Chapter 11:

Volume 2, Chapter 1-1: Other Heroes?

Heroes of the Past

Autumn Quarter 2015 Week 10 SaturdayBookmark here

A month passed since the incident. The official cause of death was filed as an accident with the assistance of Felicity and Tess’ connections. Ichizen’s parents were devastated and checked up on me every few days, making sure I was okay. Whenever they talked to me, it was hard for me to make eye contact with them.Bookmark here

I took a leave of absence for three weeks. I was fortunate since my professors were compassionate enough to send me notes on material I missed. Now it was the week before finals and I stared out my room window.Bookmark here

“Yuki, someone’s at the door. It’s for you!” my mom yelled.Bookmark here

“Okay, I’m coming down,” I replied, walking down the stairs.Bookmark here

When I arrived at the front door, I saw Felicity. She gave me a wave and I blinked, not sure what to expect.Bookmark here

“Yuki, how are you feeling?” she asked.Bookmark here

“Alright, what’s going on?” I asked, seeing Tess’ car.Bookmark here

“Tess wants to ask you something and if you’re willing, take you somewhere. You can say no if you want,” she revealed.Bookmark here

“No, I’m fine now. I have to get this over with sooner or later. Let’s go,” I said.Bookmark here

Felicity nodded and I followed her to Tess’ car. My mom waved from the door and I felt a little bad about not being able to tell her the truth. Tess opened her window, ready to talk. I stared at her hair and she didn’t have her trademark hairpins in today.Bookmark here

“Tomo, I apologize if we’re disturbing you. Are you well?” Tess asked, glancing at her left side mirror.Bookmark here

“I’m okay. It’s been a month already, time to get back into a regular routine again. What did you want to talk about?” I asked.Bookmark here

“I called a meeting with all the heroes. I hope that you’ll join us today,” Tess replied.Bookmark here

“All the heroes? Wait, how many are there?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Rough estimate, I would say at least fifteen in total,” Tess answered, adjusting her rear view mirror.Bookmark here

“I’ll probably learn more about everything at the meeting, right? I’ll go. I do at least want to get an idea of this entire situation,” I agreed to attend the meeting, getting into the back of the car.Bookmark here

“You do deserve to know what’s happening. Do you have the pendant with you?” Tess asked, turning into the road.Bookmark here

“I have it around my neck. It’s pretty important, huh?” I commented, clasping the one item Ichizen left behind.Bookmark here

“It is. Are the pages in the grimoire still blank?” Tess asked.Bookmark here

“I haven’t looked at it since that day. Should we go back and get it?” I replied.Bookmark here

“No, it should be fine. Felicity, could you call Jin and the others to see where they are?” Tess requested.Bookmark here

Felicity nodded and pulled out her cellphone. I grasped the pendant around my neck, moving my thumb across its smooth surface. It brought back memories of that day and I shook my head, clearing my mind. I needed to focus on what was happening right now, not the past.Bookmark here

“So where exactly is the meeting place?” I asked, curious about our destination.Bookmark here

“No idea. Only Tess knows. I’m just here to give you some support,” Felicity replied, giving me a big smile.Bookmark here

At a red light, Tess turned around and gave me a serious look. Unlike the time at the high school, I felt no fear but a sense of sympathy. She then focused her attention back on the road, saying nothing. Weird. But I sensed she was just trying to be nice.Bookmark here

We finally arrived at an entrance with a parking arm. Tess tapped a card against the reader, allowing us entry. The Gatekeeper went down several levels, until we reached the lowest one. Several cars were already present but plenty of open spaces.Bookmark here

“Fel, stay here,” Tess ordered.Bookmark here

“Wait, wait. You brought me here just so I can stare at a dark wall with this ugly lighting? I don’t like this one bit at all. I want to take pictures of everyone, get the scoop!” Felicity exclaimed, pouting.Bookmark here

“Exactly one of the reasons why I’m allowing you up there. I’ll be sure to give you a summary once we’re done,” Tess said, shaking her head.Bookmark here

“Fine but can I at least listen in on what you’re saying?” Felicity attempted a compromise.Bookmark here

“No, that would just enable your desire to snoop,” Tess denied her request.Bookmark here

Felicity stuck her leg outside, preventing Tess from slamming the door on her. With a quick flip, the Gatekeeper shoved the woman back inside and then locked the doors. Felicity banged on the car window but Tess didn’t look back.Bookmark here

“This is the right place, right?” I asked, finding it strange we parked on the lowest level.Bookmark here

“Yes. Follow me, we need to take the elevator up,” Tess nodded and walked ahead.Bookmark here

The dim lighting made it difficult to see far ahead. Following Tess, I counted ten cars during the walk to the elevator. Assuming each cars carried two passengers, there were at least twenty people.Bookmark here

“Be careful. The floor here is chipped,” Tess warned.Bookmark here

I stopped inches away from a gaping hole in the floor. Tess finally stopped at a set of doors and pushed them open. Inside, there was only one elevator door. A spot to insert a card and key replaced the traditional up or down button.Bookmark here

Tess pulled out the same card from before and inserted it into the slot. I didn’t notice it before but the Gatekeeper had a ring of keys hooked onto her belt. She removed a specific key from the ring and placed it into the keyhole. The elevator buzzed with noise and the doors slid open.Bookmark here

“Uh, there’s no buttons in here, Tess,” I observed, seeing a blank panel.Bookmark here

Tess hooked the key from before back onto the ring and then removed a different one. She held it up to the panel and the key stuck onto the panel. A magnetic panel? No, there was more to it than just that. I felt the elevator shake and then a soft whirring noise occurred.Bookmark here

“We’re here,” Tess announced as the doors slid open.Bookmark here

The first thing I saw was a carpeted hallway. A majestic oak door awaited us at the end. I looked at her when we got there, expecting her to open the door. Instead, she glanced at me and reached into her pockets.Bookmark here

She tossed a key over to me and pointed at the door. I looked down at the key and then at the door. I inserted the key and turned it. Feeling no resistance, I pushed down on both handles and opened the door, revealing a large room.Bookmark here

Wooden desks arranged in a random pattern separated the room into two distinct sides. I stared at the desks, confused by the layout. Tess pointed to the right side of the room and I saw familiar faces. I glanced over to the left and recognized no one. A heavy atmosphere hung in the air.Bookmark here

“Tess, what’s going on?” I whispered.Bookmark here

“It looks like there’s some disagreement like always. Don’t worry about it for now. I don’t have time to explain it,” Tess replied, heading over to the right side.Bookmark here

We finally arrived at the right side of the room after maneuvering our way through the tables. I noticed a projector screen in the front. This was some kind of meeting alright.Bookmark here

“Tomo, sorry to call you out like this,” Kisai said, rising up from his chair.Bookmark here

“No worries. I chose to so don’t feel bad. I want to find out about all of this,” I said.Bookmark here

“That’s good to hear then,” Zhuyu said, leaning against the wall.Bookmark here

I looked at him and blinked. He wore a pair of medium sized glasses with a traditional frame and red temples. Instead of his usual dress pants, he wore black corduroys with thin vertical ridges. He wore an unbuttoned green collared shirt with two breast pockets. Because of his different attire, I didn’t recognize him when he spoke.Bookmark here

“Zhuyu?” I said, stretching out the last part of his name.Bookmark here

“Yeah, are you sure you’re okay?” he asked, giving me a skeptical glance.Bookmark here

“No, I’m fine. I just didn’t recognize you for a second there,” I replied.Bookmark here

“Damn, that was a burn,” Kisai smirked at my statement.Bookmark here

“You met last time but didn’t get a proper introduction. I’m pretty sure you know her name by now but I’ll say it again. This is Kyoi Feng, she’s a junior like Shan Shigetzu,” he introduced, pointing over to Kyoi.Bookmark here

Kyoi smiled at me and I suppressed my urge to run away. Although her smile wasn’t as terrifying as before, it still gave me a chill. She wore a zipped up red hoodie with a phoenix on it. Zhuyu sighed and I took a few steps back, avoiding direct eye contact with the woman.Bookmark here

“Tomo, you appear to be well. That’s good to know. You have to be in good condition if you want to keep on going,” Kyoi stated.Bookmark here

“Of course, anything you say,” I stuttered.Bookmark here

I inspected the rest of the group. Ichaival wore a zipped up feather down vest and black jeans. Kisai wore an unbuttoned black soft shell collared jacket with an unbuttoned white dress shirt under it. Shan stood next to Ichaival, wearing a black jacket like last time. He said something to Ichaival and Ichaival looked at him with indignation. Shan smiled, shrugging his shoulders.Bookmark here

“Tess, I see some people I don’t recognize over here,” I said.Bookmark here

”That is Long’s friend. They’ve known each other since elementary school. He has a unique skill set as you will witness for yourself soon enough,” Tess answered, pointing to the man who sat near Zhuyu.Bookmark here

“The new girl, huh? You don’t look like much of a challenge to me,” a man suddenly appeared next to me.Bookmark here

I blinked and took a few steps back. Not out of fear but to avoid him. He wore a white shirt with a striped cat’s face centered in the middle. Tufts of orange fur covered the top of the head. In addition, a black streak ran down the center of the forehead. I cringed at the sight of the cat’s face.Bookmark here

“Lionel, it’s been awhile,” Tess greeted him with no emotion.Bookmark here

“Tess, it seems that you’ve been neglecting your duties as the Gatekeeper,” Lionel said, looking over at her.Bookmark here

“I’ve been busy as I’m sure you have been as well. We all thought that the Traveler was destroyed. Although that in the end may have caused me to overlook entry points,” Tess admitted.Bookmark here

“If only you were more careful, we might have been able to avoid this,” Lionel sneered at her.Bookmark here

“Hey, Tess did her job, let’s not keep talking about it. It’s done,” I backed Tess up despite not knowing the details.Bookmark here

“Hmm, aren’t you a good friend? I’ll be back soon enough though,” Lionel said, waving goodbye.Bookmark here

“He’s gotten worse, “ Tess remarked, watching him walk away.Bookmark here

“Personality-wise? He creeps me out,” I noted.Bookmark here

“No. His powers are far below than the norm even when sealed. There should be a re-ranking soon,” Tess explained.Bookmark here

“A reranking? Why do you need to be ranked?” I asked.Bookmark here

“A way to determine everyone’s skill level and also an indication of what they can be expected to fight. Not a strict determination of strength though. It also serves as motivation to improve,” Tess replied.Bookmark here

“I can see that. So, who’s that guy?” I pointed at someone talking to Ichaival.Bookmark here

“Shui Lau. Someone Long has also known for a long time. He often works with the person you asked about before,” Tess answered, directing her attention over to the projector screen.Bookmark here

I looked in the same direction as Tess and saw the screen descend down. The lights in the room dimmed and the sound of a humming projector humming started. A beam of light struck the screen and a list appeared.Bookmark here

See the ranking list here:
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You can resume reading from this paragraph.