Chapter 103:

Volume 4, Chapter 15: Battles of the Past II feat. Shui and Xi

Heroes of the Past

What time was it now? I checked my phone and saw it was half past noon. Should I eat lunch? I did have a late breakfast but was feeling hungry already. I turned off my TV. Let’s see what was in the fridge.Bookmark here

“Yuki, you hungry yet?” I saw Yukie cooking in the kitchen.Bookmark here

“Yukie, when did you come in? I didn’t even hear you,” I asked.Bookmark here

“About ten minutes ago. You looked very serious watching your video so I didn’t want to interrupt,” Yukie responded.Bookmark here

Oh shit, did Yukie see? Worst case scenario I could make the excuse it was a movie. Damn, I was foolish to not consider the possibility. Needed to be more careful from now on.Bookmark here

“What are you cooking right now, Yukie?” I asked, checking the stove.Bookmark here

“Soup for dinner. Did you want something for lunch? I planned on cooking the vegetable dumplings I made yesterday,” Yukie offered.Bookmark here

“If it’s not too much trouble, I would love that,” I accepted her offer.Bookmark here

“Okay, it’ll be ready in a few minutes. I’ll call you once it’s completed,” Yukie said and opened the fridge.Bookmark here

I returned to the living room and checked for any new messages. One from Felicity about a small party. I would respond later. After the Christmas one, I was reluctant to experience anything similar. Unless she could guarantee no alcohol would be involved. The likelihoods of that were pretty low though.Bookmark here

I heard the doorbell ring. Strange, I didn’t expect anyone today. Probably a ridiculous salesperson or maybe some kind of solicitor. I saw Chihiro outside. This was a surprise.Bookmark here

“Chihiro, what are you doing here?” I asked, opening the door.Bookmark here

“Hey, Yuki, I was bored. I decided to come by and hang out. You free?” Chihiro answered.Bookmark here

“Yeah, come in,” I nodded.Bookmark here

“Thanks. I didn’t have work today. Sitting around at home wasn’t too fun either,” Chihiro revealed, taking her shoes off.Bookmark here

“Yuki, it’s ready!” Yukie called out from the kitchen.Bookmark here

My cousin saw Chihiro and gave her usual warm smile. She placed the food on the kitchen table first and walked over to us.Bookmark here

“Ah, a guest. I apologize for not making more food,” Yukie said.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry Yukie. I ate lunch already. You guys go ahead and eat. I’ll head upstairs to Yuki’s room and snoop around. Maybe I’ll find something interesting,” Chihiro dismissed, heading up to my room.Bookmark here

I sat at the kitchen table, eating the dumplings. Oh, delicious as always. I was so spoiled by her cooking now. It would be a sad day when she left this household.Bookmark here

“This is great, Yukie,” I complimented her.Bookmark here

“It’s nothing special, Yuki. I’m sure Auntie’s food is far superior to mine,” Yukie said, her modesty apparent.Bookmark here

“I wouldn’t say that. Mom’s cooking is good but yours is better sometimes. It’s probably because I’ve been eating Mom’s food for so many years. Yours is a nice change of pace,” I remarked.Bookmark here

“You flatter me too much, Yuki. Do you want me to bring snacks up to you and your friend later?” Yukie questioned, tasting the soup.Bookmark here

“I can do it myself. Can you put a plate out for me though? I’ll fill it myself when I’m done eating,” I requested.Bookmark here

“Of course,” Yukie responded.Bookmark here

After I finished eating, I filled the plate with various snacks. I thanked my cousin again for the food and headed to my room. Chihiro sat near my table, flipping through a magazine she brought over.Bookmark here

“Hey, Yuki, there’s something I want you to see!” Chihiro pointed at her magazine.Bookmark here

“Is it new clothes? I already have so many, I really don’t want to….,” I began, placing the plate down.Bookmark here

“It’s actually related to you. Jessica Stacatto is featured in this month’s magazine with a bunch of sample pictures depicting her new line and future products. Guess who’s in here?” Chihiro showed me to the page.Bookmark here

I peered at it and saw a picture of myself. I stared at it for a few seconds before it finally clicked. That’s why Jessica took pictures. Was there a picture of Tess in here then? I searched around but didn’t see her.Bookmark here

“Yuki, I couldn’t believe it. She runs such a large company and there are so many other people. Wasn’t that other girl with you too? Uh, Tess, right? See, she picked you over her. That has to be something, right?” Chihiro gushed, her voice excited.Bookmark here

“I don’t really care. I mean, I thought it was just a one-time thing. Felicity wanted to get new clothes for me, I never thought it would turn into something like this,” I voiced my honest opinion.Bookmark here

“I still think it’s pretty impressive. Here, I have a copy. I thought you might want it,” Chihiro said, handing me a copy.Bookmark here

“Thanks. Can you just put it on my bookshelf over there?” I directed.Bookmark here

“No problem,” she responded.Bookmark here

“I heard from Yuka Ichizen has a sister,” Chihiro brought up.Bookmark here

“Oh, news spreads fast, huh? Len knows about it too,” I confirmed.Bookmark here

“Did you tell her? I mean, she’s not exactly, well, one of your close friends. I know that’s pretty
rude of me to say but…,” Chihiro asked.Bookmark here

“No, I get it. Someone else told her about it. At this point, I’m sure people have been talking,” I replied, shaking my head.Bookmark here

“How are you feeling?” Chihiro asked.Bookmark here

“Pretty conflicted. I never knew about it so it’s weird. I’ll be meeting her sometime this week so I’ll keep you updated,” I revealed.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I thought you might be. Well, we’re all here for you, Yuki. Never forget that, even if it sounds kind of stupid coming from me,” Chihiro said.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I know,” I said, thankful for her words.Bookmark here

I spent time with Chihiro for about three hours. It was now almost four and I wondered what to do. My phone rang and I saw Tess’ name.Bookmark here

“Hey, Tess. Are you calling about a day I’m free to head into Kisai’s dimension?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Correct. Jin has work on Wednesday and Friday. Thursday will be the only day that will work. Are you available?” Tess informed me.Bookmark here

“Yeah, Thursday’s fine. About the match between Ichaival and Bartholomew, when’s it happening? I’m looking forward to it,” I inquired.Bookmark here

“Of course, it will be taking place on Friday. I decided it would be in our best interest to have it over spring break. As for Lionel’s request, I will not honor it. His psyche is far too unstable for a fight right now,” Tess answered.Bookmark here

“Is it at the training facility or somewhere else?” I asked for the location.Bookmark here

“It will be held at the training facility,” Tess replied.Bookmark here

“Got it. I’ll call you if anything changes,” I said.Bookmark here

“Very well, Tomo. I’ll see you on the scheduled day,” Tess said and hung up.Bookmark here

I headed downstairs and resumed my viewing of the archived videos. I considered reading the book Yukie lent me since there were only two chapters left. But I decided to save it for next time. Might as well read it on a bus ride since I didn’t have anything else to do.Bookmark here

Archive Battle 3: Shui v XiBookmark here

“Hey, back with another edition of “Ace Talks”. We have featured guests Shui Lau and Xi. As you all know, Xi is from the other heroes. My partner today is the false archer, Ichaival Darryl. Darryl, before we start, tell us a little about yourself,” Ace started her commentary as if were the intro of a radio or television talk show.Bookmark here

“I thought we were just going to talk about the battle,” Ichaival said, uncertainty arising in his voice.Bookmark here

“Whenever I begin the show, I always like to learn something new about my co-host. Come on, haven’t you ever listened to my show before?” Ace chastised him.Bookmark here

“What do you want to know?” Ichaival asked.Bookmark here

“I’ve heard a rumor lately you and Jen started dating. Is that true? I can’t reveal my sources because of confidentiality reasons,” Ace asked a hard hitting question.Bookmark here

“What? Who told you that? It’s probably that bastard Shigetzu, wasn’t it? If not him then freakin’ Jin, right?” Ichaival exclaimed.Bookmark here

“Like I said, I can’t just reveal my sources. Anyways, what’s your answer? Yes or no?” Ace pressed Ichaival.Bookmark here

“It’s not true. Whoever told you that is wrong. Look, let’s get back to the match!” Ichaival tried diverting the topic away from him.Bookmark here

“Such sad news. I thought it might make Felicity mad enough to come and take Jen on herself. Too bad. Oh, what’s this? I’m hearing we’re getting another person to join us today on the show,” Ace revealed.Bookmark here

“I’m glad to be on today, Ace,” a familiar voice said.Bookmark here

“Here she is, Ruiqi Kaze. Welcome, welcome. I’ve been told you’re joining us today as a foil to Darryl and me,” Ace announced.Bookmark here

“Yes, I am from the other heroes, so I can provide information on Xi,” Ruiqi confirmed.Bookmark here

“Very well. Darryl, what do you expect?” Ace asked.Bookmark here

“Why aren’t you asking Ruiqi? She’s better than I am,” Ichaival questioned.Bookmark here

“Just answer the question, Darryl. No need to be shy. We’re all friends here. It’s always
nice to hear someone else’s opinion. Why else would I have a co-host if I’m just going to blab myself?” Ace commanded, her voice stern now.Bookmark here

“Okay, okay, I understand. I think Lau will win because he attacks a lot harder than Xi. Xi might defend but I don’t think she can hold out long enough,” Ichaival offered his thoughts.Bookmark here

“I disagree. While Lau certainly possesses more attack power, you have to remember Xi’s Absolute Defense. If you break through one layer, she’ll have another one up. This match will be less about offense and how well both can change their defenses into a good offense. Lau will rely more on his defensive skills like his ice walls more than his hard hitting water attacks,” Ruiqi countered.Bookmark here

“An interesting view from both sides. As for me, I lean more towards Kaze’s view. While Xi lacks strong attacks, she more than makes up for it when defending. Lau will waste his time attacking because Xi will take all of it. Once he’s tired, that’s when Xi becomes dangerous. The match is about to begin. Anything else?” Ace asked.Bookmark here

“Not really,” Ichaival replied.Bookmark here

“I expect something new from Xi today. She’s been working on it so let’s see how it plays out,” Ruiqi revealed.Bookmark here

Shui and Xi met at the battlefield center. Oh, this was the girl who blocked my attack. From what I heard, she was a pure defensive fighter. It was actually refreshing to see. All the heroes on our side were mostly offensive. Kyoi, Shan, and Kisai were all massive powerhouses, capable of strong attacks. The same applied to Ichaival and Zhang as well. Jen and maybe Kuan were the only ones who really didn’t rely on strength and were mostly support. Shui, well, he was a blend of both. I looked forward to seeing a match which wasn’t all flashy attacks.Bookmark here

Shui raised his hand in the air and raindrops pelted the entire area. Xi glanced around, a concerned look on her face. I saw this trick before. A faint glow emanated from Xi and any raindrops in her vicinity bounced off, none touching her. Shui didn’t care though as he placed his right hand on the ground. Ice covered the entire floor and Xi lost her footing. Shui glided on the ice with ease, moving straight for her. Xi, still on the ground, summoned a shield in her hand.Bookmark here

“It’s become an ice skating rink now! Darryl, you have any fond winter memories?” Ace
asked.Bookmark here

“Uh, not really. I’m more used to the sun than snow,” Ichaival responded.Bookmark here

“That’s no fun. You must have at least one. There was a snowstorm few years back. What about that?” Ace continued her line of questioning.Bookmark here

“I think I played around with my brothers and sisters outside. Built snowmen and had a big snowball fight. Went sliding down the big hill near our house too,” Ichaival answered.Bookmark here

“There you go,” Ace said.Bookmark here

Xi blocked Shui’s ice pellets with her shield. They shattered in the air but she lost her footing on the swings. Shui capitalized as multiple geysers shot up from the ground. Xi could not defend in time and was blasted by them. She was sent flying into the air and plummeted down from a dangerous height. However, I saw a faint glow around her during the descent. I expected a loud crash but instead there was just a slight crack in the ice when she landed.Bookmark here

“Good move by Lau to elevate Xi, but she minimizes any damage by using her defensive barrier. Ace, will Lau go on the offense again or wait to see her next move?” Ruiqi commented.Bookmark here

“Lau will try for another attack but we’ll see how Xi responds to it,” Ace replied.Bookmark here

Shui went for a standard attack, shooting water at Xi. The woman blocked it with her shield but had a difficult time maneuvering on the ice. The water elemental user slid in for a close ranged attack, attempting to splash water onto Xi. When Shui was a few feet away from her, she charged with her shield held in front of her. Shui realized her intent and a large ice wall appeared in front of him.Bookmark here

“That’s not going to work. Xi’s shield will break through,” Ruiqi predicted.Bookmark here

Xi smashed into the ice wall and it cracked. Shui looked at her in surprise but recovered. He
constructed another one but Xi destroyed it midway through its formation. She swung her shield up, smashing Shui in the chin. Shui fell to the ground, looking dazed. Xi then swung her shield downward, striking Shui in the knees. The man clutched his leg in pain and Xi delivered one more blow. She hurled her entire shield at Shui which landed right into his stomach. Shui groaned and Tess appeared from out of nowhere.Bookmark here

“The match is over. Shui Lau is unable to continue. Xi’s the winner,” Tess declared.Bookmark here

The ice faded and the entire battle ground returned to normal. Xi looked cautiously at Shui before gingerly extending her hand out .Shui gave a smile and accepted her assistance.Bookmark here

“That was pretty quick. I wanted a longer fight. Oh well. Kaze, thoughts on Xi’s win?” Ace asked the second-in-command.Bookmark here

“I expected more defense from both sides but Xi is finally getting comfortable using her shield as an offensive tool. I think that was the key,” Ruiqi replied.Bookmark here

“Darryl, what stood out to you?” Ace then asked the false archer.Bookmark here

“Same thing Ruiqi said. I didn’t expect Xi to use her shield so much as a weapon. If Lau had dodged, he could have won,” Ichaival responded.Bookmark here

“That’s true. Xi’s main potential lies within her defensive abilities and she definitely showed it today. Her attacks are coming along too. That might be dangerous in the future because people will underestimate her, expecting the shield to be pure defense. Kaze, I know Xi’s shield also has a power-up feature. Can you elaborate?” Ace gave her thoughts.Bookmark here

“Whenever Xi defends with her shield, its offensive powr grows. When she starts off the match, the shield is purely defensive. It can’t put a dent in anything. As she keeps defending, it’ll increase in strength and if she hits anyone with it, it’ll hurt,” Kaze explained.Bookmark here

“That sounds like my Kali sticks,” Ichaival remarked.Bookmark here

“The drawback is Xi only has a certain amount of time to execute any offensive
moves. Think of it like a meter. When the meter gets full, it’ll start decreasing again unless she defends. She’s still learning,” Kaze went into more details.Bookmark here

“That’s what allowed her to hit Lau so hard. Very educational. Before we end this segment and head to a commercial break, let’s talk about something fun,” Ace brought up.Bookmark here

That didn’t sound good. I watched two videos already and Ace’s definition of fun meant asking something personal. Still, an informative video showcasing Xi.Bookmark here

“Kaze, what are your thoughts on Darryl’s powers? It would be refreshing to hear an outsider’s perspective,” Ace questioned.Bookmark here

Oh, that was unexpected. I thought it might be something related to Jen or Felicity. But there were only so many times she could bring that up. Besides, Ichaival never provided an answer of sustenance anyways. I was interested in hearing Ruiqi’s opinion.Bookmark here

“Ichaival’s powers? Let me think about,” Ruiqi asked for time.Bookmark here

“Go ahead. In the meantime, I’ll talk to Darryl about something else. Let’ s see…. oh, I know!
You’re going up against your partner, Shigetzu, soon. How do you feel and are there any secrets you can tell us about him?” Ace decided.Bookmark here

“I know secrets about Shigetzu, but I won’t tell you. I would love to, but he’ll get back at me. Besides, we’re good friends. I can talk about the match. It’s going to be good. I can give him a match without worrying that I’m not good enough,” Ichaival answered.Bookmark here

“Too bad. Shigetzu’s pretty powerful with his gravity manipulation. How will you get past that?” Ace continued her questions.Bookmark here

“It’s going to be difficult. I’ll have to rely on my instant teleportation and hope I catch him off guard. But it’s Shigetzu so it’ll be hard to trick him. Maybe I’ll try combo attacks with knives too,” Ichaival answered .Bookmark here

“Okay, I think I have a suitable answer now,” Ruiqi rejoined the conversation.Bookmark here

“Perfect. Let’s hear what you have to say,” Ace said.Bookmark here

“Ichaival’s powers are very powerful under certain conditions. It’s hard for him to go up against opponents like Jin or Feng because of their magic. They can counter it even if they don’t know where he’ll appear. His portals are very useful for catching enemies off guard since they can be a distraction. I haven’t seen him much with his Kali sticks so I can’t say anything about that,” Ruiqi offered her perspective on the matter.Bookmark here

“Thank you for your input, Kaze. I’m afraid that’s all the time we have today. I would like to thank Darryl and Kaze for joining me today. In the next hour, I’ll have the person Darryl refers to as the ‘King of Bullshit’, Kisai Jin on,” Ace ended her commentary there.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.