While not on par with Zhuyu or Shan, En gave me problems. I raised my sword once more and then something pulled it away. Zhuyu’s friend held wire in his right hand, no longer using a sword. I dropped my weapon after an electric shock came through the wire.
En whipped his wire up and my blade nearly pierced my right hand. So this was his secondary weapon. I closed my eyes, recalling the shock. Alright, I understood part of his powers. When En moved in for an attack, I applied his powers. En, not reacting fast enough, felt the electric shock.
I attacked En with my sword. He spun his wire around, sparks surrounding him. Time to counter. I broke through the electric repulsion, slashing at his shoulder. En winced and then the ground shook. Without time to create a portal, I took the full brunt of the flames shooting out from the floor. Collapsing to the floor, I coughed. He had a trump card. Tess whistled and signaled for the end of the training session.
“Damn, that was careless of me. Good job, En,” I complimented.
“It was nothing,” he denied.
En walked toward Zhuyu and Kuan. He was a pretty skilled fighter, probably because of Kyoi’s training. Catching the bottle of water Tess threw, I looked down at her tablet screen.
“How did I do? A failing grade?” I asked, chugging the water.
“No, you did within expectations. It was projected to be tough especially with a dual elemental user,” Tess answered.
“Fire and electricity. A rather strange combination but still very dangerous,” I remarked, looking over at En.
“Yes. En’s skills are quite useful. You’ve acquired an idea of his powers, a good thing. You still require practice, but I’m more comfortable with you entering another dimension now,” Tess said, closing the cover on her tablet.
“Are we done for today already?” I asked, noticing Zhuyu help pack up the equipment.
“Yes, you’re free from combat for today. That doesn’t mean we’re finished though,” Tess revealed.
“What do you mean?” I asked, not sure what Tess was hinting at.
“You are free the rest of the day, correct?” Tess inquired.
“Yeah, I planned on being here for the day. If you want to do something else, I’ll be free,” I confirmed.
“Good, then we’ll head back to your house. I already prepared the necessary materials,” Tess decided.
“Wait, what do you mean materials? Are we studying?” I asked.
“In a way. I won’t spoil the surprise. I hope your calculator is fully charged, unless it’s a solar one,” Tess replied.
Damn, that did not sound good. I walked over to the three men. Kuan curled up the last wire, placing it into a black case. Zhuyu pulled out his phone and sighed. En yawned, also checking his phone.
“What are you all doing after this?” I asked, curious.
“Play the games,” Kuan replied.
“Uh, I don’t know. Probably watch some anime. You want to come over, Zhang?” Zhuyu asked, looking over at his friend.
“Sure, I’ll go home and play games anyways. Might as well do it at your house,” En replied.
“Do you guys actually do anything besides playing games?” I asked.
“Yeah, I do homework,” Zhuyu replied.
“What about things besides school?” I narrowed the focus of my question.
“Redraw for scanlators and complete art commissions,” Kuan revealed.
“Math and writing stories. I live a boring life,” Zhuyu answered.
“Uh, I work,” En revealed.
Their answers didn’t reveal much about their personal lives. I didn’t expect them to divulge too much though. Everything seemed pretty standard so far. I needed to stall for time so I could avoid doing whatever Tess wanted.
“Um, En, where do you work at?” I inquired.
“Oh, just a store near my house. I stock shelves,” En replied.
Come on, give me a longer response. Okay, think, Yuki. I looked over at Zhuyu, who avoided eye contact with me. Damn, he caught on.
“Where do you go to school, En?” I asked.
“Oh, I don’t. I just work,” En answered, shaking his head.
“Any particular reason?” I asked, realizing my question might be too personal.
“I’m not good at it. I didn’t really do well in high school so I’m working until I figure something out,” he replied.
“Tomo, are you finished with your conversation?” Tess asked, walking over to us.
“No, I think Zhuyu has something to say to me,” I emphasized, giving the man a pleading look.
“I don’t know what you mean, Tomo. Kuan, you ready to leave?” Zhuyu ignored my look with a slight smile.
“Yeah,” Kuan said.
“Tomo, I hope you have pencils ready,” Tess said, pulling me away.
Curse you, Zhuyu. First Shan and now you. Maybe it was a fun surprise, like that was possible with the Gatekeeper.
“Tess, let me confirm this. Will it fun for me?” I glanced over at Tess.
“I believe it will be fun. Maybe not specifically for you, but nevertheless, still enjoyable,” Tess assured me.
“I don’t believe you, Tess,” I disagreed.
“Tomo, this will be for your own good,” Tess declared, unlocking her car.
Sighing, I hoped something would delay our arrival to my house. However, such a miracle did not occur. I could lock Tess out, but that seemed like a bad idea. Who knows how she might retaliate? In the end, I prepared myself mentally for whatever Tess would do.
“Tomo, I’m ready. Can you help carry this in?” Tess requested.
I opened the door and saw a plastic bin. There were textbooks and stacks of notebooks inside. I really had to deal with school related things even during break?
“Tomo, do you have a blank notebook to write in?” Tess asked as we hauled the plastic bin up to my room.
“I have a bad feeling about this, Tess. Are you going to lecture me?” I asked, taking a pencil out from my desk drawer.
“Yes, I already informed you about this. Don’t worry, it won’t be too difficult. It will provide much needed context when copying natural world powers,” Tess explained, taking out material from the bin.
“I’ll have to learn this if I want to copy Shan and Zhuyu’s power. Fine, how long are you lecturing me today?” I understood Tess’ reasons.
“Five, maybe, six hours. I’ll only cover the most important points required,” Tess answered.
“Wait, wait, wait! You can’t expect me to master anything so fast. It’ll take at least three to four days,” I protested.
“We shall see how you progress then,” Tess decided, giving me a sharp look.
“Not everyone can master things like you, Tess,” I argued.
“Tomo, relax. I believe three days will be sufficient, is that acceptable?” Tess offered.
“Hopefully,” I agreed, anticipating a long day.
Tess lectured until 8:00 PM. At times, I felt sleepy and dozed off. Tess usually slapped my hands with a ruler when that happened. By the end, my hands were a bright red. I managed to grasp the basics which she seemed satisfied with. On my desk, Tess left a stack of papers and a notebook.
“Review material,” Tess said.
“Does everyone learn this?” I asked, flipping through a notebook.
“What do you mean?” Tess asked for clarification.
“Do they know how everyone’s powers work?” I wondered.
“To an extent. Kyoi can help you with anything you don’t know,” Tess answered, organizing her notes.
“I think I’ll decline,” I declined right away.
“Just know you have people to turn to for help. I’m not the only one you can rely on,” Tess relayed.
Was Tess nudging me to become more friendly with them? It made sense. It would help with teamwork. Still, Tess was being rather subtle about it. Why not just say it directly? I was probably placing too much thought into it.
“Tess, you’re leaving your stuff here?” I asked, looking over at the plastic bin.
“Yes, I’ll return tomorrow. It will save me the trouble of having to bring it back up here,” Tess replied, giving me a goodbye wave.
I nodded and sat down at my desk. Ah, this sucked. I was forced to study during break when I shouldn’t have to worry about school stuff. In addition, Tess expected me to become more acquainted with the heroes. I wasn’t against it, but she was really rushing me. Worst break ever.
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.