I ran a hand through my damp hair as I took a deep breath. Why didn’t my mother prepare a towel for me like she did with my father?! I could really use one right now. I was a bit tired after my work out and training, but not as much as I used to get when I first started. I checked my arms and was pleased to see they were no longer the limp noodles they used to be. I was developing strength in my body plus a bit of muscle definition, and more resistance to pain.
My development over the past few months made my father proud, and I found I rather liked having him be proud of me. It was a good feeling, but even a better feeling knowing that I was making progress all on my own. I felt proud of myself!
My father had me following a strict training schedule to not only strengthen my body, but my mind as well. But right now, my mind and body were just tired, and I needed a break.
I had taken to going to Aria’s house after training, and it always left me feeling better to just spend some time with her after my serious training. So I got ready to finish my last set of exercises.
I stretched after I finished my training for the day, feeling less sore than I had the day before. It seemed my father was right, the more I trained, the more my body got used to it. I was more disciplined now, and no longer complaining after every little thing.
“Lucas, are you done?!” my mother called out from the house.
“If you are going to Aria’s, come in to clean up first!”
I grumbled in protest under my breath but went in anyway. My mom knew me too well! I had been going to Aria’s after my training sessions since we had become friends a few day ago. She was fun to hang out with and was always in a cheerful mood.
I ran to my room and freshened up, changing my shirt and putting the dirty one in the laundry basket. I was walking out when my mom called out again, asking me if I was hungry. I wasn’t, and I told her as much hoping she would just let me go already. She didn’t ask me anything else and I happily went to my neighbor’s.
Aria was outside, with three other kids I had never seen before. Two of them were girls, and one boy. They looked to be about my age and I was a bit excited about the prospect of making new friends. The two girls, however, obviously didn’t share the same sentiment as me because they looked at me warily. As if I was some new threat that they were trying to figure out.
One of the girls appeared to put on a brave front and stood in almost a protective stance in front of the other girl. I had to wonder what that was about. The boy just stood at a distance but gave me a smile, which I returned.
Aria smiled and gestured to the girl in front. “This is my friend Juliana Sternhell.”
I nodded to Juliana who was still looking at me like she was sizing me up and it actually made me smile. She wore her hair in a ponytail, and everything about her was neat and in place. But she looked like she could be a little bossy if she wanted to, I could tell by how fiercely she was standing in front of her shy friend. Interesting girl, I thought.
Aria pointed to the shy girl who was still hiding behind her friend, “That is Alys Scharrff.”
The girls were both very pretty, and I could see how they would look even more beautiful in the near future as they got older. It seemed I was just surrounded by beautiful girls and women…and I would never complain about that!
And finally the boy, “and this is Tyr O’liveria.”
I noticed her little smile as she introduced the boy and I immediately remembered her telling me about the same boy when we had been playing video games. I see, it’s you!
“Nice to meet you all, I am Lucas Weisberg.”
Juliana was the first to speak, “So how did you and Aria meet?”
Aria smiled and chuckled a bit, “Well, Lucas was kind of a hero.”
Their eyes widened and they really looked curious to hear the story. I supposed that gained me some points in their eyes as some of the wariness left the other girl’s eyes.
“Really?” Alys asked as she turned to me, “what did you do?”
Aria replied excitedly before I could, and I was happy to let her. Just seeing her when she was all cheerful and excited reminded me why I liked her so much as my friend.
“I got separated from my mom and I got lost. And then I bumped into this bully and he took my doll, and then he wouldn’t give it back. Lucas here beat him up and made him apologize and everything,” she said laughing, “then he even started crying and gave me back my doll.”
Julianna scoffed, “I don’t believe it, look at how fragile he is.”
I refrained from disputing that statement, how the hell did I look fragile?!! I looked just fine, thank you very much, and since I had been training more and more I was in good shape too for my age. I was stronger now and could probably take on anyone twice my size! Ha! Fragile my foot!
“I think that was really brave of you,” Alys said shyly, smiling at me for the first time.
Yeah, she really was a pretty girl, especially when she smiled wide like that.
“I guess we should thank you for being there for Aria,” Tyr finally spoke up.
I shook my head, “No thanks necessary, I was just helping a friend out.”
“Well, any friend of Aria is a friend of mine,” he replied with a smile.
Aria blushed and I saw Juliana roll her eyes, and I failed to understand her attitude.
‘Can we all just go back to doing what we were doing before he came,” she said in an annoyed tone.
I could sense she disliked me but it didn’t make any sense since we had only just met. She had no reason not to like me but she was throwing annoyed looks my way. I really had no time for childish games, and I looked away from her, deciding to ignore her and just take time to know my newly acquired friends. Nothing good would ever come of me trying to fix something I had no control of, so I would let her play her little games. But if she tried to do anything stupid there was no way in hell I was going to let her get away with it.
I would be more than happy to stop her in her tracks and remind her to be a good little girl and behave properly!
I blinked and realized I had missed what Tyr had asked me.
“I’m sorry, what were you saying?”
“He asked, what you wanted to be in the future?” Juliana repeated, “Personally, I want to be a knight.”
I let her steer the conversation away from me and take the spotlight for herself.
Aria almost screamed in excitement, “Oh, me too! I want to be a knight too! That is so awesome.”
I couldn’t help but smile at my friend, her cheerfulness really was infectious.
“That is really awesome, Aria,” I agreed, but didn’t acknowledge Juliana’s shared dream. She glared at me from the corner of her eye but I had already decided I wasn’t letting her get to me.
“What about you Alys?” I asked the shy girl, trying to include her in the conversation.
“Oh me? I want to be a nurse,” she said with a small smile.
“That’s great, Alys,” Tyr said encouragingly, and I immediately decided I liked this boy. He was a nice guy I supposed. “I guess I want to be a hero,” Tyr said.
“What kind of hero?” Juliana asked with hearts in her eyes.
Oh, please don’t tell me she had a crush on the boy as well, I internally groaned.
“The kind of hero that will save the world,” he replied with a grin.
Oh how innocent children were! I really wished I had that innocence back sometimes, back when things were so simple and I hadn’t well…died. Now I knew just how the world was and how truly worse it could get. I knew of pain and disappointments and nightmares these kids couldn’t even begin to fathom. But such was life I supposed, too bad they would learn soon enough.
That is when I noticed they were all looking at me expectantly, waiting for me to share my dreams as well. Which was fair enough since they had told me theirs.
“Well, I want to be a warrior, just like my father is.”
“That is great, Lucas. I’m sure you will be so strong, I know you train every day,” Aria smiled.
“Actually, I wanted to become a wizard and wanted my mom to teach me magic. But I can’t do that, because I am a not a mana user. But I will be a great warrior.”
Tyr looked at me, “Maybe we could team up when we grow up.”
I nodded, not knowing if our paths would remain intertwined.
“So what do we do now?” Tyr said, and the girls looked at him.
“Well, what do you want to do?” Juliana asked sweetly, but I could tell it was specially for Tyr’s benefit.
Tyr just shrugged, “Maybe we can play some ball? Last time you promised we would but we never did.”
The girls nodded and it was no surprise Alys nodded too. Even though she was not looking at Tyr with stars in her eyes like these other two were, she seemed to follow Juliana’s lead.
And it seemed Tyr was the leader of this little gang and the girls were all too happy to follow his lead.
“Okay then, we can get a ball and play outside,” Tyr decided, and I had to wonder how many times the girls had asked him to do something girly that they wanted and he had to do it.
But now they eagerly followed him, prepared to play whatever game he suggested. I couldn’t help the feeling that washed over me as I realised my childhood friend flag was being destroyed right before my eyes. So much for saving Aria from the bully!
And speaking of my neighbour and friend, she seemed particularly attached to Tyr. Listening to what he said with a smile. No matter what it was! Sometimes it wasn’t even funny or awe inspiring!
And I could see why she and Juliana looked at him like he hung the moon. Tyr was nice enough, and I suppose he was a cute kid. Maybe that’s why the girls liked him so much. And he seemed to revel in their attention too, maybe a little too much? I couldn’t tell, he was so nice after all. Perhaps I was just imagining things.
Not only had my body been increasing in stamina and strength, my mentality was developing as well. I was developing a mature mindset and an inner strength that would allow me to handle different situations. Which helped me now to handle things in due time with patience.
So with that, I decided to just join my new friends and indulge them in whatever games they wanted to play.