Silva stared at the creature in his hand, the glowing, white eyes freaking him out. He had fought many daemon weapon users in his life, and never once had he seen anything like this. Lethen wasn’t moving but Silva could feel his glare burning into him. The shovel had struck him twice in the face before he understood the danger he was in. He raised his own weapon, a spiky headed mace, to deflect the third blow. The force of the blow made his arm turn to rubber. He dropped Lethen.
Lethen’s feet barely hit the floor before he was in motion. He swung the shovel in wide arcs, each time connecting with either Silva’s mace or his body. It didn’t take more than half a dozen swings before Silva was on the ground, hands up to show surrender.
“I yield, just get this thing offa me!” Silva shouted. For a man who was, up until that point, claiming his superiority, he sounded most like a small child that found a spider crawling up his leg.
Only Lethen didn’t stop. He couldn’t stop, not that he was trying very hard. Seeing Marnie hurt, he had embraced the rage; joined his will with that of his daemon’s. He didn’t want to just fight. He wanted to kill and he was going to enjoy it. He could still see through his eyes, but it was like being a passenger rather than the driver. Lethen saw his weapon descend several more times before he felt hands holding him back.
He turned and raised his weapon, meaning to smash the person who was stopping him from killing Silva. He was about to swing when he saw it was Marnie.
Control of his body came flooding back. The daemon still wanted to swing, but he held it back. For a moment he and his daemon were in total agreement, now they were back to barely tolerating each other.
“Don’t do it Lethen, this isn’t you,” she said.
“She’s right half-breed,” Angus said. “What you just experienced was losing yourself to the will of your daemon. Giving your daemon total control of your body is a very dangerous thing.” He looked down at Silva. “I think we can safely say that this is over. You have been defeated and will be taken into custody. Our security forces arrived while the half-breed was busting your nose open. They are just waiting for my go ahead to enter. It’s all clear boys, come on in.”
Another group of five students, led by their focus sensei came into the room through the same door Squad 1C had. These kids were older though. Lethen had heard that security was part of your job once you got to fifth year. That Lethen’s squad had defeated the intruders before backup had arrived spoke well of the team’s future in Hikari.
Behind the security squad came another man. Lethen recognized him as Master Brascko, a member of the council of three, the ones just below the headmaster when it came to Hikari’s hierarchy. “Congratulations on being the first class in three years to actually defeat Silva’s team. Last year, Squad 1B faced them and barely even managed to keep them occupied long enough for security forces to come. The fact that you managed this means that we may have underestimated you by naming you 1C.”
Lethen looked around. The other members of his team looked as confused as he felt. All except Angus. Their teacher clearly knew more than the rest of them.
“Allow me to explain,” Brascko said. “Each year we test our first year students before we begin training. It gives us a baseline to work from. We see where they are and what they are capable of so we know how best to improve their skills. From this test we have learned where best to focus our efforts. Prolier and Angel needs to focus on power, Renala on offense, Marnie on speed and the half-breed needs control.”
Renala was shaking. “This was all just a test? What if they’d killed us, or we killed them?”
“They are on strict orders to do no permanent damage to our students. And as for you killing them? They understand the dangers when they take the job. It’s why they’re paid so well for it. It’s rare since the students are untrained, but it has happened with especially gifted or unstable students.”
Silva groaned from the floor where he was still lying.
“That reminds me,” Angus said, looking at him. “You yielded to an opposing daemon weapon user. You know what that means don’t you?”
Silva looked up at Angus and nodded, hatred burning in his eyes.
“Half-breed, I would have liked to have trained you a little before your first time, but the law states that when you yield, you must allow the knight who defeated you to drain your weapon. You forced Silva to submit to you and therefore it is your right to touch your weapon to his and drain it’s form and power.”
Lethen stepped forward, holding out his shovel. “Is there anything I’m supposed to do?”
Angus shook his head. “Just hold your weapon to his and his daemon will allow the transfer. Your daemon will assimilate its form. The power is given to you.”
“What happens to his daemon, does it die?”
“No, but it will sleep for about half an hour. It will be nothing more than a chunk of wood.”
Lethen set the tip of his shovel on the mace. The gathering power crept slowly through his body. At first he didn’t feel it at all, then it was just a hint of warmth. Slowly his muscles grew hot and he could feel it moving through his arms, down his torso and pooling in his legs. He had no idea what was happening to him, but it felt good. He knew that daemon knights developed gifts as time went on, but how they learned them was a closely guarded secret.
“In the entire history of Hikari,” Brascko said, “I think this may only be the second time a student has been given the honor of draining a weapon during the initial test. Master Carter was the first all those years ago. He made a man with a scythe yield to him. The fact that a half-breed like you is capable of following in his footsteps in anything boggles the mind, but perhaps I should keep my eye on you. What’s your name kid?”
“Lethen, sir, and if you don’t mind me asking, how do I know what power this is giving me?”
“You probably won’t at first. The energy may be going to a specific part of your body or spreading out evenly. The more localized the sensation, the easier it will probably be to figure it out. It may be related to its natural form, but those can be even more difficult to discover. I would advise experimenting in private. A daemon knight doesn’t want people knowing everything he’s capable of. The less an enemy knows about you, the better.”
The sensation of heat in Lethen’s legs slowly ebbed. “I think it’s finished.”
Angus nodded and told him to lift his weapon.
Just like after it’s first rampage, his weapon was now strangely compliant, not resisting his movements at all. It had gotten a workout and was well fed today. The energy coming from it was surprisingly content. “How do I get it to change form?”
Angus clapped him on his shoulder. “It will come in time. This is but the first year of your training. Learning how to harness all of your daemon’s forms is something that comes with time. So will your control over the various powers you’ll acquire. Right now you should just be proud to have passed this first test with flying colors.”
Brascko was watching a replay of the fight on his tablet and smiling. “To think that we’d have a berserker this year. We only get one of those about every ten years. If you can learn to control that, you’ll make a hell of a fighter one day.”
Before Lethen could speak, Angus was whispering so that only he could hear it. “Don’t tell him what happened. Him thinking that you’re a berserker is much better than him knowing you let your daemon take over.”
“Thank you sir,” Lethen said. “I will do my best. What did you mean about being mistaken in naming us Squad 1C?”
“Ah, you caught that did you? Well each year the three squads are labeled A, B, or C. A is the team that we expect to be the strongest of the three, C is obviously the weakest. It’s actually kind of funny. We expected that you would be the one who held the group back. We’ve never had a student of your, shall we say, type. The council was less than eager to even let you in and they we honestly didn’t expect much from you. As it stands you could be the one who takes this team from a C classification to B or perhaps even A. Over the next few years we will see how the teams measure up against each other.”
By this time, Silva’s men had picked up their boss and were preparing to leave. Silva turned around and glared at Lethen. “This isn’t over half-breed. The next time we meet I won’t be under the employ of Hikari. I won’t have to hold back and I won’t be under orders not to kill you. Most likely I will be being paid specifically to do as much harm to you as possible and I will enjoy it immensely. Watch your back.”
Lethen found it difficult to take his threat seriously as he watched him leave. He was being supported by two of his men, one under each arm. Two of the other men were still unconscious and were being carried out. It was a sad looking group by all accounts. Lethen knew he was serious, but what could a man who’d yielded to him do, especially once he’d actually completed some of his training. The next time they met, Lethen planned to be exponentially stronger.
“Alright kids,” Angus said, “The day has barely started. If you thought you were gonna get let off now to go rest, you are sadly mistaken. This test was not part of your training technically, so we still have a full day ahead of us. While each of you have been told what areas need more improvement, believe me when I tell you that you will be working all aspects of your skills. The councilor here has much more important things to do than sit here and chin-wag with a bunch of first years. Let’s move out.”
As they walked from the sawmill, Lethen made sure he was standing next to Angus. “You told me to keep quiet about letting my daemon take over. What would’ve happened to me if he’d known what really happened?”
Angus slowed, allowing the rest of the class to move ahead. When he spoke, his voice was low and Lethen had to strain to hear him. “Losing control like that is very dangerous. Daemons who get too used to inhabiting their owner’s bodies can eventually take over permanently. If he’d known what really happened, you’d be watched very closely and if there was a sign that your daemon might push you out, you’d be killed before it was allowed to happen.”
Lethen nodded and looked up at the rest of the squad, noting that Prolier had hung back a little further than the others. How much had he heard and what would he do with the information?