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Volume 3, Chapter 3-1: Blade of Lightning

Winter Break 2016 Week 2 Tuesday

Tess drove me to the training facility, preparing me for my first entry into a different dimension. I stared at my key card picture. When did Tess obtain it? It was perfectly positioned too.

“Tess, what are the different dimensions like?” I questioned.

“Some resemble ours while others contrast greatly. You need to hone your skills further. I fear you will sustain serious damage in your current state,” Tess advised.

“I’m that weak?” I responded.

“Your powers allow access to a wide range of skills and powers. However, you haven’t had a chance to master any basics yet,” Tess explained.

“So what are we working on?” I inquired.

“Sword skills,” Tess answered.

“I’ll have to face Kyoi?” I exclaimed.

“No, you’ll face Zhang, who Kyoi trained,” Tess revealed.

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Tess stopped midway during our walk to the entrance. She glanced backwards, staring at something.

“Something wrong, Tess?” I asked.

“Somebody unwanted is here. I’ll create an artificial dimension,” she replied, swinging her golden key.

“What should I do?” I asked, looking around.

“Nothing!” Tess replied.

I nodded, watching Tess throw her golden key down to the ground. I clutched my shaking pendant. The Gatekeeper immediately dashed forward, chains flying out from the ground. Her chains immediately shattered, pieces of it flying everywhere. Tess, unfazed, continued running.

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“Tomo, don’t move. That’s an order!” Tess shouted with urgency.

“Tess, your attack pattern has changed enough to actually make me respond,” a voice remarked.

I looked over, shuddering unconsciously. This was the number one ranked hero, Ace.

“Ace, why are you here?” Tess asked, creating more chains.

Ace smiled, dodging all of them. She crushed a chain with her bare hands, shaking her head. This woman was scarier than Kyoi. Tess ordered me to stay put, but I couldn’t just stand here.

“You there, Michi Ichizen’s friend, don’t even think about moving. There’s no reason for you to get involved just yet,” Ace warned.

Tess appeared behind her, throwing a chain around Ace’s neck. She tightened it like a noose. Ace clicked her tongue in frustration, struggling for a few seconds. She then hurled Tess to the ground and yanked the chains off. The woman stroked her neck and coughed up blood.

“I’ll take my leave now. I was hoping to see how Tomo Yuki has progressed, but you have backup coming. It’s unfortunate,” Ace declared and vanished.

I stood there, staring at Ace’s blood. Tess, maintaining her poker face, shut down the artificial dimension. Zhuyu, En, and Kuan arrived.

“Tess, you okay?” Zhuyu asked.

“Yes, we will proceed as planned. Is it just you three?” Tess nodded.

“Yeah, the others might stop by later,” Zhuyu replied.

We entered the training facility. The lights were already on downstairs. Zhuyu wore a university hoodie today, walking with Kuan over to a computer. There were a lot of blinking lights and wires hooked up everywhere.

“What’s that?” I pointed.

“A monitoring system for your training. I asked Kuan to set it up. It’ll take data and send it back to my computer. It should benefit you in the long run,” Tess replied.

“Are we ready to begin then?” I asked, taking off my coat.

“Kuan is making final adjustments. Why don’t you talk to Zhang?” Tess suggested, flipping open the cover on her tablet.

Zhuyu spoke with Kuan about something on the computer. En stood near the center, unzipping his green collared coat. He gave me a nod as I approached.

“En, right? I haven’t had a chance to speak with you. How are you today?” I initiated the conversation.

“I’m alright. Are you ready?” En replied.

He was reserved. I got that from Zhuyu too, but it was more apparent for En. Maybe he was just shy? I couldn’t fault him for that.

“Yeah. You have any tips for handling a sword? I’m still a beginner and the only experience I have is watching Kyoi,” I asked.

“Not really, Feng or Long is a better at that. Sorry I can’t help you much,” he replied.

“Tomo, we’re ready. Zhang has a secondary weapon by the way,” Tess warned.

“Wait, you should have told me that earlier! Come on, Tess!” I protested.

En pulled out his sword, waiting for me. I watched for any odd movements. Just what was his secondary weapon?

“Let’s go!” I yelled, making use of Ichaival’s teleportation power.

My portal disintegrated immediately and a force dragged me towards En. Small crackles of electricity appeared around En.  He slashed at me, finally landing a blow on my right shoulder. I teleported away successfully on my second attempt.

“What was that?” I glanced at Tess.

“I don’t know what you refer to,” Tess answered.

“Fine, I’ll figure it out myself,” I said, heading toward En again.

En entered into a defensive stance which threw off my timing. I teleported behind him and aimed for his back. He spun around and a repulsive force pushed me away. The man stabbed his sword, now glowing, into the ground. I created a portal but it fizzled out.

Energy burst from his blade, striking me, and a shock traveled through my body. I felt sluggish and slower than usual. Generating a portal behind En, I warped him away from me. En, caught by surprise, reappeared a good distance away from me. Finally free from the effects of his attack, I pondered my next move.

“Zhang, go for pure sword attacks now,” Tess ordered, moving her stylus across the tablet.

En, with blazing speed, reached me. We clashed and I was soon on the defensive. En’s sword movements were fast, reminiscent of Kyoi’s. Of course they would be similar, she trained him after all.

However, En lacked Kyoi’s immense power. He focused on speed and precision. The hero eventually disarmed me,  aiming the tip of his blade at my neck. I teleported above him, crashing down with blades around me. En rolled away, but some of my blades wounded him.

“That was good,” En complimented, standing back up.

I retrieved my sword,  making better progress this time. En nodded at my improvement and I finally landed a blow on his left shoulder. When I pulled my weapon back, En once again disarmed me. He slid, knocking me off my feet and plunged his blade near my left eye.

“En, you’re cleared for your secondary weapon,” Tess directed.

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