Chapter 34 Blood Fire

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“Though it was simple, your description of how you perceive your magic shows me you understand that magic is based in the body,” Kiphy starts, placing a hand on his chest for emphasis. “Therefore, the first step is to train your body.”

“My body’s well trained from fighting in the Arena.”

“Yes, but that was survival fighting in the basic sense.”

“Basic sense? We fought for our lives. Some lost limbs, minds, or their lives.”

Kiphy raises his hand to calm Ime. “I don’t intend to demean those who lost much in that horrible place. When I speak of training your body it’s in terms of tapping into the source of your magic. I doubt other than physical training you had very little time to train your magic. You’ll need a deeper connection to your body beyond what many others will ever experience.”

Standing, Kiphy waves his hand at the fire, extinguishing it. “The first part of your training will focus on your body’s physical strength and speed. Until I’m satisfied with your strength we won’t even touch magic. Attack me. No magic.”

Ime stands across from Kiphy and lowers into a fighting stance. Kiphy mirrors him, tensing his muscles.

Leaping forward, Ime tries to strike the older man with his left fist. Kiphy leans to the left, grabbing Ime’s wrist. He twists Ime’s arm and steps to the right. He uses Ime’s forward motion to throw him over his shoulder. Ime lands hard on his back and releases a gasp of surprise. He hadn’t even seen Kiphy move.

Stepping back, Kiphy waits, watching Ime with calm eyes.

Ime climbs back to his feet. He attacks again, lunging forward. Before Kiphy can grab his arm, Ime pivots on his left leg and steps behind Kiphy. He punches Kiphy’s back, but the old man drops to the ground and uses Ime’s momentum to throw him onto the ground again. Kiphy places his foot on Ime’s chest, smiling.

“Again.” Kiphy steps back and waits.

Without giving Kiphy time to react, Ime jumps to his feet swinging his fists. Kiphy dodges and blocks with ease as Ime attacks the same way over and over. Kiphy follows the pattern easily and raises his hand to block Ime’s fist for the dozenth time.

Kiphy’s legs are knocked out from under him as Ime kicks instead of punches. Kiphy’s expression fills with shock and Ime readies to bring his elbow down on the old man’s chest. Kiphy throws his hands to the ground, leaning back, and manages to do a back handstand, narrowly avoiding Ime’s elbow. He uses the force of gravity to help him flip back onto his feet and before Ime can make his next move, Kiphy kicks him in the chest, sending him flying onto his back again.

The wind is knocked from his lungs and Ime tries to sit up, but Kiphy places a foot at his throat. Ime grabs Kiphy’s ankle to keep the foot from cutting off his air as he gasps to replenish his empty lungs.

Kiphy searches Ime’s face for concession, but all he sees is determination. Ime’s grip on Kiphy’s ankle only tightens and he can see Ime’s mind working, trying to figure out a way to free himself while at the same time catching Kiphy off guard and switching their positions.

A smile grows on the old man’s lips and he removes his foot from Ime’s throat. Ime sits up and rubs his throat to make sure nothing is injured.

“I see you’re very good at thinking on your toes. You’ve learned much in that Arena. Now, I’ll raise you several steps higher,” Kiphy says, holding his hand out to Ime.

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