Part 1 is here Part 2 is here Part 3 is here and Part 4 is here
“Are you okay?! I’m sorry, we’ll stop if you-”
Pearl stood, weight resting on her spear, legs trembling- her eyes, however, were determined,
Rose watched from the sidelines as Sapphire glided forward, seemingly floating but so fast that Pearl could barely think- with a solid THUD she was against the wall, for the tenth time in as many minutes, weapon clattering to the side.
“Why can’t I get this?!” she slammed her fist against the stone, a small tremor shaking the pebbles loose from the grout.
“It takes time to become proficient in things, Pearl; don’t be so hard on yourse-”
She was running, Sapphire’s words cut short, the spear vanishing into light, and the sound of receding footsteps echoing down the hall that led to her room.
Rose sighed, “It’s been a challenge.”
“She’ll figure it out, eventually. Perfection is something she’s supposed to strive for- in that, she’s fairly typical.”
Rose smiled a little, placing a hand on the petite gem’s shoulder, “That’s very true. But, I think there’s something you’ve been trying to hide from me.”
“And what would that be?”
“Who’s that dashing red gem you’ve been watching in the square this past week?”
Pearl paced the length of her room, the water as solid as any floor.
She paced and she muttered.
It had been a whole week since she released her weapon, a whole week since she started training, and she was no better than when she started.
She could understand ancient rocket propelled spacecrafts but couldn’t dodge a simple attack?
“It’s no wonder why pearls don’t fight.” She sat, a ledge appearing from the water to meet her, and put her head in her hands. Her gem was smooth, and warm from training. She pulled out her spear and examined it.
Blue, and straight and sharp- she could do real damage if she ever managed to hit anything with it.
In disgust she threw it, hard and fast, and it lodged itself into the far wall where it was stopped only by the spirals that adorned it’s shaft.
There was a knock and she allowed the door to open, still sitting on her impromptu bench, stiff and distant looking.
Rose smiled and took a few steps, pleased when the water held for her, “You did very well today, you know. It’s hard to see when you’re the one fighting, but everyone can tell how much you’re improving.”
“I haven’t improved at all. I haven’t hit any targets, I can’t block Sapphire’s attack, I can’t break your defense, even my footwork leaves me tripping over myself! Pearls don’t fight for a reason, you said it yourself! We’re weak! I’m weak! When I pulled out a spear I thought maybe I was different- maybe I could be strong- but I’m not, I can’t, I’m just a discounted secretary.”
They sat together in silence for a moment, Rose looking at the spear embedded in the stone, “Looks like you managed to hit something, though. You can’t even see the blade- and it’s straight- you threw it true. You say you can’t fight, but you broke through stone.”
“I wasn’t trying to. I was just upset.” she slumped, if possible, further; shoulders and head low and arms around herself,
“Well, that speaks volumes, doesn’t it? You’re thinking too much when you fight. It’s instinctual and training will grant you skills, but over thinking will make you hesitate.” Rose stood, towering over her shrunken form, and smiled, big and broad and bright, “Think less, move more. You’ll be fine.”
The door hissed opened and closed behind her and Pearl sighed, before standing and retrieving her weapon, blue and cold and sharp, with a sound very much like a sword retracting from a sheath.
“Think less, move more.”
The first thing she had to do, if she had any chance of moving without falling on her face, was getting used to moving.
Before Rose, she tried to make herself quiet and small- small steps, small noises, confined and closed. If she was noticed, she was beaten.
She hadn’t really noticed it, but she was still making small motions; steps too short for her gait, hands, even when in motion, close to her body. Straight steps, straight turns, rigid and tight, tight, tight.
Every night, when Rose was distracted by her work, when the sun went down and the temperatures dropped, Pearl moved.
She used her room for practice- pillars grew and moved and she jumped from column to column, from the highest to the water below, that, at first, encased her and then, slowly, trusted her land, first on her back, then on her foot, which rolled beneath her weight, until, eventually, she could step off and continue walking, as if there had been no distance between her and the ground at all.
She listened to the waves and moved in time, feeling a little foolish at first, but becoming more confident when she was able to traverse her room without looking for the first time.
She did this, every night, for weeks. She begged off practice and hid for hours, jumping and twirling and taking up space.
She hadn’t truly realized how tall she was- how long her arms and legs were, how large she was, until then.
She practiced with her spear- not throwing, not hitting, not swiping or attacking but holding it.
Holding it while she twirled and jumped and took up space, and her confidence built further, when she realized it was a part of her, now, in every way.
It would do what she told it to do, as long as she didn’t hesitate.
A full month after she hid herself away, she asked to practice with Sapphire again.
The scene was nearly identical.
Rose was against the wall, watching, tense.
Sapphire was directly in front of her, hair over her face, waiting.
Pearl was waiting, too, spear upright and at her side, ready.
Rose smiled, relaxing for what seemed to be the first time that month- so that’s what she had been doing.
“Are you ready?”
Pearl nodded and Sapphire moved- fast, faster than before, a blur in a dim room- and Pearl closed her eyes and bend, not forwards, not into Sapphire and her speed, but away- she lifted her leg high above her head and pivoted, spinning from the attack, her spear a ballast, a bar, keeping her balance while she moved with more grace than anyone would expect from the once rigid gem.
Sapphire changed direction, her ability to predict actions keeping her only a second behind Pearl who, eyes still closed, reached out, arm touching the ground behind her and flipped- her spear, however, was still pointing forward, directly at Sapphire, forcing her to stop before it could touch her.
She swiped, and Sapphire jumped back, just inches from the wall behind her.
“I concede.” It was hard to keep from smiling, but her voice betrayed her pride, and Rose clapped from the sidelines, beaming.
“Very, very well done, Pearl!”
“T-thank you… And thank you, Sapphire, for humoring me.”
She could fight, she could win- she just had to believe a little more.
She glanced at Rose, who was rushing over to hug them both and smiled.
If she believed in herself even half as much as Rose did, she would be okay.