Zero Thirteen: Dark Duel

"Hey, Nii-san! You made it here as well!"

"STOP CALLING ME THAT!" I exploded. "I am not your older brother! Do you fucking understand that?"

"I don't know if Nee-san is here yet," Takumi continued, ignoring me and looking around. "I would really like for you guys to meet. You'll definitely like her."

"She won't like me though," I muttered. "Wait…that's not the point! Listen to others when they're speaking!"

"Well, she should be here soon. But she's not really interested in fights like these."

I gave up and stalked off silently, leaving Takumi to talk to himself. I disappeared into the crowd and out of his sight. Weaving between the crowd of people, I caught sight of a couple of familiar faces.

"Kazuya! Ike!" I caught sight of two familiar faces and forced my way to them. They heard me and turned around, only to grin.

"So you made it," Kazuya snickered, leaving a space for me to step in. I gratefully jumped in, relieved to escape from the huge mass of people. "I got a little worried when I didn't see you around. I mean, I thought you would definitely want to watch Yoshi-kun's lover's spat!"

"He doesn't like Mizuiro-san," I pointed out. "And sorry about my tardiness. I was…sidetracked by a certain idiot."

I was pretty much irritated by Takumi's stalking. Okay, that might be exaggerating it a lot, but still I couldn't figure out how he could look up to a pathetic person like me as an older brother and follow me around like a little puppy dog. Had he no pride? And it was a little disturbing, at least for me anyway. I didn't like it at all.

It wasn't that I hated him or anything, but it got on my nerves. A lot.

"Does it really matter? You should see this match too!" Ike urged us, his face pressed against the huge transparent glass screen that served as a viewer's window in the coliseum. Looking down below into the box-shaped room, I saw a beautiful blond girl facing down a huge, burly guy.

"That guy is Song Eunum. A level 8. He just defeated Makiwara Madoka," Ike explained. I could see another beautiful, gorgeous girl being held up by Song Eunum. She had long, purple hair that fell all over her incredibly hot body as Song hoisted her off her feet, gripping her throat in a vice-like grip. It took me a while to realize that she was barely conscious.

"That's cool!" I said without thinking.

"What's even cooler is the girl," Ike jabbed a finger at the blonde. "She's Iwamoto Shizuru. That Iwamoto Shizuru. A level nine. They say she's going to be one of the new Junior Saints soon."

"Iwamoto Shizuru? The heir to the Heaven and Earth Techniques?" Kazuya gasped in disbelief and awe. "Impossible! What is she doing here?"

"Probably to take care of Makiwara," Ike relied. "Song was about to kill her when she stepped in. it seems like Makiwara is a loyal subordinate of Iwamoto," he added that last part cynically. "Usually it is a violation of the rules for someone to interfere in a formal match like this. As long as Song, the one interrupted from victory, doesn't permit it, this is against the rules."

Meanwhile, I was still pondering on the Heaven and Earth technique, which was known to be the strongest Eastern magic of all, but Ike's words jolted me out of my thoughts. Or at least the sentence before the whole violation of rules did. "What? He shouldn't be allowed to kill her!

"What are you talking about? Have you been to a coliseum match before?"

"No," I admitted sheepishly. "This is my first time."

"Fine. The fact is that deaths are not prohibited. It's a fight to the death whenever you accept a challenge here, and it's the winner's decision whether he wishes to spare or kill the opponent, unless the opponent surrenders. Once you surrender, you gain immunity to death, but most mages are too proud to admit defeat," Ike explained patiently.

"Really now?" I muttered.

"Okay, so I'm exaggerating. Most mages do surrender whenever their lives are in danger, but Makiwara didn't, so Song was allowed to kill her."

"Cool," I muttered.

"Anyway, Yoshi-kun's match is after this, right?" Kazuya asked, glancing at his watch. "It's almost time, isn't it?"

"That's true, but this will be one hell of a match, I can assure you that. Iwamoto Shizuru is currently the most powerful level 9 out there. In fact, she's said to have fought with one of the current Junior Saints to a stalemate."

A level 9 who could match one of the Ten Junior Saints? Was he serious?

"I'm not kidding," Ike snapped. He must have caught the expression of disbelief on my face. Embarrassed, I shut my mouth. "That was one hell of a match, a legend even, and it took almost six hours for them to agree to a draw."

"What the hell is she?" Kazuya murmured, amazed, before admitting, "But she is hot."

"Don't even think about it," Ike warned. "She'll kill you without even so much as blinking."b

Both Kazuya and I gulped. She sure didn't seem like somebody we should be messing around with. Not that I was planning to mess around with her. I never had any luck with girls anyway, so I tended to stay away from them. Onee-sama and probably Haruko were probably the only girls I actually talked to.

Song Eunum had an expression of shock on his face, but he didn't relax his grip on Makiwara's throat. He watched as Shizuru slowly strolled toward him.

"Song Eunum," Shizuru stated coldly, a look of disinterest and almost…boredom on her face. "I want to challenge you in a match instead of Madoka."

Song looked stunned. "Wha…what?" he managed. It took him a while before he began chuckling.

"Ha~ Are you stupid, Shizuru?" he demanded, snickering. "Are you asking me to fight you instead of Madoka in this state?"

He didn't wait for an answer. "Kekeke~" he chuckled. "You must have been in a rush, seeing how Madoka is almost dead. Even so, unless I'm crazy, there's no reason for me to allow you this match, right?"

Shizuru remained silent.

"I have absolutely no thoughts to allow this…" Song continued. "So it'll be best if you just sit tight and watch Madoka's final moments."

"A wise choice," Kazuya agreed, noting the blood and injuries on Song's body. "I doubt he'll be able to beat her even if he's at full strength."

Ike frowned. "However, I did hear rumors about Song Eunum liking Shizuru, but was dumped by her instead. I'm a little surprised he doesn't want to take revenge for that insult."

"How is getting dumped insulting?" I asked, confused. "Besides, he probably knows he's no match for her if she's as strong as you say she is. Some people actually use their brains, you know."

"Actually, she insulted him before rejecting him," Ike explained. "And you're probably right. Most people wouldn't expect him to accept anyway."

Still, I could see some people reeling from shock, probably from Shizuru's intrusion. Pressing my hands against the glass, I stared down at her hungrily.

I want that Heaven and Earth Technique… I thought greedily. The strongest and legendary Eastern magic that's passed down the Iwamoto clan…I want to learn it…

"Right now, I'm…" Shizuru suddenly said. "Watching you. With all…sincerity."

The spectators were stunned into silence from that remark.

"Impossible…" Ike whispered.

Even Song was surprised. He regarded her silently for a moment before lowering his arm and releasing Makiwara.

"Huh?" one of the spectators looked confused. "What's she talking about?"

He was not the only one. All around him, a murmur went through the crowd like a ripple, causing a commotion.

"Kekeke~" Song paused to think about it, even as Makiwara slumped down at his feet, unconscious. She was left to lie on her side, her purple hair draped all around her.

"To think you'd say that in a situation and place like this…" Song sighed. "Shizuru…surely you are cruel…"

I swallowed, already knowing what his answer would be. "Don't tell me, he's really going to…"

"Yeah…that's the answer…I cannot refuse that gaze of yours," Song admitted, gazing at her. "Even if it is…a gaze filled with murderous intent."

I slapped my forehead. "Don't be stupid!" I yelled out without realizing it. That drew several stares, but I ignored them. I banged on the glass. "Don't do anything that you will regret later!"

"Keke~" Song chuckled.

"Surely…you're kidding me, right, Eunum-Nii?" it was the same confused spectator who was asking about what was Shizuru talking about. "There's no reason for you to approve this ridiculous match."

"Okay," Song was saying, ignoring every single one of us. "I permit this interruption, Iwamoto Shizuru."

The spectator slammed his fist on the concrete under the glass window, leaving a huge indentation. "How…how could such a ridiculous thing…!"

I took a good look at him. He was a short guy, shorter than even me, with orange curly hair that fell over his face like a mop.

"Are you mad?! Eunum-nii?!" the orange curly-haired dude continued to rant. "Do you even know what the hell you're doing?! Do you want to be killed by Shizuru that much?!"

"Who's that guy?" I nudged Ike.

Ike spared him a momentary glance, before turning back to the arena below. "I think he's Morinoa Jin."

Gee, that helped a lot.

"Are you not even thinking about our plan?!!" Jin was yelling. "Do you want to ruin everything over your stupid selfishness?!!" he turned to a tall, long-haired fellow beside him. "Rudo! At least say something!! It's not too late to cancel now!"

In contrast to his noisy companion, Rudo was glaring at the spectacle calmly but angrily. "It's too late…I never expected Shizuru to butt in like this," he said resignedly, a bead of perspiration rolling down his face from the tension. "You really are frightening, Shizuru…"

"What the fuck is happening?!" a short-haired girl in a biker suit snapped loudly. Her skintight suit folded around her contours, including her ample amount of…chest. I felt like rolling my eyes. Why was it that I was seeing so many gorgeous girls lately? I mean…

Oh, right. Manga is an idealized world. Of course most of the girls here would be idealized beauties.

No, that wasn't right. This was the real world. Eh…

Damn, I couldn't tell what's real and what's manga any longer.

The biker girl was continuing her tirade of furious words. "That bastard has no chance of beating Shizuru!! Why is he consenting to this match?!!"

"Shut up!" Jin shot back at her, frustrated.

A handsome, short-haired guy beside the biker girl had a perplexed expression on his face, as if he still hadn't gotten what was going on. "Eunum-nii…just why?"

"Ha~ Yeah, I get it now," the biker girl sighed angrily. "That bastard has always acted like this."

Her arms folded, she glared at Song Eunum. "Doing his best to make people rely on and trust him, then stabbing them in the back! Nothing's changed since then."

She had a scary expression on her face that made me cringe. "In fact, it's good that this happened. Just die right here, Song Eunum!!"

Song glanced up at us, an amused expression on his face. "There seems to be quite a ruckus up there…" he commented. "Let's begin before it gets any louder, Shizuru."

He turned to face her. "About my introduction, well – I already gave it in front of Madoka. Just introduce yourself as the new challenger – although there shouldn't be anyone who doesn't know you~ kekeke~"

Why does he keep laughing like that? I wondered. It's getting irritating.

"My name is Iwamoto Shizuru," Shizuru introduced herself emotionlessly and detachedly. "Since birth, I have studied the Heaven and Earth's Martial Art. As my primary focus, I have studied Heaven and Earth Divine Fist."

She narrowed her eyes. "Approximate mana level is at 30 years. I am from the Iwamoto family of the main branch of Heaven and Earth."

"Estimated mana level is at 30 years, huh…" Song looked impressed. "That's quite a feat for someone so young. But well, since you're from the Heaven and Earth's family, you should have a solid foundation to begin with, right? Still, to think you stockpiled 30 years worth of mana, you've had your share of miracle drugs~ keke!"

He suddenly split into two. "This is why I'm jealous of rich folks."

I was still trying to catch up to the sudden turn of events when I caught sight of five Song Eunums.

"Now, then!" Song continued, one of his clones stretching himself. "I'm going all out from the beginning so prepare yourself!!"

All five clones dashed across the arena, charging straight at Shizuru. "Kyahaha!!" Song cackled. "Do I finally get to see your free style fist?!"

"Free style fist?" I muttered, taken aback. "Is that part of Heaven and Earth too?"

"But even that divine art that supposedly voids all defenses?! Should be useless against so many targets!" the five of them barreled forward fearlessly, ready to sink their claws into Shizuru's soft flesh.

Shizuru paused for a while. "Come to think of it, I haven't used any form of fighting beyond free-style at school."

She raised her right arm.

"Focus on the single point between void and space. Heaven and Earth Divine Arts' mana is an absolutely perfected mana of extreme void…no void's power will ever escape the control of Heaven and Earth Divine Arts." She was muttering an incantation. "Amplify a single point within the void within Heaven and Earth Divine's Control, and boundless space will expand over all territory."

She tossed her right palm forward. "This is Heaven and Earth Divine Arts' second…Vacuum Strike."

Three of Song Eunum's clones exploded and dissipated before they could reach her.

"Wh-what?!" Song cried out. "The hell!!"

"Did you dodge that by moving through the emptiness just now?" Shizuru tilted her head slightly to look at him. "That's an amusing skill."

The two remaining Song Eunums retreated for a moment, throwing themselves back to the wall and sticking to it.

"Kuk!!" he grunted. "Damn!!"

He used the wall as a springboard to propel himself at Shizuru. "What happens if I split up in two directions?!"

Shizuru casually raised her left arm and blew up one of them.

"Kyahaha!" Song screeched, charging at Shizuru from her left side. "You picked the wrong one!!"

However, he realized something was amiss.

Shizuru had her right hand facing him underneath her outstretched left arm. "Now…Madoka's no longer in my range."

"What?!" Song caught a glimpse of Madoka lying a fair distance away from Shizuru's right.

"This is evil's end," Shizuru declared. "Song Eunum."

Song tried to jump away, even as her palm glowed brilliantly with mana.

"This kind of attack?!" he growled. "Using my techniques!!" he slid to the side at incredible speed as the mana blasted past him.

No.

It didn't blast past him. It stuck to his side.

Song couldn't even react. His face contorted in shock, and his mouth widened as the mana suddenly exploded into a giant ball of darkness.

BOOOOOOM!

An enormous explosion ensued, almost filling up the entire arena.

"UAACK!!" the spectators fell all over the place as the coliseum shook violently; the tremors the result of the incredible explosion. "Such an incredible technique!!"

Shizuru didn't even skip a beat. She was still staring forward calmly. She only turned away and let down her hair when Song Eunum crashed to the ground, blood spurting from his missing right arm and leg. Behind him was an enormous crater that almost filled the entire fifteen-meter high arena wall that enclosed the duelists.

"Such…" the biker girl whispered, awestruck.

"A fearsome…" the handsome guy beside her continued for her fearfully.

"Such a massive attack disappeared in a second," the biker girl murmured, amazed. "Such a technique…I've never heard of it before."

A bead of perspiration rolled down her horrified face. "Is this Shizuru's true capability?"

"This is definitely…not a human technique."

Song Eunum struggled to get up from his own pool of blood with his remaining arm and leg.

"Huck!" he spat out blood and coughed.

He raised his head to look at Shizuru. "I can see a bit of my liver. Kekek~" he chuckled. "It's quite a horrific skill, yeah?"

"One thing…" Shizuru stated, staring at him. "I have been curious about for a long time." She stared at the pitiful downed fighter. "Why…have you longed for me, Song Eunum?"

"How is it…" she continued, approaching him. "That you became attached to something that could never be fulfilled?"

"Ah…that…" Song gritted his teeth, breathing painfully. "Kekek~ about that…" he forced himself to stand on his remaining leg. He straightened himself and looked at Shizuru. "If you think about it now, it'd probably be funny, but…it's because you looked unhappy."

A smile spread over Song's face. It wasn't a cynical one, but an amused one. However, it was also one filled with sincerity. Shizuru looked at him curiously.

"Before this school was established…when I first saw you…you were about 7 or 8 years old," Song explained. "At that time you were…so small, and…you looked so unhappy."

He smiled as he reminisced about the past. "Because in front of you, the blindingly brilliant…sister towered over you."

"Sister?" I asked.

"Iwamoto Shizuka. One of the authentic adult Saints," Ike explained.

"So I decided I wanted to make you happy. I wanted a smile to cover your face." Song snickered as he leaned on Shizuru. "Funny, huh? Not even knowing my own place. Kekeke~"

"Yeah…" Shizuka was looking far away, her expression unreadable. "It really was a reckless thought."

"But, Shizuru…" Song mumbled. "If you would think about my pathetic life, can't you give me something?" his trembling hand reached up and grabbed her shoulder. Drawing himself closer to her, he muttered, "Anyway, things like this…hold no meaning to you."

He kissed her on the mouth.

After a while, he broke away from her and turned to the side. "Heh…heheheh." He snickered weakly. "It doesn't feel bad…"

He slumped forward and down, despite his hand still on Shizuru's shoulder. "To think that I have to die, now…this is too unfair."

His head hung low. "Kekek~ but still…this was your first, right? Isn't it?"

"No…" Shizuru replied, not looking at him. "It's my second…"

Song Eunum lay sprawled at her feet, blood pooling around him.

Shizruru spared him a last glance before turning and walking away.

She was about to reach the door to the arena when it flew open.

"Eunum-nii!" Rudo yelled.

"Are you alive?!" Jin shouted beside him, running past Shizuru to Eunum's side. "Damn! Hold on for a little longer!"

"It's too late for Song Eunum," Shizuru told Rudo, who was still standing at the door. "Take Madoka to the hospital instead."

"Shizuru…" Rudo growled, glaring at her with a murderous gaze. "Next year, you'll be participating in the Reizoshi tournament, right?"

Shizuru merely looked at him casually.

"That day…" Rud swore furiously. "I will challenge you to a formal match."

He pressed his hand to his chess tightly. "I will throw everything on the line…I will not allow you to win and be our champion."

Shizuru smiled, amused. "Rudo, there is some merit in looking forward to your efforts. I'll gladly wait for it."

Rudo glared back at her determinedly. "I will definitely…" he promised. "Bring you down."


The coliseum was full, despite the devastating attack Shizuru used, and Song Eunum's death. I guessed that what Ike said about deaths being allowed here was true, after all. Still, it disturbed me to the core.

Right now, Yoshihito was facing Mizuiro Yuzuki in the virtually destroyed arena.

Yoshihito was glaring at Yuzuki angrily while she was staring back at him calmly and coldly.

"That's weird," I muttered. "You would think Mizuiro-san would be more emotional after getting dumped. But why is Yoshihito so angry?"

"Yuzuki-chan isn't a level 8 for nothing, you know," Kazuya pointed out irritably. "She rose through the ranks through hard work and effort."

"That's cool…but what's with Yoshihito's anger?"

"Oh…his reputation was ruined because someone spread some rumors about him and Yuzuki-chan, and now he's upset because the girl he likes heard the rumors too. That's what I think, anyway. He wouldn't tell me anything." Ike folded his arms, looking affronted. "But I don't blame him. The girl probably congratulated him for getting a girlfriend or something."

I winced. "Ouch."

"Well, it's starting."

"Ha-ah!" Yoshihito yelled as he charged forward at Mizuiro, his hands reared back in a fighting stance.

Mizuiro just watched him calmly as he drew nearer. Springing off the ground, Yoshihito leaped up at her with a vicious kick.

However, Mizuiro just stood still, not bothering to move. Gritting his teeth, Yoshihito couldn't stop himself from kicking out.

BASH!

"Idiot," Mizuiro said sadly as several strands of hair floated away from her face. Apparently Yoshihito had diverted his kick away at the last moment and avoided landing his foot on her face.

As Yoshihito struggled to regain his footing, his back toward her, she raised her arm. "You're still…hopeless." Mizuiro murmured.

She placed her palm on his back.

"Get off!!" Yoshihito yelled, swinging his left arm back to hit her. However, she effortlessly avoided the attack, leaning back as his arm swung right over her.

Raising her leg, she lashed out and struck Yoshihito's knee, throwing him off balance. Grabbing his hair, she pressed down on his knee and pulled him back.

"Kuurg!!" Yoshihito grunted.

"Even after all I did to you, you still can't hit me?" Mizuiro sneered. "Get your head straight."

His head being forced back, Yoshihito could only gaze upward at Mizuiro in horror. "We're both here to fight." Mizuiro's fearsome visage loomed above his head, her palm stretched out and ready to attack. "You can't possibly believe that I won't hit you either?"

Yoshihito desperately knocked the arm that was holding his hair away. Twisting around, he tried to distance himself away from Mizuiro, but he failed. Mizuiro brought her arm down in a vicious attack that was glowing with mana. Yoshihito crossed his arms to protect himself from the blow, but Mizuiro still plowed right into them

She broke through his guard and struck his chest.

BOOM!

I watched in horror as Yoshihito's arms were horribly injured from the impact, with patches of blood popping all over them. Still, Mizuiro was undaunted by the horrific injuries, and relentlessly pressed on her attack. Slamming her palm into his abdomen, she unleashed a huge amount of mana that blasted his insides.

"Huk!!" Yoshihito coughed out blood. He crashed heavily onto the ground several meters away from the point of impact.

"You know my specialty is palm techniques created in Reizoshi, right?" Mizuiro asked. Well, we didn't, actually. "Not a secret magic art but a plain old spell known to everyone."

"Because of that, everyone could easily block it," she continued. "That is, before I trained extremely hard and increased my mana capacity."

She watched as Yoshihito struggled to get to his feet. "Now no one can block my attack like that," she gloated. "Since I will break even the arms."

"For me, it doesn't matter if I don't have an arm!!" Yoshihito yelled.

However, he only got to as far as one knee before he teetered. "Ku!" he cried out as pain flooded his body.

"You won't be able to stand up," Mizuiro warned him, watching impassively from afar.

I noticed the massive injury on Yoshihito's back. Not only was it red and swollen, his shirt had a huge hole in it.

"When I first touched, I damaged your spine muscle with my shadow bind. You shouldn't be able to control your waist now," Mizuiro explained. "The moment you showed me your back, you were unable to hit me. The fight was already over."

"Don't…" Yoshihito crawled on the floor as he struggled to get up. "Make me laugh!!"

"There isn't a fool in this school (Tokiwadai, probably) who would let such an opening slip by," Mizuiro said impassionedly. "Nor should there be one."

The spectators watched on in silence.

"Eh, it's over already?" a short-haired girl asked, bored. "That was so dull."

"That's true," Jin agreed, his hands behind his head. He was still here, despite his friend Song Eunum being carried to the mortuary. "That time with you was so much more fun."

"Hey~ isn't that the dickfaced Jin? If it isn't too much trouble, can you fuck off?" the short-haired girl smiled sweetly. "I get nauseated easily, you know~"

"Didn't watching that fight bring back old memories?" Jin countered, just as good-naturedly. "Was it about 1 year ago?"

A sly grin flickered over his face. "Those two boys who lost their secret magic arts…didn't you burn them without the slightest hesitation?" he stared at her devious face. "You looked…really sexy then…"

I knew he wasn't being machoistic. I could hear the sarcasm in his voice from a mile away.

"How did it feel back that time?" Jin continued asking. "I wonder if it was similar to what Yuzuki feels now."

I frowned. They knew Yuzuki? I thought they were from Reizoshi, given that they also knew Shizuru very well. Though I wondered why I was calling her Shizuru. I had a feeling I met her somewhere before.

Did I? Then how could I have forgotten her?

I scratched my head as I tried to remember, but to no avail. Only a couple of blank images showed up.

"Hmm…Shizuru…Shizuru…Shizuru…" I tried to remember. The name seemed so familiar. Probably her too. But I gave up eventually. It would probably come back to me sooner or later.

"Well, not that great." The short-haired girl had a malicious glint in her otherwise calm expression, watching as Rudo came to stand beside Jin. "As you know, I was gonna torch 3 guys, wasn't I?"

"If Rudo didn't help me, I probably would have been scorched. For that, I am always thankful to you."

"Why, I should be the one thanking you," the girl disagreed. "I got to rest in the hospital for 3 whole months because of you~"

"I just have a sense of unfinished business," Jin explained. "Not to mention that my feelings for you are still hot."

"Oh, really?" the girl asked, a tinge of disbelief underlying her tone. "What sort of feeling?"

I would really like to pay more attention to the two of them, but Yoshihito's dire situation caught my interest.

"Ugh!" Yoshihito was still struggling to get up from his knees, with little success. Mizuiro was staring at him, disinterested and detached.

Was it my imagination or were all girls like that?

"Let's…stop this." Mizuiro said quietly.

She raised her head. "While I also started this fight in a rage," she admitted. "This is even more unsightly. I don't know how word got out…but I didn't expect this many observers. Everyone must have been bored."

"Can't help it," she sighed resignedly as she walked away. "I guess I have to live with a bad reputation for a while. So get well, and next time, don't be so rude."

However, she stopped when she heard a single word from him.

"Apologize."

"What?" she asked in disbelief.

"I told you to apologize," Yoshihito repeated, grunting as he fought to get to his feet. "Mizuiro Yuzuki."

"If you move so forcefully, you might never be able to use your waist," Mizuiro warned dangerously. "Don't piss me off and just stay down."

"It's not over yet!!" Yoshihito yelled. "If you're gonna leave, apologize first!!"

Mizuiro turned back to him. "Not over?" she repeated incredulously. "Are you stupid?"

She stopped right in front of him. "If I make you permanently paralyzed, it will be over instantly. Is that what you want?"

Yoshihito seized the chance to sweep his leg under her in an attempt to trip her. "Try it if you can!" he dared her.

However, Mizuiro lifted her leg and blocked his effortlessly. "Nice kick," she said sarcastically. "What's next?"

"Hmph!!" Yoshihito kicked up and spun around. Twisting his legs, he thrust his feet at Mizuiro, who knocked them away with a mere flick of her arm.

Yoshihito crashed down, but Mizuiro grabbed the back of his head before he hit the floor. Gritting her teeth, she thrust Yoshihito's head forward and slammed it into the wall, leaving a crater from that immense impact.

Relaxing her grip, she took her hand away and watched as Yoshihito collapsed.

"What? Did you think you would win if you could get in a kick?" she sneered. "Even without your hesitation, this is the difference between you and me."

She watched as Yoshihito sprawled across her feet. "You should never have dumped me. You should have accepted me as your girlfriend and we would both be happy. But, no, you had to choose some other girl over me."

She leaned her head close to his ear. "So don't tell me to apologize or what-not. I am not in the least bit sorry anyway."

She got up again. "By now, you've done enough to justify your sense of dignity, don't provoke me anymore." She stood up and turned away. "I warn you, if you make me turn around one more time, you will lose everything."

She tossed her head to the side casually. "Keep that in mind."

She walked away.

Yoshihito's trembling hand stretched out, as if he was trying to grab something. "Apologize…"

Mizuiro turned her head back, frustrated and irritated at Yoshihito's persistence. "Apologize, Mizuiro Yuzuki…"

She sauntered back toward him again as he struggled to get up. "Ah…this is really beginning to piss me off."

"Even after warning you like that, I guess you just can't help it," she sighed dismissively. "If this is what you really want," she kicked him until he lay on his back, and placed her foot on his abdomen. "There is no reason I can't give it to you."

I recoiled at the deadly expression on her face.

"I'll make it so that you can never cast magical spells again."

KA-RASH!

Mizuiro Yuzuki jolted and turned her head to see the window shatter behind her. I hopped in and threw myself into the arena, ignoring her glare. I did a barrel roll before landing on my feet.

"What are you trying to do?" Mizuiro demanded dangerously. I could see the high levels of mana crackling and flowing around her, emanating an intimidating aura that made me break out in cold sweat. For a moment I wondered if I made the right choice in interfering. "You dare to barge into someone else's fight?"

"Yo, it's not exactly like we're strangers, don't be so tight-assed," I waved her threats away, and popped a lollipop into my mouth. "As you know, I have a little bit of debt to that guy."

I watched as he moaned and squirmed under Mizuiro's leg. "Since he is my friend, I can't let him die."

Yup. That was it. We were friends, and I would never let a friend die in front of me.

I hope.