“Ah!” exclaimed Heloise, almost bumping into me as she exited her room.
Smiling, I said, “Good morning. Mind checking on your siblings? Training starts in fifteen minutes, and I didn’t catch any of you at breakfast.”
“S’excuser. I’ll get them.” she replied before heading back into their area.
As I waited, I heard her waking Babette and possibly kicking Achille. I sighed as I heard a fight break out while Heloise unsuccessfully attempted to get a word out.
“I didn’t wake you! She did!” insisted Achille, speaking French.
“You probably made her!” argued Babette just before something broke.
As they argued, Heloise continued saying, “Shut up, shut up, shut up!”
I decided to knock.
There was the sound of someone being hit again. “Ouch!” exclaimed Achille.
“James! Good morning!” exclaimed Babette in English with a smile after she cracked open the door. The sleeve of her pajamas was torn, her hair was a disaster, and she was missing some skin on her left hand.
“You three have thirteen minutes before I expect you in the gym for this morning’s exercises. If you ask nicely, Emma will probably help mend whatever was broken in there. If she can’t, Mila might assist you.” I informed her.
“Merci! Achille stumbled onto the coffee table.” she replied.
“I did not!” he argued in English. There was the sound of someone being hit, and he yelled “Sois sage!”
As I walked down the hall, I wondered if I should have left them to Mila. She had offered to make sure they arrived on time this morning, but I told her that I’d handle it. These triplets had had a rough life, and there were many bad habits to break between them. I knew their roughhousing was actually playful, but things breaking only emphasized their lack of control. If I hadn’t already seen what they could become, I knew I wouldn’t be so keen on reforming them.
“Get the man-slave!” exclaimed Emma as I entered the gym. The door shut and merged with the surrounding wood as she spoke.
“Nooo! My daddy!” argued Dani, moving to attack her.
Portentia smoothly stepped in front of her and knocked Dani’s kick aside. I almost felt sorry for my daughter, knowing she hadn’t tried fighting Portentia yet. The difference in strength, speed, and sheer determination was immense. My daughter’s skill at magic was her only hope, but she probably wouldn’t use magic soon enough.
Cosette, Brandon, Kayla, and even Iris came at me with Emma as Portentia skillfully maneuvered Dani away from the rest, easily blocking my daughter’s attacks. As I tripped Brandon into Kayla, I used a relatively simple spell to lift Emma from the floor to keep her from manipulating the wood. Meanwhile, Cosette had transformed into a wolf, nipping at my leg. Kayla caught Brandon with her magic and took a decent swing at me. Iris kicked at me from the opposite direction of Kayla’s punch.
Knowing Emma would unravel the spell on her shortly, I gently pulled Kayla forward, tripping her to the floor while spinning to kick Brandon, which allowed Iris’ foot to pass just over my head. At the same time, I created a spell to pull Cosette backward, but she scattered into a crimson mist as the spell attempted to take hold. Brandon blocked my leg and enlarged himself till his clothes were taught to handle the force of it. Kayla rolled with the trip, coming back onto her feet, and Emma landed back on the ground, having unraveled the spell.
The boards around me transformed and “bit” at my feet. Without moving more quickly than my attackers could manage, there was no way to dodge. To my surprise, the boards were actually holding my feet as if they were steel. Not wanting to put in the necessary force to break them, I carefully dipped, dodged, and blocked until I had a moment to touch them, breaking Emma’s magic long enough to flip forward over Iris.
I was quite proud of how well everyone fought over the next couple minutes, and allowed the triplets to gawk for a bit when they arrived, having first watched the doors unseal and open. Then I used a spell to sweep my opponents into a line and said, “Time to get serious, everyone. Don’t want the triplets to get the wrong idea about our exercises.”
“Wh-what happened over there?” asked Heloise with wide eyes as she pointed to where Dani and Portentia were standing.
“Sorry. Portentia tends to cut off her limbs if someone attempts to bind her.” I explained. “I should have warned Dani.”
“You really should have! It’s disgusting, daddy!” she exclaimed with a grin.
“You’re the one who repeated the tactic. Three arms and two legs is a bit much.” I told her.
“B-but… she…” started Achille.
“Yes, she regenerates instantly, never tires, and will hunt you relentlessly if you commit a crime. Best to abide by the law.” I told him with a wink.
He and Heloise nodded almost in sync. Babette seemed to be scrutinizing the limbs.
“Portentia! Again!?” demanded Ai upon seeing the scene. “Emma, you owe us another finish for our doors and floor.”
Emma winked and asked “Where?” A type of finish seemed to grow into the missing spots.
“Fine.” stated Ai. A torrent of water shot past her, scooping the blood and limbs off the floor and carrying them away through the door behind her. “No more missing limbs today.”
Maple ― who had sat back and watched everything with Jemal, Brenna, and Dejon ― shook her head and said, “I don’t know if I will ever really be used to this place.”
“You will in time.” I promised her. Walking over to the triplets, I said, “You three will be working with Raine today.”
Springing over to me from where she had seemed to be napping, Raine said, “B-but… I-I… R-really?”
I nodded and said, “Achille, Babette, and Heloise need to review the basics, and I am quite confident that you have seen enough in your months here to be a capable instructor.“
“B-but they’re… afraid.” argued Raine.
“Am not.” lied Babette.
“I certainly don’t want to make you angry.” stated Achille, gently shoving Babette back protectively with his arm.
Shrugging, Heloise said, “I want to learn. Just seeing you people… Even the kid is incredible.”
“Plus, Raine speaks fluent French and at least fifty other languages. I haven’t checked how many too recently, but she learns at an absurd rate.” I informed them as I patted Raine’s head.
She was blushing, but didn’t argue. I knew she would do well.