“Boo.” I stated as Jarod walked into the room.
He didn’t seem surprised at all. Smiling, he said, “I’m still not married yet according to Izumi. Technically, you’re not supposed to be in here, by the way.”
“Aaliyah mentioned it, but I have another wedding present for you.” I told him.
“Ah.” he said as his eyes scanned the room. “Mila had mentioned that you wanted to do some work on my suit.”
I knew he spotted the suit already with how he kept glancing over in its direction. Nodding, I asked “Have time to try it?”
He hesitated a moment, but then he jogged over to it, saying, “You know I’m making time! What did you modify?”
“Nothing much, though you might consider modifying your power source plans. I believe I have you covered. I did a significant amount of research, created a new spell, and then ended up modifying it slightly after a bit of testing with Alma. I’m sure there will be more changes in the future, but I assure you that I’m off to a good start.” I told him.
“Whoa. Dude! I can tell. I really can tell. I felt like your speech slowed down by the end. This is incredible!” he exclaimed, speaking rapidly. “I’m talking really fast right now, aren’t I.”
“How did you get used to speaking slowly so quickly? How do you even know how slowly to speak?” he asked.
“You can gauge off general chatter if you’re worried about it. Listen to some music or watch part of a slow. You’ll probably need some practice, honestly. I think I was gifted a natural instinct for it with my change.” I admitted.
“Ah. That’s convenient.” he stated as he jumped, rolled, and sprang back to his feet. “You made some sort of sound-dampening spell for this, didn’t you?”
“Yes. I felt a quiet step wouldn’t hurt.” I told him. I then threw fire at him, smirking as shock came to his face.
“Whoa! What was that?” he asked.
“I did some variants off what Mila had suggested and found a few spells I liked better.” I replied.
“How long will this last?” he asked. The worry in his voice was obvious.
“I believe the suit will stay enchanted indefinitely as long as you wear it frequently. If left in one place too long, it might well absorb all the energy in the area and eventually run out. I’d occasionally wear it into my forest if I were you.” I told him.
“Mila said you wanted extra suits made. Why the backups then?” he asked.
“Oh. Sorry. Not backups. If you don’t mind, I’d like everyone in my company to get one. Then we’d be able to do more testing and protect our friends.” I explained.
“I suppose that does make sense. I’m cool with it.” he stated. “I don’t know how much this’ll be able to help some of them.”
Smiling, I said, “Alma was my guinea pig. I should also mention that I might be able to provide a similar spell to power your larger suit.”
Jarod’s mouth was hanging open as he stared at me. “Alma was your test subject? She was enhanced by this? I admit the speed is far more than I expected from my design, but I don’t see how she could’ve benefited.”
“I came across these spells meant to enhance the subject’s overall structure, granting heightened strength, speed, and durability. I tweaked them a bit and used one set to enhance the suit itself and another to enhance the wearer. Then I put in some spells to regulate both sets, supplying more energy where needed.” I explained. “Things seem to work as intended.”
Jarod barked a laugh and said, “Yeah. I’d say so.”
I watched as he balanced on one hand, pushed off the ground, and caught himself on a single finger. He seemed to be getting far more of a boost from the suit than Alma had. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jarod was as fast as the twins now. With his skills, he’d be more than a match for either of them, despite their years of training.
“I still can’t believe how fast you learn.” I admitted.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Martial arts, engineering, languages, acrobatics, and everything else seem natural to you.” I stated.
“Please. Even before your change, you learned just as fast when you actually applied yourself.” he claimed.
Strangely, he actually seemed to believe it. “No, I don’t think so. When we first started learning from Emma, I had a huge lead on you with martial arts. You weren’t even in shape for it at the time. Within months, you were deadly.” I argued.
Jarod shrugged and said, “I learned martial arts from the assassin. I don’t know of anyone beating my trainer at anything, including teaching methods.”
No, no one ever beats Death. “You’re still remarkable. How many people make millions off an engine design they thought up in high school?” I teased.
“Yeah, well… I did get help selling the design.” he replied with a smirk.
“True, but you’re still very good.” I stated.
“Still not as good as your timing. I’m supposed to face off against a few people in a ceremonial battle soon. Knowing Izumi, she’ll have some of her best in play this time.” he informed me.
“She can’t still be trying to oppose your marriage. That’d be crazy.” I stated in disbelief.
“Not openly, but she can hardly be blamed if there’s an accident. Her family would never accept someone who allows an accident to get in their way.” he replied.
“I… see.” I told him, not feeling very pleased about the situation.
“When does your flight leave?” he inquired.
“As soon as I leave here.” I claimed. I couldn’t tell him how I actually got here.
“Gotta love private jets… I don’t really know when I’ll be back yet. Ai and Mai might have some convoluted scheme in place for our honeymoon.” he stated.
I smiled and said, “Don’t worry about it. I assure you that our home will still be there when you return. Tell me if Izumi gives you too much trouble.”
“I’ll tell her you said that.” he teased.
Jarod started putting some ceremonial-looking outfit over his suit.
“Are you sure they won’t disqualify you somehow if you’re wearing that?” I asked.
“Is it visibly magical?” he inquired.
“Well, no.” I told him.
“Good. No one can be mad about me wearing some high-tech thermal underwear. I’m only human.” he claimed with a grin.
I was certain Alma would be able to help him sort out any mess that came from this, but I didn’t really think wearing the suit would be considered acceptable. On the other hand, the suit might save his life if Izumi really was planning something.
“How do I look?” he asked.
“I actually like the outfit, but seeing you in anything other than a t-shirt and jeans is a bit strange.” I teased.
“Yeah-yeah. I start wearing suits, and you’re still not happy. I put on a ceremonial garment, and you tell me I look strange. Some friend you are.” he replied sarcastically. He sighed when a distant bell rang. “I need to be off. I’ll make sure to tell you how it goes!”
“Good luck!” I told him. “Oh, and you might want to slow down a bit”
He looked at me in confusion for a moment before saying, “Ah. Yeah. Thanks.”
I probably should’ve warned him about still talking too fast, but I was certain he’d catch on as quickly as he did with everything else. I stood and found myself back at home in my study with Aaliyah sitting on the desk.
“He seemed happy.” she told me.
I nodded and said, “Thank you for the lift.”
“I’ll start having to charge you massages. What if I pull a muscle!” she exclaimed.
“I somehow doubt that’s an issue for you.” I replied.
“Are you joking? I can pull all the muscles, boss-man, sir.” she insisted.
“No doubt, but I don’t believe you pull anything you don’t want to be pulled.” I told her.
She shrugged and said, “I should at least charge you cake.”
“As many as you want.” I replied.
“Yippee!!!” she exclaimed, jumping off the desk and hugging me.
“Jarod’s going to be fine, isn’t he?” I asked.
Smiling up at me, she said, “Don’t worry, boss-man, sir. He’ll put on quite a performance. Mila! Bring up a video feed for your mommy!”
“As you wish, mother.” replied Mila.
The room changed to display a stage. Around us appeared to be stadium style seating made from interlocking stones and tiny wooden planks that served as a long, curved bench. Izumi and Duncan sat to my left with a few people I didn’t recognize under an elaborate canopy. Numerous others were seated throughout the area, quietly chatting between their groups.
“Popcorn?” offered Aaliyah, holding up a bucket filled with it.
“Have anything to drink?” I asked.
She sighed and gestured to my desk with her head. Three large drinks sat there.
“Are you drinking two?” I asked.
“Alpy, I’m sorry. I guess James isn’t inviting you.” stated Aaliyah.
“James! How could you forget your fiancée?” teased Alma from where she now stood beside Aaliyah.
“Oh. Sorry.” I told her, surprised that she had no complaints about being brought here from wherever she had been.
She grabbed my arm, pulled me down, and kissed my cheek before stealing the popcorn bucket from my hand.
“Forgiven for now.” she declared. “Was Jarod happy about his suit?”
“Extremely.” I assured her.
“He’s wearing it still, isn’t he.” she stated.
“Yes. Will that be a problem?” I asked.
“No, but this will be most amusing.” she replied with a smile.
Extra seats rose from my floor to accommodate everyone, and we all sat back to watch. This would be interesting.