Leyva emerged from her room in silence, tiptoeing through the corridor, past the living room and into the kitchen. After her failures from the previous day, she was unwilling to face Shaela. Yet as she returned into the living room with a plate of pizza, there Shaela was, standing two feet in front of her.
“Princess, can we talk?” Shaela asked, gesturing for Leyva to join her on the couch.
Leyva recovered from the shock of seeing her friend and sat down next to her, she’d expected her to be inside the Bonding Chamber already, training without her. There was an awkward silence in the air, something that was so completely foreign between the two of them that Leyva couldn’t help but weep.
She was losing her friend. It was probably an irrational thought, but if the Bonding Chamber taught her one thing, it was that they were so incredibly different, it was a miracle that they’d become friends in the first place.
Shaela broke the silence when she looked across and saw tears rolling down the princess’s cheek.
“I’m proud of you.”
What!!! Leyva thought as she turned to face her friend.
“Proud? What of?” Leyva snapped, she couldn’t help herself, she knew how poorly she had performed these last few months, she knew that Shaela was mocking her.
“You have progressed incredibly well.” Shaela looked down at her feet and took in a deep breath, “In spite of the bumbling effort I have done at training you.”
All that venom that Leyva had prepared to unleash disappeared upon hearing Shaela’s reply; she thinks she’s failed me.
“How can you say that? It is I that has failed. Even on the days that you go easy on me, and yes, I know you do; I come out of the chamber completely exhausted! That shouldn’t be happening; I’m feeling fitter then ever before!”
That wry smirk that Shaela so often pulled when she knew something others didn’t appeared on her face.
“That’s because I kind of tampered with the gravity-core. I’ve been slowly increasing the gravity over the last few months. Terra’s gravity is lighter than Xaabos’s; when we first got here, did you notice it was a lot easier to move around?”
Leyva tried to recall that time, it felt so long ago, but she did remember having a spring in her step that she couldn’t quite explain. She nodded her head, and asked her friend to continue.
“Right now, we’re running at 1.6 times Xaabos’s gravity, and that is what is tiring you out. When your body adapts to that, I increase the multiplier again.”
“So what is this supposed to achieve?” Leyva asked, annoyed that Shaela had been going behind her back this whole time.
“Come with me.” Shaela commanded, and lead the princess into the Bonding Chamber, spawning a punching bag in front of them and entering in a few commands into the chamber’s computer.
“I’ve lowered the gravity to that of Xaabos, on my mark, take a swing at the bag, remember all I taught you, and go for maximum power.”
Leyva put on her gloves and stepped forward, there was still anger inside her, demanding to be set free, instead she channelled it within; she took in a deep breath and held it, merging it with the white-hot anger that was boiling inside her. She closed her eyes and listened to the steady thump of her own heartbeat, ignoring everything else around her, awaiting for that call to action.
“Now!” ordered Shaela.
Princess Leyva opened her eyes and focused on the bag, she took one mighty swing, releasing all that rage and oxygen that she’d stored inside, channelling it into a single punch.
Sand from the bag exploded everywhere in a shower of destruction. Mouth agape, Leyva turned to face her friend and saw a knowing smile on her face.
“Things are going to happen a bit differently down her from here on out.” Shaela declared, “Taskmaster Shaela will be no more. That is how I was trained, but that doesn’t mean that’s how you have to be trained.”
“So long as we keep doing that gravity thingy-ma-jig I don’t care how you train me!”
Shaela laughed, “I think I can do that. Come on,” she gestured back towards the living room, “Let’s go take a break from training. I heard there’s this show called Game of Thrones, it’s almost like a historical retelling of ancient Xaabos!”
Leyva followed her friend out of the chamber, a bounce in her step she hadn’t felt for the longest time, and smiled… This was going to be so much fun!