“Tomo, are you okay? I heard Zhuyu messed you up!” Ichaival sat down next to me.
“I should be fine by tomorrow. It’s just I never actually taken such a beating from anyone before,” I admitted, not feeling the sharp pain from before.
Ichaival and En arrived five minutes later. The dual elemental user appeared in rough shape, kinesio tape still adorning both his shoulders. Multiple small bandages covered his face, mainly his cheeks and forehead. The false archer, on the other hand, was full of energy, exuding confidence. While he spoke with me, En talked with Tess down on the field.
“Do I need to talk with that bastard?” Ichaival offered, standing up.
“Wait, are we talking about Shan or Zhuyu here?” I wasn’t sure who he referred to.
“Oh yeah, it’s probably confusing when I talk about both of them like that! I meant Long!” he clarified, pounding his fist into an open palm.
“Uh, not really. It wasn’t exactly Zhuyu, at least not the one we know,” I said.
I anticipated his confusion, explaining the situation. He nodded with understanding at the end of my story. He knew my pain because of his experience with the false Zhuyu back in Za’ard. Although, that version of Zhuyu was just a dick with no redeeming qualities.
“So you’re saying Long in the future lost control of his power? It doesn’t sound like him, but I can’t imagine what the death of everyone did. Gotta make sure that doesn’t happen!” Ichaival joined En down in the battlefield as their opponents showed up.
Champ and Xiu entered. What a strange pairing. Lilith probably expected the flashlight wielding woman to help out the inexperienced hero. I had no idea what kind of battle this would end up being.
Exhibition Battle: Xiu & Champ v. Ichaival & En
Xiu stepped in front of Champ, pulling out her heavy duty flashlight. The woman pointed it at En. The dual elemental user materialized his katana before approaching her. Their two weapons struck against each other, officially starting the battle. Ichaival swung a punch at Champ, but it was a feint as a blade appeared in his left hand. He aimed for the rookie hero’s stomach. A bright light suddenly enveloped the false archer’s weapon, transforming it into a piece of scrap metal. Champ, wearing glasses, sidestepped Ichaival’s attack. He attempted a grapple, but Ichaival countered with his elbow, striking Champ’s nose. He followed up with a swift kick to Champ’s stomach, sending him to the ground with a loud thud.
“Is Xiu always so silent? She’s just like Xi. I’m going to get them confused since their names are so similar. It doesn’t help that they both don’t talk too much,” I remarked as the woman turned on her flashlight, shining it into En’s face.
“She travels in the shadows. Her lack of words mirror that,” Tess responded.
En stepped back, blinded by the light. When he recovered, En swung his blade at her, but Xiu wasn’t there anymore. She reappeared behind the dual elemental user, bashing her weapon into the man’s head. He crumpled to the floor. Xiu vanished into the ground and dragged his limp body down into his own shadow. I didn’t expect her to take down En so fast. Sparks of electricity flew up from the ground and the two heroes emerged. He broke free from Xiu’s hold, electricity engulfing his hand. The flashlight wielder lunged at him but multiple discharges of electricity stymied her.
Meanwhile, Ichaival opened a portal, lifting up Champ. He carried the man with ease, ready to toss him in. However, the portal distorted before disintegrating. Champ escaped the false archer’s clutches and struck his legs. Ichaival, unfazed by the attack, teleported behind him. He stabbed two blades downward, aiming for Champ’s neck. When the blades were centimeters away from making contact, the weapons turned into scrap metal again. The rookie hero grabbed Ichaival, tossing the man over his shoulders, before his legs buckled underneath him. Oh, I didn’t think Champ possessed such strength.
“I didn’t think Champ would try something like that,” I commented, watching him recover.
“Lilith informed me Lionel worked with him. He lacks the experience for that type of offense but this shows off his dedication,” Tess revealed.
Xiu pointed her flashlight on the ground and then five shadows rose from the ground. They were unaffected by En’s electric discharge, surrounding him. He slashed at one with his sword, but his weapon passed through it, bouncing off the ground. En couldn’t deal damage but Xiu’s shadows pummeled him. After awhile, the dual elemental user escaped their attacks. His sword changed forms as a bright light enveloped his blade. En leaped into the air, slamming his blade into the ground, generating a wave of electrical magic. It struck Xiu’s shadows, eliminating them. Electric sparks surrounded En as he vaulted into the air, holding onto the sword hilt, before bringing it over his shoulder. HIs blade struck Xiu, sending her flying into the wall.
En swung the blade back over his shoulder, bursts of blue light emanating from it. He rushed toward Xiu, bringing his sword back down. Champ, still fighting Ichaival, stared at the dual elemental user’s great sword. The hero’s weapon lost its charge, returning back to the base form. Xiu dissolved into the wall, avoiding serious damage. En’s sword cleaved through the hole formed by the woman crashing into the wall, sending plaster everywhere. He pulled his weapon back, reverting it back to the katana form.
Ichaival landed a solid punch on Champ’s nose, mangling it further. Tess set her tablet down and kicked the seat next to hers. A pair of sticks flew into the air. She grabbed the weapons and hurled them downward. The false archer dove for the weapons but Champ beat him. The rookie hero lifted up the sticks, sending magical energy into them. Flames engulfed the left stick and electricity on the other one.
“That’s not like the magic Kisai or Kyoi use on their weapons, Tess,” I observed.
“An astute eye, Tomo. It’s part of his powers. I’ll provide a more in-depth explanation at the end of the day,” Tess explained.
Champ struck both sticks against each other, creating a wave of magical energy. Ichaival generated a portal, dodging the attack. The wave was redirected, flying towards Champ’s back, before breaking down into fine magical particles. The rookie hero raised the sticks into the air, absorbing the magic back into the weapons. Ichaival raised his hands into the air and obtained possession of the sticks. A look of surprise appeared on Champ’s face as knives replaced his original weapons. He juggled them around and cut himself.
Ichaival performed practice swings in the air, nodding with satisfaction. He teleported behind Champ, jamming both sticks into his back. Electricity flowed into the man, shocking him. The false archer swung the flaming stick at Champ’s forehead. Xiu suddenly appeared, grabbing her ally’s leg, saving him. Ichaival swung both sticks downward, shooting out two separate lines of flames and electricity respectively. The magic flew towards En’s sword. He nodded, charging up his katana.
“Any way they can get Xiu out of the shadows?” I searched for signs of her.
“Watch,” Tess replied, spinning her pen around.
Portals appeared in the air, tinged with electricity. En plunged his blade into the ground, releasing an enormous amount of magical energy. Blue electricity filled the entire area. Ichaival swapped places with En using his powers, standing in a safe spot. En levitated in the air, trace amounts of electric sparks beneath his feet. Just what was their strategy?
Ten seconds later, Xiu and Champ popped out from the portal. They landed into the electricity, sustaining serious damage and paralyzing both of them. En dropped back down, ramming his sword hilt into Champ’s neck. He repelled the rookie hero away from Xiu, isolating him. Ichaival trapped Xiu in a circle of portals and glanced around the area.
En tapped his foot, enclosing Champ in a ring of flames. He added an inner ring of electricity and observed the man. Champ adjusted his glasses, staring at both rings. Frustration appeared on his face when nothing occurred. Looks like he wasn’t good enough to dispel the dual elemental user’s magic.
Xiu swung her flashlight around before closing her eyes. She took a deep breath and then turned off her flashlight. The woman stared up at us before stepping forward. Xiu stood in the same place again, making no progress. What was up here that caught her eye?
En hurled his sword into the ring of fire and electricity. All of the magic was absorbed into his weapon. Champ immediately reached out for the blade but the dual elemental user pivoted behind him. En wrapped wire around his neck, pulling on it. Champ’s glasses fell off of his face. He tapped the wire with both hands, coughing. En’s wire initially disintegrated into strands but reformed right away. Champ’s next contact with the wire ended up shocking his hands. The rookie hero lost consciousness, and landed on his own glasses, breaking them.
“Darryl!” En removed his wire from Champ’s neck.
Ichaival raised his right hand in the air and En’s weapon appeared in it. He hurled the sword into his portals. En removed his glasses and released the magical energy stored within his weapon. With no escape path, Xiu took the full damage and lost consciousness as well.
“Well done,” Tess said, joining the two men down on the battlefield.
Five minutes later, Xiu and Champ woke up. Unlike the previous fight, both were in relatively good shape. After speaking with Tess, they departed. I leaped over the railing, catching up with En and Ichaival.
“You guys sure work well as a team,” I remarked.
“Nah, Zhang’s a lot better with Feng or Long. If we were fighting someone stronger, it wouldn’t turn out like this,” Ichaival admitted.
“What about you, En?” I glanced over at the hero.
“Pretty good. Darryl did a good job backing me up. Thanks,” En replied.
“No problem! Glad to help. Good to work with someone else, you know?” Ichaival caught both bottles of water Tess tossed at him.
He handed one over to En. Oh, I didn’t feel any pain! This was a great sign. I jogged around the area, finding everything satisfactory. Ichaival smiled before joining me in my little run.
“Why did Xiu look up at us? I thought she was going to pull off something and escape Ichaival’s portals,” I recalled.
“She was disorientated from the electricity, just a simple explanation,” Tess answered.
“Really? If you say so, Tess,” I said, still finding her actions strange.
“We’re almost done for today, aren’t we, Tess?” Ichaival checked his watch.
“Yes. Tomo, let’s rejoin everyone. This concludes the exhibition matches for today. I hope you found them useful,” Tess decided.
I followed the other heroes, ascending the stairs. Thinking back, I thought En intentionally suppressed his powers for the fight. His magic levels weren’t as high, but that might just be the effects of yesterday’s training. Ichaival, on the other hand, showed off his versatility with his portal powers. The difference between his fight with Bartholomew last year and now was noticeable. Probably just the passage of time and the heroes finally comfortable with their powers again. I shook my head. Stop over-thinking, Yuki!