“I’m amazed you’re still standing after the beating you took from me and Shan,” I said, glancing over at Zhuyu.
“Huh? I guess I’m just use to worse after training with Feng and Zhang. Besides, don’t forget what my old powers were. I was trained to take damage,” he reminded me, giving a small smile.
“Regardless of your prior experiences, I’ll be cautious and give you a check-up before allowing you to train again,” Tess decided.
Zhuyu nodded without any real emotion. Tess opened up a nearby door, instructing me to enter. She would stop by later and observe. The Gatekeeper and Zhuyu walked away, discussing his Dragon’s Mandate powers. I walked in and shielded my eyes immediately.
“Hang on, Feng! You got me!” I heard Kisai shout as the bright light subsided.
Kyoi, brandishing her sword tip over Kisai’s forehead, chuckled in response. The woman removed her right boot from the man’s stomach and dissipated her weapon. She hoisted the hero up before turning her attention over to me.
“Here you are again, Tomo. Tess loves her practical jokes,” she said.
Kisai wore a crew neck red T-shirt with the Sica logo printed on his left sleeve. The man wore gray basketball shorts with three thin, white vertical lines running down both sides. A pair of glasses hung from the middle of his shirt collar. His basketball shoes were black with white soles. Forty-five degree angled gray lines decorated the sides of it.
“Didn’t think I would have to face you again today, Kyoi. I assume you’re participating in my training with Kisai,” I predicted, sitting down on a bench.
“Of course, I’m the one who taught Jin here little tricks to help out with his own powers. Tess wouldn’t waste an opportunity like that,” she confirmed, drinking from a water bottle.
“How’s training been for you, Tomo?” Kisai wiped off sweat and a tiny amount of blood from a cut on his cheek with a towel.
“Probably better than what you just went through with her. You sure you don’t need a bandage for that?” I pointed at his wound.
“Oh, this? Nah, just a small little cut. I kinda deserved it after not taking Feng seriously near the beginning,” he replied, placing his finger on it.
“Whatever you say, not like anything I’ll say matters. So, what will we work on first?” I stood up, stretching my arms and legs.
“Hmm, let me take a look at Tess’ notes,” Kisai responded, grabbing the clipboard.
While he read, Kyoi offered to help out with my stretches. I was skeptical, afraid she might tear one of my muscles with her strength. The woman noticed my fearful expression and assured me she would be careful.
“I’m excited to see those new kicks you learned from Shigetzu in action,” Kyoi said as she placed her hands on my back.
“I feel like you just want me to do that so you can trap me in some kind of submission hold,” I accused, extending my hands outward toward my toes.
“Your opinion of me still has not wavered at all. That is my fault. You’ve been with us long enough to know that we all do hold varying degrees of compassion,” Kyoi remarked, pushing on my back a little bit.
“Yeah, I guess. How did you end up meeting Zhuyu and En if you went to a different school?” I turned my body over and Kyoi lifted up my right leg.
“I believe I told you before that they ended up landing in Zhangjie after stumbling onto an entryway at their school. That was my first encounter with them. After that, I scheduled a meet-up with them at Tess’ house,” she informed me, moving onto my left leg.
“Tess’ house? So how long did you know Tess for at that point?” I asked, trying to form the timeline of events.
“I had a head start of about a year or year and a half. My second excursion into Zhangjie was my first time seeing Tess. But it wasn’t until a couple of months later that we really started talking,” Kyoi answered, locking her arms with mine.
We continued with our stretches, completing them in the next five minutes. Kisai placed his clipboard back onto the bench, glancing around the area. His training spot resembled a basketball court with polished wood flooring and two baskets on either end. I noticed a metal basket full of basketballs to the side as well. Looked like Tess wanted people to have fun in addition to doing training as well.
“I’ve decided to do things a little differently than what Tess wrote. It’ll still cover the basics of what she wanted anyways. Let’s meet at half court,” Kisai said, pointing to theter.
Kyoi remained on the sidelines, watching us. I expected her to join us right away. Kisai materialized a purple, magical sword in his hand. It was dim compared to the usual burst of color I usually saw.
Skill Exhibition: Kisai Jin v. Tomo Yuki
“I’ve never actually taught you how to make a weapon with your magic before. Kinda dumb of me,” Kisai said, swinging his weapon.
He suggested unleashing a small amount of magic and form a weapon from that. Kisai pointed out it wasn’t uncommon for the weapon to end up deformed on my first attempt. I visualized a sword and ended up with a bent knife blade instead. I understood how Jacque felt now after one of his sketches resulted in a faulty weapon.
“Not bad, really. So here’s a few tips to help you achieve better results,” Kisai said, providing pointers.
After five minutes of practice, I finally created a decent replica of my usual sword. Kisai lifted his sword into the air and it shifted into a spear.
“You try. Just manipulate the magic already there. Shouldn’t be too hard,” he instructed, jamming his spear into the ground and transformed it into a scythe.
I stared at my sword, shifting it into a baseball bat. Swinging it around, I noticed the magic holding it together waned.
“Oh yeah, gotta be careful about not letting your magic leak. Performing repeated hits and blocking will cause your weapon to break down back into just pure magic again. Always channel magic to maintain the form but not too much or it’ll cause leakage,” Kisai explained.
“What’s the best time to switch a weapon’s form?” I inquired.
“Whenever you feel like it,” Kisai replied with a huge grin.
“Kyoi, your opinion?” I glanced over at the woman.
“Just common sense, Tomo. Do it when an opponent is down, tied up, or preoccupied. There are specific situations you can take advantage of. Jin will cover that soon,” she answered, providing an actual answer for once.
“You ever try using the residual magic like when someone loses control? You can make weapons using that way too,” Kisai said and then held a dagger in his left hand.
Oh, he utilized my leaking magic from before. I scanned the area for any residual magic, finding none. Of course, it would be strange for two experienced magic users to leave behind any. Kisai crushed the dagger he just created, releasing magic into the air, and pointed at me. I nodded and created another sword.
“Spend the next ten minutes maintaining the form and experimenting with the magic flow. Feng, want to test Tomo?” he offered.
“My pleasure,” she answered, dashing at me with her sword already drawn.
With one slash, the woman disintegrated my baseball bat. Come on, Kyoi, you don’t have show off! She continued her assault, unleashing multiple magical waves at me. I gathered up all the magic released from her destruction of my weapon, reforming it again. I swung at her magical waves, sending them back at her. I remained calm this time, able to maintain the weapon’s form, and not let it get destroyed.
“Very good, Tomo!” Kyoi absorbed the magic from her waves, charging her sword up.
She plunged her blade into the ground, generating red lines on the ground. Not this again. I noticed small amounts of magic released. Okay, I get it, Kyoi. Utilizing the magical energy generated from her set-up, I constructed a defensive barrier, protecting myself from her flame barrage.
“Good eye! What about this?” she swung her whip at me.
I blocked with my baseball bat, and merged the magic from my sword into the blunt weapon, strengthening it. Her whip bounced off and then wrapped around the handle. I dispelled the magic around that area, creating a gap. Kyoi flicked her weapon upward, striking my nose in response.
“You have to react faster than that. Good job with that move of yours though. You’re learning,” she said, pulling her whip back.
We continued going back and forth. Kyoi provided opportunities for me to manipulate the magic forming my weapon. I tried out different weapon types, feeling the most comfortable with swords and blades. Kyoi shattered all my weapons at least once, giving me chances to reform them. At the end, I felt drained and stumbled, falling to the ground.
“Here!” Kisai threw me a metal water bottle.
I drank the contents and felt invigorated. There better not be anything illegal in here. Kyoi returned to the sidelines, resting on the bench.
“What’s in this?” I inquired, shaking my bottle in the air.
“Oh just a restoration drink Tess made. Who knows what’s actually in it?” Kisai responded, drinking from a rectangular shaped bottle.
“What’s next?” I adjusted my T-shirt, noticing small rips on the hem of my clothes.
“Magic flow. One of the first things I learned. Probably should have have taught you this earlier,” Kisai answered.
“You mean like that time you pretty much paralyzed that cat?” I recalled.
“Sort of. That’s something I can only do with Kuan helping me out with his powers. Not to give him too much credit, it’s pretty much just me pulling it all off really,” he replied.
“Okay, you done bragging yet?” I sighed, staring at him with impatience.
“Anyways, magic flow is more about controlling how an opponent’s magic comes out. Time it right and they’ll be knocked out right away,” Kisai answered.
The man compared it to blood vessels circulating throughout the body. For each user, magic flowed in a similar way. However, the pathways differed for each individual. Kisai pointed out it wasn’t important for me to know the actual flow. The release point mattered more.
“How can you tell where it is?” I stared downward at my own hand.
“The initial place where there’s a large surge of magical energy. But, you have to be quick about locating it, since it’ll level out in seconds,” Kisai explained, sending down lightning with a flick of his wrist.
I blinked, not detecting any surge in magical activity. What did he even do?
“Release points aren’t always a physical location. It can be a movement or even an incantation, so the phrase ‘release point’ is misleading,” Kisai said, snapping his fingers and the ground near me crumbled.
“Does the same apply to any objects imbued with magic?” I questioned.
“Yeah, there’s a flow associated with that too. You can practice with the magical weapons you made,” Kisai confirmed.
“Basically I just have to figure out what triggers that initial release of magic and go from there?” I summoned a flame in my hand.
Kisai grinned and my flame dimmed. It eventually vanished, no signs of any residual magic remaining. I glanced over at him and shook my head.
“Siphoning. I’ll go over it later. Like you said, figure out the source and then go from there,” he responded to my question.
“What’s my release point, Tomo?” Kyoi questioned as she trapped me inside a swirling flame vertex.
“Really?” I shouted, the complexity of her magic too overwhelming for me.
“I won’t let you out until you answer my question,” she replied, increasing the intensity of her flames.
Sweat dripped down my forehead. I didn’t recall the woman moving any part of her body. She didn’t use her sword as an intermediate either. That left… her mind?
“Looks like you figured it out,” she said and her flames vanished.
“Break your concentration and I stop the magic, correct?” I asked, using my sleeve to wipe off the sweat.
“Exactly,” she confirmed.
Kisai then explained how to increase and decrease an opponent’s magic output once the release point was known. A sudden increase in their magic caused a negative reaction, crippling the user if severe enough. A decrease stunted any potential attack they planned, just like how he dimmed my flame. These techniques were also useful against opponents who lacked control of their magic.
“Okay, I think I get the basics,” I said after twenty minutes of practicing.
“Great, let’s move onto the next thing Tess wanted to go over,” Kisai decided, summoning his magical sword again.