Chapter 13:

Chapter 14: Sweating It Out

Gathering


Iovita was actually scaling part of the mountain when she saw Jodoc run into the trees below. The mountain thankfully had come equipped with footholds and grips, so it wasn’t too difficult to climb. The grips did, however, sometimes move in diagonal directions making it a bit harder to grab. As Iovita kept moving, she noted that there was a rock face up ahead that was jutting out from the wall. She could easily stand there and catch her breath as well as give her aching wrists a slight break. Reaching the ledge, Iovita pulled herself up. She could see everything in a nice view from where she was and assumed she was about 30 meters or a third of the way up. Glancing up, the path looked more difficult and increasingly steep. “No rest for the weary huh,” Iovita said between deep breaths. She did wave towards the audience and try to catch her breath.

As he darted through the trees to the base, Jodoc saw Iovita climbing and watched her movements. He arrived at the base of the mountain and saw that there were two diverging paths upwards. One went off to the right where Iovita was and the other went off towards the left. Jodoc decided to follow Iovita’s path. Climbing up, he saw the girl who he had dumped a magic drone on, reaching the grove below. Jodoc kept moving towards the rock face where Iovita was standing. Pulling himself up, he noticed that it was a lot more spacious than he imagined.

Iovita glanced over her shoulder to see Jodoc pulling himself up. “Now, now brother,” Iovita jokingly chided Jodoc, “We have to keep up together. We are the famous rare set of twins after all.”

“Yeah yeah yeah,” Jodoc said between gasps. “Thanks for all the help with the boulders,” he fired back.

Then a sound registered in Iovita’s hearing that made her stomach drop. She could hear wings; small, mechanical, wings. “Oh crap!” she said jumping back and scanning the area. The edge where Iovita had been standing seconds ago was now water and falling the distance to the ground. The Sea drone was rising up the mountain face. It had not forgotten about her. She had no way to fight this drone and Jodoc was just now barely paying attention. The Sea drone began charging up again, and then there was a second drone underneath it also beginning its charge. Frantically searching around, there were some larger rocks towards the back of the rock face. “Jodoc, get a few big rocks and come here! We need to take care of these drones!”

Jodoc looked behind himself and saw them. Grabbing a few big rocks aimlessly, he walked back towards Iovita handing her a few rocks. She took them in her hands and started throwing them down the cliff. The first one zipped right past the Sea drone and Earth drone. The Earth drone did draw in a bit closer. Hatching an idea, Iovita threw a few smaller ones down till they were almost underneath each other. Iovita grabbed the largest rock she could find, and threw it down at full force making contact with both drones. They both burst into a ball of light and crashed into the mountain face below.

“Hey!” called out a voice from below.

As luck would have it, the girl who Jodoc had dumped his drone on was on the rock wall clinging for dear life. The drones had barely missed her. Looking beyond her though, there was a bright flash of light at the bottom. Someone in the grove must have been hit by the falling rocks or the drones. Jodoc wasn’t sure if it was his fault or not. “Alright! Let’s go,” he said to Iovita. He tried to turn around but his legs would not respond.

Iovita looked down to find a giant purple snake wrapped around Jodoc’s legs and slowly curling up his torso. “It must have been hiding under the rocks that she had asked him to pull up!” she realized. Its intense gaze grew and Iovita was now wracked with guilt. Because of her they were now in this situation. As the snake was now preparing to bite him, Iovita was ready to burst into tears of frustration.

Jodoc resigned himself to it as he said, “Go!”

Pushing her out of the way, he fell forwards over the cliff to save her from being attacked as well. The snake must have struck moments after he went over the edge, as he disappeared in a bright flash of light within seconds. “Jodoc!” she yelled out looking down. Iovita wanted to just give up right then and there, but she could not. There were still competitors going to win, and she needed to win. Fighting back tears and her own feelings, Iovita spotted two flags, touched them, and began to climb again.

Pushing through feelings of guilt, Iovita started to climb. The path became a lot more difficult and eventually she came across another rock face and pulled herself onto it. “I can do this. I have to do this,” she told herself. Taking a deep breath, Iovita stumbled across another pair of flags and touched them both collecting her two final flags.

Finally, she reached what was a path and started jogging up it. Iovita was close to the top, and she could not only feel it, she soon saw it. This path took her around the mountain top a few times towards the summit. When she reached the summit, Iovita was still one flag short and began searching high and low for it. Running around the summit, she saw a flag hidden behind some rocks and success! Iovita now had all six flags in different colors.

Feeling a sense of accomplishment, she turned around and saw that there was a table present that was not previously. Two flags sat on top and her six were on a small side table. “This is like taking candy from a baby,” she said with a small smile. Hearing footsteps behind her though, she turned around to find the girl from before with the magic drones approaching her.

Wheezing, she asked Iovita, “Do you have six flags?”

“Yes I do!”

The girl groaned in frustration and began running around the summit until the most curious thing happened. She ran right through the table. In fact, it almost seemed as if the table didn’t even exist to her.

Turning her attention back towards the table, four spots illuminated themselves for the four random flags that Iovita was supposed to place. “What were the other two for then?” she asked herself puzzled. Surprised at how simple this was, she collected the first flag from the side table, and placed it down on the main one. There was a slight click, and it lit up. The girl was in her field of vision again and standing in the table itself.

“What are you doing? Playing with the air?” she questioned.

Iovita paid her no mind. She had a race to win. “Maybe she just can’t see the table because she doesn’t have the correct number of flags,” Iovita mumbled almost liltingly to herself. The temperature was rising and Iovita wiped some sweat from her brow.

Iovita placed the second flag down. “Click.” Success. Moving back towards the third flag, she collected it, but she felt almost as if she was in a daze. She turned her eyes back towards the table and spotted the third spot. “Man, it’s hot!” Iovita said to herself. She reached forward with flag three in her hand and placed it down in the third spot. “Click.” Success. This was too easy for Iovita. She reached around for her fourth, and final flag.

“Look out!” was the last thing that Iovita heard before a pillar of fire magic obliterated her, knocking her out of the race and teleporting her to the main stage.

Jodoc sat up in his chair gasping for air. His eyes were rolling all over the place because he had no idea where he was and he felt like puking. Babbling incoherently, he slumped back in the chair. The after effects of teleportation were quite difficult to understand. True, Jodoc had read about teleportation because it did interest him, however, he had no idea the extent of what the side effects were.

After a few moments, his motor skills began to function properly again. He decided though to just lay there and move his eyes around. Taking in what was around him, he saw a very well-defined muscular back staring back at him. “This must be the elite guard,” he thought. He then rolled his eyes up above him and noticed the big number 5 was displayed above him. “Fifth huh… heh I didn’t even do that well.” He sat there dejected until a thought crossed his mind. “I guess I did do okay though because I did sacrifice myself for Iovita which has to count for something though.”

He began to sit up and noticed that he could see the big screen showing the event. He made a closed fist and imagined himself punching something. He really had wanted to go further in the race. Iovita appeared as she ran up the path towards the summit. He watched her hit the sixth flag. The table appeared, and he too found it strange that the other girl ran right through it. Then it hit him. The table must be hidden with some sort of magic! Earth magic maybe? The Earth magic kept everything under wraps until you had all of the flags which were keys. Now it was all starting to make sense. Here was the weird part though; Iovita’s movements were slowing down.

Everyone else was still moving at a brisk pace, including the two still climbing the mountain. Iovita was placing the flags on the table. That was when Jodoc saw it. There was a Flame elemental drone flying up the face of the mountain. It came up behind the competitor in last place and blasted them with some mid-level magic.

Iovita placed the second flag down and was now grabbing the third.
“Iovita! Look out behind you!” Jodoc yelled.

The Flame drone, having eliminated the competitor in last place, had resumed moving towards the summit. Jodoc tried to stand up, but the elite guard pushed him back down with a firm push to his chest. “Hey! She will get fried if I don’t say something!” he said in protest.

“Sit down. It is not your time,” the guard said in a gravelly voice.

He stared at the screen as Iovita wiped her forehead and placed the second flag down. Was it just his imagination, or did she get even slower now? “Iovita!!! There is a Flame drone coming your way!!! MOVE!!!” Jodoc yelled to no avail. It was too late. He watched as the Flame elemental drone charged up and fired off a massive spell wiping her off of the field in an instant. She was now a ball of light, and then... she was gone. The table was gone again too. Iovita appeared in a flash of light in a chair further down the stage. She was under the number 3. That left two more members still climbing.


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