash out with. He blocked as well as he could, but I was relentless. I kept attacking him, forcing him backwards. He struck out at me violently from time to time trying to knock me off, but I barely felt the blows.
Then I spotted it, the opening I needed. I changed my stance and attacked immediately. The Coach spotted my movements, and tried to deter me by kneeing at my stomach. I took the hit to the stomach, but loosed five damaging blows to his solar plexus. The Coach groaned and staggered backwards. "Okay boy, that's enough," gasped the Coach, doubling over in pain. I was in no state of mind to listen. I attacked him again, forcing him to back up against a wall. When he finally did, I smiled a triumphant smile, and threw a ground shaking punch. The effect was spoilt when the Coach moved away and my fist connected with the wall breaking all the knuckles in my hand. "I said," hissed the Coach, while he threw a crushing blow to my unguarded kidney. I gasped and doubled over. He grabbed my head with both his hands, jerked me downwards, then brought his knee straight into my face. "I said," he repeated, as he swung me around and slammed me into the wall "that's enough!" I looked into his eyes and saw for the first time, a sort of self devouring, mindless rage.
Day Twenty Eight
"Work that anger!" A bucket of cold water hit me in the face. I gasped, struggling against the chains that bound my hands behind my back. "Let the rage course through your body!" Another bucket of icy cold water to the face. I spluttered, then cursed the Coach. I had been violently dragged out of my room, my hands handcuffed during my sleep, and into another room, where I was thrown violently on the floor. "Thats it, curse all you want, let your rage take over!" said the Coach with satisfaction in his eyes. I cursed and called him every name under the sun, and then was, again, nailed with a bucket of cold water. There were five hooded, masked men in the room aside from the Coach. It was these men who were alternating between pouring cold water on me, and hitting me. The next blow landed between my eyes, and my vision swam for a moment. I focused on the guy who had hit me. He will die.
This is an unfinished post that i had written a long time ago. Just had a chance to go through it. I decided not to finish it, I think its beautiful the way it is. Oh and all the fencers in my school will know who I'm referring to in this post ;)