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Oblivion's Light

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Her voice sounded like a scuffed footprint against something granular-- gritty and impatient.

"Again."

Sara spat out the blood pooling at the front of her mouth, not even caring that the seeping red would stain Nyssa's precious dojo mats. She ached from her thorough beat down, pain radiating through her body.

Nyssa had promised they would resume training the day after their ritual cleansing, but this? This was brutal and totally unfair. Sara had been told that the program would be 'stepped up a notch.' If this was only a notch, she was pretty sure that broken bones would fit in somewhere between the definition of the first and second notch...

Her legs wanted to buckle underneath her but she bit her bottom lip and stood, facing her attacker. It frustrated her immensely that Nyssa barely had a scratch on her porcelain skin. Sara wanted to claw at Nyssa's body and inflict the same injury, the same shame upon Nyssa as she currently felt.

It was if Nyssa could sense the anger fuming around Sara, and she cocked an eyebrow and smiled.

"This is our final round for the morning," her voice drawled a bit, as if she expected better... as if she was bored. Sara clenched her fists.

"When the tower bell chimes, that's when our round begins. You'll have three minutes to defend yourself..." she eyed Sara, sizing up her condition and threw in, "since attacking wouldn't be a wise course of action."

Sara couldn't wait for the bell to ring. She felt adrenaline surge through her body; Nyssa's condescending remark was getting to her, a bit too much.

GONG.

There it was.

Sara crouched down instinctively, since the beginning of their last round consisted of Nyssa's issuing an uppercut to Sara's jaw -- sending her back to the mat in a dizzying heap.

This time, Nyssa came at her with flying kicks. Sara rolled to her left and quickly got to her feet, assuming a defensive stance as one of Nyssa's kicks missed its intended mark and the woman landed on the mat.

Sara lifted her fists to her face, a boxer's stance, and made sure her footing was firm and wide -- but not too wide because that had spelled disaster in their first round that morning.

Nyssa also raised her fists, framing her rapacious eyes. They circled one another for a few seconds, calculating distance, deciding when to strike based on their acute observations of faltering technique.

Nyssa smirked and Sara caught on quickly. Sara had dropped her left elbow just a hair, but it was enough to compromise her ability to defend the left side of her face and her ear. Nyssa pivoted her stance, winding up her kinetic energy, and exploded her hip in the opposite direction-- unleashing a hook shot to Sara's unguarded cheekbone.

Sara ducked as fast as she possibly could and stepped into the fray, compressing the distance between them. She lifted her left hand to block Nyssa's hook from ravaging her ear and issued a jab, fast and powerful.

It connected squarely with Nyssa's jaw. Nyssa growled with fury and unleashed a combination attack that Sara didn't have time to react to. Two body shots, one jab, a strong cross, a hook to her head and the final cross to her face. Sara's lip crackled with blood and she could feel the left side of her face swelling from the intensity of the impact. She, once again, collided hard with the mat-- this time prone on her back. She turned over and heaved out the blood that was seeping down her throat, causing her to choke.

By the time her eyes focused on anything but the mat, Nyssa had already gone to the equipment rack and had fully unraveled the wraps from her hands. Without so much as turning to address Sara, she left the dojo.

The only sound Sara heard was the hitch of her own breathing as she held her shaking limbs up on the mat. She crouched on all fours, letting her knees and elbows hold the bulk of her weight. "Damn it," she muttered under her breath, her wrapped fists staining the mat with sweat.

Her forehead dropped to the mat. She wanted desperately to cry but it felt wrong to. Her lesson had been disgraceful that day but there was no reason to cry-- none.

No other thoughts came to mind. No other wishes or desires. There was a strand of negative chatter that cropped up, welling like a new spring at the forefront of her thoughts. It asked her what Oliver would have done? Would he have cried? How much does it take to break you, Sara Lance?

That voice belonged to someone else-- someone Sara hadn't thought about in quite a while. She shook her head against the mat to physically bore out the memory.

Next time, she would be stronger. Prepared.

Dangerous.

The word settled behind her eyelids, captive to the darkness behind her shut eyes. She welcomed it-- for once, it felt promising, the idea of being feared. There was a distinct price to failure, one that she had suffered in numerous ways for too long.

Dangerous... everything about that word made her feel stronger. She thought of the way Ra's al Ghul was perceived by his followers, by his enemies. She thought of the confidence that Nyssa exuded in combat. More than anything, laying there, Sara wanted to be feared.

She wanted to be respected.

Propping herself up slowly, grimacing, Sara felt the wave of anger surge through her again as she pictured Nyssa leaving without saying anything to her.

That action alone spoke volumes to Sara about how little Nyssa respected her abilities.

Sara spat blood again onto the mat, wiping the moisture from her face. She smoothed back her stained hair and limped her way to the dojo door, only pausing for an instant to salute the religious symbols in the room.

She only had a couple hours of rest before being brought before the other pupils... Nyssa had told her that part of her training would involve being part of a group of acolytes, all coming together to fight for coveted acceptance into the League. The masters would observe the interactions and skills of their pupils and discuss who would be worthy of advancing to the next round of training. Sara shuddered to think of what could happen to those too weak to remain in the group... she knew so many sides of Nyssa... She knew, deep down, that Nyssa would be capable of killing those lacking merit.

The events of the afternoon loomed, making her feel a bit nervous. One thing was for sure.

She would not look like total shit when the time came.