Chapter 45 – Provoked By Love
by lemuel moo
“How’re your feet, Mr. Blacky?” Ayumi asked.
“It’s nothing serious. I can walk, but I won’t be able to do any workouts today,” Blacky replied.
The combat instructors had lunch together and convened to talk about training matters, while the academic teachers managed the students during lunch.
“Is it too much to leave Gale out of the training?” Victor asked. “We shouldn’t show any favoritism to the students.”
“It’s not favoritism, camp commandant,” Gwen answered. “You’ve seen how strong Gale is. The training is going to bore him to death anyway. We’re doing everyone a favor by leaving him out.”
“That guy is insane,” Blacky concurred. “It took him seconds to figure out the weaknesses of my body. I used a small percentage of my strength because I didn’t want to injure a student, but he pounced on my weaknesses like a hawk!”
“But we can’t leave Gale alone and let him do nothing!” Allan Mckenzie said.
“About that,” Kasumi said. “Principal Stella wanted him to train his own team for the annual tournament.”
Victor pushed his glasses up and thought for a moment. “The principal is aware of Gale’s strength? This is the first time I hear about it.”
“She’s only a phone call away,” Lizzie Velmont said. “Talk to her and find out what she says.”
As there was no reception in the mountains of Gilbor, Victor used the landline in the cabin to call the principal. After a few sentences with her, Victor put down the phone and addressed the combat instructors.
“Principal Stella is aware of Gale’s strength. She thought he could play along with the general training and then train his team during the second phase.
Regardless, we can leave Gale out of the training and consider him a student instructor.”
Valerian was listening in silence as the combat instructors discussed. He realized that other than Kasumi, none of the combat instructors knew anything about Gale. Questions bubbled in his mind as he pondered about Gale’s mysteriousness.
“I’m surprised none of the combat instructors know much about Gale. I searched for his name in the SPAW database and found close to nothing. Shouldn’t Gale be registered as an elite fighter in the public records?”
“That’s purely up to him, Mr. Valerian,” Allan said. “It’s mandatory to register a fighter if he or she reaches at least a ‘C’ in fighting capabilities, but who enforces that? It’s only after graduation where the students are required to take a fighting proficiency test to measure their strength.”
Valerian pondered for a while. “At least Gale’s taking part in the annual tournament. Once he gets into the top two finalists in our school, he will be forced by the World Alliance to take a fighting proficiency test.”
“Gale’s not fighting. He’s only teaching and training,” Kasumi replied.
Valerian looked at Kasumi in bewilderment. “Why?”
“He doesn’t want to. For our annual tournament, Gale is going to be my assistant and train a team into the finals.”
“That’s so irresponsible!” Valerian remarked. “We’re talking about a person who is at least an ‘A’ rank and beyond! Who will keep Gale in check if he runs rogue?!”
“I will,” Kasumi confidently said. “That’s why Gale is my assistant, and he’s in my class.”
Valerian was appalled that Kasumi used herself to shield Gale, and he struggled to find words to express his concerns. Gwen saw that Valerian had a soft spot for Kasumi and she grinned.
“Gale is a student of Aelfsige Academy, and I’m sure Principal Stella will keep him in check,” Gwen said. “Beatrix, you’re next for the afternoon session. Are you ready?”
“Before we head out,” Valerian interjected. “We need to know if anyone here is capable of defeating Gale.”
Kasumi was not happy with Valerian’s words. “Why do we need to defeat Gale in the first place?! He is a student and not a threat!”
“How do we keep Gale in check if none of us are stronger than him?!” Valerian argued.
“That is nonsense! We should — ”
“Alright, break it up, you two!” Ayumi said. Everyone paused and looked at Ayumi.
“Mr. Valerian, I understand your concerns, but I don’t suppose you’re saying we can’t defeat Gale with our abilities,” Ayumi said. “As much as we don’t know Gale’s strength, he doesn’t know us at all.”
“Precisely!” Lizzie Velmont concurred as she tapped the ground with her walking cane. “You young whelps get worked up over a molehill.”
“We do not have the great [Iron Sand Palms] as part of our arsenal of skills, but we are combat instructors for a reason,” Allan said.
Mr. Valerian realized he spoke out of line. “I apologize.”
Ayumi turned to Kasumi. “We’ll leave Gale into your hands since Principal Stella has given her word.”
Kasumi nodded, and she was relieved at Ayumi’s words.
Victor saw that the discussion was over, and he dismissed the teachers from the meeting.
While the students were eating lunch, a motorcycle pulled up near them. A person wearing a helmet with a wrapped object disembarked the vehicle and walked to the students.
The students stared at the person as they couldn’t figure out who it was. Miss Mia went forward and asked, “hi there! We’re from Aelfsige Academy. Who are you looking for?”
The person removed her helmet, and long silky brown hair fluttered in the wind.
“Hi, Miss Mia! I’m looking for Hideki Mizushima. Is he around?”
The students were delightfully surprised. “S-Student council president?! What is she doing here?”
Vanessa Cyneburg was the student council president for Aelfsige Academy. One of the top three beauties along with Rei and Yumiko, her charisma and sassiness knew no bounds.
Hideki didn’t know he had anything to do with Vanessa, and he walked to her. “I’m here. What’s up, president?”
“Your uncle sent this to our school and tasked us to bring it to you. He wants you to train with a good weapon.”
Vanessa handed the wrapped object to Hideki, and Hideki unwrapped it. He unsheathed the sword to check the blade, and the edge reflected a bluish light under the sun.
Gale observed from a distance and remarked. “That’s the water serpent blade. A good sword.”
Jacinta, Clere, and Reynard looked at Gale for a moment because he was like an encyclopedia on fighting matters.
Hideki was embarrassed because the students marveled that he received such a good weapon. “I apologize. My uncle likes to show off, and he wants me to show off.
Did you come all this way to deliver the katana?”
“Hah! It’s no big deal,” Vanessa said. “I’m here to join you guys for training anyway.”
“J-Join us?!” Miss Mia exclaimed. “What about school?”
“It’ll figure itself out,” Vanessa replied as she walked towards the dining tables. Dylan was carrying his utensils to the washing area, and Vanessa spotted him.
“Yo, Dylan! How’ve you been?” Vanessa asked.
Dylan cast a cold glance at Vanessa and walked away.
“C’mon, we spent a whole day together on a date! You can’t be so cold to a girl!” Vanessa laughed. “I brought my itchy powder, smelly perfume, and all those toys when we had our date!”
“Keep it to yourself, Vanessa,” Dylan said as he widened the distance from her.
Vanessa noticed an aroma in the air and hopped towards its direction. She stood before Gale and Reynard and realized that the fragrance came from their beef stew.
“Do you mind if I try some of your food?” Vanessa asked.
Gale and Reynard looked at each other for a brief moment, and then Gale said, “go ahead.”
Vanessa reached for Gale’s used spoon and dug it into the stew. Jacinta and Clere noticed it was Gale’s spoon and they were astounded!
Even Gale and Reynard were speechless. Vanessa savored the beef stew in her mouth and placed her hand on her cheek in delight.
“Fabulous! I didn’t expect such great stew in the wild.
I’m famished! Are these leftovers? Can I have them?”
Gale looked at Reynard again, and the latter nodded. “Sure. Help yourself.”
Clere was sitting beside Gale, but Vanessa moved and sat between them. As space was tight, Vanessa leaned her body towards Gale and reached for his beef stew.
Clere was extremely displeased at Vanessa’s brazen behavior, but Vanessa didn’t seem to care.
The students were silent as they stared at Vanessa’s behavior. Vanessa looked up and said, “Oh, I’ll sit with anyone who has great food with them.”
Immediately, the guys started to grab their pots and pans to offer Vanessa their food as though she was a god. Vanessa laughed at the commotion and said, “I’ll have beef stew for today. Try again later. If you don’t mind, please place your food in front of me so that I can decide if I should sit with you for dinner.”
At Vanessa’s word, the guys placed their food before their goddess, and Vanessa was delighted. While she ate, Vanessa pressed her body against Gale, and Gale felt the warmth and suppleness of her body.
“Err… there’s space on the other side.”
“What? Really? I don’t see it,” Vanessa pretended as she ate while she pressed even closer to Gale.
Clere thought to herself. “Vanessa’s going to eat Gale alive! I’ll need to do something!”
“Hey, Gale — “ Clere began, but Vanessa interjected.
“You’re in trouble, Gale. Yumiko is upset that you haven’t called her all this while.”
Gale placed his palm on his head. “I’ll do it after the camp.”
“It’s too late. I advised her to punish you,” Vanessa said.
“Why do you do that?!”
“Of course! This is what happens when a guy stands a girl up!” Vanessa declared.
Gale thought of the punishment for a moment. “Sheesh. I’m not good with itchy powder or smelly stuff — “
“Who said anything about those toys? Naughty boy, you eavesdropped on my conversation with Dylan,” Vanessa took Gale’s arm and lightly bit him. Jacinta, Clere, and Reynard were horrified at how bold Vanessa was!
“Those toys are for creeps, to keep bugs away. For your punishment — “
Vanessa whispered into Gale’s ear, and his eyes widened.
“Don’t do that! I’m a virgin!”
“Why do you give your weakness away?” Vanessa giggled. “That makes you even more delectable!”
“Alright, I’ve had enough!” Clere roared as she cracked the dining table with her palms. Vanessa quickly jumped away as Clere was burning with hostility.
“Vanessa Cyneburg, leave Gale alone. You waltz in here as though this is your house and your hands are all over him!”
“Ms. Clere Sigrun. I’m usually kind to fellow girls, but don’t blame me for your shortcomings! You have had Gale for a long while, but you didn’t do anything to win him over!” Vanessa retorted.
That sentence from Vanessa pierced deeply into Clere, and her sweat glands began to ooze [Cursed Ink] unconsciously!
“Wow, you’re a prodigy, Ms. Clere,” Vanessa mused. “Even your sister isn’t capable of that.”
“That’s enough! What’s going on here?!” Kasumi said as she stood between Vanessa and Clere.
Vanessa returned to her food and said, “nothing much, Ms. Kasumi. Just a friendly exchange with Ms. Clere Sigrun.”
Clere was too upset to sit with Vanessa, and she walked away. Gale got up to chase after her, but Kasumi stopped him.
“I’ll do it. Don’t worry.”
“I’ll keep watch from a distance and will not eavesdrop,” Gale said.
Kasumi nodded, and both of them went to find Clere. Vanessa licked her spoon and thought to herself.
“Does Clere want a piece of Gale, or is she still in denial?”
Before Kasumi and Gale could catch up to Clere, Hideki was there with her. Kasumi then motioned to Gale not to interrupt both of them, and he obliged.
Hideki and Clere were before a brook, and the sound of a gentle stream permeated the atmosphere.
As Clere was silent, Hideki walked up to Clere.
“I’m sorry, Clere.”
Clere didn’t know what to say to Hideki. She was infuriated by Vanessa, and all she could think about was her situation with Gale.
As Clere spent a few moments to clear her mind, Hideki stood beside her without a word.
“Have you spoken with Satori yet?”
“… No, I haven’t,” Hideki replied.
“Why not? That’s so unlike you.”
“Both of us need space to think about things,” Hideki answered.
“Why haven’t you given Satori a chance?” Clere asked. “She’s beautiful, and she’s so in love with you.”
“…I have never considered anyone else except you, Clere,” Hideki said.
Clere chuckled and laughed. She wasn’t laughing at Hideki’s words but herself. Clere thought the same way as Hideki did about him until Gale came along. If Hideki had said it earlier, Clere would’ve gone with Hideki.
And now Clere faced Kasumi’s invitation yet again for Gale. Could she share her beloved with someone else?
“I don’t know, Hideki,” Clere said. “I need some time alone.”
Hideki walked forward and embraced Clere suddenly, and the latter was surprised.
“At least let me be by your side.”
Clere was familiar with Hideki’s warmth. She wanted to push him away, but tears streamed down her cheeks as her heart ached for Gale.
“Well, looks like the love triangle between Clere, Hideki and Satori is over. Happy ending,” Gale said. “We should celebrate your brother and Clere with a kiss!”
As Gale moved his lips closer to Kasumi, she pushed him away. “You’re so dull, Gale! This is wrong, and we shouldn’t be celebrating!”
“Wrong? Aren’t they in love from the start?”
The outcome of events exasperated Kasumi. If Clere were in love with Hideki, she would surely celebrate. But Clere was embracing a person she didn’t love.
“There’s nothing we can do now. We’ll need the events to unfold by themselves before we can help the both of them,” Kasumi said.
Gale had no clue what was Kasumi talking about since everything looked picture perfect to him.
It was the second day of camp and Beatrix took all the campers to class.
The students nestled under a clearing within the forest and Beatrix had a whiteboard with her. Beatrix wore gym tights, and the contours of her body revealed her shapely figure.
It was a chilly afternoon, and some of the students were getting sleepy.
Beatrix threw stones at the sleepy students and motioned them to stand at the back.
“No sleeping in my class! I know this is time for an afternoon nap, but you can’t sleep while I’m not sleeping!”
“Yes, Ms. Beatrix!” The students echoed.
“Good! Let’s start from the beginning.”
Beatrix drew three columns and wrote down, “Martial Arts”, “Magic”, and “Psychic”.
“Some of you didn’t come from Aelfsige Academy’s middle school, and this camp is supposed to bring everyone on the same page in regards to combat studies. It might sound boring, but if you don’t get your fundamentals right, you’re not going to be strong.
Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, Ms. Beatrix!” The students echoed again.
“There are three main branches of combat capabilities. All of you are familiar with martial arts, which is the strengthening of your body to do superhuman feats. Schools train you in martial arts because it is the simplest and the most accessible form of combat.
Over time, I will teach you how you can use food to strengthen your bodies.”
Wiley and Wales murmured among themselves. “But we eat every day, and I don’t see us getting stronger.”
Beatrix threw a stone at their foreheads each and said, “I heard that! Of course, we aren’t talking about normal foods. Certain foods and medications can propel your strength to astronomical heights. One of the top five strongest in the world, Rafflesia, concoct pills which sell for millions!“
Hideki was familiar with using medicine and serums to boost power. It had been some time since he visited Hunter and Cindy or the MAPR branch for a power boost. He had gotten used to the energy from the serums, and he itched for more strength.
“Next, we have magic as a form of combat. Magic is using supernatural elements to fight. The World Alliance recently started the ‘Occult Research Group’ club in schools to garner interest and research in magic studies. If you want to know more, you can look for the occult research group at Aelfsige Academy.”
Clere’s [Cursed Ink Technique] was a mixture of martial arts and magic. She began to realize that the real power of her techniques lies in magic and not in martial arts. That was why she needed specialized training which helped her to be creative with her skills. Regular martial arts training wouldn’t help her much.
“Lastly, psychic powers are innate. You either have it, or you don’t. It’s a form of mental power that transcends logic. Some people can generate force fields or barriers, while others can augment their physical prowess to fight. It is not as limitless as magic, and research is being done to explore its possibilities as we speak.”
Jacinta was proficient in psychic powers, but she hadn’t used her skills even once when she arrived at Aelfsige Academy. That would instantly give her away as a SPAW operative because SPAW monopolized psychic users.
“We have identified you guys through the training we had in the morning and came up with a strategy for group-based training. Gwen and Porneia will be giving out your cards, and it will identify the bucket which you belong to.”
Gwen and Porneia started to give out cards. The majority of the students were placed in the “Martial Arts” bucket.
“What do you have, Clere?” Jacinta asked.
Clere showed her card to Jacinta, and it wrote, “Magic”.
Afterward, Gwen passed Jacinta’s card to her.
“What do you have, Jacinta?” Clere asked.
Jacinta froze as she looked at her card. “H-How d-did the instructors know?”
Clere looked at Jacinta’s card, and it wrote, “Psychic”.
Gwen glanced at Jacinta with the corner of her eyes and moved to the next student.
After every student received their cards, Beatrix addressed them again.
“Asti will take care of martial artists, our camp commandant will take care of magic users, and Vanessa Cyneburg, our student council president, will take care of the psychic users.”
Everyone was surprised that Vanessa had an instructor role in the camp. Beatrix noticed the bewilderment from the students, and she explained.
“Vanessa is a level five psychic user. She has a scholarship waiting for her from SPAW after she graduates. We don’t have other instructors who have psychic powers, so Principal Stella asked her to drop by at our camp.”
Vanessa stood forward and waved to the students. “Thanks for having me!”
The students celebrated, and the guys cheered loudly for Vanessa! Clere was still mad at Vanessa, so she kept quiet.