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Estella had cleared through multiple buildings already on her way to find her sisters. Despite her concern, Galowye had assured her that they would be just fine on their own, and she had to focus on saving the people on the campus first. These monsters were likely planning to cocoon everyone and carry them off to some undetermined location. She agreed with him that couldn’t be allowed to happen. So she focused on cleaning house instead, ripping and tearing through another campus building near the courtyard.

While having a rather impressive sword was quite helpful for destroying these unknown monsters imitating her peers and teachers, it turned out that Galowye also had other tricks ready to teach her - those papers were apparently instructional texts for the basics of magic. Honest-to-God magic, using runes as a simple but functional language used for shaping the energy known as ‘mana’ into spells. As well, not only did the texts provide that knowledge directly to her brain, they also provided a full set of runes she literally could store in her body, though she could only store five runes in her brain that she could actively use at any one time. There were also ‘modifier’ runes she could store in her limbs to enhance or change the effects of spells in multiple ways, but she completely lacked training and practice, so basic rune usage would have to suffice for the time being.

She decided upon just using a simple electrical projectile spell for now, figuring it would cause the least collateral damage, using the runes “Denki” and “Tao”, which were the runes for “electricity” and “missile”. Much to her amazement, she was literally firing bolts of electricity from her hands, frying the monsters that were struck.

Don’t overdo it, young lady. Mana will naturally regenerate over time as your body converts it from Aether, but your body’s mana storage is not limitless,” Galowye warned her via some kind of telepathic connection between them. “In addition, your mana use is currently rather inefficient due to your lack of training.”

Estella couldn’t really argue with the sword’s point, she could already feel the mana drain now that she was properly aware of it. It was a strange sensation, and difficult at best to describe, but it was like a part of herself that she always felt was there but couldn’t single it out until now.

Still, she couldn’t help but keep firing off bolts, it was just so much fun. “I feel like Zeus right now!”

Galowye snorted, “I saw Zeus in action during Ragnarok, don’t compare yourself to him, nor the likes of Thor. Their lightning made your magic look like mere sparks.”

She had so many questions about that one statement, but that could wait, she had a job to do. As well as her projectiles, she also had a spell for tracking the monsters and the cocoons - “tracking life”, or “Whaia” and “Vita”. She didn’t need specific runes for every aspect of casting a spell - her own thoughts on the exact form of a spell were processed through the runes for a specific result, and channelled out through her nervous system. This meant she could narrow down which specific form of life to track using her spell. Theoretically she could aim in any arbitrary direction without using her hand to aim, but that was much more challenging since her hand was the reference point for the directional vector. It seemed that magic was easy to learn at a fundamental level, but hard to master. Those texts gave her a proper starting point in terms of which runes did what, but she’d need further lessons and training.

After clearing out the building and making sure everyone in it was safe and unharmed, she closed her eyes and focused on the still-active tracking spell, forming a mental map of the campus using the rune combination ‘Tracking’ rune in tandem with ‘Wichi’ (‘Location’). She could see a full three-dimensional map of everything in about a few kilometre radius, though excluding people and animals. But ‘Tracking Life’ allowed her to identify all nearby instances of the enemy, which was all she needed right now.

Her work was almost finished, it seemed - this side of the campus had almost been cleared out. But she also noticed that the enemy was being wiped out in two other directions, coming closer towards the main campus courtyard area, where a larger group of the enemy were starting to gather.

After making sure that there were monsters not trying to escape, she worked her way through the remaining ones in her way to the courtyard.

There was a gathering of the monsters there as she came out. At their centre, sitting on a large black throne carried by two of the creatures, was a black, masculine figure in regal-looking armour and a crown. His face was nondescript, aside from a pair of red eyes and a mouth. “What is happening out there? I want an immediate report!”

My liege, we have come under attack from unknown enemies with great power!” The monster in front of the throne actually spoke, albeit with a slightly distorted voice. It cowered in fear of its master, as did the others. “We were prepared for a potential police response, but not this!”

This is troublesome,” the ruler of the monsters mused, before he spotted Estella walking towards them. “Is she one of them?”

The monster at his feet turned around, and froze. “Yes, she is! What are your orders, my liege?”

Take her down and cocoon her! I want her power for my army!” The ruler snapped furiously, before focusing his eyes on Estella. “You will regret defying the Tenebris Imperatoris, foolish girl!”

Tenebris Imperatoris… I believe that’s roughly Latin for ‘Dark Emperor’,” Galowye said.

Estella resisted the urge to laugh. Was this guy dorky enough to use a cheesy title and try to dress it up by just translating it into Latin?

Firstly, that’s the most cliche bad guy name I have ever heard, even before you translate it,” Estella said dryly, gripping Galowye, spotting something else also in the vicinity, “also, I’ve been slaughtering all your minions this whole time, so this group won’t be much of a challenge. Especially when those three get involved, by the way.”

It was the woman in the purple and red armour that attacked the enemy group from the side, beginning to rip and tear, while the two sci-fi looking people started firing from behind. The Dark Emperor swore something inaudible as he formed some kind of barrier around himself and his throne carriers, while Estella charged to join the fray, ripping and tearing through the enemy with her sword.

Of course, the three women in this battle were the Kendrick Sisters, even if they didn’t know it already.

Useless fools. I suppose if you want something done right, do it yourself,” the Tenebris Imperatoris snarled as he watched the last of his minions fall, standing up and charging dark bolts of electricity in his hands as he began launching bolts at at his adversaries.

Estella and Anja began dodging, while Natalia and Tharen also took cover. Estella tried to hit the barrier with bolts of her own, but it held up against both those and the incoming blaster fire from behind. However, the Emperor’s bolts came in hard and fast, causing her and her allies to take a few hits. Estella groaned as she dived into cover behind a garbage bin. “Okay, he’s stronger than expected…”

You don’t have the skill to create strong enough projectiles to break that barrier. I would try something else,” Galowye advised. “There are always different options with the variety of runes at your disposal.”

Estella chuckled, swapping out ‘Location’ for the ‘Novis’ rune - ‘Counter’. She stood up, “hey, jackass! Is that all you’ve got? My armour ain’t even dented!”

Anja focused, and prepared, knowing that Estella was up to something, and hopefully, it would give Anja an opportunity to get up and personal. A larger amount of mass began to concentrate in her fists.

The taunt certainly got the Emperor’s attention, and he started charging up a much bigger bolt, which he launched at Estella furiously. “Then try this on for size, you arrogant wench!”

Estella held out Galowye, casting ‘Counter Electricity’. As the bolt struck the blade, it stopped in place, putting intense pressure on her body. She took a deep breath, focused her mana, and pushed back.

Natalia groaned as she tried to take shots at the Emperor, “damn it! This isn’t working!”

That beam rifle’s got a charge shot function, use it!” Tharen barked, as he began charging up his rifle. Natalia nodded, and aimed, charging hers as well.

As that happened, the bolt was sent flying back, slamming into the barrier and cracking it, causing the Emperor to recoil in surprise.

Then two charged-up plasma bolts slammed into the barrier from behind.

And then Anja charged the barrier with a spiked fist, slamming into it with superhuman strength, shattering it and sending the throne tumbling to the ground, along with the Emperor and two minions carrying it, the latter of which were dispatched swiftly.

Estella approached the Emperor, who was getting back on his feet. “Are you behind the missing persons cases?”

The Emperor just laughed, smirking at her, “does it matter if I tell you one way or the other, girl?”

Estella charged him, sword in motion, but the Emperor suddenly formed a black blade, swiftly parrying her with practised ease. “Hmph. Amateur.”

She was not practised with a blade, but like any martial art, Estella knew spacing, form and footwork were important parts of fighting in close quarters. This guy knew how to handle a blade better than her, but she wasn’t so unskilled as to be immediately outmatched. She kept her footwork in mind as she and her opponent repeatedly clashed blades.

Anja rushed up beside her, charging the Emperor with long, sharp arm-blades which she used efficiently, striking quickly and trying to take advantage of the Emperor being occupied with Estella. The Emperor’s response was to form another blade, and held his ground, deflecting both sets of blades, but it was clear he lacked the advantage.

Natalia thought trying to fight him with just swords was dumb when she had guns, and she made that quite clear by charging up another shot and firing.

The bolt of energy didn’t quite hit its mark, but it certainly ripped a chunk out of the Emperor’s waist, staggering him enough for Anja to completely disarm him quite literally, and Estella holding Galowye to his throat.

The Emperor was strangely unperturbed by this development. If anything, he simply smirked. “Not bad. Next time, I won’t underestimate you. Go on, finish the job. I’ll just come back with a new body next time. I do look forward to our next bout, ‘heroes’.”

This is not his true body, just a remote puppet. Interrogating him will do little good,” Galowye advised.

Well, damn,” Estella said, driving the sword into the Emperor’s throat, killing the body swiftly, causing it and the throne to burn up like the rest of the monsters.

Karla had been watching the battle in the courtyard from a distance, recording video using her phone while Donavan snapped photos. It was like she was watching an action movie playing out in real life before her very eyes.

There were three sets of heroes, now - one evidently using some kind of magic, the purple and red heroine from before, and two sci-fi troopers with blasters of some kind. The four warriors were gathering in the middle of the courtyard, and Karla knew she had to make her move now.

Excuse me!” She walked over to them with the recorder and her phone, while Donavan followed closely behind, “would any of you be willing to answer some questions?”

The four turned towards her. She couldn’t see their faces, but they seemed to a bit surprised to see her. The purple and red armoured woman seemed to outright glare at her. “Oh, no, I thought I told you to stay put. You’re one of those nosy reporter types, aren’t you?”

Well, I’m sorry, but I couldn’t stay away from a story like this,” Karla said with a chuckle. “You were amazing. Are you sure all the monsters are gone at this point?”

Uh… We’re pretty sure they’re gone, but we can’t stay and chat,” said the woman in the sci-fi armour, “sorry, not answering questions!”

Yeah, let’s scram,” the other sci-fi trooper agreed, as the four immediately scattered, zooming off in different directions.

H-Hey, get back here! The public wants to know the truth of what’s going on!” Karla protested with some exasperation. She knew she’d never catch up with any of them, especially not in high heels.

Sorry, lady, but maybe some other time!” Said the woman with the sword, as she disappeared around a corner.

Eh, it’s all the same with vigilante superheroes, they’re saving lives one moment and disappearing the next,” Donavan said. “At least we got some fantastic pictures, though. And we got to the scoop before anyone else!”

I suppose that’s something,” Karla sighed, still severely disappointed at the lost opportunity. “But yes, you’re right. We need to get our materials to the office as soon as possible.”

She and Donavan raced for their car in the local parking lot, and did not waste time heading back to the office. Karla thought she was lucky they didn’t run into the police on the way out, she was fine with questioning, but she needed to get the scoop out as soon as possible.

It had not occurred to her that there were other reasons why not being questioned by the police at the time was a huge stroke of luck.

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About the author

Candescence

Bio: Amateur game designer and writer.

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