Don't Worry, We Have the Best Supporter in Our Team
She managed to distance herself from Irene, thanks to the customized magic gloves Jayce had made for her. The first explosion chipped a critical amount of her mana shield, while the second explosion was used to mask her movement further to gain more distance.
She needed to think of a way to compensate for her archery skill.
Irene would have shot her down before the spells were completed. She knew she didn’t have much time to think after knowing the extent of Irene’s spirit to search their target.
She contemplated every weapon, armour, and runes she had on her. Her staff might not be suitable to go against Irene in terms of speed; her armour can reduce the impact from oncoming projectiles in a reasonable margin; her stealth runes could bypass Irene’s field of vision but not her spirit.
The only conclusion she had, for now, was to find the real Irene and engaged her in close-quarters combat.
The main issue at the moment was how will she be able to locate her. She could have been anywhere in this forest. That was where Alice realized something important. She brought her attention to her magic gloves.
Can I create it?
She shook her head, removing any hesitation she held to herself. There wasn’t any other option she could think of, so she began the procedure.
The magic arrow she attempted to manifest was difficult. She had to get the properties right, a single presence of any element will render it useless.
Half complete, Alice placed the unfinished arrow back to her magic gloves and resumed moving to the next location as she heard a sound of rustling leaves behind her by thirty metres.
She kept her stealth enchantments active and thread carefully to another location.
Irene kept her calm in this situation, she knew she wouldn’t get any results if she did. She stood on the tallest tree she could find, looking for any sort of strange movements that might lead her to Alice.
But sadly, no result.
Has she already discover how I track her?
A few years ago, she discovered that she could perceive spirits. The elders had suggested her to become the next chief of the Moon Village.
However, she didn’t have the slightest interest at all. All she ever wanted was to be free from the village and travel throughout the world to hone her archery skills and create different types of bows.
After declining the elders’ suggestion, she tested out her new-found ability further. She tried to gather a few more spirits, but none of them wanted to approach her. However, her current spirit was the one who stayed beside her.
With that, their friendship was born and she named her spirit: Aria, due to its affinity with the wind and forest it possessed. There were times where she wondered why she was chosen.
Back to the task at hand, she began to have a suspicion that Alice was now tracking her while avoiding Aria. But there was no way to locate her position with their current distance. Aria was still searching around the forest from where they just had battled.
“Should I wait or track her myself? No. Aria wouldn’t want me to face Alice head-on.”
Eighty per cent complete.
The arrow in Alice’s hand began to take a form that she had envisioned to be. Although, there were minor adjustments needed for it. The problem with this arrow was that she needed to neglect her senses and focus on this single arrow.
If Irene’s spirit found her while making it, there was no telling whether she will be able to defend herself when she was this vulnerable.
Ninety-five per cent complete.
She immediately paused the process, and moved on to the next location, but…
An arrow pierced to the ground where Alice had sat. Reflexively, she immediately broke into a sprint, away from where the arrow had come from. She drew her bow and readied another shockwave arrow. She turned around and jumped back, firing it to the ground ten metres away from herself, sending specks of dust and dirt up in the air to obscure their vision. She took cover to one of the nearby trees and resume her concentration on the arrow.
“I can’t run away now. I have to make use of this time to complete.”
As Aria was closing in on her, it stopped abruptly as if it sensed something dangerous were about to happen to its master.
A few seconds later, an arrow flew up in the air from behind a tree where Aria was approaching. The arrow gave off a bluish aura, it wasn’t a water-based magic arrow as it was clear as glass.
When the magic arrow reached the highest point, Alice shouted a command to it. With her command, the magic arrow exploded into dust and scattered throughout the forest.
As they fell, her eyes became a clear sky. Everything she perceived was colourless, all except for a trail of mana that flowed towards north from Aria.
Her mouth gave an upturned smile and began her movement, dodging and shielding herself from every spell Aria had cast upon her.
At last, she reached the tree where the trail continued upward. She produced another shockwave arrow from her right hand and fired it with Irene’s bow up high just as she had done with her mana arrow.
An explosion came, causing the trees around them to lean away from the explosion momentarily.
When the explosion settled, she looked around, searching for Irene’s body. She knew her shockwave arrow would be enough to send her flying to a reasonable distance from where she was standing, so she was expecting for Irene to drop by now.
Instead, she heard a rustle behind, and she took aim at it with an ice arrow.
“Phew. I thought I was a goner,” she laughed, “if it weren’t for Aria, I would have been defeated by now.”
Despite her casual announcement, her expression suggested she got hit by her shockwave arrow. Nevertheless, she took aim with her bow toward Alice with ease. She gave a command to Aria to not interfere.
“If you have asked your spirit to stand down, I suggest you not to do that.”
Irene was shocked by her words, she thought back to herself whether she had said it out loud, but nothing seemed to conclude that. She gave a sigh of relief and shook it off.
“All right. Just so you know, if I do this way, you will lose.”
“Try me,” her expression was calm, but her eyes were filled with determination to win this battle.
Although this was just a mock battle, to begin with, they were still willing to fight each other at full capacity. To Alice, fighting people using a partial amount of their strength was disrespectful, so even if there was a slim chance of victory, she was willing to fight for it to not only to proof others she could do it, but rather she will regret it for not trying.
Their posture remained stationary until Aria’s arrival. Aria hovered around them, searching for every single potential spot Irene could fire with her arrow, while Aria will launch its magic at Alice when she dodges.
Without any signal to announce their battle, Irene fired her arrow toward Alice’s left while Aria fired its magic to her right.
“Show me what you got! Resonate!” said Alice, not to Irene or Aria as her eyes fixed on the bow she carried.
Her mana flowed into the bow, restoring it to its former glory.
The rune she had activated from Irene’s bow was a Resonate rune. It had the ability to resonate any projectiles within five metres radius and destroyed them as they became unstable.
It was best suited against projectiles, but the user still had to distance themselves away from the projectiles’ explosion, even if they were non-magic based projectiles.
Aria moved in to protect its master, anticipating Alice’s next move. Irene wasn’t expecting this development, she had initially thought Alice might not be able to discover it.
This time, she ordered Aria to go all out as well.
The real battle had just begun.
They ran throughout the forest, firing arrows to each other at every single opportunity they had in hope to land a hit. Alice’s arrow flew didn’t meet their mark as they flew past Irene’s side, while Irene’s arrow and Aria’s magic were destroyed by the runes that were crafted in Alice’s bow.
Well, the bow originally belonged to Irene.
During her escape from Aria, she noticed a strange and familiar sensation coming from the bow she borrowed from Irene. The feeling was similar as she had with Jayce’s monocle. She didn’t know what kind of rune it was and she took the risk to activate at such a crucial moment that might lead to her defeat.
She released another round of the newfound rune to the incoming projectiles. And this time, she aimed her arrow behind Irene.
The ice arrow flew by next to her but then—
“Barrier!” she shouted, while she extended her right hand toward Irene.
—a barrier appeared behind her. Alice’s arrow struck her barrier and reflected back to Irene’s back. It struck true to her back and shattered her mana shield.
Irene recoiled forward and fell to the ground. Without giving Alice a chance, she immediately got herself back up with her hand and kicked her heels to the ground to keep moving forward.
Her breathing became ragged, a sign of mana fatigue when another layer of mana shield formed around her body. Her hands shook vigorously as she nocked her bow and trained it on Alice. She mustered every strength she could to fire her arrows while dodging her ice arrows.
When they reached an open field, out of the forest, they stopped abruptly. Alice began to experience mana fatigue after firing many magic arrows she had created. They both stood out in the open, gasping for air to shake off the fatigue that crept onto them.
“…Not bad for a magician wielding a bow,” began Irene after catching her breath.
“Thank you. It was really difficult to hit the target while moving.”
“But you did make use of spells to overcome your issues. It was a smart move, but not enough to get through Aria’s defences.”
“We will see about that.”
Irene’s expression became serious and summoned Aria. She began her spell and Aria imbued its magic into her arrow.
“Last arrow. Be sure to give me everything you got, Alice!”
With that, she released her bowstring and let her arrow flew free.
Alice closed her eyes. With a mind’s eye, she saw the surroundings around Irene, Aria and herself, preparing her next spell.
“Barrier spell: Bird Cage.”
To Irene’s surprise, an array of barriers appeared out of thin air around them.
Alice dashed to the left to dodge her shot and fired her ice arrow up in the air. When Alice’s arrow struck one of her barriers, the arrow began to multiply into two and it continues. Alice carefully positioned her magic circles around them like a cage.
Alice continued to make her way out of the zone she had created. Along her way, she got hit by Aria’s magic on some occasions. She gritted her teeth and tighten her grip to her bow to ignore the fatigue.
Meanwhile, Irene focused on dodging Alice’s magic arrows left and right. Before she knew it, Alice was now in position and held her bow out and imbued every mana she had into it.
She called out the rune’s name once more, the ice arrows within the barriers began to resonate.
Instead of an explosion, it froze the entire vicinity including Irene. A moment later, the giant pile of frozen sculpture shattered into pieces.
Irene magic gloves’ safety mechanism kicked in and melted her frozen prison. She stood there for a second and fell down unconscious as she could no longer able to supply mana to her magic gloves any further.
Alice approached Irene slowly. She was also about to pass out as well, but she had to bring her back to her house safely. Aria hovered by Irene’s side, unwilling to leave her when she was now vulnerable to any enemies.
She heard someone calling out to her and opened her eyes. She felt dizzy as she tried to get herself up, and the voice continued.
“Don’t get up. You need to rest.”
A pair of hands rested on her shoulders to reassure her. Jayce was standing next to the bed where she was sleeping.
She looked around the room, the walls and floorings were made out of high-quality wood, crafted and decorated by expert craftsmen. Judging by the time, the only conclusion she could guess was that they were in Irene’s guest room.
She checked her clothes, she was still in her adventurer ensemble and looked back to Jayce.
“How long I was out?”
“What happened to Irene and Aiden?”
“They’re fine. They are resting in another room.”
“But what about you? Don’t you need to rest, too?”
The battle she had with Irene was a close one. She was a few hits away from getting defeated. However, thanks to the bow she borrowed from Irene, she made use of the newfound rune that was crafted on it.
But looking at Jayce, he seemed to won against Aiden and got out unscathed.
“I will be fine. Took a few hits from Aiden, but the rest went smoothly. I went out to search you and Irene after bringing Aiden back to the house. What did you do to Irene?”
Despite creating and unleashing multiple explosion spells in the forest, Jayce was too focused on fighting Aiden. He didn’t really need to rely on his five senses to detect danger as all he needed was his passive skill: Reflex.
Alice explained her battle with Irene to Jayce. He nodded while listening to her situation intently, not missing a single word coming from her mouth. He felt both surprised about her choice of actions.
He was worried about her during his battle with Aiden. That was why he defeated Aiden as quickly as he could, but it took some time to bring Aiden back to Irene’s house as he steered Aiden away from Alice from the beginning.
In the end, he was worried about nothing.
“Jayce?” asked Alice as she tilted her head quizzically.
“Yes, Alice?” he returned a quick response after sorting out his thoughts.
“Maybe you should take a rest.”
This time, it was Alice’s turn to worry about Jayce.
“No. I’m fine. I will go get the food ready. Stay in the bed and rest. I will take care of everything.”
Without waiting for her response, he headed out to the hallway, leaving Alice alone in the bedroom.
She stared up to the ceiling and relax. But as soon as she was about to fall in sleep, a knock came from her door. Her heart immediately beats faster and turned her head toward the door and answered.
She knew there was nothing to be a concern as long as Jayce was around. She trusted him.
The door opened slowly, only to find Irene and Aiden casually entering the room. After all, this was Irene’s family residence. They looked slightly well from the battle, judging from the way they walk towards her. They each took a chair from the coffee table across the room and sat them down next to Alice.
“Sorry about destroying the forest field,” Alice began with an apology, her eyes didn’t betray her sincerity.
“You don’t have to worry about it. It was my idea for lending you that bow, to begin with. Although Jayce was the one who suggested you to use it to defeat me and I’m agreed to it. So it wasn’t your fault.”
She gave a smile to Alice to reassure her.
“You know. You could have lower down the firepower of your magic. That last move you did to Irene was a little extreme.”
“What’s this? Are you worry about me, Aiden? I thought you don’t care about me,” said Irene as she was hugging Aiden.
“Shut up! You lent her a dangerous bow! She could have destroyed the entire forest!” said Aiden, trying to push Irene away from him.
“True. In the end, she didn’t, right? So the battle ends peacefully.”
After letting him go, she gave a wink and made a puppy paw and softly knocked on the side of her head.
Aiden sighed by her actions and looked down, probably embarrassed by his defeat by Jayce.
Alice wouldn’t want to upset him, so she tried to add a topic into their conversation.
“Is everyone alright?”
“Yeah. It will take some time to recover my stamina and mana to move properly.”
“Same as his answer. But we should be the ones to ask you that. I heard from Jayce that you were trying to bring me back here when I’m unconscious. Thank you.”
She gave a deep bow to Alice and Aiden did the same.
“You don’t have to thank me. I’m just doing what I feel is right. Besides, I don’t even know whether there are wild animals or monsters in the forest,” said Alice while waving her hands.
“Oh… about that… the animals in the forest are tamed by my parents. They are both adventurers and animal collectors. You can even play with the animals if you want.”
Alice’s expression soften and surprised by her words. She hadn’t encountered any animal during their battle.
As if on cue, Aiden continued her sentence.
“The animals in the forest tend to stay away from the battle. They usually approach us when we have no intention to fight. Jayce even mentioned that the animals in the forest gathered around you and Irene. They were providing mana to Irene and you.”
That explains the two hours.
It usually took three days to recover mana fatigue, but mana potions or mana transfer could reduce that amount of time. Alice felt disappointed for losing an opportunity to see the animals.
“When we recover, we can give you and Jayce a tour around the forest. You still have time for the Luminous Flower Sightseeing,” offered Irene, who seemed to know what she had in mind.
She lifted her head up, her eyes glimmered in excitement. After continuing their conversation a little longer, they heard a few knocks from their door and Alice gave her permission to come in.
Jayce entered the room with three trays of mushroom porridges he had made from Irene’s kitchen and set them to the side table next to Alice’s bed.
“Here’s a small meal for everyone. I’ve added a few extra ingredients to improve mana recovery for everyone. Eat it while it’s hot.”
“Thank you,” said Aiden as he passed the bowls to the girls.
“You have an interesting partner, Alice,” said Irene, giving a mischievous smile to her.