Facing Her Nightmare (Not What She Expected XLIV)

15 Jul 2023  C. chou  4 mins read.

She jumped to the left, just before a claw came crashing down at her previous position. It was fast. Almost too fast. Breathing heavily, she picked herself up and continued running. It was faster than she remembered. Was the military involved in the creature’s change? Or was it all her imagination?

Before she had time to ponder the matter any further, she found herself reflexively darting aside again, only barely escaping another blow. With the way things were going, she wasn’t even sure if she’d be able to finish this exam alive. Even with the medical developments limiting the spread of petrification, those claws were dangerously sharp … and with the creature’s speed…

She shuddered. She could only imagine the consequences of suffering a single blow, not to mention multiple.

She took a deep breath, as she ran. At least, her vaccination afforded her some level of protection against the beasts. At the very minimum, she didn’t need to worry about petrification this time around. Taking another deep breath, she stole a glance at Kestyn, who was anxiously leaning over the rails of the spectator seating area.

She smiled as he met her gaze. Instantly, she felt better. He had been her only confidant over the years. The only person that she could trust with her thoughts. With her brother and most of his old troops absent today, he was also one of the few spectators that could truly appreciate how dangerous this beast once was and the threat it still could be. She straightened, comforted by the fact that there was someone that would step in to stop the fight if things went south.

She just had to win this thing. She just had to relax and give this her all. She glanced backwards, gauging the distance separating her from her furry opponent. Regardless of what happened, she wasn’t backing down this time. This was her only ticket toward freedom. Her only chance for a deployment that would allow her to continue her search for Sylin.

It wasn’t something that she could give up simply because there was some risk involved.

Holding out her sword before her, she briefly stopped in her tracks, before taking a sharp turn. Instantly she found herself beside the creature. Infusing her weapon, she took a swipe at its side, and quickly fell to her knees. Leaning backward, she moved her blade above her head and dragged it across the creature’s underbelly as her momentum carried her across the recently-polished arena grounds.

It was a risky manoeuver, but also one that she had to take. With her current skill and build, she wouldn’t stand a chance with raw strength alone. But she also couldn’t forfeit this match. Even without everything else on the line, it may be her only opportunity to face one of these creatures in a such a controlled setting. She had to give it her best. For Sylin’s sake and her own, she needed to learn as much as she could… and… she had to defeat this thing.

She forced herself to her feet the moment she emerged at the other side of the beast and burst into a charge. Ducking the creature’s efforts to claw at her, she slashed at its exposed side. Despite her discomfort, she was certain of one thing: this had to end quickly. She grit her teeth. Recoil? Stress? Fear? She could no longer tell what it was.

All she knew was that, despite her growth over the years, her hands were shaking again. The unease was settling back in. And, if prior experience could be trusted, she wasn’t going to last much longer. If she wanted to walk out of this fight alive, she would have to defeat the beast before the dread and tiredness fully consumed her.

C. Chou
C. Chou

A writer that loves cabbages and bamboo, but also enjoys writing and sharing fiction (particularly the fantasy genre). Find me on Medium at: https://chouxherbe.medium.com/