Chapter 12:

The Psychics' Secret

Red-Black Course

“What’s wrong, little boy? Aren’t you supposed to be playing with your teammate?” Rose’s unamused voice sounded in the chilling blizzard, making the already cold wind even more freezing.

“Who needs to play the games when all we need to do is make sure you can’t?” On the other hand, her opponent was like a blazing fire trying its best to fight off the course of nature.

“And so, you come all the way here just to fight me? With only ten minutes left?”

A snowball to the face was certainly not what Rose had in mind when the words left her mouth. And it wasn’t any regular snowball either: it was a ball thrown by the strongest prisoner, which made its speed and power more than enough to rival that of a cannonball.

And yet, the warden didn’t budge an inch. The snowball broke before it could even reach her.

Zain wasn’t surprised. Or rather, he didn’t have time to be surprised. The conversation earlier reminded him of the dangerous fact that the clock was still ticking. He needed to win, and fast. That was why he threw the snowball in the first place.

“Such a violent little boy,” Rose, meanwhile, let out a chuckle. “Looks like someone needs a reeducation.”

Taking out the whip she showed back in the prison, Rose started her assault. Cracking sounds filled the biome, snuffing out even the howling wind. With whip in hand, the warden had formed a perfect wall around herself, making it impossible for anyone to approach. Of course, anyone except the youth fighting her.

A lion never backs away from its prey. Zain was a lion in his own right, and so, he was the same when it came to battles. Putting his arm forward, the young man used the whipping motion to entangle the weapon on himself. And when it came to a battle of force, the winner was too easily decided.

Or at least, that’s what it would have happened.

Rose was no stranger to such games. And because of that, she had already let go of the whip as soon as it was caught in Zain’s possession. But the fact worked in her opponent’s favor still, as he, the close-quarter-combat specialist, was now facing an armless opponent.

Zain charged forward and threw a straight punch as strong and fast as he could. Nothing special. Nothing extravagant. Just a single fit of strength. It was enough to knock out anyone…

Had it hit.

Before Zain got close enough, Rose had raised her hand. And following her movement, the whip that was supposed to be on Zain’s arm uncoiled itself and made its way to his legs, tying them together like a serpent choking its prey. With the sudden obstacle, he tripped and fell onto the snowfield before his fist could reach his target.

“What the…”

“Ever heard of ESP, little boy?” A taunting laugh came as a retaliation to Zain’s surprise.

“Bullshit. There’s no such thing as superpowers.”

Magic is pretty simple, actually. It’s just things that people can already do, but we do it on our own instead of relying on devices.

This time, the fragments of Zain’s past had betrayed him. The mysterious voice sounded in his head served nothing but reinforce his doubts even more.

“Damn it… Just my luck, huh?”

Thinking that her opponent was still talking to her, the warden answered. “You should have thought twice about picking a fight with us.”

Readying her own Mini-AIDE to open the score tracker, Rose continued.

“And looks like we don’t even need to do anything now. Checkmate.”

“Don’t… look down on me!” With a shout that rocked even mountains, the teenage prisoner grabbed the whip that was holding him back and ripped it open with his bare hands, in a single movement.

“…” A whistle sounded from Rose’s mouth. “That was reinforced carbon fiber. Stronger than even steel cuffs. And you ripped it apart with your hands of all things…”

“And that smug look on your face is next,” Zain gritted his teeth and continue his attack.

Another straight punch. Once again, no refinement. This time, there really was nothing to stop him. And yet, his strike missed the target.

Rose didn’t even need to move a muscle. Zain just missed, plain and simple. But how he would miss was an entirely different story – after all, the warden in front of him was the only target around. It was harder to miss rather than to hit her. And yet, missed he did.

“I told you before, didn’t I?” Responding to him was another round of taunts. “Ever heard of ESP?”

This time, Zain didn’t retaliate. He wanted to believe that everything was just a made-up ruse, but the events that had just transpired proved otherwise. And this time, he had no other plans.

“Am I just gonna lose like this?” For the first time in his life, the thought of defeat arose in Zain’s mind. He might have lost several times before, but this was the first that he would think about it. And that alone was more dangerous than any actual loss.

Conversely, you can say that magic is really just cheap tricks that can be done with any other tools.

The voice sounded just in the nick of time to chase away Zain’s negative thoughts. Sitting upright once more, the young man let out an inexplicable laugh, which echoed through the blizzard like glass shattering in a quiet room.

“What’s so funny?”

“Nothing. Just laughing at myself.”

As the words left the young man’s mouth, Rose stood there tilting her head in confusion. And to her surprise, after the declaration was said, her opponent did… nothing. Zain sat there, closed his eyes, and crossed his legs as if entering a secretive meditation.

“Well, if you’re just gonna do nothing then I’m not stopping you,” chuckled the female warden. “I’m finishing my game. Toodles!”

Zain didn’t answer the taunt. Or rather, he couldn’t answer the taunt. All of his mental fortitude was focused on one thing and one thing only: to figure out the secrets behind his battle just now.

Conversely, magic is just cheap tricks… the thought echoed in his mind. So, if I put this as a simple trick, then what kind of information do I have?

Zain recalled the feeling of the whip he broke. It was snapped thanks to his pulling, yes, but as he remembered exactly what it felt like, a shred of doubt arose.

It wasn’t a fiber, Zain mumbled. The exterior was that of a normal whip, but the inside was rather… hard. Cold, with a bit of tingling sensation. Something mechanical.

He traced back further, back to when he threw the snowball. Of course, it didn’t break on its own. Only a child would think so. But Zain was sure Rose didn’t move at all when he threw it. There were many ways to stop a projectile – forcefields or drone attacks, for instance. But the blizzard meant that a forcefield would have easily been spotted, while drones couldn’t possibly fly in this kind of weather.

Removing all possibilities, there was only a single solution left.

“Now that I think about it, was there any reason why we were sent to the biomes we were in?” Just as his opponent was about to disappear into the snowstorm, Zain opened his eyes and asked.

“What are you talking about? The assignment is random.” Rose answered.

The answer was fast. Too fast.

“There’s no way this place would leave things to chance. I refuse to believe that I, the stronger and more physically capable, happened to be assigned the easier domain to handle, while my weaker partner was stuck with the harder one.”

“And so? Even if it wasn’t random, what would you do about it?”

“And you, the warden that’s part of a pair, wearing all black from head to toe, just happened to be assigned a snow biome. Even with the wind blocking most of our vision, you still stand out like a sore thumb.”


“If the assignment were truly defined, then it’s simple: the prison decided to do this because you’d stand out. That you’ll steal all of the attention. And that can only mean one thing: your partner is…”

Before Zain could finish his words, a flash of silver slashed towards his throat. But the young man had already foreseen this situation, as he quickly turned around and snatched the hand that ambushed him.

The assailant was none other than Love. The dagger in her hand was only inches away from piercing Zain’s neck, but the hand holding it was already locked tightly by Zain’s iron grip.

Putting his hand forward to touch his assassin’s ear, Zain let out a smile. The gesture was by no means a provocation, but a confirmation, as he took out a small earpiece the size of a pea.

The grin on his face was more confident than ever.

“Right here.” 

Steward McOy
Kya Hon
T.K. 月狐
Robin Paharya
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