Volume 13, Chapter 6: The Knight and His Sword

Friday Spring Quarter 2016 Week 6

“Tomo, you have time to talk?” Zhuyu walked up to me in the train station.

It was rare for him to approach me so it must be important. Out of all the heroes, Zhuyu wasn’t talkative, unless he was with friends. But, that was generally true for everyone. When surrounded by people they were comfortable with, people were prone less uptight and cautious.

“What’s up?” I watched a large crowd exit the elevators.

I glanced at the math major, noticing he cut his hair. The man’s previous medium length hair, which covered his forehead, was gone and replaced with a standard buzz cut. Only his right earphone was in so I wasn’t sure if he was listening to something. If he was talking to me now though, either the volume was lowered or turned off.

“There’s been a breakthrough. Fei’s tracked down one of our ultimate weapons, specifically Zhang’s. I hope you can join us when we go investigate. It’ll be a good chance for you to practice stuff from the training camp. Should be just me and Zhang for now. Feng’s busy working on research. I’m sure she’ll be back once my weapon is involved,” Zhuyu explained.

“Sounds good. Just contact me when you guys head out. I’ll see if I can go. Anything else?” I heard the sound of the incoming train approaching.

“Not that I can think of. How have you been holding up? Pretty scary what happened on your adventure into that future. I guess kinda my fault, sort of,” Zhuyu responded.

“I’m fine now. Just sore and more tired than usual. Zhuyu, I know you won’t give me a straight answer, but what’s up with you and Kyoi? Ruiqi too?” I stepped aside as train passengers exited.

“It’s a long story for Feng. She’s helped me out a lot though. I can tell you one thing. It’s not as if I’m disinterested in Feng or Kaze,” Zhuyu replied, giving a small smile.

We chatted on the train until my stop. Zhuyu wasn’t the most entertaining person to speak with, but he did have some interesting stories. He was opening up a little more than usual. Thinking about it, he showed some more concern for me. Almost like… Zhuyu from the alternate dimension Mirei showed me. No! Let’s not jump to conclusions. There were still major differences between them even if they shared the same appearance.

Sunday Spring Quarter 2016 Week 6

“Zhang and I plan to head into our dimension and practice before retrieving his ultimate weapon. If you’re free, you can join us,” I read Zhuyu’s message.

Not a bad idea. I had not practiced in a few days because of the sudden increase in homework for my classes. However, I finished all of it, so I was free now. I texted back a response and grabbed my keys. I inserted my special key in and arrived at the Crossroads.

“That was fast,” Zhuyu greeted me.

He wore an unzipped gray hoodie and a black pair of work jeans. He wore his glasses today, probably because of his powers. En wore a hoodie too, a lighter gray than Zhuyu’s, and a faded pair of blue jeans. An eagle design, with spread out wings, was printed on the shirt underneath his hoodie.

“Are we actually fighting or just sparring?” I pocketed my keys.

“We’ll be going up against some actual enemies. It might take time to clear them all out,” Zhuyu revealed.

“What do you mean?” I followed the two as they headed towards the entrance gate.

“Fei requested that we track down one of the splinter groups created after the death of the king. Their leader is someone Zhang and I are familiar with. He’s a well-known knight that’s pretty good with magic. We’ll talk more about it once we get there,” Zhuyu explained.

Zhongjie: One-Way Woods

We arrived at a field and the foliage extended up to our knees. Zhuyu knelt and rapped his knuckle against the ground. A chime occurred and then stairs descending downward appeared. More underground traveling, just great!

“I’m assuming bandits made this?” Zhuyu headed down first and then En.

“Yeah,” En answered, illuminating the dark area with his flames.

After walking a few feet, we discovered a pile of branches stacked against the passage wall. En constructed torches for each of us before we continued ahead in silence. The only sounds were our footsteps, the crackling of the flame, and the occasional scurrying. If it was just Zhuyu and En, there was never much talking. Was it better that way? I could not decide if I rather have someone talkative like Felicity or just dead silence.

“Here we go,” Zhuyu muttered, pointing at a staircase in the distance.

A large group of bandits waited for us top. En immediately cleared them out with his katana. Zhuyu provided backup, preventing enemies from approaching his friend by restricting their movements. I did my part as well, halting the wave of enemies which kept streaming in. I heaved a sigh of relief after stopping all of them. Zhuyu inspected the doorway and called En over, chatting with him. I bent down, examining our enemies’ charms. These looked familiar. Where had I seen these before?

“It’s a dead end. There must be some other way of going forward,” Zhuyu announced, rubbing his chin.

“What do you mean? They came through there!” I reached for the doorknob but realized there was none.

“It’s a one way portal. It only lets people come in. You can’t use it to get to their location. See? You open the door and it’s a dead end!” Zhuyu opened the door with a simple tap.

I saw a wall behind the door. Of course! I paced around the room and felt my foot slip. Crap, I probably activated a trap. Zhuyu dove towards me but couldn’t reach me in time. He extended his hand out at me but his powers didn’t activate. I adjusted my gravity to remain in the room but nothing occurred. Damn, someone was blocking our powers from activating. I cursed my poor luck today. En whipped his wire, hoping to catch my hand, but missed me.

I finally hit the ground and suffered no major injuries. I stood up, testing my leg. Didn’t seem like anything was broken. I glanced around, surprised the area wasn’t dark. I was in a completely different area now.

“Might as well try that convenient door. Totally not a trap!” I materialized a sword in my right hand.

I twisted the doorknob with caution and saw a man inside removing his chest plate. He noticed me immediately and reached for his sword on the table. Our eyes locked and I made the first move. Activating a portal, I transported behind him, and drove my sword through his chest. I increased his gravity, causing him to buckle downward. I rained downed a shower of icicles, piercing his body. Despite my projectiles, he retained his composure. In fact, he seemed a little too calm, which meant he would recover from everything I threw at him. I distanced myself from him before encasing him in a block of ice. My hopes were shattered just like the ice within a few seconds.

He attempted to grab his weapon again and I created a portal. No sword for you! I wielded the sword in my right hand, finding it too heavy. I adjusted the gravity around it and readied myself for his next move. Straight, black lines resembling those drawn from a marker appeared on the floor, heading towards me. I heard a sizzling noise as they neared me. I transported away and dropped down on him from the air. I manipulated the gravity around him but felt resistance this time.

A faint glow surrounded his hands as I rolled away from him. A magic knight? No way, was this the person he referred to? Damn, I initiated a fight with a strong enemy without realizing it.

“Introductions are in order. I am Commander Yu. Queen Fei must have sent you!” his voice deep and intimidating.

Queen Fei? No one from Tess’ group addressed her that way. However, with the death of her father, that title made sense. But she never assumed that role, at least from the conversations I recalled.

“Not a talker. I understand,” Commander Yu responded, stroking his flowing beard.

He stomped the ground, breaking it up into large chunks, and sent them flying toward me. Half burst into flames while frost covered the other half. I swung my new sword, deflecting his attack. The magic knight blocked with a large shield, slamming it into the ground. Oh, this was a great weapon! Without even making contact, I neutralized his projectiles which contained magic. This would really help me out in future battles against powerful magic users.

“Impossible! Commandeering my sword containing a identity and protection seal, what magic do you wield?” Commander Yu slid towards me on his giant shield and aimed his left fist at me.

His fists missed me, but I felt a force strike my face. Wind magic? I touched my face and felt something wet. Great! I dodged his strikes but failed at protecting myself from the residual wind magic originating from his fists. He reached for his sword, but I transported the weapon away through a series of portals. Not good, I couldn’t maintain this! At this rate, he would end up winning.

I grounded his shield with En’s electric power. Commander Yu fell off, striking the floor. I wasted no time, driving his own weapon into the man’s stomach. Commander Yu glanced down at the weapon lodged in his stomach. He gritted his teeth, wrapping his hands around the sword handle. I lifted up his shield, smashing it into his face. He withstood the attack, still standing, and shook his head.

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“Jeez, what kind of monster are you?” Commander Yu removed the sword from his stomach, spitting out blood.

The wound in his stomach closed but he was still in pain. I fired bolts of compressed magic at his sword. As expected, Commander Yu deflected my magic. But, that was all part of my plan. I embedded portals around his blade, transferring my magic into it. The blade grew bright and exploded in his hands. Commander once again dropped to the floor with a groan. I retrieved his sword and slashed him multiple times.

“You still alive?” I poked him with the tip of my blade.

Commander Yu didn’t respond as blood spilled out from his arms and chest. All of a sudden, he shot up, glaring at me with crazy eyes. His blood on the ground rose into the air as magic particles. The magical knight stood back up, extending his left hand out. The magic particles converged, taking the form of a large lance. This resembled Ksi’s powers but the principles behind it weren’t the same. Commander Yu thrust his lance at me, knocking the sword out of my hand. Blood splattered onto my clothes and explosions triggered around me. I minimized the damage with a defensive barrier but still suffered cuts and burns. I generated a portal above his blade, transporting it into my hands. I executed Zhang’s pivot, arriving at the knight’s backside, catching him off guard.

“Let’s just end this nice and easy!” I plunged my electrified blade downward.

The handle of his lance vanished. I felt a rumbling beneath me and then a spiny, deformed red hand grasped my right foot. It tripped me and my attack missed. Commander Yu’s lance decreased in length and he jabbed it into my left shoulder. A tremendous force struck my back as the bloody hand sent me into the air. I tried adjusting my gravity but failed. Fine, time for a portal then! I avoided hitting the ground, landing softly on my feet. I unleashed magical waves at him, destroying his lance. The magical knight stumbled around, losing his balance. His breathing turned heavy as he struggled to his feet. I fired off daggers, striking his chest and legs. I then siphoned the remaining magic around him, using it to detonate explosions. He fell face first into the ground. I charged up my sword, ready to deliver the final blow.

Suddenly, the entire area plunged into darkness. I summoned a fireball in my hand but still saw nothing. I heard the crackling of my flame so it was definitely there. What was going on? Oh, Fei must be here! She pulled off the same move during her fight with Kyoi.

“How you have fallen, allowing an outsider to bring you down to the ground like this! I am grateful, Tomo Yuki. I should thank Long and Zhang for their part in this as well,” Fei said, hauling the man up.

The former princess bound Commander Yen with barbed wire. The metal spikes dug into the man’s skin but didn’t cause any bleeding. She clapped her hands and all the residual magic remaining vanished. To be more precise, she transferred it into her wire. Definitely not a fun time for him.

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“You’re dismissed. Oh, that’s right, you have no way of getting out. Sorry, I’m so used to handling things like this by myself. I thought it might give the boys a good warm up. You managed to do everything instead,” Fei said.

A dim portal opened up in the room. After entering it, I returned to the room where I fell from. Fei and Zhuyu chatted while En kept an eye on Commander Yu. Fei searched the magical knight, removing the charm I noticed before. She tossed it over to the zero vector user, who pocketed the item.

“I’m not even going to ask what you’ll do with him. I’ve learned by now that I won’t get a good answer,” Zhuyu said.

“That’s a good boy. Feng trained you well. Well, more like you follow orders way too well. Everyone likes an obedient dog, but you have some fight in you,” Fei chuckled, hauling Commander Yu off.

“That’s his sword, huh? Do you want to using it from now on?” Zhuyu questioned, asking to see the weapon.

“I didn’t really think about it. It’s a bit too heavy. I have to use Shan’s powers to even use it,” I revealed.

“Jin can modify it for you. He’s pretty good with stuff like that,” Zhuyu offered.

“Yeah, that would be helpful. What’s up with that charm Fei gave you? I’ve seen it somewhere before,” I said.

“Oh, this? You probably saw it the last time you were here. Some of the bandits wore this. It’s used to weaken an opponent’s powers. I was planning to craft another ring for you from it,” Zhuyu explained.

“That sounds good to me. So, when are we actually getting this ultimate weapon?” I inquired as En pulled out his key.

“Probably next week. Good job, Tomo. You’ve really improved. You definitely can handle things without us now. You’re more than capable,” Zhuyu complimented me.

I wouldn’t go that far. However, I did feel my confidence increasing after defeating Commander Yu. I still made mistakes, but using the right power at opportune times wasn’t a struggle anymore. Tess’ special lectures were finally paying off as I started using natural world powers more often.

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