Counter 19: Abstract Tremor
Forty minutes after two o’clock in the afternoon
A horde of metaghosts are on the way to the Library. Inside the broken door and damaged walls of the library lies the lifeless and crumbling body of Pana. Meanwhile, Primrose is losing control of her power as the gigantic armored arm grows to develop more of its part. Wrie, with her eroding body, runs quickly to Primrose’s side while Emil and Zacharius’ gaze are fixed on Pana and Schnitzel.
Zacharius stares at Emil for a long while. “Hey mage,” he calls. “Can’t you do something like healing her?”
Emil clicks his tongue. “Nope,” he answers without looking at Zacharius.
“What?! Is busting those old rusty tin cans all you could do?”
“Hey, I never studied magic.” He glares at him. “I just trained myself to better the kind of magic I already have.”
“Damn,” he clicks his tongue while moving his gaze back to Pana. “So this shitty mage is kind of useless, huh. The academy’s barrier is already down, we’re in deep shit.”
“Ah-!!” Schnitzel screams, and then everyone turn at her quickly. “Miss Panahon’s skin is… it’s like corroding.”
“Erg… What’s happening?” Emil is taken aback as he watches Pana’s body crumble like an old clay statue.
It is slowly turning into a pile of sand and dust.
“The hell?.. Is she some kind of oddity?”
“Ah~ah,” Zacharius sighs. “Commoners sure are ignorant.” He adds while kneeling in front of the Pana’s body that has turned into sand. “This thing called Pana Panahon is just a puppet made by the real mage that’s maintaining the barrier, Sylphid Pandora. I haven’t met her personally but I heard that she’s already very old and is hidden somewhere within the library.”
“Then why won’t this Sylphid-person just come out and restore the barrier?” Duke asks while he gets closer from behind.
“Like I said, she’s very old.” Zacharius lends a hand to Schnitzel to help her stand up. “She probably can’t move anymore. The barrier requires weekly or monthly maintenance, that’s why she makes puppets that could do stuff for her. Tsk, I’m not well informed about the more complicated details of this.”
“So,” Duke ponders, “in short Pana won’t be able to restore the barrier for the academy until she makes a new puppet?”
“More like not until this commotion dies down.” He replies while gazing far outside the library’s broken door. “Some spells or incantation are scattered around the academy so she’ll have to check on them one by one.”
“What tiresome work,” says Emil. “I get it now. We have to protect this place to make sure those shittybots won’t get to wherever she is.”
“Mhm,” Duke nods before turning his attention back to his sister. “Prim, how are you doing there?”
Then their attention is now focused on the girl gripping hard on her collar. She grimaces while the giant arm disperses in the air.
“I’m going to be fine,” Primrose answers while Wrie softly bumps her forehead to the side of the giant armored arm.
The yashou looks like she is simply standing there until they notice the particles dispersing from the giant arm is being absorbed by her body. Little by little, her broken arms are being restored.
“Once Wrie is fully back in shape she could fight with you again. There’s nothing to be worried about.” Primrose declares.
Emil looks at her in silence. He tilts his head slightly, “Honestly,” says he, “I’m more concerned about that hand thing floating there.”
“Just ignore it.” She responds coldly while looking away. “Before you ask irrelevant stuff, we should first focus on defending from the coming flood of those robot-things.”
“Right,” Duke interrupts and then he pulls Emil to go towards the door. “Zacharius, sir, if you don’t mind maybe we could continue protecting this place side by side?” He smiles while grabbing Emil’s arm tightly to prevent him from blurting out any provocative remarks.
“Wrie will follow as soon as I restore her.” Primrose adds while the remnants of the giant hand dissipate into tiny sparkles in the air. “Snitz and I will then stand guard in here. We’ll call you when those robots come close from a different direction.”
“Eh? Me too?” Schnitzel gulps with a puzzled look. “I can’t really fight, you know.”
Primrose pauses while watching Duke, Emil and Zacharius walk away. “Don’t worry,” she replies with a confident tone. “I can’t fight either.”
“H-hey!!” Schnitzel lets out a silent scream. “T-that doesn’t help at all—no in fact t-that’s total bad news, isn’t it?!”
“Relax,” she answers as she fishes out a pack from her bag. “I’ll give you some of my gummy bears as compensation.” Then she hands the pack over to Schnitzel.
“I-I don’t really need something like that.” She murmurs, her head hangs low like a troubled kid.
Meanwhile, Duke, Emil and Zacharius have stepped out of the library. Duke dashes into the frontlines while Emil and Zacharius marches forward with a calm atmosphere. Then they both stop and crack their knuckles in sync. The heavy marching sounds of the metaghosts are becoming louder. At the same time, Duke keeps his senses focused in the green dorms direction; he waves his right hand before gesturing something. After looking at Dukes hand signals, Zacharius smirks mockingly at Emil. It seems that a horde of more than thirty is coming and he feels quite pumped by it. Contrary to that feeling, Emil shows signs of uneasiness. His face is stiff, eyebrows crossing, and his lips are making an upside down arch. The moment a flash of the metaghosts’ light became visible, Emil rushes into its direction to crush it as quickly as possible.
“Emil, don’t get too far!” Duke warns as he keeps himself wary of the location of the enemies.
Emil looks at him once but he is not stopping his attacks on the metaghosts that are closing in on them. On the other hand, Zacharius takes Emil's aggressive actions as a challenge. He follows up and dashes into the horde of metaghosts creating pools of lava one after the other that soon dries up after the metaghosts sinks in them. Differently from his expected reaction, Emil do not mind Zacharius’ provoking offense, he simply continues on fighting like his rushing the battle to its end. Despite Emil's lack of reaction to his provocation, Zacharius is still taking this as some sort of competition. On the other hand, Duke simply keeps his distance close to the library assisting both of them in any way he can.
The noise coming from the army of metaghost approaching is becoming louder and more widespread. Even if they are slow and can be easily countered, their numbers is still the biggest problem. Emil, Duke and Zacharius are getting exhausted as well, and even though Wrie looks fine as if she never gets tired, the toll for such strength is being paid by Primrose.
At the same time, chaos involving monsters is erupting from the admin building’s direction.
As the demon summoned from a faraway place steps into the field, Headmaster Dimasalang immediately issues an order to the remaining BK on standby. Professor Crownheit hastily headed to the field keeping the demon busy while he waits for capable teammates. Professor Zhu is still on her way from the shores. It is fortunate that Headmaster Dimasalang decided to act and call her back to the administration building after he noticed the one-sided flow the enemy’s attack. Now, they are being flooded by the enemies in all directions that their forces, hat little amount of manpower, are being overwhelmed by this large number of enemies attacking. Whoever is behind this attack must be a very cunning man.
Forty-five minutes past two o’clock in the afternoon
The gym’s roof
She turns to look him in the eyes. His facial features are becoming clearer more than before. “The color is... purple?..”
“Are you curious?” He asks while wearing a devious smile. “If you ask, I’m willing to answer honestly… However, there’s no turning back.”
Of course Azalea is curious, but by the way he talks, she cannot guarantee that he is going to tell the truth. “No,” she sighs. She calms herself again. “Say whatever you want, I’m not listening.”
“Is that so?”
The smile on his face somehow irritates her, or more like it makes her feel uneasy. It is as if he is so confident about something that is connected to her past.
“Then, let me tell you something about yourself that you don’t know.” He continues, ignoring Azalea's growing annoyance. She wishes she has a way to make this man shut up. “You have two flaws.” He continues with that same calm tone as he gestures. “First, overconfidence.”
“What?!” Azalea could not help but react. “I’m not overconfident at all. I’ve never underestimated my enemies.”
“Second,” he continues without flinching, “you are way too reliable.”
“You’re mocking me… you’re just mocking me, aren’t you?!”
While she is preoccupied by Malikk’s chit-chat, something ominous suddenly gave her goosebumps. She quickly turns her sight towards the field. Her enhanced senses are warning her. Something that should not be there appeared like it came out of nowhere.
“What is a demon doing here?” She mumbles with a stunned expression.
These enemies... they are not to be trifled with.
Forty-one minutes after two o’clock in the afternoon
Administration building, garden area
Amidst the ocean of monsters are two students from the blue-zone. One of them has pastel blue hair, electric blue eyes and pale skin tone; he talks cheerfully despite their dire situation and seems to have a carefree personality. He is from the established noble lineage of Ki Masters, the House of Kirihara, Eisuke Kirihara. The other one has black hair, amber eyes and fair skin; he looks a little serious but at the same time it seems that he is enjoying the flow of the situation. He is from another highly ranked lineage of Contractors. He is the heir of the House of Darko, Rydon Darko. The two of them are not using any of their special skills, yet they are fighting ardently with the monsters surrounding them.
“Hey, Rydon,” Eisuke calls with a teasing smile as hordes of monsters approach their location. “Wanna compete?”
“Like who gets to kill more monsters, is that it?” He responds casually.
Rydon snorts and then lets out a laugh with hint of scorn. “Don’t act so friendly towards me, Kirihara. I have no intention of goofing around with you.”
“Come on, don’t be too harsh on yourself, Rydon.” His smile is, without a doubt, full of enthusiasm. He cracks his knuckles and then moves into his fighting stance. “Remember what our goal is?”
“Goal?” He pauses for a moment before showing a big grin as if he thought of something tricky. “So, whoever runs out of energy first is the loser, huh?”
“Got that!” Eisuke answers and then he punches one monster downwards. His punch is strong enough to make the monster hit its head hard on the ground. “Hey come on! Don’t tell me I’ll just have to punch down every single one of you, ‘coz that’s boring.” He cracks his neck left and right.
As Eisuke takes down one monster at a time Rydon simply walks away distancing himself from him. He observes the movements of each one of the three types of monsters around them while dodging every attack with ease.
“Young master Eisuke!” A familiar voice calls. A blonde man is running towards them, he is Keito. “Don’t just randomly fight with your bare hand, young master.” He approaches them politely while catching his breath. “First, at least check on what type of monsters they are.”
“We don’t’ have time for that,” he sighs, answering lethargically.
Keito gulps. He knows how carefree Eisuke is. “At least know the basics.”
There are three kinds of monsters that are rampaging in AB Academy grounds. Judging by their physical appearance, they must be from different regions. The Shadow Nilmerg (nil•mer) are humanoid reptile-like monsters with pointed ears, sharp fangs and long claws. They are small with height of three to four feet, and weight that will not exceed thirty kilograms. Because of their small and thin physical features, they are weak but extremely agile. They usually use their fangs and claws to attack while their large ears give them sharp perception of enemies. Some of them are wearing armors for higher defense. To make their attacks tougher and sharper, they combine mana into it; furthermore, they could also use long ranged mana-imbued attacks, wind blades. Shadow Nilmergs are also known to attack in groups, in a coordinated action.
The second monster is identified as the Earth Q’Etsu (kyu•e•tsu), a giant bat-like monster that cannot fly. Their body is covered with fur, the underside of their arms form an extended skin which resembles bat wings. Their eyes are blind but their big pointed ears and sensitive fur makes up for their senses that they could move fairly well be it day or night. Their body is well built, with height that is not any less than six feet and they possess reasonably bulked muscles. Due to their body type, they are quite slow compared to the Nilmergs, but they could boost their speed via powerful jumps. Q’Etsus main ability is ‘mana drain,’ which allows them to absorb the mana of a living creature by simply touching them.
The last monster identified is the Swamp Tondir. They are aquatic-looking creatures covered in scales. The hard scales on their bodies serves as their toughest form of protection. They are slow on land but extremely fast when in bodies of water. Like Nilmergs, they are also small, about four feet in height. Tondirs usually carries spears or tridents as weapon to attack their prey. They can also use water element attacks.
While Eisuke, Rydon and Keito are busy fighting the monsters, two groups of BK arrives to help them suppress the enemies. The two BK groups have divided themselves into the north wing and the south wing area of the administration building while Eisuke and Keito have positioned themselves in the middle of the garden. Rydon, on the other hand, wants to separate himself from the others to go ahead near the academy field where he could see the demon, Il Darvan.
“By the way, young lord of Darko, where are your aides?” Keito asks Rydon.
“I ordered them to protect the dorms.” Rydon answers casually.
“Aren't they supposed to protect you?..”
Rydon scoffs as if he is looking at a worm. “If this young lord cannot take care of himself, how can he take care of the House?”
Keito is dumbfounded for a moment.
“Oh yeah, Keito,” Eisuke calls as he smashed his fist down at one earth q’etsu.
“Yes, young master?” Keito responds worriedly. “A-ah—q’etsus could drain your mana so be careful not to touch them... too much”
“W-what?!” He raises his eyebrow as he looks down at the monster that he just beat down. “Wretched monsters,” he mutters. “Anyway, Keito, where is Evan?”
He scratches his head while averting his eyes. “He got caught up with some other business.”
Eisuke pauses, his mouth drops wide open. The long pause made an opening for a monster to attack, one swamp tondir dashed with its spear aiming for Eisuke’s torso. Just a couple of centimeters and the spear would have pierced through him, fortunately –or more like just as he anticipated– he blows the aggressively approaching tondir away with his ki. He then pierces the tondir’s heart with a beam from his fingers like he just fired a laser gun. He returns his attention back to Keito who is momentarily caught up in surprise.
“I see,” Eisuke says with a peculiar smile, “he must have found something interesting.”
“Hey, imbeciles of Kirihara.” Rydon calls with a grumpy expression. “Stop wetting your pants there and concentrate on fighting!”
“Hu~h?!” A vein pops on Eisuke's forehead while he keeps his business smile on. “Who’s wetting what?”
The moment their eyes meet, the tondirs takes the opportunity to throw a spear directly targeting Rydon’s back. Without looking behind, he catches the spear thrown at him, and then he continues his speech before casually throwing it back.
“Professor Crownheit is single handedly keeping that demon busy in the fields.”
The spear that he threw hits and skewers two nilmergs.
Rydon stands straight while he is fixing his glare at Eisuke and Keito who are more than ten feet away from him. “We can’t let these small fries pass us and interfere with him. At least not until more reinforcements comes.”
“You have to relax a bit, buddy.” Eisuke replies nonchalantly, without minding his surroundings.
Because of his easy-going personality, the nearby q’etsus are eyeing him to attack. Two of them jump at him at the same time. Yet, he did not bother moving an inch.
“Getting too restless now won’t be helpful,” he continues preaching with a laidback tone.
Keito then shoots the two q’ketsus behind him that are about to touch his head.
“Well then,” Rydon says rolling his eyes to the side before turning his back away. “Do not make any blunders because I won’t come to your aide.”
“Come now,” Eisuke teases, “stop acting like a tsundere.”
“What the heck?”
The monsters are currently being dealt with by three students, two groups of BK, and the remaining twelve ICA guards in the admin building. Their priority is to keep the staff safe from any harm. In this situation, everyone that could fight have their hands full to go help one another. Almost all of the students are inside the dorms and cannot leave due to Azalea's magic barrier. Most of them, especially the green-zone students, are very confused about what is happening. They always have the impression that the academy ground is a very safe place. How would they ever have the thought that a large scale attack could happen in the middle of the day?
Meanwhile, there are also a number of students in the blue-zone and red-zone who have a rough idea of the situation. Many in the red-zone are prepared to fight when pushed. For now, the barrier is still protecting them; once it falls they are sure to join the fray without any second thought.
On the other hand, in the blue-zone dorm, most nobles do not seem to be that bothered. They are calm and a few of them are still enjoying their teas. They are either confident that the situation is going to be resolved just fine, or they can handle everything even if worse comes to worst.
Back in the field, Professor Crownheit cannot get into his rhythm due to the lack of usable objects around him. All he can do at the moment is to keep the demon’s interest on him so that it would not go attacking others. The nine-foot tall demon is no easy opponent. It is carrying a huge ax and its body is fully clad with yellow and brown armor.
While the professor is fighting, his phone rings receiving a message. It contains intel about the demon. Il Darvan, a name that BIDAO has come up with. It is the name of the demon that inhabits the Emp desert found at the other side of the globe. Of course, this demon cannot fly. This demon is only able to reach the academy due to that portal that suddenly opened. Considering that this demon still not listed as a threat, the professor can only conclude that someone must have lured it into the portal and out if its territory.
This attack has been planned thoroughly by whoever the mastermind is. AB Academy is the future of ICA. Targeting them is a declaration that this era of peace and order is about to end. This is something like a warning. Someone is showing the world that there exists a force with potential to oppose ICA and the current order that they have established. They are openly waging war against the world.
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