Chapter 31 - Let there be Light
“So Sanpu’s also missing?” Arata’s voice sounded out from the communication spell. Jomiko had called him since Sanpu hadn’t shown up yet.
“What do you mean also?!” Jomiko glanced at Kazuki, angry. He sighed unsurprised.
“Persephonai said they split up to cover more ground, and Fuun’na hasn’t returned to meet him yet. He went after her.”
“…those bloody twins,” Jomiko spat, “they went after them on their own, didn’t they?”
“We’ll have to assume they did,” Arata agreed, audibly disappointed.
“Then we’ll find them. I know what street Sanpu was going to look at, I’ll head there first.”
“Right. Please keep in touch. And a sharp eye!”
“Yeah yeah,” she said, shutting down the spell. “C’mon Kazuki, we need to track down Sanpu. Brats went after them on their own.”
“I guessed as much,” he remarked casually.
She looked out from the ledge she was standing on, making a path in her mind. She had felt increasingly better about fighting ever since their talk in that frozen excuse for a cave. It was a weird moment, but it had really revitalized her.
“Try and keep close, Kazuki,” she said, looking forward to the free-running she was about to do.
She hopped down from the ledge, landing and sliding down the curved ceiling for the few seconds it took to lessen its inclination, at which point she hopped again before settling into a run.
She leapt off into another roof and ran there. Jomiko really enjoyed the feelings of her muscles straining, of the wind freshening up her eyes as well as all the jolts her nervous system gave her every time she did some risky acrobatics.
She went on instinct, processing the obstacles and how to surpass them as they arrived. She was constantly losing sight of Kazuki, but whenever she thought he hadn’t managed to follow, he would land next to her and then skip aside to follow behind her.
The fright made her smile every time, made her feel like she was part of a cool team.
But then she’d remember Sanpu and feel all mad again.
What are they thinking, anyways?! We had a plan, we needed to catch them by surprise and take their stones. All together! Why can’t I be on a normal team, for once?!
Landing on a steel beam that belonged to a large and shiny tower, Jomiko looked on, trying to catch a glimpse of something that would alert her.
“This was where he was headed,” she said to Kazuki, who was just now asserting balance from landing next to her. She was leaning from a vertical beam but he simply crouched, squinting resolutely.
“I don’t see anything suspicious,” he voiced with an attentive voice. “Maybe we should find a guard. It’s never long before the twins make too much of a ruckus, especially when they’re on their own.”
“Hm,” she brushed her fringe with the hand whose arm was leaned against the beam, thoughtful… “No, not yet. Let’s browse around a bit more. You keep going that way,” she pointed ahead and to her right, “and I’ll go this way,” she pointed ahead and to her left, “and we’ll meet over at that building over there. Contact me if you see anything.”
“Hm,” Kazuki passively mumbled, bending forward, “likewise,” he fell forward, reaching out to grab a beam so he could swing off it with an agile backflip.
Jomiko pushed herself out of the beam and leapt out too.
Meanwhile, more and more mirrors shattered as the pairs continuously exchanged blows. The floor around them was a mess of shards, dust, and blood, as they traded wounds near evenly.
But truth be told, the twins eventually started to lose ground. Danatcia’s dark movements were too difficult to track, and most of the wounds were actually going on Shinyaki. Danatcia was keeping herself mostly safe, poking holes and cuts while waiting for them to start slowing down. And eventually, they did start to slow down.
“THIS IS SERIOUSLY PISSING ME OFF, SISTER!” Sanpu yelled out, right after nudging his ankle out of Danatcia’s dagger’s way.
“Just focus, big brother!”
They glimmered, their eyeballs glistening ever more intensely. Their movements sped up again. Abruptly and suddenly, and most of all, unexpectedly.
Sanpulet go of the stone and grabbed Danatcia by the hair before she could vanish into the shadows again.
“C’MERE!” He violently pulled. Shinyaki leaped to take advantage of it but Fuun’na parried the two strikes he had time to throw before Sanpu swung his arm, throwing Danatcia at the ceiling.
“AG--” Shinyaki had the wind kicked out of him by Fuun’na before he could speak but Agathon knew what to do. He could tell when his name was about to be yelled even if by just the first syllable.
In fact, he had actually predicted the necessity and had thus already focused a counter-measure. He conducted power through him towards the connection between him and the axises of the ground, and in one swift moment, he reinforced the ceiling with a stronger layer.
Danatcia crashed against the ceiling with such force that a small crater punctured around her. By the time she had spat blood and her body had started to fall, Fuun’na was already flying towards her. To end it.
Sanpu had thrown her – and taken the stone back as well - and now there she was, ax in both hands, about to kill the Sen irritation.
Danatcia opened her eyes in a sudden expression of fear.
“Shinyaki!” Fiahra sounded out.
“DO IT!” Shinyaki yelled back at her, jumping at Sanpu. Fiahra focused further and enhanced the darkness and smoke around the room just as Fuun’na reached the ceiling.
With Danatcia’s body still partly touching the ceiling but beginning to fall, she reached for a dagger with her tail and threw it to her left hand. She grabbed it and pierced the ceiling, pulling on it for leverage to avoid Fuun’na’s swing by a hair’s length.
Destruction poured as Fuun’na’s blow expelled the stone and rock of the ceiling outwards like a geyser. Fuun’na turned her head to see Danatcia but she was already fading away amidst the darkness that now grew thicker and wider.
“Tch,” she fell down and watched the entire room was being enveloped in shadows. Agathon himself could not even cover the hole in the ceiling again due to his lack of vision. If he even wanted to, enough mess had already been made, a response was most likely on its way.
As soon as her foot hit the ground, Sanpu’s hand pressed the rock into her fist. She looked at him, startled, and he just smiled a bloody smile. It was hard to tell if he had been punched that hard or if he had bitten down too hard and his gums had bled.
“They’re scared of us, sis,” he turned himself, and his arm behind him, so they’d be back to back with the stone protected in-between them. “You’re all so scared!” Sanpu laughed.
Fuun’na couldn’t see anything beyond her own nose. She breathed heavily, trying to maintain her stage of concentrated rage.
She caught movement to her left, the smoke oscillated and showed Danatcia coming for them.
She swung her axe right through her, dispelling the shape into shadow.
“Wha?” She felt a hard sting on her right side. “Ack!” She looked down but it was so dark she couldn’t even tell how wounded she was, even if iron-smell of her blood was reaching her nostrils loud and clear, flaring her senses even more.
“ACK!” Sanpu reacted, cursing maddened at receiving his own wound.
“I’m ok. Let’s push this blasted smoke back!”
She nodded and they started rotating their big weapons like fans. They turned around and around, pushing the smoke far enough back that they could see a few feet in front of them…which was when they saw Danatcia.
All ten of them.
They were surrounded by Danatcias, all staring at them with that blank, emotionless stare that was glued to her face.
And then, from above, Shinyaki fell upon them. They rolled aside, un-bent their arms to stand side-to-side, and then started swinging after Danatcia’s shadows.
“Fine, she has copies! Just hit everything you see!”
“You got it, bro!”
And they swung, but no matter how much they tried, there were too many targets. All of them quick and fast and practically impossible to hear or see. The smoke from the clones just kept blowing at their faces as they sliced at them, one after another.
And Shinyaki was still in the game, and no less dangerous.
“No more jokes, little Juns?” Shinyaki teased, angrily impatient, parrying sword after ax after sword. “C’mon, where’s all that lip from before?”
“C’mon, talk your smack!” He yelled, kicking Fuun’na hard, sending her flying had she not gripped the stone tight so that when Sanpu held on, she was pulled back and around him for a landing
Sanpu swung at another Danatcia at the same moment he felt the pull on his arm. “ACK!” A dagger went deep into his knee, making him crouch. Fuun’na herself didn’t land on her feet, but rather on her side, all messed up and trying to breathe.
“Ha! Thanks for bringing me that stone, you little brats!” Shinyaki yelled, descending his scythes to finish them once and for all.
And yet, Shinyaki would be spoiled yet again, for with a deafening though divine chiming, light pierced through the smoke from above, shining so strongly it blinded Shinyaki…but, not the two marauders whose very nature of combat was to endure disadvantages.
Fuun’na found strength somewhere in her unwillingness to see her brother die and rolled out of the way, pulling Sanpu along with her. The sound of the delayed scythes hit the ground a second too late.
They got up and looked around, watching as the light shone in every direction, gradually dissipating both the darkness that shrouded their surroundings as well as Danatcia’s shadows. It and they all receded and vanished as light filled the room.
Looking up, they saw Persephonai descending upon them like some holy divinity, his staffs crossed in front of him, the source of the light.
Danatcia showed up with a roll, standing next to Shinyaki, just as Persephonai landed next to the twins. He uncrossed the sticks while the twins were looking over themselves to properly analyze their wounds.
“Stop this, Danatcia, and come back with me,” Persephonai told her, in a near-pleading tone.
Sanpu noticed he had two really deep cuts. Fuun’na herself had a tendon cut, which sort of explained why her leg hadn’t been all that responsive for the last couple of minutes.
Danatcia, in response, took a step back in hesitation. Sharply, she told him: “go back alone.”
Persephonai frowned, sad. But only for a moment.
“If you won’t come willingly…” he looked on with dedication, “you leave me no choice.” He crossed the staffs, aiming up at the hole in the ceiling. He scraped them together, his hands shining gold as he let the tips touch.
“What are you doing?” Sanpu asked, curious.
“NO, STOP! AGATHON!”
Agathon understood what was going to happen. The blinding light had slowed his wits, and consequently, his concentration. He joined hands to cover the hole once and for all but it was too late.
A highly focused beam of light shot out through the hole and into the sky, and it was so luminous it would be visible hundreds of feet into the air, even amidst all the party lights. It was similar to what Persephonai had used in Aellea, but much stronger.
A dagger flew at his chest then, though it was blocked by Sanpu.
Persephonai looked, sincerely shocked, at Danatcia. She looked back at him stubbornly.
Hurt, he bit his lip and fought to shed no more tears than the one already running down his cheek, unseen by everyone else.
The beam intensified further, even pushing out through the walls. Everyone blocked their eyes with their arms in an effort to tolerate the bright light.
His voice cracked over his spell-casting, in a failed attempt to sound masculine and powerful. It instead betrayed how hurt he was.
“This ends now…”