Chapter 80:

Volume 3, Chapter 24: Third Party Interference

Heroes of the Past

We arrived at the bottom of a path, walking through a large Japanese style arch. Kisai stopped, taking a few steps back. Kuan inspected the ground, nodding his head.Bookmark here

“What’s wrong?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Traps,” Kisai replied.Bookmark here

“You’re gonna deactivate them?” I questioned.Bookmark here

“Kuan, demonstrate your other power,” Tess ordered.Bookmark here

He adjusted his glasses, staring at the ground. Kuan then tapped Kisai on the shoulder, who tapped the ground with his foot, giving a nod.Bookmark here

“What’s happening?” I looked around in confusion.Bookmark here

“Tomo, are you familiar with basic programming?” Tess asked.Bookmark here

“Uh, not really,” I replied.Bookmark here

“Kuan’s power is known as conditional execution. There are checks in coding where it’ll execute if certain conditions are met. That’s the basis of Kuan’s powers,” Tess explained, giving me her usual serious look.Bookmark here

“I’ll take your word for it,” I said.Bookmark here

“Jin’s familiar with the trap so that helped. My powers aren’t much use if I don’t know enough,” Kuan remarked.Bookmark here

“Let’s keep on moving. Kuan’s quite valuable,” Tess praised him.Bookmark here

We finally arrived at a gate with gray walls. This resembled a fortified army base more than an actual village. Kisai knocked on the gate, glancing upward at the lookout perched on top. The gate flew open with a loud whoosh and a small child stared at us.Bookmark here

“Hey, how’s it going? It’s been a long time,” Kisai greeted.Bookmark here

“Ah, Jin! I have to go tell everyone,” he exclaimed, scurrying off.Bookmark here

“You know him?” I asked, glancing over at Kisai.Bookmark here

“Yeah, he’s the kid of a mage I saved. Wonder if the council knows anything,” Kisai answered.Bookmark here

“Jin, you’ll take the lead,” Tess declared.Bookmark here

“Don’t want to do it?” Kisai asked with a slight grin.Bookmark here

“You know this dimension’s inner workings much better than me,” Tess answered, shaking her head.Bookmark here

“We all know you’re freaking capable,” Ichaival sighed, shaking his head.Bookmark here

“You’re right, man. Of course,” Jin agreed, nodding at Ichaival.Bookmark here

A group of five people walked towards us. Kisai glanced at them, and for a second, his face turned rather serious. It reverted back to his usual calm, amused look soon after.Bookmark here

“The legendary mage makes his appearance known once again,” one of them uttered in a nasally voice.Bookmark here

“Can’t seem to get enough of this place,” Kisai replied.Bookmark here

“Your appearance is no blessing to us,” another accused.Bookmark here

“Regardless of how you view Jin, we’ve come for information,” Tess declared, standing next to Kisai.Bookmark here

“You’re not a welcome sight either. Come to the counsel room, but only you and the mage. Boy, lead the rest to your house,” the first voice decided.Bookmark here

“That’s how you want to do things, huh?” Kisai muttered.Bookmark here

“Sorry to impose,” Tess said, looking over at the boy.Bookmark here

“Come on, follow me!” the boy offered.Bookmark here

We arrived at a medium sized house with a large pond in the front, filled with leaping fish. Our guide unlatched the gate, placing his hand on a digital panel. A pathway opened up for us.Bookmark here

“Hey, come inside. Dad wants to see you,” the child urged.Bookmark here

“Welcome. I heard you’re companions of Jin, the great mage,” a voice greeted.Bookmark here

A tall man, with a gash above his left eye, appeared. He wore a light blue kimono and the stubble on his face made him look rugged.Bookmark here

“We should probably introduce ourselves. I’m Tomo Yuki,” I said.Bookmark here

“Jeong Kuan,” Kuan finally revealed his family name.Bookmark here

“I’m Ichaival Darryl. Sorry for coming in so suddenly. Hope we aren’t bothering you,” Ichaival said, demonstrating the most courtesy.Bookmark here

“No, not at all. I’ve been just sitting around all day. It was a great shock to hear Jin returned, as we thought the entire incident had already been resolved,” the man laughed.Bookmark here

“Dad, Dad! You haven’t told them your name yet. How can you be so forgetful?” the child scolded him.Bookmark here

“How forgetful of me. I’m Ishi and this is my kid, Grant,” the man said in a booming voice.Bookmark here

“Jeez, you can’t really do anything without Mom around,” Grant scolded, shaking his head.Bookmark here

“Hey, don’t sell your old man short. Anyways, Jin’s talking to those five fools, right?” Ishi asked, his face now serious.Bookmark here

“Fools?” I questioned his choice of words.Bookmark here

“Our little five member council. At least that’s what they claim to be,” Ishi revealed.Bookmark here

“Can you tell us more?” Kuan requested.Bookmark here

“They’re extremely secretive. I wouldn’t trust any of them,” Ishi responded.Bookmark here

“And Jin’s relationship with them?” Kuan asked.Bookmark here

“Jin can alienate people, without him really noticing. Not that I’ve ever thought about him that way. He’s a damn good kid,” Ishi replied, pouring us tea.Bookmark here

“Of course,” Kuan said.Bookmark here

“How’s the seal related to all of this?” I asked.Bookmark here

“The location of it is here. Well, more like the portal leading to it,” Ishi revealed.Bookmark here

“Are you serious?” Ichaival exclaimed.Bookmark here

“Wasn’t there one more of you?” Ishi counted on his fingers.Bookmark here

“She’s with Jin right now. Do you know her?” I replied.Bookmark here

“I’ve seen her a few times before with Jin, but never asked her name. I’m impressed, but scared by her at the same time. Her magic reservoir is ridiculous,” Ishi answered.Bookmark here

“Do they suspect she knows something about the seal?” I followed up.Bookmark here

“They want to see how she reacts. Probably won’t get anything out of her,” Ishi answered.Bookmark here

Ishi excused himself, asking us to make ourselves comfortable, while he and his son departed the room.Bookmark here

“What do you think, Tomo?” Kuan asked.Bookmark here

“Kuan, you seem like a totally different person,” I observed.Bookmark here

“No idea what you mean,” Kuan denied.Bookmark here

“Where’s your usual, well, quirkiness?” I tried pinpointing what felt wrong.Bookmark here

“Kuan’s always weird, still is,” Ichaival commented.Bookmark here

“Damn, Ichaival, you figured me out,” Kuan smiled, sitting closer to Ichaival.Bookmark here

“Really?” Ichaival protested.Bookmark here

“Anyways, let’s be serious. Tomo, any opinions?” Kuan reverted back to his serious face.Bookmark here

“Either Kisai’s not telling us the truth about the seal, or Tess is lying,” I replied.Bookmark here

“True and the old man doesn’t know anything either. Ichaival, any thoughts?” Kuan looked over at his friend.Bookmark here

“Same as you guys. We can’t do s**t without Jin,” Ichaival replied.Bookmark here

“Hey, Kuan, how did you meet the others?” I asked about their origins.Bookmark here

“I met Long in freshman year. Jin too. I really started to get to know Darryl, probably around sophomore year, right?” Kuan answered, glancing at the false archer.Bookmark here

“That sounds right,” the Filipino man answered.Bookmark here

“What about all this hero stuff?” I elaborated on my previous question.Bookmark here

“Oh, you mean that. Probably middle of junior year, I honestly don’t remember,” Kuan ventured a guess.Bookmark here

“Definitely junior year. I got dragged into it with Shigetzu,” Ichaival added on.Bookmark here

“Interesting. You know….,” I started, but then felt drowsy.Bookmark here

I dropped the tea cup and my vision blurred. Kuan noticed my condition immediately, tapping his glass frames, but slumped downward. Really, this s**t was drugged? Of all the things, I swear….Bookmark here

I woke up, bound to a chair. A circle, drawn around me, was beneath my feet. Kuan, handcuffed to a chair, was tied to a chair too. Ichaival hung from the ceiling, metal cuffs around his wrists. A faint light surrounded him, pulsating every few seconds. The hell was this bulls**t?Bookmark here

“Man, where are we?” Ichaival grumbled, finally awake.Bookmark here

“Damn, we’re dumb,” Kuan remarked, rattling around in his chair.Bookmark here

“Indeed, we anticipated more resistance, but alas you are all quite disappointing. Ishi, as always, is too accommodating. He and his son are enjoying a pleasant nap at this moment. You, girl, over there. Something is off about you. I can’t quite analyze it, so I restrained you in the highest possible magic constraint. Just in case you try anything,” a man said, appearing out of nowhere.Bookmark here

So he didn’t know my powers, but that hardly mattered. I glanced over at Kuan, who offered me a thin smile. What exactly you want me to do?Bookmark here

“And this man hanging from the ceiling, he can teleport. An easy fix to prevent him from doing anything,” he explained.Bookmark here

“Please, do you ever shut up? No one cares. Just go away already! There’s no need for such long exposition,” I retorted.Bookmark here

“Silly girl, of course there is. How else do I get you to see my power and intellect?” the man chuckled at my response.Bookmark here

Kuan broke free of his handcuffs, pulling out a knife from his belt, and sliced off the rope bounding his feet. Our abductor shot a magic projectile in response. It veered off course, striking the magical barrier around Ichaival.Bookmark here

“What is this madness? You possess black magic!” the man continued shooting projectiles.Bookmark here

All the projectiles missed, striking his barrier instead, and eventually the faint light vanished. A portal appeared behind Ichaival and the false archer appeared behind our enemy, clubbing him in the head. Kuan fired two shots from his handgun, both bullets striking the man’s chest. Ichaival, with Kuan’s assistance, hung him from the same restraints he was just in.Bookmark here

“You guys going to fill me in?” I asked, still stuck in the magic circle.Bookmark here

“Ichaival, I got this. Guard me if anyone comes in!” Kuan directed.Bookmark here

“Got it,” Ichaival responded.Bookmark here

“Anytime now!” I said.Bookmark here

“S**t, I don’t know enough to crack this,” Kuan said, staring at the circle.Bookmark here

“Let’s just ask this guy,” Ichaival suggested.Bookmark here

“He won’t be waking up for awhile. Thanks to your girlfriend’s abilities,” Kuan revealed.Bookmark here

“I thought Jen’s powers only worked with her arrows,” Ichaival countered, staring at his friend in disbelief.Bookmark here

“I copied it, duh. Not as good as Tomo, but it works,” Kuan replied.Bookmark here

“You can do that?” I asked, taken aback.Bookmark here

Ichaival searched the room for an exit while Kuan continued inspecting the circle with a thoughtful expression on his face. Why wasn’t he a main tier hero? His versatility and skills were superior to everyone else in the lower tier.Bookmark here

“Let’s try this,” Kuan said, tapping the rim of his glasses.Bookmark here

The magic circle lit up, pulsating every few seconds, and then nothing. That was a start, but not good enough.Bookmark here

“Jin’s the only who can break this. I don’t know enough,” Kuan remarked, sitting down.Bookmark here

“What, do we wait until Kisai gets here?” I questioned, feeling let down.Bookmark here

“Of course! I’m the f**king greatest, right?” Kisai appeared with Tess behind him.Bookmark here

Great timing. I had suspicions Kisai already knew of our predicament, but chose not to intervene. Seemed like something the heroes would do, especially Shan.Bookmark here

“You’re free now, Tomo,” Kisai announced, snapping his fingers, making the magic circle disappear.Bookmark here

I stood up from my chair and Kuan sliced off my restraints. Tess called Kisai over, pointing at our captor.Bookmark here

“I should have known. Tess, what do you want to do?” Kisai inquired.Bookmark here

“Leave him,” Tess replied, opening up a portal.Bookmark here

It was tinted gold, in the shape of a keyhole. We all entered, returning back to the village again. Pretty anti-climatic, I expected more resistance from whoever captured us.Bookmark here

“What the hell is going on?” I grabbed Kisai by the shoulder.Bookmark here

“The council tried to convince us not to break the seal. I said… no. Just no. We won after they fought us. Anyways, I noticed one of them was missing, and then we found you,” Kisai explained.Bookmark here

“Why are they after you? I thought you were suppose to the good guy!” I exclaimed.Bookmark here

“Did I ever say that? I’m not that good,” Kisai denied, shaking his head.Bookmark here

“Tomo, please refrain from any further questions,” Tess ordered.Bookmark here

I sighed, but obeyed her. We returned to Ishi’s house and Kisai headed downstairs. Tess inspected our tea cups, sniffing it.Bookmark here

“Tess, that’s what knocked us out!” I pointed out.Bookmark here

“Hmm,” Tess muttered.Bookmark here

Kisai returned with Ishi and Grant following behind him. I tightened my fists, giving them a glare. Kisai shook his head, noticing my look, and sat down on the couch.Bookmark here

“Oh, I still have a headache. What a nasty surprise attack. I really have lost it,” Ishi muttered.Bookmark here

“Grant, you good” Kisai asked the child.Bookmark here

“No, I’m fine. I woke up from a really long nap,” Grant shook his head, stifling a yawn.Bookmark here

“Ishi, you have anything to tell us?” I asked.Bookmark here

“I understand your suspicions, but trust me, I didn’t know about the tea. I received it as a gift from the council. Never expected it to be spiked. I apologize, you got captured because of me,” Ishi answered.Bookmark here

“It wasn’t the tea. One of the council members cast a delayed sleeping spell. I didn’t realize until we were confronted by them,” Tess revealed.Bookmark here

“Figures that they pull a dirty trick like that. Damn, I’m really getting old, if I can’t even recognize something like that,” Ishi lamented.Bookmark here

“How did they slip it past you, Tess?” I inquired.Bookmark here

“Ah, I may have an answer. Six months ago, a particular woman visited the council. They seemed quite pleased by the information she provided,” Ishi revealed.Bookmark here

“Ace. She knows our tendencies,” Tess guessed, her eyes turning cold.Bookmark here

“So, now what? We just go break the seal?” I asked, glancing at Kisai.Bookmark here

“Ishi, we’re heading out. I’ll make it up to you later,” Kisai decided, smiling.Bookmark here

“Indeed, we must make progress,” Tess agreed.Bookmark here

“Jin, I must warn you. There are mages, who are more than willing to destroy you. But, knowing you, you don’t see them as threats at all,” Ishi advised.Bookmark here

“I wouldn’t say that. Thanks for telling me though,” Kisai said.Bookmark here

We headed outside, holding a quick meeting on the situation. It was about time I started getting answers.Bookmark here

“Tess, it’s about time you tell me what’s going on,” I demanded.Bookmark here

“Yes, it’s time,” Tess agreed.Bookmark here

“I’m confused too. It’d be nice to actually know how much you f**ked up, Jin,” Ichaival said.Bookmark here

“Kisai, what’s up with the council?” I asked first.Bookmark here

“The council was formed after the seal was created. Their job is to make sure no one learns about its whereabouts. They’re part of a larger organization that monitors magic use. Pretty easy job. The reason they hate me so much, well, I’m just better. That’s about it,” he explained.Bookmark here

“Seriously? What kind of bulls**t is that?” I shouted.Bookmark here

“Tomo, pettiness causes many wars. Jin poses a threat at full power, despite the fact he’s not a permanent resident here,” Tess reminded me.Bookmark here

“He’s pretty much a target then?” I commented, glancing at Kisai.Bookmark here

“People will do whatever it takes to stop me. There’s factions forming now, debating the use of magic,” Kisai replied.Bookmark here

“There must be something special about this location, right?” Kuan questioned.Bookmark here

“The village rests on an intersection of magical ley lines. Makes it a big ass magical reservoir. Even a mage with no aptitude can cast impressive spells. Only one of the few places capable of a link to the seal,” Kisai revealed.Bookmark here

“Explains the freaking traps,” Ichaival said.Bookmark here

“What about the seal itself?” I recalled.Bookmark here

“The seal actually isn’t located in one specific location. It shifts around multiple places. However, I know a portal link which can take us there,” Kisai revealed.Bookmark here

“You should have said that in the first place! I swear, you’re all so bad at saying the simplest things!” I exclaimed.Bookmark here

The mage didn’t respond, leading us to a bridge. We crossed over a stream, arriving back in a forest with massive trees. We walked for five minutes before stopping. Kisai placed his right hand on a tree and bright, yellow light particles floated upward. They all clumped together, forming the shape of a door.Bookmark here

“Lame, yeah, I know,” Kisai admitted.Bookmark here

A looming fortress in the distance came into our sights, cannons mounted on it. Kisai stared at the fortress, calling over Tess with a concerned look.Bookmark here

“The magic levels are too high. Something’s wrong,” Kisai informed Tess.Bookmark here

“I agree. How do you wish to proceed?” Tess asked.Bookmark here

“We’ll scout, can’t just stand around,” Kisai responded.Bookmark here

“As you wish,” Tess said.Bookmark here

I didn’t know what these high magic levels meant in terms of enemies. Most likely getting our asses kicked.Bookmark here

“How should I say this?” Kisai said, staring at a cannon.Bookmark here

“We’re out of its range, right?” I questioned.Bookmark here

“It’s more like a missile launcher,” Kisai replied.Bookmark here

“Do we need to be worried or not?” I asked once more.Bookmark here

“There should definitely be…,” Kisai ended his sentence abruptly.Bookmark here

I heard footsteps approaching. Kisai glanced at Kuan, who readied his gun.Bookmark here

“Darryl, get ready to teleport us when I give the signal!” Kisai ordered.Bookmark here

“Got it,” Ichaival nodded.Bookmark here

A large, muscular cat rushed at us. Ichaival appeared behind him, striking him with multiple knives. The cat swung his large arm backward, smacking Ichaival straight in the face, sending him flying into a nearby tree. He tore out all the blades, showing no signs of pain.Bookmark here

“F**king Darryl,” Kuan chastised, dodging as the cat hurled Ichaival’s knives towards us.Bookmark here

Kisai fired a small bolt of lightning at the enemy, striking his chest armor. The cat collapsed onto one knee as it spread throughout his entire body. I smelled something burning, realizing it was the fur catching on fire.Bookmark here

“What was that attack?” I asked, staring at the enemy.Bookmark here

“Just electrical conduction,” Kisai replied.Bookmark here

“Are you kidding me? No way, that’s such a small amount of magic!” I shook my head in disbelief.Bookmark here

“Not unless you compress it. Once it hits, the full force is unleashed. Especially if it hits something like his armor,” Kisai explained.Bookmark here

“You’re teaching me that next time!” I shouted.Bookmark here

“Sure!” Kisai agreed.Bookmark here

Despite flames engulfing his body, the cat appeared fine. He purged all the flames, brushing it off with ease. What the f**k was he made of?Bookmark here

“Well played,” the cat spoke for the first time, his mouth curling up.Bookmark here

His sharp line of fangs reminded me of Lionel. There was no relation, right? Impossible, considering Lionel was on the side of justice. Associating with creatures like this guy was unlikely.Bookmark here

“If that doesn’t work…,” Kisai said, firing more tiny sparks of electricity.Bookmark here

The beast deflected it with his paw, raising it in front of his face. Kuan provided support, shooting him. Didn’t seem to cause any major damage. Was it to set up a more devastating attack?Bookmark here

“Kuan, provide a visual,” Kisai requested.Bookmark here

“The same as always, right?” Kuan asked.Bookmark here

“Yeah,” Kisai said.Bookmark here

Pulsing lines going in all directions, similar to veins depicted in a doctor’s chart, became overlaid on his entire figure. Our enemy didn’t notice them, smirking at the mage. Kisai placed his finger in the air, drawing along the lines and the cat collapsed to the ground. He glared at us, stuck on the floor.Bookmark here

“My win,” Kisai boasted, staring down at the cat.Bookmark here

“What…. my legs and arms?” the cat stuttered.Bookmark here

Even with Shan’s gravitational power, the target could move. Here, the cat’s legs and arms were motionless.Bookmark here

“Tess, what should we do?” Kisai stood over the cat, staring over at the Gatekeeper with a grin.Bookmark here

“Let’s see what he knows. Tomo, your turn,” Tess directed.Bookmark here

“What do you mean?” I stared at the Gatekeeper in confusion.Bookmark here

“Perform a mind dive. I’ll weaken him with my chains,” Tess elaborated.Bookmark here

“Wait, wait, is it even safe? He might have backup, or there could be other enemies,” I protested.Bookmark here

“Rest assured we will protect you. Trust in Darryl and Kuan,” Tess assured me.Bookmark here

“I better not return and find myself surrounded by enemies!” I relented, staring at the beast, grimoire in hand.Bookmark here

“I’ll guide you. Jin, assist me,” Tess commanded.Bookmark here

“Tomo, relax, I’ll make sure you’re safe,” Kisai said, smiling as usual.Bookmark here

Time to find out what this cat knew.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Mind Dive: What The Cat KnowsBookmark here

“Well, well, if it isn’t Ms. Tomo. No doubt Tess sent you,” Ace greeted.Bookmark here

This felt more like the research lab experience, instead of viewing a memory. I was in a small room with a large clock in the back. Both hands rested on the number 12.Bookmark here

“Tomo, I’m real. Well, more like something installed in this idiot’s head, in case he ever fell into enemy hands,” Ace continued.Bookmark here

“What the hell is this? One of your powers?” I asked, glancing around the room in confusion.Bookmark here

“Yes, isn’t it lovely? Don’t be shy, Tomo. I won’t hurt you, not yet,” Ace offered.Bookmark here

“Everyone knows you will eventually. What are you planning?” I questioned.Bookmark here

“I can’t exactly go around telling you everything, right? Tomo, I won’t stop them from retrieving their ultimate weapons. I look forward to it actually. It’s no fun without everyone at their full powers. You won’t find anything inside this cat’s head, even if you search. Don’t, because it’ll hurt you,” Ace advised.Bookmark here

“Is that all?” I glanced at the woman.Bookmark here

Ace smiled, not saying anything. The clock hands remained stationary. I never actually ended a mind dive on my own since it usually finished by itself. I glanced down at my right hand, grimoire appearing and it flipped open to a page in the middle.Bookmark here

“One more thing, Tomo. Pass a message onto my friends, will you? Tell them to stop worrying about me. There are more important things. In fact, not even the Traveler is of concern. Pretty cryptic, huh? It’ll give them something to think about,” Ace spoke once more.Bookmark here

“Ace, why Ichizen?” I inquired.Bookmark here

“You’ll have to figure that out on your own. Maybe when we fight, I’ll tell you. Only if you win though!” Ace laughed.Bookmark here

The clock hands finally moved, spinning in a rapid motion. I closed my grimoire and the scenery faded.Bookmark here

Mind Dive ENDBookmark here

***Bookmark here

Kisai lay on the ground, his breathing heavy. Kuan and Ichaival checked on his condition. Tess released her chains on the cat, whose eyes were now closed. What the hell happened while I was gone?Bookmark here

“It was Ace. She blocked off access,” I answered, passing on her message as well.Bookmark here

“What are you plotting, Ace?” Tess whispered.Bookmark here

“What’s wrong with Kisai?” I asked, pointing at the mage.Bookmark here

“She short-circuited the connection and knocked him out,” Tess replied.Bookmark here

“Should we head back?” I asked, feeling fatigue set in.Bookmark here

“We’ll try again next time,” Tess decided.Bookmark here

“What about him?” I pointed at the disabled cat.Bookmark here

“We’ll leave him. Ace will come back for him,” Tess replied.Bookmark here

“Foolish…,” the cat’s eyes flew open.Bookmark here

Tess punted the cat in its head, knocking him out cold. The Gatekeeper dragged him across the ground over to a tree. She tossed a chain over the tree branches, dangling Ace’s minion from the tree.Bookmark here

“Let us leave now,” Tess commanded.Bookmark here

Kuan and Ichaival lifted Kisai up, hauling him to Tess’ portal. Once back in the training facility, Tess headed toward the locker room.Bookmark here

“Ichaival, you okay? He hit you pretty hard,” I questioned.Bookmark here

“I’m fine. Thanks for the concern,” Ichaival replied.Bookmark here

“I’m surprised Jin was taken out so fast, but it is Ace,” Kuan remarked, staring at the mage.Bookmark here

Ichaival and Kuan placed Kisai down on a bench. Tess returned, carrying a medical case.Bookmark here

“Tomo, any injuries?” she asked, opening up the case.Bookmark here

“Not really, I didn’t do much,” I shook my head.Bookmark here

“Darryl, here’s an ice patch,” Tess offered, tossing him an ice compress.Bookmark here

“Thanks. Ugh, that cat’s power is ridiculous,” Ichaival remarked.Bookmark here

“I thought you said it wasn’t bad,” I commented, staring at Ichaival.Bookmark here

“Yeah, but now it’s starting to hurt. S**t, I need to start working on something else when I go to the gym,” Ichaival said.Bookmark here

Tess inspected Kisai, checking his pulse and administering other tests. She packed up her medical case after confirming he was in no danger. Kisai muttered something and his eyes flew open.Bookmark here

“The f**k?” the man said, looking around at us.Bookmark here

“Damn, you’re weak,” Kuan said, walking over to him.Bookmark here

“My head hurts a lot. Like something pressing against it,” Kisai said.Bookmark here

“Jin, please refrain from any strenuous activities for the remainder of the day. This includes, of course, homework,” Tess advised.Bookmark here

“Not like he would have done it anyways,” Ichaival remarked.Bookmark here

“Hey, that’s not true. I would have done at least half,” Kisai countered.Bookmark here

“Regardless, you should not. Go home and sleep,” Tess said.Bookmark here

“Fine. Kuan, want to drive me home?” Kisai asked, looking over at his friend.Bookmark here

“No,” Kuan refused.Bookmark here

“Aight, it’s up to you, Darryl. Drive me and then walk home from my house,” Kisai suggested.Bookmark here

“Hell no, that’s dumb. Plus, I don’t want to ruin your nice car,” Ichaival shook his head.Bookmark here

“I was just kidding. I’ll see you guys later,” Kisai said, smiling as he exited.Bookmark here

“You ready to go too, Darryl?” Kuan asked.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I want to go home and change. Hit the gym later too,” Ichaival replied, pressing the compress against his nose.Bookmark here

They left, leaving me alone with Tess. Just like always, huh? I couldn’t recall a time after a venture into another dimension that it wasn’t just me and the Gatekeeper. I pulled out my phone, glancing at the display. It was around two, not too bad.Bookmark here

“Tomo, be ready. Ace has declared her intentions. What she hopes to accomplish is still a mystery. I’ll see you next time,” Tess said, departing.Bookmark here

Time to go home. Not much else to accomplish around here.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.