A woman, in her early twenties, exited the front door. She wore a golden locket and a silver dress dropping below her knees. Her bracelets clanked against each other as she walked towards us. Her sleek black hair was styled in an inside out ponytail bun with an emerald hair pin stuck through it.
“Feng, why have you returned? I thought you promised not to bother me anymore,” the woman questioned.
“How I wish that were the case, former princess. You’re running a bandit base. would turn a blind eye, but it’s interfering with my business. I appreciate it if we work this out,” Kyoi responded, giving her trademark scary smile.
“You even brought Long, Zhang, and the others too. So, you’re begging for a fight? I’m more than willing,” the woman glanced over in my direction with contempt.
“Former princess, how you joke. Do you really believe that? Are you really willing to take that risk?” Kyoi asked, her voice turning serious.
“You defeated me once, but now, it’s a different story,” the woman replied, a burning resolve in her eyes.
Tess and the others appeared unconcerned about their exchange. I glanced back and forth between the two woman, unsure who would make the first move. I bet on Kyoi, but this situation seemed different than my previous experiences with the second ranked hero.
“Fine, former princess, I’ll give you a few conditions. If I win, you tell me about this bandit base and provide assistance. And if I lose, I’ll leave and never bother you again,” Kyoi outlined.
“No, if I win, you follow any orders. Seem fair to you?” the woman added.
Kyoi nodded in response, agreeing to her terms. There was obvious history between the two. I looked over at Tess for answers.
“You want to tell me who that is?” I asked.
“She is the former princess of this dimension. Her father was overthrown by Feng, who killed him. That isn’t the main reason for their animosity. It’s more of an issue with the way Feng took care of things during the revolution. Although it is more friendly than actual vitriol,” Tess replied.
“Does Kyoi actually stand a chance at losing?” I asked.
“She is one of the more formidable foes. I, myself, would worry about engaging in combat with her,” Tess answered.
If Tess was concerned, then she must be for real. I looked around the area, but saw nothing resembling a battle field. Were they going to fight here in the open?
“Feng, let’s head down into the battle arena. As much as I would like to fight you here, I don’t want to destroy the area,” the former princess directed, returning back inside.
“The same as always, huh? Tess, make sure there are no traps inside,” Kyoi commented.
Tess nodded, entering with caution. After confirming the area was safe, we advanced to the battle area. Man, why did everything always have to be downstairs? The former princess waited for us by a metal door and then knocked on it. The doors opened, revealing a large square dirt field with metal rods in each corner.
“Feng, I trust you’re familiar with the rules,” the woman said.
“Yes, there’s no need to waste time. Tess, will you serve as the referee?” Kyoi requested.
“Yes. Are you okay with that?” Tess asked, glancing over at the former princess.
“I am. Let’s just get this started already,” she nodded.
Tess raised her right arm in the air and then beams of light shot out from the metals rods. They traveled upward to the ceiling and converged at a central point, creating a structure encasing the combatants.
“What the hell is that? When did this become a steel cage match?” I asked, pointing at the light.
“Oh, I’m surprised you know about stuff like that,” Zhuyu commented, not answering my question at all.
“Yeah, Ichizen liked wrestling. Seriously, what is going on?” I replied.
“It’s a barrier. You’re right about the steel cage though. No one leaves until someone wins. Prevents outside interference too,” Zhuyu explained.
The stakes for this fight were higher than what I was accustomed to. This was a legitimate fight, an impressive match-up between two evenly matched participants.
“What’s her name?” I asked.
“Fei. Her father was the emperor before Feng arrived. Once he fell, the entire royal hierarchy collapsed,” Zhuyu replied.
“What are her powers?” I questioned.
“She’s a mage, well, more like a paladin. Can’t you tell?” Zhuyu said with a slight smile.
“What are you talking about? How do you expect me to know that?” I retorted, shaking my head.
“I was just joking. Calm down, Tomo. I don’t know what she’s like now, but she’s at Jin’s level. I guess we’ll see how much she’s improved,” Zhuyu finally gave me a straight answer.
I blinked and then everything went dark. What the hell was going on? I reached for my phone, pressing the power button, but nothing. The sound of weapons clashing against each other rang out. After what seemed like an eternity, everything became visible again.
“So that’s she intended to start off the match. An interesting move but one Feng can counter,” Zhuyu muttered, his composure the same as before everything went dark.
“Want to tell me what kind of ridiculous magic that was?” I asked.
“She blocked light,” Zhuyu answered.
“What?” I exclaimed.
“No light is reflected to our eyes so we can’t see anything. Of course, it’s quite hard to pull off, but that’s the basic premise. Feng’s good enough that she can fight blind,” Zhuyu elaborated.
Kyoi, in fact, looked quite composed. Almost too comfortable. She suffered a few minor wounds on her face. The former princess held a glowing staff in her hand.
“I must congratulate you on pulling that off. It actually warranted me to try. Bravo, former princess, bravo. Now here comes my attack!” Kyoi said, charging at her opponent with blinding speed.
Kyoi’s sword headed straight toward her opponent’s neck before something unexpected occurred. The former princess deflected the sword blow with her free hand. Kyoi pulled her weapon back, plunging it into the ground. It created a shockwave, knocking Fei down.
The second ranked hero immediately attacked her downed opponent, red flames engulfing her blade. Fei rolled away but her clothes caught on fire. She muttered a few words and the flames dissipated. Fei then knocked on her rod.
“Your magic doesn’t work twice. Do you not remember my specialty in that area?” Kyoi said, her sword landing a solid blow on Fei’s left arm.
Despite Kyoi’s confident statement, her opponent remained calm. She raised her rod and multiple rays of light appeared. Kyoi glanced up in the air, clicking her tongue.
“How come she can’t do that blackout move again?” I inquired.
“One of Feng’s skills is magic decomposition. She breaks down her opponent’s magic structure and creates countermeasures. It’s why she’s ranked so high. Jin can do it too but Feng’s the master at it,” Zhuyu answered, staring up at the ceiling.
Tess stood in the left corner of the battlefield, a flat expression on her face. Kyoi swung her sword back and forth, deflecting light rays shooting at her from multiple angles. Every time Kyoi deflected, they returned, with only a few seconds delay. Kyoi seemed amused by the entire situation and finally stopped defending. She raised her left hand in the air and a portal opened up. The light dissipated and the former princess’ brows furrowed.
“Care to tell me what kind of dumb science that was?” I pointed at the battlefield.
“The former princess set up a bunch of magical mirrors, deflecting her light magic around. Feng reduced the intensity by using physics, you know polarizers and such,” Zhuyu replied.
Right. Kyoi was apparently a top student. The match was at a stalemate. Kyoi baited her opponent, waiting for a mistake. The former princess’ rod dissipated and she entered a fighting stance. Kyoi sheathed her sword in response.
“Hand to hand magical combat. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen Feng actually do this. The former princess was trained in this subject matter by her father so she does have the advantage,” Zhuyu replied.
“I don’t really understand. If they can use magic, why not keep using it? I mean, that’s their strong point, right?” I inquired, confused.
“The former princess realized her magic isn’t at Feng’s level. She now intends to prove her strength through a different branch of magic. This is the one she specializes in so she’ll go all out,” Zhuyu explained.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen something like this. I still think Feng will win,” Shui spoke for the first time since the fight started.
“I guess we’ll see,” Zhuyu nodded.
I looked away from the two combatants, focusing on Tess. She moved closer to the participants, her eyes now containing a bit of emotion. Before she seemed bored, but this sudden development intrigued her.
Fei started off with a low punch. Kyoi moved her right arm down to block, but it was a feint by the former princess. She instead went in for a low kick, striking Kyoi in her knee. Kyoi showed no signs of pain, moving behind Fei immediately.
With a swift kick to the back of Fei’s leg, Kyoi hurled her down to the ground. She then slammed into Fei’s back with her left knee. However, the woman clutched her knee after the initial contact, grimacing. It was the first time Kyoi made such a face.
Fei took advantage, thrusting her palm into Kyoi’s stomach. The fluid motion and quick speed of the move caught me off guard. Kyoi clutched her stomach in pain. The former princess continued her assault. She followed up with a multitude of kicks, leaving Kyoi crumpled down on the ground. Fei then punched Kyoi right in the stomach, shaking the ground around them. Kyoi coughed, a slight trickle of blood dripping out from the right side of her mouth.
“Zhuyu, Kyoi’s in some serious trouble. She’s bleeding! I’ve never seen that before,” I said with concern.
“Tomo, what do you think we should do if we lose?” Zhuyu asked.
“What? Don’t think about that right now. Are you crazy?” I questioned.
“It’s a possibility,” Zhuyu said with a serious look on his face.
Kyoi finally displayed signs of resistance, escaping her opponent’s hold. With incredible dexterity, Kyoi jumped, driving her right knee down into Fei’s neck. Fei collapsed and Kyoi stomped on the former princess’ left kneecap. She continued targeting it and Fei failed at escaping. Kyoi smashed her right fist into the other kneecap. A look of surprise appeared on Fei’s face as Kyoi relented.
“I believe the fight is now over,” Kyoi declared.
“No, Feng, it’s not….,” Fei protested.
What the hell happened within those few attacks? Fei controlled the fight for the entire time, but then Kyoi somehow dealt fatal blows. Zhuyu tilted his head to the left, a thoughtful expression on his face.
“Tess, what’s the verdict?” Kyoi asked, facing her.
“I deem Fei unable to fight and award you the victory. Fei, Feng has disrupted your magic flow, and dealt severe damage to your legs. You may continue if you wish. I advise you not to,” Tess answered.
“Feng, it’s your victory. You’re fast as usual, locating the weak points in my channeling,” Fei admitted,munable to stand on her own.
“I just have insight. It’s as simple as that,” Kyoi replied, offering her hand to Fei.
Fei accepted begrudgingly and Kyoi hauled her off the ground. Kyoi and Tess carried her back up to the main floor and we followed behind them.