Volume 7, Chapter 2-1: Clash of the Best

Mind Dive 5: Clash of the Best

Period Unknown

“Your flames aren’t powerful enough,” Kyoi observed.

“Something like this then?” Kisai responded, forming a small flame in his hand.

“Better. Make sure there’s no excessive magic channeled into it. There’s a fine balance you have to figure out for yourself,” Kyoi remarked.

“I see very clearly. Alright, I’ll master it tomorrow,” Kisai nodded, snuffing out the flame.

Kisai stood next to Zhuyu in a stadium arena. Kyoi and Tess observed from above, sitting in seats. Tess took notes, tapping her pen. Kyoi, arms crossed, had a rather normal expression. How early in their development was this?

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“You’re the type of person who learns by using your powers rather than actually watching someone else. Am I right, Kisai?” Kyoi asked, standing up.

“More or less. I’m surprised you could tell,” Kisai replied, nodding his head.

“Pretty easy to tell. You probably won’t get much out of watching this next battle, but you’ll enjoy seeing it nonetheless,” Kyoi remarked, shrugging her shoulders and leaped down to the battleground.

“I wouldn’t say that. Any battle is worth watching if it’s good enough,” Kisai countered.

Tess walked down to the battle arena, standing opposite of Kyoi. Oh, an interesting match-up. She usually played support in current battles, so it was refreshing to view her in a legitimate match with a strong opponent.

“This is the first time I’ve actually seen these two fight,” Kisai remarked.

“Yeah, for you. I’ve seen them face off before,” Zhuyu said, leaning back on his seat.

“And?” Kisai asked for his opinion.

“Hard to say who’s better. But, Tess has been doing this longer than all of us after all,” Zhuyu noted.

Well, that was a shock. I assumed Kyoi held the advantage in any battle situation. Then again, this was when they just started, so the Gatekeeper actually might be stronger. Zhuyu adjusted the sleeve of his shirt, revealing a simple bracelet on his right wrist. I didn’t recall him wearing anything of that sort currently.

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“That’s pretty bold of you to say. Aren’t you scared Kyoi will not find that to her liking?” Kisai joked.

“It’s the truth though. With anything involving Tess, it’s not that strange to say she’s stronger,” Zhuyu responded.

“Yeah, I see what you mean,” Kisai nodded in understanding.

Kyoi made the first move, her sword already drawn, aiming for Tess’ neck. Chains shot out from behind Tess as the woman inched closer. Kyoi’s mouth moved and a magic circle appeared in front of her. The chains pierced straight through the magic circle, destroying it. However, red flickers ascended upward in the air. Tess pulled back immediately, distancing herself. The flickers of red converged toward the Gatekeeper and thick smoke filled the arena. Kisai and Zhuyu coughed in response. What just happened?

“Clever trick, Feng. Letting me destroy your magic circle, so you could manipulate the magical energy. Your growth always impresses me,” Tess commended her opponent.

The smoke cleared and Tess avoided Kyoi’s multitude of swings. A magic circle appeared above Tess and meteor-like objects shot down at Tess. She hurled her golden key down into the ground, causing the projectiles to lose their bright glow. With the descent speed decreased, they crashed into the ground with a soft plop.

“Your power is annoying as always,” Kyoi remarked, leaping into the air.

Tess whipped a chain at Kyoi, wrapping it around her opponent’s leg. Kyoi slashed at it, but could not break the hold. Kyoi fell with a large thud. Tess pulled Kyoi toward her, the swordswoman’s body scraping against the ground.

“Perfect,” Kyoi muttered.

Bright flames emanated from Kyoi’s left hand, spreading to the chain. Tess released her hold but sustained damage. Spherical balls of flames around the Gatekeeper and exploded. Kyoi swooped in, the chain still wrapped around her ankle, landing a solid blow on Tess’ right arm. Tess, despite the damage, disarmed Kyoi and knocked her down to the ground. She attacked Kyoi with her own weapon. Kyoi dodged most of the attacks, but suffered major damage on her right arm and stomach.

“I expect that when I get it back, it won’t be of much use,” Kyoi commented, touching her gash.

“Yes,” Tess responded only with one word.

Kyoi only laughed and the wounds on her body healed. Accelerated healing? As expected from the magic user. But was it her magic or something else? Tess remained serious, swinging the sword with ease. She continued her assault on Kyoi, inflicting more serious wounds.

As Kyoi’s wounds closed, chains shot out from underneath the woman. They wrapped around Kyoi’s body and then the healing halted. Kyoi, feeling the pain from her wounds, collapsed to the ground. Tess, with a flourish, plunged the blade down inches away from Kyoi’s face. A small line of blood flowed down from Kyoi’s cheek.

“Tess, I give up. It’s your win,” Kyoi admitted defeat.

Tess nodded, releasing her from the chains. Was this really the same Kyoi? She took the loss pretty well. Kyoi coughed, blood coming out from her mouth, but soon her wounds vanished. Still, Kyoi didn’t seem to be the type to give up. I expected her to retrieve the sword and slice at Tess, but she didn’t.

“Your reactions are still slow. If you’re going to use magic circles like that, you need more focus,” Tess lectured, returning Kyoi’s sword.

“I know, could tell right away when your chains came for me. Your powers are quite terrifying, Tess. You really should fight more often,” Kyoi complimented, sheathing her sword.

“We’ll have Jin and Long fight it out next,” Tess decided, glancing up at the two friends.

“Oh, alright, I’m gonna kick Long’s ass,” Kisai declared.

Zhuyu said nothing, following his friend down. The battle between Kyoi and Tess was strange to watch. Kyoi was outmatched by Tess, something unexpected. However, everyone was still a beginner. This would be my first time seeing Zhuyu’s dragon powers.

With a more offensive based power, I wondered how his fighting style differed. It should be a large gap, considering how defensive his zero vector powers were. Kisai’s magic wasn’t as powerful either, so what would be missing from his repertoire? This was a battle I had high expectations for, just to see how much they changed from then to now.

“Alright, you ready to lose?” Kisai asked with his usual smile.

“Let’s see how it turns out,” Zhuyu responded with a serious look.

Zhuyu drew his sword, watching his friend. Kisai, with a burst of speed, charged at him. Zhuyu remained at his position, not moving. Was he gauging Kisai’s attack or readying for a strong counter? Kisai’s hands glowed and then the ground below Zhuyu crumbled. Zhuyu jumped, but landed on a glowing circle. When the hell did that get there? I did recall Kisai telling me how he used magic circles for traps. Where Zhuyu stood before, the ground was no longer cracked. However, Zhuyu’s right foot sunk into a small pothole. Could it be illusionary magic?

“Damn, you got me,” Zhuyu remarked as Kisai landed a punch.

“Yep, you fell for it,” Kisai nodded, readying for another punch.

I heard a loud rumble. Bolts of lightning flew down at Kisai. He dodged them and then five small magic circles appeared around him. The bolts of lightning struck his magic circles and Kisai grinned.

“It was probably going to be a gamble, but I got out. You’re pretty strong now that you’ve converted my lightning strikes to charge up your magic,” Zhuyu said, freeing himself from the pothole.

Kisai dashed at him, a sword in his hand now too. Their blades clashed, both weapons glowing with an eerie white light. Kisai twirled his blade around, small sparks of electricity hitting the ground. Several rocks flew up at Zhuyu. Why continue on like this? I’m sure Kisai had other possible magic at his disposal.

“Looks like you’ve got something clever ready, Jin. Alright, guess I’ll take your bait, and see what you have planned,” Zhuyu decided.

The zero vector user unleashed waves of electricity from his sword, which Kisai drained. What the hell? Kisai twirled his sword once more, but this time, firefly-like balls ascended into the sky, as electric sparks flew off from his sword tip. The objects grew brighter, filling the arena with blinding light. Zhuyu nodded his head in approval, but then the light dissipated. Dark storm clouds formed, heavy rain drenching the arena. Kisai sheathed his blade and then another sword appeared in his right hand. But this once lacked the appearance of an actual blade, a product of magic.

“Well, it was worth a shot. But you’ve made it ideal for me to do this,” Kisai shouted, swinging his magic sword.

The ground filled with a lush green and blades of grass shot up from the ground. Zhuyu glanced downward and a look of concern appeared. He leaped into the air, but thistles sprouted out. He contorted his body in hopes of avoiding the sharp plants. He failed and massive scratches appeared on his body. Like Kyoi, his wounds closed up with remarkable speed. Right, he had accelerated healing too. Not that it mattered since the thistles latched onto his skin, preventing him from moving.

“Of course, I was a dumbass like you would say, for thinking that this wouldn’t happen,” Zhuyu remarked.

He gritted his teeth as the thistles dug deeper in. A golden glow then covered his body and he broke free. Zhuyu swung his sword, destroying all the thistles embedded in him.

“Dragons scales, right? Yep,” Kisai nodded with amusement.

His magic sword disappeared and with the residual energy remaining, fired a flare into the air. He then went in for a close combat. Kisai threw a punch, actually knocking Zhuyu back. If I had to guess, it was some kind of strength reinforcement.

“Alright, guess we’re even, right?” Zhuyu asked, sheathing his blade.

“Hey, come at me with your sword! Don’t think that I can’t take something like that,” Kisai requested, landing a kick on Zhuyu’s knees.

“This isn’t a matter of me not respecting you. It’s more of me wanting to work on my skills too!” Zhuyu responded, blocking Kisai’s punch.

“This doesn’t mean I’ll lose though,” Kisai smiled.

Kisai proved to be more offensive, striking Zhuyu several times. His eyes always tracked his friend’s movements. When Kisai launched a powerful kick, Zhuyu reacted. With his palm, he pushed Kisai’s foot down and then landed a solid punch right in Kisai’s stomach. However, he retracted his fist, clutching it in pain.

“Right, I keep forgetting,” Zhuyu muttered, dodging Kisai’s leg sweep.

At this rate, they both would exhaust their stamina, ending in a draw. Kisai snapped his fingers as Zhuyu came in for a knee strike. Moving like a large bee swarm, something struck Zhuyu, bringing him down to the ground. It kept on striking him, but each consecutive strike, the color of it grew dimmer. Zhuyu stood up, nodding to acknowledge Kisai’s attack.

“So you used all of the magic remaining to do that, huh? S**t, I’m pretty close to losing,” Zhuyu said, avoiding Kisai’s kick.

He could not avoid Kisai’s next attack, falling down to the ground. Kisai took advantage, delivering the final blow. He punched Zhuyu right in the face, firing a wave of magical energy at the fallen hero.

“It’s my loss, Jin. Help me up, man,” Zhuyu asked.

Kisai hauled him up. Less flashier than my envisioned finale. I understood now why Kisai ranked so high. As for Zhuyu, he seemed pretty powerful too. It only made me question more why he gave up his powers for something so defensive.

“Well, that went as expected,” Zhuyu said, pulling up his sleeves.

I saw clearly the bracelet he wore. It was silver in color, some weird carvings on it. Probably related to Kyoi now that I thought about it.

“So, what’s the grade, Kyoi?” Kisai asked, glancing up at the woman.

“B-. Especially your creativity at using the excessive magic. Although, there’s some work to be done with your magic circles. You’re someone who will benefit from fighting me directly,” Kyoi answered, glancing at Tess.

“Good work from both of you, but you still have a lot of room for improvement. Don’t worry, it’s normal for people still adjusting,” Tess confirmed Kyoi’s analysis.

“That’s some high praise from you, Feng,” Zhuyu noted.

“What kind of person do you take me to be? You of all people should know, Long,” Kyoi responded with a smile.

“Yeah, I guess. Crap, I still have homework to do. Jin, did you finish it yet?” Zhuyu asked.

“We had homework? What class?” Kisai asked.

“For math. You know, the book problems that were assigned a few days ago,” Zhuyu responded.

“It’ll be fine. I’ll just do it the morning,” Kisai decided, no concern at all on his face.

“You always do that anyways. I’ll see you later,” the vector user decided, walking up towards the exit.

Kisai followed after his friend. Kyoi and Tess remained, discussing something I couldn’t quite hear. This was pretty useful. I actually learned a few new things. If they showed such growth, then I could too. Especially if I wanted to avenge Ichizen.


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