Chapter 18:

Is Togetherness a Blessing or a Curse? (Balor Strongstone and Girad Giantfury) - Part 2

Mages and Dragons in a New Land? They Obviously Haven't Seen a Modern War Man! Book 2


Balor contemplated.

He tried once but he was immediately shut out.

‘Maybe the voice in his head was right.’ he thought, ‘Maybe I am just weak.’

He recalled all those moments where he could’ve burst out. When Onyx attacked last year, he was lagging behind. Girad had to support him on multiple occasions. He had to go back home for his quest…

He broke down after seeing everything that's happened there.

‘The (Stygian) Roots!’ he thought, clenching his fist, ‘They took everything from me. My home… My life…’

‘Father… His death…’

I will avenge them.

Balor scoffed at himself. A resentful smile crossed his face.

‘Right, as if that’s ever gonna happen.’

Faces crossed his mind. He felt his mouth hang in surprise.

‘Why are their faces floating in my mind…?’ he thought, ‘I don’t want to-’

Get up, Balor!

“Balor?” he heard himself say, “Why are you-”

Fight till ya’ drop unconscious.

Balor processed this.

‘But how…?’ he thought, ‘I don’t have time. I need to find him. I-”

Looks like you are being hasty…

“Father..? But-”

Patience is a virtue, Balor. Haste isn’t a good thing. You have all the time in the world!

Balor contemplated.

He couldn’t fight. He didn’t have as much mana as Nobaru and his friends. He didn’t have endurance like the triplets. And he didn’t have brute strength like Girad.

But he had brains.

If he couldn’t fight like them. He can fight in his own way. And even if he was shackled by his weaknesses… Well, he knew what he had to do.

A bright light enveloped the fake scene. The environment distorted itself into a bright starry sky. The ground shook as all the figures were knocked away from the boy. The boy stood unscathed, his blue eyes brown, his gauntlets oozing with mana. He was clothed in hard rocky armour.

Beside him stood a two-wheeled vehicle. It had the colour of life along with slight shades of black. The headlights gleamed a welcoming light green, urging him to hop on.

“Avalon?”

“Look forward.”

Balor obeyed. He saw the figures multiplying like bacteria, their dark physiques threatening to consume. His foe, the one who had taunted him, stood impatiently tapping his foot to the ground, his eyes glaring at him and urging to reach him.

He looked back to his spirit, awaiting his command. A faint smile crossed his face.

He got on and the mirrors lit up displaying a screen bathed on a neon green. His gauntlets holstered onto the back, on the sides of the bike. He started it up and it hummed with energy. He felt his handguns - Aurum and Argentum - hanging on the sides of his waist. Heaving an exasperated sigh directed at his foes, he charged forward.

He ran over the few figures (or Shades as he called it from then) with the vehicle and watched them quickly disintegrate. He tapped on some keys on the holographic screen and he, hearing the sounds of his gauntlets charging up, fired them at a horde of Shades. Instantly, they dropped and disintegrated into a cloud of dust. A smirk crossed his face but that immediately morphed back into his serious self.

‘No time to get cocky, Balor!’ he thought to himself, ‘There’s still one more.’

“It’s coming.” Avalon’s voice rang.

“How long.” Balor asked.

“Less than 30 seconds.”

“Is this as fast as you can go?” Balor questioned.

“Not really,” Avalon responded, “I’m just warming up. It’s been a while since I have assumed this form.”

Balor heard the engine rev up louder now. The vibration sent newfound energy in his system. The wind rushed past his hair as the bike sped up. Balor couldn’t help but smile.

‘Ah, now I remember why I wanted to create things in the first place.’ he thought. He recalled a contraption his father had shown him when he was just four or five years old. A contraption akin to this one.

“I made this.” he remembered his father telling him. “It was for an old friend. He helped me through some tough times. It was a gift before we parted ways…”

No wonder the feeling of his pulse hastening, the adrenaline rushing in his body… It all felt so…homey.

‘So.. that old friend…’

He swore that he heard a “heh” echo in his head. But he only laughed. The horde of Shades disintegrated before him as quakes of metal and earth preceded their demise. Balor truly felt like he could breathe easier now. That he could think clearer. He cheered as the enemies disappeared out of his sight. It was like his troubles were slowly diminishing.

He felt free.

As Balor neared the end of the road, a gateway opened for him, allowing him to escape... To be free.

—-

Girad’s head hurt. That was the only thing he felt.

‘Weird… Ain’t I dead?’ he thought to himself.

He felt his eyes open and what they beheld was a dimly lit corridor. Footsteps were heard, not approaching his direction but still present, going back and forth. Girad got up and looked at himself. He was clad in tight, stone coloured clothes and felt a hood up his head. In his hand he held a weapon whose design looked like his greatsword’s but smaller and swarming with an immense amount of mana. Its jet black hilt was not one but two now. He found a line crossing the middle of the sharp blade.

‘I have no time for this..’ he thought, coming back to the current situation. ‘I need to get the hell outta here and find Balor.’

‘At least take a moment to appreciate the effort I took into making this outfit!’ a voice whined, ‘If it weren’t for me, you would’ve been found out by the time you would’ve woken up.’

“Caught by whom?” Girad whispered.

‘Can’t you hear it. Those footsteps?’ Terbis responded, ‘They are some sort of mechanism trying to fix the things wrong in this place. If you are caught, you die. All you have to do is kill them. Use your head to avoid them because they can one-hit you. And from this incident now I know that you have a brain.’

“What’s that supposed to mean!” Girad retorted.

‘Just keep your voice down and continue. This suit I made can help you get around places. It conceals your mana for a few seconds whenever you want but drains you physically. So use it whenever you think the time is right. Use weak spots, glitches, anything! All you need to do is to kill them and get out.’

Girad processed this. This looked like a lot of work. But, he had to do it. He suddenly felt his vision change, highlighting many figures walking around. He counted sixin total.

‘It’s just six but they all can one-hit you.’

He nodded. walked forward and propped himself under the cover of darkness. He had his first look at those “glitch fixers”.

They were about six feet tall, all with hulking physiques. But they only looked humanoid in silhouette and looked like anomalies from close by. Their skin looked rock hard and their eyes were neon red like robots.

‘Creepy…’ he thought, ‘Guess I can’t barge in this time…and their skin looks hard to hit.’

Then he noticed the eyes.

‘What if…’ he thought.

“Do these things make noise if dropped?” he asked, “Since the kit is meant for goin’ places quietly.”

‘No…’ Terbis responded, ‘Wait you don’t mean to- Is your marksmanship good?’

Girad smirked, “I was trained with many weapons as a kid. Trust me, I can handle this… I think.”

‘Oh, that’s veery reassuring.’

“Just trust me okay?!” Gird whispered, annoyed.

‘Okay but if we die, it’s all on you.’

Girad dismissed that remark. He looked at his small sized weapon, similar to knives.

‘Break it into two.’ Terbis suggested, ‘It’s meant to do that.’

‘So that’s what the two hilts are for…’ Girad concluded. He followed the instructions and soon he was holding a pair of knives. They were larger than standard knives but lightweight. The blade gleamed menacingly in the dim light as if signalling that it was ready to initiate a bloodbath. Girad felt his heart race but he inhaled deeply to calm himself down. He took aim steadily, closing one eye and using the other to take aim. As soon as he threw it with a moderate amount of his strength (as he should), the knife travelled swiftly, taking one of them out. The neon red glow disappeared and the Fixer fell down with a soft thud.

“Sweet!” Girad and Terbis said in unison. Girad threw the other knife and it took out the second one as well.

‘Your knives can come back when you will it.’ Terbis added.

“You are clearly enjoying this.” Girad whispered playfully.

‘That, I am.’

He scanned for the next set. There were three of them, a bit far away. Girad decided to try going invisible. He felt his head slowly being covered with sweat because of the tension. He concentrated, imagining the mana inside him slowly receding into a point in the middle of his body, compressing and storing it. He then looked at his hands. They were as transparent as he had thought they would be.

He raced forward and propped his body under a table. He felt a little tired but, he ignored the feeling. Seeing one of the fixers turn to his direction, he called his knives back and took aim once again. The knives whoosed as he fired, looking as if they were splitting the wind into two as they did. The two Fixers dropped to the ground. A smirk passed through Girad’s face but that excitement was short lived. The sixth Fixer suddenly appeared behind them.

‘What?! But-’

But Girad got up from under the table. He absently stared into the neon red eyes. This was the first time he began to plan his next move. It looked different, stronger than the others.

“Finally I can go all out!” he shouted.

He summoned his knives again, this time merging it to a single blade. With a huge grin he faced the monster of a being.

‘You sure you want to do this?’ Terbis asked.

“It would be fun won’t it?” Girad asked, “And I know you would like it as much as me.”

“Heh,” Terbis’ voice echoed, “Well at least let me go all out with you!”

Girad’s form began to change. A cape began to form behind his back. His face was covered by a mask and his tight clothes felt more sturdy and metallic like armour but only retaining the same form as before. A monocle formed on his left eye, glowing a neon blue.

He disappeared.

The Fixer looked around for him only to be attacked from above. Girad strangled the figure but it began to shake him off like a bull would. It faced Girad up front and charged at him. But Girad jumped on top of the Fixr and began to ride it like an animal. The Fixer struggled to get him off of its back. Girad was close to reaching the eye. Dual voices echoed out of Girad’s body. As if they were talking out of the same physique.

“This is fun!” they said, “Haven’t gotten this hyped up since I…”

He recalled images of that time when he failed the test. All the scars he got from before.

He shook his head. “Now I’ll beat you. And then I’ll beat him!”

He redirected his focus to a chink of the Fixer’s armour. The monocle highlighted it with a light green. Girad strangled the Fixer with his legs and used all his strength to curve backwards, facing a part of the Fixer’s back. Using the knives, he quickly opened the compartment. A button was present. It read “Self Destruction”.

“On three…” Girad said to himself, “One… Two… Three!” He smashed the button and jumped down just as swiftly. Turning invisible just before the Fixer could look back, Girad escaped out of harm's reach. He saw a door in the distance, opening. Waiting for him.

“Guess the show’s over…” he said.

The last thing he heard was the deafening sound of the Fixer’s body exploding into smithereens.