Chapter 14:

Chapter 4.2, Archery

Don't Worry, We Have the Best Supporter in Our Team

Eighty per cent complete.
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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. Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Ninety-five per cent complete.Bookmark here

She immediately paused the process, and moved on to the next location, but…Bookmark here

ThudBookmark here

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. Bookmark here

“I can’t run away now. I have to make use of this time to complete.”Bookmark here

As Aria was closing in on her, it stopped abruptly as if it sensed something dangerous were about to happen to its master. Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

“Scatter!” Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

Her mouth gave an upturned smile and began her movement, dodging and shielding herself from every spell Aria had cast upon her. Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

An explosion came, causing the trees around them to lean away from the explosion momentarily. Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

Instead, she heard a rustle behind, and she took aim at it with an ice arrow. Bookmark here

“Phew. I thought I was a goner,” she laughed, “if it weren’t for Aria, I would have been defeated by now.” Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

“If you have asked your spirit to stand down, I suggest you not to do that.”Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

“All right. Just so you know, if I do this way, you will lose.”Bookmark here

“Try me,” her expression was calm, but her eyes were filled with determination to win this battle. Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

Without any signal to announce their battle, Irene fired her arrow toward Alice’s left while Aria fired its magic to her right.Bookmark here

“Show me what you got! Resonate!” said Alice, not to Irene or Aria as her eyes fixed on the bow she carried. Bookmark here

Her mana flowed into the bow, restoring it to its former glory.Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

This time, she ordered Aria to go all out as well. Bookmark here

The real battle had just begun.Bookmark here

____________________Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

Well, the bow originally belonged to Irene.Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

“Resonate!” Bookmark here

She released another round of the newfound rune to the incoming projectiles. And this time, she aimed her arrow behind Irene. Bookmark here

The ice arrow flew by next to her but then— Bookmark here

“Barrier!” she shouted, while she extended her right hand toward Irene.Bookmark here

—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. Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

“…Not bad for a magician wielding a bow,” began Irene after catching her breath.Bookmark here

“Thank you. It was really difficult to hit the target while moving.” Bookmark here

“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.” Bookmark here

“We will see about that.” Bookmark here

Irene’s expression became serious and summoned Aria. She began her spell and Aria imbued its magic into her arrow. Bookmark here

“Last arrow. Be sure to give me everything you got, Alice!” Bookmark here

With that, she released her bowstring and let her arrow flew free.Bookmark here

Alice closed her eyes. With a mind’s eye, she saw the surroundings around Irene, Aria and herself, preparing her next spell. Bookmark here

“Barrier spell: Bird Cage.” Bookmark here

To Irene’s surprise, an array of barriers appeared out of thin air around them. Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

She called out the rune’s name once more, the ice arrows within the barriers began to resonate. Bookmark here

“Frost Cage.”Bookmark here

Instead of an explosion, it froze the entire vicinity including Irene. A moment later, the giant pile of frozen sculpture shattered into pieces. Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

____________________Bookmark here

“Alice.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Don’t get up. You need to rest.” Bookmark here

A pair of hands rested on her shoulders to reassure her. Jayce was standing next to the bed where she was sleeping. Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

She checked her clothes, she was still in her adventurer ensemble and looked back to Jayce. Bookmark here

“How long I was out?” Bookmark here

“Two hours.”Bookmark here

“What happened to Irene and Aiden?”Bookmark here

“They’re fine. They are resting in another room.”Bookmark here

“But what about you? Don’t you need to rest, too?”Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

But looking at Jayce, he seemed to won against Aiden and got out unscathed.Bookmark here

“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?” Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

In the end, he was worried about nothing.Bookmark here

“Jayce?” asked Alice as she tilted her head quizzically.Bookmark here

“Yes, Alice?” he returned a quick response after sorting out his thoughts.Bookmark here

“Maybe you should take a rest.” Bookmark here

This time, it was Alice’s turn to worry about Jayce.Bookmark here

“No. I’m fine. I will go get the food ready. Stay in the bed and rest. I will take care of everything.” Bookmark here

Without waiting for her response, he headed out to the hallway, leaving Alice alone in the bedroom. Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

“Come in.” Bookmark here

She knew there was nothing to be a concern as long as Jayce was around. She trusted him.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Sorry about destroying the forest field,” Alice began with an apology, her eyes didn’t betray her sincerity.Bookmark here

“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.” Bookmark here

She gave a smile to Alice to reassure her. Bookmark here

“You know. You could have lower down the firepower of your magic. That last move you did to Irene was a little extreme.”Bookmark here

“What’s this? Are you worry about me, Aiden? I thought you don’t care about me,” said Irene as she was hugging Aiden.Bookmark here

“Shut up! You lent her a dangerous bow! She could have destroyed the entire forest!” said Aiden, trying to push Irene away from him.Bookmark here

“True. In the end, she didn’t, right? So the battle ends peacefully.” Bookmark here

After letting him go, she gave a wink and made a puppy paw and softly knocked on the side of her head. Bookmark here

Aiden sighed by her actions and looked down, probably embarrassed by his defeat by Jayce. Bookmark here

Alice wouldn’t want to upset him, so she tried to add a topic into their conversation. Bookmark here

“Is everyone alright?”Bookmark here

“Yeah. It will take some time to recover my stamina and mana to move properly.”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

She gave a deep bow to Alice and Aiden did the same. Bookmark here

“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.Bookmark here

“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.” Bookmark here

Alice’s expression soften and surprised by her words. She hadn’t encountered any animal during their battle.Bookmark here

As if on cue, Aiden continued her sentence. Bookmark here

“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.” Bookmark here

That explains the two hours.Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

“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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“Thank you,” said Aiden as he passed the bowls to the girls.Bookmark here

“You have an interesting partner, Alice,” said Irene, giving a mischievous smile to her.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.