“Aw, what?! No one blew up! What kind of climax doesn’t end with someone blowing up! The evil guy should always get a sendoff with bright, violent fireworks!”
Are you satisfied? We’ve already wasted enough time here. That Apostle is moving, which means we need to get going. We were lucky, last time—if he finds and captures us again, we might not escape again for a while.
“Agh, you worry too much. He’s a sap, just like the rest.”
Chrome E. Heyne lazily tossed the stolen binoculars he found
over the edge of the terrace, not bothering to see if anyone pedestrians
happened to be below. He stretched his arms over his head and shut the door to
the room he’d trespassed in before quickly running down the fire escape and
jumping down the last few steps, landing on the asphalt sidewalk among a thin
crowd of people who were likely wondering what was going on by the coast.
A wide smile split Chrome’s face as he stood up and saw the person he’d happened to land in front of. They stared back at him without expression, holding an 18 inch box of pizza in one hand and a slice in the other.
That it. It’s official. Your bad luck isn’t even luck. You’re definitely doing this on purpose.
“Hey, hot stuff.” Chrome’s entire body quaked and yet his mouth moved quickly than his brain. Smooth and unrestrained. “Been looking for you. I’m going on a trip and might need some food to keep me going. Wanna share or are you trying to get a protective layer for the winter?”
The Irish redhead stuffed the remainder of the pizza slice into her mouth and raised one hand up in front of her.
The next moment, a tight, localized pillar of flames roared, extending from the asphalt to the heavens above. It only lasted a second and most people saw the flash of light but only turned around in time to receive a blast of warm air and see nothing but a deep, charred crater in the sidewalk that had miraculously missed all the nearby people.
The redhead quietly blended into the crowd, grabbing another slice from the box in her hand to silence the resurrected hunger in her stomach.
Being suddenly thrown at sea would normally frighten anyone and Vasil was no exception. The bubble that represented the floating empty landscape of Atlantis quickly unraveled, disappearing entirely. There was no gradual sinking to accompany the shaking; the solid footing beneath him just abruptly turned back to normal water. He couldn’t even properly absorb the mechanical energy in the water particles beneath his feet to forcibly maintain the surface tension that could keep him afloat since his powers were failing him just like Luna’s failed her.
What was going on? Why was this happening? Vasil scrambled to make sense of everything as he quickly submerged in the water, his limbs flying out in an effort to keep himself afloat long enough to at least gasp for a solid breath of air. Vasil let that breath out in surprise when a pair of hands grabbed him around the waste beneath the water’s surface and his flailing turned into violent splashing.
“Stop moving!” Luna’s head appeared right beside him, giving him a start. “And calm down! We’re not so far from the shore; we can swim back!”
Vasil floated where he was, taking deep breaths of air to calm himself and gather his thoughts. It took a few moments, but he regained his composure enough to nod his head in agreement.
“Sorry. I was…caught off guard.”
“It’s cute to see a man who always puts up a brave face suddenly lost control. But it’s not cute to drown because of that. Are you sure you’re cool?”
Vasil nodded. Judging from how far the shore looked to him, he was sure he couldn’t make it back in a single stretch, but he knew how to float to catch his breath. He’d be fine.
“Then let’s go.”
Luna took a deep breath before submerging herself into the water. Vasil watched as she sped past him with a few kicks, her black hair and sea foam colored sundress shining in the sun. Vasil swam after her, but easily fell behind without any chance of catching up, having to stop to catch his breath just after barely ten seconds of swimming.
“You suck at this.”
Vasil ignored Luna’s quip when she swam back for him, realizing that his cardiovascular system wasn’t as good at hers. He only needed to keep swimming and hope his powers returned to him somewhere along the way so he could regain his poise. If they didn’t? Well…that would be a problem.
The embarrassment of swimming for a little bit only to have to stop and gasp for air continued for a while. Luna literally swam circles around him, complaining and teasing all the while. Eventually, she began tugging Vasil along with her through the water. This was more efficient than just waiting for him to catch his breath, but it also made him heat up the water around him with his own shame.
This phase of the swimming didn’t last long, either. A large hand made of bedrock rose out of the water once they were halfway back and held them just a few inches above the water, ferrying them the rest of the way back.
“Welcome back.” Uzumel’s smile was less irritating than Vasil remembered, for some reason. “You did an excellent job.”
“Where’s the guy with the serpent?”
“The Apostle left when he saw that everything had been resolved.” The woman beside Uzumel promised, holding a hand out to help Vasil up. Vasil ignored it entirely, instead staring right at her. She shrugged it off and helped Luna up instead. “Twelve promises that he won’t be coming back to this city based on some code of honor. I think it’s alright to trust him.”
Vasil looked to Uzumel, who merely raised an eyebrow at him. Vasil clicked his tongue quietly.
If Uzumel was telling the truth, then good. But what stopped another Apostle from coming later? Obviously, Uzumel was acting irregularly in the group, so he couldn’t stop that from happening. But there had always been a possibility of one showing up. Especially now that there was a demigod as famous as THE Alicia Mirasaki, enemy to demigods and self-proclaimed protector of the people. Getting involved with her was a bad idea—he just knew it.
But more important matters came to mind. Vasil snapped his fingers and he breathed a sigh of relief when he felt a calm reverberation echo through his entire body, popping his ears in the process.
“If you feel any physical abnormalities, tell me.” Uzumel suggested this casually, but Vasil knew he’d been carefully watching him. He would make an excellent doctor. “Presumably, you should be fine now that you’re within range again. Your magic aside, I’m hoping that your physical bodies are unaffected.”
Vasil stared at Uzumel with questions in his eyes, but the priest waved him off.
“Later. Right now, we need to speak with the young lady.”
Uzumel turned toward Luna. Alicia hadn’t released Luna’s hand after helping her up and now had a tight grip on her wrist. Luna only now began to look at the two strangers with apprehension. Vasil deliberately looked toward the sea to make sure Atlantis had completely vanished to avoid meeting her eyes.
“…Just who are you people?”
“And I’m Uzumel—actually, it doesn’t matter anymore, does it…? I’m Twelve of the Twelve Apostles.”
“Really?” Facing the imminent danger, Luna smiled daringly. “That’s pretty surprising. I figured you were all a bunch of old guys in cloaks. You’re actually pretty hot.”
“Thank you. And for what it’s worth, there are some woman among us as well.”
“So? What do the heroes of humanity plan to do with me? Kill
me? Torture me? Lock me away in a cell?”
Vasil stole a glance at Uzumel’s face. Unsurprisingly, it was unreadable. This guy was unnaturally good at controlling his expressions. What did a man go through to learn that much control?
“We’re going to let you go.”
Luna’s face dropped in shock.
“Vasil said he’d handle it. If he succeeded, then it’s good enough for me…You did succeed, right?”
Uzumel turned his question toward Vasil, who frowned. He was asking now?
“I lectured her. I’m hoping I got through to her.”
“So if I just say ‘I see the error of my ways’,” Luna was still stunned by disbelief. “You’ll let me go?”
“I only kill when there’s no other choice. Ms. Mirasaki over there is the same.”
Alicia nodded in firm agreement. Luna’s knees trembled and Alicia’s grip on her went from restraining to supportive.
“I thought for sure…that you’d kill me.”
“Never endanger a life again and keep your head low. Your kind is a rarity; most demigods never listen. I’m willing to take a chance.”