Tiny spikes struck my left arm, lodging themselves in. I winced, forcing myself to endure the pain. No need to waste a portal. More projectiles flew at me and I knocked them all down with my sword.
A loud rumbling originated beneath me. I needed to find higher ground, but nothing caught my eye. Damn, the enemy was surfacing soon. In that case, I’ll seal off its exit point with Shui’s water powers. I created a thick layer of ice over the cracks forming.
“That won’t stop it. I’ll need to stall,” I muttered, feeling my grasp on the sword faltering.
Right now, I would lose in close combat, especially with my injury. Range was the way to go. I transported myself a safe distance away and waited for the enemy. Setting up portals, I planned to blast the creature with a barrage of knives. Now would be a good chance to endow the blades with an elemental power. Could I pull it off though?
A loud roar filled the area. It smashed through my ice with incredible speed. A sea cucumber like creature flew into the air. Now! I pelted the enemy with flaming blades. The creature flailed in the air, knocking away my projectiles with the large spikes on its body. It finally landed and wiggled right at me. Okay, so blades were no good. Time for icicles.
It shook its body and destroyed the majority of my ice projectiles. Okay, not effective. What else could I do in this situation? With close combat out of the question, I couldn’t rely on my sword. Direct elemental attacks it is then.
The creature shot out metal spikes again and I teleported away safely. Okay, time to test out my idea. The creature plunged into a hole in the ground. Next, I surrounded it with a circle of flames, hoping for success. The enemy yelled out in anguish and its cries eventually subsided. Wait, did I actually win?
I saw the enemy thrashing around in the flames. All of a sudden, it leaped out and almost tore off my left arm. Flames still covered its body and it roared. What the hell? It was shedding. The flames vanished from its body and now it shone with a metallic gleam. More spikes formed on its body and it rotated like a drill.
A large wall of ice might slow the enemy down. I hurled fireballs at it from a distance, but nothing fazed it. Crashing through the ice wall with ease, it resumed its path of destruction. My fireballs bounced off the enemy, melting the snow on the ground. What else did I have left in my repertoire? En’s electrical powers. It attracted and repelled, perfect for this situation.
“Alright, let’s try it out,” I muttered.
The creature continued onward, unaffected. Oh, come on! This was exactly what En did. I created a portal, but saw it fizzling. Crap, the worst timing too. Now I had no escape route. Light snow still came down and an absurd idea developed in my mind. I tried forming a path of ice in the air, but nothing appeared. My mastery of the power wasn’t at that level yet. Well, I would stall until the others came. Knowing them, Tess would probably be the first one.
I layered multiple ice walls. This would allow me a few seconds to think of my next move. Would En’s electricity even work on this thing now that it shed its original skin? It was worth a try considering the significant amount of water on it after crashing through the ice walls.
Forming an electric ball of energy, I hurled it at the enemy. As expected, nothing. Its body must have great resistance. How long could I keep stalling until help arrived?
“Tomo, sorry for the wait. There were hordes of them out there,” Tess said, appearing out of nowhere.
“Tess, thank god you’re here. Do you mind helping me remove these spikes?” I heaved a sigh of relief.
“Zhang, assist Tomo,” Tess requested.
En held out his right hand and my arm was engulfed in blue flames. I freaked out, glaring at the shorter man. Are you trying to kill me? I realized the flames inflicted no damage and instead contained a soothing effect. The spikes popped out and my wounds closed up.
“What was that?” I asked, inspecting my left arm.
“I’ll explain later. Zhang, please stall for me,” Tess directed.
He pulled out his sword which shone with an eerie bluish-yellow glow. Swinging it in the air, he shot out several waves of energy, striking the beast’s metallic exterior. Minuscule cracks appeared. Are you kidding me?
“En’s flames aren’t just for attacking. They can be used as a healing skill but are limited in how much damage they can mend. Enough talking. I believe it’s time to end this battle,” Tess explained, accelerating towards the enemy.
Tess dashed straight at the enemy’s mouth, punching its teeth out. Fangs flew into the air, scattering across the ground. She then delivered a wicked kick to the spikes near its mouth, breaking them off.
“Tomo, destroy the fangs and spikes now! We can’t let a single piece of this enemy remain,” Tess commanded.
“I’ll here to help out too!” Shui arrived.
“Lau and Tomo, I leave it in to you. En and I will take care of its main body,” Tess said, inflicting more destruction on the beast.
Shui encased the fangs in ice. I smashed the ice blocks with a flaming punch and the contents disintegrated into a wispy smoke. We repeated this routine until Tess knocked out every single fang and spike.
En hacked the monster’s body, meeting up with Tess in the middle. Tess punched her fist through the creature’s body and golden chains wrapped around it. En plunged his blade into the creature’s body and leaped away. Tess backflipped off as a surge of electricity coursed through the golden chains binding its body. The creature flailed around and eventually exploded.
“Is it gone? Did we finish the mission?” I asked, inspecting the area around where the creature exploded.
“Yes, I no longer sense its presence. Zhang, your sword,” Tess answered, picking up En’s weapon from the ground.
“Hmm, I wonder if that was really it,” Kyoi remarked, arriving on the scene.
“The main one is still out there?” I stared at the woman in confusion.
“No, I wonder if this enemy we fought and the one the former princess referred to are the same,” Kyoi clarified.
“How’s that possible?” I questioned.
“Well, that can be figured out later. How was your first solo battle with a threat, Tomo?” Kyoi brushed off my concerns.
“Unexpected, I still have a lot more to learn,” I replied.
“We all do. Let’s head back and tell Fei what happened,” Kyoi nodded.
We trekked back to the base and I felt exhausted upon arrival. Kyoi spoke with Fei, while everyone else returned to their rooms. I collapsed onto the bed, fatigue hitting me hard.
“Damn, using powers is so taxing,” I revealed, looking over at Tess.
“Yes, it drains a lot of stamina. But, you’ll feel the most tired since you employ a variety of different powers. We’ll have to work on that in the future,” Tess noted.
“Is there really another enemy?” I questioned Tess, curious about Kyoi’s concerns.
“If Feng feels that way, we must take it into consideration. This won’t be the final time you’re here. You’ll have plenty of time to find out more,” Tess responded.
After an hour of rest, Kyoi returned. She told everyone to meet in the strategy room. I hoped that meant we were leaving soon.
“Zhuyu, what happened?” I asked, noticing a bandage on the left side of his face.
“I got scratched up a little,” he answered.
“He’ll be fine. He’s taken worse after training with Feng. But, I thank you for taking care of the enemy. It saves me the trouble of having to hunt it down myself,” Fei said with a grin.
“No, we should thank you for your hospitality. But, I doubt the threat is actually dealt with. I’ll be back to investigate,” Kyoi commented.
“I have the same doubts as you. Very well, I look forward to your next visit. Maybe the girl will be strong enough to go one-on-one with me,” Fei nodded.
“Anything else?” Kyoi asked.
“No, I’ll be on the lookout. I’m sure you’ll do the same. It’s nice meeting you again, Tomo. I hope you show me how much you’ve improved the next time we meet,” Fei said.
After a few more words, everyone departed. I followed Kyoi and the others into a dining room. Glancing around, I saw plates of food on the counter.
“We get to eat before we leave?” I pointed at the steaming plates.
“No. Tess uncovered a return portal here. Instead of going all the way back to the mountain base, we’ll use this. It carries the same frequency as the one that allowed us to enter so we’ll arrive back in the field,” Kyoi answered.
Of course, when did I ever get treated to something nice? Tess pointed at a chute in the side of the wall.
“I’ll go first,” I volunteered, heading toward it.
Tess nodded and I jumped in. Not exactly I envisioned, but at least it meant I got to go home. Kinda fun too. It reminded me of the days I played with Ichizen at the park and he would try jumping off the slide.
I blinked and found myself sitting down on dirt. I stood up and saw everyone else heading out of the enclosure. Catching up with them, we returned to Zhuyu’s house.
“Tomo, I expect more from you next time. You know where the facility is. Stop by when you have the time,” Kyoi recommended.
“Thanks, I guess,” I said.
Shui and En entered Zhuyu’s house. Maybe they were going to play games before leaving. During the ride back, Tess remained silent, surprising me. Maybe she just wanted to give me a break. Finally arriving at my house, Tess spoke her first words to me.
“Tomo, good work. Sleep once you’re done with dinner,” Tess advised.
That was weird. I thought she would leave me with more than just that. Unlocking my front door, I walked in and an amazing aroma wafted from the kitchen
“Welcome back, Yuki. Did you have fun with your friends?” Dad greeted as I walked into the dining room.
“Yeah,” I nodded.
After finishing dinner, I limped up to my room, legs wobbling. What the hell? I never felt this bad before. Collapsing onto my bed, I immediately fell asleep.