The morning sunshine shone between the openings of the leaves on the faces of two people. Xia's eyes twitched and slowly opened and was greeted with blinding light.
She quickly shut her eyes back and only opened them slightly to allow her eyes to adjust to the light. After a few seconds, she got up into a sitting position with her legs stretched out. A gust of wind blew her short hair, caressing her cheeks.
She was stupefied for a second. She held her forehead as she tried to remember what had happened. Pieces of memories flashed in her head. She now remembered.
She remembered a guy in red with golden hair, a girl with pink hair in red and black dress and another girl in all white. She and Chang were about to subdue them, but they were taken out afterwards.
She checked her body for any injuries that she needed to treat. To her surprise, there were none.
“What, how? How come there’s no injuries? I definitely remember getting hit with his sword’s guard in my gut, but I don’t feel any pain… Chang. Chang!”
Xia frantically looked for her friend who was actually right beside her.
“Chang, wake up!” She shook his body.
The guy then slowly opened his eyes with a moan coming out of his mouth. “Fuahh~ five more minutes...” He said while still laying on the ground.
“Stop sleeping and wake up!”
Xia slapped Chang loudly in the cheek.
“Ow! What gives?!” Chang shouted angrily.
“We lost our tags, you know?” Xia shouted back.
“What?” Chang almost didn’t believe it until he checked his entire body for his tag.
“They must’ve taken them.” Xia said.
“You mean those people that we were following?”
“Who else? It has to be them.”
“Then what are we waiting for? We need to find them!” Chang hurriedly got up.
“Haven’t noticed?” Xia asked as she too stood up.
“Hm?” Chang only titled his head.
“We’re not injured.” Xia spread her arms to show that her body was unharmed.
“Oh yeah, you’re right! How the hell?”
“They must’ve used healing magic for some reason.”
“Eh, but why?”
“I don’t know. However, this just means a better chance for us to get our tags back, right?”
“That’s right, but finding them again is gonna be pretty hard.” Chang cupped his chin as thought.
“They must’ve left some kind of trail behind. Let’s try looking for it-”
They suddenly felt a clump of aura crawling on their skin. It made the hair on their bodies stand up.
“That’s quite a strong astra.” Chang said under his breath.
“Wait, this astra feels familiar. From that guy maybe?” Xia said.
“Are you sure?” Chang asked for confirmation.
“No but… Should we take a look?”
Xia suggested that, however her body was shaking and sweating and she knew that Chang was as well.
Chang stayed silent for a while. “We might get a chance to snatch our tags back. At worst, we may get caught up in the fight. I’m down for it but, what about you?”
Xia flinched when the question was thrown back at her. She contemplated with her eyes closed for a moment.
‘At worst, we may get caught up in the fight. If we do, we might not have a chance. That other aura felt stronger and we were taken out by the weaker one. But a chance for the tags to fall off of them…’
“... I’m in.”
“Alright.” Chang turned towards the direction of the source of the astra. “Follow me, they’re not too far.”
“Right.” Xia readied herself.
They both headed off towards the centre of the conflict happening between two strong opponents. A battle of power that even sent chills on their skins was taking place.
BAM! CLANG! CLING! BOOF! BAM!
Clashing sounds of sword, armour, punches and kicks came from the two who were fighting. Their swords created sparks when they hit each other. Dust exploded below their feet when they stepped.
Matthew’s sword was covered in red flames while Alan’s had strokes of blue lightning coming off of it. Every time they swung their swords, it was a show of fire and electricity around them.
‘This guy is good.’ Matthew thought. ‘His attacks definitely pack great force behind them. This might not be good for me.’
Confronted with a series of furious attacks from his opponent, Matthew was pushed back.
‘I underestimated this guy.’
Meanwhile Alan was smirking almost the entire time in their fight.
“What’s wrong huh? Where’d all your bravado go?”
Matthew did not answer and focused on blocking the attacks. He tried to stand his ground as best as possible.
Alan on the other hand was getting more and more excited seeing his foe being pushed back. His attacks were getting faster and stronger.
Meanwhile, there were eyes watching from behind the lushes.
Rose and Cecilia stood behind a tree. They only watched as they could not do anything to help Matthew.
“Matthew looks like he’s in trouble.” Cecilia said with a very worried and concerned tone. She clenched her hands close to her chest as she watched on.
“He may be, but he’s... I just hope that he’ll find some way to beat that guy.” Rose said.
“... Me too.”
There was a brief silence between the two. Taking in the tight battle taking place in front of them.
Cecilia stole glances at Rose. Rose noticed and gave a questioning gaze at Cecilia.
Cecilia got flustered at first but then she explained herself. “No-nothing! Just, you look so calm Rose. You really have that high of a hope for him, don’t you?”
Rose only smiled softly. “I’m not calm at all. I’m actually shaking right now. But, yes, I do have that high of a hope.”
“...” Cecilia became silent. She returned her gaze to the battle. In her heart she did nothing but pray that Matthew would overcome this.
‘You can do it, Matthew!’
A shockwave was created when their fists met each other before being bounced back by it. Both regained their footing shortly after. Matthew and Alan locked eyes.
“You’re holding on quite well.” Alan said with almost a joyous tone.
“Is that a compliment?” Matthew asked with about the same tone.
“You may count it as that. Although, I was only playing around.” He smirked cockily.
Matthew was quite surprised. His expression turned a bit gloomy. “You weren’t even serious yet?”
“You bet. I did not think that you would actually hold me off for this long. But it’s gonna end now.”
“Is that so? Then I guess you already won this, or so you think.” Matthew said, now also has a sly smile on his face.
“Huh? What are you saying?” Alan asked.
“I’m saying, you’re not the only one who’s holding back.”
Alan gasped silently. “You were holding back?”
Matthew did not give an answer.
The fact that the opponent was already holding his own quite well was already getting on Alan’s nerves. Now that the opponent was actually holding back against him only fueled anger even further.
Static electricity was slowly being conducted around Alan’s hand and down his sword. His breathing became heavier and coarser. His eyes flared with anger.
‘He’s holding back. I once again feel humiliated. I…’
“I’M GONNA KILL YOU!!” Alan yelled at the top of his lungs. At the same time, he unleashed all of his astra.
The amount of astra that was being bursted out by him created gusts of wind that even shook the trees.
Rose and Cecilia had to put their arms up and slightly close their eyes. Their clothing and hair flapped around in the wind.
“Matt!” Rose shouted in worry.
The wind calmed down after a few seconds, revealing a change in Alan’s appearance.
His arms were covered in static blue electricity. His eyes glowed with a blue hue. His sword was also releasing bursts of electricity, as if lightning could escape from it at any time.
"I'm done playing around! Boys, get'em!" Alan shouted again.
At this moment, the confidence Matthew had before disappeared. He sensed danger coming from left and right.
From the corner of his sight, he saw two boys rushing at him but he could not react in time.
Matthew took two fists right to his face and was thrown on the ground a few meters away.
Rose and Cecilia shouted in worry simultaneously.
"How'd that feel huh?" Said one of the boys that just punched Matthew.
"You brought backup?! What happened to fixing your reputation?" Rose asked strongly.
"I do not care. As long as this piece of crap dies, I'm all satisfied." Alan replied.
Cecilia then jumped in. "But if you kill him, you'll be disqualified."
"I've been doing that for years. It's not much to come here again next year."
"Enough talk! Hey, get up!"
Cecilia did not get to finish her sentence when Alan cut her off and shouted at Matthew who was on the ground.
Responding to the call, Matthew slowly stood back up.
"Uhuk! Uhuk! You got me by surprise." He said.
"You said you were holding back weren't you? Well, let's see how strong you really are AFTER YOU PISSED ME OFF! RRAAGH!!"
Leaving a trail of electricity behind, Alan dashed to right in front of Matthew.
Alan punched Mattthew in the gut that knocked the air out of him and launched him in the air.
While airborne, the two lackies also jumped up and unleashed a series of attacks. However, Matthew was more prepared now.
Matthew corrected himself and tried to dodge and block their attacks. Taking his opportunity, he kicked one of them, grabbed the other by the collar and punched him. Sending both of them back to the ground.
Matthew safely landed on the ground while the other two crashed onto the ground.
Without being given any breathing room, Alan immediately attacked Matthew again.
He swung his sword even though Matthew was quite aways from him. From the tip of his sword, blue lightning struck forward at Matthew.
Matthew only managed to dodge it by the hair. His eyes went round when he saw the marks left by that streak of lightning.
'I would've got seriously injured if I got hit by that.'
Matthew laid his focus back onto the trio. All of them were now standing. Matthew knew what was coming and prepared himself.
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