Volume 5, Chapter 3-2: Bandits!

“Tomo, I’ll leave the ones leaping down to you. Long, take the left. Zhang, cover my back. Shui, provide cover for us!” Kyoi barked out orders.

Bandits leaped down from the sky right at me. One aimed for my neck. I teleported behind him, plunging my blade into his back. He fell and I felt my hands tremble. I pulled the blade out, feeling my legs shake a little. Two bandits trapped me from the front and back.

Fine, I’ll clear you out by creating an icy surface. One slipped, falling face down. The other maintained his balance, rushing toward me. I shot icicles, pinning the one already on the ground.

“How dare you!” the standing bandit screamed.

Wait, I could use En’s power to repel! Damn, how did he do it? This was the trouble with copying other’s powers. Finally figuring it out, the bandit flew back a few feet away. I dashed forward, feigning an attack. The bandit fell for it, swinging their weapon downward. I teleported his weapon away and sent ice flying towards him, encasing his legs.

Time to check on the others. Tess finally slashed a wire and the red blinking light stopped flashing. She stood up and our eyes met. The bandit I just fought was ensnared by the Gatekeeper’s chains. Right, gotta finish off enemies.

Kyoi and En moved in a synchronized pattern. Anyone approaching them was knocked back with rapid slashes. Kyoi slashed one person’s arm off, kicking her down to the ground. En switched over to his secondary weapon. He wrapped his thin wire around two opponents, shocking them with electricity. Kyoi finished off the last opponent, leaving a red gash across their chest.

Zhuyu’s combat was more defensive. He neutralized one opponent with his zero vector power. At least one of the bandits was susceptible to his power. The other one pulled out a charm. Zhuyu clicked his tongue and then raised his sword sheath.

The enemy pulled out a scimitar, taunting Zhuyu. The hero made his way behind the opponent in an instant. He delivered a blow to the bandit’s neck using the sword hilt. The bandit spun around, thrusting his scimitar forward. Zhuyu blocked with his sheath, spinning it upward, and struck the bandit’s chin. Zhuyu accelerated, stabbing the hilt into his enemy’s stomach. Zhuyu then snatched the charm away. He knocked the enemy down, stomping on their neck.

Shui’s battle was uneventful. He encased all his opponents in ice. Rather cheap but I couldn’t complain. Best to not drag out battles too long, conserving energy for potential future ones.

“Who’s your leader?” Kyoi asked, grabbing one of the bandits.

“Leader? I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the bandit replied, blood flowing out of his nose.

“Okay, no mercy for you then!” Kyoi decided.

Tess returned Kyoi’s hunting knife. The older woman shook her head with pity. She slammed the bandit’s hand down onto the ground with a thud, plunging her knife through it. The bandit yelped out in pain, tears running down his eyes. Kyoi wiggled the knife, pushing it further in without any concern. A small pool of blood formed around the hand. Was no one going to stop her?

“Who’s the next of your friends to go through this?” Kyoi asked, surveying the fallen bandits.

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“I’ll do it! You don’t scare me!” one of the bandits shouted out.

Kyoi nodded, leaving the fallen bandit there. She approached her next victim, pulling out her handgun. Placing the gun barrel near his kneecap, she raised her left hand.

“I will count down to three. What are the chances your knees or you will still be here?” Kyoi asked, a calm gaze on her face.

“Don’t…. mess with me. There’s no way a single bullet can blow off my legs. You’re bluffing,” the bandit said, fear creeping into their voice.

“Give up. You’re up against a paladin so I’m sure you know that means,” Zhuyu warned.

“A paladin? Dear god, what the hell kind of people are you?” the bandit asked, shaking at the word.

“Have you ever heard of how the kingdom was overthrown?” Zhuyu asked.

“I heard it was led by a paladin and two swordsman. Wait, you don’t mean….?” the bandit stammered.

“That makes things easier. Look, if you’re really just alone, then fine. But if you have a leader, then take us to them. It’s only a matter of time,” Zhuyu reasoned.

“Ah, why spoil the fun? With my magic, a single bullet can cause an explosion, right? It’s easier that way sometimes,” Kyoi complained, putting her gun away.

“Everyone’s already scared of you,” Zhuyu pointed out.

The bandit closed his eyes, trembling. He nudged one of his companions. The companion took out a device, handing it to Zhuyu.

“The information you need is on there. It’ll show you how to avoid the traps set around here. I swear that it’s all real,” the bandit revealed.

“We’re taking you with us. You’ll take the fall if something goes awry,” Tess decided.

She secured the bandit with chains, shoved him up front. Before leaving, Shui trapped everyone in a thin layer of ice, lining them all up. Would that be okay? Not all of them had magical protection, it worried me a little bit. Was it these kind of decisions that emphasized the difference between Lilith and the current group of heroes I followed?

“It won’t kill them,” Shui assured me, noticing my concerned look.

“Okay. This still seems kind of, I don’t know, bad,” I said, conflicted about how the situation was handled.

“You might be right, but it’s that kind of place. Can’t have enemies get back at us,” Shui revealed.

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We finally arrived at a gate after a long trek. Kyoi pulled out her sword and a red glow appeared around her body. With one slice, the woman destroyed it. The bandit stared at the gate in disbelief.

“Lead the way,” Kyoi ordered.

The bandit led us up several staircases and we arrived at a gorgeous door. A crown was carved into it. Tess glared at the hostage.

“What’s wrong? I already told you everything you need to know,” the bandit stuttered.

“I’m surprised you’re still lying. Feng, assist me,” Tess requested.

Tess shoved the bandit over to the stair railing, dangling him over it. Hey, this was getting too out of hand now. We were three floors up so a fall from this height would kill.

“Where’s the boss?” Tess asked, letting the chain in her hand slip.

“They’re not here! This was standard protocol if anyone captured us. There’s a hidden passageway from here to the actual base. Please, don’t let me fall. I already told you everything I know,” the bandit blurted.

“We’ll compromise. I’ll tie you up here and if you are right, someone will come back for you. If not, then I’m afraid we’ll see how sturdy this railing is,” Tess decided, tying the end of her chain to the railing.

Kyoi kicked down the door. Tess pulled out her golden key and it pointed at a spot in the room. Kyoi punctured the indicated area, revealing a switch. She slapped it and the right wall of the room slid open, revealing a hidden door.

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