Rika opened a large book that was sitting on her bookshelf beside her desk. Setting the book down, the girl began flipping through its many pages. The book was filled with interesting news articles the girl had collected herself. Soon she found the page she was looking for.
“Mysterious hero takes down bandits outside the kingdom,” the girl read. Turning the page she found another article about the mysterious hero and than another.
“This is it,” Rika muttered to herself.
Gathering the news articles and stuffing them into a pouch inside her cloak, the girl made her way to the kingdom.
It took Rika nearly 20 minutes to reach the large city. The girl had only been there a few times since starting school with Mio, but she had never traveled there alone and at night.
“Where should I start looking?” Rika wondered to herself. The girl glanced around. The kingdom was huge and the streets were lit up with magic lamps that sat on the ends of tall poles. “Maybe…”
“Over here!” someone shouted from a nearby alleyway.
Rika turned. She wasn’t sure who was shouting, but if it was trouble than she was sure the “mysterious hero” would show up.
Rika ran as fast as she could and soon found herself standing in an alleyway. The girl spotted several men standing in front of an open door. They were packing things out of a building and setting them on a cart.
“Hey,” someone said, noticing Rika as he packed a chair out of the building. “Who do we have here?” he asked, smirking.
“I…was just about to leave,” Rika said, turning to leave. Before she could take a step, the man placed a firm hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Where do you think you’re going, cutie?” the man asked.
“I was about to go home, actually,” Rika said, laughing nervously.
“Why leave so soon?” he asked. “After me and my buddies finish liberating all this stuff from this shop, we were going to go out and drink! Why not join us?”
“Very tempting, but I’m not old enough to drink,” Rika said.
“You don’t have to drink. You can just sit there and hope we let you go at some point.”
“Oh boy…” Rika breathed.
“Hey!” yelled a girl.
The man turned in time to see a fist flying toward him. The man tried to duck out of the way, but the figure throwing the fist quickly turned on her heels and slammed her left foot into his stomach. The man was sent flying through the air.
“Do you idiots ever learn?” the girl asked, smirking down at the unconscious man.
The girl was beautiful. She had short, orange hair that fell to her small rounded shoulders. She had bright blue eyes and was dressed in a white shirt and matching shorts. Wrapped around her neck was a loose fitting red scarf. She wore several arm and leg guards and black gloves on her hands and matching shoes on her feet. Rika noticed that the girl’s knuckles were covered with a metallic plate and so were the toes and heels of her shoes.
“Hey guys! We have a problem!” someone shouted.
Rika gasped as a flurry of men rushed out of the shop and rushed after Rika and the other girl. “Excuse me for a second,” the girl said, smiling and winking at Rika.
“Wait! Who are you and what are you going to do?” Rika asked.
“My names Eiko, and I’m going to kick someone’s butt!” Eiko turned toward the men rushing after her. Ducking quickly to the right, the girl slammed the sole of her left foot into a man’s stomach than rammed her elbow into the back of the man she had just dodged. Leaping into the air the girl kicked the man she had kicked before in the side of the head. Twirling in midair she slammed her heel into the side of another man’s head.
Another man jumped over his fallen comrades and started throwing a fury of punches and kicks. Eiko easily blocked the punches and ducked underneath the kicks. Eiko suddenly leapt in the air and punched the man square in the nose, sending him reeling backward. When the girl landed she turned to Rika. “Not bad, huh?”
Rika was amazed at how easily Eiko fought a group of people who were taller and more bulky than she was, but somehow she had defeated them all in less than a few seconds. “Hey… You wouldn’t happen to be the mysterious hero I’ve heard about, would you?” Rika asked.
“I am, actually,” Eiko said, smiling proudly of herself. “And you…Hey wait. You’re the girl who defeated that plant monster, right?” Eiko asked.
“Yeah…well, Mio did, but I helped,” Rika said.
Eiko giggled. “I wanted to thank you guys. I really appreciate it,” Eiko said, scratching the back of her head. “I would have done it myself, but that was way out of my league.”
“Do you mind if we go somewhere else to talk?” Rika asked.
Eiko furrowed her eyebrows. “Sure,” She said. “Just let me get some guards to pick these idiots up first.”
“So what did you want to talk about?” Eiko asked, taking a seat in the booth. The girl was sipping on a root beer she had purchased.
“I wanted to know why you do what you do,” Rika began. “I mean fighting bandits, monsters, and thieves. Do you love this kingdom or something?” Rika asked.
Eiko shook her head. “No. I don’t love this place exactly. It’s the people here. I have friends and family who live here. The king and queen aren’t bad people either,” Eiko said, shrugging her shoulders. “I do it for the people.”
“I see,” Rika said, nodding.
“I also hate unfair odds and the injustice of criminals and monsters. They don’t care who they hurt! All they care about is getting what they can!” Eiko said, angrily.
“Preach it sister!” said the waitress, behind the counter.
Eiko giggled and blushed. “Sorry,” she said, to the few patrons who were in the restaurant. Eiko turned her attention back to Rika. “Is that all you wanted?” She asked.
“No. I wanted to ask you if you’d like to join Mio and me,” Rika began. “I can’t physically back Mio up because I’m a white mage, but she needs someone who can fight along side her and from what I’ve seen, you would make a perfect addition to our team.”
“I see,” Eiko said, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “Let me ask you something first. Why aren’t the school heroes doing any of this? I mean if they’d get off their lazy butts and fight, maybe the eternal shield wouldn’t be down now.”
Rika shook her head. “We have no idea. They just aren’t fighting anymore.”
“I see…” Eiko said. Closing her eyes and thinking. “Let me ask you one more thing. If I decided to fight beside Mio, would you back me up like you would her?”
“Of course I will,” Rika said, nodding.
Eiko nodded herself. “Alright. I’ll join you guys.”
The following day Rika told Mio everything that had taken place the night before. Mio was upset that Rika put herself in harms way, but she was interested in meeting the hero of the kingdom.
“So, she wants to meet me in the old arena?” Mio asked, putting her hands on her hips.
“That’s right,” Rika said. “I think she wants to go over our battle strategy.”
“I see,” Mio nodded several times. “I’ll be happy to meet her out there.”
After school the girls headed into the kingdom and made their way to the other side of the city. The old arena was a place where the royal knights used to train, but a newer arena had been built inside the castle, now the old one was used by the villagers and city residents. It was also well maintained.
The girls stepped into the arena and glanced around. The coliseum was massive and was well over two-stories tall. It was also empty and strangely quiet.
“You must be Mio,” said Eiko, hopping down from the stands. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“It’s nice to meet you, too!” Mio said, jogging up to the girl. “So you wanted to…” Before Mio could utter another word, Eiko threw a hard punch that was aimed at Mio’s nose. Mio dodged to the right and blocked two more punches that was aimed at her head. Mio took several steps back and went into her fighting pose.
“What are you doing!” Rika demanded, running up to the two girls.
“Sorry about that,” Eiko said, not taking her eyes off Mio. “I want to know what kind of person Mio is.”
“So ask!” Rika said.
“People can lie with words, but their bodies can’t. For instance look at Mio now. She may look confident, but her bodies shaking slightly. She’s nervous.”
“I’m not nervous,” Mio lied.
“You see?” Eiko smirked. “Mio, I want you to use your sword against me.”
“Are you nuts!?” Mio snapped.
“Are you saying you’d kill me?” Eiko asked.
Mio didn’t answer. She wasn’t sure if she could kill Eiko or not. She wasn’t even sure she could beat her. The girl took a deep breath and unsheathed her sword.
“Mio!” Rika cried, in disbelief.
“It’s OK, Rika.” Mio said, not taking her eyes off Eiko. “Just stand back.”
Rika did as she was told and took several steps back. She watched as Rika and Mio took several steps toward each other. Their eyes were locked onto each others. “Well than,” Rika said, suddenly turning away from Mio. “I think I can work with you two.”
“What!?” Rika and Mio said, at the same time. “What was that all about?” Mio demanded.
“I was just testing you,” Eiko said, looking at Mio over her shoulder. “I can tell you’re not a novice with that sword. Who taught you?” She asked.
Mio smiled. “My mom did actually. My dad was the homemaker.”
“I see,” Eiko said, laughing. “Well than. Let’s talk shop, OK?
“Sounds good to me,” Mio said, sheathing her sword. “We have a lot of work ahead of us.”