Esmeralda does a parry, then another parry, followed by a side step with an attack to the stomach and finishing with a whack to the head with her wooden practice sword. Cesar falls face forward from the strike. A quick dash puts her right underneath Elisa, and before the hunter could nock another arrow, Esmeralda leaps up to deliver a downward strike. Elise yelps as her body bounce across the ground, and Esmeralda is already dashing at Matt.
Matt’s shaky hands can’t get a proper aim with his gun or spell, so he fires wildly. Changing her maneuvering to a zig-zag pattern, she dodges all of his projectiles and stops when she faces him. He drops his gun in panic, trying to put up a barrier, but loses the spell when Esmeralda’s fist plays tag with his stomach.
Crumpling forward, Esmeralda turns to see the Cesar is holding himself up with his sword. Very well, she thinks and takes a step forward. Esmeralda raises her sword, and Cesar falls over, holding his shield up cowering. Esmeralda tosses her sword beside her, causing it to stand erect beside her, then sits cross-legged.
“Alright, guys, take a break,” She says, pulling her lunch out of her kimono. She had started with her training armor, but after three rounds of not more than five hits landing, she decided to drop the buffs that the armor gave her and try to provide them with a little more of an advantage. This was the fifth try, and it had not helped.
“I’m just going to stay over here,” Elise yells out, face down where Esmeralda had left her.
“Matt!” Esmeralda calls.
“Give me but a moment. My insides feel as if they are on fire,” he says, in the fetal position, babying his wound.
“Don’t you have any healing potions, Elisa?”
“Healing spells don’t put the air back in your lungs after it’s been knocked out,” she gasps.
Esmeralda huffs. She doesn’t mean to, but the situation she finds herself in is challenging. She’s responsible for people’s lives now. Not just Cesar, but Elise and Matt too. Sure, it wasn’t as dire as it was with Cesar, and they could just walk away whenever they wanted. Until that happened, their safety was on her.
They all have a long way to go until they would be a competent unit, with the worst being Cesar, of course. Matt’s offense was unbelievably bad, but who could blame him? He’s a Cleric. He sits in the back and keeps people alive. Elisa’s defense was nonexistent, but at least she was decent with a bow. Her Owl did provide some uses, but combat was clearly not one.
Offensively, defensively, and support wise Cesar needed improvement. The only thing the kid had was wealthy parents who bought him state-of-the-art gear to keep him alive in a fight. Esmeralda was starting to wonder if it had seen any action before three days ago.
She had put in a request for all of their battle history, but she didn’t have high hopes for any of their records. Maybe Matt’s, but that was about all.
“You’re fucked,” a rough voice calls through. And Esmeralda knew that voice. Esmeralda turns to face the voice to see Xiao Niao walking through their portal. How did she find them in the vast halls of training rooms?
Her real name was Shufen Hayes, but only her closest friends and her wife knew that. To the rest of the world, she was Xiao Niao or Little Bird in Orcish. A nickname that had been given to her by her wife.
Xiao was a powerful Orc monk, possibly one of the strongest. Specializing in Qi that could manipulate the world around her and her opponents. Most of the time, she just uses it to predict the movements of everything around her and uses her natural strength and technique to take down her foes.
Standing at one hundred and sixty-five cm, she was beautiful in addition to powerful. Long black hair that reached the middle of her back whenever she let it down. She had a face that could have easily found a career in modeling, though now it was adorned with all sorts of piercings, her favorite being her lip ring. Her sandy brown eyes were also a nice feature that highlighted her good lucks. Her figure was that of an elite athlete, beautifully toned body that many men desired, even though she was clearly off-limits on two fronts. Her light green skin was tended for and gorgeous in its own right. No doubt her lifestyle of being a monk helped with that, though it was beautifully painted by tattoos that covered a majority of it.
Her training gear was nothing more than a matching sports bra and leggings. She chose pink for today, and Esmeralda, for one, could not argue with her choice. Her walk exuded power and pride as her body glistened with the sweat of her workout.
“Please tell me the Drow it the guy I’ll be testing in three months,” she says, wiping her brow and catching her breath. While she waters herself with her punk rock decorated water bottle, Esmeralda shakes her head slowly. “So yeah, you’re fucked.”
“Xiao, do not talk that way about my apprentices. It’s not good for morale,” Esmeralda counters.
“But getting killed because of a spoiled little rich kid wanting to play adventurer is?” Xiao’s words shot right to Esmeralda’s heart. Those were the exact words that Ben had used on her, and it was still a sore spot.
“This isn’t a game!” fire burned in her eyes as she spat it out.
“That would be the point that Yan and I are trying to get across,” Xiao says, utterly unfazed by her yelling whether it was due to her not seeing her as a threat or her just knowing what had happened between her and Ben. Esmeralda didn’t know.
“It’s not up to you who ‘plays adventure.’ We make our own choices, and if you don’t like it, then don’t deal with it.” This one caught her attention.
“I don’t know when you decided to put on your big girl bra, but if you think you’re up to challenging me, I could show you how a little girl should behave,” Xiao says, throwing her bottle to the ground.
“Just leave. I don’t need this right now,” Esmeralda says, turning her back to Xiao. Pain comes to a full roar in her head as Xiao grabs her hair and yanks her to the ground. The sting of her head crashing on the floor sends her body into fight or flight. Activating Power, she gains a red glow and dashes to her armor. Xiao casually walks over to her, giving her time to do whatever she felt needed. The others put as much distance between them as they could.
Stepping into her training armor and equipping Taiyo, she rushes back to Xiao. Miss, miss, miss, and big surprise, miss. Every swing of her sword is a miss. Xiao doesn’t have that same problem. How did her punches hurt so much through her armor? Xiao didn’t infuse her attacks with Qi. She naturally was that strong. Esmeralda, panting from the well-placed hits, watches those sandy brown eyes become overtaken with a full white set. This was her Qi sight.
Esmeralda sends out a wave of power with a roar, and Xiao shatters it with a punch. Before Esmeralda could recover from her attack, Xiao had her by the throat. Xiao takes two fingers and taps Esmeralda in a few pressure points, and Esmeralda can no longer tap into her power.
“Listen up, I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but fix it before I break you,” She says and tosses Esmeralda to the ground. Pain and a flood of emotions overtake Esmeralda as she sobs on the floor.
“Don’t you do that!” Xiao yells, commanding Esmeralda to be stronger. “I’ve seen you take hits from barbarians, warriors, and spells harder than I hit you. Don’t start crying. I don’t do emotions well.”
“Oh, fuck, this is an emotional thing, isn’t it?”
Xiao bites out an Orcish curse.
“Okay, here’s what we are going to do. I’m going to get Yasuhiro and Rinako in here, and they will handle all of this, Okay?”
More sobbing, deeper and harder than before.
“I don’t know what you want from me,” Xiao says, frantically looking for her phone. She finds it in her phone pouch and presses a few buttons in a panicked rush, and starts speaking to someone in Orcish. Esmeralda can hear Xiao say goodbye and then pace back and forth.
Then there was a big whoosh. A sound of magic filled the air, and that was one of two people.
“Reyes-san!” Yasuhiro’s voice calls out. “Report!” Yasuhiro’s voice is so demanding and forceful, yet. It works. Pushing herself off the ground and wiping her tears, she stands and faces her senpai.
“Here, Yabe-senpai,” Esmeralda says, standing and sheathing her sword.
“What is the meaning of this! Is this how you represent my teachings? Is this how you want Hideyoshi Bushido to be represented? What is the sixth virtue of Bushido?” Esmeralda’s heart sunk.
“Meiyo.” Honor. She felt unworthy to even say it.
“And do you bring yourself honor by breaking down amidst your duties?” He says, starting up in Lycan.
“No, Senpai,” she hung her head down, bearing the shame she brought on herself.
“Pick yourself up, and conduct yourself like the Samurai that you are. Is that clear!”
“Yes, Senpai,” Esmeralda says, standing upright and fighting back the hurt that had earlier consumed her.
“Are you fucking kidding me! Yelling is how you got her to stop?” Xiao asks in frustration.