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Storm Phase – 10
In this epic fantasy, a young wizard with a mysterious destiny, a cat-girl ninja, and a diary that turns into a bat-like creature journey through worlds of monsters and mayhem.
As Turesobei raced full-tilt along the garden paths on his way toward the military training field, his mind raced through all the many questions he wished he’d had time to ask Lu Bei. The construct was far more interesting and important than anything he would learn from Arms Master Kilono today — or any other day.
And once again, he wasn’t looking where he was going. As he rounded a corner, he found himself nearly face-to-face with a group of girls, and there wasn’t enough room to stop. The girls squealed as he threw himself aside to avoid colliding into them. He tumbled face-first into a muddy thicket of tall, decorative grasses.
One of the four girls clacked a fan shut and spat, “Watch where you’re going, you idiot!”
He cringed at the sound of that proud, biting voice.
“Sorry, Awasa,” he muttered.
“Chonda Turesobei?” she responded.
He stood up from the grass and dusted himself off.
Cheeks flushed, he grinned sheepishly at Awasa and said stupidly, “It’s me.”
The other three girls backed away and snickered behind their painted fans. Awasa frowned at him, as usual, then rolled her eyes.
Awasa was a year younger, and elegantly beautiful. She had large brown eyes, pouty, red lips, and striking cheekbones. Her skin shone like yellow-tinted ivory. Her black hair glimmered with a hint of blue. Slender, but not without curves, she possessed a regal bearing that made everyone gravitate toward her. She was, essentially, every boy’s dream.
Awasa’s friends were well-dressed and attractive, but couldn’t hold a candle to her. She was wearing a mint green outer robe decorated with a pattern of white peonies. The hint of silk showing beneath was a light red, like eastern wine. Silver pins and ribbons held her hair in a bun on the back of her head.
“You look… you look pretty today,” he said, the words tumbling awkwardly from his lips.
Awasa ignored the compliment. She probably heard dozens every day. “You have mud on your face, dummy. And dirt all over you.”
His throated tightened as the flush in his cheeks spread down his neck into his chest. As he dusted himself off and tried to rub the mud from his face, he fumbled for words. “I’m — I’m late for martial arts. That’s… that’s why I was running. And I… I didn’t know you… you’d be there.”
“Well, you are not getting there any faster now, are you?”
“I–I don't guess so.”
“And you nearly ran into me.”
“I am so very sorry, Awasa. I'll be more careful in the future.”
“See that you are.”
Her scowl softened for a moment, and she tilted her head as she looked him over. The girls behind her fell silent and peered over the tops of their fans. One whispered something to another, and then they both giggled.
“Awasa?” Turesobei said.
Her cheeks flushed as she seemed to come to her senses. “Yes?” she asked, in what may have been the softest tone he’d ever heard her from her.
He fidgeted awkwardly. “Um, I was kind of hoping to talk to you. And… and I never seem to get a chance.” His chest was warm and tight, and he couldn’t meet her gaze. “Do you, um… do you think next week, maybe… the festival—”
“No,” she said firmly.
“Wh-what?” he stammered.
“I said no,” she snapped. “Since I am cursed to spend all my adult years as your wife, I see no need to spend time with you now. I will be attending the festival with someone else. Someone more… dignified.”
Years ago, Turesobei’s mother and Awasa's parents had arranged for their children to be married once Turesobei turned eighteen, provided he passed his wizardry examinations, which no one doubted would happen. He thought the arrangement was splendid, but it didn't please Awasa in the least.
With a swift flick of her wrist, Awasa unfolded her fan. “Come, girls. Turesobei needs his sword practice. Desperately, I am sure, given what a klutz he is.”
The girls snickered again and proudly marched away. He looked back and caught Awasa staring at him over her shoulder. As soon as she noticed him, she whipped her head around and continued on.
Burning with shame, Turesobei launched back into a run.
Awasa hated him.
And Master Kilono was going to kill him.
To Be Continued…
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