Chapter 71:

Volume 3, Chapter 16: Reinforcements

Heroes of the Past

The window glass shattered and someone leaped in. It took you long enough! Kyoi, wearing glasses, brushed off the glass shards from her black fur lined coat, a phoenix insignia on its right sleeve. She looked around the room, locking eyes with Champ.Bookmark here

“Tomo, you seem comfortable. Should I let him whisk you away like in fairy tales?” Kyoi asked with a wide smile.Bookmark here

“Hell no! Free me already! What took you guys so long?” I shouted.Bookmark here

The long haired woman attacked the second ranked hero with her katana. Kyoi sidestepped her, materializing her own sword to parry. Her hunter’s eyes awakened once the long haired woman’s blade made contact with hers.Bookmark here

“Ah, if it isn’t Ksi. It’s been awhile. Did Lilith approve this? Of course not. She wouldn’t dare after Kaze warned her not to,” Kyoi commented, blocking another one of Ksi’s sword swings.Bookmark here

Ksi said nothing, continuing her assault. Kyoi defended each one with minimal movement of her sword, appearing bored. Come on, if you had time for such an expression, rescue me from Champ already.Bookmark here

“I cannot say that I expected the best to make her appearance. This complicates matters. If you’re here then it seems….,” Champ mused.Bookmark here

“Your artificial dimension generator has been shut down. I wondered why it took me so long to track Tomo. You have my respect for building such a contraption to work in conjunction with your powers,” Tess cut him off.Bookmark here

Tess stepped through the broken glass, swinging her golden key. Now it was even. Four on four. Well, two on four considering Ichaival’s injuries and mine as well.Bookmark here

“I’m here too. I always come in and save Darryl,” Kisai declared, making his appearance.Bookmark here

He wore a black baseball cap and matching colored trench coat. Never saw that combination before. Now the tables were definitely turned in our favor. With the two highest ranked heroes, I doubt Champ stood a chance.Bookmark here

“I am honored to be in the presence of such high tier heroes. It does, however, force me to reveal my hand since all you showed up,” Champ said with obvious sarcasm, still not letting go of me.Bookmark here

“You’re right, I’m pretty good,” Kisai smiled as a magic circle formed underneath Champ.Bookmark here

“Son of a-,” Champ cursed.Bookmark here

The woman, with her flashlight, charged at the mage, but Tess repelled her attack, wrapping her in chains. Kisai snapped his fingers and a blast of energy struck Champ. I saw the struggle on his face, but he could not move. Kisai strolled over, releasing me from Champ.Bookmark here

“Tomo, are you okay?” he asked, checking on my condition.Bookmark here

“My leg is hurt pretty bad from the spear. Ichaival needs more help than I do,” I replied, trying to stand up.Bookmark here

“Nah, Darryl will be fine,” Kisai denied, ignored Ichaival’s well being.Bookmark here

“Just because you’re all gathered here doesn’t mean you’ll win. I have more people. I’m sure they can handle even the top tier heroes,” Champ spoke, free from whatever Kisai cast on him earlier.Bookmark here

Ksi, nicked her thumb again, the blood floating in the air. Kyoi sighed and beckoned Kisai over. The blood splattered onto her blade and it glowed an eerie red.Bookmark here

“Jin, take care of her. I’ll take care of the annoying cat around the corner,” Kyoi said, slashing at Lionel.Bookmark here

“Got it,” Kisai agreed, dodging as Ksi’s sword split the floor where he previously stood.Bookmark here

Kisai leaped into the air and a sword appeared in his hand. Of course, he was a paladin. His combat skills were superior in both magical and physical attacks.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, but your blood won’t be effective against someone like me. That’s just the way it is,” Kisai said, as his sword made contact with Ksi’s weapon.Bookmark here

The red brightness dimmed and Ksi was taken aback by Kisai’s attack. A look of surprise finally appeared on her face, but she recovered. She switched her sword out for a spear, hurling it at Kisai. Kisai grinned, swinging his sword down. The trajectory of the spear hurtled downward, missing the third ranked hero.Bookmark here

“Like I said before, you’re a bad matchup against me,” Kisai stated.Bookmark here

Sharp pieces of rock burst from the ground, knocking Ksi down. She stood up, blocking Kisai’s sword seconds before he made contact. Kisai acknowledged her skills with a smile, not condescending, but one of mutual respect. Damn, I really wish I could do something right now. At this point, I couldn’t even stand up. With Tess, Kyoi, and Kisai, there was no way we could lose. Tess turned her attention to Champ after neutralizing flashlight girl.Bookmark here

“Tess, you still have one more person to face before getting to me. You’re still outnumbered,” Champ refused to admit defeat.Bookmark here

Bartholomew, Lionel’s understudy, blocked Tess from approaching Yuka’s boyfriend. I dragged myself towards her, hoping no one would notice. Using the tabletop as a support, I pulled myself up onto a chair, examining Yuka. She seemed okay. Felicity looked pretty satisfied too. I heard her mutter something about Ichaival.Bookmark here

“I’m Lionel’s protégé, so not even the Gatekeeper can scare me,” Bartholomew said with confidence.Bookmark here

“I doubt you understand the position you’re in right now,” Tess warned, her chains already creeping up behind him.Bookmark here

Bartholomew rolled away from the chains, sending out a horde of cats at Tess. Tess constructed a crude net, trapping all the felines. Bartholomew sneaked up behind the Gatekeeper, ready to slash at the woman with his steel claws. Tess caught his right claw, twisting his arm. Bartholomew winced and attempted a kick upward. Tess, still holding his claw, yanked it down and inflicted damage on him through his own weapon.Bookmark here

“Ugh,” Bartholomew grunted.Bookmark here

He glanced at his cats, but they still squirmed inside the net, unable to break free. Tess wrapped chains around him, slapping a lock on top. The cats dissipated, gone along with the net.Bookmark here

“Hey, Ichaival, you still alive?” I called out to the false archer.Bookmark here

“Yeah, but barely. It looks like we’re going to win,” Ichaival responded, still lying down on the floor.Bookmark here

Meanwhile, Kyoi handled Lionel with ease. He punched her with steel knuckles, but she evaded. Lionel finally backed away.Bookmark here

“Fine, fine, you’re truly worthy of being the second ranked. I’ll have to resort to my ultimate transformation,” Lionel decided.Bookmark here

Lionel pounded the floor with his fists and armor appeared on his body. An orange chest plate covered his upper body, sharp gauntlets with claws enveloped his lower arm, and steel knee braces tightened around his legs. Orange stripes ran across his face and whiskers popped out from his snout. His hair grew long, puffing out like a lion’s mane. He hissed, revealing sharp fangs.Bookmark here

“Kyoi, can you beat me now? I’m much faster and stronger. You have to use your sword! Don’t hold back,” Lionel shouted, a wide smile on his face.Bookmark here

Lionel bellowed and various feline creatures appeared. A white tiger with black stripes and a jaguar with black spots joined him. Kyoi blinked, not intimidated.Bookmark here

“Kuan, take care of those animals for me. Lionel, I’ll personally see to it that you regret your choice,” Kyoi said.Bookmark here

What the….? I didn’t even notice Kuan. He wore a light gray zip up sweater, approaching the snarling beasts without fear. He reached down to the tiger, stroking its fur. The beast, previously snarling, purred. The jaguar also calmed down. Did he just tame them with his powers?Bookmark here

Kyoi held her sword in hand, creating a magic circle above Lionel’s head. A chill filled the room, snow pelting the enemy. He clawed at the snow, but his actions grew weak, soon collapsing to the ground. Kyoi raised her sword and flames approached Lionel from all directions. All escape routes were closed off. His armor melted and after she released him from the flames, Lionel was back to normal.Bookmark here

“You…,” Lionel dashed at Kyoi.Bookmark here

Kuan raised his head. Lionel dashed straight at the woman, but he suddenly shifted his target to the beasts Kuan tamed. Seriously, what kind of powers did he have? Kyoi drove her sword through Lionel’s left leg, incapacitating him. He fell to the ground with a shocked expression. Kyoi withdrew her weapon and then flicked it, the blood splattering down to the ground. Lionel rolled to the side, clutching his leg in pain. The swordmaster continued her assault, slashing him in the chest two times. He screeched out in pain, tears streaming down from his eyes.Bookmark here

“I’m done. Kuan, you want to finish him off or is that enough suffering for him?” Kyoi asked the animal tamer.Bookmark here

“Whatever you like, I’m not gonna judge,” Kuan replied.Bookmark here

The jaguar and tiger disappeared, becoming small fragments of light wafting up into the air. Kyoi poked at Lionel with her sword tip, taunting him.Bookmark here

“Is it over?” I asked, attempting to stand up.Bookmark here

“Well, I think we can agree that I pretty much saved Darryl’s ass. Tomo, you need help walking?” Kisai asked, noticing my struggle.Bookmark here

“I would appreciate it,” I nodded.Bookmark here

Kisai lent me his shoulder and I hobbled over to Tess. Stacia, Ksi, the woman with the flashlight, Champ, Lionel, and Bartholomew were all gathered up. Tess imprisoned them with her golden chains, a steel padlock looped through it. Damn, I was impressed. Six neutralized without any effort.Bookmark here

“What will the punishment be, Gatekeeper?” Champ asked, a crooked smile on his face, after Kyoi punched him.Bookmark here

“That rests with your leader. I would restrict your powers, but you need them to face the Traveler. If you attempt this again, all of us will be here not just the top two,” Tess admonished, swiping her key across in the air.Bookmark here

Everything returned to normal. We were back in the actual restaurant. There was no damage as expected. Felicity’s head moved, but she still slept. Yuka raised her head, a groggy look on her face. She stared at me for three seconds, before face-planting onto the table.Bookmark here

“Tomo, I apologize for the delay. I requested Jin and Feng be on standby, but Champ’s artificial dimension contraption took effort to break. I take full responsibility for the wait,” Tess said.Bookmark here

Five minutes later, Lilith and another woman arrived. She looked angry, berating Champ for his idiotic decisions. Everyone else kept their distance. Stacia and Champ showed the least remorse, nodding their heads during the arduous lecture. Ksi and the woman with the flashlight flinched during Lilith’s tirade, indicating they were regretful about the entire mess. Lionel was unconscious and Bartholomew sat at one of the tables, stretching out his leg.Bookmark here

“Let’s go, I’m not done with this matter yet. Tess, this was my fault for not overseeing them. The Traveler is a threat, so I’ll call a temporary alliance. I’m not so uptight that I think we can do this alone,” Lilith announced, giving a slight bow to Tess.Bookmark here

I inspected my leg, but found no wounds. However, I felt a sharp burn with each step. Ichaival’s arms hung downward, unable to lift them up. While the injuries sustained in the dimensions didn’t carry over, the physical and mental pain did.Bookmark here

“Hey, is Ichaival going to be okay? Stacia kind of well, you know, f'd him up,” I asked, looking over at the portal user.Bookmark here

“He’ll be fine. Right?” Kisai responded, giving Ichaival a small slap on the face.Bookmark here

“What the….? We won then,” Ichaival said after Kisai’s slap.Bookmark here

“Alright, we ready to go?” Kisai asked.Bookmark here

“Ah, you can go if you wish. Thank you for the help. Tomo, I have a few things I wish to discuss,” Tess answered.Bookmark here

“Aight, Darryl, you want a ride home?” Kisai offered.Bookmark here

“Felicity drove me here, but she’s not awake yet. I feel bad just leaving her here,” Ichaival said, considering his options.Bookmark here

“Head home and rest. Jin, take care of Darryl. I’ll explain everything to Felicity, don’t worry,” Tess ordered.Bookmark here

Kisai took off his cap, escorting Ichaival to his car. Tess, Kyoi, Kuan, Yuka, Felicity, and I remained in the restaurant.Bookmark here

“Kuan, before you go, what’s your power?” I asked, curious about it.Bookmark here

“Animal perks and well, something else that’s more useful. Tess doesn’t want me to tell you yet, so I won’t say anything just yet. Tess, I’m leaving,” Kuan responded, departing too.Bookmark here

I should have expected an answer like that. Tess sat down, glancing at the two sleeping woman. I took a seat as well, awaiting her words.Bookmark here

“Tess, I’ll check around and make sure everything’s clear,” Kyoi declared, heading toward the kitchen.Bookmark here

“Tomo, your fighting was a bit lacking. This is not an insult directed at your skills, but more of an indictment of my poor preparation. Thus, we’ll work on mastery of the more demanding skills. For the next few weeks, you’ll work with Jin. We can worry about your physical operations with a weapon later. I, of course, will be around too,” Tess revealed.Bookmark here

“Champ and the others seem quite strong even for lower tiered heroes. I feel like there’s no separation between the lower ranks of the upper tier and those in the upper ranks of the lower tier. I couldn’t even beat that girl with the flashlight,” I responded, pulling on my leg.Bookmark here

“It may seem that way. There is a difference, however. It’ll become apparent once the restrictions on everyone’s powers are lifted. This is not to belittle those in the lower tier. They could defeat an upper tier hero, if fighting with the proper strategy. So you are correct in your assumption,” Tess said.Bookmark here

Kyoi returned with a smile on her face. She handed Tess an object. Tess grasped it in her hand, dropping it into a small bag.Bookmark here

“Tess, I’ll take my leave now. Tomo, anything you wish to say to me?” Kyoi questioned, staring right at me.Bookmark here

“Yeah, but you’ll probably dodge it somehow. I’ve learned that by now,” I replied.Bookmark here

“You’re learning fast. I will leave you with one thing. Felicity isn’t a sparkling angel. She and Champ are much more than mere acquaintances. I will give you one hint, Kaisi Konoe. Consider it something you can think about when you go to bed tonight,” Kyoi chuckled before leaving.Bookmark here

If anyone knew, Tess would, but she wouldn’t reveal anything until she deemed it appropriate. Tess showed no reaction after Kyoi’s statement, continuing her discussion about future plans. What a freaking tease.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.