Dale stood up, anger filling his eyes. His Steel Aura exploded outward, providing a protective bubble shielding Jerah and Jasmine. Jerah looked back at Dale with relief filled eyes.
The two arrogant boys turned towards Dale, annoyed. The one on the left yelled out,
“What do you think you’re doing? Are you looking to die?!” His eyes flashed at Dale. The Aura around him increased to the maximum. He tried to crush Dale where he stood, attempting to overpower him with his strength. The chairs and tables near the duo flew away, thrown backwards by the force. The surrounding nobles stepped back a bit, still watching. Several of them were talking among themselves, eager to watch the Claire duo fight. Intrigue among nobles was widespread and fights often broke out among the younger generations. As long as no nobles were seriously injured, no one would care what happened, and many were interested in watching the duels.
Dale responded calmly,
“Please refrain from threatening my friend.” His eyes were filled with resolve. The Aura the nobles pressured him with was strong but not nearly enough to crush him. He wondered if they were holding back.
“You, you!” The boy on the right looked like he was about to explode, veins throbbing in his face. The look on his face changed as his eyes gained a sinister glint.
Dale began drawing energy from his Core and covered himself in Aura energy, instead of just his regular Core’s energy. Immediately, his Aura exploded outward, crashing into the two arrogant nobles. Dale’s Aura was much more powerful then the duo’s because of this. The boys were force backwards, the one on the right falling backwards on his backside. In the face of Dale who could already fight with even terms against a Silver Commander, the boys were nothing to him.
Dale stepped forward, prepared to teach the older boys a lesson.
Suddenly, an extremely powerful Silver Aura burst out, smothering Dale and the others. Dale was forced backwards several steps, coughing up blood. The pressure emanated from this aura was extremely fierce.
“What do you think you’re doing?” A young man walked over. He was dressed in a long green shirt and pants, lace covering his arms. He had a very powerful aura and an arrogant expression adorning his face. His Aura, while still remaining Silver, had extremely faint streaks of Gold in it, indicating that he had almost broken through to the Gold level.
“How dare you bully my Claire family members!” The young man stared at Dale, slowly crushing him into the ground. Dale’s eyes filled with fury as he prepared to draw from his Dragon Sea and destroy his assailant. However, just as he was about to unleash, another figure blasted forward.
The new figure’s Aura crashed against the Claire noble’s Aura, suppressing each other. Dale recognized the figure surprisingly. It was the Var family member they had been traveling with, Isral, one of the geniuses of the Var family!
The two powerful Auras crashed in the air, flickering against each other. Neither one seemed to be weaker than the other.
“I think we both know who was trying to bully who, Dorian.” Isral’s voice rang out. His face glared daggers at the Claire family members, daring them to attack. Isral’s Aura was also extremely powerful, a strong Silver with streaks of Gold in it. He was clearly at the peak of the Silver level, just like Dorian.
Dorian glared at Isral for a moment before turning around, grabbing his family members with him.
“We will settle our issues on the arena ground this year Isral.” He glared hatefully at Isral, completely forgetting about Dale and Jerah. The trio left the dance floor, heading towards the southern section of the Borealis Top.
Isral turned back to Jerah with a wan smile,
“You alright, bud?”
Jerah nodded. Jasmine had fully collapsed into her arms and was crying. She began to babble to Jerah,
“The-they insisted on taking me with them to dance and wanted me to come back with them and do dirty things and I couldn’t so I ran but they chased and no one would help and I-“ she continued to talk, like a small river whose dam had been flooded.
Jerah hugged her comfortingly, nodding gratefully at Isral and Dale. Dale stepped back a little bit to give them space. Isral joined him.
Dale looked at him and said,
“Thanks back there!” Isral nodded, not saying anything. He looked at Dale for a moment and said,
“Look out for yourself. I know you and Jerah are friends, but that won’t stop anyone from the Claire family. You won’t always be a guest of the Var family, and the Claire Family like to hold grudges.” He nodded at the backs of the retreating Claire family members. Isral walked off, going to talk to some of his friends.
The crowd of nobles that had watched the fight gradually dispersed. The band returned to play music on the floor, and young couples soon swarmed forward, dancing gracefully. Dale looked back at Jerah, seeing him still comforting and talking to Jasmine. Unsure if he should stay or go, he awkwardly circled the dance floor, watching people’s graceful movements.
As he circled, a small group of young girls, many around his age, stood watching the rest of the floor. Some of them were talking and pointing out other nobles that stood, daring each other to ask someone to dance. One of the girls nudged another, pointing out Dale who was walking alone. The first girl stepped forward bravely, intending to ask him. It was much easier for her to ask someone who was alone then for her to ask someone in a group.
The girl was dressed in a gorgeous blue dress that complimented her pale blue eyes. She was young looking, perhaps 11 or 12. She had dark brown hair and was very cute for her age. She looked like a small porcelain doll, a perfect example of a young lady. She blushed as she walked forward to where Dale stood.
Dale turned as she walked up, wondering what the girl wanted. Her dress matched his he noticed.
“Do-do do you want to care? I-I I mean dance! Do you care to dance? Err Want to dance! Do you want to dance?” She blushed at looked at Dale expectantly. Dale stared back at a slight loss. He didn’t want to refuse and embarrass her, but he didn’t exactly know how to dance. Unsure, he said,
“I’m not very good at dancing. Do you still want to?”
“Yes! I’m not good either!” The girl sighed a huge sigh of relief, “Let’s try anyway for fun! My name is Sarah!” She seemed much less nervous once she found out that he didn’t know how to dance either.
“I’m Dale.” He said, nervously.
Dale shrugged. If she didn’t mind, he might as well give it a shot. Dale walked on to the dance floor, grabbing her hand. He copied how the other dancers held their partners, his right hand on her hip and his left hand held her right. They slowly shuffled forward, dancing a little bit awkwardly.
Dale blushed, embarrassed at his incompetence. Inspiration struck him suddenly and Dale entered his Perfect Balance mode. Immediately, forces around him came into his sight, letting him sense everything near him. Dale sensed more then felt himself push against the ground, trying to enter his own jarring rhythm. Dale concentrated on making his movements smooth, drawing energy from his Core to power himself.
As if he was using a movement technique, Dale’s dancing began to flow, syncing up to the tune of the music. The girl he was dancing with was a natural at following, and Dale lead her around the floor, dancing smoothly. Dale twirled her about a few times, copying the spins some of the other dancers used. While he wasn’t perfect, thanks to his Perfect Balance he was able to make it look relatively natural, and felt pretty good about himself. Sarah was smiling and laughing, enjoying herself as she spun. The song drew to an end as Dale neared the spot where they had started dancing. With a flashy twirl, Dale dramatically spun her into a dip, ending just as the music faded.
The girl giggled again, a cute sound, and hopped off the floor. Applause rang out for Dale and the other dancers as he stepped off as well. As soon as he stepped off, as if he had opened a floodgate, friends of the girl he had danced with swarmed him, all asking to dance. Dale looked around stupefied. Another song started up and one of the girls practically dragged him on to the floor. This continued for the next dozen songs, Dale dancing near perfectly thanks to his Perfect Balance, and the other girls in the group asking to dance.
Soon, each time a song finished a small crowd of nobles applauded Dale personally. Apparently, through his extensive dancing over and over, he had gained a small following of onlookers. Dale finished the song he was currently dancing with and hopped off the floor. The girls came up to him like vicious hyenas sensing prey.
Dale smiled tiredly and said,
“While dancing with all of you beautiful ladies is a pleasure, I have to go see my friend. If y’all will excuse me.” He bowed politely. The girls surrounding him all booed but let him go. Dale wobbled off, extremely tired but exhilarated.
Dancing, he had found, was very fun. He enjoyed all the different ways he could move his body, making every movement flow forward smoothly, as if it belonged. He felt a keen rhythm that he hadn’t felt before. Dale looked forward to dancing again later on.
As Dale finally escaped the clutches of the group of young noble girls, he found his way over to where Jerah and Jasmine sat. Jasmine had recovered in the time Dale had been gone, and was energetic enough to glare at him. Jerah looked up at Dale, his eyes suddenly filled with hope,
“Dale! So good for you to come back! Remember we need to go do that thing over by the place with just us?” His eyes pleaded with Dale to agree.
Dale looked at Jasmine for a slight moment before nodding,
“Right! Geez are we late? We better hurry!” He stuck a hand out to help Jerah stand up.
Jerah turned and looked apologetically at Jasmine,
“Sorry Jas! I gotta run! Family business. I’ll see you later tonight okay? We will dance for sure!” Jerah sounded like dancing was the last thing he would ever physically do.
Jasmine harrumphed, giving Jerah a quick hug and running off to join some girls on the floor. She looked much more confident now, having regained her arrogant hauteur.
Jerah sighed, shaking his head as he and Dale walked south. Jerah turned and gave Dale an odd look,
“Since when did you know how to dance so well?” he said inquiringly.
Dale shrugged and said, “I guess it’s just natural for me.” Dale didn’t want to reveal his Perfect Balance to anyone if he could help it.
Jerah gave him another odd look and didn’t say anything. They quickly made their way back to the center of the Grand Ball, taking a pair of seats in the arena area.
The arena was currently empty, with various nobles moving around the perimeter. In past Grand Balls, several mini tournaments had been hosted, with large families offering prizes to whatever youths won. It was a common theme in Grand Balls, and everyone here was eager to watch the future battles.
Dale and Jerah sat there quietly, hanging out. Jerah talked about how he was helping his family and how he was learning a great deal about managing finances. Jerah dreamed of being the future Head of Finances at his house, in charge of all merchant deals and financial activities. He looked forward to it and loved to talk about his lessons. Dale told Jerah about his practice with his technique, Shatter Step, and how he had snuck out of the house into the stone garden.
Jerah laughed outrageously when he learned how Dale had snuck past the guards his family had insisted on placing. He clapped Dale on the back merrily, enjoying himself. As the boys spoke, the seats around them slowly began to fill up. A few of the younger nobles challenge each other and a few small duels had taken place.
However, all the duels so far had been between Copper or Coal level warriors, and not worth watching. Suddenly, an arrogant figure stalked up in front of Jerah and Dale.
It was one of the members of the Claire family that had been chasing after Jasmine, the one that had stood on the right with the brown stripes in his blonde hair. After learning that Jerah was a member of the Var family, the duo had planned on simply taking Jasmine without hurting Jerah. While they may be in an equal family, that didn’t mean they could directly harm anyone in the Var family. However, Dale, on the other hand, they learned wasn’t even a Noble. They were completely in their rights to challenge him.
The blonde haired boy looked at Dale with an evil glint in his eyes. He was determined to crush the person that had dared refuse him and humiliate him, a nobody that wasn’t even a noble.
“By the rules of the Grand Daja Ball, I officially challenge you!”
Dale looked up at him, a glint entering his eye…