Chapter 19 - Outmatched
“Hate to admit it but their point about Aellea’s patrols has merit,” Shinyaki proclaimed in a raised voice. “Kill them quickly.”
Agathon snorted loudly and angrily, in assent. A transparent aura flashed around him temporarily. Kazuki recognized it.
“Speed!” He whispered.
The ground shattered beneath Agathon’s first step. Jomiko’s eyes narrowed before she swiped the front of her face with her left fist while leaning her head to the right.
As her hand passed by her face, Agathon’s opened palm showed up, just in time to be carried aside by the swipe. It shot out a jet of fire that grazed Jomiko’s head. It lasted, though, only for the second it took for Kazuki to shoulder shove Agathon away from Jomiko.
Kazuki landed and grabbed his sword tightly, taking an attack stance.
“Sensor!” He whispered, watching as the whole world suddenly went slow before his eyes and ears, just as he had trained. It wasn’t much but, while just barely, it was noticeable, and that would be enough.
Shinyaki dashed so fast his scythes dragged a trail of air behind him. He waved and spun once in range. Sanpu growled as he swung his saw to hit his scythe back. The second one came from his other side but Fuun’na caught it.
They hit the scythes simultaneously and then stepped inside Shinyaki’s range with a side-step, backs to each other but inches apart. Shouting, they closed their weapons on his torso.
With a flicker of the wrists, the scythe’s blades pierced down in-between the blades, just as they were about to close on him, stopping them in a clash of strength.
“Raaah!” Sanpu yelled, pushing. Fuun’na also whined in her effort, and Shinyaki’s arms trembled, trying to open the scythes apart. The blades were trying to open up on him and leave him defenceless.
The Sen glanced at Arata harshly and quietly, swiping her arms close, her tail lashing out in his direction. Arata’s eyes saw too many things so, this time around, he just pushed forward and spun his blades to make a fan-like defense. He knocked out all the thrown daggers.
“Ack!” He squinted at the pain.
Looking down, he found a dagger in his foot. As he realized that, he heard the wind whistle in pain just before his body did. A dagger plunged into his shoulder with a soft piercing noise but his senses didn’t give him time to even feel how deep the wound had been. His instinct took over before the pain did.
He hopped to the right side and swung a sword to knock aside another dagger. Afterward, he leaped back to the left, flipping sideways while spinning his swords like a fan again. The constant sound and feel of daggers beating against the steel of his swords followed him closely.
Landing, he took a breath.
Then he jumped right and forward, spinning and flipping and waving his swords around as dictated by the teamwork of his senses and instinct.
He landed into a roll and then stopped and spun around to his side. Arata followed that with a handless cartwheel.
Upon landing, he thrust at her with his right sword.
She leaned to the right, allowing the sword to hit nothing but her air, which it blew off due to the force of the thrust. Taking advantage of the lean, she thrust her hand towards Arata’s right midsection.
Arata blocked it but then felt a sting of pain in his right rib section.
“YOU ANNOYING…” Shinyaki yelled out, his eyes becoming black, “little snots…RAH!” His arms suddenly flung open, finally pushing the swords aside. They took advantage of the force, though, to spin and shove a parallel thrust at his chest.
But when they finished the spin, already pushing the swords forward, they didn’t see him. Hearing him behind them, they both took advantage of the momentum to dive into a forward roll, barely avoiding a double-cleave of the scythes.
Shinyaki had jumped over them, front-flipping and swinging his scythes at them.
Standing up, they turned towards Shinyaki.
“HAHAHAHAH,” Sanpu laughed, “bring it!”
He leaped, followed closely by Fuun’na.
Fuun’na had considered changing to her bow but that was before Shinyaki’s prowess became so clear to her. It was clear they could hardly handle him together, less even if she hung back to try and use a ranged weapon.
Shinyaki started spinning the scythes in his hand, creating fans at his opposite sides. Like that, making the wind howl out both his sides, he walked towards them.
When in range, he swung them at them. Fuun’na hit it back hard, as did Sanpu. But the scythes rebounded and slashed back quicker than the twins could react to, shredding through their inexistent defense.
They were pushed apart, clothes ripped and wounds inflicted. Wounds, however, that were meager and unimportant.
Sanpu had thought knocking away the scythe would be enough but it seemed he was wrong, he wasn’t strong enough.
No, Sanpu thought to himself, just need more!
“More power, sister! It’s the only way!”
They jumped again, and again Shinyaki slashed at them. But this time, they stomped down hard and swung their swords even harder, with all their might.
They hit the scythes back so hard they had time to advance on Shinyaki, who hopped back and swung again, this time swinging at heights that would be harder to defend against.
Agathon, meanwhile, was having difficulty. Unable to unleash his power due to the fact it would be too destructive and noisy, he was limited to small elemental attacks intertwined with basic pugilism. To add insult to injury, both Jomiko and Kazuki were able to see through his attacks.
So contrary to his allies, he was having a hard time. That, in turn, strained his patience.
Tired of dodging Kazuki’s sword, Agathon surprisingly punched the ground. He literally shoved his fists through the floor. Kazuki saw his chance and attacked but Agathon removed his hands in time to clash against Kazuki’s sword.
His hands were now covered by makeshift stone gauntlets, and Agathon used them to slap the sword away with a right backhand. He followed the deflecting with a hard left that caught Kazuki so well it projected him backward.
Kazuki tumbled across the floor but attacking him had left Agathon open to Jomiko. She kicked him in the kidney, planning to wind him down for a flurry of attacks. He took it with a grunt, however, and simply lashed out with a quick jab. Jomiko spun and ducked under the jab and sunk left fist into his kidney again.
Agathon groaned and glared at her in anger. Jomiko clenched her right and smirked, raising it for an uppercut. She noticed then that her hand had been grabbed.
Her eyes shifted quickly, catching on to the fact the ground had risen to plaster her feet, butt, and right hand. It was holding her.
She was stuck.
Agathon’s eyes flared as he raised his fist for a punch. She looked back at him fully in realizing she was helpless.
He brought it down on Jomiko’s face hard. He smashed her head into the ground using the stone gauntlet.
The impact cracked the ground and shaped it into a small crater. His gauntlet crumbled apart, cracked by the collision.
“And stay down!” He shook his hand at her, throwing the pebbles of his shattered gauntlet at her. He then turned around to slap away Kazuki’s sword with his left hand, which was still wearing a rock-solid gauntlet.
Despite it all, things were at their worse on Arata’s side. The pain in his rib-section had been another knife, shoved into it by her tail while he was occupied parrying the thrust at his side.
By the time Arata’s eyes, and mind, processed it, the tail was coming around between her legs with another dagger in tow.
He pulled his right arm back and swiped in front of his torso, while stepping back. He felt a blade superficially cutting his leg and, as that landed, his blade knocked aside a dagger.
He parried an attack and blocked another, then leaned to avoid a point-blank knife throw from the tail, and then ducked and side-stepped with a spin, to swipe her leg, but she had jumped to perform a roundhouse kick that brushed against his hair.
Standing up with his back to her, he spun around with a right backward swing, followed closely by his left. She ducked under his first swing but got up to carry along the second above her head with a quick knife-parry.
Then, suddenly, Arata had his side and back completely exposed and she was in perfect position to attack. Everything in his head said he was a goner.
Luckily, though, he had forgotten one thing: there had been no one inside the mansion.
And Pixa wasn’t a healer.
His peripheral vision saw a flash of rampant light. He heard the Sen grunting in pain, followed by knives scattering on the ground and the rough pounding of a body tumbling away across the ground.
Arata breathed in relief, slightly limping. That made him cough a bit of blood.
Looking back, he couldn’t help but feel relief at the sight of Pixa on a window, her magic focused and prepared in those weird screens she formed around the surface of her palms.
He looked down to make sure the knife had fallen off his foot. The one on his shoulder was also gone but the one that was sunk into his ribs was still lodged there. He grabbed it and pulled it off with a grunt of muffled pain.
His blood dripped over the floor and his wound hurt immensely, but he would live. That was the advantage of knives. Easier to hit but they had to be well aimed if they were to do any serious damage.
He dropped the knife and looked at the Sen. She was standing up, glancing between him and the short figure of Pixa, who was considerably farther away. Silently, she moved to position herself so that Arata was in the way.
“Why are we fighting?” Arata asked her in exhausted pain, if only to rest a little. “Is there…ha ha…any real need for this? Let’s just…talk this out, we don’t wish to…ugn…kill anyone.”
“You say that because you’re losing,” she coldly stated.
It was so bluntly put Arata couldn’t help but laugh. It hurt to laugh. It hurt a lot, but it was worth it. Even hurting, laughing felt good.
“You’re right about that. Still, I follow a certain rule in my life.”
She raised an eyebrow, inquisitively.
“Things may go badly. But they end well,” he smiled his bloody teeth, battles waging on behind him, at each of his sides. The sight of them made his optimistically accepting though mortally wounded visage very powerful.
Still, the Sen was not impressed. She continued to stare through him, harshly and devoid of emotion.
“Not for everyone.” Strangely, Arata caught a hint of regret on her tone of voice that made it through despite her merciless expression.
Arata felt an acute curiosity but couldn’t help but look up, and sigh another helpless smile.
On and on I will fight, if only to see another day, and to sleep another night.
Arata’s sword chains rattled as he strengthened his grip on them. Determined, he took a stance. “Well, let’s get to it, I won’t be conscious for much longer.”
“Nor alive,” she commented, assuming her own stance and waiting for his first move.
From Pixa’s point of view, things were going pretty badly. Jomiko was on the ground, apparently knocked out and undeniably bleeding badly from her head, and without her, Kazuki could do little else other than dodge. Until he couldn’t even do that.
On the twin’s side, Shinyaki was also making them dodge. This was a bad sign by itself but, on top of that, they already had some wounds and clothes so tore up Fuun’nas’ was now sleeveless, and Sanpu practically shirtless, with nothing but his ripped vest covering his torso.
Arata would have died if not for her intervention. Still, contrary to all the other fights, she would participate in this one. And if they could hold out for a while longer, Miyabi would be able to get Leaf and Ringo back up. With them joining the fight, it’d become a cinch.
But at least…I am in this one. She focused a beam, ready to fire, hoping Kazuki and the twins could hold out.
But then, her ears shivered half a second before her brain told her there was a sound in the air. It was a very very loud voice.
For a second, they thought it was just a shout. But then they all recognized way too high a pitch, and way too high a volume for a normal voice to be producing.
They all glanced or looked in the direction of the sound. To her perplexing surprise, it was a Xia. And not any Xia, it was the one from before.
He was in the middle of the air, hovering a bit above the house through the use of his wings. Truth be told, he was flapping them like crazy and looked exhausted already, it didn’t look like flying came easy to him.
Still, he held his breath long, while he lifted two small staffs. He filled his lungs and closed his eyes in a lot of effort. The tip of his staffs shone brightly.