Chapter 21:

Pieces that Remain


A perilous balance wavered. Plant life and snow intermingled in a strange scene of a vibrant green winter. Yet crimson painted in arcs and splashes stained all. For the moment, the tense struggle between dueling aspects of nature remained even. The advantage swung back to plants in the last moments.

“Saki!” Yuki snapped back his head hearing her screaming through the barrier. He didn’t know what happened to her, but seeing Ayumi laying on her back bleeding into the snow gave him enough of an idea. “Saki!”

His fingers dug in his palms drawing blood as his eyes widened and pupils shrank in fear and anger. ‘I’ve got to do something now! Saki’s in pain! Saki!’ Yuki’s eyes suddenly flashed for a moment before fading away as he pounded the ground again having not received the power that he needed to save them.

Ayumi was struck again with vines before she could pull up defenses piercing her while Saki screamed from repeated attacks. ‘Damn… he’s poisoned the tips of his plants too. I can’t feel my body anymore.’ Her field weakened. She felt his field encroaching on her, strengthening his attacks each time.

Everything slowed down, sluggish, for her as she attempted to pull away from the next assault only to fail and receive even more vines piercing through her body. She bit through the pain as her lips tasted blood from internal injuries.

In the distance, it seemed like Saki had grown quiet. No longer visible over the spinning vines, her body occluded by that which protected the man. Another wave of vines came after Ayumi to finish her off. The plants flashed at her leaving Yuki screaming for her knowing that she couldn't take anymore. The strikes hit with snow being kicked up, clouding everything around Ayumi.

Seconds ticked by as the snow cloud hung in the air around where Ayumi collapsed. When the cloud finally cleared the vines were stuck in the ground, but Ayumi stood on her feet having evaded the strike. Yuki blinked in shock and relief to see that she looked better suddenly. Ayumi sliced away the plants with her sword starting to move towards the man with restored determination in her eye.

“Yuki…” Her voice barely reached beyond her. Too much pain and injuries weakened her body, left to be ripped apart by the whip. It felt like her life drained away. All of her clothes were soaked and barely hanging together. The barbed whip lashed out going for her throat to end it.

A dull pinging rang out as the whip came towards Saki revealing the sword in her hand having returned. Saki narrowed her eyes, suddenly restoring her spirit. Piercing and scathing pain calmed.

The assassin stepped back having been unbalanced by the strange resurgence of the two girls. He scanned Ayumi and Saki trying to find his answer, but was drawn away from either of them. His vision became centered on the boy on the ground away from them all. “I see. I understand now.”

The man looked back at the two seeing the wounds that they had sustained mending themselves and restored vitality back to them. “I thought he was just dead weight, but you kept him back there on purpose. He’s healing your wounds for support.” Subtle green particles floated down through the air barely noticeable, they hadn’t been present before.

Ayumi continued forward, throwing her ice around to break through the vines. She steadily built into a march cutting a path. ‘I wish I could say that I planned it. Unfortunately, that is not the case. He’s useless still. You give him too much credit.’

“Yuki…” Saki looked over at him through all of the plants that were between them. So much flew past her understanding. All that she seemed to grasp was Yuki did something. More questions. ‘If only I was stronger I could keep my promise. Yuki…’

Saki focused her eyes on the assassin before her. ‘I made that promise to him. I’ve got to keep it so he doesn’t have to fight anymore.’ The assassin began to have trouble keeping back Ayumi who threw everything at him. Ice ripped into the spinning barrier. None of his attacks were getting through and every time that she barely got cut it healed almost immediately due to Yuki.

Saki used the distraction to charge at the man throwing her sword at him. Vines reflexively stopped it from reaching the target. However, Saki didn’t end the attack as she used the sword as a ledge to jump off. Turning her leap into a flip, she connected her feet into the man’s face knocking him off balance.

Defensively, the remaining vines pulled back instinctually to protect. Ayumi marched through with the distraction to tear down the rest of the vines. The man was finally exposed.

Saki landed on the ground and shrank sliding to the ground as vines slashed at her. She extended her legs out, spinning her body around to hit the vines back at him. The foreigner staggered back from the quick follow-up.

Off balance now, Saki pulled her legs back towards her. Pushing off with her hands, she launched like a spring. A much taller figure than her, she used one of her lessons for dealing with larger opponents. She wrapped her legs around his neck using her weight to pull him down.

The vines scrambled to claw and break her free, even as she healed. “Ayumi!” She leaned back, toppling the man in her pin. Vines surrounded her on the ground even as she refused to release him.

Ayumi already prepared an attack, recognizing Saki’s plan. Ice spikes from her field grew and flew at the assassin. Each dug into the enemy piercing him in several locations on his body, quickly dripping blood from his mouth. The life in his eyes was starting to fade as the plants and field vanished into the air.

Yuki leapt up to his feet running into the both of them suddenly finding his strength. “Saki!” He dove down fighting through vines regardless of the pain, even as the plants started to fade away.

Ayumi walked over to the dying assassin looking down at his bleeding, soon to be, corpse with her sword up ready to finish him off. The man did not seem to have any fear or surprise, but more peaceful in spite of having lost.

“They already know. There will be…no hiding any longer.”

“You told them where to find him before we arrived. I won’t let them kill him.” A painful laugh came from the man until Ayumi ended his life with the sword through his heart. The assassin quickly stopped soon afterwards as the blood continued to pour into the snow. Ayumi dropped her field and collapsed to one knee panting heavily to get her breath. “He pushed me to my limits…”

“Ayumi?!” Yuki tilted his head in surprise as he lifted up Saki to check on her. He looked back at Saki and again at Ayumi, not certain what he should do with the two girls. “Saki? Are you…” He did not know what happened to Saki after the vines had grabbed her. He hoped that his fears were just being exaggerated and she would open her eyes, but she remained motionless. “Saki… please…”

Saki still features held firm against Yuki’s pleads, but it was all shattered by a brief coughing. Yuki lifted Saki up so that she was sitting to give her a more comfortable position. “Yuki…” She coughed again feeling out her body that was quickly returning back to her. The pain that she felt across her muscles drained away with all of the wounds that she took from the spiked and bladed plants last desperate attack. “Yuki…”

Chapter 21 – Pieces that Remain

“Saki! You’re alive!”

“Yes… somehow…” Confusion and relief came over her as she looked at herself. It surprised her that she succeeded against the kidnapper. So many strange occurrences and near death experiences added to the pressing questions. ‘My promise remains, Yuki. I’m glad.’

“You’re an idiot…” Ayumi marched over to the two of them, appearing perfectly healthy. Fatigue gripped her words and eyes despite appearances.

Saki grinned sheepishly at Ayumi knowing that it was the truth. “Sorry. You feeling alright? You look fine, but you sound terrible.”

Ayumi dropped to the ground roughly as though she had been barely holding herself up the entire time. “My body may be perfect due to Yuki’s field, but no amount of healing can restore mental energies that I spent during the fighting.” She hung her head down still drawing up long breaths like she had run for miles at her hardest.

“Fighting? What do you even call that? Yuki’s field?” As the adrenaline of the battle cooled, reality began to catch up. The need for questions rose quickly.

Yuki looked over at Ayumi, concerned because he had never seen her look so fatigued. Though he also hadn’t seen a real drawn out fight between two powers. He turned back, chiming in for an answer. “She’s talking about this power that the two of us have!”

Blinking, she stared checking for the joke. Yet he delivered it with cheer and enthusiasm. That really didn’t help answer anything. “Power? Yuki, is this another one of your book dreams?”

“What?! No, this is real, as weird as that sounds. Er…um, hm, well how to…”

Exhausted and a little short on patience, Ayumi pushed herself back up. She stared at the two. “This isn’t the right place for that conversation. Turn off your field, Yuki and let’s get out of here.”

“What field? It’s not on, well maybe it is, there was that fairy, I guess. Is it?” He leaned over to Saki for confirmation and she just blankly shook her hand staying out of it.

“Subconscious still…” At the moment, she was just glad it didn’t come in the form of the rock defense. “You have a field on right now, Yuki. You just didn’t realize it.”

“Huh? When?” The whole powers thing remained new and unknown to him. It didn’t have a feeling like he thought it would. A glance down just found concrete. If a field was up, like Ayumi explained to him, there would be a change. “I thought you said there would be a visible change.”

“A field doesn’t need a visible component to be active, I believe I said that before. During the fight, you activated it. There were no visible signs of it, but the effects could be seen. You created a healing field that provided high-speed restoration. That was how we were able to keep fighting after all of those injuries.” Ayumi paused for a moment to breathe again, not feeling any better and knowing it would not change for some time. “Even now it is still on, that’s why neither of us have any wounds.”

“That’s was Yuki?” All this mystery started to make some weird bit of sense to her. It still left her with a million questions. But she had to accept things for the moment. “Then all of that…” She looked down at her arms and body remembering the wounds that she had taken.

“How do I turn it off if I don’t know it’s on?” The maid and samurai came to mind once more. He looked with pleading eyes to Ayumi for a better answer than the one he found. Anymore and he might get brain damage. Her lack of an immediate response started to panic him.

Saki didn’t follow it all, but leaned to look at Ayumi for the answer as well. “Well Ayumi? What do you suggest?”

Ayumi could not stand up on her own still and watching Yuki freaking out was only making her feel even more tired. “Just give him a good hit to the head. That’ll work.”

Such a basic answer surprised Saki. That couldn’t be the right answer, right? “You sure?” She looked at Yuki who quickly started to turn pale. A bit of sweat started again as she watched her friend transition through panic and fear.

However, no further answer came from Ayumi. As much as Saki stared for a reply, she just got a silent confirmation. She turned to Yuki, who looked like a baby deer caught. Swallowing slowly, she had to accept the solution.

Tightening up her fist, she noticed like Ayumi said, her body felt fine. Some fatigue and low energy pervaded her body, but no pain. It all felt like a dream, a phantom of something worse. So little of anything made sense. “I’m sorry, Yuki…”

Resigned to his fate, he tilted his head forward for her. “No, no, this is the way…”

The longer she waited the worse it would be for him, and her. Saki took one last breath and swung quickly, like giving a flu shot. A swift strike, she knocked Yuki to the ground stunned. Immediately, she bowed and apologized. “Did that…um…work?”


“What do you mean? Don’t you know? Can’t you sense if it is on still?”

Ayumi became a little frustrated by the assumptions that people around her made. “I wish everyone would stop thinking of this like a TV show. I can’t sense powers. It’s more than likely enough. Let’s get out here.”