Mizuki : LOTD Vol.1 Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Enter the Bad Ass Madarame & the Hooded Hero

Mizuki Events

 

Northeast of Arigon arose the Misty Forest of Roumaya. True to its name, the forest exuded seemingly unending surges of mist. This forest held a history of countless travelers losing their ways and somehow ending up back at the entrance of the forest. When the rejected travelers returned to their villages, they always told stories about the constant changes of the forest’s interior and the sounds of whispering voices which demanded the unwelcomed guests to stay away. This forest also harbored a dense collection of trees and an ever-flowing stream of mist that obstructed the view.

The forest however was most famously known for the presence of Roumaya Village and within its mysterious confines the home of the infamous Madarame clan. This aristocratic tribe of people excelled in keen Chi control, and they were also blessed with a unique Lineage Trait. Lineage Traits were skills that could only be obtained via ancestries and blood relatives and were only capable of being utilized by members of that specific clan. The Madarame family’s special ability was called Chi Bending. Chi Bending gave them the ability to control their Chi streams within their bodies. This allowed them to bend the form of their Chi to whatever they willed. Once the Chi was unleashed from their bodies, it was sustained and controlled by their will powers to construct and reconstruct it in numerous ways. Its complexity was limited only by the power and imagination that each wielder possessed. The clan was also known for its members having the largest Chi outputs in Sol. The Madarame clansmen’s Chi outputs and varied imaginations determined the sizes and shapes of their Chi Bending forms. Their Chi Bending could be used to attack, defend, and grab onto their foes, which made them exceedingly difficult adversaries to fight.                                                                   

Originally, people believed that the Madarame Clan could navigate through the forest because of all of the years that they had lived within its borders, but the secret was finally revealed many years later. The Misty Forest held an unstable amount of Chi below its surface. This instability caused an extremely volatile and unpredictable presence of the Chi in the region. The clan realized this and used their superior Chi Bending abilities to somehow navigate through the forest for thousands of years, while unknowingly strengthening their Chi control. Their home, the Roumaya Village, was the clan’s greatest strength. The town sat in the center of the Misty Forest. The mist wasn’t as thick within the walls but was still dense enough to fool outsiders. A large wall of Chi surrounded the outer black brick walls of the village to grant it extra defense and protection.

The Madarame family cherished their forest, and they treated the trees with the utmost respect. The homes of the clan members took on more natural appearances resembling wooden modern day lodges. They were built from the fallen trees around the area and were housed under the massive trees that surrounded them. Each house constructed underneath the trees worked to compress and soothe the Chi of the tribe members. This calm environment became a safe zone and refuge, so they wouldn’t be overwhelmed by their surroundings. The largest home within the Roumaya village belonged to the Madarame clan’s elder. His home was the only of its kind to be built. It was fabricated within a living tree located in the center of the town. It stood as the largest tree within the forest and was truly beautiful. Its blue leaves were highly valued as the very treasure of Roumaya village.                                                       

North of the elder’s house a brown wooden lodge was located, which comprised of five bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms. The lodge had a black roof and a gold doorknob on the black, wooden door. Inside the home, the sounds of a wall-mounted 60 inched flat screen TV echoed throughout the front room. The T.V. rested above a black bricked fireplace for the enjoyment of a teenage girl who sat across from it. She was chilling on a black leather couch and was finishing up a big bowl of cereal as she watched the news. The adolescent had long chestnut brown hair that stopped at the middle of her back. Some of her hair covered the left side of her attractive looking light caramel skinned face, which left her right emerald colored eye visible. She sported a pair of dark blue pajama pants which were decorated with multiple gray video game controllers’ designs. She matched her pants with a light blue tank top that had a large gray controller design across her chest.                             

The TV that the teen was watching displayed an attractive young woman who possessed short, messy, dark blue hair, which was complimented by her violet colored eyes. Her eyes were encased behind a pair of large, black framed glasses. She stood five-foot-seven, and she had a shapely build. Her clothing consisted of a white button downed blouse resting underneath a navy blue blazer along with a matching pencil skirt and black high heels.

 “Hello. This is Arisa Stoll of Channel 88 News. I’m reporting live from the Great Town of Arigon. We’re still at the docks, and I had the pleasure of interviewing the entirety of Arigon’s decorative team earlier. The team plans to work night and day preparing and beautifying the docking area and certain parts of the East District for the arrival of Prince Stofan, the estranged son of the former King of Old Vaeros, Leggero Uzuki. The kind and handsome prince will journey all the way from Lumière, the Province of Light, to Arigon to meet with Queen Shinia on Tuesday. There’s no word as of now on the motives behind their meeting, but we’re going to do our best to find out the scoop. I can’t wait to meet the prince in person. He’s so cuutteee,” she squealed in utter delight

 “Stoll, get it together,” a random man’s voice whispered.

 “I’m sorry,” Arisa nervously bowed. She quickly looked up and cleared her throat to change her tone. “In other news, the Dark Sage, Master Alesandra Graves’, son, Jonnie Graves, has arrived in Arigon a little over an hour ago. A few citizens informed me that he already left the area. Rumor has it that he’s preparing for his first day at Nagome’s Café, which is run and owned by Queen Shinia’s twin sister, Nagome Ibuki-Mizuki.” 

            “What? The Loser is back, and Mizuki didn’t tell me about this?!” The girl responded with irritation while looking at a picture of Jonnie that popped up on the screen for a few seconds and then faded away.

            Arisa went on. “No one knows why the Graves boy decided to work at the establishment just yet, but you know me. I will find out the scoop like I always do,” she said with a determined expression.

The girl turned off the TV and stared blankly at the screen with a slightly opened mouth.

“Why did he decide to come back now, and why didn’t Mizuki inform me about this when I was on the phone with him earlier? Did he not know about this as well?” she asked herself a barrage of questions before finally realizing that she really didn’t care.

“Well, it doesn’t matter to me anyways. I couldn’t care less whether he’s here or not as long as he doesn’t try to ruin my summer. He’s not my problem, the damn cheater,” she thought with an annoyed huff. The brunette sat her now empty bowl of cereal on top of a black metal framed, glass coffee table across from her seat. She then stood on her blue ankle length socked feet. She commenced to walk across the brown hardwood floor as she traveled towards the back of her house. 

            “Forget that Loser. He’s not important, and his lame ass isn’t even newsworthy. I swear those desperate reporters just put any stupid story on the air. Who cares that he’s back in town and that he is about to work at Nagome’s Café? The Loser is probably broke, or this little set up is some sort of punishment from Miss Graves. She’s making him work in an all Izaha’s establishment for being a backstabber. Haha. Serves his punk ass right.” She briefly placed a finger to her chin. “But the story that really fascinates me is the ridiculous status of that Prince Stofan guy. He just appeared out of nowhere a few months ago, and he already has the cachet to have an audience with Aunt Shinia. I wonder what this so-called meeting is about. I’m going to ask Mizuki what is the story on that feminine looking, longhaired brownnoser when I see him today.” She grabbed the golden doorknob of a black, wooden bathroom door. 

“Anyways, it’s time for me to get ready to head to Arigon to pick up my games and hangout with Mizuki before he leaves. Maybe, I should have told him that I was going to come over to the castle as well when I was talking to him on the phone. Oh, well. It’s funnier and funner to just pop up on him because well I’m me, and I have special best friend’s privileges that allow me to get away with it. There is nothing that he can do about it either. Besides, I have a new and more feminine look to show off to him, and hopefully he’ll like it,” she blushed as she started to panic bashfully to herself. “I mean I wouldn’t care if he liked it or not. I mean he better compliment me, or I’m knocking him the hell out. Ah, what am I thinking?” she yipped to herself. The teen then smacked her cheeks with both of her hands and shook her head to regain her senses. “That’s better. I swear that my reputation as a badass would be brought into question if someone heard these unbecoming thoughts of mine. I got to get it together.” She finished her mental monologue, as she made her way inside of the bathroom to prepare to meet up with her friend.     

                                                

The girl shifted her 5-foot-6, slender, shapely frame back and forth in a black, full-body mirror. The air from the black ceiling fan caused her hair to blow in its breeze. Most of her locks were put up into a flowing ponytail. The rest of her hair went down and rested on the top of her back. The teen’s hair was styled with a bang that went over the left side of her face and covered her left eye.                                                                                                                                              She looked down at her black shouldered, roll up, quarter sleeved sweater, which showed off her red sports bra straps. She matched her top with a pair of black shorts, which included red thigh high stockings. She finished off her attire with a pair of black boots and a pair of black fingerless gloves. The aroma of the girl’s peach fragrant body wash had the entire front room smelling very lovely.                                                                                                                             The teen’s face lit up as soon as she finished taking in her own appearance, and she nodded her head in approval. She then bent over and grabbed a hairstyle and grooming magazine from the floor and immediately stood back up and turned to the designated page. Her visible eye focused on a beautiful female model who wore the same hairstyle as the brunette.

She looked at her own appearance once more and smiled happily. “The more I look at my hair the more I can’t believe that I actually pulled this style off. This hairstyle looks amazing. I guess I’m more talented than I thought,” she mentally boasted. She then sat the book back on the floor and stood straight up again to gawk at her hairstyle and her wardrobe once more. “I usually don’t wear clothes like these, but I have to admit that they do look good on me. I guess my useless sister finally did something useful when she picked this outfit out for me. I wonder if Mizuki will like it. I mean I wouldn’t care if he liked it or not. Dammit! There go those stupid thoughts again,” She cast a light blush. The girl quickly shook her head from side-to-side as she turned around and looked at her outfit from behind.

Hmm…This sweater is long enough to cover up most of my butt, but I still can see my booty lump poking out from underneath it though,” she thought and lifted her sweater up slightly as she gawked at the rest of her rear end. The teen’s visible eye widened when she noticed how sexy her derrière looked in the shorts.

“Whoa. These fit me perfectly. I love how the back resembles a cross between a pair of biker shorts and leggings. They don’t have back pockets though, which is a major flaw, but overall these are amazing,” she thought with a smile. The teen then placed a hand on her backside. “This denim is thin but comfortable, and it shows the entire shape of my butt. Good thing that my sweater mostly hides it because if I wore these shorts with a shorter sweater then I would bring too much of the wrong attention to myself, and I wouldn’t want that. But, wow!” she gaped. She was utterly mesmerized by her own shapely greatness as she started to rub a cheek. “I normally don’t admire stuff like this or care about it, but I got it going on. I have a very nice ass. All that working out and training over the last two years made my body look womanlier. I wonder if Mizuki would—” she paused as the sound of a man clearing his throat caught her attention. The covered eyed vixen quickly looked forward. She spotted a 5-foot-8, brown skinned man standing before her with a frown on his handsome face.

            “What are you doing, Ashina?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.                                          The observing brunette quickly removed her hand from her peach shaped backside and blushed with embarrassment. “What are you doing here, Izzo? Do you not know how to knock?! And don’t call me by my first name. Call me, ‘Ash!’” she fumed and pulled her sweater down to cover up her rear end.

             The newcomer quickly put his hands up in defense. “Whoa. Whoa. First of all, you’re in the front room,” he pointed out and then slowly lowered his hands.

            Ashina looked around the front room with a dumbfounded look on her face and then back at Izzo. “That’s beside the point. What are you doing here?!” she asked with a bite.

            A sly smile grew on his face. “Well, I’m here to escort you to Arigon to pick up your reserved games, remember? It’s also around the time that you usually go to see your precious Mizuki,” he said with a playfully cutesy voice.

            Ashina growled in annoyance. “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! I don’t like Mizuki,” she hissed, folded her arms, and looked away from her joshing acquaintance.

            “I never said you did,” Izzo thought with a smile. He looked pass the livid brunette as he stared at the tiny half of the mirror that wasn’t blocked by Ashina’s body. Izzo looked at his appearance. He wore a red hoodie which included a pair of black strings and a black zipper. His hood covered the top of his black individual braids that went down the side of his face and rested on his shoulders. Izzo’s hoodie had one sleeve that covered his left arm while his right arm was bare and sleeveless thus displaying his black, snakelike dragon tattoo. It wrapped around his arm, and its head stopped right above his single black and red fingerless glove. He completed his attire with a pair of red, baggie pants along with a pair of black and red high-top gym shoes. Izzo nodded his head in approval and unzipped his hoody a little which revealed his black undershirt.

            “That’s better. I look smooth,” Izzo thought and looked back at the embarrassed teen. “I wonder how long she would have continued to grope her own rear end if I didn’t walk in on her. I have never understood how women could be so mesmerized and proud of their own bodies to the point that they actually start to feel themselves up. Oh, well. I guess that women are weird at all ages,” he shook his head. He then noticed the teen’s attire. “Hmm…Ashina is rocking black and red. I guess she wanted to match her beloved Mizuki today,” he assumed and looked back at the stubborn girl with a sly smile.

            Ashina looked at Izzo and scoffed at him. “What are you looking at, you creep?” she asked and shot him an icy glare.

            Izzo shook his head from side-to-side and sat down on a black leather chair. “I was just observing your choice of attire. You’re going to match Shawn and Sheena perfectly today,” he pointed out with a beam.

            Ashina let out a grunt of frustration and clinched her fists. “Shut up, Izzo! The Mizuki family isn’t the only people who can wear black and red,” she argued and unfolded her arms. “And you’re wearing black and red too,” she pointed out.

            “No, that’s not true because I’m actually wearing red and black you see,” he corrected.

            “What’s the got damn difference?” Ashina asked through clinched teeth.

            Izzo put a hand to his chin. “Well, I have a red hoodie and red pants on, The Mizuki Clan usually wears more black than red, so I’m the opposite of them. I have more red on than I do black,” he explained and pointed at his hoodie and pants.

            Ashina rolled her eyes at the hooded wisecracker. “Whatever,” she muttered as she folded her arms underneath her chest. The grouchy teen then looked away from Izzo once more.

            “Hmph,” she released.

            Izzo looked at the brunette and chuckled briefly to himself. He then flashed her a playful smile. “Also, it’s no big deal that I saw you checking out your own butt. I won’t tell a soul. I promise,” He teased and put his hand across his chest. “Scout’s honor,” he added.

            Ashina looked at Izzo with a widened eye and a beaming red face. “I wasn’t checking out my butt!” she shouted and unfolded her arms.

            “Little sis, it’s absolutely okay. You’re a thirteen year-old girl, and it’s natural for young women your age to check themselves out. You even put your hand on it. You probably were thinking, ‘I wonder if Mizuki noticed how big my butt has gotten,’” he poorly mimicked Ashina’s voice. “Why don’t you tell him that you like him already? All this waiting and suspense is too much for my heart, Ash,” he said with a smirk and called Ashina by her preferred nickname.

            Ashina shot Izzo an indignant glare as blue aura cloaked her body. The floor started to shake, which caused the surrounding furniture to wobble. The hooded smart aleck looked at the enraged brunette with surprise. He then looked around with wide eyes at all the furniture and the other house paraphernalia as they shook from the intensity of Ashina’s energy.

            “Izanami Madarame!” she barked and called Izzo by his full name.

            “Ashina Madarame, let’s talk about this,” Izzo returned the favor. He then quickly jumped up hastily and raised his hands in defense.

            The furious teen’s Chi pressure suddenly surged in intensity and forcefully blew Izzo’s hood off of his head. “How many times do I have to tell you to not call me by that name?!” she roared and dashed towards Izzo.

            “Oh, crap,” Izzo said with slight panic in his voice. The destructive sounds and shrieks from the inside of the house were heard by the passing villagers. They all just stood in place as they looked at the home with shocked and confused expressions.

 

                                                                      

Izzo and Ashina were now walking down the main streets of Roumaya Village. The village appeared to be very peaceful as the villagers walked casually down on either side of the brown brick road. The sound of children running about was heard from a nearby black gated park as the young ones enjoyed playing with each other. Izzo smiled at the kids and then looked towards a black bench that was located a little bit from the playing area. The bench immediately triggered a memory and caused him to think about his younger thirteen year-old self.

Izzo was sitting on a bench watching a five year-old Ashina chase the six year-old Shawn around the park. The young brunette was furious at the prince because he ate all of her chips while she was playing on the jungle gym.  

“Come back here, Mizuki! You better buy me another bag of chips, or I’m going to destroy you!” she screamed.

            “Okay, Madarame. I will buy you another bag. I’m sorry. Okay? Please, stop chasing me!” he yelled back with panic in his voice.

            “Aww…Now, that’s a smart little prince, but I’m still going to kick the crap out of you anyways!” she shouted with a crazed look on her face.

            A fearful expression grew on Shawn’s face. “W-what? No. Ah, Izzo. Help me!” he cried and hopped over the fence outside to the town street. Ashina followed him in close pursuit.

            “Come back here, Mizuki, so I can kick your royal ass!” Ashina roared.

 Izzo noticed the distraught tone coming from the escaping young prince’s voice. He discharged a weak sigh. “It’s about time to stop this before someone gets hurt,” he thought. The prepubescent youngster stood up to put an end to the Madarame girl’s terrifying assault on the frightened royal.

            “Ah, Madarame. You are a pure evil heifer. Leave me alone, you sociopath!” Shawn screamed and ran as fast as he could across the road.

Ashina laughed at the prince’s remark as Shawn circled around the road and hopped over the fence again. He landed back into the park. He rushed towards Izzo and sought safety and protection from the enraged girl’s wrath.

Izzo made his way towards the bolting Shawn. “Okay, Ash. It’s time to cut it out. You’re going too fa” he was cut off by Ashina.

“I am pure. I’m a pure, unadulterated, badass Madarame,” She finally boasted and jumped off the fence. She soared across the air rapidly and dropkicked the fleeing royal in the back just before he made it to Izzo.

 “Argh!’ Shawn cried out. Ashina had an evil grin plastered on her face as they crashed into the ground. This outcome caused Izzo’s black eyes to widen as his mouth was agape with shock.

The irritated grunts coming from Ashina’s mouth knocked Izzo out of his brief daydream. He looked at the teen with a tired frown. Ashina’s arms were folded as she looked at Izzo with a look of annoyance.

            Izzo took notice of the teen’s disdain and let out a long sigh. “Listen, Ash. I’m sorry that I caught you in my Art in that manner, but that is the only way to calm you down peacefully when you’re like that. I couldn’t let you destroy Pop’s house,” he explained.

            Ashina pouted. “It’s still not fair. You know I can’t do that,” she whined.

            Izzo sighed once more. “I know. I know, but I had to do it. You always get carried away when you’re angry,” he clarified.

Ashina frowned at that. “Yeah. Yeah. Whatever. Why would that man care about the house when he’s never even here to begin with?” she forcefully asked and walked ahead towards the blue steel gate of the village’s entrance.

            Izzo let out a grunt of frustration and shook his head from side-to-side. “How did we even get here?” he asked himself and followed behind the temperamental teen. As they walked, Izzo’s eyes drifted off to the left side of the town. He focused on a black and yellow sign that had the words “Land Dragons’ Ranch” written across it. This gave him a brilliant idea. He then looked forward at Ashina. “Yo. Do you want me to hire a coachman and carriage? I know that you don’t want to walk all the way to Arigon,” he offered.

            “Do what you want. It’s your money. I’ll be waiting at the gate,” she said dismissively and walked ahead.

             Izzo let out another long sigh as he began to walk towards the ranch. “I should have never brought up the Old Man. Whenever someone mentions him to Ashina, she gets in an even worse mood than usual, and, man, this girl is always mad. She needs to chill out sometimes, and she should tell Pops that she hates when he’s always gone on his Fang’s missions. However, Ash is too stubborn to let him know that she misses him when he’s away, but he’s doing what he must do to provide for her and Ashira.                                                                             

“Speaking of ‘Shira,’ she has been going to Lumière a lot over the last two years (damn near every school’s vacation she gets). She journeys there to see a girl named Katelyn Ueki. Shira met the lass there almost seven years ago when she went to the Province of Light with Pops for the first time. Due to what Pops told me about this Katelyn girl, supposedly, she is a beautiful, smart, kind, calculating, and talented young woman that Shira loves to be around. Knowing Ashira’s libidinous self, I would guess that she hangs around Kate mostly because of the beautiful part or something that has to do with a random large body part or body parts that the lass possesses, or something perverted like that.

“Anyways, now, Shira is gone again off training. Speaking of which, I wonder how her training is going with Gramps. They’re going to be in the Elder Woods for an entire month. Talk about some intense training. That’s probably another reason why Ashina is so cranky. She is lonely without her sister by her side. Although she won’t admit it, I know that Ash loves having Shira around. Huh…I swear the family that I was adopted into is a pain, but I guess I owe it to the Old Man to look after Ashina and Ashira while he is away. I mean since he has done so much for me in the past that’s the least I can do for him,” Izzo thought as scenes from his past flashed before his eyes.

He saw an image of a sad, little boy sitting in a cave with his head resting on his knees. Gradually, the silhouette of a man walked up to him. The lad looked up at the newcomer’s hand as he reached down to help the lad up. The stranger’s lips started to move, and a kind smile grew on his face when he finished his speech. The little boy shed a single tear, reached his hand up, and grabbed the man’s welcoming hand.                                                                                        Izzo shook his head ending his brief, yet vague flashback. He then approached a brown and black ranch building. Its bricks resembled the scales of a dragon, which matched the brown brick surrounding gate and the brown metal door. The entrance included a golden doorknob along with a matching dragon’s head door knocker.

“I owe Atreus my life, so I will do my best to help teach his daughter and show her the right path. I am her sensei and her big brother after all. It’s my job to look out for her and protect her,” Izzo thought and looked back at Ashina. The teen was leaning against a black streetlight with her arms folded, and she impatiently tapped a foot on the ground. She then gawked at her teacher with a look of annoyance. Izzo immediately discharged a sigh at Ashina’s stank attitude.

“Although she’s a got damn handful, I’ll still look out for her,” he expressed with a weak smile and made his way into the Land Dragons’ Ranch door.                                                       

 

A black, blue wheeled stagecoach rolled down a dirt road within the Eastern Plains of Arigon. A young man with slicked back, long, brown hair sat in the driver box seat of the vehicle with a pair of blue reins in his hands. He wore a black and blue, wool, felt, top hat that covered the top of his head. He coordinated the hat with a blue, frock tailcoat, which was comprised of four blue buttons going down the center with matching blue buttons on his upper chest. Two more buttons were present on the small of his back alongside three on the back of each of his sleeves. He also wore black slacks and black boots to complete his attire. The young man’s clothing exemplified a man of his profession.                                    

A land dragon pulled the stagecoach. The creature stood eight feet tall with smooth, blue scales and a black underbelly. Its thick tail was almost the same length as its torso. The small dragon’s tiny arms and claws protruded from the sides of its body. The beast’s proportionate frame allowed for greater acceleration whenever it sprinted. The reptile’s claws on its arms were predominantly utilized for climbing tough terrains. Its large legs and large talons contrasted its upper appendages. These specialized limbs allowed all of Sol’s land dragons to traverse most landscapes with ease. This breed of dragon could travel over ten thousand miles in a single day as well as run over most harsh landscapes.                                                                            Around the dragon’s bulky body, a black harness wrapped around its frame, which ran up its hefty neck and stopped at the top of its large head. The dragon’s harness connected to a bar at the front of the vehicle. The domes of land dragons were covered in thicker scales than their bodies. These scales ran along their slender beaks and the sides of their mouths, which created sharpened points along their jawlines.                                                                                                     The coachman’s blue eyes looked back and forth at the mountain walls and the surrounding bushes as he tried to make sure there were no bandits running amuck. “Everything looks clear, Bosh, my boy,” The coachman said to his dragon partner. The beast simply let out a light roar as its black, sliced lizard eyes studied the area cautiously.

            “Don’t worry too much, Timothy. I doubt that the bandits will try to attack us during the daytime, but, eh, it’s smart to stay on high alert,” Izzo chimed in from within the stagecoach. 

            “Yes, it’s better to be safe than sorry,” Timothy agreed.

            “Yup, and if something like that goes down, my apprentice and I will handle it,” Izzo assured him.

            “That’s good to know. If something does indeed occur, then I’ll be sure to let you two know,” Timothy told him.

            “Alright. Sounds good,” Izzo replied with a nod. He shut the small privacy window behind him and closed the blue curtains. The young teacher then turned and looked straight ahead at Ashina. She sat on a black and blue, leather seat and played video games on a red and black Bite Boy handheld. She quietly played her game and sported black wireless earbuds in her ears. The cool breeze from the air-conditioned vents made the ride as comfortable as possible, and Izzo thoroughly enjoyed the luxury. It was 80 degrees outside the coach. The AC was absolute salvation for Izzo’s body. He let out a breath of relief and smirked at Ashina as he tapped her leg with his foot. The grouchy teen looked up at Izzo with a scornful scowl, paused the game that she was playing, glanced down, and then looked back up at her sensei.

            “What the hell do you want?” Ashina rudely asked.

            “Well, I was thinking that we could do something to pass the time,” Izzo announced.

            “Don’t you see me playing video games? I am already doing something to pass the time,” she spoke extremely aggravated.

            Izzo frowned. “No, something a little bit more constructive and educational,” he explained vaguely.

            “Like what?” Ashina asked with a raised eyebrow.

            “A pop quiz. It will be good for the both of us,” Izzo declared.

            Ashina scoffed at her sensei and looked back down at her handheld dismissively. “I’ll pass,” she refused as she continued to play her game.

            Izzo let out a tired sigh and shook his head. “Why does she always have to be so got damned difficult? I swear she is the biggest handful that I’ve ever encountered in my life. Shawn must have the patience of a saint to deal with this brat on a daily basis,” he thought with a look of frustration. Izzo then calmed himself down by taking a deep breath. “I can’t give up now though. I have to somehow lure her into my lesson. I’ve come across pigheaded women before in my life. I’ve always managed to outsmart them in the past, but Ashina always has been a different beast. However, with my high intellect, this should be poetry in motion. Well, that’s not the phrase that I was looking for, but it’ll be something of the sort. Alright. It’s time for me to try to outsmart the grumpy Madarame girl,” he thought with a determined expression. “Don’t be like that, Ash. I want to make sure that you are able to pass the entrance exam for the Knight’s Academy. It will take a lot more than just muscles to get into that school,” he revealed.

Ashina paused the game once more and looked up at her hooded sensei with renewed interest. “What do you mean?” she asked.

            “Well, you will need to know what to do in a dire situation. That’s the biggest test,” he explained.

            Ashina wrinkled up her nose in confusion. “Meaning?” she questioned.

A brief smile of contentment spread on Izzo’s face. “You hooked her. Keep this up, Izzo, and you will reel her in,” he thought. He then continued. “The administrators will test you to see if you are able to save a hostage. They will also want to see if you have what it takes to protect a client,” he explained.

            “Sounds easy enough. What else?” she asked and placed her handheld down beside her.

            A triumphant grin spread across Izzo’s face. “Got her,” he thought while dancing and cheering in his head. “Oh, so I finally have Queen Ash’s attention,” he joked.

            Ashina narrowed her eyes at Izzo. “Keep that up, and you might lose it again,” she warned.

Izzo smiled nervously. “Gotcha,” he said with a sigh. “You idiot! You almost messed it up,” he thought while shaking his head from side-to-side. The ambitious teacher then looked out the side window and stared up into the baby blue skies of Dragaroth. A few birds flew overhead while the bluish-white sun shined down through the clouds. A calm breeze rolled by, which caused a few trees to sway in the wind. The rustling of their leaves was heard along with the chirps of the birds that flew away.

“They’re going to ask you about the necessary knowledge of daily life as well,” he revealed and looked back at his student.

            Ashina looked at her sensei with wonder. “What do you mean?” she asked.

“Well, the administrators will test you to see if you know your stuff about everyday life. For example, Ash, can you tell me the names of all of the prominent pure-blooded Dragon-humanoid species that reside in Sol? Basically, I’m asking you if you can name all of them from the top of your head,” he inquired.

            Ashina looked at Izzo like he said something absurd to her. “Of course I can answer that! Do you take me for a fool or something?” she questioned and felt a little bit offended.

            Izzo sighed and shook his head from side-to-side. “Nah, it’s nothing like that, Ash. It’s just that questions of that nature are the sorts of things they are going to ask you on the written entrance exam along with what is Chi, Mana, and other forms of abilities that we use to survive. They will also ask you questions about the other Zodiatic humanoids that dwell in the other eleven countries on Dragaroth as well. In addition, they will even quiz you about all ten of Sol’s elemental provinces, so it may be very difficult for most kids around your age to pass the entrance exam to get into the Knight’s Academy,” he exampled.

            “What? Well, that’s stupid. Who in their right minds wouldn’t know that stuff? That’s basic knowledge,” Ashina expressed with a look of confusion.

“Well, you would be surprised by how many uneducated teenagers that actually try to join the Knight Academy yearly that don’t know the difference between Chi, Phonons, and the diverse functionalities of the numerous hues that come along with the Mana Stream’s energy sources. Heck, some of them don’t even know all of the proper varieties of the methods of how to extract Magic from blue Mana,” Izzo informed her and shook his head disappointedly.

            Ashina scoffed at that. “Morons,” she muttered and removed her earbuds.

            “Yup,” Izzo acknowledged and agreed with a single nod. “So, in order to become a knight apprentice, one has to at least have the educational level of an eighth grader,” he explained.

            “The grade that I just completed,” Ashina concluded and placed her earbuds next to her handheld.

            “Yup. To join the Arigon Fang Military Academy, normal high school, the Knight’s Academy, the Junior Medical Academy, the Junior Dragoon Police Academy, or any other place of education in Sol, one must complete the 8th grade and retain the knowledge that was learned in the previous years, or they will get stuck in the special needs programs and have to work extra hard to get on the level of their peers,” he explained.

            “I guess there are a bunch of dumb 13 and 14 year-old teenagers out there, but I’m not one of them. Ask me anything, and I will prove to you that I’m leagues above those simpletons,” she harshly boasted.

“We really have to work on Ash’s rudeness and her bluntness. She could make a lot of sensitive people mad as hell or get them triggered by the things that she says. However, at least I got her to participate in my pop quiz, even though this girl is a got damn handful. My goddess, Arigon, save my soul!” he thought while shaking his head. “Now, what to ask her first?” Izzo look down at the blue floormats which laid on top of the black carpet. The stagecoach lightly rocked back and forth as they rode deeper through the valley. He then looked back up at Ashina with a small smirk on his face which made her frown at the sight of it. The crabby teen knew that Izzo was going to ask her something that was going to be a pain in her ass.

“Can you tell me what a Drakien is?” Izzo asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Well, that’s easy enough. That is what we are. The Drakien people are the native people of Sol. They’re Dragon-like humanoid beings that carry the resemblances of an Izaha. They inhabit every facet of this country. All the while, they are learning, loving, growing, and destroying whatever obstacles that stand in their way. Due to the blessings of the gods, the Drakien people have the ability to use Chi, and a vast amount of Drakiens can use Phonons. And, some of us can even conjure several types of pure planetary Mana respectively.

“In addition, different Dragon hybrids, other Zodiatic Dragaroth dwellers, an assortment of different types of creatures that live all around this planet, and a few unique Drakien clans can push Mana even further. They can extract it and convert it into numerous magical arrays and other magical conductors and/or conduits to gain access to a large variety of Magic. All four of these gifts allow us to access supernatural strength and abilities beyond most species’ imaginations, especially the different types of Lineage Trait abilities that the heavy hitter clans in our nation possess. Some of these unique techniques that we are able to learn grow exponentially compared to other races. In addition, some of our abilities developed to be as powerful or even more powerful than the very dragon gods that once ruled these lands,” she explained. 

“Very good,” Izzo praised with a smile.

A proud expression grew on Ashina’s face. “Ha. I told you that I wasn’t an idiot. Ask me something else,” she gave him the go ahead.

Izzo shook his head and let out a tired breath. “Why me?” he thought. He then looked back at the arrogant teen and continued his quiz. “What is an Izaha person, and what are some of the differences between them and us Drakiens?” he asked.

            “The Izaha race are ordinary people who are similar to those fictional human people that I used to read about in numerous fairy tale books when I was a kid. The Izahas don’t have the skills or fortitudes to learn any Arts. Since they were born without the seven Chi spheres, they have weaker bodies than us Drakien people.           

“Those unfortunate handicaps are some of the main reasons why the Izaha people can’t get romantically involved with us Drakien people. Thus, the 8th law of Sol was created. Due to our different genetic makeups and anatomies, Drakiens and Izahas aren’t allowed to be with each other sexually. Normally, when a Drakien male tries to mate with an Izaha female, the Izaha woman would die from intercourse because most Drakiens are two times to a few thousand times stronger than the Izahas. Even if the Drakien in question is careful during intercourse, an Izaha woman could still get killed by carrying or birthing a Drakien male’s baby.

“As for the other way around, the male Izaha’s sperm cells aren’t strong enough to fertilize a Drakien woman’s eggs. She could potentially and literally crush his pelvis due to her overwhelming strength, and this unfortunate mishap will change pleasure into pain or even lead to his untimely demise faster than a speeding bullet. The only way the two parties could enjoy intercourse is if the Drakien woman just lays there like a ragdoll while the Izaha man does all of the work, and to be honest that doesn’t sound like a good, healthy sexual relationship if you ask me. In brief terms, the Izaha men lack the ability to impregnate us Drakien women.           “Basically, loving an Izaha person is impossible for Drakiens, and besides our genetic differences the main problem that arises is our vastly different lifespans’ length. The Izaha people age and die faster than us Drakien people. Their lifespans are 80-100 years, while our lifespans are typically 350 years to 500 years. Although, some of our lifespans can even expand all the way to 1000 years depending on which clan or unique Dragon humanoid race we’re from and/or mixed with.                                                                                                                                 “Consequently, even if both of our kinds got with each other, we couldn’t grow old together. That is robbery in a way for a Drakien to see their lover go before them. That is one of the main reasons why the government of Sol’s higher-ups decided that it would be safer to keep both of the races from being romantically involved with each other. They made the pairing illegal to avoid murder and depression. Most people from both sides understood and followed the law accordingly, but they hated the fact that they couldn’t fully be with whoever they wanted to be with,” Ashina finished her soliloquy.                               

            Izzo looked at the teen with a mix between awe and surprise. “That is very correct. Wow. You really hit the ball out of the ballpark with that Izaha explanation and breakdown,” Izzo praised and clapped his hands with a proud smile on his face.

            “I told you that I wasn’t an idiot. I’m just a badass Madarame who knows her stuff,” Ashina boasted with a beam.

            “Yeah, you proved that fact. What made me extra shocked though was when I noticed that you didn’t pull back from talking about the sexual stuff, including the juicy, yet disturbing stuff that went along with the many reasons as to why Drakien and Izaha people can’t procreate with each other,” Izzo mentioned. He made Ashina think about the uncomfortable topic that she just covered. Her face suddenly turned bright red when she realized what she had said. “I thought you would have been too embarrassed to mention all of the juicy stuff, but I guess you did mature a little, huh?” he asked with a sly smirk.

            “Wait, no, it’s not. I was j-j-just,” she stuttered and gave the impression that steam could shoot out from her ears at any second.

            Izzo just laughed out loud, which caused Ashina to shoot him an irritated glare.

“Shut up. Shut up. Shut up! It’s not funny,” she hissed.

The young teacher then looked back to his student and parted his lips to speak. “Ash, it’s okay. It’s not a big deal. It’s life,” he assured her with a kind smile. “You’re a very intelligent kid. Keep it up. You actually impressed me,” he admitted.

            Ashina calmed down a little and looked away from her sensei. “Whatever, you moron. Can you just get to the next question?” she asked while attempting to hide her small smile.

A scheming grin spread across Izzo’s face. “Okay. How about this one? Can you tell me what the basic Chi Sensing ability is, and can you demonstrate how it’s executed?” he asked with growing excitement. “Oh, and one more thing. Can you tell me what Chi Awareness is as well? I want thorough, comprehensible elucidations when you explain both procedures. And, finally, could you teach me all of this by portraying as a teacher while I’m playing the role of your eager student?” he questioned and released a giddy laugh.

Ashina let out a sigh of annoyance and shook her head at Izzo’s absurd questions and ridiculous request. “Yeah, whatever. I guess I can tell you, but I don’t know about that roleplaying mumbo jumbo that you’re going on about,” she said and frowned.

“Aw, come on,” Izzo said as he pretended to whine.

Ashina shook her head and ignored her brother’s artificial grumbling as she began to answer his questions. “Let’s start this so called lesson with the Chi Awareness procedure, which is an instinctive sensory skill that allows able Dragaroth natives to automatically sense nearby aggressive or active Chi, lifeforces, Mana, Magic, and Phonons signatures within the neighboring vicinity and whether the respective power signature is aerial, ground bound, invisible, hidden, or underground. This method can still detect the corresponding energy signal because this procedure acts very similar to a sonar. This is possible because the danger center in the brain is stimulated and is enhanced significantly as it pulls one’s attention towards the growing collection of energy from an adversary or ally. In theory, when someone or something is powering up, releasing their full power, or has evil intentions to harm you in any shape or form, your foe’s murderous intentions, presence, or any form of energy that their bodies can muster emits a unique assortment of invisible, energy, sonar-like waves that is detected and pulled in by the mind sphere like a receiver. Once this phenomenon happens, instantaneously, there is a tingling-like sensation within your mind sphere that acts as a defense mechanism, which alert the danger center in the brain that is intricately connected with the amygdala and the hippocampus.

“The amygdala is an almond shaped section of nervous tissues that is located in the temporal (side) lobe of the brain. They are thought to be a part of the limbic system, which is responsible for emotions, survival instincts, and memory. I’m going to elaborate further with this lesson so that it can be clearer and more comprehensible. Basically, this procedure is similar to when stress makes you feel strong anger, aggression, or fear. Thus, the fight-or-flight response is activated. It happens when a situation causes your amygdala to hijack control over your response to stress. The amygdala disables the frontal lobes and activates the fight-or-flight response while the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex help the brain interpret the perceived threat. They are involved in a higher-level processing of context, which helps a person know whether a perceived threat is real or not. Although, everything that I just mentioned about the Chi Awareness procedure is situational and relies solely on the user’s innate mental capacity and overall mastery of the mind sphere. Most of the technique’s greatest advantages vary depending on your maximum Chi capability as well. I could go on and on about this instinctive sensory skill’s additional advantages and disadvantages, but I’m quite sure that this substantial explanation will suffice,” she finished her elucidation.

“That was a very good initial explanation, Teach, and an even better follow-up clarification. You explained that technique so well that I don’t even have any questions to ask you. I’m stoked and ready for the next lesson, Miss Madarame,” Izzo praised with keen interest.

Ashina smiled softly at her brother’s compliment then parted her lips to speak. “Well, the next lesson is a massive step beyond the Chi Awareness procedure. This method is called Chi Sensing, which is a very useful mental sensory technique that is executed by using your brain’s invisible Chi Waves as a sensor. These mental sensations give you access to locating the Chi Signatures of numerous lifeforms that are near your position. The range of this technique varies heavily on the amount of Chi that you can produce within your mind and body,” she explained and put her hand on her chin. “You can also detect lesser lifeforms such as Izaha people, other weak humanoids, wildlife, insects, and even all of the surrounding vegetation as you see fit. This is possible because essentially the lesser lifeforms still produce lifeforce energy signatures, which in a sense is one and the same with Chi. However, without the spheres to form the traditional Chi Stream, it is impossible for lesser beings to use their lifeforces as weapons,” she added methodically.

Izzo nodded his head. “Okay, Teach. So, how can I tell the difference between an actual warrior, a lesser being, vegetation, wildlife, and insects?” he asked.

 Ashina sighed and shook her head. “You’re having fun with this little make-believe student act that you’re putting on aren’t you?” she asked and cut her eyes at her brother.

“But of course,” Izzo confirmed with a beam.

Ashina grumbled. “Why me?” she carped and facepalmed herself. “Anyways, you idiot, most advance lifeforms like us have a special type of Chi. Drakiens’ Chi Signatures are usually navy blue or in special cases the color of their respective clan’s battle auras. For example, most Madarames’ Chi is blue or purple, and the Mizukis’ respective auras colors are different shades of red,” she explained.

“I like how you randomly mentioned the Mizuki clan. You can’t stop thinking about your Mizuki for more than five minutes, huh?” Izzo pestered with a sly smirk.

Ashina growled at her brother with a beaming red face. “Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. I wasn’t thinking about him whatsoever. I swear you’re going to make me stop this stupid Chi Sense lecture. I was better off playing my got damn handheld!” she shouted.                                                          Izzo put his hands up in defense. “Calm down. I was only teasing you. It won’t happen again throughout the remainder of this lesson,” he promised and placed a hand across his chest. “Scout’s honor,” he added.                                                                                                                       Ashina let out a heavy breath, and she calmed herself down. “Yeah, sure. Whatever. Why me?” she groused and shook her head once more. “Anyways, vegetative lifeforce signatures are light green with the silhouette or outline of a plant or a collection of greenery. Wildlife and bugs’ lifeforce signatures are light brown with the outline and shape of the type of species it is, and the Izahas’ lifeforce signatures is a white outline of a humanoid being. It looks similar to a Drakien, but you can tell the difference because of the weaker lifeforce’s energy signals that the Izahas produce. Generally, all lifeforms’ outlines would have a flame-like spec of Chi or lifeforce energy flowing within the middle of their stomachs. Stronger lifeforms’ silhouettes would be engulfed in Chi, or their flamelike specs that dwell within their stomachs would be abnormally large,” she explained.

“I see. So, how can I remove some of the filler signatures out of the way? It seems like wildlife, bugs, trees, and other plants’ lifeforce signatures would get in the way if I was searching for a specific enemy,” Izzo pointed out.

Ashina smirked. “That does sound like a major inconvenience to be forced to pick up every single lifeforms’ lifeforces and Chi Signatures that are in your surrounding area,” she admitted.

“I know right. That technique is doing too much,” Izzo agreed and gave a single nod.

“But, there is a simple fix for that problem, a very convenient way to fix this annoying conundrum. This useful maneuver will make everything easier and less of a headache as you focus on the signatures that you’re trying to locate,” Ashina explained.

“Is that so? But how?” Izzo asked.

“Well, the only thing you have to do is use your brain spheres to focus on a specific type of signature. Basically, if you don’t want to sense the extra, useless stuff, you can mentally block out all the filler lifeforms’ signatures and focus exclusively on the primary target that you’re searching for,” she educated.

“Really now? That sounds almost too useful to be true. I want to see this so-called sensory technique in action, so could you give me a live demonstration, Teach?” Izzo questioned with feigned excitement still playing the role of an eager student.

Ashina chuckled at her brother’s silliness. She then let out a sigh of defeat as she decided to finally play along in his trivial roleplaying charade. “Of course it is. It’s one of the most useful skills in any warrior’s arsenal,” she replied. Izzo smiled as the teen closed her eyes and placed her hands together in front of her face. Suddenly, a blazing line of Chi outlined her hands as she prepared to demonstrate the Art. “By focusing the Chi into the spheres in your arms, feet, and head, you can sense the energies of your allies and sometimes the enemies that are around and beneath you,” she explained.

            “That does sound useful, but not by much,” Izzo criticized and was seemingly unimpressed.

Ashina giggled at her make-believe student’s comment while remaining in the same stance. “Trust me. It’s the most useful thing that I could ever teach you, so try it out for yourself,” she suggested.

“Alright,” Izzo accepted. He closed his eyes as he imitated his sister’s earlier stance. “Okay. I’m ready, so what’s next?” he asked.

“Next, focus the energy within your feet and arms’ spheres, and then you need to activate the sphere within your forehead all the while maintaining all three as you meditate in place,” she explained. “And, make sure that you have a clear mind. You need to focus on allowing your energy to flow freely within your body as you let go of all of your mental restraints,” she added.

Izzo nodded as he did what Ashina instructed. “Okay, Teach. Now, what?” he asked calmly.

“If you focus your mental energy and allow it to escape from your body, you should be able to feel the presence of most of this vicinity’s surrounding lifeforces. Once again, it also depends on how much Chi that you are able to produce around, beneath, and throughout this area. This will ultimately decide how many lifeforms your Chi Sensing ability is able to detect within its range,” Ashina educated.

Izzo took his sister’s advice and unleashed his invisible, psychological Chi throughout, beneath, and around the surrounding area. The fun teacher could now mentally see and feel numerous amounts of flame-like energies flowing from the bodies of the creatures that dwelled in the neighboring area. Their lifeforce signatures lit up the zone. It was almost as if they were blazing, light green, and clear dots on a digital map being detected by a sonar. Slowly but surely, the dots began taking the shapes of each of the specific species, whether wildlife or vegetation, that they represented.

Izzo smiled softly at the mental sight. “I allowed my energy to escape my body, and it is moving around rapidly. This flowing pattern, which my escaped Chi is creating, bears a striking resemblance to how scientists theorized in the past on the appearance of radio sonar waves. The waves are usually described exactly like my Chi’s current form,” he explained.

Ashina smiled softly at her brother. “Very good. Can you feel them, Izzo, the lifeforce signatures that are emanating from the surrounding lifeforms’ bodies?” she asked.

“Yes, I can feel a lot of wildlife and plants that are currently around this area. I can even feel the bugs’ lifeforce signatures as they crawl along the surface and beneath the ground,” he explained.

 “Alright. Well, because of this useful phenomenon you’ve just performed, you can find specific lifeforces, or you can use it in a broader sense to find multiple beings at once,” Ashina elaborated. “Try focusing your energy solely on the nearby tree to your right. Just relax your mind and remove your Chi Sonar Waves from everything else. Next, unleash a smaller number of waves. Then, lock ‘em on your primary target,” she instructed.

Izzo did as he was told. He relaxed his mind. He retracted all of his Chi Sonar Waves from the entire area. He then unleashed a smaller number of waves by focusing the waves solely on the tree that Ashina instructed him to examine. Suddenly, everything in his mental sight vanished with only his main target left standing in a vacant void by itself. He could sense tiny birds sitting on and flying above the branches of the tree. The self-proclaimed student even felt the presence of the three chipmunks that hung on the trunk as they carried food in their mouths.

“I like this,” he expressed and explained to his sister what lifeforms he could sense on and within the tree.

“That’s correct. I see that you’re more adept at this than I thought you’d be,” Ashina commented and smirked.

A cocky expression immediately formed on Izzo’s face. “Well, I am a badass Madarame after all,” he boasted and mimicked his sister’s catchphrase.

Ashina laughed at her brother’s mocking and shook her head from side-to-side. “Anyways, you moron, can you tell me how many birds are in the tree, and how many of them are flying around it?” she quizzed.

Izzo smiled and took a deep breath. He focused his technique specifically on the birds. “Okay. Here goes,” he said. The cool brother could sense seven, tiny, fiery specs of lifeforce energy signatures blazing from the area. “There are seven birds in total. Four rest on the tree branches, and three soar above it. Also, one of the birds’ lifeforce signatures is severely weaker than the others,” he described.                                                                                                 “Well, that bird must be older than the rest,” Ashina deduced and focused her Art on the birds. The weaker bird rested in its nest, and its Chi fiery spec slowly fizzled out. That was a clear indication that its life was about to come to an end within a few minutes. Ashina finally opened her eyes, thus ending her Chi Sensing technique. “Remember, Izzo. Chi is life. Weaker and depleting Chi or lifeforce outputs are something that you should keep an eye out for. They help differentiate the people that you’re sensing. These sensations also allow you to quickly locate comrades or people who may be dying,” she threw in. “Mastering this Art is absolutely mandatory for all able fighters on Dragaroth,” she explained.

“But, how can I locate and tell allies apart from my foes? Wouldn’t all of their energies feel the same?” Izzo questioned and opened his eyes as he frowned.

“Actually, everyone has a certain particular independent signature to their energy that you should be able to pick up on. This method is the same with the Chi Awareness procedure as well. But, anyways, let’s try it again. This time I want you to focus your Chi Sensing technique solely on me, the coachman, and Bosh. Let see if you can identify who we are by merely relying on your Chi Sense,” Ashina spoke and thought up another lesson.

“Alright, let’s—” Izzo paused. He suddenly heard a nearby explosion which caused Bosh to let out a loud roar.   

            “Whoa!” Timothy yelled while pulling the reigns to stop his partner in place. The sudden stop shot the two passengers forward as their black seat belts stopped them from falling to the floor.

            “Argh,” Ashina and Izzo grunted in unison.

            Izzo quickly regained his composure. He then hurriedly turned, pulled back the curtains, and opened the privacy window.

            “You okay, Tim?” he asked with a look of concern.

            “Yeah, I’m fine. Sorry about that. Something suddenly exploded in the Kaniya Forest, and it spooked Bosh,” Timothy explained. He then took a deep breath to calm himself down.

            Izzo and Ashina looked at each other, and the young teacher nodded at his student. They unfastened their seatbelts, got out of the stagecoach, and stood on the dirt road. They looked west towards the forest in the distance. A visible, thick trail of smoke flowed high above the trees.

“That can’t be good,” Izzo pointed out while he glared at the smoke.

            “What are you going to do?” Ashina asked with a serious expression.

            “As a Fang, I must go and check it out. Even though we should call and wait for the Dragoon police to come, there could be injured people that need my help,” he said with a concerned gaze.

            “Well, we should get ready to go then,” Ashina proposed.

            “I’m supposed to protect you and keep you out of harm’s way, so I can’t bring you with me. You have to stay here,” Izzo stated with a fleeting glance to his student.

            Ashina looked at her teacher with a look of annoyance. “You can’t be serious. Izzo, you can’t just up and leave me behind. I want to help!” she said and bit down on her bottom lip out of pure frustration.

            Izzo lowered his eyes. “Ash—” he started but was cut off by his sister.

             “No, you’re not leaving me behind again. How do you expect me to learn anything when you keep on babying me?!” she asked with a tone of sheer disappointment.

            “It’s just that we don’t know what is waiting for us over there. It could be more than what you can handle. If we run in there blindly, you could literally get hurt or worse,” Izzo responded with an explanation of the seriousness of the situation to his pupil. “Plus, I don’t have time for this right now. People could be dying this exact second,” he said and then turned to look at the direction of the smoke coming from Kaniya.

Ashina’s grimacing gaze gave the impression that it could have burned a hole through Izzo’s skull at any second. “Who the hell does he think he is? He’s not the boss of me. ‘I can do what I want when I want to,’ is what I would normally say to him. However, this time it’ll take a certain type of finesse to get my way. This may put a stain on my reputation as a badass, but it is necessary. I have to show Izzo that I’m strong enough and mature enough to fight by his side. Okay. Here goes. Don’t mess this up, Ash,” she thought before taking a deep breath to calm herself down. She looked calmly at her teacher. “Okay. I will be careful, and I promise that I’ll listen to everything you say. We can make a plan and scout out the area before we get involved. I mean what’s the difference between me doing this now and me doing this in the fall? I’m about to become a knight apprentice. I will have to risk my life for others eventually, so why can’t I start now?” she asked. The sneaky teen wanted to throw up in her mouth because of her previous statement. “This better work,” she thought as she struggled to keep a focused demeanor.

            Izzo looked back at his student with wonder as he looked at the sheer determination in her eyes. He facepalmed himself and let out a grunt of frustration as he felt Ashina’s words slowly but surely make his original stance falter. “I can’t believe that you actually made a little sense there,” he admitted and shook his head from side-to-side.

            Ashina gave Izzo a look of confusion. “What do you mean by that?” she asked.

            The hooded hero looked at the curious brunette with a tired frown. “I mean you made a valid point. How do I expect you to grow stronger if I keep babying you and holding you back?” he uttered and forced out those agitating words.

             Ashina’s features immediately lightened up when she heard that statement. “Which means?” she asked as she withheld her excitement. “I think I got him,” she thought. The teen stared at her sensei with curiosity as she awaited his response.

            Izzo let out a heavy breath. “Which means, you can come along on—” he was cut off by the cheering of his student.

            “Yeah! Whoop. Whoop,” Ashina shouted and jumped up and down with uncharacteristic happiness and enthusiasm.

            Izzo looked at his sister with a look of bafflement mixed with shock. He then shook his head and cleared his throat, which ended his student’s excitement as he quickly regained her attention.

 “Ash, I appreciate your eagerness for getting the chance to help people, but now isn’t the time for that sort of celebration. We have work to do,” he reminded her.

            “R-right,” Ashina stammered with a brief blush and turned to look at Timothy. “Yo, coachman Izaha guy, I need you to call the Dragoon police,” she ordered as she got back to the task at hand.

“Um, Miss Ash? It’s Timothy. Timothy Doncic, remember?” he asked.

“I don’t care what your name is. Just call the cops!” she barked, which caused the coachman to jump with fright.

“Okay. Okay. Just don’t bite my head off,” Timothy pleaded and pulled out a black touchscreen phone.

“Tell them there’s a disturbance in Kaniya Forest, and tell them to send a medical unit and a fire unit as well,” she ordered.

“Okay,” Timothy said.

“We will move in, check out the situation, and help out the best way we can, so you better stay put,” Ashina commanded.

 “But we’ll be sitting ducks waiting here. What if someone decides to attack us?” Timothy questioned and looked very uneasy about the situation.

“Don’t worry. Izzo’s gotcha covered,” Ashina assured him as she looked at her sensei.

Izzo glared at his student. He was impressed because of how Ashina handled the situation while somewhat keeping her cool. However, the young teacher didn’t like how the brunette spoke to Timothy. “Ash really needs to work on her people skills. She will most definitely pass all of the academic courses that are required to become a knight. However, she sure as hell won’t make a good knight if the citizens that she’s supposed to protect are terrified and uncomfortable when they’re around her,” he thought with a tired breath.

“Um…Izzo? Now is not the time to daydream,” Ashina said as she snapped her brother from his mental trance.

“Oh, r-right. Sorry about that,” Izzo stammered.

“Sure thing, weirdo,” Ashina muttered. The teen just shook her head at her bizarre brother while he let out a nervous chuckle. Izzo and his sister then walked backwards. They stopped a few feet away from the stagecoach. “I’ll lecture and scold Ashina about her stank attitude and her bad manners later on because now is not the time,” he thought. Izzo held out his right hand towards the vehicle. All of a sudden, dark purple energy began to ooze out from the palm of his hand. “Chi Bending Art: Chi Barrier,” he said as a massive circular dome of energy stretched out and surrounded the entire stagecoach, thus trapping it within the barrier’s confinements.

“Whoa,” Timothy said. He was stunned by his surroundings.

Ashina grumbled at the sight of her brother’s technique. “I hate this Art. This is the same annoying thing that you used on me at home when I tried to destroy you,” she pointed out and shot a seething glare at Izzo.

 Izzo gave the fuming teen a weak, yet nervous smile before turning to Timothy. “This will protect you while we’re gone. This dome is connected directly to my Chi Stream. If anyone tries to harm you or Bosh while I’m away, I will receive a mental signal from this dome, and I will immediately cast an Art from where ever I am located at to assist you. Now, I need you to call the Arigon Dragoon Police Force, since they’re the closest station in our vicinity,” he finished.

“Yeah, you’ll be well protected for sure because even I, the badass Madarame, couldn’t break out of this thing,” Ashina muttered in a tone laced with frustration.

 This caused Izzo to sigh once more and won a chuckle from the coachman.

“Okay. Be careful, you two, and hurry back,” Timothy said.

“Will do,” Izzo said. He then turned to his student with a serious expression on his face.

“Before we go, Ash, please don’t fly into the face of danger on your own or randomly attack the hostiles like a loose cannon. If you use your usual ‘badass Madarame’ shenanigans while we’re there, I swear I’m not bringing you along with me again,” he warned.

“Alright. Whatever,” Ashina scoffed.

“I’m being serious, Ash,” Izzo stated sternly.

“Fine. I gotcha. I’ll contain myself,” she promised and looked away from her sensei.

Izzo let out a light breath of relief as he softened his features. “Alright then. Let’s go Ash,” he said.

“Mhmm. Yup,” Ashina responded with a trace of frustration in her voice. In a flash, the annoyed teen and her master vanished into thin air. The only things that Timothy was able to make out were blue and dark purple blurs as the duo hastily left the area.

“I swear that those two are going to be the death of me,” Timothy cried and looked down with a heavy sigh as Bosh roared in agreement. “Well, it’s time to follow the Madarame clan Elder’s great-granddaughter’s orders,” he said as he began to call the Dragoon Police.

 

 

The Eastern Plains of Arigon were adjoined with the Kaniya forest. The forest comprised of red leaved trees. These leaves decorated a portion of a river that flowed into the woods at a gentle pace. The clear blue water rolled along while some fish swam within its luxurious depths. The beautiful yet calming vibe that the forest emitted didn’t match the carnage that stirred within its domain. A devastating cloud of smoke flowed over the copses as the sounds of a crackling carriage were heard. The flames which engulfed the coach charred the ground. A young female knight apprentice’s eyes absorbed the scene of the destroyed vehicle. The young lady panted as she held the black hilt of a broken sword in her hand. Her dark purple eyes focused on the multiple gray chunks of her once whole knightly armor. The discarded metal littered the ground in front of her bare feet. This destructive stripping left the teen only with her under clothes on, which were comprised of a tattered black tank top and torn black leggings.

“The coast appears to be clear, and for my sake I pray that it stays that way. Hopefully, he’s not lurking in the shadows concealing his Chi signal as he prepares for an ambush on me when I least expect it.” The teen swallowed the lump in her throat as she looked around.

“Whoever that cloaked foreigner was it seems like he has the ability to use magnetism. His ability was similar to Madam Lym’s ‘Polarity’ technique, and that is a scary thought. That would explain how he ripped all my armor off like it was made out of plastic, and that woman he was with…” The girls thoughts came to a brief halt when she sensed something approaching her.

“Something is coming, and it’s a couple of them. No, it’s about four hostiles. Dammit. What to do? Sir Henry is hurt very badly, and the Masri family are just ordinary Izaha people. How can I protect them like this?” she thought as she exuded frustration. The young knight apprentice then turned around and noticed a trail of blood that led much deeper into the woods.

“With injuries like that, he won’t last much longer. What can I do against these foreigners who were able to defeat someone of Sir Henry’s caliber? I’m just a trainee. Why am I trying to be brave? They already tossed me around like I was a mere lifeless ragdoll earlier. It was apparent back then that I stood no chance against them, and here I am running back into the fire like a moth being drawn to a flame. This decision was so foolish,” she thought. The girl lowered her eyes. As she clenched her unarmed fist, a gentle gust of wind lightly blew through her short, unruly, dark green hair with black highlights. Suddenly, the sounds of menacing low growls were heard close by. These noises startled the young apprentice and caused her to gasp with fright. 

“H-here they come,” she said with a shaky tone. Newly formed sweat ran down the girl’s forehead and dripped off her beautiful light brown skinned face. Slowly, the glowing yellow eyes of four shadowy figures were seen emerging from the thick smoke. A pack of wolves became visible as they unhurriedly approached the teen. Their bodies were made of rock, which was mostly protected by a metallic substance, while their steel fangs and steel teeth were bared.

“That cloaked guy must have summoned more of these accursed things while we made our escape. This does make me wonder about how many of these darn fiends can that psychopath actually summon. Seven bloody hells! I am very inexperienced in regards to fighting against Dog-folks’ techniques and summonings. I really don’t know what to expect from these troublesome metallic canines, but it doesn’t matter. I have to hold these wolves off until help arrives, although something of this multitude might be too much for me,” she thought with a trace of doubt in her mind.

The four wolves snarled loudly at the girl and eyed her closely. The teen’s eyes widened when she heard the sounds of multiple wolves howling all around the forest. She frantically looked around at the numerous vicious eyes of the predators that surrounded her. There were exactly 50 wolves waiting to use the teen as their new chew toy.

            The trainee immediately dropped her broken sword on the ground. Her demeanor displayed shock. “How is this possible? No, I’m going to die. They’re too many of them,” she murmured as tears rolled down her cheeks. “I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. Please, someone help me!” she screamed in utter defeat. The teen’s whimpers were heard along with the growls and snarls of the wolves as they closed in on her position. The girl’s eyes widened even more as her mouth quivered with terror. She was now desperate as she commenced to beg for her life as she hoped that the summoner would have mercy and spare her from being dog food.

 “N-No. P-please, stay back. Don’t e-eat me. Please! I’m just a kid. I’m too young to die. I’m sorry, okay? Please, don’t do this to me. Don’t k-kill me like this. Please…I’ll do anything. Anything! No. No, I can’t. I can’t—”The teen started to hyperventilate as her entire body started to tremble with fear. She was utterly terrified of dying and being brutally ripped apart by the wolves. Her abnormally rapid breathing and her random convulsions slowly but surely came to a complete halt. The terrifying sight of the army of canine predators was so overwhelming to the point that it completely paralyzed the young knight. Her body was now as solid as a statue and her teary eyes were still wide open as she waited helplessly for her certain demise. 

The four wolves jumped towards the petrified girl at every angle. Instantly, their vicious leaps hit a devastating roadblock as spikes made out of purple Chi impaled the artificial beasts through their stomachs. The frightened teen was unresponsive to her swift rescue; her body was rigid as she kept staring into space with unblinking eyes. Her entire frame was protected by a casket shaped barrier made from thick aura, which had the deadly spikes attached to it.               The pierced beasts suddenly let out multiple distorted robotic howls as their bodies lit up and exploded. The numerous detonations shook the entire area and created a cloud of dust and smoke. The remaining pack of wolves growled as they looked around the surrounding woods in search for their new prey. As the dust and the smoke settled, the girl was still standing inside the casket shaped barrier with her unresponsive state still present. The casket then flew up in the air high above the tree branches and out of the range of the wolves’ assault. The young apprentice and her protective barrier safely floated in midair.

“She’s petrified with fear. Like literally, man. What a wimp,” Ashina commented while shaking her head as she stood on a tree branch. The teen was staring up at the motionless apprentice with a look of disgust.

“She appeared to be a trainee, so cut her some slack, Ash,” Izzo defended as he stood firmly on a branch above his student.

Ashina folded her arms and glanced up at her teacher with a look of annoyance. “We arrived at the part where she was begging for her life like a little wuss. She is a disgrace of an apprentice. She was afraid of those weak looking robo-mutts to the point that she probably pissed her pants. She’s pathetic and not cut out to be a knight. The proof is right before our eyes,” she spat.

Izzo discharged a sigh as he looked up at the helpless novice. He then looked back down at his student. “You are too blunt for your own good. What if she heard you?” he asked with narrowed eyes at Ashina. “You could have crush that poor girl’s dreams. She already has been terrorized and traumatized enough,” he added.

Ashina unfolded her arms and dropped them to her sides. “It doesn’t matter. I don’t know her. She doesn’t know me, so it really doesn’t matter what I think about her shortcomings, even though it’s quite obvious that she is a weakling because whoever she fought before we got here damn near stripped her butt naked,” she pointed out. “Anyways, enough about that loser,” she dismissed as she pointed up at the young teacher. “Did you use your Chi Sensing technique to locate the other people that this waste of space was with?” she asked with a raised eyebrow.

Izzo let out a tired breath. He gave up on the previous conversation as he responded to Ashina’s new question. “Yeah, there are four people and a land dragon hiding in a cave about 500 meters north of here. One of them needs medical attention right away. I dispatched two Chi clones to help the injured person and guard the rest of them while we do something about those robotic wolves down there. Speaking of which, it is very odd and worrisome to see a summoning technique like this in Sol. Hmm.” he informed his student as he put his hand on his chin.

“Mhmm. I see,” Ashina said nonchalantly with an uninterested look on her face. The teen looked down at the burning wagon. “I don’t know why, but that carriage feels and looks familiar,” she thought. Ashina then looked at the robotic wolves. “These robo-mutts are asking for a major beating for attacking the people who were riding in that carriage, and I will be the one who gives it to them,” she plotted with a solemn expression.

Izzo just stood there as he tried to get a grasp of the situation. “What the hell is going on? I thought that my bro, Kadaj, was the only Inuraut native who lived in Sol. Did more people from the infamous canine nation migrate to our country recently that I didn’t know about?” Izzo asked himself as he looked down at the wolves with a sharp eye. “That can’t be right. Their queen, Queen Kaede, wouldn’t allow something like that to happen, since she is ridiculously strict when it comes to that sort of thing. Hell, Kadaj’s unfortunate and fortunate circumstances are the only reasons why he’s here, and because of Inuraut’s unfair laws Kadaj’s citizenship in Sol was ridiculously hard to get legalized even with all the nobles’ and royals’ support he had behind him. I guess there are other Inuraut natives who somehow migrated to Sol illegally. Yeah, that is the only logical explanation I can deduce from this abnormal and unfortunate situation,” he pondered as he looked up at the floating apprentice then down at the scorching carriage.

“But why would they attack the Masri’s carriage? What was their purpose? It doesn’t matter though. Whoever they are I will put a stop to their crimes. They attacked three Izaha people and a land dragon that I care dearly about from Roumaya Village, my village, not to mention they harmed an ally and an old friend in Sir Henry, and they probably ruined the career of an upcoming young knight. That poor young girl was absolutely traumatized. These guys went too far, and now they are on my ‘to destroy list’. These strangers are going down whenever I find them,” he thought with a serious expression. Izzo then glanced down at his sister who was looking down at the wolves.

“It wouldn’t be wise to tell Ashina about the Masris, Caries, and Sir Henry just yet because she would charge headfirst into battle without thinking. She would be blinded by her pure, unadulterated rage, and she would be too far gone to think rationally. She and Ashira are close friends with Amara. They’re like big sisters to the lass, and Ash knew Sir Henry since she was a baby. He’s basically family to her by now, similar to an uptight older uncle. I just hope that she doesn’t expand her Chi Sense Sensory Waves beyond this area to identify all five of the fleeing victims in this incident like I did because all hell will break loose if that happens.” Izzo thought as he looked down at the wolves who were still searching the area for their new prey.

“Listen, Ash. 46 small wolves still remain since I killed the first four pups who tried to attack the young knight. In addition, there’s a larger, much more powerful wolf east of here. It’s about 500 meters away from our current position, and it’s stationary for the time being. It’s as if the giant is waiting for something or someone. However, there are no humanoid hostiles within our vicinity, so that at least is a good sign,” he informed her.

“Oh, I already used my Chi Sense technique to locate all of the weak wolves in this area as we made our way here. However, I didn’t know that there was a giant wolf nearby,” Ashina said with an excited smile. “Hell yeah! This is going to be awesome. Bring on the boss wolf!” she shouted with pure eagerness as she smiled from ear-to-ear.

“Ash, you’re being way too loud,” Izzo whispered forcefully with an annoyed expression. Due to the young Madarame’s loud outburst, the surrounding predators finally spotted Izzo and Ashina’s standing on the tree branches. They growled at the duo. The teen took notice with her excited grin still on full display. “Dammit, Ash! Look what you did with your loud mouth,” Izzo hissed.

Ashina ignored what her brother had said and focused her attention on the newly alerted wolves. “Alright, you mangy mutts. Let’s dance,” she said. She vanished without a trace.

Izzo looked down with astonished eyes and an agape mouth. “Ashina! Got dammit. Not again,” he said forcefully as he face palmed himself with pure frustration. “I swear. I don’t know what I’m going to do with that disobedient girl,” he added in a heavily annoyed tone.                   Izzo watched on as the teen appeared in front of a lone wolf who was 60 meters away from her previous position. Ashina quickly punched it in its snout. The wolf’s whines were muffled by its crushed muzzle. The audaciously spunky brunette followed up with a roundhouse kick to the left side of the wounded beast’s body. The disfigured mongrel flew across the area and crashed into two nearby wolves. A loud explosion erupted immediately upon contact.

“That’s seven,” Ashina muttered as she added to her master’s kill count total. Swiftly, two more wolves attempted to pounce on the Madarame girl from behind. She quickly vanished and reappeared above them before stomping in their backs with Chi engulfed boots. This caused the surprised curs to collide into the ground. The surrounding dirt road transmitted shockwaves from the impact as the teen quickly vanished just before the wolves exploded.

“Nine,” she said casually as she looked at the trio of foolish wolves rushing towards her. The first wolf jumped into the air. It started to contort its body into a ball. Its metallic, spiked tail and back resembled a buzz saw as it rapidly spun downward towards the rash teen.

“Interesting,” Ashina said nonchalantly. She calmly sidestepped the airborne wolf. It flew a few feet behind the teen and cut through a tree. The canine’s attack caused the tree to collapse and fall off to the side. In rapid succession, the other two wolves tried the same thing. Ashina scoffed at the beasts and quickly jumped above them. She hurriedly turned upside down in midair and held out both of her hands in front of her. She gaped at the now approaching three wolves’ returning buzz saw attacks. Energy began pulsating and then formed in front of Ashina’s hands. The energy turned into a globe sized, blue ball of Chi with an orbiting ring around it. The attack then charged up in front of the adolescent.

“Kakaigun!” she shouted as she fired the ball of energy. The furious attack grew five times in size once it was unleashed. It was now big enough to collide into all three of the wolves simultaneously. The trio exploded instantaneously from the devastating impact of Ashina’s attack. The brunette shielded her eyes with her arms as she got pushed back from the intense air of the explosion. Ashina flipped over and landed on her feet and slid across the ground. She quickly regained her composure. The courageous teen finally unshielded her eyes. “Eleven,” she said as two wolves jumped toward either side of her. Ashina instantly held out both of her arms without even looking at the wannabe sneaky canines. “Double Kakaigun!” she shouted. The two balls repeated the same action as the previous attack and pushed the defeated beasts back where they came from. They exploded in the air a few feet away from Ashina’s position.

“Thirteen. I swear that I’m just too badass for my own good,” she boasted with a smug smirk. The teen then looked around at the eight wolves that ran toward her a pair at a time. They were growling and snarling viciously at Ashina and were ready and willing to avenge their fallen comrades. An evil grin appeared on the teen’s face as she got ready for action. She eagerly prepared to do her favorite and most useful technique known as the Rakaijo Art.                              The Rakaijo was a powerful Chi based technique that sent twenty percent of the user’s overall Chi capacity into the spheres embedded in the manipulator’s legs. The excessive amount of Chi increased the strength of every leg muscle that surrounded the spheres. Similar to a steroid, this surge of Chi vastly increased the speed of the user’s movements to over 20 times faster than the person’s normal speed. The versatile Art also amplified the overall strength of the manipulator’s kicks to over 10 times the user’s natural might. While the technique gave a massive boost to speed and power temporarily, the repercussions of the technique could damage the muscles of inexperienced users’ legs, especially if the skill was overused. If the user unwisely exerted more than 20 percent of their Chi into the technique, then the risk became exponentially more pronounced.

“Rakaijo,” Ashina muttered as aura cloaked her calves and stretched downwards to her feet. The teen ran extremely fast in a circle as her body took a striking resemblance of a blue blur. She ran so fast that her speed created what appeared to be a small tornado of energy. The aura vanished when she quickly jumped into the air and cocked back a foot as the wolves jumped after her.

“Rakaijo Hurricane Blitz!” Ashina shouted as she quickly swung her foot and body in the air. She kicked a blue shockwave of energy that stretched around into a destructive ring. The circular aura hit all eight wolves simultaneously. All of their chests got caved in by the ferocious attack. The teen then landed back in the very spot that she once stood. “Twenty-one,” she said as all of the wolves shot across the woodland. They crashed into the ground and blew up. Ashina smirked and looked around at the remaining hostiles. The beasts were stationary as they glared at the brunette from within the woods. “Hmm…it seems like they’ve stopped their advances. I wonder if they are scared stiff like that so-called knight above me,” she thought as she looked up at the floating apprentice.  She then looked back at her foes. “Normally, I would just rush them, but considering Izzo is up there observing me and testing my judgements I better follow suit and observe these mutts’ actions and act accordingly,” Ashina thought. The teen watched her adversaries with a cautious eye as she tried to figure out their next moves.

Meanwhile, Izzo still stood on the tree as he watched his student with a proud smile on his face. “Ashina is literally putting in work. I only took out the first four, and she took out the next seventeen by herself in a matter of seconds. I see that all of the taxing and frustrating training I gave her is finally paying off. Ash completely mastered the base Rakaijo technique. Well, it comes as no surprise. It has been almost 9 years since I first taught her the Art. That is why Ashina is such a natural when she’s using the speedy maneuver. With all that moving around though and all that Chi that she just used, it almost makes it hard to believe that she’s not tired. Hell, she’s barely even broken a sweat. This kid is truly something else.” he thought with amazed eyes. Izzo’s train of thought was suddenly interrupted when he felt a stinging beeping sensation in his head. 

“I see that my clones have finally made it to the Masri family’s and Sir Henry’s hiding place,” he said out loud. Izzo then put his hands together. “Chi Barrier,” he said and cast a protective energy barrier around himself and the tree.

Ashina took notice of her teacher’s Art. “I guess Izzo’s clones have made it to the other people that the weakling was with,” she assumed as she refocused her attention on the wolves.

“Ash, please make sure that you try to contain yourself for a little bit because you know what I’m about to do,” he said.

Ashina sneered. “I’ll give these mutts five minutes to make a move. If they don’t make a move within that time limit, then I’ll smoke them out,” she said without even looking at her brother. 

Izzo looked at his student and sighed.  “Okay. Do what you have to do,” he agreed.

“Yup. I got this,” Ashina said confidently.

“But, if things somehow get rough while I’m away taking care of business, you can flee into my barrier for protection. I modified it to correspond with your Chi signal, so only you and you alone have the access to pass through my aura unscathed,” he informed her.

Ashina scoffed at her brother as she glanced at him with a look of irritation. “Don’t insult my greatness like that. These things literally stand no chance against me, so I won’t be running away from these cheap pieces of junk,” she spat.

“Ash, I’m serious. Stop being pigheaded and full of yourself for once, and listen to my instructions like how you deceitfully claimed that you would do earlier.” Izzo said with a trace of aggravation in his voice.

 Ashina let out an annoyed grunt. “Fine. If they somehow push me back when you’re away, then I will flee into your useless barrier for my safety and protection,” she forced out condescendingly. She focused her attention back on the wolves. “Humph,” she released as she folded her arms.                                                         

Izzo sighed once more. “At least Ash is trying to tame her rage for now. But, still, she needs to fix that snobby attitude of hers soon, or it’ll be her downfall someday,” he thought as he shook his head from side-to-side. “Well, to be fair, she’s right. The robotic wolves don’t stand a chance against her anyways, but still she needs to learn not to underestimate her foes. I taught Ash to approach each hostile encounter that she finds herself in with a level head. I just hope that she follows my instructions and guidance. In the meantime, this barrier will protect me from any unwelcomed attacks from the pups while I communicate with the other people.” Izzo thought before he put his fists together and closed his eyes.

“Chi link Art: Mental Puppetry Manipulation,” he uttered. The young master appeared to be meditating while standing up. He allowed his consciousness to be taken away from his body.

 

                                                  

 

The Masri family hid in a small cave off in the northern edge of the forest. A middle-aged woman knelt down while she tended to a wounded knight. A middle-aged man did the same to an injured land dragon. The woman who nursed the knight was named Hajime Masri. She was a 41 year-old woman with long, dark, brown hair worn in a high ponytail, which went down to the middle of her back. She was dressed in a white, long-sleeved blouse which covered her large bust. The fabric that concealed the sides of her blouse was a brown corset vest. She coordinated it with a golden, thigh length skirt and a pair of brown, open toed, two inched heel boots. Her magenta eyes focused on the suffering knight, and her beautiful, creamy skinned face was full of worry.                                                                                                                                                        To attempt first aid, the woman pressed a previously white rag against the hole embedded in the knight’s chubby stomach. The rag had now become soaked in blood by the profuse leaking from the knight’s wound. The knight’s beige skinned face was almost pale. His thick bald head rested against a black pillow. He wore only black slacks as the rest of his 5-foot-10, heavyset frame was bare from the intense battle that he brutally lost. His breathing was weak. Beads of sweat ran down his fat face. “He’s bleeding way too much, Leeroy. I don’t know if Sir Henry is going to make it,” Hajime said with panic in her tone.

The 42 year-old merchant looked at his wife through his sunglasses. He focused on the knight’s state. “Just keep pressure on his wound. Help will be here any minute now,” he said with a bit of optimism. This caused his wife to lower her eyes. Hajime appeared to be in deep thought as Leeroy continued to clean the leg wound of an orange land dragon. The beast had notably blue nails and a blue underbelly. Its blue eyes focused on Hajime as it let out a light roar when Leeroy applied an alcohol-soaked rag to a small gash on its stomach.

“You will be okay, Caries. Just stay strong, girl,” he told her. The dragon merely let out a weak grunt to respond in its own language.

 The busty beauty finally looked back at her husband and parted her lips to speak her mind. “I don’t think that they will make it in time to help us, and what about Reisia? I know she’s from the Dows clan and all, but she is still just a child. We left her back there to hold off that powerful criminal all by herself. What if he summoned more of those robotic things? They might have torn her from limb-to-limb by now. I couldn’t ever forgive myself if something has happened to her because she tried to protect us,” Hajime said regretfully and somewhat mournfully. The worried wife’s eyes now welled with tears.                                                             Leeroy had a saddened look on his brown skinned face. He stood up and looked ahead at the exit of the cave. A gentle breeze blew through the cave and against his black muscle shirt that barely hid his ripped physique. He matched his top with a pair of black overalls with the straps down along with a pair of black steel toed boots. Water from the leaking cave ceiling dripped down on top of his black, taper fade haircut. The water traveled down the middle of his face to his mustache, full lips, and goatee. 

“Haji,” Leeroy said as he shortened his wife’s name. “Even though she’s a 15 year-old knight apprentice, she’s still a Drakien, so she stands a better chance against those things than we do,” he forced out. It really hurt Leeroy to admit that he was totally helpless as an Izaha. Because of that very handicap in strength, he couldn’t help the young knight-in-training in her battle.

Hajime looked down at Henry and sighed. She knew that her husband was right, and she couldn’t argue against his valid point. “Sometimes, I really hate being an Izaha,” she admitted as guilt started to plague her.

“Me too,” Leeroy whispered as he looked down at his feet. “I have a gun, but what good would that do against those things?” he asked himself. Leeroy clenched his fists and let out a grunt of frustration. “One way or another I will have to protect my wife and daughter if things somehow go south, but how?” he thought as he glanced at his 7 year-old daughter, Amara.       The little girl wore a white sundress, which was comprised of lavender flower designs along with a matching lavender ribbon that was bow tied around her tiny waist. Amara matched her dress with a pair of white strapped sandals, which included another lavender flowered design on each of them. She finished off her attire with two identical lavender star barrettes which held her black pigtails in place. Her magenta eyes were identical to her mother’s eyes and lit up as an excited smile displayed on her pretty, light brown skinned face.

“Daddy, Izzo’s Chi clones are here. We’re going to be alright,” she sung.

Leeroy and Hajime looked forward and spotted two purple humanoid Chi clones that each housed an identical silhouette of Izzo’s body. Leeroy quickly rushed to his daughter’s side and looked at the clones with a smile on his face. “I see that Roumaya’s Finest was in the  neighborhood. About got damn time someone decided to show up,” he chuckled with relief.

“You swore,” Amara warned her father. She then gave him a look of disappointment.

“Sorry, baby girl,” Leeroy apologized as he covered his mouth.

“It’s okay this time, but don’t do it again,” Amara chastised as she pointed sternly at her father.

Leeroy smiled at his daughter. “Okay, baby girl. I won’t make that mistake again,” he promised.

“I’ll hold you to that,” she said with a wink. One of Izzo’s clones stood in place and turned to face the entrance. It was making sure that no enemy could get through and blindside the group. The other replica stood in front of the father-daughter pair. It looked at them through its glowing purple eyes. Without warning, the entire family felt a familiar sensation flowing within their bodies. The inner feeling was warm, yet soothing and made their minds at ease. Suddenly, Izzo’s voice began to telepathically resonate within the family’s minds.

“I came as fast as I could. Are all of you alright?” he asked.

“You have to tell us how you make these mouthless, see-through Chi thingies talk within our minds when you have the time,” Amara said in her head.                                                     Izzo clone shook its head as it let out a light chuckle. “I see that you’re livelier than ever at least, and I’ll tell and show you the next time I see you guys in the village,” he said.

“Yay!” Amara cheered with a raised fist along with a bright smile.                                                  Leeroy shook his head from side-to-side at the fact that his daughter’s cheerful persona didn’t disappear even in the wake of a dire situation. “We are fine. My land dragon is going to be okay. She just has minor scrapes and cuts, but Sir Henry got hurt really bad. I don’t think he’s going to make it,” he informed the duplicate. The merchant then looked at the fallen knight with saddened eyes.                                                                                                                                             Amara looked at Henry. Her happy demeanor turned to a worried one. The clone of Izzo walked forward between the pair. “I’m going to save him. I hate that I didn’t bring any healing berries with me because this Art will probably hurt the poor guy even more,” he explained.   Leeroy turned around and looked at the clone. “What are you going to do?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.                                                                                                                                   “I’m going to forcibly close his wound,” Izzo answered bluntly.

Leeroy looked at his friend with a look of puzzlement, and then it hit him as he flinched.

“Ouch. Hey, Amara. Come to Daddy. You can’t see this,” he said as he gestured to his daughter. The little girl rushed in front of her father and buried her face into his stomach. Leeroy’s 6 foot tall frame shielded his daughter’s 4-foot-7, petite body.                          

“Is Mister Hume going to be okay?” Amara asked as she wrapped her tiny arms around her father’s waist.

“I hope so,” Leeroy replied. He then put his hand on the upper back of his daughter.

The clone kneeled beside Hajime and Henry. The saddened maiden glanced at the replica with a tearstained face. “Don’t worry, Haji. I will take care of everything,” Izzo assured her.

Hajime nodded her head. “Thank-you for coming for us. Please, tell me that Rei is alright,” she expressed as she choked back a sob. The distressed woman called the knight apprentice by her nickname. She looked at the clone waiting for the worst as more tears streamed down her cheeks.

            “Me and my stude—err, my colleague, came across the young, green haired knight apprentice, and we managed to aid her. We’re cleaning up those leftover wolves as we speak, so we will head in your direction in person soon,” Izzo said as he spared Reisia from the embarrassment of her current paralyzed state.

            Hajime wiped her eyes and smiled weakly. “I’m glad,” she said. The clone nodded at her and gestured its hand. Izzo’s duplicate instructed the beautiful mother to remove the rag from Henry’s stomach. She did as she was told and removed the cloth from the knight’s abdomen. This caused blood to gush out from the four deep stab wounds. It appeared that he was stabbed by four long nails. They looked as if they belonged to a giant wolf’s claw.

            “I can’t believe that they were able to do something like this to Sir Henry. Who or what did this to him?” Izzo asked.

            “There was this guy in a black assassin’s coat and a black half face mask. He also wore glasses. He had brown skin and dark green eyes. He’s the one who summoned those things,” Hajime explained.

            “Okay. Tell me more when the cops get here,” Izzo said as he placed his hand on the injured knight’s wound.

            “Okay,” Hajime said. She removed her bloodstained brown gloves from her hands and dropped them to the ground before she looked away from Izzo and Henry. “Please, save him,” she told him softly.

“I will. Chi Bending Art: Cellular Reconstruction,” Izzo said. All of a sudden, there was a flash of light. The light swiftly transformed into a white stream of Chi that dug into the cellular mechanisms of the knight’s skin, nerves, and muscles. It then connected directly to Henry’s Chi Stream. The warrior’s body began to jerk back and forth as he yelled in agonizing pain even in his comatose state. Hajime covered her ears and closed her eyes, and her family followed her example. Amara’s worried whimpers were drowned out by Henry’s cries, which echoed throughout the cave. Izzo’s energy started to manipulate the injured knight’s Chi Source. This phenomenon sped up Henry’s natural regenerative process, which forced shut and healed his wounds. Henry finally stopped screaming. His breathing was now steady as his big belly slowly went up and down.

“All done. You guys can look now,” Izzo announced.                                                            Hajime looked at Izzo with an amazed expression while Leeroy nodded his head in approval. “I wouldn’t expect anything less from our Izzo,” he praised with a proud smile.

            Amara looked at Izzo with a weak smile. “Thank goodness,” she said with a breath of relief.

            “Will Sir Henry be alright now?” Hajime asked.

            “He will be okay for now, but he will still need to be taken to the hospital to make sure that everything is alright. He did lose a lot of blood, so he’ll need a lot of rest. The cops are on their way now. We are about to finish off these wolves. Then, we’ll head to this cave. My clones will protect you guys while I’m absent. They will cast a protective barrier around the entire cave, so no one will be able to harm you guys while I’m away,” Izzo informed them.

            “Alright. Thanks,” The family said in unison.

            “Don’t mention it,” Izzo replied.

            “Be safe,” Hajime said as she briefly put her hand on the replica’s shoulder.

            “I will,” Izzo promised. The clone put its fists together. It ended its telepathic connection with Izzo and the Masri family. The double then stood up and walked towards the exit of the cave. It stood there on guard and made sure that no hostiles could come in from that direction. The clone and the second replica, who still stood at the cave entrance, quickly held out their hands simultaneously. Suddenly, Chi shot out the palms of their hands and cloaked the ceiling, the ground, and both exits of the cave. This sealed the Masri family and the unconscious knight safely within the cave. The duplicates then lowered their arms and cautiously looked out each of their respective cave entrances.

            “Wow! Izzo is truly amazing,” Amara said with star struck eyes.

            “Yeah, that kid is something else,” Leeroy agreed with a single nod.

            “You think Rei is going to be alright, Daddy?” Amara asked worriedly as she looked up at her father.

            “Of course. Izanami is there with her now, and he’s one of the most skilled Fangs in Sol. He’s got this, so Reisia will be just fine in Izzo’s capable hands,” Leeroy assured his daughter.

            The little girl smiled sweetly at her dad. “Alright. I guess the only thing we can do now is wait for them to come back here. I will go over there and check on Caries,” she said as she skipped over to the land dragon. Hajime smiled at her passing daughter and shifted her 5-foot-7 curvy frame. She then stood up and made her way over to her husband. “The only thing we can do now is wait and believe in Izzo, Rei, and even Ashina because I know she is with Izzo right now causing trouble as usual. I saw right through Izzo’s sad cleanup attempt when he blurted out that his student was with him. I swear that Ash needs to change her ways if she wants to have a realistic shot at marrying the handsome prince, Shawn Mizuki. Well, when they’re both old enough for marriage and a lot more mature, that is. Hmm…Maybe, one day in the distant future me and my family will be attending their wedding,” she thought with a sly smile. The busty wife then stood in front of her husband and hugged him.

“I’m so glad that we’re going to be okay and that Rei and Sir Henry will be alright,” she said softly.

            “Me too,” Leeroy whispered as he hugged his wife back while they waited for their friends to come to them.                               

                                               

 

Izzo opened his eyes to see Ashina standing in the same spot that she stood in when her brother’s consciousness first traveled away to aid the Masri family, Caries, and Sir Henry. The teen had her arms folded as she impatiently tapped a foot on the ground. She glared at the unresponsive wolves with a look of annoyance.

Izzo smiled and let out a breath of relief. He was happy that his sister listened to him for once and avoided resorting to her normal reckless shenanigans. The young teacher then put his hands together and ended his Chi barrier technique. The barrier swiftly vanished without a trace. He lowered his arms and spoke to his sister. “Sorry to keep you waiting, Ash. The job is done,” Izzo announced and instantly got Ashina’s attention.

“About damn time. I was beginning to get bored waiting here. I got so uninterested to the point that I actually turned off my Rakaijo technique. Oh and I put out the carriage fire as well. The wolves literally just stood there and watched me do it,” she explained and pointed at the now charred, dirt covered carriage. The vehicle was covered all the way up to the four holes where the windows use to be by a large pile of dirt.                                                                                     Ashina then looked back at the stationary wolves. “And, I don’t know what is going on with these robo-mutts. They are just standing here. They haven’t moved since you were gone. Maybe, my greatness actually scared them to the point that their circuits completely burned out, and now they don’t work anymore,” she boasted with a smug smirk. “But to be honest, I totally lost count of how long I’ve been standing here. I think that they were fortunate enough to actually outlast my five minute countdown warning to their destruction due to my boredom, the lucky pieces of junk,” she groused and folded her arms.

Izzo shook his head at his student’s arrogance. “Man, Ashina is so egotistical it’s getting to the point that its almost cartoonish. Well, at least she stayed put and out of trouble when I was away. She even extinguished the carriage flames as well. I guess I’ll give her extra credit for those two helpful tasks, but that doesn’t change the fact that this girl is still a got damned handful. Nevertheless, I think that it’s okay now to tell Ashina that the Masri family and Caries were the victims of this attack. Since everyone is alright after the assault, I think it’s safe to assume that Ash won’t go berserk now and blow up the entire forest. But just to be one hundred percent certain that Ash will maintain a level head, I will keep Sir Henry’s identity a secret until this situation is over,” he thought.                                                                                                      The young teacher then also focused his attention on the wolves. His eyes darted back and forth as he observed the area. “They must be waiting for the giant wolf that I sensed earlier,” he assumed as he put his hands together. Izzo next looked in the direction where he first detected the alpha wolf and closed his eyes.

The young teacher’s Chi Sense Sonar Waves flowed from his body and detected all of the surrounding wolves’ Chi Signatures as well as his sister’s. Ashina’s physique emitted a tremendous amount of blue Chi, which slowly oozed out of her body while the surrounding wolves’ exoskeletons each housed a respectable amount of beige colored Chi flowing within them. Izzo’s waves quickly detected the bigger wolf’s energy. The beast released a massive amount of the same colored Chi as the other wolves. The skilled Fang opened his eyes, lowered his arms to either side of himself, and frowned. “Yup. I called it. Here it comes, and, man, it’s on the move at a leisurely pace. I can sense its energy coming closer and closer towards our position, and, wow, it has a decent amount of Chi flowing within its exoskeleton as well. Its energy is almost mind boggling. The person who summoned this thing (and the rest of the wolves for that matter) must be very formidable. I will handle the giant wolf personally as soon as it gets here, and I guess I’ll keep this secret from Ashina for the time being. I’ll allow her to annihilate the smaller wolves by herself really quick, and then I’ll take out the bigger wolf. Ash would literally get reckless if she figured out that the infamous boss wolf is on its way, but, then again, my sister should had already sensed it by now. I guess she is being too cocky and too relaxed as usual. However, she should have remained on guard despite all of the advantages that she has in this battle like how I trained her to do. I swear that I will mark her down for being careless, but I will keep that flaw to myself for the time being as well,” Izzo ended his mental monologue and glanced at Ashina with a look of disappointment.

The young instructor then let out a weak breath as he finally spoke out loud. “Good job on extinguishing the burning carriage flames. It is odd that they’ve been immobile, but we don’t have any more time to wait for them to make their move. Let’s hurry up and end this. Then, we can get back to Leeroy and his family,” he announced.

Ashina unfolded her arms and looked at her teacher with a confused expression. “Wait. These things attacked the Masris and their land dragon? Are they alright?” she asked with concern in her voice.

“They’re unharmed. The knight that was protecting them was the only one who took damage. I healed him though, and he will survive his deadly encounter. No one was lost in this assault, which is a good thing,” he explained.

Ashina let out a breath of relief. “That’s good to hear,” she muttered as she closed her eyes briefly. “But why did they attack the Masris’ carriage?” she asked.

“I don’t know yet, but it will be clear after we finish off these pups. Let’s make haste, so we can get the entire backstory of this incident from the Masri family,” he explained. 

Ashina turned and looked at the wolves. “Now, you’re speaking my language. Okay, you mangy mutts. Let’s dance again. Ahhhhh!” she yelled. A torrent of Chi rapidly shot out of her body. The energy cloaked her physique and stretched a few inches above the top of her head. She then slightly raised her hands and arms on either side of her body.  Immediately, Ashina’s palms began to emit sparkling surges of built up Chi, which started to glow and form into miniature orbiting balls of energy.

“It’s time to reduce all of you into scrap metal,” she threatened with a crazed smile.

Unexpectedly, the ground started to shake, which caused the trees to move slightly. Izzo narrowed his eyes as his face brandished a serious expression. “So, it sped up its pace. I actually thought that I would have more time to prepare for that thing’s arrival, I guess—” Izzo was cut off by the loud laughter of his sister. He then glanced down at Ashina with a look of puzzlement. The brunette quickly spun around to face the direction where the giant wolf was charging in from. The teen’s hands and body were in the same stance as earlier, and her sociopathic smile was still on full display.

“It’s about got damned time. I was wondering when you would finally move your ass and show up on the battlefield, you oversized, slow walking piece of junk!” Ashina shouted.

Izzo’s eyes now shone widely, and his mouth was agape. “Wait. She knew the boss wolf was coming the entire time? I guess that she powered up only as a critical warning to lure it here faster to help its minions before they got blown to smithereens. Wow. I guess I had misjudged her. She’s not a cocky idiot after all. Attagirl! In spite of everything that I have seen thus far, it appears that I don’t have to intervene in this fight. I guess my little sister has everything under control,” he thought with a proud smile.                                                                                   Abruptly, a giant mechanical wolf emerged from the woods. Its massive claws cracked open the ground as it released a commanding, robotic howl. This wail grabbed the attention of the surrounding wolves and caused the beasts to grow more feral as they proceeded to scrape their claws against the dirt.

“Thanks for exposing yourself. My energy lured you out just as I planned. I swear this is just like a video game. Finally, the freaking boss wolf has appeared,” Ashina sneered as she tried to hold back her excitement. “I guess it is time for me to blow your oversized robotic ass into oblivion,” she spat with a smug smirk. The teen locked her eyes on the giant wolf as she finally took in its appearance. The mechanical beast appeared to be over 17 feet tall. It had almost the same characteristics as the smaller wolves. The only difference was that this giant canine was completely made out of pure steel. 

“She’s taking way too long to finish them off, and that incessant smack talking is unnecessary. They’re merely robotic summonings. It’s not like they can respond to the nonsense Ashina is spewing out of her mouth. Hell, they can’t even get mad at her disrespectful remarks or even react to her meaningless threats,” Izzo thought as he facepalmed himself.

“Welp. Just like that, there goes her praises from me. They went right out of the window. I take back my mental compliments mostly because of Ash’s display of arrogance, childishness, and inexperience. I just know that I will have to intervene in this so-called final showdown and shut this whole thing down before Ash gets her cocky, annoying self hurt,” he muttered with frustration in his tone.

“This is going to be hella fun. Let’s do this, Ahhhhhh!” Ashina roared and stretched her arms outward. The aura that still flowed around the explosive teen’s body suddenly intensified. Meanwhile, the small Chi balls that orbited in front of the brunette’s extended palms quickly morphed into two massive balls of energy. These destructive globes, combined with Ashina’s extraordinary Chi output, unleashed a powerful merged air pressure current that blew around the area. Its sheer might cracked open and shook the surrounding ground where the teen stood.

“Welcome to the badass Madarame’s Giant Rakai—” She was cut off by ten wolves that quickly swarmed the area. The beasts hurriedly surrounded the brunette. She immediately took notice of this. She glared and scoffed at the robots.

“Get out of my way, you annoying pests. I’ll destroy all of you later!” Ashina fumed.

The wolves instantly snarled at her and commenced to let out simultaneous, deafening howls. These frequencies unleashed powerful sound waves that smacked against Ashina’s body from every direction. This surprise combination attack caused the teen to immediately groan in pain. Suddenly, all of Ashina’s tremendous aura that flowed around her body swiftly vanished, and her two immense balls of Chi hastily faded away. They broke down into mere droplets of energy and disappeared as soon as they touched the ground. Rapidly, the teen covered her ears to block out the conjoined, obnoxious, high frequency wails of the wolves.    

“What is this? Ah…I can’t move my body. Ow! My head feels like it’s being ripped apart,” she complained. The brunette’s head felt as if it was being drilled into by a jackhammer. It got to the point that it was too much for Ashina to bear. “Dammit! I can’t take it anymore,” she grunted in agony. She closed her eyes immediately. As the robotic canine’s wails became even more vicious, the ground started to shake and crack open a tad bit. Quickly, ten different tiny spots of the surface slightly broke apart. The miniature land holes shifted and molded into ten deadly rock spikes, which arose a few feet in front of each wolf. The barrage of deadly earth spikes then commenced to destroy the ground as they journeyed hastily toward the teen in every direction destined to brutally impale her body.

Ashina opened an eye. It was as if time slowed down. She watched helplessly as the deadly spikes carved multiple paths towards her direction. “Dammit, I can’t move. What did those things do to my body? It feels like I’m literally paralyzed because of those irritating ass howls. I can’t concentrate long enough to even put up my Chi Defenses,” she thought with a frustrated expression. “No, I won’t let these cheap pieces of junk beat me. I won’t let them. I’m a badass Madarame. I can’t lose. It’s impossible for me to lose to these weak robotic mutts!” she said to herself with a determined look in her eye. Ashina slowly moved her hands from her ears with sheer will power. She then curled up her arms in front of her and balled her hands up into fists.                                                                                                                                                             The teen let out weak grunts as she tried desperately to focus and build up her Chi.

“Come on. Come on. Dammit. Just work!” she struggled to say. Ashina’s unfocused Chi flickered on and off. Her aura continually failed to outline her body. “Got dammit. I said work!” she yelled with pure frustration.

“I’ve seen enough,” Izzo said disappointedly and rapidly vanished from the tree trunk.

“Uh! Why won’t my Chi work?!” Ashina shouted. The brunette stopped powering up and looked at the spikes. The deadly rocks were literally three feet away from fatally impaling her body. “Oh sh—” She paused. Surprisingly, her brother appeared in front of her. Ashina looked stunned as Izzo hurriedly put his hands together.

“Chi Barrier!” he shouted. The young teacher swiftly protected himself and his student from getting impaled. The multiple earth spikes broke into numerous rock pieces as soon as they crashed into Izzo’s 10 foot tall, 10 foot wide, circular barrier.

 “Now, since you mechanical abominations are itching for an impalement, try this on for size. Chi Bending Art: Chi Bayoneting!” he yelled. With one fierce battle cry, Izzo stomped the ground and unleashed ten Chi shaped spears that burst out of the surface. The devastating attack pierced through all ten wolves and caused them to explode instantaneously.

“Thirty-one,” he said with a serious expression. The effects of the Chi blocking, paralyzing howls from the destroyed robotic wolves finally were lifted from Ashina’s body. The teen looked down and moved her arms closer to her chest. She opened and closed her hands a few times before lowering her arms to either side of her. Ashina’s eyes then darted back and forth at each of the remaining distanced wolves.

“Man, that was too close for comfort. I almost got hit by a terrible fatality,” she thought. The teen exhaled a breath of relief. “But, since I can finally move my body again, I’m going to destroy the rest of these weak robo-mutts in an instant,” she finished her mental plotting. Ashina then looked forward at the back of her brother’s head with a look of aggravation.

“I didn’t need your help, Izzo,” she said stubbornly.

Izzo looked at the remaining nineteen metallic beasts. They shot more earth spikes towards the duo’s position, which were all blocked by the young teacher’s Art. The giant wolf however just stood in place and patiently watched its minions struggle to put a dent into Izzo’s barrier.

The young teacher parted his lips to speak. “A king does not win because of his powerful army, and a soldier does not triumph because of his own strength. What does that philosophy mean, Ash?” he asked. He turned and looked at his sister.

Ashina scoffed at Izzo. “I don’t know, and I don’t care,” she dismissed and folded her arms. The brunette glanced up at the airborne young knight who was still frozen in place and then back down at her teacher. “I don’t have time for this scriptural, ideological monologuing and this philosophical mumbo jumbo that you’re going on about,” she dismissed with a wave of a hand.

Izzo glared at his sister with bared teeth. He took a deep breath to calm himself down before he spoke. “Oh really? I guess that you don’t remember when you said that you would listen to everything that I had to say on this mission,” he reminded her. Ashina looked away from her teacher with a nervous expression mixed with the “Oh, crap” face as Izzo continued.

“But somehow you still blindly dived directly into this battle without my word, and then you played around and talked smack to the point that you almost got yourself killed.” he pointed out.

Ashina looked back at Izzo with a slightly opened mouth. She then discharged a heavy sigh before responding to her brother. “Well, the wolf that I was about to attack was wide open, so I took full advantage of the situation. In addition, I had all of the other wolves where I wanted them for the entire fight. I was just caught off guard by their annoying ass howls is all,” she argued.

Izzo’s annoyance immediately resurfaced after his sister’s unremorseful excuse, and because of those rude remarks he could no longer filter his words. “You were only caught off guard because you were being too pigheaded to finish these robots off when you had the chance. Ash, do you realize how serious this situation is? This isn’t a video game or a fairy tale. This is real life, you idiot! What if I didn’t make it over here in time to protect you, Ash? Let me answer that question for you. You would have died. I was literally scared to death because I thought I was about to lose you, and now you found out the hard way that the outcomes of your rash, stupid decisions in a real life battle can affect the people that care about you!” he shouted.

Ashina finally looked down with remorse. The mechanical beasts continually tried desperately to break through the barrier. Izzo shook his head at the cocky fool who stood before him. He shifted his gaze and focused his attention to the colossal wolf boss. It stared back at the pair with careful eyes, and it lowered its head and snarled at them.

“I’m going to finish all of these things off by myself. I modified my barrier to deny you access to pass through its protective walls. You have to stay inside the barrier for your own safety, so be quiet while I properly handle business. As you are now, you’ll only get in my way. We’re going to have a long talk when we get back home, young lady. You best to believe it,” Izzo said sternly. In a flash, a destructive wave of energy engulfed the angry sensei’s right fist. He turned his back on his sister and punched at the ground.

“Chi Bending Art: Severe Chi Bayoneting,” he shouted and pierced the dirt road with his fist. This sent ripples of Chi Waves underneath the surface. The energy traveled throughout the area. The giant wolf looked around and witnessed all nineteen of its remaining underlings get violently impaled within a moment by Izzo’s Art. The bayonetted predators all let out weak, robotic whines before they all exploded simultaneously. “Fifty,” Izzo muttered.                                              Ashina looked around the area with amazed yet envious eyes. Izzo stood up and turned around to face his sister and the giant wolf. The teen adverted eye contact with her brother and looked down at her boots. “He took them out with no effort at all, and it was all because of that stupid Chi Bending. Izzo stated that as I am now I would only get in his way. As I am now…how do he expect me to take that statement? In so many words, he basically said to my face that even with all my training I’m still nowhere near to his or even Ashira’s level, and I’m too weak to fight beside him,” she thought as she clenched her fists. Momentarily, Ashina almost lost her balance because of the unexpected tremors created from the powerful howling of the oversized wolf.        Ashina grunted as she regained her composure. The teen quickly turned towards the angry giant. The wolf’s steel body was now engulfed by an electrical barrier, which produced bolts of electricity that struck the ground and destroyed the neighboring area. The wolf began to howl louder and more viciously. Its electric aura intensified and spread out further from its body. 

“I guess the summoner ordered this thing to attack only when all 50 of its minions had been defeated in battle. If that is the case, that means that this boss wolf might become a bit troublesome if I let it live any longer. It would be wise to end this in one blow,” Izzo thought. The young teacher expertly unleashed a torrent of energy that surrounded his body and stretched upwards to the top of his Chi barrier. The aura then broke apart and converted into chunks of energy that resembled massive drops of water which flowed up and around Izzo’s body. Unexpectedly, the angry teacher’s arms, legs, and torso muscles got buffer and more refined. His intent to kill was evident on his face.                                                                                                 Izzo’s eyes were focused on the giant wolf. He walked past his sister like she wasn’t even there. Ashina’s gaze followed Izzo, and for a few seconds she saw a hallucination of a little girl walking beside her brother. The lass’ hair was styled in two neat, black, mid-length pigtails, and she wore a white and blue stylish kimono. The kimono was held together by a blue bow slash. Her attire was completed by a pair of white and blue opened toe sandals. It was as if the duo were getting farther and farther away from Ashina as they sauntered in what appeared to be a white void.

“Why does it always end up like this? No matter what I do and no matter how hard I train it always ends up like this. Ugh, that stupid Chi Bending. That stupid Chi Bending,” she repeated in her mind over and over again. Ashina then angrily glared down at the ground and held the side of her head with both of her hands. The loathing of her clan’s Lineage trait and the frustrations of her own failures and shortcomings became overwhelming. They became so unbearable to the point that multiple, painful, verbal memories started to resurface within her mind, and she heard numerous children’s voices echoing in her cranium.

“How can the elder’s younger great-granddaughter Chi Bend so well, and his older great-granddaughter can’t do it at all? How pathetic! You should be ashamed of yourself, Ashina.”

“Get out of here, Ashina. You’re an abomination. You ruin everything that you touch. This is why your father is always gone on Fang’s missions. Even the great Atreus himself is too ashamed to be near his useless failure of a daughter.”

“I don’t see why Izanami even wastes his time training an untalented, motherless barbarian such as yourself. Eventually, he will turn his back on you just as your entire family did before him.”

“This is why that worthless Reject, Prince Shawn, treats you like you’re his pet. It’s quite pitiful how you always follow him around like a mere lost puppy. It is as if you’re his second shadow. Have you no shame? I swear that you’re a repugnant, hopeless simpleton and ultimately the Reject will turn his back on you as well.”

“Ah, you crazy, discourteous, repugnant barbarian, get away from me! You and that criminal, the Graves boy, should both be locked away, and the authorities should throw away the key.”

            “Sir Allen get that atrocious disgrace out of my sight this instance.”

“This cur attacked a member of the prestigious Ibuki family. Lock her away in the dungeon until her neglectful father comes to reclaim her.”

 “You’re certainly Atreus’ offspring. You’re always in trouble just like how he used to be when he was your age. Like father like daughter, huh kid?”

“I can’t believe that accursed false queen got that ruffian out of the dungeon. This is far from over, Shadow. Mark my words, you inferior miscreant. Someday, I will have my revenge!”

“You’re weak.”

“You’re a failure.”

“You’re going to lose everyone and everything that you care about someday because of all of your shortcomings.”

“You’re worthless.”

“You won’t ever be as talented as Ashira.”                                                                            “Aargh. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. I’m not weak, I’m not useless! I can fight beside Izzo and Ashira. Even without Chi Bending, I will become the strongest Madarame that ever lived. I will not allow you guys to stand in my way even if I have to defeat every last one of you because I’m a badass Madarame. I won’t lose to you bastards. I won’t lose to anyone. I will surpass Ashira. I will surpass you all!” Ashina heard the voice of her five year younger self reverberating in her mind.

Those words from her miniature self made the teen let go of her head, and she swiftly broke out of her psychological trauma. Ashina aguishly stared forward to see Izzo standing outside of his barrier and holding up his fist. The giant aimed its snout towards Izzo, and electrical energy began to focus and charge in its mouth.

 “That’s right. I’m not weak. I can fight beside you, Izzo, and I will surpass Ashira right here and now. I’ll show you, Izanami. I’ll show you what a badass Madarame can do!” Ashina said to herself. The teen balled up her fist, curled up her arms, and began to focus her Chi. 

 Meanwhile, Izzo raised his left palm, and a small destructive ball of energy formed and hovered above it. “I won’t give it the chance to fire that focused electro attack,” Izzo thought while he glared at the wolf. The hostile expression remained on the angry Fang’s face as his body began to levitate a few inches above the ground.  “Now, begone! Giant—” Izzo was cut off by the yelling of Ashina. He felt his sister’s Chi Signature skyrocketing. Izzo paused his attack.

“What is this hard-headed, stubborn girl trying to do now?” he asked himself with a look of aggravation. The surrounding area suddenly began to shake, and the ground behind the young teacher started to crack. Ashina yelled and unleashed a tremendous amount of Chi from her body. The tenacious teen’s Chi flowed in a spiral around Izzo’s barrier. The barrier rippled and shook about as Ashina emitted even more power. Izzo let out a heavy sigh. He knew what his sister was trying to do without even looking at her.

“Ashina, would you cut it out already? You’re making things worse for yourself. You’re just wasting your time and energy. You can’t break through my barrier,” Izzo stated firmly.

“Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. I will never give up. Ahhhhhh!” Ashina shouted. The barrier began to slowly crack, and Izzo sensed it.

“No way. Is she actually muscling through my barrier with just her Chi pressure alone?” he asked himself with a stunned expression.

“You think you can push me to the side like I don’t matter. You actually think you can turn your back on me. You think that I would let you get away with calling me, ‘Weak,’ and ‘A useless fighter,’ because I can’t Chi Bend like the rest of our stupid clan members? Hell no!   Who the hell do you think I am? I won’t stand for any more of your disrespect. This boss wolf is going down by me and by me alone. I will break through your puny barrier, and I will shatter through all my limitations. Ahhhhhh!” Ashina shouted.                                                                     The enraged teen’s power caused the ground to shake viciously, and Izzo’s Chi barrier began to rapidly crack all over. Nearby trees began to collapse after being uprooted. Shockwaves could be felt throughout the surrounding area. Pulsations of light began to shower that entire section of the forest. Ashina’s overwhelming energy slowly but surely started to ooze out from all of the miniature cracks in the barrier.

“What is she talking about?” Izzo asked himself with a confused look on his face. Before the young teacher could question his sister about her strange words, his eyes widened when he sensed the giant wolf’s Chi Signature skyrocketing as well. Izzo looked forward at the steel beast as it fired a compressed beam of electric energy at the siblings. The air pressure from the massive beam of electricity shook the area like a miniature earthquake, felled even more of the neighboring trees, and ripped apart the surrounding ground into a number of large, jagged shards of earth. 

            “Dammit! Because of all that commotion that Ashina was making, I completely forgot about the boss wolf,” he thought. Izzo’s liquid-like aura and destructive ball of energy quickly vanished without a trace as his muscles shrunk back to their normal sizes. He hurriedly descended from the air. He then kneeled down and put his hands on the ground. “Brace yourself, Ashina!” he yelled. 

All the while, Ashina’s energy finally broke through Izzo’s barrier and caused it to shatter like glass. The teen looked at the dispersing barrier with an excited smile. Her grin soon faded away when she spotted the beam of electric energy shooting towards her and her brother’s direction.

            “Oh, Fu—” Ashina started. The teen was cut off by an enormous explosion.

 

                                      Chapter 3

 

                                            Enter the Bad Ass Madarame & the Hooded Hero

 

                              

Mizuki Events

 

Northeast of Arigon arose the Misty Forest of Roumaya. True to its name, the forest exuded seemingly unending surges of mist. This forest held a history of countless travelers losing their ways and somehow ending up back at the entrance of the forest. When the rejected travelers returned to their villages, they always told stories about the constant changes of the forest’s interior and the sounds of whispering voices which demanded the unwelcomed guests to stay away. This forest also harbored a dense collection of trees and an ever-flowing stream of mist that obstructed the view.                                                                                                                       The forest however was most famously known for the presence of Roumaya Village and within its mysterious confines the home of the infamous Madarame clan. This aristocratic tribe of people excelled in keen Chi control, and they were also blessed with a unique Lineage Trait. Lineage Traits were skills that could only be obtained via ancestries and blood relatives and were only capable of being utilized by members of that specific clan. The Madarame family’s special ability was called Chi Bending. Chi Bending gave them the ability to control their Chi streams within their bodies. This allowed them to bend the form of their Chi to whatever they willed. Once the Chi was unleashed from their bodies, it was sustained and controlled by their will powers to construct and reconstruct it in numerous ways. Its complexity was limited only by the power and imagination that each wielder possessed. The clan was also known for its members having the largest Chi outputs in Sol. The Madarame clansmen’s Chi outputs and varied imaginations determined the sizes and shapes of their Chi Bending forms. Their Chi Bending could be used to attack, defend, and grab onto their foes, which made them exceedingly difficult adversaries to fight.                                                                   

Originally, people believed that the Madarame Clan could navigate through the forest because of all of the years that they had lived within its borders, but the secret was finally revealed many years later. The Misty Forest held an unstable amount of Chi below its surface. This instability caused an extremely volatile and unpredictable presence of the Chi in the region. The clan realized this and used their superior Chi Bending abilities to somehow navigate through the forest for thousands of years, while unknowingly strengthening their Chi control.                                 Their home, the Roumaya Village, was the clan’s greatest strength. The town sat in the center of the Misty Forest. The mist wasn’t as thick within the walls but was still dense enough to fool outsiders. A large wall of Chi surrounded the outer black brick walls of the village to grant it extra defense and protection.                                                                                                           The Madarame family cherished their forest, and they treated the trees with the utmost respect. The homes of the clan members took on more natural appearances resembling wooden modern day lodges. They were built from the fallen trees around the area and were housed under the massive trees that surrounded them. Each house constructed underneath the trees worked to compress and soothe the Chi of the tribe members. This calm environment became a safe zone and refuge, so they wouldn’t be overwhelmed by their surroundings.                                                     The largest home within the Roumaya village belonged to the Madarame clan’s elder. His home was the only of its kind to be built. It was fabricated within a living tree located in the center of the town. It stood as the largest tree within the forest and was truly beautiful. Its blue leaves were highly valued as the very treasure of Roumaya village.                                                        North of the elder’s house a brown wooden lodge was located, which comprised of five bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms. The lodge had a black roof and a gold doorknob on the black, wooden door. Inside the home, the sounds of a wall-mounted 60 inched flat screen TV echoed throughout the front room. The T.V. rested above a black bricked fireplace for the enjoyment of a teenage girl who sat across from it. She was chilling on a black leather couch and was finishing up a big bowl of cereal as she watched the news. The adolescent had long chestnut brown hair that stopped at the middle of her back. Some of her hair covered the left side of her attractive looking light caramel skinned face, which left her right emerald colored eye visible. She sported a pair of dark blue pajama pants which were decorated with multiple gray video game controllers’ designs. She matched her pants with a light blue tank top that had a large gray controller design across her chest.                             

The TV that the teen was watching displayed an attractive young woman who possessed short, messy, dark blue hair, which was complimented by her violet colored eyes. Her eyes were encased behind a pair of large, black framed glasses. She stood five-foot-seven, and she had a shapely build. Her clothing consisted of a white button downed blouse resting underneath a navy blue blazer along with a matching pencil skirt and black high heels.

 “Hello. This is Arisa Stoll of Channel 88 News. I’m reporting live from the Great Town of Arigon. We’re still at the docks, and I had the pleasure of interviewing the entirety of Arigon’s decorative team earlier. The team plans to work night and day preparing and beautifying the docking area and certain parts of the East District for the arrival of Prince Stofan, the estranged son of the former King of Old Vaeros, Leggero Uzuki. The kind and handsome prince will journey all the way from Lumière, the Province of Light, to Arigon to meet with Queen Shinia on Tuesday. There’s no word as of now on the motives behind their meeting, but we’re going to do our best to find out the scoop. I can’t wait to meet the prince in person. He’s so cuutteee,” she squealed in utter delight.

            “Stoll, get it together,” a random man’s voice whispered.

            “I’m sorry,” Arisa nervously bowed. She quickly looked up and cleared her throat to change her tone. “In other news, the Dark Sage, Master Alesandra Graves’, son, Jonnie Graves, has arrived in Arigon a little over an hour ago. A few citizens informed me that he already left the area. Rumor has it that he’s preparing for his first day at Nagome’s Café, which is run and owned by Queen Shinia’s twin sister, Nagome Ibuki-Mizuki.” 

            “What? The Loser is back, and Mizuki didn’t tell me about this?!” The girl responded with irritation while looking at a picture of Jonnie that popped up on the screen for a few seconds and then faded away.

            Arisa went on. “No one knows why the Graves boy decided to work at the establishment just yet, but you know me. I will find out the scoop like I always do,” she said with a determined expression.

The girl turned off the TV and stared blankly at the screen with a slightly opened mouth.

“Why did he decide to come back now, and why didn’t Mizuki inform me about this when I was on the phone with him earlier? Did he not know about this as well?” she asked herself a barrage of questions before finally realizing that she really didn’t care.

“Well, it doesn’t matter to me anyways. I couldn’t care less whether he’s here or not as long as he doesn’t try to ruin my summer. He’s not my problem, the damn cheater,” she thought with an annoyed huff. The brunette sat her now empty bowl of cereal on top of a black metal framed, glass coffee table across from her seat. She then stood on her blue ankle length socked feet. She commenced to walk across the brown hardwood floor as she traveled towards the back of her house. 

            “Forget that Loser. He’s not important, and his lame ass isn’t even newsworthy. I swear those desperate reporters just put any stupid story on the air. Who cares that he’s back in town and that he is about to work at Nagome’s Café? The Loser is probably broke, or this little set up is some sort of punishment from Miss Graves. She’s making him work in an all Izaha’s establishment for being a backstabber. Haha. Serves his punk ass right.” She briefly placed a finger to her chin. “But the story that really fascinates me is the ridiculous status of that Prince Stofan guy. He just appeared out of nowhere a few months ago, and he already has the cachet to have an audience with Aunt Shinia. I wonder what this so-called meeting is about. I’m going to ask Mizuki what is the story on that feminine looking, longhaired brownnoser when I see him today.” She grabbed the golden doorknob of a black, wooden bathroom door. 

“Anyways, it’s time for me to get ready to head to Arigon to pick up my games and hangout with Mizuki before he leaves. Maybe, I should have told him that I was going to come over to the castle as well when I was talking to him on the phone. Oh, well. It’s funnier and funner to just pop up on him because well I’m me, and I have special best friend’s privileges that allow me to get away with it. There is nothing that he can do about it either. Besides, I have a new and more feminine look to show off to him, and hopefully he’ll like it,” she blushed as she started to panic bashfully to herself. “I mean I wouldn’t care if he liked it or not. I mean he better compliment me, or I’m knocking him the hell out. Ah, what am I thinking?” she yipped to herself. The teen then smacked her cheeks with both of her hands and shook her head to regain her senses. “That’s better. I swear that my reputation as a badass would be brought into question if someone heard these unbecoming thoughts of mine. I got to get it together.” She finished her mental monologue, as she made her way inside of the bathroom to prepare to meet up with her friend.     

                                                

The girl shifted her 5-foot-6, slender, shapely frame back and forth in a black, full-body mirror. The air from the black ceiling fan caused her hair to blow in its breeze. Most of her locks were put up into a flowing ponytail. The rest of her hair went down and rested on the top of her back. The teen’s hair was styled with a bang that went over the left side of her face and covered her left eye.                                                                                                                                              She looked down at her black shouldered, roll up, quarter sleeved sweater, which showed off her red sports bra straps. She matched her top with a pair of black shorts, which included red thigh high stockings. She finished off her attire with a pair of black boots and a pair of black fingerless gloves. The aroma of the girl’s peach fragrant body wash had the entire front room smelling very lovely.                                                                                                                             The teen’s face lit up as soon as she finished taking in her own appearance, and she nodded her head in approval. She then bent over and grabbed a hairstyle and grooming magazine from the floor and immediately stood back up and turned to the designated page. Her visible eye focused on a beautiful female model who wore the same hairstyle as the brunette.

She looked at her own appearance once more and smiled happily. “The more I look at my hair the more I can’t believe that I actually pulled this style off. This hairstyle looks amazing. I guess I’m more talented than I thought,” she mentally boasted. She then sat the book back on the floor and stood straight up again to gawk at her hairstyle and her wardrobe once more. “I usually don’t wear clothes like these, but I have to admit that they do look good on me. I guess my useless sister finally did something useful when she picked this outfit out for me. I wonder if Mizuki will like it. I mean I wouldn’t care if he liked it or not. Dammit! There go those stupid thoughts again,” She cast a light blush. The girl quickly shook her head from side-to-side as she turned around and looked at her outfit from behind.

Hmm…This sweater is long enough to cover up most of my butt, but I still can see my booty lump poking out from underneath it though,” she thought and lifted her sweater up slightly as she gawked at the rest of her rear end. The teen’s visible eye widened when she noticed how sexy her derrière looked in the shorts.

“Whoa. These fit me perfectly. I love how the back resembles a cross between a pair of biker shorts and leggings. They don’t have back pockets though, which is a major flaw, but overall these are amazing,” she thought with a smile. The teen then placed a hand on her backside. “This denim is thin but comfortable, and it shows the entire shape of my butt. Good thing that my sweater mostly hides it because if I wore these shorts with a shorter sweater then I would bring too much of the wrong attention to myself, and I wouldn’t want that. But, wow!” she gaped. She was utterly mesmerized by her own shapely greatness as she started to rub a cheek. “I normally don’t admire stuff like this or care about it, but I got it going on. I have a very nice ass. All that working out and training over the last two years made my body look womanlier. I wonder if Mizuki would—” she paused as the sound of a man clearing his throat caught her attention. The covered eyed vixen quickly looked forward. She spotted a 5-foot-8, brown skinned man standing before her with a frown on his handsome face.

            “What are you doing, Ashina?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.                                          The observing brunette quickly removed her hand from her peach shaped backside and blushed with embarrassment. “What are you doing here, Izzo? Do you not know how to knock?! And don’t call me by my first name. Call me, ‘Ash!’” she fumed and pulled her sweater down to cover up her rear end.

             The newcomer quickly put his hands up in defense. “Whoa. Whoa. First of all, you’re in the front room,” he pointed out and then slowly lowered his hands.

            Ashina looked around the front room with a dumbfounded look on her face and then back at Izzo. “That’s beside the point. What are you doing here?!” she asked with a bite.

            A sly smile grew on his face. “Well, I’m here to escort you to Arigon to pick up your reserved games, remember? It’s also around the time that you usually go to see your precious Mizuki,” he said with a playfully cutesy voice.

            Ashina growled in annoyance. “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! I don’t like Mizuki,” she hissed, folded her arms, and looked away from her joshing acquaintance.

            “I never said you did,” Izzo thought with a smile. He looked pass the livid brunette as he stared at the tiny half of the mirror that wasn’t blocked by Ashina’s body. Izzo looked at his appearance. He wore a red hoodie which included a pair of black strings and a black zipper. His hood covered the top of his black individual braids that went down the side of his face and rested on his shoulders. Izzo’s hoodie had one sleeve that covered his left arm while his right arm was bare and sleeveless thus displaying his black, snakelike dragon tattoo. It wrapped around his arm, and its head stopped right above his single black and red fingerless glove. He completed his attire with a pair of red, baggie pants along with a pair of black and red high-top gym shoes. Izzo nodded his head in approval and unzipped his hoody a little which revealed his black undershirt.

            “That’s better. I look smooth,” Izzo thought and looked back at the embarrassed teen. “I wonder how long she would have continued to grope her own rear end if I didn’t walk in on her. I have never understood how women could be so mesmerized and proud of their own bodies to the point that they actually start to feel themselves up. Oh, well. I guess that women are weird at all ages,” he shook his head. He then noticed the teen’s attire. “Hmm…Ashina is rocking black and red. I guess she wanted to match her beloved Mizuki today,” he assumed and looked back at the stubborn girl with a sly smile.

            Ashina looked at Izzo and scoffed at him. “What are you looking at, you creep?” she asked and shot him an icy glare.

            Izzo shook his head from side-to-side and sat down on a black leather chair. “I was just observing your choice of attire. You’re going to match Shawn and Sheena perfectly today,” he pointed out with a beam.

            Ashina let out a grunt of frustration and clinched her fists. “Shut up, Izzo! The Mizuki family isn’t the only people who can wear black and red,” she argued and unfolded her arms. “And you’re wearing black and red too,” she pointed out.

            “No, that’s not true because I’m actually wearing red and black you see,” he corrected.

            “What’s the got damn difference?” Ashina asked through clinched teeth.

            Izzo put a hand to his chin. “Well, I have a red hoodie and red pants on, The Mizuki Clan usually wears more black than red, so I’m the opposite of them. I have more red on than I do black,” he explained and pointed at his hoodie and pants.

            Ashina rolled her eyes at the hooded wisecracker. “Whatever,” she muttered as she folded her arms underneath her chest. The grouchy teen then looked away from Izzo once more.

            “Hmph,” she released.

            Izzo looked at the brunette and chuckled briefly to himself. He then flashed her a playful smile. “Also, it’s no big deal that I saw you checking out your own butt. I won’t tell a soul. I promise,” He teased and put his hand across his chest. “Scout’s honor,” he added.

            Ashina looked at Izzo with a widened eye and a beaming red face. “I wasn’t checking out my butt!” she shouted and unfolded her arms.

            “Little sis, it’s absolutely okay. You’re a thirteen year-old girl, and it’s natural for young women your age to check themselves out. You even put your hand on it. You probably were thinking, ‘I wonder if Mizuki noticed how big my butt has gotten,’” he poorly mimicked Ashina’s voice. “Why don’t you tell him that you like him already? All this waiting and suspense is too much for my heart, Ash,” he said with a smirk and called Ashina by her preferred nickname.

            Ashina shot Izzo an indignant glare as blue aura cloaked her body. The floor started to shake, which caused the surrounding furniture to wobble. The hooded smart aleck looked at the enraged brunette with surprise. He then looked around with wide eyes at all the furniture and the other house paraphernalia as they shook from the intensity of Ashina’s energy.

            “Izanami Madarame!” she barked and called Izzo by his full name.

            “Ashina Madarame, let’s talk about this,” Izzo returned the favor. He then quickly jumped up hastily and raised his hands in defense.

            The furious teen’s Chi pressure suddenly surged in intensity and forcefully blew Izzo’s hood off of his head. “How many times do I have to tell you to not call me by that name?!” she roared and dashed towards Izzo.

            “Oh, crap,” Izzo said with slight panic in his voice. The destructive sounds and shrieks from the inside of the house were heard by the passing villagers. They all just stood in place as they looked at the home with shocked and confused expressions.

 

                                                                      

Izzo and Ashina were now walking down the main streets of Roumaya Village. The village appeared to be very peaceful as the villagers walked casually down on either side of the brown brick road. The sound of children running about was heard from a nearby black gated park as the young ones enjoyed playing with each other. Izzo smiled at the kids and then looked towards a black bench that was located a little bit from the playing area. The bench immediately triggered a memory and caused him to think about his younger thirteen year-old self.

Izzo was sitting on a bench watching a five year-old Ashina chase the six year-old Shawn around the park. The young brunette was furious at the prince because he ate all of her chips while she was playing on the jungle gym.  

“Come back here, Mizuki! You better buy me another bag of chips, or I’m going to destroy you!” she screamed.

            “Okay, Madarame. I will buy you another bag. I’m sorry. Okay? Please, stop chasing me!” he yelled back with panic in his voice.

            “Aww…Now, that’s a smart little prince, but I’m still going to kick the crap out of you anyways!” she shouted with a crazed look on her face.

            A fearful expression grew on Shawn’s face. “W-what? No. Ah, Izzo. Help me!” he cried and hopped over the fence outside to the town street. Ashina followed him in close pursuit.

            “Come back here, Mizuki, so I can kick your royal ass!” Ashina roared.

 Izzo noticed the distraught tone coming from the escaping young prince’s voice. He discharged a weak sigh. “It’s about time to stop this before someone gets hurt,” he thought. The prepubescent youngster stood up to put an end to the Madarame girl’s terrifying assault on the frightened royal.

            “Ah, Madarame. You are a pure evil heifer. Leave me alone, you sociopath!” Shawn screamed and ran as fast as he could across the road.

Ashina laughed at the prince’s remark as Shawn circled around the road and hopped over the fence again. He landed back into the park. He rushed towards Izzo and sought safety and protection from the enraged girl’s wrath.

Izzo made his way towards the bolting Shawn. “Okay, Ash. It’s time to cut it out. You’re going too fa” he was cut off by Ashina.

“I am pure. I’m a pure, unadulterated, badass Madarame,” She finally boasted and jumped off the fence. She soared across the air rapidly and dropkicked the fleeing royal in the back just before he made it to Izzo.

 “Argh!’ Shawn cried out. Ashina had an evil grin plastered on her face as they crashed into the ground. This outcome caused Izzo’s black eyes to widen as his mouth was agape with shock.

The irritated grunts coming from Ashina’s mouth knocked Izzo out of his brief daydream. He looked at the teen with a tired frown. Ashina’s arms were folded as she looked at Izzo with a look of annoyance.

            Izzo took notice of the teen’s disdain and let out a long sigh. “Listen, Ash. I’m sorry that I caught you in my Art in that manner, but that is the only way to calm you down peacefully when you’re like that. I couldn’t let you destroy Pop’s house,” he explained.

            Ashina pouted. “It’s still not fair. You know I can’t do that,” she whined.

            Izzo sighed once more. “I know. I know, but I had to do it. You always get carried away when you’re angry,” he clarified.

Ashina frowned at that. “Yeah. Yeah. Whatever. Why would that man care about the house when he’s never even here to begin with?” she forcefully asked and walked ahead towards the blue steel gate of the village’s entrance.

            Izzo let out a grunt of frustration and shook his head from side-to-side. “How did we even get here?” he asked himself and followed behind the temperamental teen. As they walked, Izzo’s eyes drifted off to the left side of the town. He focused on a black and yellow sign that had the words “Land Dragons’ Ranch” written across it. This gave him a brilliant idea. He then looked forward at Ashina. “Yo. Do you want me to hire a coachman and carriage? I know that you don’t want to walk all the way to Arigon,” he offered.

            “Do what you want. It’s your money. I’ll be waiting at the gate,” she said dismissively and walked ahead.

             Izzo let out another long sigh as he began to walk towards the ranch. “I should have never brought up the Old Man. Whenever someone mentions him to Ashina, she gets in an even worse mood than usual, and, man, this girl is always mad. She needs to chill out sometimes, and she should tell Pops that she hates when he’s always gone on his Fang’s missions. However, Ash is too stubborn to let him know that she misses him when he’s away, but he’s doing what he must do to provide for her and Ashira.                                                                             

“Speaking of ‘Shira,’ she has been going to Lumière a lot over the last two years (damn near every school’s vacation she gets). She journeys there to see a girl named Katelyn Ueki. Shira met the lass there almost seven years ago when she went to the Province of Light with Pops for the first time. Due to what Pops told me about this Katelyn girl, supposedly, she is a beautiful, smart, kind, calculating, and talented young woman that Shira loves to be around. Knowing Ashira’s libidinous self, I would guess that she hangs around Kate mostly because of the beautiful part or something that has to do with a random large body part or body parts that the lass possesses, or something perverted like that.

“Anyways, now, Shira is gone again off training. Speaking of which, I wonder how her training is going with Gramps. They’re going to be in the Elder Woods for an entire month. Talk about some intense training. That’s probably another reason why Ashina is so cranky. She is lonely without her sister by her side. Although she won’t admit it, I know that Ash loves having Shira around. Huh…I swear the family that I was adopted into is a pain, but I guess I owe it to the Old Man to look after Ashina and Ashira while he is away. I mean since he has done so much for me in the past that’s the least I can do for him,” Izzo thought as scenes from his past flashed before his eyes.

He saw an image of a sad, little boy sitting in a cave with his head resting on his knees. Gradually, the silhouette of a man walked up to him. The lad looked up at the newcomer’s hand as he reached down to help the lad up. The stranger’s lips started to move, and a kind smile grew on his face when he finished his speech. The little boy shed a single tear, reached his hand up, and grabbed the man’s welcoming hand.                                                                                        Izzo shook his head ending his brief, yet vague flashback. He then approached a brown and black ranch building. Its bricks resembled the scales of a dragon, which matched the brown brick surrounding gate and the brown metal door. The entrance included a golden doorknob along with a matching dragon’s head door knocker.

“I owe Atreus my life, so I will do my best to help teach his daughter and show her the right path. I am her sensei and her big brother after all. It’s my job to look out for her and protect her,” Izzo thought and looked back at Ashina. The teen was leaning against a black streetlight with her arms folded, and she impatiently tapped a foot on the ground. She then gawked at her teacher with a look of annoyance. Izzo immediately discharged a sigh at Ashina’s stank attitude.

“Although she’s a got damn handful, I’ll still look out for her,” he expressed with a weak smile and made his way into the Land Dragons’ Ranch door.                                                       

 

A black, blue wheeled stagecoach rolled down a dirt road within the Eastern Plains of Arigon. A young man with slicked back, long, brown hair sat in the driver box seat of the vehicle with a pair of blue reins in his hands. He wore a black and blue, wool, felt, top hat that covered the top of his head. He coordinated the hat with a blue, frock tailcoat, which was comprised of four blue buttons going down the center with matching blue buttons on his upper chest. Two more buttons were present on the small of his back alongside three on the back of each of his sleeves. He also wore black slacks and black boots to complete his attire. The young man’s clothing exemplified a man of his profession.                                    

A land dragon pulled the stagecoach. The creature stood eight feet tall with smooth, blue scales and a black underbelly. Its thick tail was almost the same length as its torso. The small dragon’s tiny arms and claws protruded from the sides of its body. The beast’s proportionate frame allowed for greater acceleration whenever it sprinted. The reptile’s claws on its arms were predominantly utilized for climbing tough terrains. Its large legs and large talons contrasted its upper appendages. These specialized limbs allowed all of Sol’s land dragons to traverse most landscapes with ease. This breed of dragon could travel over ten thousand miles in a single day as well as run over most harsh landscapes.                                                                            Around the dragon’s bulky body, a black harness wrapped around its frame, which ran up its hefty neck and stopped at the top of its large head. The dragon’s harness connected to a bar at the front of the vehicle. The domes of land dragons were covered in thicker scales than their bodies. These scales ran along their slender beaks and the sides of their mouths, which created sharpened points along their jawlines.                                                                                                     The coachman’s blue eyes looked back and forth at the mountain walls and the surrounding bushes as he tried to make sure there were no bandits running amuck. “Everything looks clear, Bosh, my boy,” The coachman said to his dragon partner. The beast simply let out a light roar as its black, sliced lizard eyes studied the area cautiously.

            “Don’t worry too much, Timothy. I doubt that the bandits will try to attack us during the daytime, but, eh, it’s smart to stay on high alert,” Izzo chimed in from within the stagecoach. 

            “Yes, it’s better to be safe than sorry,” Timothy agreed.

            “Yup, and if something like that goes down, my apprentice and I will handle it,” Izzo assured him.

            “That’s good to know. If something does indeed occur, then I’ll be sure to let you two know,” Timothy told him.

            “Alright. Sounds good,” Izzo replied with a nod. He shut the small privacy window behind him and closed the blue curtains. The young teacher then turned and looked straight ahead at Ashina. She sat on a black and blue, leather seat and played video games on a red and black Bite Boy handheld. She quietly played her game and sported black wireless earbuds in her ears. The cool breeze from the air-conditioned vents made the ride as comfortable as possible, and Izzo thoroughly enjoyed the luxury. It was 80 degrees outside the coach. The AC was absolute salvation for Izzo’s body. He let out a breath of relief and smirked at Ashina as he tapped her leg with his foot. The grouchy teen looked up at Izzo with a scornful scowl, paused the game that she was playing, glanced down, and then looked back up at her sensei.

            “What the hell do you want?” Ashina rudely asked.

            “Well, I was thinking that we could do something to pass the time,” Izzo announced.

            “Don’t you see me playing video games? I am already doing something to pass the time,” she spoke extremely aggravated.

            Izzo frowned. “No, something a little bit more constructive and educational,” he explained vaguely.

            “Like what?” Ashina asked with a raised eyebrow.

            “A pop quiz. It will be good for the both of us,” Izzo declared.

            Ashina scoffed at her sensei and looked back down at her handheld dismissively. “I’ll pass,” she refused as she continued to play her game.

            Izzo let out a tired sigh and shook his head. “Why does she always have to be so got damned difficult? I swear she is the biggest handful that I’ve ever encountered in my life. Shawn must have the patience of a saint to deal with this brat on a daily basis,” he thought with a look of frustration. Izzo then calmed himself down by taking a deep breath. “I can’t give up now though. I have to somehow lure her into my lesson. I’ve come across pigheaded women before in my life. I’ve always managed to outsmart them in the past, but Ashina always has been a different beast. However, with my high intellect, this should be poetry in motion. Well, that’s not the phrase that I was looking for, but it’ll be something of the sort. Alright. It’s time for me to try to outsmart the grumpy Madarame girl,” he thought with a determined expression. “Don’t be like that, Ash. I want to make sure that you are able to pass the entrance exam for the Knight’s Academy. It will take a lot more than just muscles to get into that school,” he revealed.

Ashina paused the game once more and looked up at her hooded sensei with renewed interest. “What do you mean?” she asked.

            “Well, you will need to know what to do in a dire situation. That’s the biggest test,” he explained.

            Ashina wrinkled up her nose in confusion. “Meaning?” she questioned.

A brief smile of contentment spread on Izzo’s face. “You hooked her. Keep this up, Izzo, and you will reel her in,” he thought. He then continued. “The administrators will test you to see if you are able to save a hostage. They will also want to see if you have what it takes to protect a client,” he explained.

            “Sounds easy enough. What else?” she asked and placed her handheld down beside her.

            A triumphant grin spread across Izzo’s face. “Got her,” he thought while dancing and cheering in his head. “Oh, so I finally have Queen Ash’s attention,” he joked.

            Ashina narrowed her eyes at Izzo. “Keep that up, and you might lose it again,” she warned.

Izzo smiled nervously. “Gotcha,” he said with a sigh. “You idiot! You almost messed it up,” he thought while shaking his head from side-to-side. The ambitious teacher then looked out the side window and stared up into the baby blue skies of Dragaroth. A few birds flew overhead while the bluish-white sun shined down through the clouds. A calm breeze rolled by, which caused a few trees to sway in the wind. The rustling of their leaves was heard along with the chirps of the birds that flew away.

“They’re going to ask you about the necessary knowledge of daily life as well,” he revealed and looked back at his student.

            Ashina looked at her sensei with wonder. “What do you mean?” she asked.

“Well, the administrators will test you to see if you know your stuff about everyday life. For example, Ash, can you tell me the names of all of the prominent pure-blooded Dragon-humanoid species that reside in Sol? Basically, I’m asking you if you can name all of them from the top of your head,” he inquired.

            Ashina looked at Izzo like he said something absurd to her. “Of course I can answer that! Do you take me for a fool or something?” she questioned and felt a little bit offended.

            Izzo sighed and shook his head from side-to-side. “Nah, it’s nothing like that, Ash. It’s just that questions of that nature are the sorts of things they are going to ask you on the written entrance exam along with what is Chi, Mana, and other forms of abilities that we use to survive. They will also ask you questions about the other Zodiatic humanoids that dwell in the other eleven countries on Dragaroth as well. In addition, they will even quiz you about all ten of Sol’s elemental provinces, so it may be very difficult for most kids around your age to pass the entrance exam to get into the Knight’s Academy,” he exampled.

            “What? Well, that’s stupid. Who in their right minds wouldn’t know that stuff? That’s basic knowledge,” Ashina expressed with a look of confusion.

“Well, you would be surprised by how many uneducated teenagers that actually try to join the Knight Academy yearly that don’t know the difference between Chi, Phonons, and the diverse functionalities of the numerous hues that come along with the Mana Stream’s energy sources. Heck, some of them don’t even know all of the proper varieties of the methods of how to extract Magic from blue Mana,” Izzo informed her and shook his head disappointedly.

            Ashina scoffed at that. “Morons,” she muttered and removed her earbuds.

            “Yup,” Izzo acknowledged and agreed with a single nod. “So, in order to become a knight apprentice, one has to at least have the educational level of an eighth grader,” he explained.

            “The grade that I just completed,” Ashina concluded and placed her earbuds next to her handheld.

            “Yup. To join the Arigon Fang Military Academy, normal high school, the Knight’s Academy, the Junior Medical Academy, the Junior Dragoon Police Academy, or any other place of education in Sol, one must complete the 8th grade and retain the knowledge that was learned in the previous years, or they will get stuck in the special needs programs and have to work extra hard to get on the level of their peers,” he explained.

            “I guess there are a bunch of dumb 13 and 14 year-old teenagers out there, but I’m not one of them. Ask me anything, and I will prove to you that I’m leagues above those simpletons,” she harshly boasted.

“We really have to work on Ash’s rudeness and her bluntness. She could make a lot of sensitive people mad as hell or get them triggered by the things that she says. However, at least I got her to participate in my pop quiz, even though this girl is a got damn handful. My goddess, Arigon, save my soul!” he thought while shaking his head. “Now, what to ask her first?” Izzo look down at the blue floormats which laid on top of the black carpet. The stagecoach lightly rocked back and forth as they rode deeper through the valley. He then looked back up at Ashina with a small smirk on his face which made her frown at the sight of it. The crabby teen knew that Izzo was going to ask her something that was going to be a pain in her ass.

“Can you tell me what a Drakien is?” Izzo asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Well, that’s easy enough. That is what we are. The Drakien people are the native people of Sol. They’re Dragon-like humanoid beings that carry the resemblances of an Izaha. They inhabit every facet of this country. All the while, they are learning, loving, growing, and destroying whatever obstacles that stand in their way. Due to the blessings of the gods, the Drakien people have the ability to use Chi, and a vast amount of Drakiens can use Phonons. And, some of us can even conjure several types of pure planetary Mana respectively.

“In addition, different Dragon hybrids, other Zodiatic Dragaroth dwellers, an assortment of different types of creatures that live all around this planet, and a few unique Drakien clans can push Mana even further. They can extract it and convert it into numerous magical arrays and other magical conductors and/or conduits to gain access to a large variety of Magic. All four of these gifts allow us to access supernatural strength and abilities beyond most species’ imaginations, especially the different types of Lineage Trait abilities that the heavy hitter clans in our nation possess. Some of these unique techniques that we are able to learn grow exponentially compared to other races. In addition, some of our abilities developed to be as powerful or even more powerful than the very dragon gods that once ruled these lands,” she explained. 

“Very good,” Izzo praised with a smile.

A proud expression grew on Ashina’s face. “Ha. I told you that I wasn’t an idiot. Ask me something else,” she gave him the go ahead.

Izzo shook his head and let out a tired breath. “Why me?” he thought. He then looked back at the arrogant teen and continued his quiz. “What is an Izaha person, and what are some of the differences between them and us Drakiens?” he asked.

            “The Izaha race are ordinary people who are similar to those fictional human people that I used to read about in numerous fairy tale books when I was a kid. The Izahas don’t have the skills or fortitudes to learn any Arts. Since they were born without the seven Chi spheres, they have weaker bodies than us Drakien people.           

“Those unfortunate handicaps are some of the main reasons why the Izaha people can’t get romantically involved with us Drakien people. Thus, the 8th law of Sol was created. Due to our different genetic makeups and anatomies, Drakiens and Izahas aren’t allowed to be with each other sexually. Normally, when a Drakien male tries to mate with an Izaha female, the Izaha woman would die from intercourse because most Drakiens are two times to a few thousand times stronger than the Izahas. Even if the Drakien in question is careful during intercourse, an Izaha woman could still get killed by carrying or birthing a Drakien male’s baby.

“As for the other way around, the male Izaha’s sperm cells aren’t strong enough to fertilize a Drakien woman’s eggs. She could potentially and literally crush his pelvis due to her overwhelming strength, and this unfortunate mishap will change pleasure into pain or even lead to his untimely demise faster than a speeding bullet. The only way the two parties could enjoy intercourse is if the Drakien woman just lays there like a ragdoll while the Izaha man does all of the work, and to be honest that doesn’t sound like a good, healthy sexual relationship if you ask me. In brief terms, the Izaha men lack the ability to impregnate us Drakien women.           “Basically, loving an Izaha person is impossible for Drakiens, and besides our genetic differences the main problem that arises is our vastly different lifespans’ length. The Izaha people age and die faster than us Drakien people. Their lifespans are 80-100 years, while our lifespans are typically 350 years to 500 years. Although, some of our lifespans can even expand all the way to 1000 years depending on which clan or unique Dragon humanoid race we’re from and/or mixed with.                                                                                                                                 “Consequently, even if both of our kinds got with each other, we couldn’t grow old together. That is robbery in a way for a Drakien to see their lover go before them. That is one of the main reasons why the government of Sol’s higher-ups decided that it would be safer to keep both of the races from being romantically involved with each other. They made the pairing illegal to avoid murder and depression. Most people from both sides understood and followed the law accordingly, but they hated the fact that they couldn’t fully be with whoever they wanted to be with,” Ashina finished her soliloquy.                               

            Izzo looked at the teen with a mix between awe and surprise. “That is very correct. Wow. You really hit the ball out of the ballpark with that Izaha explanation and breakdown,” Izzo praised and clapped his hands with a proud smile on his face.

            “I told you that I wasn’t an idiot. I’m just a badass Madarame who knows her stuff,” Ashina boasted with a beam.

            “Yeah, you proved that fact. What made me extra shocked though was when I noticed that you didn’t pull back from talking about the sexual stuff, including the juicy, yet disturbing stuff that went along with the many reasons as to why Drakien and Izaha people can’t procreate with each other,” Izzo mentioned. He made Ashina think about the uncomfortable topic that she just covered. Her face suddenly turned bright red when she realized what she had said. “I thought you would have been too embarrassed to mention all of the juicy stuff, but I guess you did mature a little, huh?” he asked with a sly smirk.

            “Wait, no, it’s not. I was j-j-just,” she stuttered and gave the impression that steam could shoot out from her ears at any second.

            Izzo just laughed out loud, which caused Ashina to shoot him an irritated glare.

“Shut up. Shut up. Shut up! It’s not funny,” she hissed.

The young teacher then looked back to his student and parted his lips to speak. “Ash, it’s okay. It’s not a big deal. It’s life,” he assured her with a kind smile. “You’re a very intelligent kid. Keep it up. You actually impressed me,” he admitted.

            Ashina calmed down a little and looked away from her sensei. “Whatever, you moron. Can you just get to the next question?” she asked while attempting to hide her small smile.

A scheming grin spread across Izzo’s face. “Okay. How about this one? Can you tell me what the basic Chi Sensing ability is, and can you demonstrate how it’s executed?” he asked with growing excitement. “Oh, and one more thing. Can you tell me what Chi Awareness is as well? I want thorough, comprehensible elucidations when you explain both procedures. And, finally, could you teach me all of this by portraying as a teacher while I’m playing the role of your eager student?” he questioned and released a giddy laugh.

Ashina let out a sigh of annoyance and shook her head at Izzo’s absurd questions and ridiculous request. “Yeah, whatever. I guess I can tell you, but I don’t know about that roleplaying mumbo jumbo that you’re going on about,” she said and frowned.

“Aw, come on,” Izzo said as he pretended to whine.

Ashina shook her head and ignored her brother’s artificial grumbling as she began to answer his questions. “Let’s start this so called lesson with the Chi Awareness procedure, which is an instinctive sensory skill that allows able Dragaroth natives to automatically sense nearby aggressive or active Chi, lifeforces, Mana, Magic, and Phonons signatures within the neighboring vicinity and whether the respective power signature is aerial, ground bound, invisible, hidden, or underground. This method can still detect the corresponding energy signal because this procedure acts very similar to a sonar. This is possible because the danger center in the brain is stimulated and is enhanced significantly as it pulls one’s attention towards the growing collection of energy from an adversary or ally. In theory, when someone or something is powering up, releasing their full power, or has evil intentions to harm you in any shape or form, your foe’s murderous intentions, presence, or any form of energy that their bodies can muster emits a unique assortment of invisible, energy, sonar-like waves that is detected and pulled in by the mind sphere like a receiver. Once this phenomenon happens, instantaneously, there is a tingling-like sensation within your mind sphere that acts as a defense mechanism, which alert the danger center in the brain that is intricately connected with the amygdala and the hippocampus.

“The amygdala is an almond shaped section of nervous tissues that is located in the temporal (side) lobe of the brain. They are thought to be a part of the limbic system, which is responsible for emotions, survival instincts, and memory. I’m going to elaborate further with this lesson so that it can be clearer and more comprehensible. Basically, this procedure is similar to when stress makes you feel strong anger, aggression, or fear. Thus, the fight-or-flight response is activated. It happens when a situation causes your amygdala to hijack control over your response to stress. The amygdala disables the frontal lobes and activates the fight-or-flight response while the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex help the brain interpret the perceived threat. They are involved in a higher-level processing of context, which helps a person know whether a perceived threat is real or not. Although, everything that I just mentioned about the Chi Awareness procedure is situational and relies solely on the user’s innate mental capacity and overall mastery of the mind sphere. Most of the technique’s greatest advantages vary depending on your maximum Chi capability as well. I could go on and on about this instinctive sensory skill’s additional advantages and disadvantages, but I’m quite sure that this substantial explanation will suffice,” she finished her elucidation.

“That was a very good initial explanation, Teach, and an even better follow-up clarification. You explained that technique so well that I don’t even have any questions to ask you. I’m stoked and ready for the next lesson, Miss Madarame,” Izzo praised with keen interest.

Ashina smiled softly at her brother’s compliment then parted her lips to speak. “Well, the next lesson is a massive step beyond the Chi Awareness procedure. This method is called Chi Sensing, which is a very useful mental sensory technique that is executed by using your brain’s invisible Chi Waves as a sensor. These mental sensations give you access to locating the Chi Signatures of numerous lifeforms that are near your position. The range of this technique varies heavily on the amount of Chi that you can produce within your mind and body,” she explained and put her hand on her chin. “You can also detect lesser lifeforms such as Izaha people, other weak humanoids, wildlife, insects, and even all of the surrounding vegetation as you see fit. This is possible because essentially the lesser lifeforms still produce lifeforce energy signatures, which in a sense is one and the same with Chi. However, without the spheres to form the traditional Chi Stream, it is impossible for lesser beings to use their lifeforces as weapons,” she added methodically.

Izzo nodded his head. “Okay, Teach. So, how can I tell the difference between an actual warrior, a lesser being, vegetation, wildlife, and insects?” he asked.

 Ashina sighed and shook her head. “You’re having fun with this little make-believe student act that you’re putting on aren’t you?” she asked and cut her eyes at her brother.

“But of course,” Izzo confirmed with a beam.

Ashina grumbled. “Why me?” she carped and facepalmed herself. “Anyways, you idiot, most advance lifeforms like us have a special type of Chi. Drakiens’ Chi Signatures are usually navy blue or in special cases the color of their respective clan’s battle auras. For example, most Madarames’ Chi is blue or purple, and the Mizukis’ respective auras colors are different shades of red,” she explained.

“I like how you randomly mentioned the Mizuki clan. You can’t stop thinking about your Mizuki for more than five minutes, huh?” Izzo pestered with a sly smirk.

Ashina growled at her brother with a beaming red face. “Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. I wasn’t thinking about him whatsoever. I swear you’re going to make me stop this stupid Chi Sense lecture. I was better off playing my got damn handheld!” she shouted.                                                          Izzo put his hands up in defense. “Calm down. I was only teasing you. It won’t happen again throughout the remainder of this lesson,” he promised and placed a hand across his chest. “Scout’s honor,” he added.                                                                                                                       Ashina let out a heavy breath, and she calmed herself down. “Yeah, sure. Whatever. Why me?” she groused and shook her head once more. “Anyways, vegetative lifeforce signatures are light green with the silhouette or outline of a plant or a collection of greenery. Wildlife and bugs’ lifeforce signatures are light brown with the outline and shape of the type of species it is, and the Izahas’ lifeforce signatures is a white outline of a humanoid being. It looks similar to a Drakien, but you can tell the difference because of the weaker lifeforce’s energy signals that the Izahas produce. Generally, all lifeforms’ outlines would have a flame-like spec of Chi or lifeforce energy flowing within the middle of their stomachs. Stronger lifeforms’ silhouettes would be engulfed in Chi, or their flamelike specs that dwell within their stomachs would be abnormally large,” she explained.

“I see. So, how can I remove some of the filler signatures out of the way? It seems like wildlife, bugs, trees, and other plants’ lifeforce signatures would get in the way if I was searching for a specific enemy,” Izzo pointed out.

Ashina smirked. “That does sound like a major inconvenience to be forced to pick up every single lifeforms’ lifeforces and Chi Signatures that are in your surrounding area,” she admitted.

“I know right. That technique is doing too much,” Izzo agreed and gave a single nod.

“But, there is a simple fix for that problem, a very convenient way to fix this annoying conundrum. This useful maneuver will make everything easier and less of a headache as you focus on the signatures that you’re trying to locate,” Ashina explained.

“Is that so? But how?” Izzo asked.

“Well, the only thing you have to do is use your brain spheres to focus on a specific type of signature. Basically, if you don’t want to sense the extra, useless stuff, you can mentally block out all the filler lifeforms’ signatures and focus exclusively on the primary target that you’re searching for,” she educated.

“Really now? That sounds almost too useful to be true. I want to see this so-called sensory technique in action, so could you give me a live demonstration, Teach?” Izzo questioned with feigned excitement still playing the role of an eager student.

Ashina chuckled at her brother’s silliness. She then let out a sigh of defeat as she decided to finally play along in his trivial roleplaying charade. “Of course it is. It’s one of the most useful skills in any warrior’s arsenal,” she replied. Izzo smiled as the teen closed her eyes and placed her hands together in front of her face. Suddenly, a blazing line of Chi outlined her hands as she prepared to demonstrate the Art. “By focusing the Chi into the spheres in your arms, feet, and head, you can sense the energies of your allies and sometimes the enemies that are around and beneath you,” she explained.

            “That does sound useful, but not by much,” Izzo criticized and was seemingly unimpressed.

Ashina giggled at her make-believe student’s comment while remaining in the same stance. “Trust me. It’s the most useful thing that I could ever teach you, so try it out for yourself,” she suggested.

“Alright,” Izzo accepted. He closed his eyes as he imitated his sister’s earlier stance. “Okay. I’m ready, so what’s next?” he asked.

“Next, focus the energy within your feet and arms’ spheres, and then you need to activate the sphere within your forehead all the while maintaining all three as you meditate in place,” she explained. “And, make sure that you have a clear mind. You need to focus on allowing your energy to flow freely within your body as you let go of all of your mental restraints,” she added.

Izzo nodded as he did what Ashina instructed. “Okay, Teach. Now, what?” he asked calmly.

“If you focus your mental energy and allow it to escape from your body, you should be able to feel the presence of most of this vicinity’s surrounding lifeforces. Once again, it also depends on how much Chi that you are able to produce around, beneath, and throughout this area. This will ultimately decide how many lifeforms your Chi Sensing ability is able to detect within its range,” Ashina educated.

Izzo took his sister’s advice and unleashed his invisible, psychological Chi throughout, beneath, and around the surrounding area. The fun teacher could now mentally see and feel numerous amounts of flame-like energies flowing from the bodies of the creatures that dwelled in the neighboring area. Their lifeforce signatures lit up the zone. It was almost as if they were blazing, light green, and clear dots on a digital map being detected by a sonar. Slowly but surely, the dots began taking the shapes of each of the specific species, whether wildlife or vegetation, that they represented.

Izzo smiled softly at the mental sight. “I allowed my energy to escape my body, and it is moving around rapidly. This flowing pattern, which my escaped Chi is creating, bears a striking resemblance to how scientists theorized in the past on the appearance of radio sonar waves. The waves are usually described exactly like my Chi’s current form,” he explained.

Ashina smiled softly at her brother. “Very good. Can you feel them, Izzo, the lifeforce signatures that are emanating from the surrounding lifeforms’ bodies?” she asked.

“Yes, I can feel a lot of wildlife and plants that are currently around this area. I can even feel the bugs’ lifeforce signatures as they crawl along the surface and beneath the ground,” he explained.

 “Alright. Well, because of this useful phenomenon you’ve just performed, you can find specific lifeforces, or you can use it in a broader sense to find multiple beings at once,” Ashina elaborated. “Try focusing your energy solely on the nearby tree to your right. Just relax your mind and remove your Chi Sonar Waves from everything else. Next, unleash a smaller number of waves. Then, lock ‘em on your primary target,” she instructed.

Izzo did as he was told. He relaxed his mind. He retracted all of his Chi Sonar Waves from the entire area. He then unleashed a smaller number of waves by focusing the waves solely on the tree that Ashina instructed him to examine. Suddenly, everything in his mental sight vanished with only his main target left standing in a vacant void by itself. He could sense tiny birds sitting on and flying above the branches of the tree. The self-proclaimed student even felt the presence of the three chipmunks that hung on the trunk as they carried food in their mouths.

“I like this,” he expressed and explained to his sister what lifeforms he could sense on and within the tree.

“That’s correct. I see that you’re more adept at this than I thought you’d be,” Ashina commented and smirked.

A cocky expression immediately formed on Izzo’s face. “Well, I am a badass Madarame after all,” he boasted and mimicked his sister’s catchphrase.

Ashina laughed at her brother’s mocking and shook her head from side-to-side. “Anyways, you moron, can you tell me how many birds are in the tree, and how many of them are flying around it?” she quizzed.

Izzo smiled and took a deep breath. He focused his technique specifically on the birds. “Okay. Here goes,” he said. The cool brother could sense seven, tiny, fiery specs of lifeforce energy signatures blazing from the area. “There are seven birds in total. Four rest on the tree branches, and three soar above it. Also, one of the birds’ lifeforce signatures is severely weaker than the others,” he described.                                                                                                 “Well, that bird must be older than the rest,” Ashina deduced and focused her Art on the birds. The weaker bird rested in its nest, and its Chi fiery spec slowly fizzled out. That was a clear indication that its life was about to come to an end within a few minutes. Ashina finally opened her eyes, thus ending her Chi Sensing technique. “Remember, Izzo. Chi is life. Weaker and depleting Chi or lifeforce outputs are something that you should keep an eye out for. They help differentiate the people that you’re sensing. These sensations also allow you to quickly locate comrades or people who may be dying,” she threw in. “Mastering this Art is absolutely mandatory for all able fighters on Dragaroth,” she explained.

“But, how can I locate and tell allies apart from my foes? Wouldn’t all of their energies feel the same?” Izzo questioned and opened his eyes as he frowned.

“Actually, everyone has a certain particular independent signature to their energy that you should be able to pick up on. This method is the same with the Chi Awareness procedure as well. But, anyways, let’s try it again. This time I want you to focus your Chi Sensing technique solely on me, the coachman, and Bosh. Let see if you can identify who we are by merely relying on your Chi Sense,” Ashina spoke and thought up another lesson.

“Alright, let’s—” Izzo paused. He suddenly heard a nearby explosion which caused Bosh to let out a loud roar.   

            “Whoa!” Timothy yelled while pulling the reigns to stop his partner in place. The sudden stop shot the two passengers forward as their black seat belts stopped them from falling to the floor.

            “Argh,” Ashina and Izzo grunted in unison.

            Izzo quickly regained his composure. He then hurriedly turned, pulled back the curtains, and opened the privacy window.

            “You okay, Tim?” he asked with a look of concern.

            “Yeah, I’m fine. Sorry about that. Something suddenly exploded in the Kaniya Forest, and it spooked Bosh,” Timothy explained. He then took a deep breath to calm himself down.

            Izzo and Ashina looked at each other, and the young teacher nodded at his student. They unfastened their seatbelts, got out of the stagecoach, and stood on the dirt road. They looked west towards the forest in the distance. A visible, thick trail of smoke flowed high above the trees.

“That can’t be good,” Izzo pointed out while he glared at the smoke.

            “What are you going to do?” Ashina asked with a serious expression.

            “As a Fang, I must go and check it out. Even though we should call and wait for the Dragoon police to come, there could be injured people that need my help,” he said with a concerned gaze.

            “Well, we should get ready to go then,” Ashina proposed.

            “I’m supposed to protect you and keep you out of harm’s way, so I can’t bring you with me. You have to stay here,” Izzo stated with a fleeting glance to his student.

            Ashina looked at her teacher with a look of annoyance. “You can’t be serious. Izzo, you can’t just up and leave me behind. I want to help!” she said and bit down on her bottom lip out of pure frustration.

            Izzo lowered his eyes. “Ash—” he started but was cut off by his sister.

             “No, you’re not leaving me behind again. How do you expect me to learn anything when you keep on babying me?!” she asked with a tone of sheer disappointment.

            “It’s just that we don’t know what is waiting for us over there. It could be more than what you can handle. If we run in there blindly, you could literally get hurt or worse,” Izzo responded with an explanation of the seriousness of the situation to his pupil. “Plus, I don’t have time for this right now. People could be dying this exact second,” he said and then turned to look at the direction of the smoke coming from Kaniya.

Ashina’s grimacing gaze gave the impression that it could have burned a hole through Izzo’s skull at any second. “Who the hell does he think he is? He’s not the boss of me. ‘I can do what I want when I want to,’ is what I would normally say to him. However, this time it’ll take a certain type of finesse to get my way. This may put a stain on my reputation as a badass, but it is necessary. I have to show Izzo that I’m strong enough and mature enough to fight by his side. Okay. Here goes. Don’t mess this up, Ash,” she thought before taking a deep breath to calm herself down. She looked calmly at her teacher. “Okay. I will be careful, and I promise that I’ll listen to everything you say. We can make a plan and scout out the area before we get involved. I mean what’s the difference between me doing this now and me doing this in the fall? I’m about to become a knight apprentice. I will have to risk my life for others eventually, so why can’t I start now?” she asked. The sneaky teen wanted to throw up in her mouth because of her previous statement. “This better work,” she thought as she struggled to keep a focused demeanor.

            Izzo looked back at his student with wonder as he looked at the sheer determination in her eyes. He facepalmed himself and let out a grunt of frustration as he felt Ashina’s words slowly but surely make his original stance falter. “I can’t believe that you actually made a little sense there,” he admitted and shook his head from side-to-side.

            Ashina gave Izzo a look of confusion. “What do you mean by that?” she asked.

            The hooded hero looked at the curious brunette with a tired frown. “I mean you made a valid point. How do I expect you to grow stronger if I keep babying you and holding you back?” he uttered and forced out those agitating words.

             Ashina’s features immediately lightened up when she heard that statement. “Which means?” she asked as she withheld her excitement. “I think I got him,” she thought. The teen stared at her sensei with curiosity as she awaited his response.

            Izzo let out a heavy breath. “Which means, you can come along on—” he was cut off by the cheering of his student.

            “Yeah! Whoop. Whoop,” Ashina shouted and jumped up and down with uncharacteristic happiness and enthusiasm.

            Izzo looked at his sister with a look of bafflement mixed with shock. He then shook his head and cleared his throat, which ended his student’s excitement as he quickly regained her attention.

 “Ash, I appreciate your eagerness for getting the chance to help people, but now isn’t the time for that sort of celebration. We have work to do,” he reminded her.

            “R-right,” Ashina stammered with a brief blush and turned to look at Timothy. “Yo, coachman Izaha guy, I need you to call the Dragoon police,” she ordered as she got back to the task at hand.

“Um, Miss Ash? It’s Timothy. Timothy Doncic, remember?” he asked.

“I don’t care what your name is. Just call the cops!” she barked, which caused the coachman to jump with fright.

“Okay. Okay. Just don’t bite my head off,” Timothy pleaded and pulled out a black touchscreen phone.

“Tell them there’s a disturbance in Kaniya Forest, and tell them to send a medical unit and a fire unit as well,” she ordered.

“Okay,” Timothy said.

“We will move in, check out the situation, and help out the best way we can, so you better stay put,” Ashina commanded.

 “But we’ll be sitting ducks waiting here. What if someone decides to attack us?” Timothy questioned and looked very uneasy about the situation.

“Don’t worry. Izzo’s gotcha covered,” Ashina assured him as she looked at her sensei.

Izzo glared at his student. He was impressed because of how Ashina handled the situation while somewhat keeping her cool. However, the young teacher didn’t like how the brunette spoke to Timothy. “Ash really needs to work on her people skills. She will most definitely pass all of the academic courses that are required to become a knight. However, she sure as hell won’t make a good knight if the citizens that she’s supposed to protect are terrified and uncomfortable when they’re around her,” he thought with a tired breath.

“Um…Izzo? Now is not the time to daydream,” Ashina said as she snapped her brother from his mental trance.

“Oh, r-right. Sorry about that,” Izzo stammered.

“Sure thing, weirdo,” Ashina muttered. The teen just shook her head at her bizarre brother while he let out a nervous chuckle. Izzo and his sister then walked backwards. They stopped a few feet away from the stagecoach. “I’ll lecture and scold Ashina about her stank attitude and her bad manners later on because now is not the time,” he thought. Izzo held out his right hand towards the vehicle. All of a sudden, dark purple energy began to ooze out from the palm of his hand. “Chi Bending Art: Chi Barrier,” he said as a massive circular dome of energy stretched out and surrounded the entire stagecoach, thus trapping it within the barrier’s confinements.

“Whoa,” Timothy said. He was stunned by his surroundings.

Ashina grumbled at the sight of her brother’s technique. “I hate this Art. This is the same annoying thing that you used on me at home when I tried to destroy you,” she pointed out and shot a seething glare at Izzo.

 Izzo gave the fuming teen a weak, yet nervous smile before turning to Timothy. “This will protect you while we’re gone. This dome is connected directly to my Chi Stream. If anyone tries to harm you or Bosh while I’m away, I will receive a mental signal from this dome, and I will immediately cast an Art from where ever I am located at to assist you. Now, I need you to call the Arigon Dragoon Police Force, since they’re the closest station in our vicinity,” he finished.

“Yeah, you’ll be well protected for sure because even I, the badass Madarame, couldn’t break out of this thing,” Ashina muttered in a tone laced with frustration.

 This caused Izzo to sigh once more and won a chuckle from the coachman.

“Okay. Be careful, you two, and hurry back,” Timothy said.

“Will do,” Izzo said. He then turned to his student with a serious expression on his face.

“Before we go, Ash, please don’t fly into the face of danger on your own or randomly attack the hostiles like a loose cannon. If you use your usual ‘badass Madarame’ shenanigans while we’re there, I swear I’m not bringing you along with me again,” he warned.

“Alright. Whatever,” Ashina scoffed.

“I’m being serious, Ash,” Izzo stated sternly.

“Fine. I gotcha. I’ll contain myself,” she promised and looked away from her sensei.

Izzo let out a light breath of relief as he softened his features. “Alright then. Let’s go Ash,” he said.

“Mhmm. Yup,” Ashina responded with a trace of frustration in her voice. In a flash, the annoyed teen and her master vanished into thin air. The only things that Timothy was able to make out were blue and dark purple blurs as the duo hastily left the area.

“I swear that those two are going to be the death of me,” Timothy cried and looked down with a heavy sigh as Bosh roared in agreement. “Well, it’s time to follow the Madarame clan Elder’s great-granddaughter’s orders,” he said as he began to call the Dragoon Police.

 

 

The Eastern Plains of Arigon were adjoined with the Kaniya forest. The forest comprised of red leaved trees. These leaves decorated a portion of a river that flowed into the woods at a gentle pace. The clear blue water rolled along while some fish swam within its luxurious depths. The beautiful yet calming vibe that the forest emitted didn’t match the carnage that stirred within its domain. A devastating cloud of smoke flowed over the copses as the sounds of a crackling carriage were heard. The flames which engulfed the coach charred the ground. A young female knight apprentice’s eyes absorbed the scene of the destroyed vehicle. The young lady panted as she held the black hilt of a broken sword in her hand. Her dark purple eyes focused on the multiple gray chunks of her once whole knightly armor. The discarded metal littered the ground in front of her bare feet. This destructive stripping left the teen only with her under clothes on, which were comprised of a tattered black tank top and torn black leggings.

“The coast appears to be clear, and for my sake I pray that it stays that way. Hopefully, he’s not lurking in the shadows concealing his Chi signal as he prepares for an ambush on me when I least expect it.” The teen swallowed the lump in her throat as she looked around.

“Whoever that cloaked foreigner was it seems like he has the ability to use magnetism. His ability was similar to Madam Lym’s ‘Polarity’ technique, and that is a scary thought. That would explain how he ripped all my armor off like it was made out of plastic, and that woman he was with…” The girls thoughts came to a brief halt when she sensed something approaching her.

“Something is coming, and it’s a couple of them. No, it’s about four hostiles. Dammit. What to do? Sir Henry is hurt very badly, and the Masri family are just ordinary Izaha people. How can I protect them like this?” she thought as she exuded frustration. The young knight apprentice then turned around and noticed a trail of blood that led much deeper into the woods.

“With injuries like that, he won’t last much longer. What can I do against these foreigners who were able to defeat someone of Sir Henry’s caliber? I’m just a trainee. Why am I trying to be brave? They already tossed me around like I was a mere lifeless ragdoll earlier. It was apparent back then that I stood no chance against them, and here I am running back into the fire like a moth being drawn to a flame. This decision was so foolish,” she thought. The girl lowered her eyes. As she clenched her unarmed fist, a gentle gust of wind lightly blew through her short, unruly, dark green hair with black highlights. Suddenly, the sounds of menacing low growls were heard close by. These noises startled the young apprentice and caused her to gasp with fright. 

“H-here they come,” she said with a shaky tone. Newly formed sweat ran down the girl’s forehead and dripped off her beautiful light brown skinned face. Slowly, the glowing yellow eyes of four shadowy figures were seen emerging from the thick smoke. A pack of wolves became visible as they unhurriedly approached the teen. Their bodies were made of rock, which was mostly protected by a metallic substance, while their steel fangs and steel teeth were bared.

“That cloaked guy must have summoned more of these accursed things while we made our escape. This does make me wonder about how many of these darn fiends can that psychopath actually summon. Seven bloody hells! I am very inexperienced in regards to fighting against Dog-folks’ techniques and summonings. I really don’t know what to expect from these troublesome metallic canines, but it doesn’t matter. I have to hold these wolves off until help arrives, although something of this multitude might be too much for me,” she thought with a trace of doubt in her mind.

The four wolves snarled loudly at the girl and eyed her closely. The teen’s eyes widened when she heard the sounds of multiple wolves howling all around the forest. She frantically looked around at the numerous vicious eyes of the predators that surrounded her. There were exactly 50 wolves waiting to use the teen as their new chew toy.

            The trainee immediately dropped her broken sword on the ground. Her demeanor displayed shock. “How is this possible? No, I’m going to die. They’re too many of them,” she murmured as tears rolled down her cheeks. “I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. Please, someone help me!” she screamed in utter defeat. The teen’s whimpers were heard along with the growls and snarls of the wolves as they closed in on her position. The girl’s eyes widened even more as her mouth quivered with terror. She was now desperate as she commenced to beg for her life as she hoped that the summoner would have mercy and spare her from being dog food.

 “N-No. P-please, stay back. Don’t e-eat me. Please! I’m just a kid. I’m too young to die. I’m sorry, okay? Please, don’t do this to me. Don’t k-kill me like this. Please…I’ll do anything. Anything! No. No, I can’t. I can’t—”The teen started to hyperventilate as her entire body started to tremble with fear. She was utterly terrified of dying and being brutally ripped apart by the wolves. Her abnormally rapid breathing and her random convulsions slowly but surely came to a complete halt. The terrifying sight of the army of canine predators was so overwhelming to the point that it completely paralyzed the young knight. Her body was now as solid as a statue and her teary eyes were still wide open as she waited helplessly for her certain demise. 

The four wolves jumped towards the petrified girl at every angle. Instantly, their vicious leaps hit a devastating roadblock as spikes made out of purple Chi impaled the artificial beasts through their stomachs. The frightened teen was unresponsive to her swift rescue; her body was rigid as she kept staring into space with unblinking eyes. Her entire frame was protected by a casket shaped barrier made from thick aura, which had the deadly spikes attached to it.               The pierced beasts suddenly let out multiple distorted robotic howls as their bodies lit up and exploded. The numerous detonations shook the entire area and created a cloud of dust and smoke. The remaining pack of wolves growled as they looked around the surrounding woods in search for their new prey. As the dust and the smoke settled, the girl was still standing inside the casket shaped barrier with her unresponsive state still present. The casket then flew up in the air high above the tree branches and out of the range of the wolves’ assault. The young apprentice and her protective barrier safely floated in midair.

“She’s petrified with fear. Like literally, man. What a wimp,” Ashina commented while shaking her head as she stood on a tree branch. The teen was staring up at the motionless apprentice with a look of disgust.

“She appeared to be a trainee, so cut her some slack, Ash,” Izzo defended as he stood firmly on a branch above his student.

Ashina folded her arms and glanced up at her teacher with a look of annoyance. “We arrived at the part where she was begging for her life like a little wuss. She is a disgrace of an apprentice. She was afraid of those weak looking robo-mutts to the point that she probably pissed her pants. She’s pathetic and not cut out to be a knight. The proof is right before our eyes,” she spat.

Izzo discharged a sigh as he looked up at the helpless novice. He then looked back down at his student. “You are too blunt for your own good. What if she heard you?” he asked with narrowed eyes at Ashina. “You could have crush that poor girl’s dreams. She already has been terrorized and traumatized enough,” he added.

Ashina unfolded her arms and dropped them to her sides. “It doesn’t matter. I don’t know her. She doesn’t know me, so it really doesn’t matter what I think about her shortcomings, even though it’s quite obvious that she is a weakling because whoever she fought before we got here damn near stripped her butt naked,” she pointed out. “Anyways, enough about that loser,” she dismissed as she pointed up at the young teacher. “Did you use your Chi Sensing technique to locate the other people that this waste of space was with?” she asked with a raised eyebrow.

Izzo let out a tired breath. He gave up on the previous conversation as he responded to Ashina’s new question. “Yeah, there are four people and a land dragon hiding in a cave about 500 meters north of here. One of them needs medical attention right away. I dispatched two Chi clones to help the injured person and guard the rest of them while we do something about those robotic wolves down there. Speaking of which, it is very odd and worrisome to see a summoning technique like this in Sol. Hmm.” he informed his student as he put his hand on his chin.

“Mhmm. I see,” Ashina said nonchalantly with an uninterested look on her face. The teen looked down at the burning wagon. “I don’t know why, but that carriage feels and looks familiar,” she thought. Ashina then looked at the robotic wolves. “These robo-mutts are asking for a major beating for attacking the people who were riding in that carriage, and I will be the one who gives it to them,” she plotted with a solemn expression.

Izzo just stood there as he tried to get a grasp of the situation. “What the hell is going on? I thought that my bro, Kadaj, was the only Inuraut native who lived in Sol. Did more people from the infamous canine nation migrate to our country recently that I didn’t know about?” Izzo asked himself as he looked down at the wolves with a sharp eye. “That can’t be right. Their queen, Queen Kaede, wouldn’t allow something like that to happen, since she is ridiculously strict when it comes to that sort of thing. Hell, Kadaj’s unfortunate and fortunate circumstances are the only reasons why he’s here, and because of Inuraut’s unfair laws Kadaj’s citizenship in Sol was ridiculously hard to get legalized even with all the nobles’ and royals’ support he had behind him. I guess there are other Inuraut natives who somehow migrated to Sol illegally. Yeah, that is the only logical explanation I can deduce from this abnormal and unfortunate situation,” he pondered as he looked up at the floating apprentice then down at the scorching carriage.

“But why would they attack the Masri’s carriage? What was their purpose? It doesn’t matter though. Whoever they are I will put a stop to their crimes. They attacked three Izaha people and a land dragon that I care dearly about from Roumaya Village, my village, not to mention they harmed an ally and an old friend in Sir Henry, and they probably ruined the career of an upcoming young knight. That poor young girl was absolutely traumatized. These guys went too far, and now they are on my ‘to destroy list’. These strangers are going down whenever I find them,” he thought with a serious expression. Izzo then glanced down at his sister who was looking down at the wolves.

“It wouldn’t be wise to tell Ashina about the Masris, Caries, and Sir Henry just yet because she would charge headfirst into battle without thinking. She would be blinded by her pure, unadulterated rage, and she would be too far gone to think rationally. She and Ashira are close friends with Amara. They’re like big sisters to the lass, and Ash knew Sir Henry since she was a baby. He’s basically family to her by now, similar to an uptight older uncle. I just hope that she doesn’t expand her Chi Sense Sensory Waves beyond this area to identify all five of the fleeing victims in this incident like I did because all hell will break loose if that happens.” Izzo thought as he looked down at the wolves who were still searching the area for their new prey.

“Listen, Ash. 46 small wolves still remain since I killed the first four pups who tried to attack the young knight. In addition, there’s a larger, much more powerful wolf east of here. It’s about 500 meters away from our current position, and it’s stationary for the time being. It’s as if the giant is waiting for something or someone. However, there are no humanoid hostiles within our vicinity, so that at least is a good sign,” he informed her.

“Oh, I already used my Chi Sense technique to locate all of the weak wolves in this area as we made our way here. However, I didn’t know that there was a giant wolf nearby,” Ashina said with an excited smile. “Hell yeah! This is going to be awesome. Bring on the boss wolf!” she shouted with pure eagerness as she smiled from ear-to-ear.

“Ash, you’re being way too loud,” Izzo whispered forcefully with an annoyed expression. Due to the young Madarame’s loud outburst, the surrounding predators finally spotted Izzo and Ashina’s standing on the tree branches. They growled at the duo. The teen took notice with her excited grin still on full display. “Dammit, Ash! Look what you did with your loud mouth,” Izzo hissed.

Ashina ignored what her brother had said and focused her attention on the newly alerted wolves. “Alright, you mangy mutts. Let’s dance,” she said. She vanished without a trace.

Izzo looked down with astonished eyes and an agape mouth. “Ashina! Got dammit. Not again,” he said forcefully as he face palmed himself with pure frustration. “I swear. I don’t know what I’m going to do with that disobedient girl,” he added in a heavily annoyed tone.                   Izzo watched on as the teen appeared in front of a lone wolf who was 60 meters away from her previous position. Ashina quickly punched it in its snout. The wolf’s whines were muffled by its crushed muzzle. The audaciously spunky brunette followed up with a roundhouse kick to the left side of the wounded beast’s body. The disfigured mongrel flew across the area and crashed into two nearby wolves. A loud explosion erupted immediately upon contact.

“That’s seven,” Ashina muttered as she added to her master’s kill count total. Swiftly, two more wolves attempted to pounce on the Madarame girl from behind. She quickly vanished and reappeared above them before stomping in their backs with Chi engulfed boots. This caused the surprised curs to collide into the ground. The surrounding dirt road transmitted shockwaves from the impact as the teen quickly vanished just before the wolves exploded.

“Nine,” she said casually as she looked at the trio of foolish wolves rushing towards her. The first wolf jumped into the air. It started to contort its body into a ball. Its metallic, spiked tail and back resembled a buzz saw as it rapidly spun downward towards the rash teen.

“Interesting,” Ashina said nonchalantly. She calmly sidestepped the airborne wolf. It flew a few feet behind the teen and cut through a tree. The canine’s attack caused the tree to collapse and fall off to the side. In rapid succession, the other two wolves tried the same thing. Ashina scoffed at the beasts and quickly jumped above them. She hurriedly turned upside down in midair and held out both of her hands in front of her. She gaped at the now approaching three wolves’ returning buzz saw attacks. Energy began pulsating and then formed in front of Ashina’s hands. The energy turned into a globe sized, blue ball of Chi with an orbiting ring around it. The attack then charged up in front of the adolescent.

“Kakaigun!” she shouted as she fired the ball of energy. The furious attack grew five times in size once it was unleashed. It was now big enough to collide into all three of the wolves simultaneously. The trio exploded instantaneously from the devastating impact of Ashina’s attack. The brunette shielded her eyes with her arms as she got pushed back from the intense air of the explosion. Ashina flipped over and landed on her feet and slid across the ground. She quickly regained her composure. The courageous teen finally unshielded her eyes. “Eleven,” she said as two wolves jumped toward either side of her. Ashina instantly held out both of her arms without even looking at the wannabe sneaky canines. “Double Kakaigun!” she shouted. The two balls repeated the same action as the previous attack and pushed the defeated beasts back where they came from. They exploded in the air a few feet away from Ashina’s position.

“Thirteen. I swear that I’m just too badass for my own good,” she boasted with a smug smirk. The teen then looked around at the eight wolves that ran toward her a pair at a time. They were growling and snarling viciously at Ashina and were ready and willing to avenge their fallen comrades. An evil grin appeared on the teen’s face as she got ready for action. She eagerly prepared to do her favorite and most useful technique known as the Rakaijo Art.                              The Rakaijo was a powerful Chi based technique that sent twenty percent of the user’s overall Chi capacity into the spheres embedded in the manipulator’s legs. The excessive amount of Chi increased the strength of every leg muscle that surrounded the spheres. Similar to a steroid, this surge of Chi vastly increased the speed of the user’s movements to over 20 times faster than the person’s normal speed. The versatile Art also amplified the overall strength of the manipulator’s kicks to over 10 times the user’s natural might. While the technique gave a massive boost to speed and power temporarily, the repercussions of the technique could damage the muscles of inexperienced users’ legs, especially if the skill was overused. If the user unwisely exerted more than 20 percent of their Chi into the technique, then the risk became exponentially more pronounced.

“Rakaijo,” Ashina muttered as aura cloaked her calves and stretched downwards to her feet. The teen ran extremely fast in a circle as her body took a striking resemblance of a blue blur. She ran so fast that her speed created what appeared to be a small tornado of energy. The aura vanished when she quickly jumped into the air and cocked back a foot as the wolves jumped after her.

“Rakaijo Hurricane Blitz!” Ashina shouted as she quickly swung her foot and body in the air. She kicked a blue shockwave of energy that stretched around into a destructive ring. The circular aura hit all eight wolves simultaneously. All of their chests got caved in by the ferocious attack. The teen then landed back in the very spot that she once stood. “Twenty-one,” she said as all of the wolves shot across the woodland. They crashed into the ground and blew up. Ashina smirked and looked around at the remaining hostiles. The beasts were stationary as they glared at the brunette from within the woods. “Hmm…it seems like they’ve stopped their advances. I wonder if they are scared stiff like that so-called knight above me,” she thought as she looked up at the floating apprentice.  She then looked back at her foes. “Normally, I would just rush them, but considering Izzo is up there observing me and testing my judgements I better follow suit and observe these mutts’ actions and act accordingly,” Ashina thought. The teen watched her adversaries with a cautious eye as she tried to figure out their next moves.

Meanwhile, Izzo still stood on the tree as he watched his student with a proud smile on his face. “Ashina is literally putting in work. I only took out the first four, and she took out the next seventeen by herself in a matter of seconds. I see that all of the taxing and frustrating training I gave her is finally paying off. Ash completely mastered the base Rakaijo technique. Well, it comes as no surprise. It has been almost 9 years since I first taught her the Art. That is why Ashina is such a natural when she’s using the speedy maneuver. With all that moving around though and all that Chi that she just used, it almost makes it hard to believe that she’s not tired. Hell, she’s barely even broken a sweat. This kid is truly something else.” he thought with amazed eyes. Izzo’s train of thought was suddenly interrupted when he felt a stinging beeping sensation in his head. 

“I see that my clones have finally made it to the Masri family’s and Sir Henry’s hiding place,” he said out loud. Izzo then put his hands together. “Chi Barrier,” he said and cast a protective energy barrier around himself and the tree.

Ashina took notice of her teacher’s Art. “I guess Izzo’s clones have made it to the other people that the weakling was with,” she assumed as she refocused her attention on the wolves.

“Ash, please make sure that you try to contain yourself for a little bit because you know what I’m about to do,” he said.

Ashina sneered. “I’ll give these mutts five minutes to make a move. If they don’t make a move within that time limit, then I’ll smoke them out,” she said without even looking at her brother. 

Izzo looked at his student and sighed.  “Okay. Do what you have to do,” he agreed.

“Yup. I got this,” Ashina said confidently.

“But, if things somehow get rough while I’m away taking care of business, you can flee into my barrier for protection. I modified it to correspond with your Chi signal, so only you and you alone have the access to pass through my aura unscathed,” he informed her.

Ashina scoffed at her brother as she glanced at him with a look of irritation. “Don’t insult my greatness like that. These things literally stand no chance against me, so I won’t be running away from these cheap pieces of junk,” she spat.

“Ash, I’m serious. Stop being pigheaded and full of yourself for once, and listen to my instructions like how you deceitfully claimed that you would do earlier.” Izzo said with a trace of aggravation in his voice.

 Ashina let out an annoyed grunt. “Fine. If they somehow push me back when you’re away, then I will flee into your useless barrier for my safety and protection,” she forced out condescendingly. She focused her attention back on the wolves. “Humph,” she released as she folded her arms.                                                         

Izzo sighed once more. “At least Ash is trying to tame her rage for now. But, still, she needs to fix that snobby attitude of hers soon, or it’ll be her downfall someday,” he thought as he shook his head from side-to-side. “Well, to be fair, she’s right. The robotic wolves don’t stand a chance against her anyways, but still she needs to learn not to underestimate her foes. I taught Ash to approach each hostile encounter that she finds herself in with a level head. I just hope that she follows my instructions and guidance. In the meantime, this barrier will protect me from any unwelcomed attacks from the pups while I communicate with the other people.” Izzo thought before he put his fists together and closed his eyes.

“Chi link Art: Mental Puppetry Manipulation,” he uttered. The young master appeared to be meditating while standing up. He allowed his consciousness to be taken away from his body.

 

                                                  

 

The Masri family hid in a small cave off in the northern edge of the forest. A middle-aged woman knelt down while she tended to a wounded knight. A middle-aged man did the same to an injured land dragon. The woman who nursed the knight was named Hajime Masri. She was a 41 year-old woman with long, dark, brown hair worn in a high ponytail, which went down to the middle of her back. She was dressed in a white, long-sleeved blouse which covered her large bust. The fabric that concealed the sides of her blouse was a brown corset vest. She coordinated it with a golden, thigh length skirt and a pair of brown, open toed, two inched heel boots. Her magenta eyes focused on the suffering knight, and her beautiful, creamy skinned face was full of worry.                                                                                                                                                        To attempt first aid, the woman pressed a previously white rag against the hole embedded in the knight’s chubby stomach. The rag had now become soaked in blood by the profuse leaking from the knight’s wound. The knight’s beige skinned face was almost pale. His thick bald head rested against a black pillow. He wore only black slacks as the rest of his 5-foot-10, heavyset frame was bare from the intense battle that he brutally lost. His breathing was weak. Beads of sweat ran down his fat face. “He’s bleeding way too much, Leeroy. I don’t know if Sir Henry is going to make it,” Hajime said with panic in her tone.

The 42 year-old merchant looked at his wife through his sunglasses. He focused on the knight’s state. “Just keep pressure on his wound. Help will be here any minute now,” he said with a bit of optimism. This caused his wife to lower her eyes. Hajime appeared to be in deep thought as Leeroy continued to clean the leg wound of an orange land dragon. The beast had notably blue nails and a blue underbelly. Its blue eyes focused on Hajime as it let out a light roar when Leeroy applied an alcohol-soaked rag to a small gash on its stomach.

“You will be okay, Caries. Just stay strong, girl,” he told her. The dragon merely let out a weak grunt to respond in its own language.

 The busty beauty finally looked back at her husband and parted her lips to speak her mind. “I don’t think that they will make it in time to help us, and what about Reisia? I know she’s from the Dows clan and all, but she is still just a child. We left her back there to hold off that powerful criminal all by herself. What if he summoned more of those robotic things? They might have torn her from limb-to-limb by now. I couldn’t ever forgive myself if something has happened to her because she tried to protect us,” Hajime said regretfully and somewhat mournfully. The worried wife’s eyes now welled with tears.                                                             Leeroy had a saddened look on his brown skinned face. He stood up and looked ahead at the exit of the cave. A gentle breeze blew through the cave and against his black muscle shirt that barely hid his ripped physique. He matched his top with a pair of black overalls with the straps down along with a pair of black steel toed boots. Water from the leaking cave ceiling dripped down on top of his black, taper fade haircut. The water traveled down the middle of his face to his mustache, full lips, and goatee. 

“Haji,” Leeroy said as he shortened his wife’s name. “Even though she’s a 15 year-old knight apprentice, she’s still a Drakien, so she stands a better chance against those things than we do,” he forced out. It really hurt Leeroy to admit that he was totally helpless as an Izaha. Because of that very handicap in strength, he couldn’t help the young knight-in-training in her battle.

Hajime looked down at Henry and sighed. She knew that her husband was right, and she couldn’t argue against his valid point. “Sometimes, I really hate being an Izaha,” she admitted as guilt started to plague her.

“Me too,” Leeroy whispered as he looked down at his feet. “I have a gun, but what good would that do against those things?” he asked himself. Leeroy clenched his fists and let out a grunt of frustration. “One way or another I will have to protect my wife and daughter if things somehow go south, but how?” he thought as he glanced at his 7 year-old daughter, Amara.       The little girl wore a white sundress, which was comprised of lavender flower designs along with a matching lavender ribbon that was bow tied around her tiny waist. Amara matched her dress with a pair of white strapped sandals, which included another lavender flowered design on each of them. She finished off her attire with two identical lavender star barrettes which held her black pigtails in place. Her magenta eyes were identical to her mother’s eyes and lit up as an excited smile displayed on her pretty, light brown skinned face.

“Daddy, Izzo’s Chi clones are here. We’re going to be alright,” she sung.

Leeroy and Hajime looked forward and spotted two purple humanoid Chi clones that each housed an identical silhouette of Izzo’s body. Leeroy quickly rushed to his daughter’s side and looked at the clones with a smile on his face. “I see that Roumaya’s Finest was in the  neighborhood. About got damn time someone decided to show up,” he chuckled with relief.

“You swore,” Amara warned her father. She then gave him a look of disappointment.

“Sorry, baby girl,” Leeroy apologized as he covered his mouth.

“It’s okay this time, but don’t do it again,” Amara chastised as she pointed sternly at her father.

Leeroy smiled at his daughter. “Okay, baby girl. I won’t make that mistake again,” he promised.

“I’ll hold you to that,” she said with a wink. One of Izzo’s clones stood in place and turned to face the entrance. It was making sure that no enemy could get through and blindside the group. The other replica stood in front of the father-daughter pair. It looked at them through its glowing purple eyes. Without warning, the entire family felt a familiar sensation flowing within their bodies. The inner feeling was warm, yet soothing and made their minds at ease. Suddenly, Izzo’s voice began to telepathically resonate within the family’s minds.

“I came as fast as I could. Are all of you alright?” he asked.

“You have to tell us how you make these mouthless, see-through Chi thingies talk within our minds when you have the time,” Amara said in her head.                                                     Izzo clone shook its head as it let out a light chuckle. “I see that you’re livelier than ever at least, and I’ll tell and show you the next time I see you guys in the village,” he said.

“Yay!” Amara cheered with a raised fist along with a bright smile.                                                  Leeroy shook his head from side-to-side at the fact that his daughter’s cheerful persona didn’t disappear even in the wake of a dire situation. “We are fine. My land dragon is going to be okay. She just has minor scrapes and cuts, but Sir Henry got hurt really bad. I don’t think he’s going to make it,” he informed the duplicate. The merchant then looked at the fallen knight with saddened eyes.                                                                                                                                             Amara looked at Henry. Her happy demeanor turned to a worried one. The clone of Izzo walked forward between the pair. “I’m going to save him. I hate that I didn’t bring any healing berries with me because this Art will probably hurt the poor guy even more,” he explained.   Leeroy turned around and looked at the clone. “What are you going to do?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.                                                                                                                                   “I’m going to forcibly close his wound,” Izzo answered bluntly.

Leeroy looked at his friend with a look of puzzlement, and then it hit him as he flinched.

“Ouch. Hey, Amara. Come to Daddy. You can’t see this,” he said as he gestured to his daughter. The little girl rushed in front of her father and buried her face into his stomach. Leeroy’s 6 foot tall frame shielded his daughter’s 4-foot-7, petite body.                          

“Is Mister Hume going to be okay?” Amara asked as she wrapped her tiny arms around her father’s waist.

“I hope so,” Leeroy replied. He then put his hand on the upper back of his daughter.

The clone kneeled beside Hajime and Henry. The saddened maiden glanced at the replica with a tearstained face. “Don’t worry, Haji. I will take care of everything,” Izzo assured her.

Hajime nodded her head. “Thank-you for coming for us. Please, tell me that Rei is alright,” she expressed as she choked back a sob. The distressed woman called the knight apprentice by her nickname. She looked at the clone waiting for the worst as more tears streamed down her cheeks.

            “Me and my stude—err, my colleague, came across the young, green haired knight apprentice, and we managed to aid her. We’re cleaning up those leftover wolves as we speak, so we will head in your direction in person soon,” Izzo said as he spared Reisia from the embarrassment of her current paralyzed state.

            Hajime wiped her eyes and smiled weakly. “I’m glad,” she said. The clone nodded at her and gestured its hand. Izzo’s duplicate instructed the beautiful mother to remove the rag from Henry’s stomach. She did as she was told and removed the cloth from the knight’s abdomen. This caused blood to gush out from the four deep stab wounds. It appeared that he was stabbed by four long nails. They looked as if they belonged to a giant wolf’s claw.

            “I can’t believe that they were able to do something like this to Sir Henry. Who or what did this to him?” Izzo asked.

            “There was this guy in a black assassin’s coat and a black half face mask. He also wore glasses. He had brown skin and dark green eyes. He’s the one who summoned those things,” Hajime explained.

            “Okay. Tell me more when the cops get here,” Izzo said as he placed his hand on the injured knight’s wound.

            “Okay,” Hajime said. She removed her bloodstained brown gloves from her hands and dropped them to the ground before she looked away from Izzo and Henry. “Please, save him,” she told him softly.

“I will. Chi Bending Art: Cellular Reconstruction,” Izzo said. All of a sudden, there was a flash of light. The light swiftly transformed into a white stream of Chi that dug into the cellular mechanisms of the knight’s skin, nerves, and muscles. It then connected directly to Henry’s Chi Stream. The warrior’s body began to jerk back and forth as he yelled in agonizing pain even in his comatose state. Hajime covered her ears and closed her eyes, and her family followed her example. Amara’s worried whimpers were drowned out by Henry’s cries, which echoed throughout the cave. Izzo’s energy started to manipulate the injured knight’s Chi Source. This phenomenon sped up Henry’s natural regenerative process, which forced shut and healed his wounds. Henry finally stopped screaming. His breathing was now steady as his big belly slowly went up and down.

“All done. You guys can look now,” Izzo announced.                                                            Hajime looked at Izzo with an amazed expression while Leeroy nodded his head in approval. “I wouldn’t expect anything less from our Izzo,” he praised with a proud smile.

            Amara looked at Izzo with a weak smile. “Thank goodness,” she said with a breath of relief.

            “Will Sir Henry be alright now?” Hajime asked.

            “He will be okay for now, but he will still need to be taken to the hospital to make sure that everything is alright. He did lose a lot of blood, so he’ll need a lot of rest. The cops are on their way now. We are about to finish off these wolves. Then, we’ll head to this cave. My clones will protect you guys while I’m absent. They will cast a protective barrier around the entire cave, so no one will be able to harm you guys while I’m away,” Izzo informed them.

            “Alright. Thanks,” The family said in unison.

            “Don’t mention it,” Izzo replied.

            “Be safe,” Hajime said as she briefly put her hand on the replica’s shoulder.

            “I will,” Izzo promised. The clone put its fists together. It ended its telepathic connection with Izzo and the Masri family. The double then stood up and walked towards the exit of the cave. It stood there on guard and made sure that no hostiles could come in from that direction. The clone and the second replica, who still stood at the cave entrance, quickly held out their hands simultaneously. Suddenly, Chi shot out the palms of their hands and cloaked the ceiling, the ground, and both exits of the cave. This sealed the Masri family and the unconscious knight safely within the cave. The duplicates then lowered their arms and cautiously looked out each of their respective cave entrances.

            “Wow! Izzo is truly amazing,” Amara said with star struck eyes.

            “Yeah, that kid is something else,” Leeroy agreed with a single nod.

            “You think Rei is going to be alright, Daddy?” Amara asked worriedly as she looked up at her father.

            “Of course. Izanami is there with her now, and he’s one of the most skilled Fangs in Sol. He’s got this, so Reisia will be just fine in Izzo’s capable hands,” Leeroy assured his daughter.

            The little girl smiled sweetly at her dad. “Alright. I guess the only thing we can do now is wait for them to come back here. I will go over there and check on Caries,” she said as she skipped over to the land dragon. Hajime smiled at her passing daughter and shifted her 5-foot-7 curvy frame. She then stood up and made her way over to her husband. “The only thing we can do now is wait and believe in Izzo, Rei, and even Ashina because I know she is with Izzo right now causing trouble as usual. I saw right through Izzo’s sad cleanup attempt when he blurted out that his student was with him. I swear that Ash needs to change her ways if she wants to have a realistic shot at marrying the handsome prince, Shawn Mizuki. Well, when they’re both old enough for marriage and a lot more mature, that is. Hmm…Maybe, one day in the distant future me and my family will be attending their wedding,” she thought with a sly smile. The busty wife then stood in front of her husband and hugged him.

“I’m so glad that we’re going to be okay and that Rei and Sir Henry will be alright,” she said softly.

            “Me too,” Leeroy whispered as he hugged his wife back while they waited for their friends to come to them.                               

                                               

 

Izzo opened his eyes to see Ashina standing in the same spot that she stood in when her brother’s consciousness first traveled away to aid the Masri family, Caries, and Sir Henry. The teen had her arms folded as she impatiently tapped a foot on the ground. She glared at the unresponsive wolves with a look of annoyance.

Izzo smiled and let out a breath of relief. He was happy that his sister listened to him for once and avoided resorting to her normal reckless shenanigans. The young teacher then put his hands together and ended his Chi barrier technique. The barrier swiftly vanished without a trace. He lowered his arms and spoke to his sister. “Sorry to keep you waiting, Ash. The job is done,” Izzo announced and instantly got Ashina’s attention.

“About damn time. I was beginning to get bored waiting here. I got so uninterested to the point that I actually turned off my Rakaijo technique. Oh and I put out the carriage fire as well. The wolves literally just stood there and watched me do it,” she explained and pointed at the now charred, dirt covered carriage. The vehicle was covered all the way up to the four holes where the windows use to be by a large pile of dirt.                                                                                     Ashina then looked back at the stationary wolves. “And, I don’t know what is going on with these robo-mutts. They are just standing here. They haven’t moved since you were gone. Maybe, my greatness actually scared them to the point that their circuits completely burned out, and now they don’t work anymore,” she boasted with a smug smirk. “But to be honest, I totally lost count of how long I’ve been standing here. I think that they were fortunate enough to actually outlast my five minute countdown warning to their destruction due to my boredom, the lucky pieces of junk,” she groused and folded her arms.

Izzo shook his head at his student’s arrogance. “Man, Ashina is so egotistical it’s getting to the point that its almost cartoonish. Well, at least she stayed put and out of trouble when I was away. She even extinguished the carriage flames as well. I guess I’ll give her extra credit for those two helpful tasks, but that doesn’t change the fact that this girl is still a got damned handful. Nevertheless, I think that it’s okay now to tell Ashina that the Masri family and Caries were the victims of this attack. Since everyone is alright after the assault, I think it’s safe to assume that Ash won’t go berserk now and blow up the entire forest. But just to be one hundred percent certain that Ash will maintain a level head, I will keep Sir Henry’s identity a secret until this situation is over,” he thought.                                                                                                      The young teacher then also focused his attention on the wolves. His eyes darted back and forth as he observed the area. “They must be waiting for the giant wolf that I sensed earlier,” he assumed as he put his hands together. Izzo next looked in the direction where he first detected the alpha wolf and closed his eyes.

The young teacher’s Chi Sense Sonar Waves flowed from his body and detected all of the surrounding wolves’ Chi Signatures as well as his sister’s. Ashina’s physique emitted a tremendous amount of blue Chi, which slowly oozed out of her body while the surrounding wolves’ exoskeletons each housed a respectable amount of beige colored Chi flowing within them. Izzo’s waves quickly detected the bigger wolf’s energy. The beast released a massive amount of the same colored Chi as the other wolves. The skilled Fang opened his eyes, lowered his arms to either side of himself, and frowned. “Yup. I called it. Here it comes, and, man, it’s on the move at a leisurely pace. I can sense its energy coming closer and closer towards our position, and, wow, it has a decent amount of Chi flowing within its exoskeleton as well. Its energy is almost mind boggling. The person who summoned this thing (and the rest of the wolves for that matter) must be very formidable. I will handle the giant wolf personally as soon as it gets here, and I guess I’ll keep this secret from Ashina for the time being. I’ll allow her to annihilate the smaller wolves by herself really quick, and then I’ll take out the bigger wolf. Ash would literally get reckless if she figured out that the infamous boss wolf is on its way, but, then again, my sister should had already sensed it by now. I guess she is being too cocky and too relaxed as usual. However, she should have remained on guard despite all of the advantages that she has in this battle like how I trained her to do. I swear that I will mark her down for being careless, but I will keep that flaw to myself for the time being as well,” Izzo ended his mental monologue and glanced at Ashina with a look of disappointment.

The young instructor then let out a weak breath as he finally spoke out loud. “Good job on extinguishing the burning carriage flames. It is odd that they’ve been immobile, but we don’t have any more time to wait for them to make their move. Let’s hurry up and end this. Then, we can get back to Leeroy and his family,” he announced.

Ashina unfolded her arms and looked at her teacher with a confused expression. “Wait. These things attacked the Masris and their land dragon? Are they alright?” she asked with concern in her voice.

“They’re unharmed. The knight that was protecting them was the only one who took damage. I healed him though, and he will survive his deadly encounter. No one was lost in this assault, which is a good thing,” he explained.

Ashina let out a breath of relief. “That’s good to hear,” she muttered as she closed her eyes briefly. “But why did they attack the Masris’ carriage?” she asked.

“I don’t know yet, but it will be clear after we finish off these pups. Let’s make haste, so we can get the entire backstory of this incident from the Masri family,” he explained. 

Ashina turned and looked at the wolves. “Now, you’re speaking my language. Okay, you mangy mutts. Let’s dance again. Ahhhhh!” she yelled. A torrent of Chi rapidly shot out of her body. The energy cloaked her physique and stretched a few inches above the top of her head. She then slightly raised her hands and arms on either side of her body.  Immediately, Ashina’s palms began to emit sparkling surges of built up Chi, which started to glow and form into miniature orbiting balls of energy.

“It’s time to reduce all of you into scrap metal,” she threatened with a crazed smile.

Unexpectedly, the ground started to shake, which caused the trees to move slightly. Izzo narrowed his eyes as his face brandished a serious expression. “So, it sped up its pace. I actually thought that I would have more time to prepare for that thing’s arrival, I guess—” Izzo was cut off by the loud laughter of his sister. He then glanced down at Ashina with a look of puzzlement. The brunette quickly spun around to face the direction where the giant wolf was charging in from. The teen’s hands and body were in the same stance as earlier, and her sociopathic smile was still on full display.

“It’s about got damned time. I was wondering when you would finally move your ass and show up on the battlefield, you oversized, slow walking piece of junk!” Ashina shouted.

Izzo’s eyes now shone widely, and his mouth was agape. “Wait. She knew the boss wolf was coming the entire time? I guess that she powered up only as a critical warning to lure it here faster to help its minions before they got blown to smithereens. Wow. I guess I had misjudged her. She’s not a cocky idiot after all. Attagirl! In spite of everything that I have seen thus far, it appears that I don’t have to intervene in this fight. I guess my little sister has everything under control,” he thought with a proud smile.                                                                                   Abruptly, a giant mechanical wolf emerged from the woods. Its massive claws cracked open the ground as it released a commanding, robotic howl. This wail grabbed the attention of the surrounding wolves and caused the beasts to grow more feral as they proceeded to scrape their claws against the dirt.

“Thanks for exposing yourself. My energy lured you out just as I planned. I swear this is just like a video game. Finally, the freaking boss wolf has appeared,” Ashina sneered as she tried to hold back her excitement. “I guess it is time for me to blow your oversized robotic ass into oblivion,” she spat with a smug smirk. The teen locked her eyes on the giant wolf as she finally took in its appearance. The mechanical beast appeared to be over 17 feet tall. It had almost the same characteristics as the smaller wolves. The only difference was that this giant canine was completely made out of pure steel. 

“She’s taking way too long to finish them off, and that incessant smack talking is unnecessary. They’re merely robotic summonings. It’s not like they can respond to the nonsense Ashina is spewing out of her mouth. Hell, they can’t even get mad at her disrespectful remarks or even react to her meaningless threats,” Izzo thought as he facepalmed himself.

“Welp. Just like that, there goes her praises from me. They went right out of the window. I take back my mental compliments mostly because of Ash’s display of arrogance, childishness, and inexperience. I just know that I will have to intervene in this so-called final showdown and shut this whole thing down before Ash gets her cocky, annoying self hurt,” he muttered with frustration in his tone.

“This is going to be hella fun. Let’s do this, Ahhhhhh!” Ashina roared and stretched her arms outward. The aura that still flowed around the explosive teen’s body suddenly intensified. Meanwhile, the small Chi balls that orbited in front of the brunette’s extended palms quickly morphed into two massive balls of energy. These destructive globes, combined with Ashina’s extraordinary Chi output, unleashed a powerful merged air pressure current that blew around the area. Its sheer might cracked open and shook the surrounding ground where the teen stood.

“Welcome to the badass Madarame’s Giant Rakai—” She was cut off by ten wolves that quickly swarmed the area. The beasts hurriedly surrounded the brunette. She immediately took notice of this. She glared and scoffed at the robots.

“Get out of my way, you annoying pests. I’ll destroy all of you later!” Ashina fumed.

The wolves instantly snarled at her and commenced to let out simultaneous, deafening howls. These frequencies unleashed powerful sound waves that smacked against Ashina’s body from every direction. This surprise combination attack caused the teen to immediately groan in pain. Suddenly, all of Ashina’s tremendous aura that flowed around her body swiftly vanished, and her two immense balls of Chi hastily faded away. They broke down into mere droplets of energy and disappeared as soon as they touched the ground. Rapidly, the teen covered her ears to block out the conjoined, obnoxious, high frequency wails of the wolves.    

“What is this? Ah…I can’t move my body. Ow! My head feels like it’s being ripped apart,” she complained. The brunette’s head felt as if it was being drilled into by a jackhammer. It got to the point that it was too much for Ashina to bear. “Dammit! I can’t take it anymore,” she grunted in agony. She closed her eyes immediately. As the robotic canine’s wails became even more vicious, the ground started to shake and crack open a tad bit. Quickly, ten different tiny spots of the surface slightly broke apart. The miniature land holes shifted and molded into ten deadly rock spikes, which arose a few feet in front of each wolf. The barrage of deadly earth spikes then commenced to destroy the ground as they journeyed hastily toward the teen in every direction destined to brutally impale her body.

Ashina opened an eye. It was as if time slowed down. She watched helplessly as the deadly spikes carved multiple paths towards her direction. “Dammit, I can’t move. What did those things do to my body? It feels like I’m literally paralyzed because of those irritating ass howls. I can’t concentrate long enough to even put up my Chi Defenses,” she thought with a frustrated expression. “No, I won’t let these cheap pieces of junk beat me. I won’t let them. I’m a badass Madarame. I can’t lose. It’s impossible for me to lose to these weak robotic mutts!” she said to herself with a determined look in her eye. Ashina slowly moved her hands from her ears with sheer will power. She then curled up her arms in front of her and balled her hands up into fists.                                                                                                                                                             The teen let out weak grunts as she tried desperately to focus and build up her Chi.

“Come on. Come on. Dammit. Just work!” she struggled to say. Ashina’s unfocused Chi flickered on and off. Her aura continually failed to outline her body. “Got dammit. I said work!” she yelled with pure frustration.

“I’ve seen enough,” Izzo said disappointedly and rapidly vanished from the tree trunk.

“Uh! Why won’t my Chi work?!” Ashina shouted. The brunette stopped powering up and looked at the spikes. The deadly rocks were literally three feet away from fatally impaling her body. “Oh sh—” She paused. Surprisingly, her brother appeared in front of her. Ashina looked stunned as Izzo hurriedly put his hands together.

“Chi Barrier!” he shouted. The young teacher swiftly protected himself and his student from getting impaled. The multiple earth spikes broke into numerous rock pieces as soon as they crashed into Izzo’s 10 foot tall, 10 foot wide, circular barrier.

 “Now, since you mechanical abominations are itching for an impalement, try this on for size. Chi Bending Art: Chi Bayoneting!” he yelled. With one fierce battle cry, Izzo stomped the ground and unleashed ten Chi shaped spears that burst out of the surface. The devastating attack pierced through all ten wolves and caused them to explode instantaneously.

“Thirty-one,” he said with a serious expression. The effects of the Chi blocking, paralyzing howls from the destroyed robotic wolves finally were lifted from Ashina’s body. The teen looked down and moved her arms closer to her chest. She opened and closed her hands a few times before lowering her arms to either side of her. Ashina’s eyes then darted back and forth at each of the remaining distanced wolves.

“Man, that was too close for comfort. I almost got hit by a terrible fatality,” she thought. The teen exhaled a breath of relief. “But, since I can finally move my body again, I’m going to destroy the rest of these weak robo-mutts in an instant,” she finished her mental plotting. Ashina then looked forward at the back of her brother’s head with a look of aggravation.

“I didn’t need your help, Izzo,” she said stubbornly.

Izzo looked at the remaining nineteen metallic beasts. They shot more earth spikes towards the duo’s position, which were all blocked by the young teacher’s Art. The giant wolf however just stood in place and patiently watched its minions struggle to put a dent into Izzo’s barrier.

The young teacher parted his lips to speak. “A king does not win because of his powerful army, and a soldier does not triumph because of his own strength. What does that philosophy mean, Ash?” he asked. He turned and looked at his sister.

Ashina scoffed at Izzo. “I don’t know, and I don’t care,” she dismissed and folded her arms. The brunette glanced up at the airborne young knight who was still frozen in place and then back down at her teacher. “I don’t have time for this scriptural, ideological monologuing and this philosophical mumbo jumbo that you’re going on about,” she dismissed with a wave of a hand.

Izzo glared at his sister with bared teeth. He took a deep breath to calm himself down before he spoke. “Oh really? I guess that you don’t remember when you said that you would listen to everything that I had to say on this mission,” he reminded her. Ashina looked away from her teacher with a nervous expression mixed with the “Oh, crap” face as Izzo continued.

“But somehow you still blindly dived directly into this battle without my word, and then you played around and talked smack to the point that you almost got yourself killed.” he pointed out.

Ashina looked back at Izzo with a slightly opened mouth. She then discharged a heavy sigh before responding to her brother. “Well, the wolf that I was about to attack was wide open, so I took full advantage of the situation. In addition, I had all of the other wolves where I wanted them for the entire fight. I was just caught off guard by their annoying ass howls is all,” she argued.

Izzo’s annoyance immediately resurfaced after his sister’s unremorseful excuse, and because of those rude remarks he could no longer filter his words. “You were only caught off guard because you were being too pigheaded to finish these robots off when you had the chance. Ash, do you realize how serious this situation is? This isn’t a video game or a fairy tale. This is real life, you idiot! What if I didn’t make it over here in time to protect you, Ash? Let me answer that question for you. You would have died. I was literally scared to death because I thought I was about to lose you, and now you found out the hard way that the outcomes of your rash, stupid decisions in a real life battle can affect the people that care about you!” he shouted.

Ashina finally looked down with remorse. The mechanical beasts continually tried desperately to break through the barrier. Izzo shook his head at the cocky fool who stood before him. He shifted his gaze and focused his attention to the colossal wolf boss. It stared back at the pair with careful eyes, and it lowered its head and snarled at them.

“I’m going to finish all of these things off by myself. I modified my barrier to deny you access to pass through its protective walls. You have to stay inside the barrier for your own safety, so be quiet while I properly handle business. As you are now, you’ll only get in my way. We’re going to have a long talk when we get back home, young lady. You best to believe it,” Izzo said sternly. In a flash, a destructive wave of energy engulfed the angry sensei’s right fist. He turned his back on his sister and punched at the ground.

“Chi Bending Art: Severe Chi Bayoneting,” he shouted and pierced the dirt road with his fist. This sent ripples of Chi Waves underneath the surface. The energy traveled throughout the area. The giant wolf looked around and witnessed all nineteen of its remaining underlings get violently impaled within a moment by Izzo’s Art. The bayonetted predators all let out weak, robotic whines before they all exploded simultaneously. “Fifty,” Izzo muttered.                                              Ashina looked around the area with amazed yet envious eyes. Izzo stood up and turned around to face his sister and the giant wolf. The teen adverted eye contact with her brother and looked down at her boots. “He took them out with no effort at all, and it was all because of that stupid Chi Bending. Izzo stated that as I am now I would only get in his way. As I am now…how do he expect me to take that statement? In so many words, he basically said to my face that even with all my training I’m still nowhere near to his or even Ashira’s level, and I’m too weak to fight beside him,” she thought as she clenched her fists. Momentarily, Ashina almost lost her balance because of the unexpected tremors created from the powerful howling of the oversized wolf.        Ashina grunted as she regained her composure. The teen quickly turned towards the angry giant. The wolf’s steel body was now engulfed by an electrical barrier, which produced bolts of electricity that struck the ground and destroyed the neighboring area. The wolf began to howl louder and more viciously. Its electric aura intensified and spread out further from its body. 

“I guess the summoner ordered this thing to attack only when all 50 of its minions had been defeated in battle. If that is the case, that means that this boss wolf might become a bit troublesome if I let it live any longer. It would be wise to end this in one blow,” Izzo thought. The young teacher expertly unleashed a torrent of energy that surrounded his body and stretched upwards to the top of his Chi barrier. The aura then broke apart and converted into chunks of energy that resembled massive drops of water which flowed up and around Izzo’s body. Unexpectedly, the angry teacher’s arms, legs, and torso muscles got buffer and more refined. His intent to kill was evident on his face.                                                                                                 Izzo’s eyes were focused on the giant wolf. He walked past his sister like she wasn’t even there. Ashina’s gaze followed Izzo, and for a few seconds she saw a hallucination of a little girl walking beside her brother. The lass’ hair was styled in two neat, black, mid-length pigtails, and she wore a white and blue stylish kimono. The kimono was held together by a blue bow slash. Her attire was completed by a pair of white and blue opened toe sandals. It was as if the duo were getting farther and farther away from Ashina as they sauntered in what appeared to be a white void.

“Why does it always end up like this? No matter what I do and no matter how hard I train it always ends up like this. Ugh, that stupid Chi Bending. That stupid Chi Bending,” she repeated in her mind over and over again. Ashina then angrily glared down at the ground and held the side of her head with both of her hands. The loathing of her clan’s Lineage trait and the frustrations of her own failures and shortcomings became overwhelming. They became so unbearable to the point that multiple, painful, verbal memories started to resurface within her mind, and she heard numerous children’s voices echoing in her cranium.

“How can the elder’s younger great-granddaughter Chi Bend so well, and his older great-granddaughter can’t do it at all? How pathetic! You should be ashamed of yourself, Ashina.”

“Get out of here, Ashina. You’re an abomination. You ruin everything that you touch. This is why your father is always gone on Fang’s missions. Even the great Atreus himself is too ashamed to be near his useless failure of a daughter.”

“I don’t see why Izanami even wastes his time training an untalented, motherless barbarian such as yourself. Eventually, he will turn his back on you just as your entire family did before him.”

“This is why that worthless Reject, Prince Shawn, treats you like you’re his pet. It’s quite pitiful how you always follow him around like a mere lost puppy. It is as if you’re his second shadow. Have you no shame? I swear that you’re a repugnant, hopeless simpleton and ultimately the Reject will turn his back on you as well.”

“Ah, you crazy, discourteous, repugnant barbarian, get away from me! You and that criminal, the Graves boy, should both be locked away, and the authorities should throw away the key.”

            “Sir Allen get that atrocious disgrace out of my sight this instance.”

“This cur attacked a member of the prestigious Ibuki family. Lock her away in the dungeon until her neglectful father comes to reclaim her.”

 “You’re certainly Atreus’ offspring. You’re always in trouble just like how he used to be when he was your age. Like father like daughter, huh kid?”

“I can’t believe that accursed false queen got that ruffian out of the dungeon. This is far from over, Shadow. Mark my words, you inferior miscreant. Someday, I will have my revenge!”

“You’re weak.”

“You’re a failure.”

“You’re going to lose everyone and everything that you care about someday because of all of your shortcomings.”

“You’re worthless.”

“You won’t ever be as talented as Ashira.”                                                                            “Aargh. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. I’m not weak, I’m not useless! I can fight beside Izzo and Ashira. Even without Chi Bending, I will become the strongest Madarame that ever lived. I will not allow you guys to stand in my way even if I have to defeat every last one of you because I’m a badass Madarame. I won’t lose to you bastards. I won’t lose to anyone. I will surpass Ashira. I will surpass you all!” Ashina heard the voice of her five year younger self reverberating in her mind.

Those words from her miniature self made the teen let go of her head, and she swiftly broke out of her psychological trauma. Ashina aguishly stared forward to see Izzo standing outside of his barrier and holding up his fist. The giant aimed its snout towards Izzo, and electrical energy began to focus and charge in its mouth.

 “That’s right. I’m not weak. I can fight beside you, Izzo, and I will surpass Ashira right here and now. I’ll show you, Izanami. I’ll show you what a badass Madarame can do!” Ashina said to herself. The teen balled up her fist, curled up her arms, and began to focus her Chi. 

 Meanwhile, Izzo raised his left palm, and a small destructive ball of energy formed and hovered above it. “I won’t give it the chance to fire that focused electro attack,” Izzo thought while he glared at the wolf. The hostile expression remained on the angry Fang’s face as his body began to levitate a few inches above the ground.  “Now, begone! Giant—” Izzo was cut off by the yelling of Ashina. He felt his sister’s Chi Signature skyrocketing. Izzo paused his attack.

“What is this hard-headed, stubborn girl trying to do now?” he asked himself with a look of aggravation. The surrounding area suddenly began to shake, and the ground behind the young teacher started to crack. Ashina yelled and unleashed a tremendous amount of Chi from her body. The tenacious teen’s Chi flowed in a spiral around Izzo’s barrier. The barrier rippled and shook about as Ashina emitted even more power. Izzo let out a heavy sigh. He knew what his sister was trying to do without even looking at her.

“Ashina, would you cut it out already? You’re making things worse for yourself. You’re just wasting your time and energy. You can’t break through my barrier,” Izzo stated firmly.

“Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. I will never give up. Ahhhhhh!” Ashina shouted. The barrier began to slowly crack, and Izzo sensed it.

“No way. Is she actually muscling through my barrier with just her Chi pressure alone?” he asked himself with a stunned expression.

“You think you can push me to the side like I don’t matter. You actually think you can turn your back on me. You think that I would let you get away with calling me, ‘Weak,’ and ‘A useless fighter,’ because I can’t Chi Bend like the rest of our stupid clan members? Hell no!   Who the hell do you think I am? I won’t stand for any more of your disrespect. This boss wolf is going down by me and by me alone. I will break through your puny barrier, and I will shatter through all my limitations. Ahhhhhh!” Ashina shouted.                                                                     The enraged teen’s power caused the ground to shake viciously, and Izzo’s Chi barrier began to rapidly crack all over. Nearby trees began to collapse after being uprooted. Shockwaves could be felt throughout the surrounding area. Pulsations of light began to shower that entire section of the forest. Ashina’s overwhelming energy slowly but surely started to ooze out from all of the miniature cracks in the barrier.

“What is she talking about?” Izzo asked himself with a confused look on his face. Before the young teacher could question his sister about her strange words, his eyes widened when he sensed the giant wolf’s Chi Signature skyrocketing as well. Izzo looked forward at the steel beast as it fired a compressed beam of electric energy at the siblings. The air pressure from the massive beam of electricity shook the area like a miniature earthquake, felled even more of the neighboring trees, and ripped apart the surrounding ground into a number of large, jagged shards of earth. 

            “Dammit! Because of all that commotion that Ashina was making, I completely forgot about the boss wolf,” he thought. Izzo’s liquid-like aura and destructive ball of energy quickly vanished without a trace as his muscles shrunk back to their normal sizes. He hurriedly descended from the air. He then kneeled down and put his hands on the ground. “Brace yourself, Ashina!” he yelled. 

All the while, Ashina’s energy finally broke through Izzo’s barrier and caused it to shatter like glass. The teen looked at the dispersing barrier with an excited smile. Her grin soon faded away when she spotted the beam of electric energy shooting towards her and her brother’s direction.

            “Oh, Fu—” Ashina started. The teen was cut off by an enormous explosion.

 

Leave a Reply