Volume 7, Chapter 3-1: Kuan Joins the Party

Friday Winter Quarter 2016 Week 6

“This sucks I have to be here, especially on a day off,” I said, sitting down on a bench in the training facility.

“It’s an optimal time since you can go home and rest after finishing this,” Tess noted, throwing me a water bottle.

“Weird to be here so early on a school day,” I remarked.

“I’ll head over to your house once we complete our operation. If what you said is true, then it might be helpful in learning about Ace’s motivation. Especially if it reveals her method of coercion on Michi,” Tess informed me.

“I’ll have to find the final volume, since it’s not on my bookshelf. Do you really think there will be something that you can use?” I asked with skepticism.

“No matter how small the detail, it warrants investigation,” Tess replied.

“Okay, go ahead. I just happened to find it the other day, so I was a bit surprised,” I agreed to her request.

I conversed with Tess about various things, while waiting for Kisai. It wasn’t much of a conversation. More like me asking questions and then large pauses in between. It still felt awkward talking to Tess, especially since I didn’t know any of her hobbies. Might be a good chance to do it now.

“Hey, Tess, what do you….?” I started asking, but Kisai arrived.

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A man with long hair, wearing aqua-colored glasses and a silver beanie, accompanied the mage. Oh, Kuan was joining us today.

“Sorry for the wait, Tomo. I woke up late,” Kisai apologized, greeting me.

“Let’s get going,” Tess glanced up from her tablet.

“I have something for you,” Kuan relayed.

He handed me a USB drive. Oh, that’s right, I requested battle videos. I thanked him, slipping it into my pockets.

“What kind of videos are on here?” I asked, looking over at Kuan.

“Actually, no videos. That will give you access to the server all the videos are on. Here’s the stuff you’ll need to type in,” Kuan revealed, handing me a folded piece of paper.

“Okay, thanks a lot. What are we doing today?” I asked Tess.

“We’ll head to Jin’s dimension and locate the seal, determining our actions after that,” Tess answered.

“Wait, it isn’t a weapon, but a seal?” I inquired further.

“Jin is a rather special case. He doesn’t have an ultimate weapon. You can ask him for details,” Tess revealed.

“No ultimate weapon? Kisai must be pretty good then,” I commented.

“Nah, I’m pretty scrubby. You shouldn’t think so highly of me, Tomo,” Kisai joined in with an entertaining smile.

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“He is, but at least he’s useful, most of the time,” Kuan agreed, nodding his head.

“Hold on, let’s wait for Darryl. I prefer a party of five for this task,” Tess revealed.

Kisai and Kuan nodded, walking over to a bench. I decided now might be a good time to ask them questions about Tess.

“How is Tess so persuasive?” I asked, curious how she convinced Ichaival.

“Well….,” Kuan started, but Kisai cut him off.

“Cuz we’re her bi**hes,” Kisai replied with a goofy smile.

“Really?” I asked, not sure if Kisai was joking or not.

“Okay, I’ll be serious. Darryl was probably just free or Tess is blackmailing him,” Kisai gave a serious answer.

“Tess is good. I’ve been tricked by her before,” Kuan admitted.

“I can see what you mean,” I agreed.

“Hey, Jin, you have work later?” Kuan questioned.

“I’m pretty free. Something going on?” Kisai answered.

“Let’s play that new game. The multi-player for it is stable, compared to the servers we’re usually on,” Kuan explained.

“Aight, let’s do it,” Kisai liked his friend’s suggestion.

“I wanted to learn a few things about Tess. Anything I should know?” I requested.

“You seem pretty close to her. I don’t know how much more I could tell you,” Kisai reacted with surprise at my question.

“I do spend a lot of time with her, but don’t really pry into her personal life,” I said.

“I see very clearly. I don’t think Kuan and I could tell you much more than you already know. Why not try Felicity? They’ve been friends for a long time,” Kisai directed me to an alternative.

“I only deal with Tess when we’re doing this stuff, can’t say much about her as a person,” Kuan elaborated.

“Can’t you at least tell me what Tess likes to do in her free time and her hobbies, those sort of things?” I clarified my expectations.

“No idea,” Kuan replied, grinning at my statement.

Tess wasn’t exactly the most open person, nor did she talk about her own life. Damn, this was tough. Wait, I just remembered something.

“Hey, Kisai, you haven’t answered my question from last time,” I reminded.

“Oh, that one? Felicity is interesting like I said. She appears laid back about most stuff, but gets serious about the weirdest things. Not the most stable. Wait, don’t tell her I said that. Anyway, good friend who will help you out. Better than Long, if you know what I mean,” Kisai answered with his usual humorous expression.

“She’s pretty angry about petty things. I have to be careful about what I say,” Kuan voiced his opinion too.

“I already got a taste of that,” I nodded.

“Oh yeah? Especially about Darryl. She’ll flip out on you mentioning some other girl,” Kuan shuddered.

“I made that mistake already,” I recalled.

“I feel sorry for you,” Kuan said, a sympathetic look on his face.

“Hey, let’s not go too far here. Felicity may have her faults, but she’s still a good person. Just remember that, Tomo. Or not, you don’t have to listen to what I say,” Kisai interrupted us.

“Yeah, I know,” I nodded at his words.

Fifteen minutes later, Darryl arrived wearing headphones and a black brand name jacket. He greeted Tess first, before walking over to us.

“Hey, what’s up?” he greeted.

“Darryl, the hell were you doing? What took you so long?” Kisai asked.

“What? I was just brushing my teeth and took a shower. It took awhile for me to get ready,” Ichaival responded.

“Are you Felicity or something?” Kuan joked.

“What? No!” Ichaival exclaimed.

“Are you all ready? Let’s not waste any more time talking,” Tess walked over, signaling for us to move out.

Jin’s Dimension, Parts Unknown

I blinked, finding myself in a forest and heard the flow of water nearby. Tall trees and other foliage surrounded us. Didn’t expect Kisai’s area to be so…. natural. I anticipated a more medieval setting, appropriate for warriors and mages. Then again, Kisai wasn’t a typical spellcaster.

“Pretty nice to be back here again, after such a long time. I definitely miss the place,” Kisai said, glancing around the area with a smile.

“Are we gonna be attacked anytime soon? That’s what I want to know,” I asked, wary.

“Nah, it’s peaceful around here. Tess, any information on the seal?” Kisai assured me, looking over at the Gatekeeper.

“No. The layout may have changed during our absence, so there’s no guarantee the seal remains in its previous area,” Tess shook her head, waving her golden key in the air.

“Sounds like a good time to gather info. Let’s head out to the village. There should be a settlement close by,” Kisai suggested, leading the way.

Walking as usual, huh? At least the scenery was improved, more relaxing than the dreary desert. Kisai’s assessment of it being peaceful was spot on. I wouldn’t mind visiting this area again. I walked next to Ichaival, while Kuan conversed with Kisai. Tess brought up the rear, swinging her golden key.

“Hey, Ichaival, Shan’s not around today,” I brought up.

“I’m not always with him. Don’t need him to win either, I can handle myself just fine,” Ichaival retorted.

“Sure. You’re pretty capable from what I’ve seen,” I nodded at his assessment.

“Thanks for believing in me, Tomo. Unlike those ungrateful bastards over there,” Ichaival motioned at Kuan and Kisai.

“You still are pretty good friends with them. How’s school been for you?” I brought up.

“It’s been going alright. Classes have gotten kind of hard, but I have to push through,” Ichaival responded, starting an ascent up a steep path.

“Yep, feel the same way. How did you meet Kisai and the others anyways?” I asked, interested in how they met.

“Around sophomore year of high school, we were in the same class. Same with Long,” Ichaival responded.

“How convenient,” I commented.

“Sort of? I guess that’s how you make most friends, right?” Ichaival remarked.

“Can’t argue with that. It is natural you get to know your classmates, much less in college though,” I realized.

“Really? I still meet a lot of people, but I have smaller classes,” the false archer said.

“That’s certainly true. I was wondering, but have you always used blades?” I questioned.

“I actually used Kali sticks before, but haven’t used them since they were sealed,” Ichaival responded.

“Kali sticks, huh? Never heard of them before,” I said.

“So, Tomo, how have you been? Jin’s been training you, right? I’m sure he’s done a really good job,” Ichaival praised his friend.

“Yeah, he has. Kisai is pretty calm about everything,” I agreed.

“That’s great. It’ll be nice to have someone else support us with magic. You know, since Long doesn’t have his dragon powers anymore,” Ichaival said.

“Isn’t Kisai more than enough?” I pointed out.

“If Jin’s busy, we don’t have another option. Feng’s amazing, but she’s well, kind of hard to work with. Long and Zhang were trained by her, so they’re the only ones who get how to do things when she’s around. It’s nice to have someone like you, good change from everyone else,” Ichaival explained.

“Okay, makes sense. How much do you know about this dimension?” I understood his sentiments.

“A mix of old tradition and new technology. There are some really great nature places like this and then there are the super modern cities. There’s three different ways of thinking here. Jin can tell you more,” Ichaival attempted an explanation.

“Seems complicated. I’m amazed you actually managed to get here right after Tess asked,” I remarked.

“We all owe Tess, so it wouldn’t be good to refuse her. I’d feel bad about it, you know?” Ichaival phrased his answer in a peculiar way.

“You owe Tess? Like how Zhuyu owes Kyoi?” I questioned the validity of his claim.

“You know, things come up. Long’s situation is complicated too,” Ichaival shrugged his shoulders.

“Just shows how hard it is for me to figure everyone out. I should probably try hanging out with them more, right?” I chuckled at my own suggestion.

“Hey, that’s not a bad idea. Might as well try, right?” Ichaival agreed.

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