HI! IT’S BEEN A WHILE!
I’m really sorry I haven’t posted, I was busy with SATs. But now, it’s all over!
Chapter 24.1: Got You
There was a tree in the forest that had stood unmoved for years. It had fought for nutrients, grown through harsh weather, and witnessed countless battles without falling. But on this day, it tilted, further and further as its worn bark creaked in agony.
…It smashed onto the ground.
Similar throes resounded as other trees shared its fate. For decades these trees had survived the desperate struggles of the participants aiming to enroll in JNIM.
But none of that mattered to Shun.
Just like the participants of the past, his eyes were set on one goal: winning. Everything else was irrelevant.
Where the hell is she?
So even when several trees came crashing down upon him, he only spared them a glance, either dodging or cutting them with a blade of wind as he ran. His eyes scanned the landscape that now resembled a lumberyard for signs of human movement.
I cut down all of these goddamn trees, so she must’ve fallen as well.
Shun weaved around the stumps, his head swiveling like a loose bolt as he sought out his opponent. Not long after, the unnatural shifting of a log grabbed his attention. He dug his feet into the ground to cut off his momentum before Hermes propelled him toward the disturbance. Nearing his target, he made out a battered figure crawling out from under a fallen tree. A ferocious grin forced itself onto his lips as he quickened his pace.
“There ya are!”
Now a bit closer, Shun saw Haya cough while getting up by using her shaking limbs. When he was within a few meters of her, he saw her head perk up as she made eye contact with him. From the cuts and bruises peppering her skin and her arched back, he could tell that her landing hadn’t been soft. Despite all that, her mouth was twisted into her usual smug grin.
“That hurts, that hurts, that hurts! Isn’t it cruel to send a tree falling at someone’s spine?” She paused for a moment before laughing. “Wait, silly me! I did something similar to you, huh~?”
“Can’t dodge this, can ya!” Shun yelled in glee, stretching his hands toward her neck while still meters away. His coughing opponent grimaced before trying to side-step him. He missed the collar and swiped at her face. She yelled out in pain and stumbled backwards, caressing her cheek.
“Damn it! Why’d ya have to make it so… difficult…” Shun said, before trailing off, his gaze stuck to a certain part of her face.
In that moment, Shun’s voice trailed off as he continued to look at Haya’s face, a storm of emotions passing by on his.
“Hmm? What’s wrong with—Ah!”
Shun saw her hands shift in panic above her left eye, as though checking for something. Although she covered her eye with a hand while searching the ground, his gaze didn’t leave her face. Still, when she lashed at the ground, he tensed for a moment, only easing upon seeing the tattered eyepatch in her hand. But the gaze she sent him then made his heart want to jump out of his chest.
“Hey…” she said, her words a growl. “You saw, didn’t you?”