Chapter 56:

Volume 3, Chapter 3: Underground Passage

Heroes of the Past

“Having fun yet, Tomo?” Kyoi asked, giving a quick smile.Bookmark here

Not really. I followed the others into a dimly lit corridor. Great, another one of these.Bookmark here

“Tess, I want to talk to you for a little bit,” I requested.Bookmark here

“What worries you Tomo?” Tess replied.Bookmark here

“Everyone’s psyche. I mean, Kyoi almost killed a bandit and you left someone hanging from the third floor. No one has said anything either. I’m starting to think something is wrong,” I confided.Bookmark here

“Tomo, you must understand the circumstances. Sometimes certain actions must be taken in order to move forward. As for whether our actions are right or wrong, that’s hard to say. If you’re that worried, I can relieve you of your powers. Perhaps that will bring you peace of mind,” Tess offered.Bookmark here

I remained silent, unable to respond. She could take away this power? This wasn’t an ideal situation, diving into other dimensions and confronting enemies. No, giving up my powers was an easy way out. There were still too many mysteries surrounding Ichizen’s involvement. The least I could do was see it through all the way.Bookmark here

“No, I’ll keep going,” I decided.Bookmark here

“It’s your choice after all, Tomo,” Tess ended our short conversation.Bookmark here

I observed the others after our little chat. It was true I held reservations about everyone but I still didn’t know them too well. As Tess stated before, if I learned more about them, it might alleviate my worries.Bookmark here

“Hey, Tess, quick question. When I mind dive, is it possible for me to view the contents at a later time?” I suddenly asked.Bookmark here

“In theory, your grimoire stores such data within it. You can try,” Tess replied, walking ahead.Bookmark here

Fair enough. There were times I didn’t want to space out during the mind dive and miss something. If this worked, it would cut down on time. Now, who to choose? Kyoi and Tess were eliminated immediately. I already seen Shui’s once so it was down to Zhuyu and En. I was interested in figuring out the contract thing between Zhuyu and Kyoi. En was pretty quiet though. Yeah, time to learn more about his and Zhuyu’s friendship.Bookmark here

“Hey, En,” I called out.Bookmark here

En turned around and I took the opportunity to activate the process. As the scene started, I envisioned the grimoire with its cover closed. That should do it, right?Bookmark here

“Are you okay?” En asked, a confused look on his face.Bookmark here

“Oh sorry, thought I saw something near you,” I lied, realizing how bad my excuse was.Bookmark here

“Okay,” En said, not convinced by my poor lie.Bookmark here

“Tomo, you’ve made up your mind. I trust we won’t be having that conversation anytime soon,” Tess spoke, breaking the silence.Bookmark here

“I’ll take your advice and see where it takes me,” I nodded at her words.Bookmark here

“Good. You can’t win if you don’t put a 97% effort into things,” Tess said.Bookmark here

After what seemed like an hour, we arrived at a large door. Kyoi stepped back from the door, staring at it with her arms crossed. Why waste your time even looking at it?Bookmark here

“What’s wrong?” Zhuyu asked.Bookmark here

“This door, it has protection and alert magic cast on it. I thought the bandits were just all physical fighters but their boss is more skilled than I originally thought,” Kyoi answered, placing her left hand on the door.Bookmark here

“Can’t you just slash it?” I asked.Bookmark here

“No, I rather not risk tipping off anyone. I’ll undo the magic on the door but it’ll take awhile. Tess, can you give me a hand?” Kyoi asked.Bookmark here

Tess nodded, placing her key on the door. Strange, why was Kyoi so cautious now? Whoever cast the magic must be worthy of her respect. Zhuyu, En, and Shui watched the two woman without talking. This was getting unnerving. Please, someone talk already.Bookmark here

“Okay, I’m going to talk now,” I decided.Bookmark here

“Go ahead,” Zhuyu said, giving me a skeptical look.Bookmark here

“Look, it was too quiet. It’s fine when it’s just you guys, but when Kyoi or Tess are here, somebody has to keep talking or it gets uncomfortable,” I rambled.Bookmark here

“Um, sure? What do you want to talk about?” Zhuyu responded, playing along.Bookmark here

“Thank you. When did you first get into this mess?” I asked, taking the chance to discover more about their past.Bookmark here

“Around junior year of high school. I dragged Zhang into it so he didn’t have a choice,” Zhuyu replied.Bookmark here

“That makes sense, you're both are part of the same dimension. Wait, how did it happen?” I questioned.Bookmark here

Tess called us all over before Zhuyu answered. Damn it, I was about to find out something good too. Sighing, I walked to the door, awaiting our next orders.Bookmark here

“It should be safe now. We’ll see what kind of opposition there is on the other side. This magic though, I have a good idea about who it is,” Kyoi announced.Bookmark here

“Someone we know?” Zhuyu asked.Bookmark here

“Yes. But I won’t say anything until I’m sure. Tess, what do you think?” Kyoi asked the Gatekeeper.Bookmark here

“There is validity to your suspicions,” Tess answered.Bookmark here

Kyoi pushed open the door, revealing a stone floor and lit torches lining the walls. Did this mean I walked through a tunnel only to enter another one?Bookmark here

“What is this crap?” I asked, pointing forward.Bookmark here

“Another passageway. These bandits have too much time on their hands,” Kyoi replied, shrugging her shoulders.Bookmark here

This was ridiculous. Trudging through another tunnel, so fun! Zhuyu and the others said nothing, moving forward. I swear, if this path led to another one, then I would slap someone.Bookmark here

“How long will this one take?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Judging from the torches on the wall, I would say quite a distance. These aren’t flames lit by human hands, but magic. What a waste,” Kyoi answered.Bookmark here

We finally arrived at an unlocked door. Finally! The blandness and repetition of my surroundings wore me down. Tess opened the door this time, revealing the outdoors again.Bookmark here

“We're close,” Kyoi commented.Bookmark here

I tensed up, seeing wispy figures surrounding us. Would Ichaival’s power even damage these things? I might have to use elemental powers instead of physical attacks.Bookmark here

“Don’t even try, Tomo,” Kyoi warned, pulling out her sword.Bookmark here

Kyoi closed her eyes, plunging her sword into the ground. I felt a small tremor in the ground and pulsating red flames surrounded the woman. The wispy figures attempted an attack but were repelled immediately.Bookmark here

She yanked out her blade. With three slashes, the number two ranked hero wiped out all the enemies. I didn’t even try analyzing her attacks. Her swordsmanship was something I could not copy right now.Bookmark here

“Tess!” Zhuyu shouted, rushing over to her side.Bookmark here

Two armored enemies advanced toward the Gatekeeper. Zhuyu appeared as if he was going to finally pull out his sword from the scabbard. The enemy looked at the zero vector user and Tess made her move.Bookmark here

A chain wrapped around their adversary’s neck. The enemy’s partner was stopped immediately, encased in a block of ice by Shui. Damn, everyone’s coordination was really good. As it should be, considering their experience and time working with each other.Bookmark here

“Thank you for the distraction, Long,” Tess said, knocking the enemy unconscious with a flick of her chain.Bookmark here

“It’s the only thing I can do now without my old powers,” Zhuyu responded.Bookmark here

I really expected Zhuyu to save Tess from the sudden attack. She was at or even above the level of Kyoi. Why then was she ranked so low?Bookmark here

“Shui, can you clear the path for us?” Kyoi requested, pointing at the snow covering the road.Bookmark here

After about fifteen minutes later, I saw a simple two story brick building. I trekked through two underground paths for this crap. Were you kidding me? I almost felt like grabbing the nearest person and slapping them. However, I didn't since the nearest person was Tess. I shuddered at the thought of her possible retaliation.Bookmark here

“This seems to be the right place. Hey! Come out! I know you’re in there. Stop sending your useless henchmen, they’ll only get their ass kicked!” Kyoi confronted the occupant of the house.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.