1st Azal, Day 31, SY 17058 ~ 4 months after Igneus' defeat
Gentle, comforting darkness prevailed over Pyren’s sleep. The folf had had a rough Wyrsday, so he was determined to get a good night’s sleep by any means necessary. Nothing would disturb his rest. Well, nothing but his drill sergeant noticing he was still in bed. “What in the world do you think you’re doing, cadet?” screamed a stern male voice. Jolting awake, Pyren sat up in his stiff, military issue bed. “S-Sergeant…? Wha… what time is it...?” asked the folf, still woozy. “Not fucking soon enough, because if you’re getting up this late, you and your platoon are already dead in a ditch before the battle begins!” shouted Sergeant Sterva, a wolverine, and Pyren’s superior in the Landalstan Military Academy. “I’m sorry, sir, I-It won’t happen again!” stuttered Pyren, sliding his signature blue cargo shorts on and hopping out of bed. “Damn right it won’t! Get on the ground and give me 20!” exclaimed Sterva, exercising his authority and rendering some well-deserved punishment. “Aww, come on, Sterva, I just woke up!” complained the folf, getting on all fours and starting his push-ups. “Make that 30, cadet,” said the Sergeant, walking towards the exit. “Fiiine…” mumbled Pyren, pressing his paws into the cold floor. “Did I hear something? You had best hope it was just the wind lest I give you 40!” yelled Sterva, turning his head at the disrespectful folf. “No sir…” he responded, halfway through his fourth and fifth push-up. The sergeant then left the barracks and Pyren was left to complete his 30 push-ups alone. “Like hell I’m gonna let that brown bozo show me up… I’ll do 50, that’ll show him!” exclaimed the folf, picking up the pace in his newfound conviction.
“47…. 48… 49…” said Pyren, straining himself with each up and down. “Pyren? Where have you been? And what are you doing?” asked an intruder to the barracks. The boy who just walked in was Alain, a mouse, and friend of Pyren in the Academy. “50!” exclaimed the folf, collapsing with exhaustion and pain. “Did the Sergeant give you 50 pushups?” asked Alain, leaning over to help his friend up. “No… he gave me 30…” Pyren muttered weakly, accepting the paw of his friend. “Whaaat? Then why’d you do 50?” exclaimed the mouse, his thin tail standing straight up in surprise. “I wanted to… show him I was… better than he thought… but I think… I just tired myself out…” responded Pyren, through deep breaths. “Well, we’re wasting time! You missed athletics, and if we wait any longer, we’re gonna miss sword practice!” shouted Alain, practically flailing as he tried to get his friend to go. “H-hold on, Alain, I don’t even have my sword!” cried Pyren, turning back and forth between his sword and the door, unable to decide which one to go for. “There’s no time, practice starts in three minutes!” responded the mouse, grabbing hold of Pyren and tugging him out the door. “Just use a practice sword!” he exclaimed between breaths, trying to reassure his friend as they made their way into the training field.
Sword practice passed by in no time at all, as did spear drills. The day passed into evening as Pyren and Alain moved into second athletics, and by then, Pyren felt like he had been run over by a Thel. "Haaah… cough…" he sputtered, ready for the day to be over. "Alright, assholes, 30 more laps and you can get the hell out of here. Come on, keep moving!" shouted Sergeant Sterva, just as aggressively as ever. "Goddess, 30 more? I bet he'd be having us dig our own graves if they'd let him..." joked Alain, bumping the folf on the arm and chuckling. Pyren was practically in a daze when his friend tried to get his attention. All he could think about was being done with his run and going home for his day off. "Get going, you inbred grub-worms, you can move faster than that!" exclaimed the Sergeant, practically making the whip cracking motions with his paws. Despite his fur being soaked in his own sweat and his legs screaming at him to stop, Pyren kept running down the straightaway of the academy perimeter. He wasn't about to let Sterva make a fool of him again, so he prepared one last trick to ensure the jerkass wouldn't doubt him ever again. For context, the cadets had an unspoken competition going on amongst themselves for who could finish their run the fastest. Of course, the retriever with the Sign that made him run super fast won every time, but most everyone else was content with competing for second place. Alain usually placed around the middle, with Pyren trailing slightly behind, but the folf sure as hell wasn’t going to place behind anyone else today. With the last of his strength, Pyren heated up the bottoms of his paws and leaped forward, causing sparks and sending out small bursts of flame under them with every step he took. “H-hey! W-wait up, Pyren!” exclaimed Alain, vainly struggling forward to catch his fiery friend. Pyren was running faster than he ever had before with the aid of his Sign, so when he passed by Sergeant Sterva, he made sure to give him the smuggest grin he could manage as he dashed down the courtyard perimeter. Soon enough, he had reached the ‘finish line,’ and gladly celebrated his second place victory by collapsing face down into the dirt. “I’m impressed, cadet,” said the Sergeant as he approached the fallen folf. “Mmmphh…” responded Pyren, showing his elation the best he could through his exhaustion. “Not only did you manage to make a complete fool of yourself, but you saved me the trouble of making you eat dirt. Outfuckingstanding. Get up. On your footpaws, cadet!” finished Sterva, giving Pyren a kick to stir him. “Uuuuhhhggghh….” whined the folf, dragging his exhausted body up at his superior’s behest. “You’ve got a lot of talent, cadet. I expect you to show me more of that and less of the shit you tried to pull today. Now get the hell out of here and get some sleep.” Dazedly, Pyren nodded and stumbled backwards into Alain’s arms. “Good goddess, Pyren, I’ve never seen anything like that! How’d you do it?” he asked, unaware of his friend’s critical condition. “Oh, that? It was nothing…” muttered the folf, feigning wellness through his exhaustion. It only took a second for Alain to notice his friend’s plight. Pooling all of his strength to keep himself awake, Pyren let the mouse hold him steady while they made their way back to the barracks to pick up their personal belongings so they could finally go home for their day off.
Later that night, Pyren practically limped through the door to his and Emerald’s shared first-floor apartment. “Pyren!” exclaimed his catty girlfriend, leaping out of her drawing chair to give him a hug. “H-hey, Emerald,” he muttered softly, practically passing out in her arms. “What the heck happened? You look worse than you did after fighting your dad!” she said, bringing her head down to his level with a concerned look on her face. Emerald’s paws were dirty with pencil dust and eraser shavings, but she took no time to brush it all off before comforting her boyfriend. Pyren was more important than cleanliness. “J-just a long day…” said the folf, allowing Emerald to lead him to the bed that they shared for the nights they were together. “Did Sterva push you too hard again? Are you thirsty? Do you need something to eat?” exclaimed the cat, bombarding the tired folf with a question a second. “Hehe… don’t worry about me… I just need some sleep…” he mumbled, yawning as he got into bed. “Bed already?” muttered Emerald, her eyes glancing back to her desk, where an unfinished piece of art lay under several pencils, erasers, and the light of a Remnant-harnessing she had gotten from Ayli. “Oh well…” she said, sighing disappointedly as she slunk over to the forlorn desk to turn the light off. The pinkish-purple cat smiled softly at her exhausted boyfriend and slipped into bed along with him. “Emerald? I thought you were drawing…” said Pyren, wanting her to finish what she was doing. “That can wait. You on the other paw….” Emerald trailed off, giving the folf a flirtatious look and running her paw through his orange fur. “I’m not gonna let you go to bed alone, sleepyhead!” Pyren laughed awkwardly, blushing at her kittenish gesture. “Thanks, Emerald…” he muttered, resting his head on her neck as she pulled up the covers. “I know you’re the one who usually does the cooking, but I’ll let you off the hook for tomorrow. I’m gonna make you a big breakfast in the morning, so don’t you worry!” she whispered in his ear. “Mmm…” mumbled the folf, silently grateful at his girlfriend’s gesture. “Nighty night, my fluffy, folfy friend….” said the cat, kissing her boyfriend on his soft, yellow cheek and snuggling up to him, arms caressing his furry body as they both drifted off to sleep.
The fourth tale of Chosen of Fir Tales: Stories From the Lives of Fur and Dragon Friends.