Criterion Effect: Norok Chronicles - In Search of Titan's Wings

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Chapter 5

Sublocation – Eagle’s Storage Building, Divergence Wings

Innerlocation – Tree Line

Throughout the Realm of Norok, assassins were known assassinating their prey without being seen. There are crews like Boss’ however, who enjoy the thrill of close quarters combat; the idea of seeing their target’s face and the look in their eye when they realized they’ve lost was priceless to them.

With one final look, the crew of assassins split into two groups; Boss and Yuji took the targets on the roof while Sting, Shadow, Cruiser, ad Rinzler faced the targets on the ground.

As Shadow’s group approached their prey, they disappeared from Yuji’s view. “Go for the guy in the tower Yuji. Leave the guy in the open to me,” Boss ordered, getting ready to jump.

“Roger,” the Genohuman assassin said, already thinking up a plan.

o0o

Eagle was in the middle of tossing one of his knives in the air when he heard a rustle in a nearby tree and a second later he saw a blade coming straight for him. Looking at the blade he just caught by the hilt, centimeters from his face, anger began to swell inside him as a single word come to mind. On the blade was the emblem of the Yo Ying assassin crew, Kugiahma’s crew. “Heads up. It’s show time!” Eagle shouted loud enough for everyone to hear. Without another sound or word, Eagle threw the blade back in the direction it came from. It was answered by the clanging sound of metal on metal.

o0o

Hearing a loud sound to their left, the group was caught off guard as an assassin popped out of the bushes to their right, bearing down on Kurara with his sword drawn. Off guard but not as slow as everyone thought she was, Kurara pulled out one of her hunting knives with her right hand and turned to block the oncoming slash. Pushing the blade to her right, she pulls out the dagger Soul gave her and made a slash for the assassin’s neck.

Anticipating something like this, the assassin leaned back, narrowly avoiding the tip of the blade, and countered by kicking the Genohuman in the chest, sending her on her back next to the other Genohuman.

“You ok Kurara?” Kaz asked, stepping between her and the assassin. The young Genohuman nodded as she got up. “Good. Now, don’t drop your guard, not even for a second. Assassins never travel alone.” The kas nodded as three more figures appeared next to their comrade. Kaz looked at the new figures to see if anything could identify them. Noting the emblem on the drawn assassin’s sword, Kaz immediately looked to the assassins’ mask to see if saw any that were familiar.

“I see you got some new recruits. Are they any better than your last ones, Shadow?” Kaz asked the assassin in the middle, recalling the last time they fought.

Shadow stepped forward and smiled behind his mask. “I could ask you the same thing Kaz,” Shadow replied. “‘Cause from what I just saw, they are sorely lacking from your last team.”

“I never thought I would get a chance to see you again, especially after last time,” Kaz said, almost smiling. “Someone pretty powerful must want us gone if they sent you guys.”

“Oh you know how it goes,” Shadow started to explain. “Someone crosses a line or someone doesn’t like what someone else did or is doing, they send an assassin. Contracts are contracts, nothing personal.”

“This is going to be a very interesting rematch,” Kaz couldn’t help but state. The three looked at each other a little worried.

“Wish I could say the same but to us, this is merely going to be practice.”

“Don’t underestimate them just yet. We both know how battles go,” Kaz countered. “Last chance to back down.”

“Sorry. But kill orders are absolute,” Shadow replied, shaking his head. “Blades or swords?” he asked, already unclipping his darkBlade from the back of his belt.

“Your call old friend,” Kaz answered, summoning his liteBlade form his BracerTech storage jewel. Kaz’s smile faded as he stepped towards Shadow. “Leave this one to me. Work as a team and take care of the other three. This is real, not some training simulation. Act smart. Be safe.” Kaz said to the kids. Not waiting for a response, the Genohuman activated his liteBlade, bringing to life a white blade of cosmic energy, and charged the assassin.

Yoshio fought off a way of nerves as his sensei went off, hot sure how this was going to go.

o0o

On the roof, the two human were engaged in a cosmic duel what was going nowhere. “Not bad Kugiahma. You’ve gotten better since we last danced,” Eagle commented as he deflected a series of fire attacks and countered with his own.

“I wish I could say the same about you,” Boss responded, sidestepping Eagle’s counter.

The two started at each other intensely. While his opponent prepared for another volley, Eagle shook his head, this is going nowhere. I need to find an advantage. Turning to access the situation and his surroundings, looking for an advantage, spheres came into the perimeter of his protective spell and immediately a fire barrier came alive, instantly vaporizing the spheres. Eagle placed a palm on the ground, cited a nature type arcana spell and when the barrier fell, Eagle was standing, waiting for Boss to attack.

o0o

On the other side of the roof, Soul found himself where he hated to be, a close quarters knife fight. As he and the assassin batted in circles, he was coming to regret his choice in weapons, or rather, lack of training in other areas. Normally he would have his favorite dagger but he left it inside to sharpen later and was now stuck with one of his hunting knives. Not to say the one he was using wasn’t any good; it just wasn’t the one he preferred.

Yuji on the other hand was wielding his choice weapon, a longer than average shirki with a reverse edge. From a distance, the two countering and pressing simultaneously looked like a dance.

Finally, Soul managed to back the assassin against the tower wall and as he approached to press his advantage, the assassin threw his weapon at him. The Aeronok effortlessly deflected it but when he looked back, his opponent was gone. Hearing a shift in the night wind, Soul looked up and saw the assassin falling directly at him, sword drawn, ready to strike. He jumped back in order to avoid the attack but failed to reach a safe distance in time. As the assassin landed, the tip of his curved blade bit the upper part of the Aeronok’s left shoulder. Groaning, Soul stepped back.

Standing up from his attack, Yuji smiled behind his mask. This is way too easy, the Genohuman thought to himself as he rushed in. Just as he got within swinging range, the blue Aeronok disappeared from his view, making him switch to defense. Out of the corner of his right eye, he saw his prey and turned to adjust when something else caught his eye, a blade coming for him. Rather than turn to deflect the oncoming blade, Yuji threw a shiriken. With the sound of metal hitting metal, the Genohuman turned his attention back to where his prey was but say nothing.

Switching to thermals on his H.U.D., Yuji looked around and saw two figures, both giving real signatures. Instead of choosing between the two, the assassin pulled out two more shiriken and threw them. As they hit their marks, the figures turned to mist and before he could do anything, a blade penetrated the back of his neck with a loud crunch then broke through his windpipe. The blade forcefully stopped at its hilt.

As the assassin gasp for air, Soul walked around him and kicked him in the chest, causing the assassin to fall to the ground like a rock. “I don’t remember much about the last time I faced your crew but I do remember a particular assassin who thought he was a hot shot but always got distracted by illusions. I guess you didn’t learn from our last encounter. Shame…” Soul said disappointingly, looking down at his fallen enemy.

Yuji looked up at the Aeronok, vaguely recalling what the Aeronok was talking about as darkness started to surround him. He was in so much pain but at the same time, his body started to go numb. The last thing he saw was the bottom of Soul’s boot heading for his face.

As the assassin’s mask crumbled, Soul felt a bit of satisfaction. It wasn’t everyday he got to take care of something from his past. Recovering his weapons, he went to go check on Eagle. A smile came to his face as he realized he was getting exactly what he signed up for, a challenge.

o0o

On the ground, Yoshio, Sunchina, and Kurara, with a combination of team work and luck, managed to strike down two of the assassins. The advantage came at a heavy cost however; Kurara was seriously injured due primarily to lack of stamina and reflex. To make sure Kurara was safe, Yoshio had Sunchina guard her. Sunchina had been frustrated but at the same time, she understood battle was not the time to argue with him.

“I am genuinely impressed with you lot. You managed to take out my comrades and make them look like fools. We underestimated your teamwork,” Sting said, locked in a power struggle with the young male Elvenkai. “Time to see how you are without your little pals.” Sting pushed the Elvenkai back then kicked him in the chest.

Stumbling back, Yoshio decided to change tactics. Brushing his hand over his sevka, it erupted into flame and lighting surging together. The assassin seemed a bit disorientated but not enough for him to not block his attack. The technique was still new to him as well as the sensation it brought. Locked in another power struggle, Yoshio noticed the assassin’s grip beginning to slip. On a hunch that he could hold with his right hand, he took his left hand off the hilt and started to gather energy in it. In the same motion, he pressed the ball of cosmic energy against the assassin’s stomach, sending him flying back with a faint trail of electricity in his wake.

Yards away, Shadow had managed to separate Kaz from his young companions. In the middle of a parry, he saw Sting flying in the corner of his eye, barely registering on his H.U.D. Purposely evading Kaz’s next several moves, he landed next to Sting. “We’ll finish this next time Kaz!” Shadow shouted to Kaz as he picked up comrade. A moment later, he and Sting were engulfed by a cloud and when it dissipated, they were gone.

Deactivating his darkBlade, he rushed over to his three kas. He looked for the other assassins on the way but failed to see them. Reaching his kas, he saw Yoshio and Sunchina over a screaming Kurara with Yoshio trying to preform arcana healing spells. “What’s the situation?” Kaz demanded.

“Kurara got hurt during the battle and this baka isn’t letting the one who got an “A” in healing class, heal her best friend,” Sunchina answered, looking up at her sensei.

“Really? We’re doing this now?” Yoshio asked, trying to concentrate on the spell.

“Really you two?” Kaz asked, slightly angered. He knelt down and stopped Yoshio. Placing a hand on Kurara’s chest, he closed his eyes, and through a technique called Cosmic Eyes, saw the extent of her injuries; superficial cuts, several broken ribs, and minor internal bleeding. “Give me some room you two,” the Genohuman said as he opened his eyes and rubbed his hands.

The two elvenkai obediently obeyed without saying anything else.

“Ok Kurara, I know you are in a lot of pain, can’t speak, and that these two didn’t help much. I need you to take a deep breath and remember your training. Think positively and try to channel healing cosmic energy into your body,” Kaz said as he prepared himself.

Kurara tried to answer but due to the pain and having trouble breathing, she nodded.

Nodding back, Kaz closed his eyes, stretched his hands over the spots of Kurara’s internal injuries, and started to perform a complex cosmic healing spell. As he poured energy into Kurara’s body, the young Genohuman’s body started to glow. With his Cosmic Eyes, Kaz could see Kurara’s injuries starting to mend. He applied more or less energy as the injury demanded. With all injuries taken care of, Kaz took one more look to see if he missed anything. Satisfied he got everything, he opened his eyes.

Kurara stopped glowing as Kaz removed his hands. “How are you doing Kurara?”

Kurara blinked rapidly as she shot up. “I feel…nothing. I feel fine Sensei.”

“Good,” Kaz said as he got up. “Now… First, we will talk about this later you two,” Kaz stated. “Second, where did the assassin you were fighting go?”

“They disappeared shortly after I sent that one assassin flying,” Yoshio answered.

“Ok, here is what is going to happen,” Kaz said as he nodded and looked towards the roof where he saw flickering lights from cosmic attacks. Looking back to his kas, he continued, “Yoshio, get Kurara here back into the building. Sunchina, I need you to come with me. Now I don’t want any-”

“Why me?!” Sunchina blurted without thinking. She looked at Yoshio and Kurara then back to her sensei. “He’s the one you want. He took care of the assassin like he was nothing.”

“Look Miss Aya, Normally I would agree with you but right now I have a feeling Eagle’s going to nod that knowledge base of yours,” before Sunchina could protest any further, Kaz was already making his way to the roof.

Sunchina looked at her best friend then to Yoshio, “Take care of her.” She didn’t wait for him to answer as she stared at Kurara. “You, don’t try anything,” she said firmly to Kurara. The Genohuman gave her an innocent face. Unhappy about the situation, Sunchina sheath her sevka and ran to catch up with Kaz.

“Can you walk?” Yoshio asked Kurara as he watched Sunchina leave.

Kurara half heartily made an attempt to get up. “I think you’re going to have to carry me inside Yosh,” she answered, raising a hand for Yoshio to take.

Yoshio gave her a questioning look. “I thought…”

Kurara sighed as she sunk her head and shook it. “Help me up you dense idiot.”

Yoshio accepted Kurara’s hand and helped her up. “Common, let’s get you inside.” As Yoshio helped Kurara walk into the building, happy thoughts danced through Kurara’s mind.

o0o

On the roof, Eagle and Boss had switched from elemental fighting to using their natural force weapons. Eagle was wielding his liteBlade with a white cosmic energy blade while Boss wielded a darkBlade with a dark red blade. Eagle charged Boss, who threw a shirki, forcing the Human to avoid it by rolling to the side. Coming out of the roll, he threw a knife at the assassin. Rather than avoid the blade, the assassin caught it and threw it back to him. Deflecting the knife with his blade, he began citing a trap spell.

The moment he blocked the knife, the assassin charged him and as soon as their blades connected, Eagle shouted the final part of his spell, “AII ARO TI!” Before Boss had a chance to react, he was suspended I the air by wind. Eagle stepped back and looked up at his old nemesis who was futilely trying to escape. “You know full well that unless you know a counter spell, you aren’t getting out of that.” Boss stopped struggling but didn’t reply. Deactivating his liteBlade, Eagle continued, “I was impressed that you were able to escape my earth style trap earlier. I didn’t think I would get you with this one either but… Now, let’s talk about who hired you.”

“And why on Norok would I tell you that information?” Boss laughed, making Eagle’s suggestion sound stupid.

“Oh, because I asked nicely,” Eagle answered. “And as we both know, everyone talks. It’s only a matter of time.”

Just as Boss was about to respond, the roof access door slammed open and Kaz and Sunchina emerged. “Did we miss anything good?” the Genohuman asked, noting an assassin was trapped in one of Eagle’s spells.

“On the contrary Kaz, you showed up just in time,” Eagle replied. “I think he is just about to talk.”

“You should have seen them fight,” Soul commented as he came out of the shadows.

Kaz started to picture the event but shook it off and turned back to the two Humans. Recognizing the mask, he asked, “Hmm. How are you doing Kugiahma? Hanging in there?”

Boss looked at him for a moment, not appreciating the joke. “I’ve been better Sanaya,” he said dryly, still trying to think of a way out of his situation.”

“That reminds me,” Soul said with anger in his tone. “Can I see that knife Eagle?”

It took the Human a moment for him to realize what the Aeronok was asking for. Reaching into one of his pockets, he pulled out the blade and handed it to the Archkei.

“Thanks,” Soul said, excepting it. “We found this at Jordava Village. It bares the marks of yours and your sister’s crew. Care to explain why it was there?”

Boss zoomed in on the shirki and started to laugh. “Oh, that. That was a fun day for the elite crews and my employer.”

Anger continued to swell inside of Soul and he started to make his way to the assassin but Kaz stopped him. “Not now Soul. You’ll have your chance for vengeance.”

The blue Aeronok snorted and stared at the Genohuman, mentally debating what to do. “Fine,” Soul said at last, turning away. “I got a piece of vengeance earlier when I took are of Yuji.”

“What was that Weston?” Boss demanded.

Soul turned back around and smiled as he answered, “Yeah. I smashed Yuji’s face in. It’s only a matter of time before I get the rest of you.”

“Back on topic,” Eagle interrupted, trying to keep things from erupting. “Who is your employer and why did they place a kill order on us?”

While the assassin remained silent, Sunchina looked at him and could fell the cosmic pressure emanating from him. Glad she didn’t have to face him, she spotted something sticking out of his uniform. “What’s this?” she asked herself as she plucked the object from the assassin.

Boss’ reaction to what Sunchina did made Eagle curious. “What do you have there, Sunchina?”

The female Elvenkai was still focused on the paper when Eagle asked her. Opening and turning it, the first thing she saw was the emblem in the upper right hand corner. “It looks like orders of some kid but in a language I don’t understand. There’s an emblem in the upper right hand corner, a “C” engulfed in flames in the middle of a widened diamond.”

Eagle, Kaz, and Soul looked at each other, eyes wide, hoping the symbol didn’t represent who they thought it did. Even as Eagle took the paper from Sunchina, only one name came to mind; Lord Chaos Baulder. As the three went over what was on the paper, which they seemed to be able to read, it confirmed their fears. “Tell me Kugiahma, how could you betray your oath of neutrality to your Order and side with a traitor like him.”

Shocked but not completely surprised, Boss started to mumble something but before he could actually say anything, a black swirling vortex appeared behind him and a moment later is swallowed him and dissipated, leaving nothing behind.

Speechless about what just happened and what they discovered, moments went by without a word. “What just happened?” Sunchina asked, deciding someone had to break the silence.

“That would be a summoning vortex,” Kaz answered, snapping back to his senses. “It tells us that we were being watched the whole time.”
“Not necessarily us but rather the assassins to make sure the contract was fulfilled,” Soul added. “Either way, we now know that we have people coming for us.”

Eagle nodded in agreement and noticed Yoshio and Kurara weren’t present. “Where are the other two?”

“Inside,” Kaz replied. “Kurara got seriously injured and after healing her, I had Yoshio take Kurara in.”

“Bet ya Kurara’s making passes at him,” Soul joked but fell silent with one look to Sunchina.

“I doubt it,” Kaz said with confidence as he placed a hand on Sunchina’s shoulder. “Yoshio’s not the one to play those games. Besides, Kurara’s dating someone.”

“You wouldn’t know it by the way she acts around him,” Soul replied.

“Tell me about it,” Sunchina said under her breath.

“Did you say something?” Kaz asked, looking down at his ka.

“Nothing,” Sunchina answered as she walked off. “Let’s got see what they’re up to.”

Is she always this jealous? Soul asked Kaz telepathically.

Only when it comes to Yoshio, Kaz answered as he turned to Soul. With a laugh, the two followed her in.

Just as Eagle was about to enter the building, he stopped, hearing something on the wind, and turned around to see what it was. At first he didn’t see anything but when he looked up at the moons, he saw it, a floating piece of paper giving off faint magical energy; a tagger. Taggers were trialsmen (a piece of paper with arcana written and infused on them) and annoying ones at that. They were basically spies that gave its user an image of what was happening. Eagle stretched out his right arm, opened his hand, and a ball of dark blue energy started to form. A moment later, he shot it at the tagger and the moment it made contact, the tagger exploded electrically. Not good. There’s only one person who uses that type of tagger. While the shredded pieces of paper turned to ash, Eagle made his way inside to join the rest of his group.

Sublocation – Ruins of Mitzuk Castle, Apprentice Plain

Innerlocation – Throne Room

The Kingdom of Mitzuk was once a powerful force the rivaled that power of Divergence Wings but was now a pile of ruins. Over the course of time, the creatures of the land learned to keep their distance, leaving the only source of light the moons or suns; in this case the moons. In the center of the room stood a figure robed in black, his face was hidden due to his hood, the room’s ceiling and roof had holes, allowing the moons and stars to be visible and because two of its walls were knocked down, the wind went right through the room. Suddenly, two black vortexes appeared in front of the figure, who had decided to sit down on whatever was left on the rusty throne chair. A second later, Boss emerged from the vortex to the figures right and Boss’ comrades from the left. Better than I expected, which isn’t saying much considering I did have to save them. Oh well.

His train of thought was interrupted by Boss’ voice, “We failed my Lord.” Boss’ head was bowed as were his comrades and because of that, Boss had no idea he was talking to a proxy instead of his employer.

“Yes, yes you did Kugiahma,” the figure confirmed. “And I had to save you on top of it. Do you even know what your mistake was?”

“Underestimating the target,” Shadow answered, knowing full well he shouldn’t have said anything.

The figure didn’t’ respond right away, which made Boss nervous. “That, and overconfidence,” the figure finally said. “Especially your group Shadow. Just because they were kas, doesn’t mean they would be easy to pick off.” Looking back at Boss, he continued. “You have once more chance to finish this mission. At the very least, kill that leader of theirs, Eagle Rei and the Genohuman sensei Kaz Sanaya.”

“Yes my Lord,” the three assassins said in unison.

“Another failure and your fate will be the same as your ex-comrades,” with a gust of wind, the figure was gone. “Oh, and don’t get yourselves killed,” the voice of the figure added.

“Excuse me?” Boss demanded, lifting his head but say no one. In order to “satisfy “ Boss, the figure reappeared I front of Boss and looked down at him. “You?! What the hell are you doing here?” Boss demanded as he got up.

“Now, now Kugiahma. That’s no way to treat a higher up,” the figure warned.

Full of rage, Boss started to challenge the figure, “Why you piece of-”

Hoping to avoid an unfortunate ending, Shadow stepped in, “Who is he Boss?”

The Human restrained himself the best he could as he answered, “This lowlife Jin is our boss’ main Hand.”

Sting started to laugh, not giving the Jin much of an opinion. “This little gavet is a Hand?”

Rather than respond with useless words, the Jin responded with power. The Jin lifted a finger and Sting was raised off his feet, floating in mid-air while at the same time choking. With a flick of his wrist, Sting was flung across the room and hit the wall behind him. “Be very careful how you address me scout,” the Jin warned again. “You assassins may be free to roam the world as you please but do remember that if you cross me again, you’re dead. Now get over here so I can give you the next part of your assignment.” As they gathered in front of him, he explained their new assignment.


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