Micael Chapter 6

By Glarryg

Micael shoved Esmeralda behind one of the statues, among a pile of large, empty crates, and ordered her sharply not to move. He then ran to the other side of the room, searching for a place to hide himself. In his haste, he dropped the letter, and before it could drift to the floor something flew through the air at him, planting in the statue just in front of his face.

He stopped in his tracks, knowing that it was too late to hide. The object was a small piece of metal sharpened into a four-pronged throwing weapon. As soon as the ring of the impact wore off, the room fell completely silent. The parchment settled on the floor calmly; Micael did not move.

A leisurely series of footfalls spoke from the back hall. The male Jumi glared from the corner of his eye and watched the figure walk sultrily into the chamber. She wore a small green dress with a high neckline, tall boots, and thick gloves, and her reddish hair was pulled back and braided, dressed up by a flower on each side of her head. A couple of pouches dangled from a thin belt around her waist. Despite the self-assured air of menace about her, she did not look any more imposing than anybody else, and was not much taller than Esmeralda. She walked halfway towards Micael and stopped, brandishing a spear nearly as tall as she was. She smiled at him, a face mixing pretension with genuine interest.

”Did you get my letter?” she grinned.

Micael relaxed somewhat. “You. Are you the one who’s after Diana?”

”I was on my way through the city and was looking for Jumi,” she answered nonchalantly as she paced around the room a little, “I didn’t think there were any in the city, or the area.” Cocking her head, she peered at Micael’s core, then perked up in mock surprise. “Oh, I see; you’re a Jumi!”

Glowering, the male Jumi turned himself to the stranger. “Stop trying to be cute; who are you and what do you want?”

”Such a dull core,” she mused, taking the spear in both hands and aiming its off-white, spiraling head at Micael. “If you want, we can remove it and help you find a new one.”

”You can’t replace a Jumi core,” he rebuked, ignoring her observation and crossing his arms in preparation to seize his weapons.

”We’ll never know if we don’t try,” she replied huskily. Crouching slightly, she charged Micael. He reflexively drew both of his swords as he dodged to the right. She feinted just as she passed him, hopping back towards him and sweeping the blunt end of the spear at his feet. Micael tripped backwards, barely containing his balance as he parried an overhead swing aimed for his face. The woman dodged back and lunged at him again, and he trapped her weapon between his pair of swords.

”Traveling alone, are we?” she said, pushing her spear at him, trying to break his hold.

”Yeah,” Micael lied, forcing himself not to look back to where Esmeralda was hiding, not far behind the two of them. “You never told me your name,” he reminded.

”Sandra,” she gritted, “Not that you’ll have much chance to use it.”

With a straining grin, Micael threw all of his weight towards her, pushing the spear off to his left and pitching his shoulder at her chest. Winded, she slipped on the marble floor and fell onto her back. Micael circled around to his right, away from his companion’s hiding place. He pointed a sword at his opponent. “Well, Sandra, you’re going to have to try better than that if you want my core.”

”Not a problem,” she replied, throwing her legs up, pushing against the floor, and flipping backwards onto her feet. She picked her spear off of the floor and swung it wildly by the very end at Micael. The male Jumi leapt back clumsily, losing his balance in the process. The impact with the floor winded him.

Sandra stood over Micael and aimed her spearhead at his core. “I’d never have expected this much trouble from a Clod, really,” she remarked. He rolled to the right, gasping for air as he shrugged her words off. Scrambling to his feet, he was barely ready to sidestep her next charge, took an elbow to the collarbone as she ran into him, and crumbled to the floor again.

Still wheezing, he pulled himself to his feet as quickly as he could, crossing his swords in front of his face as he stumbled away from Sandra. He blinked hard to summon his focus, and saw that she was standing in place, wielding her spear at her side calmly.

”You probably shouldn’t be worrying about my effort,” she teased. “You’re really not much of a Knight, are you? Wandering alone and playing with swords out here.”

”You’re still not cute,” he spat, rushing her. She brandished her weapon, and swung it diagonally upwards from her left side. Micael caught the shaft on the upswing with his left-hand gauntlet, then swung his right sword backhandedly, digging the blade into the spear. Leaning and pulling his left arm back, he pushed the far end of the spear up, twisting it out of Sandra’s grasp. As he did so, he dropped his left-hand sword and fired a punch into her stomach. She staggered backwards as her weapon clattered against the floor, and fell to her hands and knees.

While she struggled to catch her breath, Micael circled her and looked her over. There was no reason why she should be attacking him; he had done nothing to her, and in fact did not know who she was. But, looking at the way her hair was pulled back and her relatively small frame, he noticed an odd feeling that he had met this woman before. He could feel his heart pounding savagely in his chest. “Why are you after me?” he demanded, barely keeping from yelling at her.

She glared at him, then smiled widely. “You could say I’m starting a collection of sorts. I’ll admit you’re giving me a pretty dull start, but it’s good to have a variety. You’ll offset the good-looking gems.”

A horrified knot furrowed his brow, and the Jumi thought of Esmeralda, still hiding among the pile of discarded crates on the edge of the room. Micael stalked up to Sandra, seized the braided hair behind her head, and drew his remaining sword up to her neck. “Killing Jumi, are you? Maybe you should rethink that. Do you want all this to end here, right now?” he hissed in her face. “Do you?!” She glared up at him, saying nothing. “Not much to say now, do--” He was cut off as Sandra grabbed him by the ankle and pushed his right foot out from under him. She then jumped to her feet and ran over to where her spear had rolled, while Micael flailed at his dropped sword and tried to stand up on the polished floor at the same time.

”You’re getting to be an annoyance, Jumi; I’m tempted to say your lifeless core isn’t worth my time,” Sandra declared. “Is that enough dialog for you?”

The two circled the room for a while, sizing each other up. Micael leered at his enemy, pondering various forms of his technique and choosing the best way to disarm his adversary. Aiming his left hand directly in line with his face, he noticed the bat-like engraving on the blade of his weapon. There was some way to call that creature’s powers-- he had just done it a few minutes ago with the door-- and Micael rethought his strategy.

Sandra ran at him again, leaping off of the couch in the middle of the room and drawing her spear to her side. Micael ran at her and ducked the horizontal attack, diving underneath her as she jumped into one of the statues. He spun around and drew both swords in front of himself, desperately trying to remember how he had activated that magic before. His concentration was broken as Sandra wheeled around and sliced at him again. Micael ducked and rolled forward, tackling her legs and tossing her over his back. Springing to his feet, he spun around again and drew his weapons once more, trying to envision that creature or anything that might help him focus an attack.

Sandra somersaulted away from Micael and turned back towards him, raising her spear and spinning it over her head. Drawing it back, she aimed and threw it straight at him. While Micael dodged to the left, she charged again, leaping into the air, flipping once, and extending her heel, aiming it for his head. Micael easily dodged the attack, but was unprepared for such a quick recovery on Sandra’s part; as soon as she landed, she threw a roundhouse kick backwards and into his ribcage. Micael feinted with the blow and turned at her just in time to catch the heel of her palm in his face.

He staggered, dropping his right-hand blade and trying to fight the vertigo; he could hear laughing. “Well, they say that the journey is better than the destination; your core might be worthless, but at least you’re giving me a good show,” she taunted. Once Micael focused his eyes again, he saw that Sandra had already retrieved her weapon, and was poised for another attack. Stealing a look behind his opponent, he saw that Esmeralda’s hiding spot was just a few paces behind Sandra. He placed his remaining sword in front of himself, like a barrier, and his only thought was that letting her win would put Esmeralda in danger.

She ran, but everything around him seemed to slow down once the sword in his hand began to tremble. He had felt the quivering before, and knew what it meant. Still a little dizzy, he lurched forward and swung the sword diagonally in front of him, knowing that Sandra was not yet close enough to hit.

The entire room jarred as a wave of energy erupted from the blade of his sword. As black as the sword itself, the wave disrupted the air around it as it sped into Sandra’s path. She had no opportunity to react, and took the attack head-on, absorbing the whole of the energy. It cut across her right shoulder, punching her frame and throwing her to her back. Micael stumbled, catching himself before he fell, too. His arm stung and his bandaged wound throbbed as he watched in awe at the result of his attack.

Gritting the pain away, Sandra heaved a sigh and propped herself on one elbow, checking herself for injury. The cut across her shoulder was long but not very deep, and she picked her spear up and glowered at Micael.

He grinned back at her and let her stand. His other sword was behind her, and he decided that he would need it to finish the fight. Although the attack had worked, he did not hurt Sandra enough to incapacitate her. If one sword could work that well, both of them should be twice as effective.

”You’re pretty good for a low-class rock,” she sneered. Micael did not acknowledge her. “Pretty thick-skinned, too. Are you used to this?”

”It loses its effect after a while,” he admitted, keeping his face blank.

”Don’t worry, then; this won’t carry on much longer,” Sandra vowed. She drew her weapon horizontally in front of herself, and narrowed her eyes at Micael. He flipped his sword backwards in his hand and charged her, placing his right-hand gauntlet in front of his face.

She swung her spear upwards, and he sprung forward, catching the shaft with his thigh. At the same time, he pitched his sword forward, punching the handle straight into her wounded shoulder. Sandra buckled under the attack, rolling away from it, and Micael pushed past her. As she recovered, he limped up to his dropped sword and retrieved it. His thigh had been bruised by the spear, but he turned towards her with a grin, brandishing both weapons.

Sandra narrowed her eyes, taking the spear in her left hand. Micael crossed his arms in front of his face, concentrating on the swords. Sandra flexed her right shoulder and took the spear in both hands, pointing its twisted head at him. They were only a few paces away from each other, but the next exchange only involved one step one the part of each.

The woman swung her weapon over her head once more, but Micael did not catch it between his crossed arms. Rather, he sliced both swords outward and away from himself, cutting the shape of an “X” in the air. Two blades of energy threw forward, cutting through the air and the spear aimed at his head. Sandra buckled again under the assault, having no room to dodge, and was soon on her back. Everything in the room shook violently; the six statues trembled. The severed, spiraling head of the spear bounced and rolled into a corner of the room.

Micael found himself dizzy again, and blinked hard to get a look at his opponent while he fought to stay on his feet. Sandra threw her broken spear to the side as she stood, and glared right at the male Jumi while she drew her feet under herself. She lethargically pulled herself to her feet, and Micael saw it:

Her dress had been sliced below her neck, just as her shoulder had been earlier. The cut had extended barely below her collarbone, but the sight was unmistakable. Sitting in the middle of her chest, sparkling with a eerie green aura, was a perfectly cut jewel: a core. Micael stepped back and tensed his arms defensively, but they would not respond; they were still numb from his attack. He swallowed hard, nearly unable to breath, and stepped back.

”You... you’re a...”

She ignored him, raising her right hand in front of her face and fidgeting underneath her glove. “There had got to be an easier way to do this,” she remarked, hopping back and throwing a metal star straight at him.

The weapon glanced right off of his core. It felt as if a boulder had punched right into his torso. Micael staggered back, instantly hit with a mixture of vertigo, nausea, and blinding pain. He dropped to one knee, letting go of his weapons, and looked at his damaged core through the one eye he managed to keep open. Small pieces flaked off, and he watched the thin shards settle to the ground before he himself fell onto his face.

Sandra rolled him over, and he stared at her fiercely as he tried to breathe. She no longer looked angry, or even smug. Her face looked bored as she grasped him by the core.

”Nice job, dirt,” she congratulated frankly.

Pulling the core from his chest felt like it created an immense vacuum in the middle of his being. Micael convulsed slightly, seized by the crippling pain in his chest. The effort to breathe became all the harder. He could barely see her as Sandra placed his core into a small pouch at her side and turned away, swaggering out of the chamber and humming a tune to herself.

Micael tried to prop himself up by a shoulder, but he was too weak to do even that. He slumped back, letting his head bang against the marble floor. The only movement he could summon was a couple of barely-contained twitches in his legs. He blinked once slowly, and as soon as his eyes opened he saw Esmeralda kneeling over him.

”Micael,” she sobbed. “I... I...”

He drew his willpower and wheezed difficultly. “Run... she’ll be back...”

She picked up his head and cradled it in her lap. ”I can’t. Where will I go?”

”Find... the others...”

She bit her lip; her eyes twitched, and she looked just like she did the other day, pondering her lost sisters. Her eyes looked ready to cry, but no tears fell. They never would. “You saved my life,” she whispered. He smiled at her, his vision blurring further. She leaned towards him slowly, and said into his ear: “My Knight.” Then, as his eyes gave out, she kissed him. He could feel her lips pressed firmly on his, but there was no passion or insistence in them. What he felt was beyond either of them; it superceded any physical sensation. It was the most profound thing he had ever experienced, deeper than the pride of joining the Knighthood or the hope of seeing his comrades again. She was saying good-bye to him as much as she was releasing her feelings. It was something he knew he could only feel in this single moment, and something he could only feel with her.

Then he felt nothing.


Legend of Mana Fanfic