chapter 4

Juliet staggered and barely blocked an overhand swing from one of Leo's overpowering strikes. Although she is doing very well to hold her own against a stronger opponent as she used her speed to dodge and counter her master's precise and control of his sword as if the weapon itself is a part of his body and is an extension of his arm; she is clearly losing ground and losing badly to a clearly stronger and superior sword master. He is so good that he is hardly moving as he blocked her thrusts and strikes and nonchalantly does so with ease that made Juliet feel in awe of her master's prowess but at the same time annoyed at the fact that he's not taking her seriously! And here she insisted that she wanted to learn and further refine the skills that her cousins have taught her when she suddenly decided that she needed a break and wanted sword lessons of all things!

"Remember Odin, that mind and body are the same!" He told her. "What happens in one will reflect in the other! Oh I told you that about a thousand times already you know!"

"Uh ya easy for you to say!"

"Focus! You won't be able to anticipate an opponents intentions if you do not focus!"

She feels frustrated that she has yet to break through his guard and they've been doing this sparring for an hour already! The conditioning she's been doing for the last 2 weeks have done wonders for her strength and stamina, however it would seem she has a long way to go as Master Leo seems to be able to anticipate her every move!

"Do you know why I can read you like a book?" he told her. "It's because you're tense like coiled spring that's why when you strike you lose half your power and your speed! On top of that you waste your energy on too much useless movement!"

"So what am I suppose to do!"

"Relax, focus on your opponent and only strike if you see an opening AND then use your power at the last moment when you attack!"

"Ok fine, I'll to do as you ask!" Odin/Juliet complained. "Still not as easy as it looks you know!"

Juliet closed her eyes breathed in deeply and cleared her mind. Each deep breathe she took all her worries away and she begins to relax and focus her concentration on only one thing and that's to defeat her opponent. This breathing exercise she just learned last week is doing wonders and she thought it is just a bunch of baloney too! But, it seems to work as Leo had taught her and it is calming her down and renews her vigor. When she opened her eyes, she changed her stance assuming a fencer's posture with her sword arm up and her left behind her waist. Now that she is thinking clearly, she knows for a fact that she can never overpower Leo, that is just impossible. So she deduces that it would be better to use her speed to get inside his guard and then try to dodge his powerful strikes as quickly as she is able before he clobbers her real good!.

With that strategy firmly in mind she then took the initiative and attacked first with a quick lunge and then thrust. To her surprise she actually made Leo move to block a strike for the first time that day. Juliet then relentlessly pressed her advantage and unleashed a barrage of the fastest strikes that she could muster and she is even more surprised that she has finally got him on the defensive and sweating while she's at it. However, when she thought she got himd for sure, all he did to disarm her was a single block a twist of an arm and her sword flew away and she came face to face with the tip of his sword.

"Very good Odin that last effort was very impressive!" Leo complimented her/him. "I commend your teacher for getting you this far!"

"I had a couple of good teachers, master." Odin told him. "But I still got beaten though."

"Don't be hard on yourself my boy!" he said. "You did very well. I'm just gonna have to teach you to relax and break that bad habit of using to much wasted moves!"

"What do you mean I've been relaxing and focusing like you said!"

"Yes that's true but until you learn how to do concentrate you won't be able to beat your opponent if you tense up all the time! That's how I was able to disarm you the last time, I saw in your body language that you tensed up so I took that advantage and off your sword it flew!"

"Ah I see, but I can't help it!" Odin said. "It's just too hard, I'm not as strong as you!"

"It's not about brute power at all." Leo sighed.

"Then what is it then?"

"Be like water!"

"What do you mean...be like water?" Odin asked him. He/she sighed. It figures that Leo is going to fall back on one of his philosophical meanderings. He/she knows him well enough that when he is trying to beat something inside of him/her, Leo usually babbles what seemed to be gibberish but for some reason it is actually true and made perfect sense in the end. Well Juliet/Odin usually heeds her master's words as it would end up helping her/him in the end. Just have to survive the initial bombardment first!

"Ok, you just lost me on the first two words!" Odin complained. "You're gonna have to explain that to me with a little more detail than that!

"Ok what happens when you put water in a glass?"

"It takes the shape of the container..."

"Then what happens when you drop the glass full of water?"

"The glass breaks and the water spills...so what does that have to do with "being like water" for?!"

"Do you not see even though water does not have a shape on it's own it can conform to the shape of whatever container that holds it. There lies it's strength for water can be calm and peaceful one moment and then suddenly pound a surf to smithereens relentlessly with huge waves the next. Be like a calm stream that is able anticipate an attack and then suddenly pound the opponent when you have an opening and overwhelm him with your might. In a metaphorical sense, in order for you to beat any opponent you must be like water. That is you must be able to be flexible enough in regard to your opponent's strengths and weaknesses and then adjust to them accordingly. One can only do so with an open mind and a level concentration that years of practice and experience hones to a fine point. So thus I tell you to "be like water!"

"Ok I sort of get it but I still think it's hard!"

Leo sighed again. It seemed that he won't be able to understand unless there is some kind of visual aid. It seems that Odin needs some kind of evidence to be able to observe and then be able to absorb. He guesses that's just how he learns and if he has to do a demonstration then so be it! Wordlessly he signaled him to follow and they stopped in front of a huge boulder about 10 feet tall and probably 17 feet around. Suddenly he unsheathed his huge broadsword in one motion took a swipe of the huge rock and sheathed it on his back again. The movement is so fast that Juliet hardly saw when he unsheathed it, made his strike and put it back in it's place on his back. In fact, the move was so lightning fast that she just saw the part where he sheathed his sword. Leo then prompted her to step back a couple of feet and suddenly a vertical line begins to appear exactly at the center and the boulder just broke perfectly in half and both of the halves fell down on both sides. Juliet is awestruck at what she saw. Not only did she not see the strike but it was powerful enough to have gone through the solid piece of rock!

"So do you believe me now?" he asked Odin.

"Umm...y-yeah!"

"Good, think about it for awhile...I know it's a little confusing but it's all going to click one day and makes sense in the end. Alright, take a rest for a little bit and let's go do the exercises. It seems that you're body has gotten used to the load so I think it would be prudent to increase the repetitions. It's just going to make you stronger in the end anyway!"

"Sure why not...let's do it!"

Later that day when Juliet said her farewell to her master; she walked leisurely at the streets of Neo Verona before going home. Some of the street vendors were already closing for the night. However, taverns began to open up and the restaurants filled to capacity as the citizens dined in that evening. Those who are fortunate enough to own property to open their own stores to sell various products were also open and people were going here and there doing a little shopping. Although times were hard, the people were still able to relax and have a good time whenever they are able to do so.

When Juliet goes home from training she usually makes a detour towards the main square where people gather to peruse merchandise and amuse themselves with entertainment from street performers. Like any other girls her age, she likes to shop, or at least window shop and occasionally buy a trinket or two. The rest of the time she just goes in a store gawk at some clothes, look at expensive stuff, try out a gadget or two and just plain old have fun doing all of these things just for kicks. However, it saddens her that is all she can do. Will this be her lot in life? Masquerading as boy and hiding at someone's attic?

Suddenly a noise knocked her out of her reverie and when she looked at the source of the disturbance and noticed 4 unruly looking men making trouble for the shop owner. It seemed that they drank a little to much and making a lot of ruckus over some merchandise that one of the men were trying to buy. It all went downhill from there when the man closest to the shop owner suddenly punched the poor fellow and the rest of them started kicking him on the floor. Planning to just mind her own business at first, Juliet had a change of heart and she began to move long before she decided to help. Outraged at trying to gang up on a poor defenseless man, she never really thought things through and just moved based on instinct. Juliet with lightning speed closed in on her first opponent and kicked out and hit one of the men who turned around to see who shouted at them. The man doubled over in pain and Juliet dodging the second man's punch, grabbed his arm, twisted his wrist painfully and used her left elbow to put pressure on the man's elbow and then sensing someone behind her, she kicked out again and is rewarded with a loud "umphf" as the third man tried to sneak at her from behind. Her third attacker grabbed his stomach and doubled over in pain and made some pathetic noises on the ground. Still having her opponent on floor in an arm lock, Juliet quickly looked for the fourth man as he disappeared from her sight when the fight broke out. She then found out where he was when she suddenly felt her body lifted up and found herself flying towards the window!

Juliet instinctively covered her face with her arms and upon impact broke the window and leaving broken glass all over the floor. Still in the air, she adjust her body in a way where she could somersault facing the window and thereby ready for any counter attacks that were sure to come. Upon landing, she slid on the floor a couple of feet before stopping and dodged to her left as soon as she did so as the man who threw her out the window, tried to hit her with a club that somehow escaped her notice with the chaos going on at the time. Their little tussle began to attract a crowd which made things a little more complicated than it should be. Well as master Leo told her this morning, it would be a fine time for her to adapt as things presented itself to her.

"Well, I might as well give it a try, I guess!"

As she focused her concentration and as her opponents begin to surround her an amazing thing happened. It's as if the men's movements became sluggish and she could see every inch of their muscles tense. Time seemed to slow down, as she blocked another punch, puts it away and counter punched with an attack of her own. She then grabbed his arm and yanked him in a way that sent him crashing into his buddy and then kicked the man that sent them sprawling on the floor. She then ducked low, missing another attack from one of them and then kicked the man's leg out from under him and she got up quickly while holding his leg and then stomped on the stomach making the man groan in pain. She then felt a sharp pain on her back as someone attacked her from behind. She fell but rolled on the floor and ended up in a crouching position and ready to attack. Her attacker pressed his advantage and tried to kick her in the face but she leaned back and at the same time she kicked out his remaining foot and he too fell on the floor.

Juliet then quickly got up and went on a defensive stance again. The men slowly got up and were by this time were thoroughly enraged that some skinny nosed punk of a kid was having his way with them. The crowd cheered at this boy who was beating albeit 4 men and outnumbered. It was probably the best thing that happened all day and they have something to cheer about after a hard day's of work and the abuse and the grief the Cabereine were causing the citizens. She is glad that she has uplifted the citizens spirit somewhat. A fight isn't something she would have done but the people were cheering and rooting her on and that's fine with her. Then whistles were heard not far off and the crowd began to disperse. A dozen Cabereine began to make its way towards the crowd to arrest the perpetrators who has disturbed the peace.

Recognizing her danger, she left the men and made a run for it. But not before two heavily armed guards blocked her escape. If she gets caught now, it would be trouble for the old fart andwould probably make grey hairs grow on Cordelia's head prematurely. And he Master Leo will probably harp on the fact that she got caught and probably will joke her about it. A tick mark appeared on her forehead. It was hard enough trying to survive master's training and now she would have to endure his lame jokes too?

"Hell no!"

The two of the them attacked her first ducking at the very wide strike that the first guard attacked her with and then running past her. Then she jumped real high as she nearly got slashed down low and then stepped on the other guard's face to jump even higher over the crowded street and grabbed a clothes line which broke from her fall but then she grabbed the other line with her hand and swung on the other side of the the street. When she landed in one of the many stairs that peppered the city and made a run for it. So far her training has done wonders to her stamina and she has yet to catch her breath. She then weaved her way in an out of alleys, hide when there was a need to and then sneaked her way when it was not a smart thing to take on the alarmingly increasing Cabereine patrols in the city. She then hid again as more of the guards came running down a street and passed her unnoticed.

"Damn, what I got myself into?" Juliet thought. "What the hell are they looking at me so hard for? It's not like I started the whole mess or anything!"

Once the guards passed her, she then made a run for it...and made a wrong turn where a bunch of the the Cabereine were there looking for her. Without hesitation, she kept on running and turned right and ran up a flight of stairs, she almost made it to the top when she felt a sharp and piercing pain on her shoulder blade.

"Dammit, I didn't realize they had archers out too!"

With desperation she dodged left and right as a rain of arrows came from the heavens and peppered the street. She didn't really go far as her strength was leaving her rapidly. Juliet then made it to the main square before tripping and then falling on the street. The pain on her shoulder was very agonizing and when she opened her eyes she was surrounded already.

"I guess this is it huh?" Juliet thought sadly. "And I never even find myself a nice boy and have my first kiss!"

One of the guard's raised his sword and Juliet closed her eyes. After a few seconds of waiting for her doom to come...nothing happened. When she reluctantly opened them, she saw a massive figure blocking the Cabereine's sword with one his daggers.

"You alright kiddo?" Leo asked her.

"Y-yes, I am now that you're hear!"

"How you got in this mess, I have no idea but you did a good job back there with those thugs and dodging these idiots for this long. We'll work on the technique and all technical stuff later alright?"

"S-sure if you say so!"

"But first we gotta get out of this first huh?"

"Y-ya..."

With raw power that amazed her, Leo deflected the guard's sword arm away and kicked him so hard the he flew across the square and hit a few of his fellows while he's at it. He then dodged an attack from behind, catching the man's sword arm in a lock and countered with a crushing elbow to his face. Needless to say, he went down unconscious and then Leo turned and faced his enemies that kept on coming like an endless wave. Like a crimson whirlwind, he dodged, weaved, blocked and counter attacked everything that the enemy can think of and he has yet to break a sweat. Bodies of unconscious Cabereine littered the streets already and if Leo had his way there would be more but it seemed that the entire contingent of them have been summoned and even with his superior skills, he is only one man and he would succumb eventually to their sheer numbers. Recognizing this, the masked man decided it was best to retreat now and get Odin to safety and treat that nasty arrow wound on his/her back. Without any reservation, he put away his dagger and pulled his broadsword from it's sheath. An eerie glow came from the sword and with great force he put it down and struck the cobbled street and an explosion detonated that sent a shock wave that blew all of the Cabereine away! While they were still busy trying to put reorient and sort themselves out, Leo picked up Odin and unceremoniously put him/her on his shoulder carrying her like a sack of potatoes. Juliet who didn't expect that from him, blushed furiously. Leo then ran up the walls and jumped zig zagging and using various ledges from the building to get a firm foothold. Finally, when they arrived at the highest point in the city, Leo ran about 10 minutes trying to lose anyone in pursuit and when he noticed that no one was following them. He stopped and put Odin down and scanned the area some more for more danger. When he turned around to see if he's alright, he caught the young man/woman as he/she collapses unconscious. When looked at his hand blood soaked his glove and he realized that Odin must be in shock from the blood loss! Carefully he took hold of the arrow and tried to yank it out of his/her shoulder. But he stopped and he didn't have anyway to treat his/her wounds up at the roof tops! So instead he quickly snapped the arrow so it would be easier to take it out later. Now he needed a doctor quickly!

"Hmm I wonder if he's still open at this time!" Leo thought. "Well it wouldn't hurt to try now is there?"

He then carefully carried Odin like before and as fast as he is able without further aggravating his/her injuries, he quickly transversed the rough tops as fast as he is able. When he arrived at his destination. Leo then knocked twice and then again three times in rapid succession. The door opened and a kind man with glasses and his hair pulled into a ponytail opened the door.

"It's been a long time...Lancelot."

The man called Lancelot's eyes widened as this strange man said his name. But he felt that he knew him from somewhere a long time ago.

"Leonardo Salvatore Giovanni de Lawrencia?" Lancelot whispered. "They told me you got killed in frontier!"

"Well you shouldn't believe all the rumors now huh?" Leo told him. "Are you still open, I got wounded kid on my shoulder, I need your help and you're the only one I can turn to at this time!"

"Sure come in, come in!"

"Thanks man, I owe one or at least this little one will!"

Lancelot quickly got his medical bag and looked at the remnants of the arrow sticking out of his/her back. Leo explained what happened and Lancelot nodded and asked him to wait outside the door while he's operating. He called his wife to assist him and they were in the room almost all night. The doctor didn't finish until it was 2 in the morning. When Lancelot finished he was exhausted and he looked for Leo who was meditating beside the door.

"He was always like that when we were in the military together..."

"So how's the kid coming along, he did survive right?"

"Yes, he's uh, quite alright..."

"What's wrong was there some kind of complication?"

"Well, I guess you should look in yourself!" Lancelot said to him. "Elena is the patient dressed decently at least?"

"Yes, dear."

"Good, because we are coming in!"

Leo went inside and nodded his head to Elena in greeting. Then looked at Odin or at least who he thought was boy but really disguised as a girl! He or rather she was wearing bandages covering her wounds but he could already tell that Odin is what he claims to be! Her shoulder length hair cascaded down and is left to one side. She is sleeping peacefully but it looked like a fitful sleep as if she had burdens so heavy for a 14 year old girl her age. He should be angry at her for deceiving him but he has to remember that everyone has story and she had a reason to hide her identity. Still it bothers him that she looks familiar somehow but he couldn't place where he saw her before. It should come to him and mentally noted to check up on something later.

"As you can see he is really a she!"

"Yes I can quite see that, Lance!"

"Did you know about the cross dressing?"

"Nope, had no idea." Leo shrugged. "I'll pry it out of her when she wakes up! She owes me that at least!"

"I see..."

They then left the room and let Juliet rest. And they went to the living room to talk about old times. Elena quickly made some tea and brought some sandwiches out and served it to them. Lancelot kissed her goodnight and Elena went back to their room.

"So what happened to you Leo?" Lancelot asked. "Why did the higher ups declared you dead?

"That my friend is a very long story and I am reluctant to tell you as it would endanger yourself and your family!"

"It's that serious huh?"

"So what happened to Neo Verona?" Leo asked. "Why are the people suffering while the fat cats up in the manor get even more disgustingly richer?"

"You have been gone for a long time and the times unfortunately have changed!" Lancelot told him. "The Montagues took over from the Capulets and put them all to death!"

"Dammit, I'm decades too late it seems..."

"What are you talking about?"

"In due time, I promise I'll tell you!" Leo said. "So what happened to my family and Lucretia?"

"They were all put to death as punishment for supporting the Capulets. Some of them got away and are living in exile in various foreign countries." he said. "And Lucretia...Lucretia waited for you to come back from the frontline. When she heard the news that you supposedly died, she was devastated and she died wasting away from grief! I'm truly sorry!"

When he heard that his grip on his glass tightened so much that he broke it bare handed! Lancelot knew that his old friend was very strong but this raw power that he feels almost leaking out of him is unbelievable. The years were not very kind to him it seemed as the old Leo who was cheerful and full of life is long gone. The man before him looked liked his friend but he was angry, bitter, and it seemed saw too much war and violence that he is no longer the person he once knew. Upon hearing Lucretia's death, the last spark of light in his eyes died and what he saw in this man's eyes were frightening indeed as they briefly became cold, forbidding, and empty! Then just as his eyes turned deadly, they returned to normal just as quickly!

"I see then there is nothing left but vengeance upon the Montagues then eh?"

"But how, you're alone and you can't possibly win against Lord Montague!" Lancelot pleaded. "His power is too entrenched and he has too many eyes and ears in this city! He would smell a rebellion a mile away and squash it just as quickly!"

"No my friend I won't be alone because I already have an army in waiting, you just can't see them right now!"

"What are you talking about, what army?"

"Can't you tell, they are all around us. It's that merchant who sold you some bread, it is your next door neighbor, it is the poor that you see on the street, it is the street performers, the vendors, and all the ordinary people you see everyday! My army is here, I just have to wake them up that's all!"

"Do you mean..."

"Yes my dear Lancelot, I don't know how I will pull it off but my army has always been here all along and they will gladly take up my cause because this city they loved belonged to them once until it has been taken from them by force! I will not rest until those accursed Montagues has been exterminated from this earth and it's only fitting that a Capulet brings them down and take back what was stolen from the people this fair city of Neo Verona!"

"So you have chosen war it would seem."

"No my friend, I fight because I have to and I chose to. The Montagues have started this war and I aim to finish it!"

To be continued...

A/N I apologize for the very long wait for an update...Work has consumed most of my time and my new story Bleach to Vampire has pretty much taken over as I can't seem to run out of inspiration for that one...maybe you'll should look it up and read it...heh...Don't worry though I still plan to update this story and if I have to rotate as I write my other stories then so be it...Well anyway how do you'll like it...I sort of hinted a little bit of back story on Leo's history...I'll reveal his secrets slowly...I gotta get you guys to come back now...heh...Anyways, R&R as usual and I'll cya kiddies next chapter...and I don't own RomeoxJuliet blah, blah, blah.