[Sparring session between Mowgli and Hecate]
Hecate: Huff…Huff… His strikes are blindingly fast.
[Mowgli slips behind Hecate and deals a series of blows to her back.]
Hecate: …Ugh! (falls to the floor)
[Mowgli comes in for the finishing blow.]
Captain: STOP! What are you doing?
[Mowgli stops and looks up at the Captain]
Mowgli: In an actual battle, one cannot afford to be soft. If you want to be absolutely sure of your victory, you need to make sure your enemy is completely immobilized.
Captain: Except that wasn’t an enemy, was it? That was one of your own teammates!
Mowgli: I don’t care who it is. If you are facing against me, I will do my best to crush you. That’s all.
[Mowgli walks out of the gym]
Captain: Hey, come back! We are not do-
Captain: (sighs) Karl, would you mind talking to him?
Karl: Why me?
Captain: Out of all of us here, he seems to have the most respect for you. If anyone is going to make him listen, it’s you.
Karl: … I can try.
Karl: There you are.
Mowgli: Need something?
Karl: Is it really necessary for you to go these lengths?
Mowgli: What is it to you?
Karl: I don’t understand why you would go so far to hurt your own friends.
Mowgli: I don’t need friends. I have mostly been alone my whole life. I know how to get by.
Karl: You aren’t going to make it very far as a hunter in Midgard being alone. Sooner or later, you are going to need people in your life who you know will have your back. People you can trust.
Mowgli: …Trust, huh? Trust was the reason my entire tribe was wiped out.
Mowgli: My tribe lived at the heart of the Crystal Forest. Crystal Forest was known for the abundant amount of mines of rare crystals located within it. Rubies, sapphires, you name it. However, the exact location of those mines was unknown and some even considered them to be mere legends. We were its protectors, making sure no one ever found this secret grove and misuse it.
Mowgli: But one day, we found a man close to death at the edge of our grove’s location. He seemed to have been lost in the forest and had even injured his knee. Unable to leave the man in that state, my father brought the man to our grove, where we nursed him back to health.
Mowgli: The man was apparently a woodcutter. He was with a group of other woodcutters, obtaining wood from the southern section of the Crystal forest when they were suddenly attacked by a female bear. Presumably, one of the men must have ventured too close to the mother bear’s cubs.
Mowgli: The man ran for his life by running inwards into the forest. While running away, he tripped over a root of a tree and twisted his ankle. Although he managed to get away, he was now lost within the dense Crystal Forest. He had no knowledge of the fruits that grew within the forest and dared not eat them in fear of being poisoned and no tools with which he could hunt. So, being hungry and injured, he had finally collapsed near our location.
Mowgli: He was really friendly. My family and in fact, my entire tribe took a liking to him immediately. He was really helpful even though he was injured. He helped us gather wood and even cooked for us. When he was fully recovered, we escorted him to the edge of the forest and bid him farewell.
Mowgli: Two weeks later, our sacred grove was suddenly set ablaze. Panicked, we quickly tried to stop the flames from spreading. That’s when a group of 30 men came rushing in and started killing our tribe members. And amongst them, I saw the very same man we had healed. During his time here, he had somehow realized that this was the place talked about in the legends.
Mowgli: My mother grabbed me and quickly ran out of the grove. I was only 7 then. My mother looked around and found a hiding spot within the branches of a large oak tree. She set me down and told me to quickly climb up the tree. I was one of the best climbers amongst our tribe, so it wasn’t really a problem for me. However, 2 of the attackers soon caught up with my mother. One of them stabbed through her stomach with a spear and the other sliced her throat with a knife. My mother’s body slumped to the ground.
Mowgli: When they were gone, I climbed out of my hiding spot. I went over to her, but by then, her body was already lifeless. I cried throughout the night over my mother’s dead body. In the morning, some werewolves found me sleeping and took me in.
Mowgli: I was the only survivor. My entire tribe and its heritage gone. In just one night. Our beautiful grove completely destroyed. Quite a large section of the Crystal Forest burned away as well. Today, it is known as the Forgotten Forest.
Mowgli: See where trust gets you?
Karl: I didn’t know that.
Mowgli: I know you have had your share of misfortunes, which is probably why you think you can understand my pain. But, you can’t. Whatever you have experienced can never be compared to what I have been through.
Mowgli: So, I will appreciate it if you would leave me alone.
Karl: … You know the nickname people call me?
Mowgli: “The Immortal One”, wasn’t it?
Karl: At first glance, it seems like a name that symbolizes luck and strength. No matter how perilous the situation, somehow I always came out alive. But, I don’t see it that way. Instead, I see it as a curse.
Karl: Whenever I got too close to people, disaster fell upon them. I had to frequently change teams. It wasn’t long before I gained a reputation for it as well. Up in front, people called me the “The Greatest Swordsman”. But, behind my back, they called me the “The Cursed Swordsman”. A harbinger of misfortune. Still, considering my fighting prowess, many of those teams still sought after me.
Karl: I witnessed countless deaths of friends and allies during my time as a hunter. For some reason, the friends and families of my perished teammates blamed me for their loved ones’ demise. I could see it in their eyes. Those were eyes of anger and resentment. The new teams that I joined made sure to keep their distance from me. The only reason why they even allowed me in their teams was to make use my swordsmanship. And, I let them. Slowly, I started to believe it as well. Maybe, I was misfortune incarnate. Maybe, I was never destined to find affection.
Karl: (sighs) All I have ever wanted was a place where I belonged. A team that accepted me despite my past and flaws. I thought I finally found a place with my last team. They knew who I was and yet they welcomed me with open arms. They invited me to their drinking sessions and whenever we went to pick up girls. For the first time in a long while, I was actually happy. But then, I lost them as well.
Karl: Yes, Vincent. He attacked us out of nowhere. Before we knew it, two of us were already on the ground. The rest of us fought back, but even for the three of us, he was too much. We had been hiking in the mountains for two weeks after all. Before long, all five of us were down.
Karl: Vincent had slashed through my stomach but I was still alive. Looking around, I saw that one of my teammates was still alive. I crawled over to him, wanting to help him in any way I could. He noticed me and put up a hand. “Stay away… You truly are a cursed being.” He said in a hoarse voice.
Karl: Honestly, that hurt more than my stomach wound. These people were just making use of me in the end. They had never accepted me as one of their own. After that, I just laid in the snow waiting for death. But, it didn’t happen. A rescue team got to us and brought us back to Midgard, where I was nursed back to health. Yet again, I was the only survivor of my team.
Karl: After that, I just stayed alone for a long time. No new offers came for me. Until I met Captain. The first time I met him, I thought to myself, “Ah, he’s probably recruiting me to make use of my abilities”. I would simply be a mercenary for hire and these people paid me for my services. And, honestly, I thought that would be the best option. So, I decided that would be our relationship and stayed away from the rest of the group as much as possible.
Karl: But, no matter how hard I tried to keep my distance, this particular bunch of people kept trying to get close to me. Given my previous experience, I was sure it was all just an act. So, I just kept avoiding them.
Karl: It took a particular strong-willed individual to knock some sense into me. [says this with a smile]
Karl: She told me to look and see for myself whether the feelings of the people around me were genuine, instead of relying on my past experiences to judge their intentions. It was only because of her I realized that even a person like me had people who cared for me. Maybe after so much suffering, I had finally arrived at the one place where I could finally be accepted.
Karl: Mowgli, I can understand the feeling of wanting to be alone after what you have been through. But, you can’t keep pushing away the people who actually care for you. Give them a chance.
Mowgli: That’s your choice. I will do things my own way.
[Sparring session to begin between Balian and Mowgli]
Balian: (Oh man, do I really have to go up against Mowgli?)
Captain: Balian, you ready?
Balian: …Can I say no?
Captain: Just get on with it.
[Sparring session between Mowgli and Balian begins and ends]
Balian: (Huh? That actually wasn’t too bad. I didn’t really get hurt too badly…)
Mowgli: Hey, you there.
Mowgli: You are way too predictable. You can use your naturally fast speed all you want, but it isn’t going to matter if your opponent knows what you are planning to do.
Balian: …Oh. Sorry…
Mowgli: Also, learn to predict your opponent’s moves as well. You have a nasty habit of waiting until the last second to dodge. You have a much faster reaction than the average person, but if you keep relying on it to defend yourself, things are not going to end well one of these days.
(Mowgli turns and prepares to walks away)
Captain: (grinning) That was a good match, Mowgli. You performed well.
Mowgli: … …
[Mowgli looks away and walks out of the gym]
P.S. OK, so that was a bit long, but I wanted to give some character depth to both Karl and Mowgli. The reason I wrote this story is to give a bit of background story to Karl and Mowgli. Also, this story is designed to make Mowgli want to stay with this current group. Judging from his current storyline, he has no interest in being friends with the rest of the group and presumably, he thinks that the rest of the group cannot understand his circumstances. The one exception to this is Karl, who has undergone a similar ordeal. So, it made sense to me that Karl would be the one to persuade him into opening up to the rest of the group. Sorry if it was a bit too dark for your taste.
P.P.S No prizes for guessing the person who “knocked some sense” into Karl. ;)