Dion flexes his knees, lowering his center of balance against his shorter opponent. As they grapple, shifting grips on each other's uniforms, Dion senses a brief opportunity to gain advantage. As he shifts, he quickly discovers the trap and loses position. The inevitable occurs, as it has the previous five matches, and Dion finds himself airborne briefly before slamming to the mat.
His opponent, Grand Master Pak, quickly pounces on the prone Dion, placing him into a debilitating arm lock. Dion, frustration building over the last five losses, lets his internal anger overcome him and begins to raise a magical spell to turn the tables.
“You raise magic against me now, Guardia, and I break your arm,” the master snarls. “Use what I taught you!”
Dion, gaining control of his anger under his master’s admonishment, cancels the spell and reviews his situation. Leveraging his size advantage, he flips to his back, taking his smaller opponent with him. The move causes Pak to lose his grip, allowing Dion to roll and again achieve parity in the ready position.
“Good, Guardia. Very good,” the grandmaster approves.
Backing away, Dion bows and resets. As they re-engage, Dion begins a conversation.
“Master, in that first night, at the bar, I faced a kunoichi. What do you know of her?”
Pak shifts his grip, forcing Dion to react, and both combatants fall to the floor, searching for advantage. Breaking free, Dion rolls, again at the ready, and both reset their holds.
“I know some of this kunoichi,” Pak responds, breathing heavily, hands still shifting on Dion's uniform. “But, she came from a school I do not influence. My understanding is that she is without family and has found a gang to be one for her.”
Again an aggressive move by Pak causes a scramble and reset. The master continues. “You seemed to have no difficulty with her. Why the question?”
“I had a second encounter with her later. Although I had removed the love enchantment that I had cast on her earlier, there was...an event.”
Pak’s eyes narrow as he again adjusts hand placement. “So, you use love magic to bring your women to your bed?” he asks.
Almost in a blur, Pak shifts and lifts Dion off his feet, throwing him a full four body lengths before slamming to the mat. Dion, stunned, looks up at the master standing over him.
“Get up!” Pak growls.
Dion, staggering slightly, gets back to his feet and is immediately engaged by the grand master.
“No, master,” Dion continues the conversation as he wards off multiple shifts of Pak’s movements. “I honestly will state that I have never brought a lady to my bed unwillingly through magic.”
Pak, continuing his assaults, responds, “Yet you found it important enough to learn this subterfuge. Most dishonorable,” and again Dion finds himself launched in the air, landing hard.
This time, the grand master does not re-engage, but stands glaring at the god, his eyes containing fire. “Guardia. Somewhere in your upbringing I feel that you have confused love of a woman with only that which is physical. Until you learn that love is spiritual, you will never know love. You will only be animal.”
Turning his back, Pak begins to walk towards his living quarters. “We stop here today. You will reflect on what I have said, and then we will discuss more next time,” the grand master says as he exits.
Later, back in his room, Dion notices that Geryon has yet to return and takes the opportunity to soak in a hot bath. Although the heat provides soothing relief to his aches from the training session, the look on Dion’s face does not show the comfort of the bath. Rather, his demeanor is troubled as he reflects on the master’s words...and then on those of the Oracle.