I don’t know what you want

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.”
More sobbing.
“Oh, fuck, this is an emotional thing, isn’t it?”
More sobbing.
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.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

He Played you

“I love your shirt.” The cab driver says, striking up a conversation. 

“Yeah, the band is awesome.” 

“I got to see them live once. Best concert ever.”

“Was this the one they did in Reve?”

“Sure was. Whoever did the magic for their show was amazing.”

“It really was,” Esmeralda bonds with the driver over one of her favorite bands, Mercury and the Architects are a newer band, so not many people know about them yet, but they were already making waves. Their big break was last year when they played at the sanctuary of Reve, where the biggest events of the planet happen. 

Esmeralda and the driver chat for a while, and when they finally reach the Phillips estate, the driver is quick to give Esmeralda his number. She takes it and leaves the cab. Then, pulling out her phone, she saves his number, gives him a five-star rating, and walks up to the door. 

Esmeralda always felt like a commoner coming to the Phillips estate. Not many have seen success like Andre and Lisa Phillips, and their house reflects that. The house was easily sitting on half an acre in Los Mitichas’ most affluent area. This enormous colonial-style house looked like it housed a small garrison of people, and it did. The house came with a full-time staff, and here she was in her rocker shirt and jean shorts. 

She lets out a long breath and presses the doorbell. Only seconds pass before a butler opens the door, greeting her with a warm smile. 

“Ms. Reyes, we have been expecting you.”

“Thank you.” Esmeralda bows and the butler returns the gesture. 

The butler leads her into the house and shows her to the dining area. After announcing her, Desmond and Alexa get up from the table to run to her. The seven-year-old Alexa and the five-year-old Desmond each pick a leg, yelling. 

“Auntie Esmeralda,” to the best of their abilities. 

“Hey, you guys!” Esmeralda squeals, picking them up and embracing their hugs. 

“Alright guys, back to the table to finish your food,” Andre says, with a delightfully warm smile. Every time Esmeralda sees that smile, or just Andre in general, she can only imagine how happy Lisa is.

 Tall, dark, and handsome were words that were created just to describe him. Even wearing polo and khakis, you could see the defined muscles of Andre. His trademark Drow red eyes seemed softer than most, and his short white hair was always neat and professional. Even in the heat of battle. 

Lisa was nothing to frown at either. She had the life that most women can’t even dream of. Her figure still competes with models even after two children. Her naturally curly hair bounces as she moves. Her curves were something that Esmeralda was secretly jealous of, but it is hard to have a figure like hers when you are training to fight every day. 

Lisa pats the seat next to her, and Esmeralda and the children find their places. A servant comes out with a tray to deliver bowls of soup for everyone. Drow clam chowder. Esmeralda licks her lips in approval of the menu so far. 

Esmeralda has never seen the city in such a beautiful light before. She’s also never looked out over the city from a house balcony that was easily worth ten times what she planned to make in her lifetime. Her body is nourished, and her buzz starts. She’s sitting with Lisa going over the events at her house. 

“E, he played you.” 

“What!” Esmeralda sits up a little faster than her body was ready for. The lights of the city become a blur for a moment until she can re-adjust. 

“You were a trophy for him. It’s a sad tale that I hear a lot nowadays. Men seeking bounty hunters as a show of their manliness.” 

“That’s not … Ben’s not like that.” 

“Tell me, has he met your parents? Or even asked to?”

“No, we were just having fun. But it lead to more.” 

“If it lead to more, then why did he not want to meet your family? By the Queen, why didn’t he want to meet us?” 

“We were trying not to complicate things.” 

“You were trying not to complicate things. He was trying not to get attached.”

“He told me….” 

“What? That he loved you? Was this before or after your clothes were off?” Esmeralda tries to think. And the more she ponders on it, she believes it was after sex when she first told him. “Okay, another question. How many dates did you go on before you started having sex?”

“… maybe three?” Esmeralda isn’t even sure of herself at this point. 

“Were they real dates, or you guys just met up?”

“What’s the difference?” Esmeralda is feeling worse and worse as this conversation goes on. 

“Were they planned events or did you just meet up and hang out for a minute?” Esmeralda’s silence answers. “E, it is a known fact that most women in the bounty hunter field are either promiscuous or insecure.” Esmeralda feels small as Lisa explains this. “For some men, it is a badge of honor to either be picked by a female bounty hunter or find one that will have sex with them. And with most men not wanting to feel fragile about their masculinity, most female bounty hunters don’t have a lot to choose from, making you easy prey.” Lisa takes another sip of wine and realizes how bad Esmeralda feels. 

“So it can’t be that he just felt the strain of dating someone who is in my line of work?” 

“I want to lie to you and tell you that, but I’m also your friend. He knew what he was getting into when he dated you. Unless you weren’t honest about what you did for a living?” Esmeralda shakes her head, and Lisa continues. “When I started dating Andre, he was just a trainer for the royal guard of the Queen’s elite forces. Before he proposed to me, Lord Rouse came to him and asked him to join the fight in the Orc invasion.”

“You’ve met Lord Rouse?”

“Yes, I’ll have to tell you about that man some time.” There is a sly grin on Lisa’s face. 

“That Man? You talk about him as if he’s just like every other person on the planet.” 

“He may as well be. Ever since Simon has become eighteen, he’s stepped out of the affairs of mortals and only runs his shop. Besides, once you get to know him, it will change how you see him and your thoughts on how the Gods really were.

“Really,” Esmeralda’s eyes are full of stars, and it feels good to talk about something other than her for a second. 

“Yes, but I was going to make a point.” So much for that. “When Lord Rouse asked Andre to join the fight, I wouldn’t let Andre say no. I knew what that meant. I knew there would be a lot of nights where I wouldn’t get to see him. A lot of days of me worrying if he was okay. A lot of time for me nursing him back to health. When someone is a fighter like that, you have to have a certain mindset and if Ben knew from day one, he didn’t plan on being around long enough to care.”

“What kind of friend are you? Do you plan to make her feel better at any point tonight?” Andre says, walking out to the balcony. 

“Are you listening to our conversation, Babe?”

“I’m a parent. I hear everything. The young ones are in bed, by the way,” He says to Lisa, then turns to Esmeralda, “And you have an appointment to teach Desmond the basics of Power. That was the only way to get that boy to lay down.” Andre laughs. 

“Of course, Andre.” 

“Babe, I’m glad you’re here.”

“Because you love me, and you missed me?”

“Nope, so you can prove my point.” She smiles then leans to give him a kiss. After their kiss, Andre starts up. 

“What makes you think I want to prove your point after you say something like that?”

“Because you still have to sleep next to me.” She says with a devilish grin.

“I have a bed in my man cave,” his tone says that he was accepting her challenge.

“You think you can go a night without sleeping next to me?”

“Need I remind you who was the last person to go on strike…” 

“Okay, never mind. Please help me prove my point.” Lisa says, putting her hand to his mouth. He removes her hand and kisses her again. He then turns to Esmeralda. 

“Yes, it sounds like you were a notch in Ben’s belt. Would you like me to teach him a lesson?”

“No!” Esmeralda and Lisa yell at the same time. A proud smile slides across his face. 

“Why did you both yell like that?”

“Andre, dear, you’re terrifying. Unless someone has to die, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.” Lisa says, holding his hand. Esmeralda has flashbacks of seeing him work during the invasion. She didn’t know anyone could make death look like someone composing a song. How fluid his movements were, how effortlessly he danced around the battlefield. Some of his kills happened so fast, she didn’t even see him move. Just bodies drop around him. 

“I’m not that bad. Right?” No one answers. They just pour more wine and look out at the night sky. “Lisa?”

“Andre?”

“You’re not afraid of me, are you?”

“I’m afraid of what you can do. The first time you came to my rescue in that basement. I nearly died from just fear alone.” 

“Well, this is all good feedback. Most people around don’t have a chance to tell me. Well, in any case. My services are yours if you need them, Esmeralda.” 

Esmeralda just nods and sips her wine, thinking about everything that’s been said tonight.  

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Playing adventurer?

Esmeralda reads the text a couple of times as if somehow it would change its wording. Her stomach turns from fear as she calls him. There are a couple of rings until his voice comes through. 

“What?” He says dryly. 

“What’s going on?” Anxiety fills her more and more as each second passes. 

“It’s pretty simple. I’m not coming.” The words weaken her heart. Never has he told her this before. She’s got ‘be there soon’, ‘let me finish up’, and even on occasion  ‘I can’t make it tonight, but I’ll make it up to you’. But never in time they’ve been dating has she ever got I’m not in the mood.

“Is it something I’ve done?”

“Can we not,” Ben’s voice is flat and almost sounds as if he’s annoyed with her. 

“Ben, can we talk about this?”

“What’s there to talk about? I’m not in the mood to drive all the way over there to nurse you back to health. This happens every time you go on a mission.” 

“I don’t need nursing. What I need is my boyfriend for comfort.” 

“That’s my point. I’m not going to keep babying you because you want to play adventurer.”

“Play adventurer?” Esmeralda is more hurt by the shock of this than his unwillingness to come. The women from this morning were unable to hurt her because she knows what she is. But when someone she loves says the same thing it makes her question herself.

“Yes, run around with a stupid sword and fight monsters and all that nonsense. It was exciting at first, but now it’s,” Ben spits out a low curse. “ Just. Look, I don’t want to talk about it. I’m not coming.”

“This is something we need to talk about, Ben.” Esmeralda is sickened with how weak she feels right now, but she can’t help but feel hurt. Hurt on a level that she didn’t think she could. 

“No, we don’t need to talk. You want to. I’m not coming, end of discussion.”

“Will we talk tomorrow?” Esmeralda hears her voice weaken, but hopefully, it’s not as bad as it sounds. There is no answer. “Ben?” she says and checks the phone. He hung up. She hits his number again, only for it to ring once before going to voicemail. She places the phone on the sink and braces herself. She’s not sure if Yabe-sempai’s teachings of controlled breathing would help with this kind of pain, but she could try. 

Slowly she breathes in and out, keeping her knees from buckling. She takes a seat on the toilet lid and places her hands on her knees. The weight on her heart carries to her head, making it incredibly difficult to hold her head up. So when she feels the tiny warm drop hit her leg, she is shocked. A single tear rests on her leg, and she quickly wipes it away. Soon, it is joined by more, and no matter how much she tries to fight them, they invade her face. 

Running down in such force that it causes her to shudder when she breathes. The ragged breathing comes next as she finds it harder to get air in her lungs. The slow, gentle shakes of her sobbing get more intense, to the point that she holds herself for support. This does not help. Racked with dread, she stops fighting her tears and lets them stream down. Nothing else would work. 

Leaning back and feeling the pain of the porcelain press into her back didn’t exactly help her cause. Still, it was the most minor inconvenience to her right now. Her hands covering her eyes from the bathroom light and the other muffling her cries, she can’t seem to think of why this hurts so much. 

She and Ben have been dating for a couple of months now, not even half a year. So why does this hurt her so much? Her brain tries to go over the statistics of the situation. But, unfortunately, her body took a vote, and her heart was winning this fight. The heart didn’t care about the amount of time they had been together, only the feelings it held for Ben. 

The feelings that she couldn’t get from anyone else. The feelings that even though all of his friends teased him about talking to her, he stood by her. The feelings that developed even though everyone else told her that she couldn’t have them because she decided to not follow the social rules laid before her, yet they found her anyway. The feelings that Ben seemed to have worked tirelessly for weeks to place in her. 

Esmeralda couldn’t begin to think of what would bring this about. She and Ben were good in their relationship, they saw each other several times a week, and they had sex many of those times. She never asked him for money, never asked him where he’s been, nor did she care. His time was his own, and what he did with it was not her concern. The only things she ever asked of him were time and, on a few occasions, sex. She usually didn’t have to. He usually came ready. 

He mentioned nursing her, but what could that mean? She had always had potions and healing items done by the time he came. Maybe there were a few times she needed him to message her, but even that turned into sex. It could be when she needed to cuddle with him after some of the more challenging missions. That couldn’t have been more than three or four times – was it? 

All this has her questioning her relationship and if she did everything perfectly as she remembered. She couldn’t handle this. A ding reminds her that she has a pizza in the oven, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. She needed to get out of the bathroom. She couldn’t be locked in here with her thoughts. 

After a quick dry, she tosses the towel in the laundry bin and walks to the kitchen bare. At least she still feels comfortable in her own skin. Taking the pizza out, she sets it to cool. This will give her enough time to get dressed before dinner. 

Earlier, she set out a low-cut tank top and denim skirt, a present for Ben. She couldn’t possibly think of wearing it now. So instead, she reaches into her closet and finds her Mercury & The Architects shirt and jean shorts. Something also compelled her to place on her high-top skater shoes, and she listened. She never puts on shoes when she gets home, but after her spell in the bathroom, her body is telling her she doesn’t need to be alone right now. 

After fixing her hair in a messy bun and applying all her beauty products, she drifts back into the kitchen and stares at the pizza. It was kind of a ritual with Ben, and all it did was push up those feelings she was actively fighting. She finds a plate large enough for the pizza, breaks it up into slices, and shoves it into the fridge. She would eat out tonight, but where? 

She takes her phone and sees that she has a few missed texts from Lisa, her order of potions are ready. Maybe there is a better opportunity here. Hitting the necessary buttons to get her on the line, Esmeralda puts on her headphones and waits for the Drow’s voice to come through. 

“Well, hello, E.” 

“Hey, Lisa. Are you busy?”

“I’m a business owner, a wife, and a mom. I’m always busy. What’s up?”

“I was wondering if I could come by… you know to get those potions.” She feels stupid in the way she asks. 

“Our doors are always open to you, E. You know that. Especially for dinner, the kids love seeing their extended family. I think Desmond has a few questions for you about how to use Power anyway.”

“I don’t want to intrude. If you guys are having dinner…” Lisa cuts her off.

“E, I am a woman, and I know when another woman needs to talk. It’s all in your voice Hun. Come by, we have plenty of food, and that’s an order. Don’t make me have Andre come and get you.” Esmeralda shivers at the thought. 

“On my way, Lisa.” 

“Good. Also, grab some wine. I feel like we’re going to need it.”

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Are you kidding me? Him?

The potion slides down Esmeralda’s throat, and its soothing magic mixed with its cooling sensation was just what she needed on this hot day. Aside from a way to forget that she just made a pact with one of her mentors to train spoiled rich kid Paladin or kill him in three months. God’s Mercy she was in over her head.
The Drow is more than a little startled when he regains consciousness, and there is a colossal Orc standing over him with an ax bigger than him. Crawling backward as fast as he can, he only recovers himself when he sees Esmeralda a few feet behind him.
“You need to heal the others,” Yan says, not making the situation better with his tone. The Drow is quick to agree and put some space between himself and Yan. Yan turns to Esmeralda, and his face can’t decide whether he is proud of her or pissed – The latter seems to be winning at the moment.
“I’m going to tell Yabe about this,” Yan says, continuing in Orcish.
“I would expect nothing less Lord Yan.”
“He will be proud of you.”
“How, I nearly got my team killed?”
“Because you couldn’t rely on your team. They are not strong enough to complete S-rank missions.” Esmeralda gasps.
“That was an S-rank monster!”
“A part of it. They put a job up for A’s and B’s to clear the smaller monsters and for an S to clear the cave. I’m likely to find more inside.”
“Let me come with you.”
“You’re in no shape to come with me. And you have a lot of work ahead of you.” Yan says, spitting on the ground as if the very thought of the Human being alive disgusted him.
“At least take someone else with you.”
“Andre is meeting me there. I was just getting an early start to do some fishing when I heard the beast.” Esmeralda relaxed a little knowing another S-rank would be with him.
“I hear I have you to thank for us being alive,” The Elf says, keeping a safe distance from Yan but wanting to show respect. “Zingakuthanda izinyanya,” He says in Elvish, with a fist over his heart. Yan nor I can speak Elvish, but we know respect when we see it. Placing his fist and hand together, Yan bows to the Elf.
“Why did you save me?” The Human says, his voice and hand shaky and struggling to adjust to the last five minutes. Esmeralda steadies his hand and helps him sheathe his sword.
“Because I believe that you can be a mighty paladin. With the proper training.
“Do you mean that?”
“Of course…,” Esmeralda is cut off by the Vampire.
“You have to be kidding me! Him?” The Vampire flies over to Esmeralda. Her tone is the most hurt that Esmeralda has heard before, and her eyes match this. Glistening just before tears, she looks on at Esmeralda with disbelief.
“Hunter….”
“Elisa Deschamps,” The Vampire says.
“Elisa Deschamps, I only did it to save his life. Everything just happened so fast.”
“I understand,” Elisa says, her words sounding sincere.
“As an A-rank bounty hunter, I can take on four apprentices,” Esmeralda says, placing her hand on Elisa’s shoulder. “And I would be honored if you would be one of them.” Esmeralda thought that would stop the tears, but it only made more of them. Her face beamed with happiness, and tears flowed as she lunged at Esmeralda, hugging her as tight as she could. Her overwhelming praise flowing just as much as her tears.
“Yes, yes, a million times yes,” Elisa says, jumping up and down. When Esmeralda winces, she backs off and gets worried. Esmeralda waves it off and tells her that she would be as good as new after some well-deserved rest.
“Are you sure my magic couldn’t help, Boss?” The Drow says, walking up.
“Boss?”
“There is no way you are going to take on the child and expect to make anything of him without a dedicated healer. As you just took on Elisa here, I was near certain you would take me on as well. My name is Matthiew Cox if you would have me. If not, it was…,” The Drow says, but Esmeralda starts before he finishes.
“No, no, I would love to have you. Thank you so much, Matthiew,” Esmeralda says and bows.
“Please just call me Matt. I think you’ve earned that right.” He says, bowing back.
“I didn’t get a bow,” Elisa says.
“That’s because you were squeezing the dear life out of her before she could offer.”
“Oh, yeah,” Elisa says, putting a finger on her chin. They all laugh a little.
“Elf!” Esmeralda calls over.
“I’m taking this one,” Yan says. Esmeralda notices that the Elf is standing next to him. “He trained with my tribe and shows great promise. You’ll have to find another to complete your team.”
“Yes, Yan-sama. The three should be enough.”
“It wouldn’t hurt to round us out with another warrior type,” Matt advises.
“We’ll worry about that later. Right now, I need to get home and rest after I get all of your contact information.” Esmeralda states.
“You did expend a lot of your Power. Do you need a lift?” Matt offers and complies with her command. The Human sends his info as well, give her a text with his name. Cesar Herrera.
“That would be nice.”
“Ride with me Esmeralda,” Elisa protest. “He’s not a fan of yours like I am.” Elisa’s eyes burn with passion. Esmeralda and Matt turn to each other, and in that look, it was understood, let her win this one.
“Fair enough, just know if you ever need a ride, I have one.”
“Sure, thank you, Matt.”
“Don’t mention it,” Matt says, waving and walking away. Elisa takes this time to loop her arm into Esmeralda’s and walk with her.
“You have no idea how much this means to me.” Elisa starts
“I have somewhat of a feeling. I obsessed over my Senpai. So much so that his wife thought that he was having an affair.”
“Really?” Elisa’s eyes brighten with hopes of tales of drama.
“Yes, I had to learn to keep my distance from the man I thought was the coolest in the whole world for a while. But then we got into a war, and then I was glued to his side.”
“Tell me everything!” Elisa shrills.

Esmeralda is delighted with how the day ended. She has never had a girlfriend before, but she was on board with hanging out with Elisa any time. So, after leaving the job, they hit up a Lycan steakhouse and had a lovely meal. Esmeralda was surprised to find out that Elisa also drunk Lycan beer. Although her reason was she consumed all alcohol that tasted good, it was nice to have someone who knew what she was talking about when she ordered it.
After their dinner, they went to the comic store and picked up a few Mangas. Though Elisa’s whole world wasn’t Lycan culture like Esmeralda’s was, they still shared a love of Manga and Anime. After they talked and shopped for a while, Elisa finally took her home. She wanted to keep the party going, but Esmeralda told her that she had ‘other plans. It only took about three times before she got the hint.
“I hope you have a good and long night,” Elisa giggles dropping Esmeralda off at her apartment.
“That would be the plan,” Esmeralda doesn’t even hide her intent behind that smile.
“We should hang out more, like outside of training and whatnot.”
“We will go over all of that tomorrow.”
“Okay, bye, Ezzy.”
“Bye, Elisa,” Esmeralda says, waving as she walks away from the car. She was happy with her Girl time with a new friend, but she needed time with Ben right now. She shoots Ben a text and makes her way into her apartment.
Once inside, she presses the button near the collar of her armor, scanning her thumb so that it will release her armor. The armor falls off, and once she steps out, it folds into a neat square. By the Gods, was she happy that she spent the extra money for this feature.
Walking through the kitchen in her under armor, she turns the oven on and tosses a frozen pizza in. She would need a snack after Ben arrives. Her body gets hot at just the thought. With that done, she goes to her room and gathers things for a shower. Not only did she need it after the day she’s had, but no doubt Ben wouldn’t want to touch her if she didn’t. Sweat and bile are horrible on their own, but mix the two together, and it’s even worse. Placing her speaker on the sink top and turning on her tunes, the sound of running water was a godsend.
Testing the water before jumping in, she approves and is amazingly relieved to feel the hot water meld away her pain. She is quick in the shower but still takes time to bust out a few dance moves to the groove of her Anime shower playlist. Next, she gives her hair a quick scrub, and once the shampoo and conditioner have done their job, she flips the water off and steps out onto the mat.
While grabbing her towels, she can see that Ben has responded to her text. Giddy with excitement, she quickly picks up the phone and instinctively types that she can’t wait to see him, but before she hits send, she reads the text that he sent to her, and her mouth drops. Taking a seat on the toilet lid, this was the last thing she thought he would send her.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I expected better

The Elf runs in and shouts to get his attention, Esmeralda hates to admit it, but he doesn’t have the skills to be a tank. No matter how much he screams or insults the Cyclops, it only has eyes for Esmeralda. She already has someone who was the apple of her eye, and that was the only one she wants to eat her. The Cyclops would have to get the hint. 

Esmeralda keeps up her power aura to make her faster, keeping just out of range of the Cyclop’s attacks. Every opportunity, she took an attack, just as she was taught – There is no doubt that if Yasuhiro was here, he would be proud. 

No sooner does the thought pass through her mind, the Cyclops flings rocks at her, blinding her, then follows up with a punch. The force causes her to skip along the rolling hills, but she is okay. She’s been hit harder, but she would prefer not to get hit again. 

Her armor was made of lightweight steel and reinforced with magic to keep her safe, but it wasn’t the strongest. She was a fighter who focused on attacking instead of defense, so all her enchantments and gems in her armor boosted her speed and strength. That was why the tanks were here. Well, that was what they were supposed to do. One was nearly unconscious, and the other was nothing more than a fly to the Cyclops. With the Drow busy nursing the Human back to health, she was on her own for a while. 

“Hunter, you and your pet fly up and aim for his eyes. I’ll try to blind him from here!” Esmeralda commands. The Vampire is more than happy to follow the lead of her idol and the only other woman on this trip. Spreading her beautiful red wings, she and the small owl take flight. 

“Barbarian, use something to slow him down. It’s obvious your taunts aren’t working!” Esmeralda yells, prepping a power shot. The Elf swallows his pride and hits the Cyclops in the back of the knee with a power-infused strike. The strike causes the Cyclops to stumble a bit. Esmeralda is a little more hopeful of the fight. With as much Power as she can put into her bow, she fires the shot and hits The Cyclop’s other knee.

Direct hit. 

It howls in pain and falls face forward, crashing down and breaking a tusk. 

“Hurry, get to the front and aim for the eye!” Esmeralda continues to lead the group, more confident as the battle goes on. The Elf leaps and lands on the Cyclops neck, keeping it from getting back up. The Vampire uses a spell to rain arrows at the Cyclops head, keeping it busy with its hand trying to guard. To Esmeralda’s surprise, The Human is back up and casts a divine strike, landing right on The Cyclop’s head. The force of the attack sends a shock wave out that Esmeralda can feel. 

She smiles and sends another power shot to the eye. 

Esmeralda starts to notice that only her attacks seem to cause the Cyclops to react. The Cyclops flails around and causes a quake, and she sees that the Drow falls down. 

“Get to the Healer! Quick!” Esmeralda warns, but it’s too late. A random flick of the wrist smacks the Drow into a nearby tree, shattering the tree on impact. Esmeralda reaches in her item pouch and whistles to the Vampire. 

“Get this potion to the Healer,” she says, tossing a potion. Swooping to the vial, she grabs it with ease but misses the Paladin’s warning to lookout. When she turns to his voice, She finds the massive hand of the Cyclops swatting her into the plains. Esmeralda lets out a shriek, but she refuses to give up. 

“Paladin, get to the healer. That’s our priority. I’ll hold off the Cyclops.” Esmeralda yells, then draws Taiyo. 

“We need to retreat. This is beyond our level. This is A-class at least.” The Paladin pleads. 

“Have you no honor? Even if this is beyond our class, we can’t leave the Healer and the Ranger to die.” The Elf speaks up.

“They are bounty hunters. We all are. They know the risk, just like we do. We can’t save them if we can’t save ourselves.” 

“Be a coward and run. The Bushido Code will not allow me to run. Death before dishonor.” Esmeralda says, then dashes towards her fallen teammates. Her Power aura keeping her fast, and Barbarian’s roar making her stronger, she is determined to, at the very least, save the downed bounty hunters. 

Esmeralda dashes through the attacks and counters when she gets to the Drow. 

“Heal him! I’ll defend us.” Esmeralda sends a volley of power slashes at the face of the Cyclops. Protecting his neck, the Cyclops is forced to defend and take a step back. Esmeralda can hear and feel the divine magic summoned by the Paladin. 

“Hurry. I’m running out of Power,” Esmeralda warns, but the Human is already going as fast as he can. Worn with fatigue, Esmeralda can no longer send attacks, and the Cyclops waste no time retaliating. Esmeralda prepares her sword for the onslaught of the Cyclops. The Elf leaps to the hand but is swatted away with little effort. Coming down with an open hand attack, Esmeralda cannot block it all and is crushed under the weight of its palm. 

The Cyclops grits its teeth and pulls its hand back to finish her and the Drow off, but a giant ax flies into the shoulder of the Cyclops, causing blood to spray. The monster shrieks in pain and tries to pull the weapon out, but an Orc leaps to its face and lands a strong punch, knocking The Cyclops over. 

There is only one Orc that Esmeralda knows that wears dragonhide armor, with a ponytail and wild beard. It was Yan Wang Lei, King Yan to those who were unfamiliar with Orcish. He was not a King of anything, more a warlord turned bounty hunter after the Orcish invasion. Someone that Esmeralda was happy to call friend, especially now. 

Yan rips his ax out of the monster’s shoulder and walks over to his neck. The Cyclops tries to pull Yan off, but Yan breaks its finger when it tries. Flailing about does nothing to stop Yan from executing The Cyclops, and after the mighty ax swing, there is one final thud. 

Esmeralda struggles to stand on her feet and looks up just in time to see Yan walking towards her and the crew. 

“I expected better,” his voice carries enough strength to almost make Esmeralda fall over again, but she knew he was right. Yasuhiro had taken her to hunt Cyclops before. She knew what to look out for. But in the end, she still failed. No doubt Yan would tell Yasuhiro about this. 

“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t kill you right now?” Esmeralda looks up with fear. 

“Kill me?” Esmeralda says, moments from tears. His eyes fix onto her. 

“Not you. That waste,” Yan says, pointing his ax behind her. When she turns her head, she sees the Human frozen in fear. “The job posting clearly stated not to go in the cave, and now you know why. You nearly got your team killed with your stupidity. You’re lucky that Esmeralda was here. Without her, you’d be among the spirits, explaining why you caused the lives of three innocent people. But now, you’ll just have to explain to your ancestors why I killed you for endangering my friend.” Yan says, making his way to the Human, dragging his ax. The Human’s eyes are screaming, but he doesn’t move.  

“Yan-sama, you don’t have to do this,” Esmeralda says, standing with all she can muster. “I’m fine.” No sooner than her words leave, she goes back to a knee. 

“Esmeralda meimei, you nearly died protecting c-class warriors because of this moron!” Yan says, waving his ax as he speaks. “The next person’s team he is on may not be so lucky to have an A-class bounty hunter with them.”

“I’m only B-class.” 

“Consider this a field promotion. As an S-rank, I can do that.” He says, then turns back to the Human, who for the life of her she couldn’t understand why he was still standing there. Then she thought about it. Barbarians can use fear powers too. Each step caused Esmeralda’s heart rate to increase. She didn’t really like the Human, but she didn’t want him killed either. Watching Yan tower over him, she closes her eyes, so she doesn’t see him raise his ax. 

“You can’t kill him!” 

“I can,” Yan says coldly. 

“I evoke my right as an A-class to take him on as an apprentice!” Esmeralda screams, then quickly cups her mouth. When she opens one eye to see if she’s too late, she watches the ax crash into the ground next to Yan. 

“What did you say?”

“I, Esmeralda Reyna, take him on as an apprentice,” She says and finds the strength to stand.

“You can’t be serious.”

“If you are concerned that he will be a hazard for someone else, let me teach him. We need good bounty hunters.”

“Yes, ‘good’ bounty hunters, not this trash.”

“He’s one of the only Paladins I’ve ever met. He is valuable.” 

“I’m still not good at the Human tongue. That word valuable can’t mean what I think it means.” 

“He is very valuable,” she says, speaking Orcish. 

“Him, really! Meimei, don’t do this.” He says, joining her in Orcish.

“Yes, Lord Yan. Please, let me do this.”

“Under one condition.” 

“Anything.”

“If he can’t pass Xiao’s expectations of a B-class in three months. You have to kill him.”

“… Lord Yan…”

“Agree, or I kill him now!” The Human is extremely confused now. It’s clear he doesn’t speak Orcish, but he knows to be afraid.

“Yes, Lord Yan,” Esmeralda says, fighting back tears. Partly from pain, but mainly because…

“On your word as a Samurai?”

“Yes, Lord Yan.” She was now bound to this

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Another day, another job

Esmeralda taps her fingers along to the song’s beat in her headphones while riding the bus. Positively humming from this morning. More than likely, the other passengers think she’s a little more weird than usual as she’s swinging her hair as she hums along. She didn’t care though, she’s been learned to be herself. It kind of came with the territory of being a Human girl that loved Lycan culture more than her own. 

There were plenty that got into the Anime and Manga, but she was all in. Majored in Bushido in college, with a minor in Advanced Lycan language courses. While most of her friends went into something a little more expected of them, like early childhood education, but that wasn’t for her. 

Although her Papi and Mama would rather she follow that path, well, not exactly. They actually wanted her to go into Social services. Still, she couldn’t ignore her warrior’s call. While her Papi had learned to accept that she was a warrior, he at least wanted her to follow Human style, but it didn’t feel right to her. It had been her Papi that always told her to follow her heart. 

So that was settled, especially when she had to pay half of her college expenses. Mama getting into an accident also seemed to oppose her going to college for Bushido. That was why she had to work harder than most to make a lot of money for her familia. No matter how much she felt like a Lycan at heart, Familia is still very important. 

The Bus Driver called for the end of the line, and that was her queue.Esmeralda always waited for all the civilians to get off the bus first. Her Armor made it awkward to move around them. However, she still remembered to high-five the Bus Driver on the way out. He was one of the few strangers that never gave her problems. 

“What’s the job today, Ezzy?” His warm smile asks as she gets off the bus. 

“Goblins again,” She gives him a face that says that she’s over it. 

“That’s like the third time this week!”

“Yeah, a lot of them seem to be migrating towards this cave off the coast. Hopefully, we can find the cause of it.” 

“Well, be safe and tell me about it later.” 

“You got it.” She says with a smile making a heart over her chest. He returns a thumbs up to her, and then he closes the door to start his break. 

It wasn’t a long walk to the cave. Esmeralda is actually surprised that there isn’t any security around this area. Goblins may be weak monsters, but they can still do a lot of damage to an ordinary civilian. Maybe they just figured her and the other bounty hunters would keep it under control. Well, that is what she is there for. 

Approaching the spot marked on her map, she hears a whirlwind of testosterone going back and forth. By the Moon! Not this again. 

“I am the Tank! Look at me! I’m a Paladin. A Barbarian doesn’t have the skills to do what I do.” A human kid says, waving around what has to be his parent’s money. There is no way a b-class bounty hunter could afford that kind of armor. The Elf kid to the opposite of him spits on his boots and growls. 

“That’s why I’m the Tank! You can support me and help the healer keep us healed. You don’t have the strength to do what I can.” The Elf kid says, looking like every other frat boy she met. To his credit, he was extremely muscular and wearing what looks like an armor he could have made himself, made of basilisk hide. 

While the two of them throw temper tantrums, Esmeralda walks over to the Vampire ranger and the Drow cleric and join them at checking their social media while waiting for the mission to start.

“How long have they been at this?” Esmeralda asks.

“Longer than I would like to admit… Les Dieu!” The Vampire says as her eyes go from her phone to Esmeralda. “You’re Yasuhiro’s apprentice. Esmeralda Reyna, the Human Bushido warrior? I’m a huge fan.” The eyes of the Vampire got huge, and Esmeralda didn’t know what to do. She was used to this happening to her Senpai, but not to her. 

“Yes, I am, or at least last I checked,” Esmeralda wants to die at that lame joke, but it was all she could think of. 

“Is it true that you and Yasuhiro stopped a group of Orcish assassins in the Orcish invasion by yourselves? And that Yasuhiro got hurt, and you had to fend off the leader with multiple injuries?” The Vampire’s voice and eyes were just like a kid’s. I guess Esmeralda didn’t think about it that way. When she and her Senpai took that mission, all she wanted to do was protect him like he had done for her so many times. During the fight, Yasuhiro got hurt trying to protect her from an attack she couldn’t even see. Without his sacrifice to save her, she wouldn’t be here today. 

“Yes, I guess that’s true.” Esmeralda answers, and the Vampire squeals. 

“I knew it was true. You’re part of the reason why I got serious about my skills and became a bounty hunter.”

“I’m glad I could help.” The Vampire calls her owl over and starts to introduce her to her pet. Knowing that rangers can talk to animals, Esmeralda is almost sure that the owl is also a fan of hers. 

“A humble Human, quite a rare sight.” The Drow finally speaks up.

“So is a Drow cleric on the surface. I’m honored to be in your presence.” Esmeralda bows. 

“Please, there is no need for that, but I do appreciate it. Not enough people respect the clergy anymore with the Gods dead. But I guess I should expect nothing less from Yasuhiro’s apprentice.” He says, placing his blessing on Esmeralda. This had to be the blessing of power. Esmeralda could feel her muscles strengthen. And while her Armor isn’t super heavy, it now makes it feel like paper in terms of weight. Esmeralda bows to him, and he once again waves off her gratitude. 

“Don’t worry, Luv, it’s more or less why I’m here,” he smiles. 

“Why don’t we let Esmeralda be the tank?” The Vampire says, and the two children with big weapons turn to her. Their eyes burn with anger, and finally, they can agree on something.

“Not happening!” They both shout. Before the Vampire could protest, Esmeralda speaks up. 

“I’m not a Tank,” She says, then equips herself with her Orcish bow and takes a shot. The two toddlers dodge the arrow and realize that she didn’t aim at them at all. Sniping a goblin, they watch her complete accuracy as she draws, nocks, and fires again. “This place is filled with goblins. We don’t really need a tank. Senpai and I used to clear this place out once a month. The Vampire, overjoyed with seeing Esmeralda use her bow, pulls hers out and joins her. Sending the owl out to attack and draw out enemies, they begin getting to work.  The Human puts on his helmet and rushes into the thick of it, followed closely by the Elf with his dual swords. With everyone doing so well, the Drow takes a few goblins himself, taking shots with his pistol whenever he can. 

Pretty soon, everyone but Esmeralda realized why the job posting asked for five hunters. A massive wave of goblins and wolves comes from the cave in full force. It wasn’t the strength of the goblins, it was the sheer number of them, and seeing that the ‘Tanks’ froze up, Esmeralda puts her bow away and runs to the front line. Drawing on her power, she uses a sword draw technique and fires a power slash projectile. It glides through the goblins like a master carver’s blade through tender meat. The other hunters are in awe when she does it again and again. 

Snapping from his fear, the Barbarian leaps past Esmeralda and does a power stomp. The shock wave is enough to knock many of them to the ground, and he goes forward with executing all the ones around him in a vortex swing. Not one to be outdone, the Paladin calls down divine energy to reduce a few of them to ash. The Paladin sees that not only does Esmeralda give him a thumbs up of approval, but he gets a nod of respect from the Barbarian. 

With the bulk of them gone, they clear out any remaining goblins. Once they realize that they can do this and have fun with it, everything starts to go a lot faster. 

“So you are as good as they say,” The Drow says while passing the spirits along to the dead. The last thing they need is the spirits manifesting into ghosts and haunting the nearby towns.

“I don’t know about that. Maybe I just had a really good teacher.” 

“You can say that again. Yasuhiro is a legend on three different continents. My teacher was just some drunk Human with good enough luck to complete enough jobs to be an A-class bounty hunter.”

“Everyone’s teacher isn’t S-class?” Esmeralda asks, most of her friends being S-class or some high ranking member of an army. And one being a Prince. 

“By the Queen, no. Not all of us are as lucky as you, Luv. There are not enough S-classes to go around for everyone. Well, maybe there are, but not enough in our field.”

“What do you mean?” Esmeralda asks, dragging more bodies to the pile to be passed along.

“We could learn to do bounties in the inner city, but the teachers they have for that are terrifying.” Esmeralda thinks of Kira and Xiao. She guesses that she knows them in a different light. She could see how they could cause fear… There was a loud roar and then a scream. Esmeralda was pretty sure that it was the Human’s scream. She and the Drow turn to where the sound was coming from. Now Esmeralda was locked in fear. 

A giant cyclops had the Human in his hand and was now throwing him to the ground. The Cyclops is in motion to steep on the Human – Esmeralda quickly fires off another slash that causes the Cyclops to step back instead. Using her power, she dashes to the Human’s side and moves him out of harm’s way. The Drow signals that he will heal him. 

Esmeralda gets in her battle stance and calls over to the Elf. 

“I guess that makes you the tank.”

Esmeralda taps her fingers along to the song’s beat in her headphones while riding the bus. Positively humming from this morning. More than likely, the other passengers think she’s a little more weird than usual as she’s swinging her hair as she hums along. She didn’t care though, she’s been learned to be herself. It kind of came with the territory of being a Human girl that loved Lycan culture more than her own. 

There were plenty that got into the Anime and Manga, but she was all in. Majored in Bushido in college, with a minor in Advanced Lycan language courses. While most of her friends went into something a little more expected of them, like early childhood education, but that wasn’t for her. 

Although her Papi and Mama would rather she follow that path, well, not exactly. They actually wanted her to go into Social services. Still, she couldn’t ignore her warrior’s call. While her Papi had learned to accept that she was a warrior, he at least wanted her to follow Human style, but it didn’t feel right to her. It had been her Papi that always told her to follow her heart. 

So that was settled, especially when she had to pay half of her college expenses. Mama getting into an accident also seemed to oppose her going to college for Bushido. That was why she had to work harder than most to make a lot of money for her familia. No matter how much she felt like a Lycan at heart, Familia is still very important. 

The Bus Driver called for the end of the line, and that was her queue.Esmeralda always waited for all the civilians to get off the bus first. Her Armor made it awkward to move around them. However, she still remembered to high-five the Bus Driver on the way out. He was one of the few strangers that never gave her problems. 

“What’s the job today, Ezzy?” His warm smile asks as she gets off the bus. 

“Goblins again,” She gives him a face that says that she’s over it. 

“That’s like the third time this week!”

“Yeah, a lot of them seem to be migrating towards this cave off the coast. Hopefully, we can find the cause of it.” 

“Well, be safe and tell me about it later.” 

“You got it.” She says with a smile making a heart over her chest. He returns a thumbs up to her, and then he closes the door to start his break. 

It wasn’t a long walk to the cave. Esmeralda is actually surprised that there isn’t any security around this area. Goblins may be weak monsters, but they can still do a lot of damage to an ordinary civilian. Maybe they just figured her and the other bounty hunters would keep it under control. Well, that is what she is there for. 

Approaching the spot marked on her map, she hears a whirlwind of testosterone going back and forth. By the Moon! Not this again. 

“I am the Tank! Look at me! I’m a Paladin. A Barbarian doesn’t have the skills to do what I do.” A human kid says, waving around what has to be his parent’s money. There is no way a b-class bounty hunter could afford that kind of armor. The Elf kid to the opposite of him spits on his boots and growls. 

“That’s why I’m the Tank! You can support me and help the healer keep us healed. You don’t have the strength to do what I can.” The Elf kid says, looking like every other frat boy she met. To his credit, he was extremely muscular and wearing what looks like an armor he could have made himself, made of basilisk hide. 

While the two of them throw temper tantrums, Esmeralda walks over to the Vampire ranger and the Drow cleric and join them at checking their social media while waiting for the mission to start.

“How long have they been at this?” Esmeralda asks.

“Longer than I would like to admit… Les Dieu!” The Vampire says as her eyes go from her phone to Esmeralda. “You’re Yasuhiro’s apprentice. Esmeralda Reyna, the Human Bushido warrior? I’m a huge fan.” The eyes of the Vampire got huge, and Esmeralda didn’t know what to do. She was used to this happening to her Senpai, but not to her. 

“Yes, I am, or at least last I checked,” Esmeralda wants to die at that lame joke, but it was all she could think of. 

“Is it true that you and Yasuhiro stopped a group of Orcish assassins in the Orcish invasion by yourselves? And that Yasuhiro got hurt, and you had to fend off the leader with multiple injuries?” The Vampire’s voice and eyes were just like a kid’s. I guess Esmeralda didn’t think about it that way. When she and her Senpai took that mission, all she wanted to do was protect him like he had done for her so many times. During the fight, Yasuhiro got hurt trying to protect her from an attack she couldn’t even see. Without his sacrifice to save her, she wouldn’t be here today. 

“Yes, I guess that’s true.” Esmeralda answers, and the Vampire squeals. 

“I knew it was true. You’re part of the reason why I got serious about my skills and became a bounty hunter.”

“I’m glad I could help.” The Vampire calls her owl over and starts to introduce her to her pet. Knowing that rangers can talk to animals, Esmeralda is almost sure that the owl is also a fan of hers. 

“A humble Human, quite a rare sight.” The Drow finally speaks up.

“So is a Drow cleric on the surface. I’m honored to be in your presence.” Esmeralda bows. 

“Please, there is no need for that, but I do appreciate it. Not enough people respect the clergy anymore with the Gods dead. But I guess I should expect nothing less from Yasuhiro’s apprentice.” He says, placing his blessing on Esmeralda. This had to be the blessing of power. Esmeralda could feel her muscles strengthen. And while her Armor isn’t super heavy, it now makes it feel like paper in terms of weight. Esmeralda bows to him, and he once again waves off her gratitude. 

“Don’t worry, Luv, it’s more or less why I’m here,” he smiles. 

“Why don’t we let Esmeralda be the tank?” The Vampire says, and the two children with big weapons turn to her. Their eyes burn with anger, and finally, they can agree on something.

“Not happening!” They both shout. Before the Vampire could protest, Esmeralda speaks up. 

“I’m not a Tank,” She says, then equips herself with her Orcish bow and takes a shot. The two toddlers dodge the arrow and realize that she didn’t aim at them at all. Sniping a goblin, they watch her complete accuracy as she draws, nocks, and fires again. “This place is filled with goblins. We don’t really need a tank. Senpai and I used to clear this place out once a month. The Vampire, overjoyed with seeing Esmeralda use her bow, pulls hers out and joins her. Sending the owl out to attack and draw out enemies, they begin getting to work.  The Human puts on his helmet and rushes into the thick of it, followed closely by the Elf with his dual swords. With everyone doing so well, the Drow takes a few goblins himself, taking shots with his pistol whenever he can. 

Pretty soon, everyone but Esmeralda realized why the job posting asked for five hunters. A massive wave of goblins and wolves comes from the cave in full force. It wasn’t the strength of the goblins, it was the sheer number of them, and seeing that the ‘Tanks’ froze up, Esmeralda puts her bow away and runs to the front line. Drawing on her power, she uses a sword draw technique and fires a power slash projectile. It glides through the goblins like a master carver’s blade through tender meat. The other hunters are in awe when she does it again and again. 

Snapping from his fear, the Barbarian leaps past Esmeralda and does a power stomp. The shock wave is enough to knock many of them to the ground, and he goes forward with executing all the ones around him in a vortex swing. Not one to be outdone, the Paladin calls down divine energy to reduce a few of them to ash. The Paladin sees that not only does Esmeralda give him a thumbs up of approval, but he gets a nod of respect from the Barbarian. 

With the bulk of them gone, they clear out any remaining goblins. Once they realize that they can do this and have fun with it, everything starts to go a lot faster. 

“So you are as good as they say,” The Drow says while passing the spirits along to the dead. The last thing they need is the spirits manifesting into ghosts and haunting the nearby towns.

“I don’t know about that. Maybe I just had a really good teacher.” 

“You can say that again. Yasuhiro is a legend on three different continents. My teacher was just some drunk Human with good enough luck to complete enough jobs to be an A-class bounty hunter.”

“Everyone’s teacher isn’t S-class?” Esmeralda asks, most of her friends being S-class or some high ranking member of an army. And one being a King. 

“By the Queen, no. Not all of us are as lucky as you, Luv. There are not enough S-classes to go around for everyone. Well, maybe there are, but not enough in our field.”

“What do you mean?” Esmeralda asks, dragging more bodies to the pile to be passed along.

“We could learn to do bounties in the inner city, but the teachers they have for that are terrifying.” Esmeralda thinks of Kira and Xiao. She guesses that she knows them in a different light. She could see how they could cause fear… There was a loud roar and then a scream. Esmeralda was pretty sure that it was the Human’s scream. She and the Drow turn to where the sound was coming from. Now Esmeralda was locked in fear. 

A giant cyclops had the Human in his hand and was now throwing him to the ground. The Cyclops is in motion to steep on the Human – Esmeralda quickly fires off another slash that causes the Cyclops to step back instead. Using her power, she dashes to the Human’s side and moves him out of harm’s way. The Drow signals that he will heal him. 

Esmeralda gets in her battle stance and calls over to the Elf. 

“I guess that makes you the tank.”

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Morning Tea run

No matter how high Esmeralda turned up her music, the mockery of the women in the cafe pierced through. They mocked her hair, which she had dyed white. They mocked her shirt, which named and portrayed her latest anime crush. They mocked her shoes, which she got at a very good deal. It’s hard to find good skateboarding shoes in a town that’s filled with monster hunters. 

But probably dumbest of all, they mocked her custom-made Damascus Steel katana, gifted to her by her master. The Tsuka is crafted from the finest Elvish wood, high-quality hide, and ribbon made of Lycan silk. Her Katana, Taiyo no Senshi or Taiyo for short, was awarded to her after passing her trail of Bushido with flying colors. Taiyo was her earned nickname, being one of the only humans taken seriously in Honin. Los Mitichas was known as the city of the sun. So she became the Sun warrior. 

So if these women knew how powerful of a weapon she had and what it took to obtain it, why would they mock her? Because so many Humans have been diving into Lycan culture with the invasion of Anime and Manga. Esmeralda was sure that could be the only reason they would think to make fun of someone. Either way, Esmeralda didn’t care. All she cared about was getting her tea and getting back to her apartment. 

“Do you think she’s ever been kissed? I mean, look at how weird she is,” one says, snapping yet another selfie of herself. 

“I’m sure some weirdo loser will touch her. Probably some lard ass who works at a comic book store. They probably talk about all their little action figures together.” Her blond friend joins in, laughing. She apparently finds herself hilarious. Well, she and her followers. 

“Or some loser skate punk. Look at her busted-ass shoes.” The friend with the glasses says and then snorts. Is this what popular girls from high school evolved into? Housewives with nothing better to do than try to bully others until they become unsatisfied in their marriage and get divorced? 

Esmeralda moves up, hoping that the person in front of her won’t take long. There weren’t enough Lycan pop or Anime theme songs to get her through their miserable attempts to make her feel bad. 

“I bet she thinks because she has abs, guys still want to be with her. No man wants all those abs, bitch,” Selfie speaks up again, and the others agree. 

“Yeah, they want someone with a nice slender figure. Not someone strong enough to break trees.” They continue, but all their insults are kind of flattering to Esmeralda. She has been working pretty hard, but she didn’t know her muscles could be seen underneath a pretty loose-fitting shirt, and … well, maybe her legs were a giveaway in her skirt. Come to think of it, her shirt was tied back, which could show off her defining lines. 

Esmeralda just continues to ignore them, bobbing her head to the grooves in her headphones. She’s delighted when the person in front of her moves to the side, and she’s waved up by Yusei, one of her favorite clerks. 

“Ohaiyo Yusei. What’s up?” Esmeralda says in perfect Lycan but in her Anime voice. 

“Ohaiyo. I want to get out of here. Will you have your usual?” He responds back in Lycan. He shows far more irritation than Esmeralda does when the women behind her start mimicking her. 

“You know I will. I can’t get enough Sencha.” 

“I’m going to throw something at those bi…,” 

“No, no, Yusei. You’re more honorable than that.”

“Not really.” he returns. His lip visibly showing his struggle to keep calm.

“Then don’t do it for me. Your favorite customer.”

“You’re not my favorite.” He says with a grin. Esmeralda pays and gives him a look of disbelief. 

“Then who is?”

“Xiao,” He says, his grin growing wider.

“You make a very fair point,” Esmeralda says. Xiao comes every day, much like her, but Xiao buys about fifty dollars worth of tea. Esmeralda couldn’t afford that quite yet. She was only a B-rank bounty hunter, whereas Xiao was an S-rank. Not even taking the time to write her name down, Yusei just yells over his shoulder that Taiyo was here and got a confirmation from the back. 

Taking a step to the side, she places her headphones back in her ear and continues to jam out for a couple of minutes. She watches as Selfie and friends couldn’t even get their orders together and hold up the line. Then they struggle over the proper names of the tea, taking a liking to the Human pronunciation rather than the Drow, Orcish, or Lycan from where they come.

Esmeralda wasn’t going to let that get to her. Soon she would have her tea, then she could get back to her apartment and put this all behind her. That’s the plan anyway. She thinks that may change when she sees that the women need a little more time to make themselves feel better. 

“Hey, I’m talking to you.” Glasses speaks up and gets in her face. Esmeralda removes her earbuds once more and puts them in her back pocket. She knew that this wouldn’t end with her minding her own business. 

“I’m sorry, what did you say?” Esmeralda gives her full attention. 

“Is that your boyfriend? He seems awfully nice to you.”

“Yusei? No, we’re just friends.” says more animated than needed.

“Is he a loser like you?” They start laughing. 

“I’d imagine not. He’s the day shift manager.” They laugh even harder. 

“Oh, he must be so cool. Shift manager at a shitty cafe like this.” Selfie joins in. Esmeralda just looks around nervously while they continue to bully her. “I bet that sword isn’t even real. Just want to grab attention with that thing.” Selfie reaches for her sword, but Esmeralda just pulls away. 

“Come on, let us see your stupid sword.” Blond makes another attempt. Esmeralda is saved by her name being called. Skillfully stepping around them to get to her cup, she grabs it and makes a beeline for the door. The women continue bullying her more by calling her a coward and a fraud, but she’s beyond caring at this point. She’s just happy to be out and into the sun and fresh air. 

Grabbing her board from the wall where she left it, she hops on and takes a victory sip to her freedom. Those women aside, the neighborhood that she lives in is friendly to her, and she is very well known. She cruises and sips for about two blocks until she is back at her apartment. Popping the board up, she tucks it under her arm and enters her code to enter the complex. 

She makes it through the lobby and to the elevators, and once she presses three, she’s almost where she wants to be. The doors open and puts her only steps away from her safe haven. She digs in her pocket, fiddling for her key, but before she can even open the door, it opens for her. 

There in the doorway was Ben, her Demon boyfriend. Shirtless as usual, he had a body that both models and athletes alike envied. One hundred eighty-eight centimeters in height, steel-gray eyes, long black beard, and coal-colored skin enthralled her as it always did. He takes her board for her and leads her in the house. 

Esmeralda tries to walk by him, but he grabs her by the waist and pulls her to him. 

“You left without kissing me,” he says while kissing her neck and his hand traveling up and down her thighs. 

“I always go to get tea in the morning.” She says, almost dropping her cup. She finds a place to set it down quickly when his hands reach up and grip her breast. She turns her head to face him, locking lips with him. Soon after, her ass can feel how much his body missed hers. 

Her moans are all the encouragement he needs to slide her skirt to the floor and walk her over to the couch. On any other day, she would shyly protest and play cat and mouse games until they end up in her bedroom, but after hearing all the mocking, she needed to get the doubts out of her mind.

 She knew what they said had some truth to it. She is weird, she doesn’t fit in, she isn’t like other girls. But that was why she has a beautiful Demon man yanking her panties down and bending her over the back of the couch. His rod sliding into her slickness and pulling on her long white Anime hair. 

His growls feed the fuel to her desires and burn away the women’s nasty words. His passionate strokes let her know that he saw her as beautiful. His hunger for what she could offer proved that her warrior’s body was desirable. They knew nothing but what they were told. Esmeralda preferred knowing what she could feel. 

And right now, she felt as he pressed his strong hands on her waist and let her feel every long stroke from his rod.  Even though she was a warrior, he was always careful. They had been together long enough to know what each was capable of taking. Esmeralda loved him for that. But right now, she wanted a little more. 

“Harder,” the whisper leaves her lips. No sooner than it’s said it is fulfilled. She feels the slamming against her bottom as he pounds harder into her. Slapping her backside, pulling her faster into his strokes. 

“More,” she calls for, and he hesitates this time. 

“Are you sure?” He asks, but she’s lost in the slow tempo that he’s taken while waiting for an answer. She wants to answer, but all that answers with is soft moans. The shock of an orgasm waves through her, but she still manages to nod her head. 

“Liebling?” He calls out for another confirmation. 

“Yes!” She screams, gripping onto the pillows of the couch. He lifts her legs and spreads them on the beam of the couch. With nothing to hold on to but the pad, she feels as much as her body can. Her legs spread so wide that she cannot monitor any of him, so she gets all of him. Raw and pure. His hands with a death grip on her butt, she feels as he slams it down on his stiffness over and over. 

She hasn’t told him how wonderful a little pain makes her feel sometimes. Usually, the more passionate and affectionate sex they have is what she needs, but thanks to those women, she needed to be on the end of pure lust. His growls turn to moans, and then moans get shorter and shorter. She can feel the buildup in him as he’s trying to slow down. 

Esmeralda doesn’t help him at all. With what leverage she has, she moves to his tempo and speeds them up. Feeling himself going over the edge, his hands release her bottom and find her breast. They both shiver as they ride the wave of combined climax until he nearly loses his balance. She goes forward, ending up on the couch, and he ends up propped against the wall. 

“That was…,” He starts.

“I know,” she finishes, nearly as out of breath as he is. “When you can, come over here and kiss me.” Only a few seconds pass and Esmeralda can hear his footsteps walking around the couch. He leans over to kiss her, but she pulls him on the couch. He’s not much of a challenge for her. He’s weak in the aftermath. Letting her lips and hands show how satisfied she is, he nuzzles her neck and enjoys her affection. 

“I take it things went bad at the cafe?” He says, rubbing his thumb over her throat. She wraps her legs around his waist and pulls him in for another kiss. 

“I think it went well, wouldn’t you agree?”

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Becoming Xiao Niao chapter 2

Why, even after a year of a relationship, can she make me smile so hard that it pains my cheeks. Xiao is my adorable little dork. Locking the phone and putting it in its proper place, I can now get on with my day. The door is creaking again. Queen’s breathe, this car will be the death of me. The ol’ girl has been holding up for quite some time, but much like so much in my life, it’s falling apart. Luckily I have Xiao to hold me together.
Setting everything in its proper place, I pull the key ring off my sac and turn over the ignition. At least it starts right up today. The devilish screams of Xiao’s music assault my ears. Giving the volume button a quick spin down, I remember that she was the last one to use the car. That little girl and her music. A quick tap of preset number three, and that’s a sight better. The grand orchestra is playing a new symphony.
How I wish I could share this with Xiao, but she’d rather listen to whiny teenagers scream about a world they don’t understand quite yet. I shall be patient. She’ll come to my side of art sooner or later.
Making the proper adjustments to the thermostats, mirrors, and seat, I can begin to make my way to work. Triple checking my mirrors, I make my way out. Never can be too careful. College kids are the worst at self-awareness. Navigating the collection of cars driven by the previously mentions balls of hormones and their attempt to stay in the guided lines was not that bad this morning.
Like my former self, they are drawn to their many addiction shops before their morning classes. Sure I still had the caffeine itch, but unlike them, I had a beautiful Orc girlfriend who loved to make mine for me in the morning. I take a victory sip after passing the long line at the local cafe.
Oh, look, the new apartment complex is finally accepting applicants. Hopefully, the spoiled kids that attend the Uni will have their parents move them into the chic new place and give Xiao and me more privacy. By the Queen, it’s been a rough year living in the trendiest apartments of the year. Where once we were a quaint little villa, huddled by a strip mall that meets all of our needs. Suddenly, a flood of skate parks rises close by, making it a haven for the hipsters.
Sure, Xiao was one of those hipsters, but she was my hipster, which made all the difference in the world. Or at least to me.
Travelling a few more blocks, there is the plaza. Turning in and heading next to the roller rink sits my place of employment, Asai Yoriyuki Kyokushin Karate, the number one dojo in all of Los Mitichas. They love that sign, even though we haven’t won a tourney since Xiao was kicked out. That honour now goes to the rich kids on the south side with their all for show Shotokan Karate. Makes me want to vomit knowing that the points system karate is beating ours for authentic self-defence style.
That’s what happens when you care more about the sexual preference of your students than their actual skill. The saddest part is they cared less about a teacher dating a student. Ugh. Let me head in. No one else is going to set up the dojo if I don’t. Wow, my ruck is a bit heavy. What all did Xiao put in here? It’s hard to contain my smile when I know whatever it is will make the others jealous. Their wives and girlfriends rarely, if ever, cook for them. I’ve become the envy of the break room with my home-cooked meals.
Once I adjust the ruck on my back, I head towards the door and grabbing my keys. Working the door, I walk into the building. I’ve always admired the streaks of sun rays that illuminate the humble dojo. I head to the back and start the chores. Lights, mats, and equipment set proper. Shortly after, the rest of the team comes, bringing their attitude and stares. They may not be morning people, but at least they can muster a smile and wave for me.
“Get to your warm-ups. We should have a full day today. Tourneys in a couple of weeks, and the sprouts will need to be trained properly,” I call out and see the eye rolls and hear the sighs.
“We’re not going to win. Without Shufen, we really don’t stand a chance.” My thoughts exactly.
“Well, we have to try. We are, after all, the…”
“Number one dojo in all of Los Mitichas,” they say with enough sarcasm to kill a horse.
“And don’t you forget it,” I laugh.
“Sensei Haynes? Why can’t we just say that we are reorganizing our roster this year and skip the embarrassment?” one of my juniors ask.
“Which answer do you fancy? The business answer or mine?”
“Yours, of course.”
“Because of the money. We may not win, but the owner will be able to set up some pretty nice sponsorships. He likes to play politics. But let me tell you a better reason. If my old Master found that I backed away, you will see a true master of Kyokushin Karate bring a fury like none other.” Their face light with excitement. “Have you no shame and fancying your superior getting a thrashing?”
“To be honest, we’ve only ever seen one person land a good hit on you. So more than anything, we would enjoy a good fight for once.”
“The nerve!” I say, feigning offence. “Get to your warm-ups before I use you all for practice.”
“Yes, Sensei!” They give a shout and run off to their spots.
I join them in the stretching, but I get into my warm-up once we pass that. Walking up to my wooden dummy, there is a feeling of satisfaction. I love this perk. Qi activated, I start my motions. Strike, parry, strike, parry, strike, strike, parry. I’ve done this so many times. It’s as easy as breathing—my knuckles vibrating on each hit. The feeling of effortless motion and Qi coursing all through my body give me a great feeling.
This was what I loved.
Sensing my juniors looking on as I move through my punches, kicks, elbows and knees. They stop their workouts, and I turn to them, holding a Qi blast in my hand.
“Must I tell you again about your warm-ups?” They all scramble to get back to their dummies. I turn around and fire the blast at one of my dummies, and it glows after absorbing the energy. Delivering a Qi powered straight punch pushes the energy out and returns the dummy to normal. The Qi dies out quickly when it collides with the wall and dampening the residual energy. I take a deep breath. Xiao gave me a pretty good warm-up before leaving. No need to overdo it. If only any of my juniors could use Qi. They lacked the discipline to conjure it.
I smile, remembering When Xiao first obtained the ability. I knew for sure she would be a Qi of the body like me. It shocked me when she turned out Qi of the mind. It made sense. Her attention to the most minor details and outstanding controlled breathing was far suited for her Qi of the Mind. Not to mention her mind never turned off. She was continually analyzing the fight and her surroundings.
Not like me. I want the fight done in as few strikes as possible. Strike hard, fast, and with efficiency, and the fight would be yours. That’s a chore in itself when I spare with Xiao. She thinks it’s so easy for me to do, but she’s a touch annoying to hit if I’m honest with myself. Burning through so much Qi is taxing. If only she knew how to end a fight, I wouldn’t stand much of a chance. That and since I trained her, I have the advantage of knowing her mindset. Though she did beat me recently.
Shaking from my thoughts. The juniors are shaping up quite nicely. If any of them could put more effort into their discipline, they would obtain Qi in no time. After they run through their drills, they refresh with water. Good sports, they are learning. Each set up at their stations and wait for the students to come in. And right on time, they come in. Many of which are tossing their fast-food wrappers and boxes in the bin. Why even come if you are just going to disrespect your body with such rubbish?
They come in, showing their respects to me and my juniors, then get in their rows. Once they are all settled, I take my stance at the front.
“Good morning, class.”
“Good morning, Sensei!”
“We will train our hearts.”
“For a firm unshaken spirit!”
“We will pursue the true meaning of the Martial Way.”
“So that in time our sense may be alert!”
“With true vigor.”
“We will seek to cultivate a spirit of self-denial!”
“We will observe the rules of courtesy.”
“Respect our superiors, and refrain from violence!”
“We will follow our principles.”
“And never forget the true virtue of humility!”
“We will look upwards to wisdom and strength.”
“Not seeking our desires!”
“All our lives, through the discipline of Karate.”
“We will seek to fulfill the true meaning of the Kyokushin Way! Hiya!” they yell with a mighty roar. They make my heart proud.
“Alright, line up with your instructors, and let’s begin for today.
“Yes, Sensei!” they run with a purpose to do as instructed. For all they lack in self-discipline, they make up in respect.
My students line up in front of me. I didn’t trust any of my juniors to take on the minors. They are so fragile and don’t really have an attention span. Most of our time is just practising against the wobbling punching bag shaped into a goblin. They take their turns practising their attacks with such glee that it makes my heart melt. A little Elven girl screams to the ancestors and hits it with a flying kick but forgets to place her other foot down. She slips on the doll and tumbles down.
“Oh, dear. Are you alright?” I run to her side. She only giggles and looks up at me.
“I’m okay, Sensei,” with the cutest gaped smile. I help her to her feet. “Why don’t you kick it, Sensei?”
“This one is too small for me, dear.” She hears my words, yet she insists. I drop to a knee and spin into a kick, knocking the doll a couple of meters.
“Woah! Cool!” one of the children say.
“Sensei, Sensei, Sensei!” a child from one of my juniors groups starts to call for my attention.
“Yes?”
“Can we see you fight?”
“What are you talking about? You see me fight every week.”
“No, we see you show us forms. We want to see you fight.” A couple of his buddies join in, showing their enthusiasm.
“We need to practice for the tourney, I’m not sure this is the right time for such.”
“If you let us fight you, it will inspire us to get stronger,” one of the girl students speaks up.
“You’re serious?” I look around and see the sea of smiling faces and nods. “You all want to take me on?”
“Yeah!” All but the oldest children say. The teenagers step away to the far wall.
“Well alright,” I say, but before I can get the words out, one of the minors jump on my neck and start a chokehold. This is so adorable. Quickly moving her hands off, I turn to push her over, but I feel a kick at my knee and a flurry of tiny fist pounding at my back. That’s your game, innit? Activating my Qi, I stand and push them back. Careful not to use too much force, I make my rounds of parries and attacks, knocking them all around. Some junior high students swing with roundhouses and heel kicks, but I can outwit them and tap them with sidekicks and chops.
Not needing to use my Qi anymore, I deactivate it. I have my footing, and … Ah! One of the high schoolers jumps in.
“Oi, a bit of a mistake that was, yeah?” They just beckon me and starts up with a flying kick. I give them a chance as I block all their attacks. This time I hear their buddy join in. I quickly toss the first into the second and flip back up. One of our Lycan students comes in with a flying knee, but I’m ready for her too. Quick block and leg sweep sends her down, and I prepare for them to circle me.
This is why Xiao preferred the Qi of the mind. Trying to keep up with where everyone was is exhausting. When they rush in, infuse a stomp with Qi and cause a slight tremor. While they are all off-balance, I pick them off one by one. When a roundhouse kick sends one spinning, I hear a terrible screech. Searching the kids, I look for the source of the sound, but when it happens again, I see it’s a parent bursting into the dojo.
“Unhand those children, Puta!” The humans spit out.
“Ma’am, such language isn’t allowed here.” I say, getting to my feet.
“Is this where our money goes? Some dyke attacking our children?”
“Ma’am I will not ask you again to watch your words.”
“What are you going to do about, you spider slut?” She is really pushing it. Luckily Karate taught me self control. In my teen years, I would have been crushed in her face.
“If we need to go outside and talk, we can, but in this dojo, we do not condone such language from anyone.”
“I want to see your manager.” Of course, you do.
“I am the head Sensei here. The only person higher than me is the owner.”
“Then get him on the phone, right now bitch!”
“Mama, don’t talk to Sensei like that. We asked her…”
“Shut it, you don’t know how dangerous these people are.” And now we’re back to this. I stay calm and send for one of the juniors to grab my phone. The child and her friends continue to plead with the woman, but she is determined to cause a bustle. By the Queen, why this of all days. I thank my junior after getting my phone. Hitting the contact for Yoriyuki-san, I gesture for her to meet me outside. She snatches my phone, and I take it back. She slaps me in the face, and before I knew it, I’ve backhanded her. When I realized what I had done, I hear the gasps of the children. She backs away from me on the floor. The look of her horror tells me that she’s not used to people defending themselves from her, verbal or physical.
“Hello? Haynes-sama? Is something wrong?” Yoriyuki-san’s voice comes through the phone. My juniors scream, noticing that I froze for a second.
“Mr. Yoriyuki, it was a mistake. Sensei Hayes was just defending herself…” they try to explain, but at this moment, I only had one thing to say. I put the phone to my lips.
“Don’t worry about it, Yoriyuki-san. I quit.”
“Sensei!” My juniors scream. “We have the whole thing on camera. She attacked you.”
“If I’m not wanted here. If my girlfriend isn’t welcomed here. Then what is the point?” I put the phone in my gi and walk to the back to grab my things. My juniors follow me and try to get me to reconsider, but my mind was made up when I lost my temper.
Walking back to the main floor, the Human mom is still holding her cheek, but the children have formed a block around the door. They beg and plead for me to stay, but the Human woman is screaming for me to leave. Her threats of calling the cops are useless. Like my juniors said, she started the fight, and I showed some control by only hitting her once. So the odds are in my favour.
“We will respect the rules of courtesy.” I say, but they fall silent. Even the Human woman is confused. “I did not stutter. We will respect the rules of courtesy!”
“Respect our superiors, and refrain from violence,” they say sadly.
“As a guest here, this woman is our superior. I broke the oath, so I will leave. Even your teacher isn’t above the oath of Kyokushin.” They drag their feet and make way for me to leave. Once I walk by, they all bow for me. Before I grab the door handle. I bow back and watch as some of them wipe tears from their face.
Leaving the dojo, I hear one of the Human students yell.
“Mom, you ruined everything!”
She sure did. How will I explain this to Xiao?

#College

“So I’m having this party Saturday night, you should totally come. We’ll have beer and smokes. We’ll have a really good time.” Christiano charms the college girls. The only thing on his mind was stealing their soul essence to fuel his power. He found that it was a myth that virgins souls produced more energy, waste of his weekend last week, pulling those nerdy losers to his lair. No, what he needed was young and strong sexual desires to give him what he needed.
And these girls were just the ticket that he needed. He flirted along and played to the queues, as he had seen done time and time again. It was much easier when you can see their auras. Not as good as reading their minds, but close enough.
“Why wait till Saturday? We can totally ditch now and get this party started. Unless you’re all talk and no action.” The dark her seductress says. When this was all over, Christiano would enjoy her.
“I mean, I wouldn’t want to take you from your studies. Can’t have mommy and daddy finding out that your skipping class to party.”
Please take the bait. I would much rather do this now.
“I’m eighteen. I do what I want, besides. They are suckers for their little girl.” Yes! If she comes, then the rest will follow, just like the herd that they are. The rest chime in with affirmation. Only one has to decline. I guess she doesn’t have the wealthy parents the others have. No matter, the rest should be more than enough.
“Hey, Xiao! What are you doing here?” the one that escaped says. Christiano’s heart drops. What was Xiao doing here?
“You know, same ole same ole. Gonna pound someone’s face in.” Christiano tries to play it cool, but he can’t help but watch as Xiao walks around the corner and locks on to him. Being nudged to leave, Christiano follows the dark-haired one, but with a little too much haste.
“Hold up, don’t go so fast,” she calls out.
“Yeah, Chris. What’s the rush?” Xiao says, catching up unnaturally fast.
“You know me. I love to party.” He laughs nervously.
“Me too,” Xiao says, then looks over at the girls. Every girl on campus knows that look. The look of – beat it, this doesn’t concern you anymore. Commonly referred to as the Xiao special.
“I knew something was off with this guy. Did he charm us?” dark hair asks.
“Nah, just going to steal your soul for power, you know, normal warlock stuff.”
“That piece of shit! Get him good, Xiao.”
“That would be the plan,” Xiao says with a wave. Christiano tries to run off, just to have his wrist grabbed. When Xiao turns around and meets his gaze, she’s sporting the Qi vision, the one that allows her to predict the movement of others.
“I’m disappointed you thought that would work.”
“I thought you would appreciate the effort.”
“You’re right,” Xiao says, then punches him in the jaw. The hit is hard enough to take him to the ground. He falls on one of his wings on his way down. He puts his hands up in protest, hoping that will stop her from hitting him again.
“Okay, I’ll leave. You don’t have to hit me again.”
“But don’t I? I have this lovely sheet of paper with your name on it. It says to bring you back alive, but nothing about the condition you come in. It doesn’t even say anything about you being conscious or all of your limbs intact. Imagine that.”
“Okay, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.”
“Like how you shouldn’t have stolen a piece of a soul that belonged to a rich developer? His son has a remarkably close relationship with his dad. You can imagine that a smart kid like that knows how to look up a spell or two.”
Christiano didn’t think about that last weekend. Damn geeks, having healthy relationships with their parents. College is supposed to be about rebellion and getting away from your parents.
Christiano feels his head snap back into the brick wall behind him, with a quick jab to the face from Xiao, followed by about six more. He tries to guard himself, but the funny thing is when you have never trained for hand-to-hand combat, and a monk is attacking you, it’s tough to keep their attacks away.
Christiano cast one of the only instant spells he has. Blasting Xiao with a quick burst of dark energy. Xiao puts her hands up, and Christiano takes the opportunity to get up and fly away. One flap of his wings, then he feels her hand on his wing as she swings him face-first into the wall. He’s sure she broke something this time. Xiao is now laughing.
“Oh, thanks for the laugh. I didn’t think you would fall for the fake being blinded or that attack stung. You should know that I can’t see any variations of light when this is on. And you should know that my friends were more powerful casters than you in their teen years.”
“Okay, Xiao. I’ll go peacefully. You don’t have to pummel me.”
“I don’t have to, but I love my job.” Xiao smiles, and Christiano whimpers.
A crowd gathers while Xiao takes her, following two or three more punches. She’s disgusted at how little she got before he went out but figured at least she could get lunch now. Tossing the Angel over her shoulder, she calls for a pickup and heads to the food court. One of the students told her that they have an Orc making authentic Orcish street noodles. That’s something she didn’t want to miss.

#Immortality

Erois runs through the woods, ignoring the blood running down his arm and the cuts on his back. Navigating the dense woods is easy for him, but he couldn’t understand how the Human could do it better than him. Erois’ ears pick up on a noise, and he instinctually ducks. Perfect timing, a dagger hits the tree in front of him, splitting it.
Erois didn’t know that there were Humans this strong. If he didn’t know any better, he would think that she was trying to kill him. He was the last of his classmates left. The others got picked off very quickly, Erois may have even assisted in a few, but now he is regretting it and thinking they should have stuck together.
Erois pushes forward. The goal couldn’t be far now. All he had to do is. Fuck.
Instructor Maria was standing in between him and the flag he needed to pass the assignment. She was the embodiment of how a killer looks. Cold stare, perfect stance, unnatural smile, yep, he’ll be waking up in with the sweats in the morning after this.
“So, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that there is no way to talk my way out of this?” Erois throws out and puts on his charming smile.
“No, but I will take my time with you, Erois. I have to admit, you’ve been the most fun I’ve had in a very long time. Most can’t last quite this long with me.”
“Well, you know me, I aim to please. So does that extend to your boyfriend as well? Is that why you’re so angry all the time.” Erois can’t even enjoy his joke. As soon as the words are out, he’s dodging fist, daggers, knees, and all other forms of attack from his instructor.
She catches him with a knee to the stomach and follows with an ax kick to the back of his head.
Erois swipes his dagger at her ankles, and when she evades the attack, he flips up and tries to escape- only to find that Instructor Maria set an electric wire trap between him and his goal.
“Gee, you sure are thorough. You wanna go ahead and take this trap down? You know you can’t kill me.”
“Where is that said in the rules?” Instructor Maria says, prowling over to him.
“Well, you know they brought us kids here to become Gods. It just seems like a bad business move to kill us off is all.”
“And that is what’s wrong with all of you. You think that becoming a God is such a great thing. It’s not. You may gain all those powers, but you gain the greatest weakness.”
“Annoying people asking you for things?” Instructor Maria kicks Erois in the face, knocking him back into the trap. Which has him lurch forward. He crawls to get some distance, then goes to a knee.
“Immortality.”
“A simple wrong would have worked, but I get it.”
“You don’t get it, Erois Na’garin. You and everyone else here don’t get it. Why do you think I’m one of the only Human trainers here? My mortality makes me think harder than those with longer lives. When I know that I have less time, I use it more wisely. Like right now, you should be in fight or flight mode- which is good. You need that to become stronger.”
She wasn’t wrong. Knowing that she was okay with killing Erois has his brain in full gear. He pulls his throwing knives from his belt and starts tossing them. He aims just enough at her to make her think that she’s the target, but she isn’t. Instructor Maria easily deflects all the knives that are a threat, then looks on Erois with a scowl.
“Did you listen to anything that I said!”
“Sure did,” Erois says, pulling the pin on a magnetized grenade and tossing it at Instructor Maria. She moves to deflect it, but when it sticks to her dagger, and she realizes that all the knives that Erois threw are electrified, her heart sinks.
Using an emp, Erois disables her trap then dashes through the trap. The flag that he and his classmates were trying to capture is insight. He grabs the flag, but his victory is short-lived when he is tackled to the ground by Instructor Maria. Her hand firmly on his throat, Erois holds up the flag to protest that the exercise was over, but something told him that she wasn’t paying attention.
“Maria, enough,” The God of the dark spirit realm, Lynal Jounce, says, stepping out of a portal. Instructor Maria reluctantly releases her grip and screams in frustration after letting Erois up. “You’re proud of him, and you know it.”
“I will kill you too. You know that?” Instructor Maria says, shooting the god a look.
“I doubt that very seriously,” Lynal says with a smirk. “Erois is the first student of yours to get past you and grab the flag. There is no way you would kill him. And me … well, you know why you won’t kill me.” Instructor Maria reaches for a knife but remembers that Erois took those. She settles for flipping the god off.
“Congratulations, Erois, you’ve impressed her.”
“I’m not sure that’s such a good thing,” Erois says, still on his back with a strained voice.
“Oh, you’ll be fine. If she isn’t trying to kill you, then you’re wasting her time.”
“That is possibly the greatest compliment that you’ve ever given me,” Instructor Maria says, then smiles for the first time today.
“Lucky me,” Erois says, finding the strength to get up. He notices that Instructor Maria tosses a ring to him. He looks up at her, confused.
“You’ve earned it. Use it well.” Erois puts the ring on and notices that his senses have increased. His pains were worth it in the end.

%d bloggers like this: