One week later

Skin like rough canvas. Button eyes leering, battlewounds gaping at her in open mockery. Linao glowered down her opponent, and the dummy glowered back.

Her teacher stood in the background as she trained--stern, arms crossed, telling her what she needed know to vanquish a demon. "When you attack, it must be quick and direct. From the front is easier, but it can be done either way. You have to make certain your attack is directed properly.

"Otherwise you'll be dead in a matter of seconds."

A chilling prospect, and not one she was willing to fall prey to so readily. Gritting her teeth in determination, she moved in.

"Stab, twist, and pull back. The blade of your weapon is designed to latch onto the heart. If you twist it, it anchors the blade in place and pulls the heart out with it. Remember, the only way to permanently rid yourself of a demon is to get his heart. Otherwise he'll come back within minutes and make sure you don't get a second chance."

Perhaps it was only a dummy, incapable of striking her back, much less of swallowing her soul and claiming it for its own. But by heck she would treat it just as if it were a demon, intent on squashing the young hunter like the bug it thought she was. Her blade rammed forward.

The sleek design of the edges easily buried the weapon into the dummy's tender parts, ripping up canvas and other dummy-components in a dusty array of carnage. Yet though it was vigorous, her attack came in vain--she had captured not a heart but a lung, and against a real demon, that would not be enough.

"Ew." She eyed the imitation organ in disgust, lips faintly curled in annoyance. "I don't think I'll ever get this right."

Though ardent in his teaching, Jeriel was not unkind. "You just need practice," he soothed her. "You're not going up against Azael anytime soon, so take your time."

Still disappointed in her failure, Linao frowned grumpily and shifted her eyes to the side. "I need a break."

summary written by Cleo

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