Q-ichi: Hey, Chapter 18! This mandrake had to overhaul the chapter many times. Life problem sure did not help. It hopes that you’re still here. Enjoy the chapter
Yuen shakes his fists vigorously. The detestable feeling that he felt when he punched the magician. Akin to a curious child splashing the waters or a bottomless lake. He glances around him. His teammates all held similar sentiments.
Yuen: [I am in way over my head.]
Zheng’s weapons retracted from Rosetta’s body and gather around their master.
Zhao slams his hands on the floor and the concrete begins to churn like liquid. He tosses his arms into the air at Rosetta’s direction. The concrete surges forwards at the restrained magician.
Zhao: “GET BURIED!!”
The greyish wave smashes into Rosetta and swirls around him. The vortex of liquefied concrete piles on him and collects into a giant lump. The head of Rosetta which remained untouched shoots a cold look at Zhao as the heavy mass of concrete compresses his body.
The shimmering ends of Rong Hou’s chains burst from the top of the concrete prison. In a fraction of a second, they loop around Rosetta’s neck and flies upwards, burying itself deep into the ceiling above. And in the next fraction of a second…
Gravity finally acted upon the concrete mass and it plummets towards the gaping hole where the floors have melted away. The chains tightened around his neck with the entire weight of the concrete pulling on it. Chunks of the ceiling begin to fall off. The ceiling buckles and fractures from the immense weight.
Through the view tilted by the chains crushing his neck, Rosetta spots the glimmer of metal flying straight at him.
The concrete mass explodes. Dust and debris bloom outwards. The light from the fireballs is smothered for mere moments but Rosetta’s menacing silhouette is clearly shown. His long arms are extended outwards, having done pulverizing it concrete prison with an explosive amount of strength.
Rosetta: “Ch..” [That one with the sword. He is sly enough to cut my neck while I broke my restraints.]
The cut is deep. The culprit even managed to slide the blade between the chains. The cut is fatal but for a being like Rosetta, it slowly closes itself up. He shifts his attention to the chains.
The chains whips\ his head backwards, tilting in an impossible manner. Rosetta crashes onto the side of the broken floor. He slams his foot on the floor and sinks his weight into it.
-Ksss sssh shhh-
A patter of footsteps behind him. Then, Yuen rushes at his back with his fists raised.
He slams both fists into Rosetta’s back. The air around them become electrified and a blast erupted from the impact. The dust and debris that has just begun to settle storms once more, coloring both parties with a greyish tint.
Yuen scrambles backwards to escape. Rosetta’s long arm whips around towards him.
The momentum of Rosetta’s arm is stopped as a figure streaks past at breakneck speed. The wrist is cut halfway through. Rosetta casts his senses behind him. The man that punched him has escaped beyond his reach.
Rosetta: “You are pretty confident in facing me. Is it because of your magic?”
Rosetta’s neck exploded in size. Like a black swollen balloon, it expanded against the chains holding it. They resisted for only a moment before shattering spectacularly. He swipes his other arm to his left flank; his forearm to his outstretched fingers glowing red.
-Swsh Fsh Swsh-
The weapons that were flying at his direction quickly change their trajectory, fleeing the glowing arm. The arm itself manages to snag an axe midflight.
The arm tears through the axe like paper. Its handle flashes into ash and the axe head breaks apart into melted chunks. The arm is not stopping and continues its path in a sideways arc. It strikes the concrete wall and parted it like butter. A large gash is formed from its trail. The glowing concrete cools to a black melted char. His neck deflates and returns to normal. Rosetta stands up straight, his tall height unhindered by the broken ceiling.
Rosetta: “I see…”
He is being enclosed from the sides. He can sense the man’s mana molding the concrete around him.
Rosetta: “If that’s what it takes to show yourself, I’ll take you on.”
He directed his challenge to the lone man far in front of him. Hou trembles as he holds his fists together. His forearms is glowing red; packed with so much of his magic that he is struggling to control it. The light emitting from his arms lights up his surroundings brightly. A small distant flicker from Rosetta’s position.
Hou draws his fist back to his sides. A little bit of his magic leaks from his arms and forms flare trails as his arm moves. He casts a cold stare down the corridor. The black magician has not moved at all. Hou did not hear Rosetta’s challenge. Yet the magician’s inaction stirs up anger within him.
Hou: “TAKE THIS, MONSTER!!”
Hou punches his fists forward. His arms glow white before the entire floor shines white. The debris and rubble casts a faint shadow in the midst of the white hot flash. But even those shadows disappear. Walls, tiles, doors and wiring. All of them are vaporized by a hot jet invisible in the white surroundings.
The side of the building explodes and a jet of fire emerges from its origin. The fiery spectacle reaches over a hundred meters in length. The forces below are thrown into a panic. They begin to force through to building to rescue the trapped forces within. As the sirens blare below, the fire has dissipated.
-Krak Ssss Krak-
The scenery inside is a picture of hell. The carnage lit up by the glow of melted concrete. Small fires flare up as the molten ooze reacts with the air sucked up from the other floors. In spite of this, a large figure stands unfazed.
He lets out an exasperated sigh. He is shins deep in molten concrete. His current position is further back from his original one. The explosion has only pushed him back that much.
Rosetta: “That is an impressive spell. I’m almost outside the building. Thank goodness this made it safely.”
He touches the sheep skull adorned on his head. The bleached bone has turned charred black. The magician is no longer clothed. The rags that once cling to his body have been incinerated completely. The magician’s appearance is as if a long cast shadow has taken a ghastly form in the realm of the living.
Rosetta: “Thank goodness. That attack was powerful. Many parts of me have been blown away.”
-Swuu Shuuu Swsh-
They finally returned. Pitch black spheres lined with white glowing runes. From all directions, a significant number of them gather and float around Rosetta.
Rosetta: “These are what you wanted, aren’t they? Too bad you’ve made them are unreachable at this point.”
His hellish surroundings prove his point. The fiery blast has scorched and burnt the place to extreme temperatures. The spheres are hovering in close proximity but none of the agents can take them due to the extreme heat. Scoffing at their direction, the magician raises his arm in the air.
The sphere’s movements become frantic. They converge on the magician and collide with his body. Like a droplet on the water’s surface, the spheres fuse to his body and disappear, leaving no trace of its runes behind. Rosetta feels the hateful stares of the agents around him. They have not noticed, so he springs his trap.
Rosetta pulls his arm from the molten floor. The whole arm is extended to an impressive length. The arm reaches all the way to the other end of the building and in its grasp is Hou who is desperately prying his restraints apart.
Rosetta: “A common mistake for those who performs a grand attack. They always get tired, stay in the same spot, and lower their guard. Vigilance. Always practice that in the presence of an enemy.”
Rosetta’s grip on Hou tightens and he is slowly dragged towards the magician. Hou, fearing his fate, thrashes around and screams at the top of his lungs.
Hou: “HELP ME!!! HELP ME ESCAPE!!!”
Rosetta: “Don’t struggle I’m not going to hurt you.”
Concrete rubble crashes through the molten ceiling onto Rosetta’s stretched arm. It quickly liquefy and solidify around his arm, pinning it down. On Hou’s side, Hong Hsu appears beside him almost immediately.
His sword arm turns into a blur. The high speed sword hacks at the giant wrist repeatedly. In mere moments, the large hand is severed. Hong Hsu speeds of with Hou sprinting behind.
Rosetta: [The trap is set.]
As Rosetta withdraws his damaged arm, his other arm whips across the floor. Like a snake, it slides across the floor into the shadows where the agents hid.
The extended arm thrashes around when it caught its prey. The surrounding walls begin to break and fracture. Rosetta reels in his arm. The concrete rubble converges on him in a hailstorm of concrete and rebar. The magician is unfazed and takes them head on.
-Bam Krash Thoom-
Rosetta: “Stop throwing your magic around! This building will come crashing down!”
A huge blast of air storms through the building. The blast snuffs out the fires the molten concrete darkens. The entire place descends into pitch-black darkness. The air that has calmed down becomes freezing cold as ice begins to form on the walls and floor. Rosetta approaches a place where the concrete rubble has piled up into a heap. The end of his arm and his quarry resides inside.
-FTOOOM Krsh Bsh-
He flicks his arm and the heap of rubble and ice exploded into pieces. White glowing runes begin to form on his arm. Rosetta steps over the rubble to peer down.
Zhao: “Hagh.. Gah..”
The white runes gives meek illumination, revealing the black mass that is spread out on the floor. Entangled in this mass is Zhao, who is shivering and covered in a light dusting of ice. He recoils in fear at the tall figure of Rosetta towering over him.
Zhao: “D-Don’t kill me.”
Rosetta scoffs at his plea.
Rosetta: “I won’t kill you but that is pretty presumptuous of you to ask me for mercy when you have been aiming for my life all this time.”
A glimmer is caught by Rosetta’s eye. However, it is too late. Thick chains bind his body as well as his arm that is holding down Zhao. Rong Hou steps forwards, holding the ends of the chains.
Rong Hou: “H-NNGH…”
He pulls on the chains while channeling his mana through them. The chains shimmer and glow as they constrict Rosetta’s body even further. The runes that once decorated the magician’s arm disperse and fade away.
Rosetta: “Fuh… Since I overpowered your sealing magic the first time, you figured you should do it personally this time.”
As if answering Rosetta’s statement, a flurry of weapons flies into Rosetta’s side. The chains respond in kind, entangling themselves with the weapons. Twisting and tearing through Rosetta’s body, the weapons serve as additional restraints on him.
Rosetta: “?! To use the weapons as conduits to inject your sealing magic into my-“
Rosetta turns to address Rong Hou but another figure darts across him. He grabs the spear impaling Rosetta’s body and drives it in further. Then, a blast of mana erupts from the spear and rampages throughout the magician’s body. Yuen wastes no time and rushes over to Zhao to free him.
Yuen: “How do I break his grip?!”
Zhao: “Get me out! I can’t use my magic!”
Rong Hou: “This has turned disastrous!”
Lamenting the deterioration of their situation and moral, Rong Hou pulls his chains as hard as he can. The chains tighten their grip on Rosetta and drag the embedded weapons even further.
Rosetta: “No. I’m not letting you go.”
-Kzzt Ssst ZZ KSSSS-
White runes appear all over his body. And then more runes appear. And some more. They shimmer and flicker erratically. His entire body looks like white noise and sound similar too.
Rong Hou: “GET OUT OF THERE!!”
Rong Hou quickly tosses his chains away and breaks into a run. The chains continue their purpose of restraining the magician. Yuen put power in his legs and darts past Rosetta but not before punching him on the side on the way past. A shockwave comes out from Rosetta’s opposite side and when the dust settles, only Zhao is left.
Zhao: “RRRGH!! NOOOO!!!”
The trapped agent struggles relentlessly. The weapons that impaled Rosetta start to droop and fall off as their blades in his body melted away. The chains held on for longer but ultimately broke to pieces from the heat and force.
Rosetta: “Among your teammates, your magic is truly troublesome. You are first.”
Zhao: “NONONONO!! LET ME GO!!”
Rosetta returns his attention to Zhao who freeze in place, fearing his fate. The arm that has been retraining him begins to contort and spread out.
-Ton Krak Kssss-
The rubble is pushed away, forming a large flat space for a large black circle on the floor. Zhao is at its center, still struggling to get out.
Rosetta: “Ugh. How vexing it is to spend more mana to purge the mana stolen from me. I am still at a loss either way.”
Bright concentric circle of runes appear from the center. Then the runes extend outwards to 7 branches at random angles. They glow brightly in sharp contrast to the pitch black circle.
The agent screams at the top of his lungs as he senses a change in him. He feels his mana struggling within him in order to resist it. However, it is all in vain.
Zhao: “No… No No No…”
One of the branches of runes slowly becomes dim and disappears. At that moment Zhao feels the mana in him fades. The next branch of runes begins to fade. Tears begin to flow down his face. His proud magic is being robbed by the monster before him. He grits his teeth and stares at Rosetta with intense hatred before letting out a primal shout.
Rosetta looks around him and looks down on Zhao. He places his free hand on his arm.
Rosetta: “I shall have you use your magic for one last time.”
Zhao feels something give way and forces his entire being to push back. Rosetta releases his hand and waves it around him. The walls all around suddenly liquefy and withdraws like water after an explosion. The concrete spreads across the entire floor. It climbs up the support pillars and spreads across the ceiling. It collides with the outer wall and smothers it completely.
Rosetta: “Very well done.”
Rosetta surveys his surroundings before looking down on Zhao. The branches of runes have disappeared, leaving the circle of runes behind. Done with destroying Zhao’s magic, the black circle retracts and reforms into his arm.
Zhao: “Khak- Gak..”
Rosetta: “Rest easy. You are not dead. But your magic is gone.”
Having freed from his restraints, Zhao gets up and breaks into a run. Rosetta turns his back on him.
Rosetta: “One taken care of. Five more.”
Yuen: *Damn it all!*
The walls of the entire floor has been cleared by Zhao’s last burst of magic. The outer walls and support pillars are left. All openings; holes in the ceiling, windows, doors and stairwells, are sealed with concrete. Even the gaping hole create by Hou’s fire spell has disappeared. Yuen presses his back against the pillar tries to make his presence as small as possible.
Hou: *Someone help me get it off! It’s not coming off!*
Hou’s cries out for help from behind another pillar. He is still trapped in the black mass that was cut off by Hong Hsu.
Something stirs behind him. The remains of Zheng’s weapons begin to float in the air. Despite losing their blades and edges, Rosetta doubts that is the case.
Rosetta: [Weapons out of mana-]
A heavy mass strikes Rosetta’s back. He bends forward and glimpse of a coil of chains flying in the darkness. The damage is negligible but it created a lapse in his attention.
Zheng’s weapons strike his body. The invisible blades bury themselves into Rosetta’s body, violently thrashing and twisting at the same time.
Rosetta: “I thought that you’d figure out that mana based attacks do not work on me by now.”
A silent pulse erupts from his body. The weapon remains are brushed aside. Free of the minor inconvenience, he swings his arm at a wide angle. The arm increases in length, spanning well over ten meters. When his arm makes contact with a pillar, it passes right through it, leaving it undamaged.
Zheng cries out when the black arm passes through a pillar. The black mass from the arm engulfs his torso and sticks him to the pillar. Yuen sprints away from behind another pillar. Rong Hou follows suit and darts in another direction. Rosetta puts more force into his arm to swing his arm faster.
The coil of chains smashes him from the side. His arm’s trajectory is changed and it slides across the floor. His hand clamps shut on thin air, a foot short of Yuen’s legs. Spitting in vexation, Rosetta plants his feet firm on the floor lunges forwards.
Rong Hou: “GAH!”
His effort paid off as a tip of his finger passes through one of Rong Hou’s ankle. As his foot touches the ground, it sticks firmly to the ground. Rong Hou falls forward as his trapped foot pulls him to the ground. He tugs hard at his foot and shifts his eyes to the magician behind him.
Rong Hou: “Haa…”
Bracing for the worst, Rong Hou calls his chains towards him. They fly closer, spinning faster and faster.
Rosetta: “Please stop that.”
Rong Hou: “NO!”
Rosetta’s large hand traps the chains in its grip. It crushes the chain and the palm starts glowing red. Moments later, it turns black and a coating of ice forms around it. The hand opens its grip and drops a chunk of metal on the floor.
As the metal chunk falls to its side, Rong Hou realizes his hopeless situation. Recovering his chains like before is impossible. He looks up at the magician approaching him. He is now at his mercy.
Rosetta: “You have unsettling determination. Your magic was originally stolen from me. Don’t risk amputation for that.”
Zheng: “Gr.. Ngh..”
Rosetta drags the captured Zheng with him. He drops him on top of Rong Hou and the black mass that is restraining Zheng expands to envelope Rong Hou.
Rosetta: “Two of you are still free and one-“
He is interrupted once more as Hong Hsu slashed at his back.
Hong Hsu: “Wha- Ooof!”
Hong Hsu falls forward a few feet from Rosetta. He gets up in confusion and saw his feet wrapped in black mass. He tried to remove his shoes but the magician strikes him with his hand and sticks him to the floor.
Rosetta: “I’m used to your attack patterns. Laying a trap where you will cross is a matter of inevitability.”
A loud explosion tears through the outer wall behind Rosetta. He turns his attention there and sees Yuen exiting carrying Hou scrambling to exit through the hole.
Rosetta: “I will not let you.”
Yuen: “Hou! You-“
Hou: “Damn it!”
Rosetta goes ahead and triggers his trap. The black mass that has been weighing down Hou suddenly comes to life and engulfed both the agents. Yuen who still has his two feet on the floor channels mana to them for a powerful lunge out of the hole.
Yuen: “Hrgh- NO!”
As Yuen and Hou fly out of the hole, they freeze in midair before floating back inside.
Rosetta: “Complete capture.”
He displays an air of satisfaction. The five agents are lined up in front of him. Yuen is first to address the magician.
Yuen: “Hey. Let’s talk. Surely, we can come to an agreement.”
Rosetta pauses at his proposal.
Rosetta: “You’re quick to change your tone when the tides have turned against you. However-”
He grabs Hou and retrain him on the floor. The black circle expands below him and the rune circle appears at its center.
Hou: “NOOO!! LET ME GO!! LET ME GO!!”
Five branches of runes extends from the rune circle. Hou thrashes around to no avail as the branches slowly fade away. The other agents paid no attention to him and struggle their hardest to break free.
Hou grits his teeth and forces his will against Rosetta’s spell. Sparks flare from his body and his torso begins to glow red. Rosetta intervenes by channeling more runes from his arm into the rune circle.
Rosetta: “Stop! You will kill yourself as well as your teammates around you! Don’t be foolish!”
A jet of fire bursts out from his mouth and the air shiver as the dispersed mana radiates through it. The last branch of runes disappears and the jet of fire dies out. Hou is released from his prison and he collapses in exhaustion, panting heavily and sweating profusely. Rosetta turns to the four remaining agents who freeze under his gaze.
Rosetta: “Now you all look like lambs before a wolf. I’m not evil.”
Hong Hsu: “No, please! STAY AWAY!”
He reaches for the next one in line, Hong Hsu. As he is hoisted up, something broke free.
The magician recoils as Hong Hsu’s sword arm breaks free and slashes at Rosetta’s neck. The grip on his sword is broken and the sword lay embedded deep in the neck.
Hong Hsu: “You cursed monster! Why are you unaffected by our attacks?! We threw everything at you!!”
Rosetta ponders Hong Hsu’s frustrated cry as he pulls out the sword. Blinding white lines travel from his fingertips across the sword and cuts the sword to pieces. He places Hong Hsu down and faces the man’s face twisted with hated at the destruction of his weapon.
Rosetta: “It’s because I am a monster. A monster that you can’t defeat.”
Hong Hsu: “RRRAARGH!”
The black mass spread outwards from Hong Hsu’s body. The rune circle appears and nine branches of runes emerge.
Rosetta: “There is no mistake. Your magic is strong, but I’m not human. I am a being made of mana, something you have no experience fighting.”
Hong Hsu: “HNNGH! RRRGH!”
Hong Hsu struggles at hard as he can. He even recite prayers many times in his heart. The others have also stopped struggling and are not silent is desperate prayer.
Be it an answer to their prayers or just mere coincidence, something has distracted Rosetta and perhaps delayed their fate.
A huge silhouette smashes through the hole that is far too small for it. Floodlights from its front turn on and illuminated the entire empty floor.
Its engine growls at Rosetta. The machine is massive, akin to a medium sized tank. Rosetta walks forward and stands in front of the Chinese agents, as if protecting them.
Rosetta: “A stronger one has come.”
-Fssh Fssh Fssh Fssh-
A compartment in the machine opens and four missiles fly out at high speed.
Rosetta: “Are you serious?!”
He lunges forward to face the projectiles head on. His body swells in size and welcomes the missiles.
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