Tempo Trigger Chapter 3
Test Of The Squire
"Rena, hurry it up! The game's going to start, the band's not going to have its drummer, and I'm going to be in a lot of trouble!" Tempo had cried as he ran across the grass, still wet with the rain.
"I'm sorry! I can't run in these heels!" She apologized, stumbling through the grass.
"Why'd you wear them anyway?" He complained. "I told you we weren't going anywhere fancy tonight."
"I wanted to make you happy, all right?"
"All right, all right. Sowell can play the drums in an emergency, but he can't really pick up the pace like me." Tempo slowed down to let her catch up to him.
"Oh crud!" Rena cursed.
"Oh, I just know I'm not going to like this, whatever it is." Tempo groaned, giving her a hard time.
"It's not that bad!" She scolded him. "But I left my purse back at the academy when we stopped by."
He sighed, then slowly turned around. "All right, let's go."
"No, that's all right. You go ahead to the game. I'll catch up with you."
"Are you sure?"
"I'll be fine! Garin stayed late to train anyway."
"That's supposed to reassure me?"
"You are so paranoid!" She had scolded him. "Just because you two don't get along. Besides, he's my friend."
"All right." 'Don't go alone.' "Go ahead." 'Because he'll kill you.' "I'll see you later." 'Goodbye forever... ..again.' His heart ached for her as he watched her go. He didn't usually relive this moment. He hadn't wanted to have to go through it again.
"Rena!" Tempo tossed in his sleep as Schala walked into the room early in the morning.
She frowned. 'First you already have a girlfriend, now you're shouting out another girl's name... I'm starting to think that kinky other aspect of myself was wrong about you...' "Hey Tempo." She shook him a little more roughly than was necessary.
"What?" He fully awoke, rubbing his eyes.
"Leopold wants to meet with us. People don't sleep in around here, apparently."
"All right. Let's get going. And it would probably be a good idea if you referred to him as Sir Leopold." He got up and stretched, wishing he had a change of clothes.
"Sure thing. Follow me." Schala led Tempo from the barracks up through the castle. He took in the sights with wide eyed fascination, as opposed to Schala's relative boredom. They finally reached the top of one of the six towers, and found Leopold waiting in the top room.
"Good morning, page Tempo. You are quite a mystery to me, I must say. Where do you come from?"
"Sir, I really don't think you'd believe me if I told you." Tempo bowed his head. "I'm really not sure myself. I think we're a long way from home."
'You have no idea.' Schala grinned to herself.
"Where did you acquire your powers?" Leopold paced around the room, occasionally looking out the windows.
"I have trained with a faction known as Soultech, which I believe has much in common with the Soul Knights."
"I have never heard of this faction."
"I can't explain how we got here sir. I'm not sure how to return home."
Leopold frowned a little. "All right, mystery man. Since you wield soul powers, you are welcome to stay here as long as you need. I would like to test your abilities, however."
"Test me? How?" Tempo began to sound nervous.
"In a battle, of course. There's no other way to test."
"The only thing I have is this mace." Tempo held up his weapon of choice.
"It will do. What happened to the spikes though?"
"Another thing that you wouldn't believe me if I told you."
"Very well. Now, take this." Leopold held out a small, glowing stone and gave it to Tempo. He took out a second one, drew out a sai, and inserted it into a special slot. "Just putting that in your pocket should be enough." He gestured for Tempo to put the stone away, then drew another sai. "Now, I'll try to go easy on you, but don't go easy on me, all right?"
"If you say so. I don't think that'll be a problem though. How am I supposed to defend against two sais with this?"
"You should be using your powers." Leopold told him.
"But..." Tempo wasn't sure how to protest.
"That stone will ensure that you'll be able to use them without actually draining your spirit energy."
"How is that possible?" He was dumbfounded.
"I'll explain once I'm sure I can trust you. Now get ready, en guarde!" Leopold twirled his sais, then suddenly held them straight, and crossed his arms. The stone in his sai began to glow. "Diamond Shield!" A white glow surrounded Leopold, but not much else happened. Apparently, he was concentrating on defense first, giving Tempo time to warm up.
"All right... Activating Soultech!" Tempo felt the stone in his pocket begin to grow warm. "Gale Storm!" The many beams of blue energy rocked into Leopold's Shield with force, but failed to destroy it.
"Not bad for an opening shot, but put out some more effort." Leopold told him. "Prepare to defend yourself. Flame On!" Leopold roared forward, his body suddenly encased in flame. By the time he reached Tempo, the flame transferred into his sais, which his stabbed forward hard. Tempo barely managed to parry the attack by holding his mace forward horizontaly. It caught between the inner and outer prong on both of them, and he quickly swung upward. The large beams of fire raced into the ceiling. He was thrown backward, but managed to keep his balance.
"So fire's your thing huh? All right, Blizzard Force!" Bluish green waves of energy filled the room, and Leopold was thrown against the opposite wall. His shield shattered.
"Charge!" Leopold shouted simply. White energy appeared out of the air and began to gather in his body. Tempo could tell he was gathering energy for something big.
"Ah... Slam!!" Green energy surrounded his fist, and he charged forward, resulting in a punch that sent Leopold to the floor. Tempo knew it wouldn't be enough, and was proven right as the Soul Knight jumped right back up.
"Diamond Fist!" As Leopold shouted, his right hand instantly crystalized. The following punch sent Tempo rocketing back into the opposite wall, the wind knocked out of him. "Not bad." Leopold smiled as his fist returned to flesh. "Not bad at all. As I suspected, you're not merely a page."
"I'm not?" Tempo asked in a whisper, still struggling to get his breath back.
"No. You're a squire, at least. And a pretty good one at that. Why did you tell me you were a page?"
"Pardon me sir," Tempo finally stood back up, "but I really am a page where I come from."
"You have some incompetent commander then." Leopold grimaced.
"Yes... I would agree with that." Tempo smiled.
"Anyway, anyone who's trained hard enough to have that much skill is obviously trustworthy." Leopold smiled. "I think I can answer some of your questions now."
'I can think of an exception to that.' Tempo thought inwardly. "That's good to hear, sir."
"First, let's get you set up with a real mace. Follow me to the armory."
"You wouldn't happen to have a dagger I could use, would you?" Schala finally broke in as Leopold headed out the door and down the stairs.
"Sure thing. You can probably take your pick." Schala and Tempo followed him down the tower at a brisk pace, then across the wide courtyard. They crossed into the main keep, then suddenly came to a stop as they rounded a corner. Leopold was instantly kneeling, his eyes lowered. Tempo hesitated a second, then quickly followed suit, but kept his eyes on the man Leopold was kneeling before. "Good morning, Master Raganorn." Leopold said simply from his position. Tempo instantly kneeled as low as he could go without lying down. If Leopold referred to him as "Master" then he was obviously a heavy hitter around here. Schala merely watched from behind them, not making the slightest movement.
"Rise, Sir Leopold." Raganorn said in an almost bored tone. "And your companion as well." Leopold quickly got to his feet. Tempo followed more slowly, his eyes fairly wide.
"Where are you off to this morning Master?" Leopold asked with what seemed like geniune interest.
"Bed." Raganorn said simply. "I've been out for about 36 hours trying to locate Moogoo's fortress, with no luck."
"Well, have a good rest Master, but you may be interested to know, this young man ran afoul of Barada not too far south of here." He pointed at Tempo.
"Interesting." Raganorn scratched his chin. "But we do have reason to believe Barada has a separate base of operations from Moogoo. I'll talk to you about it later." With that, he continued on down the hall, and was gone.
"Who was that?" Tempo asked in awe.
"That was Raganorn, leader of the Soul Knights." Leopold smiled. "Now come on, we're almost there."
As they continued on down the hall, Tempo turned to Schala. "Hey, why didn't you bow?"
"I'm no Soul Knight." She said, almost scornfully. "Besides, I'm a... ..never mind." Tempo gave her a strange look, but let that slip go. Schala decided it was best to keep that information a secret. She had no way of proving she was a princess, no make that queen, since Zeal was dead. And even if she did, she didn't know how other people would react to that fact. On that thought, they reached the armory. Schala's eyes brightened at the sight of all the weapons inside.
"This should be a better weapon for you." Leopold picked a mace of one of the many shelves. Spikes dotted the surface of the sphere, and Tempo could see it was crafted out of good steel. "There should be a dagger over there." Leopold pointed out a row of shelves to Schala.
Tempo swung the mace experimentaly, getting a feel for it. "This sure beats my old clunker. It's nice and heavy too." He backed up, then jumped forward. "Ah-rekka!" He completed the maneuver and smiled. "That ought to cause a fair amount of damage. Finding anything Schala?"
Most of the daggers weren't in the best of shape, but Schala found an iron one that wasn't overly rusty. "It's no Dreamstone, but it'll do." She sheathed the dagger in the same spot that her father's dagger had always rested. Somehow, the iron didn't seem to fill the spot very well.
"Now, you were wondering how that stone allowed you to use your powers without any energy." Leopold stated. "Follow me again please..."
"It is difficult to explain. Let me show you." - Genma Saotome
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