Chapter 46 - The Bigger they Are
Agathon quickly stretched each hand, made a wall in front of him, and then pushed. The result was two pillars of wind vertically pushing against Jomiko and Arata.
They just leapt through it, unafraid of a little draft, and were surprised when they felt themselves being launched up, instead of back.
Agathon turned his hands, half-closing them, and pulled the barrages back and forth until the two were locked against the ceiling, slammed and stuck with the wind blasting past their faces so forcibly they could hardly keep their eyes open.
“Ugggn…” Jomiko strained to push her fists so she could concentrate some power, but the wind just whipped them back against the wall.
Agathon then pulled his hands back, waved them a bit, creating concentrations of heat in each palm.
Arata knew what was coming but he couldn’t stop it.
Jomiko again tried pushing her fists out of the wall.
“Uggggnnnnrrraaaa!!” Her veins popped up as she reddened in the effort and strength it took to push past her limits. “RRRRrrrRAAAAHHHH!!” she pushed her hands, her arms trembling, threatening to break. They stretched out, just as Agathon threw his arms forward, shooting jets of fire at each wind column.
She then allowed her arms to be pushed back, but bent, so she would elbow the ceiling. The hit created a concussive backlash that gave her enough kinetic force to counter the force of the wind, consequentially giving her a second of breathing room.
Amongst shattered pieces of rock, she kicked the ceiling to get out of the wind’s trajectory all the while waving her hand around to throw a piece of the ceiling at Arata.
Arata didn’t see it, though, so focused was he on the fact his pillar of wind had ignited…in his direction. Luckily, he didn’t need to see the piece of rock for it to knock him out of the pillar of wind-turned-fire.
“Damnation!” Agathon screamed, seeing both of them falling out of the pillars, avoiding being inflamed. “Why don’t you brats just DIE!” He pushed his hands again, shooting fire pellets at the two. Both dealt with them by dodging and parrying them away.
Landing, they again charged at Agathon who frowned with frustration as he rose a wall of fire to block them, but mostly to block their view.
A moment later, balls of earth pierced through the wall of fire, catching on fire as they did so, fired at them.
“Whoah!” Arata span in the air to avoid one and Jomiko did the same. Arata jumped ahead of Jomiko and waved his sword around, slicing and whacking aside every incoming earth ball. At one point, a real fireball shot out, but Arata spun his swords like a fan, dispersing it.
“Faster!” Jomiko beckoned.
“Do you mind?!” Arata complained, leaning his head back to avoid the flames, “kinda keeping us alive here.” He slashed at another earth ball on fire, a bit of mud spitting out at his face.
A small block of earth rose up from the ground to break their stride, instead giving them the ability to get through to Agathon.
Arata ducked so Jomiko could round-house kick it, over him, all while Arata placed the blunt of his right blade against her back, pushing her to follow the large piece of the block that she had kicked free and towards Agathon.
Jomiko, using the boost, leapt forward while punching the wall along, keeping it expelled, following it.
The wall pierced the firewall, opening it up for the second that it took for Jomiko to go through. Agathon dodged the piece of ground by side-stepping but Jomiko was quick to step after him and intercept him.
He parried her flurry of attacks, initially, but soon the wall of flame dissipated as his concentration was pulled into keeping Jomiko at bay.
“Ha! Yah! Ta! Ta! Yah!”
“Unf! Ugn! Ugn! Ugn! UNF!”
She hit him in the stomach, but he took it with a half-grunt. They continued their exchange as Jomiko clearly had the upper hand, Agathon being able to do little more than block and redirect strikes. Her barrage of attacks only grew faster.
“HA!” Jomiko’s strikes started packing more power, and Agathon himself started taking hits so he could strike at Jomiko with fire shots, but she skillfully dodged or redirected those attacks, allowing them to burst past her, wildly, while doing her best to ignore the sudden heat that they flared with.
Which wasn’t easy. “Where are you?!”
“Circling around,” Arata answered, coming at Agathon from behind.
Agathon jumped aside so not to be surrounded, but Arata pulled the attack and also jumped, to keep him surrounded. In mid-air, he waved the swords, cutting past Agathon’s flesh.
Agathon grunted in pain as he landed, opening his arms to create a surrounding explosion of wind aimed at pushing them both back. Jomiko was sent back flying, but Arata was quick to thrust the floor with his right blade, managing to only lose a few feet.
“Uggrn…” Agathon snorted, sweating and awkwardly bending before the pain of the cut he had suffered. Arata felt the wind subsiding and looked up, breathing out in anticipation.
He sprinted towards Agathon, left weapon forward, right weapon pulled back, “arrrhya!”
Agathon bent, punching the ground, envolving his fists in earth as he had done in the past against Jomiko. He brought them back in time to double fist Arata’s left backhand slash, but Arata was already prepared to be blocked, so he just thrust his right sword through, forcing Agathon to open his arms and lean back to avoid the blade. But Arata slashed right to catch his head, but Agathon ducked and side-stepped to his right under it while bringing his left arm to hit Arata who, in turn, side-flipped to his right over his hand.
He landed and slashed left against Agathon who punched the air, shooting out his earth glove like a projectile, managing to hit Arata in the belly, “Ugh!”
Arata was abruptly pushed back, but Agathon took a heel to the top of his head the moment after.
“Ack--” He staggered for the moments Jomiko needed to grab hold of his horns, or rather, his horn and what was left of the broken one. She pulled on them and sunk her knees on his back, as hard as she could.
She then waved and kicked lower on his back, proceeding to repeatedly wail kicks on him. She landed about ten before he stretched his hands to grab hold of her.
“YOU LITTLE!! GUUAAH!” He waved her down to crush her on the floor head-first, but Jomiko was already prepared for that. On her way down, her eyes shimmered as she saw her target, and with a quick jab to Agathon’s groins, stole him of his power at the last second.
She still crashed on the floor, very hard, bursting the floor beneath her. But before the pebbles that had erupted up from her drop had rested, Arata was vaulting over both Jomiko and a flinching Agathon, feet first, belly down and arms open.
He hugged Agathon’s neck with the chains of his swords. His gliding was interrupted by his momentum meeting the chain’s reach, pulling on Agathon.
Agathon didn’t fall back, however, even though he was forced to take a couple of steps back by the sudden pull. Arata landed on his feet and quickly crossed arms and pulled.
Agathon fumbled at his neck, trying to squeeze his fingers through the chain, all the while trying not to fall. The fact he was taller than Arata was a disadvantage in that situation as it made the pressure several degrees too diagonal.
Agathon shifted his legs and grabbed the chains with both hands, and pulled, his face reddening before the amount of strain that he was making as well as by the lack of breathing. He was stronger, however, and soon, Arata’s feet slowly began to slide across the floor.
Arata bent back, leaning until he was almost lying down, putting all his strength and weight into it. “Grrrrrr….”
His hands were aching, but Agathon was still managing to pull and bend forward, his eyes bulging.
And then, Jomiko got up.
He looked, helplessly, as she cracked her nose back into place and wiped the blood out of it with a cunning smirk, all while pulling her right hand back…to punch.
She threw the punch and Agathon let go of the chains behind him to try and catch her attack, but he wasn’t fast enough. The punch hit him hard in the stomach, sinking deep, knocking whatever wind he had left, out of him.
He fell back, or rather, he crashed backwards in loud violence, unable to speak or even complain about the hurt and pain. Jomiko ruthlessly jumped on top of him and began wailing on him, punch after punch after punch, while Arata kept holding Agathon’s head up with his feet, his body fully stretched, and arms pulled high to keep the pressure of the chain on Agathon’s neck.
Agathon raised his hands to block, but Jomiko kicked and punched them out of the way. He tried to grab Jomiko but all the necessary strength had left him.
It was dirty, unglamorous, and relentless, the way they defeated Agathon. But with enough time, and with enough of a beating, the bull’s eyes rolled, his eyelids shut, his conscience gone, his face bulging and bloody and his neck forever scarred by the pressure put by Arata’s sword chains.
Exhausted, they stood up. They looked upon the bull in awe, taking tired and impressed breaths.
He was plastered across the floor like a statue three times their size. His cloak was all but tore up, his horn broken…he looked like a behemoth, which made their victory seem all the more impressive.
“Wow…he’s really big,” Arata said, dropping his swords because his arms and hands were hellishly sore.
“You know what they say, the bigger they are--”
“Yeah they’re liars,” Arata interrupted, massaging his shoulders, “smaller would have been easier to drop, I promise you.”
They looked at each other and smiled. They had won, and very much decisively.
“Still, that went very well.”
“I dunno,” Arata disagreed, “that wind tornado combo with the fire really scared me.”
“Yeah ok, he almost had us there. But we came out on top in the end.”
“Yes, we did.”
“We always do.”
“Up until we don’t,” Arata teased.
“Don’t make me go over there, Arata,” Jomiko threatened, pointing her hand, though she could hardly open her fingers. She looked and noticed her left hand was bloodied, and a finger was dislocated. She grabbed it and cracked it into place. “ugn…mainly ’cause my fists can’t handle it.”
“Yeah, I’m thinking we give it a minute before heading inside.”
“I’m with you,” Jomiko agreed, a bit shamefully, “I dunno what’s going to happen in one minute, but I’d like at least a small chance of making it out of here alive.”
“Right,” Arata nodded, immediately lying down on the floor. Jomiko did the same.
They stood in silence for a bit, though not a long one. It would never be a long one, with Arata around, but for once, it was Jomiko breaking the silence.
“You know, maybe we should go kick that Sen’s butt, and have Persephonai heal us.”
“You need healing?”
She sighed, not wanting to be honest about that.
“We’ll just get a bit of rest. Why? Are you scared?”
“No,” Jomiko said, searching her feelings to try and figure out if she was being honest. She couldn’t tell though, “just cautious…”
“Good to see you’re taking things from me as well,” Arata said, with a teasing smile.
Jomiko blushed a bit, feeling flustered and ashamed. She had learned caution during their adventure, and it occurred to her now they were leaving Agathon alive, too. That was so Arata…
“Shut up…” she half-sulked. Arata half-laughed, and like that, they waited…and rested their muscles.
“Still, I hope the others are doing fine,” Arata thought out loud.
“I dunno about wing boy, but I can’t see the others dying here in this hole.”
“Me neither…but that’s the thing about death. It mostly takes you when you can’t see it.”
Jomiko felt fear grip her. Stubbornly, she swallowed it. She wouldn’t be coward. She wouldn’t.
“For a good reason, too. Let’s just focus on us.”
“Yes…Eyes open, ears attentive and muscles at the ready!” Arata rose a fist in the air.
“Yeah,” Jomiko agreed in an ironic tone, rolling her eyes. “That.”