Chapter 20.1: The Hunter in the Fog
The gleaming, jagged blade was swinging downwards in a deadly arc towards Hiroshi’s back. In the nick of time, he twisted his body, so the knife only cut empty air. Startled, he jumped away.
“Aw, darn. You actually dodged it, huh. What a shame!”
He couldn’t pinpoint which part of the fog the voice had come from because it was echoing in his ears.
“Where are ya!” Shun asked, positioning himself so he was back-to-back with Hiroshi. “Show yourself!”
But the enemy had no intention of heeding his words. Their assailant’s laughter cut through the fog with amazing clarity, making them feel as if she was standing with her lips pressed to their ears.
“All’s fair in battle, you know?” she said before letting out a giggle.
Just as he felt the uncomfortable echoing again, Hiroshi spotted movement from the corner of his eye. A shadowy figure was hurtling towards him from above, and two glinting knives were held in its hands. He threw his arms up. The impact of the blades against Yin caused his knees to buckle. His body slid backwards into Shun, who stumbled and fell face first into the ground.
“Gah! Damn it, ya coward!”
Shun spat out vehement insults mixed with dirt as he pushed himself off the ground. No matter how hard he strained his ears, he couldn’t hear the girl’s footsteps.
“I hope you boys won’t just give up. That’d be no fun!”
Shun felt like his eyes were going to pop out of his sockets. The taunt caused the veins on his forehead to twitch.
“Haaa? Are ya mental? As if we’d surrender to a coward like you!”
“You keep calling me a coward, but aren’t you just incompetent for not being able to deal with a simple trick? Pu, Puahahaha!”
“Don’t lose focus~”
Hiroshi cried out in pain before Shun could finish his thought. Shun knew his twin had been hit in the side, but before he could check up on him, a faint whistling sound came from his left. With a swipe of Hermes, he sent a blade of wind flying in that direction. It collided with a shadowy projectile that dispersed on contact. Luckily, he’d been straining his hearing, or he’d have missed the spell.
“Hey bro, looks like she’s fuckin’ around with us now.”
Grinding his teeth, Shun acted as a sentry while his brother recovered.
“I could tell, you know. Gah! That stings.” Hiroshi groaned as he slapped where he’d been hit with the black gauntlets. For the second time in the past five minutes, he dragged his body up from the ground. Yin took a lot of mana to operate continuously.
“Oh? You can do that too? That’s trou~ble~some~”
“That was a Curse-type spell meant to paralyze the target for a good bit,” Hiroshi explained, ignoring the girl’s voice.
Shun’s eyebrows shot upwards.
“Haa? Curse element? Isn’t that—”
“The only derivative of the Dark element? Yes. Whoever this girl is, she’s skilled. The silver lining is we learnt that Yin can delete curses. To think she can cast a paralyze-only curse at this age…”
Shun just snorted in response. “Thanks robro. I couldn’t ‘ave figured that out without ya.”
“Are we really going to argue right now?!”
Feeling incredulous at his brother’s unchanging attitude, Hiroshi swiped at the air in front of him and created a void a few metres wide. A moment later, a curse flying towards him vanished into it.
But this was was the last straw. Hiroshi collapsed to all four.
“Oi, now’s not the time to be passing’ out on me!”
“Too much… mana…” he said between deep breaths. “Fuck… I overdid it.”
“Oho, it’s been months since I heard ya swear.”
“Is that… what you should… focusing on?”
“Relax, relax. I’m payin’ —Dorya!— Attention!”
Even while exhausted, Hiroshi found the energy to roll his eyes.
‘As if you’re that relaxed. You’ve spent the past few hours using Hermes to run around, and you’ve been firing off wind blades for a good while now. I can see you sweating buckets. There’s no way you aren’t low on mana.’