Counter 23: Blizzard Hazzard
Fifty-two minutes after two o’clock in the afternoon
She fought well. All these years, she did… and she is still fighting. Fighting against monsters, demons, and sometimes humans too. However, the greatest and most exhausting battles she had fought are always the ones no one else could ever bear witness to.
“I will now be taking the barrier down.” She says as she slowly closed her eyes, as if averting her gaze from reality.
Malikk can sense the barrier around them gradually disappear, along with the barrier around that guy too. She will be up against two enemies.
“Can she handle two humans alone? Demons were never a problem for her, after all that is what she wanted to fight against.”
According to his investigations –rumors, news, and reports –Azalea has never killed any human before. Even in those times she was being persistently pursued due to the bounty on her head. The worst she has done is crippling some of them.
How about now?
“Can’t you make another barrier for yourself alone?” He asks while the barrier dissipates away.
“There is no point in hiding anymore,” Azalea answers while she fixes her sight on that demon-like creature. “I have to deal with Elen. If I could reverse that spe--”
“No,” He strongly disagrees. “You are planning to turn her back? Don’t do it, you’re just wasting your time.”
She glares at him like he is an enemy.
However, Malikk have no intension of giving her any false hope. “If you don’t fight with the intent to kill that thing, you’ll be the one in danger.”
“Will I really be in danger?” Azalea responds with a mischievous smile. Then Elen dashed towards her like a rampaging beast. “I may not be able to reverse that spell now,” she continues while dodging the demon’s claws that almost carved a couple of deep trenches on her face. “But I will definitely find a way later. First thing’s first!” Then she runs far from the demon while her staff floats close behind.
What is she planning now?
“Don’t forget about me, witch!” The other guy who just got freed from the barrier shouts as he accumulates a ball of hot gasses floating above his right hand. “I’ll make sure to toast you into crisp!”
“Dream on!” Azalea answers with a smug look.
The blond guy throws consecutive explosive attacks that Azalea is able to easily dodge, however what weighed on her simple evasive maneuver is the approaching demon. The demon attacks in close range, with claws sharpened by its berserk mana, even one hit could be fatal. Once she distances herself away from the demon, that other guy then mercilessly throws his bombs aimed at her.
Malikk does not want to reveal himself this early. He is planning to wait until the mastermind pulling the strings behind these shows up. However…
“Maybe, I should make a move soon.”
Fifty minutes after two o’clock in the afternoon
Green dorm area
The monsters that came from within the portals have spread across the academy. Along with the attack of colonies of swamp tondirs, shadow nilmergs and earth Q'etsus, are their respected monster bosses. One of the monster bosses is currently facing Eisuke and Rydon in the garden area. It does not seem like they are having a hard time considering the level of their skills. The Swamp Tondir King that they are fighting against is in great disadvantage due to its weakness in the land terrain. At the same time, another monster boss –the Shadow Master Nilmerg –reached the library area, adding another saddle in Duke’s group. Zacharius and Wrie are keeping the metaghosts from reaching the interior of the library while Duke decided to take on the shadow master nilmerg. It might be for the better if he fights the enemy he thinks he could handle.
Moving on, Emil reached the green dorm area where Blair, Daisuke, Deeveen and Vargas are fighting against the increasing flood of metaghosts. Blair continues to fight by targeting the leg joints while Deeveen follows Herneihmys’ example and is producing admirable results. Vargas and Daisuke have decided to fight using their physical strength alone by aiming for the legs as well, making the metaghost fall, or simply throwing them around; although this method exhausts their stamina faster. While they are busy in diminishing the number of those scrap metals, another misfortune befalls on them. A Q'etsu arrives rampaging as it flies lowly in the area. Unlike the others, this one appears to be more hairy, which means it might be the monster boss, the Emperor Q'etsu. Emil then decides to lure the monster boss away while the barriers around the dorms are being taken down. Once the students join the fray, they could greatly increase their fighting potential. Although, it also risks the possibility that the place might get too rowdy which may needlessly produce more injured students or worse some casualties. They are taking note that this bunch of students has few to none live combat experience.
“Hey-! Dais--… D-daiko? Dike!!” Emil shouts as he tries to recall the guy’s name. “I’ll lure the monster way, you guys assist the students and teach them how to fight the metalcraps!”
Then he throws rocks on the Emperor Q'etsu to provoke it to chase after him.
“I’m D-A-I-S-U-K-E!! For god’s sake, remember my name already!” Daisuke yells as he spins a metaghost away.
“Hey, hey, Dice~” Blair calls from a distance. “I want to go with Emil. I don’t think I can help with assisting others or anything like that anyway.” Then she runs off following Emil without waiting for the reply.
“Goddamn it!” Daisuke clicks his tongue. “Those idiots is not listening to anyone. Hey you two, stick close to the green dorm and watch out for other students.”
“Huh?!” Deeveen is almost at the brink of complaining but she paused. After taking several deep breaths she pulls herself together. “Okay. ”
“Die, you’re from the red dorm, aren’t you?” Vargas asks while moving his face closer to Daisuke. “Aren’t you worried about the situation in your dorm?”
“Hey, you just cursed me, didn’t you?” Daisuke replies with displeased smile on his face.
Vargas laughs a little while rubbing his head.
“Anyway, the red dorm and the blue dorm should be fine,” Daisuke answers while clearing his throat. “It seems that these metal-junks are only taking a straight path which passes through the green dorm so protecting this place is in the priority list. Even if something happens there, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. Considering the strength and skill that the Strange noble exhibited, there is nothing for us to worry about even if the blue dorm gets attacked.
For the red zone, you must not forget that the kids there had been through a lot more compared to something like this.”
Daisuke and Vargas continue to fight in the frontlines while Deeveen covers them from behind. For a moment, they have detected something glowing from the dorm’s direction but it instantly vanished when they turned around to check it. After a short pause, the realization clicked at the back of their mind, the barrier is now gone. Any moment now, groups of student will come out and at that time it will be decided whether they are going to get more helping hands or just more burden pressing on their backs.
It seems that the students have been released from the shelter of the dormitories. On the other hand, Blair and Emil are focused on the monsters alone. It is getting hard as the metaghosts stay on the same path so they have moved away from the green dorm towards the side of the AV building. If they are not careful, they could get attacked while their full attention is on the emperor Q'etsu alone. Furthermore, that monster seems to be very interested on the lingering scent of the students in the dorms. They are most probably its target. The barrier that Azalea created could only hide them from the mechanical senses of the metaghost, not from the intricate sense of the monsters.
“Let’s go get this over wi--!!” Blair blindly dashes through the metaghosts.
But Emil is able to stop her by grabbing the back side of her uniform’s collar the moment she passes in front of him.
“Don’t just dash away,” He scolds her while gripping her collar tighter.
Blair coughs, “Y-you’re choking me-”
Emil is hesitating but decides to let go.
“What was that for?” She complains while pouting like a kid.
“Let’s try planning first.” Emil is trying to explain in his most serious tone. But then his attention is caught by the nearing metaghost. He wants to try something first so… “Stay put for a second,” he tells her.
Then without any second thoughts, he rushes towards the metaghost. He lifts it, before throwing it up, and finally hit it with a spinning kick aiming for the direction of the emperor Q'etsu.
“If we keep going on this kind of tactic,” He tells himself while getting his balance back. “I have to assess this situation carefully. My armor won’t be able to hold much longer… and it’s most probably the same with Blair’s vambrace.”
The emperor Q'etsu jumps away and avoids being hit as well as being caught within the range of the explosion.
After gawking at Emil for a while, Blair jogs closer. “What’s wrong, Emil?” She asks. She must have noticed that Emil is in deep thought.
“I think you should be more careful in handling your weapon. It looks really worn out.” He answers straightforwardly. His eyes are focusing on the vambrace. She must have fought a lot to get such numerous cracks on it. “You are fighting way to reckless. I bet you don’t even control the force you use. You just smash all of them regardless, don’t you?”
“Yeah, that’s right.” She answers nonchalantly while scratching the back of her head.
Emil sighs deeply. This is seriously depressing. “I’m not complementing you.” How should they pull this off? They have never fought as a team. “Hey, Blair. Don’t act on your own. Listen first.”
“Why are you being so strict right now, Emil?” She complained again.
Going back to the details, the emperor q’etsu are basically the same as the other earth q’etsus in appearance, this one is just hairy… well hairier? Anyway, its special skill is mana drain. It got two kinds of drain skill, first is the Passive Mana Drain, it is the continuous mana absorption from any organism within three-meter radius around them. It is a slow drain but difficult to avoid. The other one is the Absolute Drain, it can be activated once it touches the target; it could drain the mana so fast that it could kill the victim in an instant.
“So do you have any plans in mind, Emil?” Blair’s voice rang.
Emil who is lost in his thoughts snaps back to reality. “We’ll have to cover each other’s back, for now.”
“Is that all?”
“W-wait--!” She was again about to dash off so Emil grabs her arm. “At least let me finish.” He needs to be strict with her. He still has not forgotten how she tricked him back in that incident in the cargo ship. “We are both close range fighters. If you are going to attack within three-meter radius from that q’ketsu, make sure you make it fast then back off immediately.”
“Okay!” She answers with an enthusiastic grin while cracking her knuckles preparing to fight.
Emil lets go of her arm and watches her march forward. But just a few steps ahead she suddenly pauses and then turns back to him. “Wait, how far is three meters, again?”
Oh my god.
Fifty-two minutes after two o’clock in the afternoon
Green dorm area
A group of students have come out of the green dorm. Five of them, they are all from BK. It appears that they are observing the situation first. One of them, he seems to be their leader, gestures something and then another group came out of the dorm. Their reaction is that of someone in complete awe, as if they are looking at a scene they have never witnessed before. It is not surprising at all. They have lived a very peaceful life, sheltered from the darker side of the reality.
“What are you spacing out for?!!” That girl’s loud voice rings while pointing her finger to the group of BK that just came out of the dorm. “If you guys aren’t going to help, just go back inside and get lost! You’re giving us more problems by standing there like idiots!”
“This Deeveen girl sure have a sharp tongue.” Daisuke tells himself silently.
“Y-you’re pretty arrogant for some freshman!” A sophomore guy, shouts back at her. “You rookies can stand back now, the BK will take care of this!”
Vargas dashes in front of the BK before laughing in a forced tone. “Then please do,” he says while grabbing the guy’s collar and shirt.
Before the sophomore guy could react, Vargas has already thrown him in the middle of the passing metaghosts.
The sophomore guy screams in terror while getting up. His squad is left in panic, stunned and not knowing what to do next.
What a comedic scene.
Daisuke could not hold his laugh back while watching them. “I guess I’ll have to do something before this turns into something more troublesome.” He mumbles while giggling. He then run across the swarm of those metaghosts, and then he sends one of them flying with a full force spinning kick. “Bull’s eye!” He shouts enthusiastically.
Meanwhile, the sophomore guy looks so stunned that his jaws are left hanging. Deeveen follows up by using her earth magic to make obstacles around them, keeping them safe for a limited time.
“Stop ogling me,” Daisuke says while looking down on him “If you don’t have any plans to die then get up and fight. I won’t be saving you every goddamn time.”
The sophomore guy then stands up. “How cocky of you!” He growls while wiping off the dust on his uniform. “You’re just a lowly criminal from the red-zone. Don’t think you can get off easily with your violations just because we’re in this chaos!”
“Stop acting like a child!” Deeveen yells while lifting the ground where the man stands. It slowly goes up from the level ground to higher altitude. “Don’t impose your status here if you can’t prove yourself to be worthy of it!”
“I guess she knows how to say some sweet things once in a while.” Daisuke makes a crooked smile.
“Alright--!!” Vargas roars powerfully. “Everyone from the green-zone,” he turns his sight at the students inside the dorm as he clenches his fists in boxing stance. “If you have enough courage, come out and fight with us! If you are not confident enough then, stay hidden and don’t be a burden!”
“What is he talking about?”
“These freshmen have been fighting all along?”
“What the hell are those?!!”
The students standing near the dorm’s entrance keeps murmuring amongst themselves. Their aura is enveloped with a dark curtain of uneasiness and uncertainty.
“Why in the world are we suddenly thrown in the middle of this chaos?”
“No way… There’s no way we can beat those giant tanks!”
“Just whose fault is this?”
Deeveen clicks her tongue in disdain. “Hey! You should have already known what we are up against if you are paying enough attention to your surroundings!”
“Don’t get cocky just because you can fight a little!” One shouted from the far back.
“Those giants… It’s impossib--”
“Quit complaining and move your ass out of the way!” A girl shouts while passing through the crowd. The students giving way to her reacted with surprise. “We don’t need wimps here.”
Not only her voice is intimidating, her presence as well as her appearance is both daunting. As the crowd continues to gossip, she becomes more recognizable in Daisuke and company. She holds her uniform’s coat with her left hand. The symbol on her uniform shows that she is freshman. Black hair styled in mohawk, both sides shaved and the back hair grows few centimeters past her nape. Her right arm is fully clad with tribal tattoos.
“The freshmen this year are way too gutsy.” Someone mutters.
She snorts. “The sophomores sure are a bunch of weaklings, huh.” She steps in front and then handed her coat to the girl following her behind. “Take this and go hide somewhere.”
“You can’t fight, do something else.” She cuts the girl’s speech before she can reason out then she starts marching forward. “You should already know what you can do. Don’t make me worry too much.”
The girl nods and then she runs back inside. The freshman with tattoos looks around, observing the surrounding area with eyes that looks like they are raging.
Daisuke slowly backs away, moving closer to the dorm. His breathing is starting to feel heavy. He knows that he starting to feel more and more physically exhausted. How long have they been fighting? Beads of sweat are rolling down his neck and back.
“Daisuke,” Deeveen calls from behind, “something feels amiss.”
He has no idea what to answer. He does not feel any oddity in the air. Maybe he is too exhausted to notice something. He looks around silently, watching the metaghosts pass by.
“Hey! Mage over there!” Miss tattoo calls fixing her eyes at Deeveen. “I’ve received some stuff that contains details about those robots and some monsters. The information is easy enough to understand however, I to the specifics of the situation in this area. I believe you are the right person here to guide us.”
“I’m Deeveen. Deeveen Wolfsbane.”
“Excuse me,” another one joins in. He looks like another squad leader from BK, a sophomore. “Let me hear about that briefing as well, for starters.” He seems to be more reasonable than the other guy up there. “We can’t just hide behind some normal students. We, the Balaam Knights, will carry out our duty.”
“We don’t really need your speech right now, you know.” Vargas says while taking a few steps forward. He looks somewhat uneasy.
He moves closer to Daisuke while Deeveen concentrates on giving the newcomers some tips.
“Something changed in their movements.” Vargas says softly. “There is an odd sound that was not present earlier.”
Just after Vargas utters those words, there are suddenly alarmed by the rapid mechanical sounds. The mechanical sound continues while they look back towards the direction of the shore –where the metaghosts are coming from. From there, something glittered as the late afternoon sun light hit its metallic surface from afar. Gun –no, machine guns from inside of the metaghosts’ torso rallied side by side as they march directly towards the green dorm.
Was this function been available all along? Then why are they only putting it to use now?
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