VI. Challenge

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1:30 PM rolled around and Lena exited her final class of the day and made her way out into the courtyard. She made her way to the one vacant bench in the vicinity and sat down, laying her backpack on the ground next to it.

She groaned and leaned her head back, looking up at the bright blue sky, laced with stringy white clouds. She then closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. The voices of many other Gifted her age filled the air, as classes had ended for everyone. Wanting quiet, Lena got up and headed towards the garden, catching a glimpse of Hunter and Melany as she went. Hoping they didn't notice her, she quickened her pace.

"There she goes again," Melany sighed.
"Whatever," Hunter grunted, "If she doesn't wanna be around us then what's it matter? Let's get something to eat."
Melany shot him a disapproving look but didn't reply.
"You go on without me," she said, "I have to... meet with Ms. Danford."
Hunter looked at her, perplexed, "Why?"
"Something relating to school," Melany replied, "Just- go on for lunch, perhaps find Jace and Janice when you do, and I'll meet you guys later."

She then hurried off towards the education buildings as Hunter watched her go, confused and annoyed.
He then turned to the direction where they saw Lena go, and paused.
"Keep avoiding us and you'll see what happens," he muttered to himself.

He then noticed Jace and Janice coming over to him, the girl clinging onto the boy's arm.
"'Sup, guys," he greeted.
"Hey," Jace said in a rather quiet tone.
"Where's Mel?" Janice asked.
"She had to... do something," Hunter explained, "Anyways, Jace, can I talk to you for a second?"
Jace paused, not expecting this.
"Uhm, sure," he said, not quite certain.
Hunter nodded, pleased, "Janice, mind leaving us alone for a moment."
Janice paused, looking between both boys.
"Alright," she said, "I'll go find us a table for lunch, then."

She then headed off, and Hunter wrapped his arm around Jace and headed off towards the garden.
"Listen, I know you want to get good at using your Gift for fighting," he said.
"Yeah..." Jace answered, "What does that have to do with anything?"
"Well, you're not gonna get good unless you start practicing," Hunter said, "And to practice, first you need to know what you already know."
"Uhh-" Jace trailed off, unsure where he was going with this.
"There's this girl who is really great to practice with," Hunter smiled, "Red hair, freckles, blue eyes, quite a pretty girl."
Jace blushed, remembering the girl with red hair he saw on the ferry.
"She went over by the garden," Hunter continued, "Challenge her and see what you know, and then you and I can start training from there."
"You and I?" Jace asked, "But, you know as little about fighting as I do."
"Yeahhh, but see; I also practiced with this girl. I know her, even. She's a pretty good fighter, and I'm sure she'll appreciate you acknowledging that fact," Hunter grinned, "Don't wuss out, man. Starting to learn how to fight is seeing what you can really do first."
Jace was unsure, but considered Hunter's words.

🌊

Lena sat on the outside of the garden, up against the hedge border surrounding it. She would have gone inside, but there were too many people. It wasn't as quiet as she would have liked out here, but it was better than the cluster of voices in the courtyard. She closed her eyes and let herself doze in the sunlight.

That didn't last long, however, for she heard footsteps approaching her from the front. She groaned in irritation, and opened her eyes.

Standing before her was a relatively tall, brown-haired boy with blue eyes like her. Lena blushed, for she did find him rather attractive, but she really wanted to be alone right now.

"Can I... help you?" she asked.
"Maybe," he said, an uncertain tone in his voice, "I... I challenge you to a duel! Right now!!"
Lena blinked in astonishment, "What."
"Yeah!" Jace's voice quivered, "I wanna see what you can do!.... so I can find out... what I can do?"
Lena gave him a very confused look.
Jace looked back to where Hunter stood by one of the dorm buildings, giving a smirk and a thumbs up.

"Uhh, we need a teacher, or something, to watch it," Lena said, "So uh, I don't think we can do it right now."
Jace's face faltered into an embarrassed frown, and he looked back at Hunter once again, who gave a 'go on' gesture.

Jace looked back at Lena, her red hair catching his eye.
"I'm sorry," he said.
"Wha-?" Lena started, and she flinched as a yellow ray of lightning zapped in the shoulder. It wasn't powerful enough to hurt, but it did sting.

She rubbed her shoulder, and stood up, very irritated.
She raised her palm up, and icicles began to shoot out towards Jace.
Jace panicked, and a yellow lightning bolt came crashing down from the sky on top of him, effectively teleporting him away. The icicles shot through where he once stood, and once he disappeared, Lena ceased fire.

She stepped forward, looking around. She formed water bubbles in her hands. Even though she had never been in a real fight before, she had some training nonetheless, although it wasn't much.

She didn't realize that Jace had teleported into the garden, and when he jumped over the hedge border and launched a barrage of lightning, Lena didn't realize until too late.
The lightning electrocuted her, her water bubbles dissipating, and she fell to the ground on her back, groaning.

Jace walked towards her, not letting up with the lightning.
Lena formed a water hand despite the lightning barrage, and extended it over to Jace, grabbing his ankle. She pulled, and effectively made him fall onto the ground.

Jace yelped as his back hit the ground. With the lightning now stopped, Lena took a moment, and stood back up, her body slightly smoking, and out of breath.

Jace sat up, rubbing the back of his head, when he felt a cold tip underneath his chin.
He looked up to see Lena standing over him, with an ice knife lifting his face up.

"Happy?" she asked, annoyed.
Jace blushed when he looked up at her, then looked back down at the knife.
His face turned from awestruck to determined, and he zapped her hand, making her flinch and drop the knife.
He then tackled her to the ground and pretty much sat on top of her, holding her arms down and looking her straight in the eyes.

Both paused, finding themselves in a rather awkward position.
Lena struggled against him but Jace wouldn't let up. Icy vapor radiated off of Lena's hands as lightning trickled on Jace's.

"Alright alright alright," Hunter said, running over, "That's enough."
Lena winged at the sight of him while Jace looked at him, uncomfortably.
"What are you waiting for, an invitation??" Hunter asked, "Get off of her!"
Jace realized and quickly got up, looking at the ground.
Lena stood back up too, avoiding looking at Hunter.
"Lena, are you-" Hunter started.
"I'm fine," Lena said quickly, and headed towards her backpack.

Just then, the sound of a woman clearing her throat could be heard amongst the three.
They turned to see Arielle Danford standing a few feet away.

"You three, my office, now," she ordered.

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