On a windy highland overlooking a vast black desert, the Badass Mage Kel lowers his binoculars and finishes off his last piece of Behemoth jerky. "Damn," It's been nearly three days of walking and he's finally reached the border to the sands. It's the only thing one can say looking out over the endless expanse.
A vast stretch of emerald steppe slowly gives way to an ocean of black sand, crimson skies that hang overhead, and the spotted skeletal remains of bygone civilizations protruding from the depths. Somewhere in that wasteland, is a legendary fountain whose waters can cure petrification by a Queen Gorgon and the badass was gonna find it.
"Hey," he says, turning around to face a young blue-haired girl with a rifle spear thrown across her shoulder. "Get lost kid, this is where shit gets real and I won't have time to change your nappies in there"
"I'm not a kid. I'm 17!" She protests.
"Oh, so you're a big kid then?"
"I'm not a kid ya rude-ass geezer!"
"...I'm not a geezer, I'm only 35!"
"Oh, so you're a young geezer then?"
And then the taunts came.
The girl whistles and runs around with her hands held out like she were balancing on a tightrope while Kel objects and exclaims at her about how old he is. Thirties is not old, where the fuck are these kids nowadays getting off saying that's old?! The Badass wasn't having it! He'd also profiled her by checking out her gear with the Alchemist's Eye.
She sported an iron-plated lightweight red crop top. Black mythril polymer skin suit underneath, yellow dragon-scaled scarf wrapped around her neck several times enough to cover the pauldrons on her shoulders, iron platings strapped over green camo pants, and black combat boots. Her armor is all aesthetics, most of the plating is something you could buy at your local bazaar but the scarf and the skin suit she's wearing underneath are high quality. Black mythril is the second toughest alloy in the world, it's highly sought after by blacksmiths because of how malleable the metal is. It can be shaped into almost anything.
There are a few patched-up holes in it though, she's been up against some serious foes to break through that armor…..or she could have stolen that gear off someone's corpse.
Her scarf had yellow scales, which could only mean it was the hide of a wyvern from the Gaganza Highlands. The only place you can find yellow and gold-scaled dragons. That area is restricted even to adventurers by the Imperium. So, she snuck in and managed to survive killing and taking a dragon's hide….or…she bought it in an auction somewhere.
The Weapon she brandished, was one of those new Trick Weapons that's been all the rage in the past four years. Weapons with multiple modes built into them. The Badass remembered them fondly the last time he was in a weapon shop, there was a scythe that could transform into a sniper rifle on display in the window. In this girl's case, she wielded a spear with a wide and pointed blade tip, barrel, stock, and thruster attached to the spear's wings. He couldn't help but wonder how this one worked.
He continued his journey walking toward the desert but the littleblue-hairedd adventurer continued whistling around him and this time instead of keeping her normal thirty feet back. She'd inched in ten. "How're those feet ol'man? Been walkin' a while. Those old' boys look like they've been kickin' cement"
"Alright! Alright! Alright! What's your name?" he wanted to break this shit off as soon as possible.
"Bullet" As a good gesture, Bullet responds by immediately standing up straight and giving her a scout's salute! "Bullet McCrickleberry"
"Ok ki–Bullet. I'm–"
"I know who you are!"
Kel recoils immediately. Oh no…
"You're the Badass Mage Kel fon Grantz! Master of a Thousand Spells! Siege Breaker of Ging's Canyon! The Savior of Xolattak Isle! Slayer of—"
"Ok! Ok! Ok! Thanks, I appreciate you looking into my exploits and all that...but you've been following me since the last town. Why?"
And with that question asked, Bullet, spins her spear overhead like a propeller before slamming the butt of it on the ground causing the earth to spit up a bit of dust. "Are you kidding me? You're the Badass Mage Kel! Whaddaya think you're just gonna walk by me without getting knocked off? I'm gonna be bigger shit than you ever could be someday! Time to knock you off that pedestal dude! This is the first chapter of the Legend of the Rise of the Badass Mage Bullet!"
Kel winces. Yup, it's one of them. One of the young bucks looking to measure and sharpen themselves on him like a whetstone. These brats are everywhere, it's one of the main reasons why he uses disguise spells in cities and towns. He's a celebrity only to try-hard punks like this though, he's incurred so many property damage fines over the years from being challenged randomly by these punks. Granted he's not in a town right now but it's still annoying.
Gotta shut this shit down; "Hey, I don't fight for sport, alright? So just…leave me alone"
Bullet raises an eyebrow; she looks like she'd been hit with a shovel. "Wait what?"
The Badass Mage turns away and continues his journey to the sands. He needed to get his hands on the purifying waters.
"Who the hell do you think I am huh?" Bullet suddenly screams!
Using her gun spear she slams the blade of the spear into the ground and pulls the trigger causing the blade to explode! The blast volts her over Kel's head and she lands elegantly before him. "You think I'd fall for something like that?"
"What?" It was Kel's turn to look dumbfounded now.
"You don't fight for sport? Your legend was built on fighting for sport! You're trying to trick me. I get it, think I ain't worth your time or something huh? I'll show your ass!"
Kel palms his face for a second; "No, I…I'm sure you're plenty strong. I just have something I need to…"
Before he could finish his sentence Bullet lunges at him with enough force to blast up a geyser of dirt! She thrusts at him but misses as he dodges with a simple step to her left! Mid-flight swings her spear and pulls the trigger again causing her heavy stick to shoot her back toward him!
THEN THE BADASS…continues walking and sidesteps her again!
'From above!' she thought as she hammered her spear into the ground and rocketed herself into the air over Kel. While mid-flight she reloads the magazine and bursts down toward him with another trigger press! She rockets down at him!
"Haaaaaaaaaaa! Exploding Dive Stinger!" While surfing on her Trick Spear she dives at the badass!
AND NOW…a slightly annoyed Badass starts a brisk jog to dodge out of the way of whatever this flashy move was.
Bullet CRASH LANDS and the impact causes an explosion with the flaming energy traveling through the earth and later escaping in five different points causing a star-shaped crater to burn into the sand behind Kel as he jogs away trying to remember if he'd left the front door to his house open or not before leaving to go on this adventure.
Meanwhile standing in a crater surrounded by stacks of smoke was Bullet, she grits her teeth and twisted her grip on the neck of her weapon. 'Dang it!' She kicks the forestock of her gun spear and it cocks with a CHA-CHIK as it deposit's an empty steaming shell replacing it with another.
'Dang it times 2!' she thought as she hops out of the smoldering crater. Though Kel was only jogging, he was getting away fast, he'd already broken the border between the emerald steppes and the dark sands.
'He's not taking me seriously at all. Heh, seems he ain't the Badass for no reason. But it's time to show 'em why I'm fitter for the part!" She thought watching the back of his iconic black biker's jacket as it and the dragon sigil printed on it, disappear beyond smokescreens of whipping black sands.
After jogging at 60 miles an hour for twenty or so minutes the Badass takes a short break in a sunken church. He managed to escape the battle crazed blue haired lunatic.
The church he'd stopped to chill at was an old dilapidated building slowly being swallowed by the sands. Through the rotted front doors and into the main hall there were cans of old sardines and a withered fireplace, pews were arranged around it.
Seems travelers used this place as a checkpoint, it smelled like musty old piss and iron in here though and that smell mostly came from the confession booth, it's likely they didn't want to excrete their waste outside out of fear of attracting sand sharks or dune worms. or dune worms.
Near the north wall of the church was a split statue of some god lost by time and behind that a wooden ladder leading to a hole in the ceiling. He didn't hesitate to take it up, to escape that smell of course.
The rooftops were covered in broken faded tiles but reinforced with leveled wooden decks. There were workboxes and tools, lying around as well as extra lumber. Seems the last crew that came through here wanted to build on this waypoint, a small makeshift lookout tower was fashioned out of one of the church's bell tower too.
The perfect place for lunch. He'd worked up an appetite dodging around that crazy blue-haired bird.
He picked the best seat in the house on top of the church's watchtower and admires the horizon. The greenery from the steppes was gone and surrounding him on all sides were the howling black dunes and crimson-rusted skies. It was beautiful…in a horrifying kind of way.
Once settled, Kel pulls from his travel bag, a black bento box!
"MUGEN BENTO-BAKO!" He exaggeratedly lifts the small box over his head!
The Mugen Bento-Bako was a lunchbox enchanted with magic and quite possibly the most valuable artifact in his possession. It's a lunchbox that's connected to an infinite dimension of tasty foods.
"Please! Gimme somethin' good! C'mon! C'mon! C'mooooooon!"
Kel reaches into the box and his hand dips into the tiny bento all the way to his elbow. He grabs something then pulls out a plate of Shrimp Scampi and Fried Coconut dusted Flat Shrimp with a side of Cocktail Sauce and a glass of lemonade!
"Nooooooooooo!" the Badass screams.
He throws the shellfish delight and totally hurls….for the Badass had a wicked shellfish allergy.
The Mugen Bento-Bako seals itself shut and a timer appears over the face of it, ticking down from six hours.
"Fuck me!" that was the downside of the Mugen Bento-Bako, for the badass couldn't choose which dish he would pull out of the bento. Every time he stuck his hand in, he'd pull out a different dish and never the same one twice, for fuck's sake.
He puts the bento away and simply enjoys the cold glass of lemonade.
Out on the horizon, however, a tiny azure light appeared. Dotted between the black sandy earth and the red skies.
The azure light drew closer and brighter as it did. "Woo…" he says in between sips.
The wind picks up and everything begins to tremor as the light grows closer, gaining shape into a blue-haired girl surfing on a rocketing spear! Bullet RETURN-ETH!
The Badass sighs, such tedium.
She flies over the church and cuts the thrusters to her spear, drops, and slams onto the rooftop of the church with no care to the construction of the rooftop or anything. The spare lumber and tools go flying everywhere which only serves to annoy Kel even further. Think about the hard work these people put in, y'damn brat!
"You're back," Kel says.
"Yeah, and you ran away…I didn't know the all mighty Badass Mage Kel was such a coward" She points out.
"Oh yeah, I run away from all kinds of shit. Mostly annoying assholes who wanna prove themselves with a pointless fight" He shrugs in response and finishes his glass of lemonade. Sour and sweet. Delicious.
There it is again, that moniker 'kid', 'girl', 'sproutling', 'young buck' she's heard her whole life by those jaded adults steeped in their own condescension. "Pointless? It may be pointless to you. But it's not pointless to me, it's my dream and I'm going to sit at the top of the magic world someday"
"Huh? You heard me punk. Why do you wanna be at the top? Why do you want to be a Badass in Magic?"
"That's none of your—"
"Tell me, or you'll be eating my dust again"
There was a pause. She looks at her own clenched fist for a moment.
"In this world, no one sees or respects you if you don't have the power to resist the forces that be. I don't want to subscribe to any corporations or governments! I want to have the freedom to take what I want, give what I want, live where I want, and go where I want. I want real freedom…the type of freedom only a Badass can obtain" She responds vigorously.
Childish but the Badass couldn't judge her. Twenty years ago he was saying the same stupid shite. To escape the Corpo-Rat race, to break away from the warring states that would enslave the weak and grind the strong into psychopaths. But it wasn't until he'd reached the ripened age of thirty did he realize all of that talk is bullshit…no matter how powerful one becomes at the end of the day you're still just another gear in the great machine we all call existence. So it's best to come to terms with things rather than fight against it constantly, it wears away the soul.
He leaps from the tower and lands on the same roofing platform across from her.
"Being a Badass….does do all of the things you said, you'll get your freedom. You sure as hell can give what you want, take what you want, and go where you want. But it's all meaningless without anyone to share that freedom with" Kel tips his sunglasses up onto the bridge of his nose to hide his red pupils. "In pursuit of being the 'Most Badass Mage of All Time'...I pushed away and fucked over...just about everyone, friends or foe it didn't matter because I was just a narcissist. I was such a self-centered little prick that I couldn't see them for how important and invaluable they really were, even my enemies. Give up on the Badass thing, it's not worth losing the people that love you" Kel replies.
Another pause befalls the church rooftops as the sound of the howling desert winds blasts in the background.
"That's ok...I don't have anyone as it is" Bullet replies with a soft tone she hadn't shown before.
Bullet looks down; "I come from a pretty long line of wizards and master magisters. Because of my last name, I was allowed to attend the most prestigious magic school in the world…"
"Krixarts College, School of the Arcane" Kel says. He knew it well, even though he was never allowed to attend being an orphan with no name. Anyone whose ever practiced magic has heard of this place. It was once called the founding place of magic.
She nods; "But I was kicked out, for studying forbidden magical arts and labeled an apostate. My family also disowned me, so I've been on my own for the past two years….I don't care if being the Most Badass Mage is going to make me lonely. I don't have anyone anyway….I just want to prove to myself, my family, and to those prissy snobs at the college that there's more than just one way to practice magic!"
The Badass didn't want to admit it but, he was starting to like this kid.
He was liking her so much that he started to grin a little bit. While his experience with learning magic wasn't the same, he could appreciate her will to prove herself in the arts. As he did, when he was told he had no talent for wizardry. Now he's invited by magic colleges across the world to demonstrate his abilities to young fledgling wizards and mages(invitations he never accepts because fuck them by the way).
"Ok…." Kel replies.
"Ok?" Bullet was a bit confused seeing the badass smile at her. "Wha?"
With that, he turns his back on her. "I accept your challenge, Bullet McCrickleberry"
Bullet's eyebrows jump; "Ah!"
"I respect your spirit. I can't hate people like you, no matter how annoying you are. I'll fight you without holding back" Kel replies as he clinches a fist. "But not here….let's move away from this structure"
With a big smile on her face and a song of determination in her heart, Bullet nods; "Un! Thank you!"
With that, Kel leaps off of the three-story high building and lands several tens of yards away. She couldn't quite jump that far but she used her spear's jet boost to shoot herself over. She lands with a smashing thud and a plume of dust shoots around her, slowly clearing to reveal her squatting into a serious battle pose with the shadow of death cloaked over her. Time to get real, son!
As the sands rustle at her feet it was Bullet's turn to size up Kel.
Badass Mage Kel is a striking figure with his ebony skin and imposing presence. He exudes an air of confidence and calm. His sunglasses, added to his mysterious and enigmatic aura.
His attire consists of a biker jacket that seems to fit him like a second skin, emphasizing his muscular frame. He also wears a scuffed leather wizard's hat on his head hiding his short black crew-cut hair. The hat's adorned with various magical symbols and runes that hint at the depths of his mastery.
Kel's denim jeans and black boots complete his outfit, giving him a rugged and tough appearance. The jeans are well-worn and show signs of many adventures and battles, while the boots look sturdy enough to withstand any terrain.
Unlike Bullet, none of his clothing was plated or armored, his clothes were purely aesthetics. This speaks to the confidence he has in his abilities which only served to make Bullet even more nervous. It's different when he's actually facing her to fight versus him ignoring her, there was a new pressure here. One she hadn't felt before, she's stared down all types of foes from high-profile fugitives, dragons that cast massive shadows over towns, and even cartel organizations. She felt the grip of fear in all those confrontations but there was always a voice within that wouldn't allow her to give in. A voice that said; 'It's not impossible'. That gave her a glint of hope.
Staring at Kel, that voice was silent. He represented a level that she had yet to even comprehend much less reach. It was scary facing an opponent like this but also…gawddamn excited!
Both Kel and Bullet stood on the windy sands surrounded by ruin and leering at each other.
Bullet activates her arcane energy causing a teal-blue aura to rise from her feet and swirl around her body like a whirlpool. "I Call Upon the Power of Zephryus, Avatar of the West Winds…" A magical seal opens at her back.
But…before she could finish the spell, SWOOSH! Kel appears in front of her and delivers a punch square to the chest! Wham! The impact sounded like a cannon shot and the ground tremored like it was recoiling from the blow! The magic seal she was chanting to breaks like glass and she's launched off like a rocket! "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!"
She smashes through three dune hills before rolling into a pit!
She lay there coughing up everything her body didn't digest from this morning's breakfast, her body was shaking uncontrollably, the shockwaves still rolling within her. Her ears rang, her vision blurred and her teeth clicked. From one punch, she was nearly defeated already.
'Get up! Get up! Get up! Get up! Get up! Get up! Get up! Get up!' her mind screamed through the shaking but her body couldn't counter the intense pain and pulsating seizures. 'GET UP BULLET! NOT AFTER ONE PUNCH…..I AIN'T G-GOIN' DOWN LIKE THIS!'
"Half a second…" suddenly a shadow casts over her as Kel appears with his hands in his pockets looking down over her and lighting a cigarette. "...that's how long it should take to cast a spell. Anything longer and you're dead. I wouldn't bother with chants either...they increase the power of a spell not nearly enough to pay off for speed"
"G-G-Gu-Gu–" she tries but fails to speak.
Kel sighs. He knew the battle would turn out like this afterall, it always does with these young punks. One punch and they're out for good. He was obviously engaged by this young girl's spirit. Even he can forget that the body can only dream of the things the spirit is capable of."Hmmm…I'm sorry kid, I'll help you inside…"
He reaches down to her gently—POW! Suddenly Kel's eyebrows jump as Bullet launches from the ground uppercutting him and causing him to bite his cigarette in half.
"DON'T LOOK DOWN ON ME, ASSHOLE!" She screams as blood spews from her mouth. Out of sheer force of will, Bullet fought against the ringing in her body and launches herself into the air. She flips and lands on her shaking noodly feet, raises her hand and summons her Gun Spear which flies over to her. She grabs it and uses to help her stand.
With blood dripping off of her chin she grin through bloodied teeth; "T-This fight isn't over…n-not yet!"
No. The fight's definitely over but that didn't stop the Badass from being stunned, not one of these upstarts ever survived a single punch from the Badass before. Intriguing! Another punch will surely destroy her. Or will it? Exciting!
Despite Bullet's bravado, her vision was spinning fast. How could she still be affected by a single punch like this? She couldn't sense any arcane energy coming from him, he had yet to activate it…meaning this was just a normal punch. Impossible…even through her armored skin suit?
"Heh….impressive Bullet! No. Badass Mage Bullet! Show me what you got…" Excitedly Kel raises his fists and begins to bounce on the tips of his toes, like a springy boxer.
More blood spews from her nose. 'My spells take too long to cast and I'm not strong or fast enough to fight on par with him…that leaves my trump card!' with that, Bullet chucks her spear at Kel.
He backhands the spear aside and it goes flipping off in some direction behind him.
Using that little diversion, Bullet explodes with arcane energy again. "Hissatsu Ougi…" a column of energy shoots to the sky and parts the clouds above her!
Kel starts to move but then he pauses as she watches her next movement. "Wait what?!"
Bullet raises her palms and in her right palm was a white mote with an oriental kanji glowing within and on her left was a dark purple mote with a crimson kanji glowing inside as well.
The Badass knew this technique; "There's no fuckin' way!"
Within that column of light Bullet smashes both of the orbs together which in turn is absorbed by her body; "...Hakkei Mode!" an explosion erupts from her body!
Kel punches through the concussive wave as it reached him breaking through the explosion and canceling it completely with his straight punch.
As the dust settles, a new Bullet McCrickleberry stands before him. She stands covered in a white chaotic orange aura, her aquamarine hair had changed colors to a glowing fiery red and flowing upward in a series of spikes. Her eyes were glowing with fiery chaotic energy and burned into her forehead was a mandala magic circle of eastern origin.
"What the hell?" Kel says. There aren't a lot of people who could pull a technique like this off…he hasn't used that technique in years.
He was so impressed with this sudden development that he didn't notice Bullet had vanished! She reappears right in his face and throws a punch! Wham! She slams it into Kel's face and this time he was the one to go flying!
He doesn't go far though as Bullet phases in above him; "HERE!" then drops both of her feet into his face causing him to slam into the ground! Pow! The impact causes a massive explosion of sand to shoot into the air.
The vibrations in the earth summons a giant dune worm that surfaces from the sand and swallows them and a chunk of sand!
While falling down the esophagus, Bullet throws more blows and Kel deflects and blocks them this time! Which each impact a miniature explosion of power erupts within the dune worm causing it to shriek and reel!
They both land in the worm's stomach!
They both land in knee-high stomach acid which has no effect on them as they continue the fight! "Gatling Typhon Sickles!" this new form allowed Bullet to cast three times as fast as she launched hundreds of green blades at the Badass!
"Perfect Reflection" This time Kel casts, creating a giant door-shaped mirror that absorbs Bullet's sickle spell and shoots the green arc blades back! Bullet quickly zips around them and comes around with her fist raised…POW! Kel roundhouse kicks her sending her flipping through the air then he follows up with an uppercut! Wham!
She goes flipping upward and ripping through the dune worm's stomach and spiraling into the air.
While flying upward through the air Bullet's body began to flicker, her hair slowly lose its spikiness and the chaotic energy was fading. Her time limit to use this explosive power was nearing its end.
"Haaaaaaaa!" Kel roars as he activates his flaming arcane energy which incinerates the giant dune worm and causes it to explode! He shoots up using the explosion as a jumping pad as he flies to Bullet. "C'mon kid….don't let me down! I'm only just getting started!"
'My body is shot to shit…I can barely lift a finger…I'm so exhausted…but…I can't give up! Giving up….ain't in my vocab bitch!'
"HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" Bullet screams as she commands all of her remaining magical energy! Storm clouds swirl around her as a massive magical seal rips a hole in the sky above; wind and lightning coalesce into a massive orb in front of her; "Heaven Shaking Pile Tornado Cannon!" with one powerful kick to the orb it explodes and transforms into a swirling beam of wind and lightning as it barrels toward Kel.
"That's it! HAHAHAHAHA! I'm sorry….for treating you like an upstart! You do have what it takes Bullet!" Kel clinches his right fist and charges it with arcane energy! "Blasphemous Incarnate Fist: Glaston Buster!" a build-up of anti-matter appears as a black orb over Kel's fist as he swings it at the approaching beam!
Both Kel's fist and the thunderous storm beam collide and his fist instantly parts the spell in half.
Bullet watches in horror as her strongest spell was completely torn to shreds and all she could see was Kel's fist coming straight for her. Just as his fist would hit her right between the eyes he stops, draws it back, and cancels the spell.
While in free fall both of them looked into each other's eyes, she could somehow see through his sunglasses. "You've got what it takes kid. Keep pushing yourself and before long you'll be able to fight me without dying" he says.
Bullet, too exhausted to speak, simply smiles as they both fall to the ground.
Kel lands before Bullet then he snaps his fingers and summons a pile of pillows to catch the unconscious girl.
The Badass couldn't help but burst out laughing; "That was really good, you little asshole"
Later that evening, Bullet awakens on a soft futon looking up at a dark cloudy sky and the smell of burning wood.
"Good, you finally fuckin' woke up. I really gotta get goin' so I was considering warping you to a secure location"
Following the scent of fire, she finds a metal drum with a stack of smoke wafting into the air and not to far from it was the badass, slow-cooking lizard meat using a miniature sun spell.
Bullet gets up; 'whoa, I feel great'.
Everything from when she'd first seen him at the pub, all the way to here. It all felt like a dream, she should be fucked up right now. Her body vividly remembered what it felt like to be punched by this man. She's been stamped on by a dragon, shot by sharpshooting hunters, torched in a prison, touched a searing hot pan, and even stubbed her toe on the metal frame of a bed. None of that could compare to Kel's fist. She felt different somehow, the color of the crimson sky peaking through the obsidian clouds as purple lightning shot over the horizon. The colors of the world seemed…somehow clearer. Her touch, smell, the taste of the salt and metal in deposits from the black sands everything seemed somehow more significant. His punch…it changed her and her mind wouldn't let her think of anything else.
"Damn, I feel like I can train for a hundred years and never reach your level" she admits walking over to him as he continuously waves his hands around the miniature sun, keeping it alive through deposits of arcane aura.
He doesn't say anything in return, after slow cooking the meat into jerky, he puts a piece in his mouth to chew then transmutes his miniature sun into twine to wrap the rest of the meet-up.
"Hey! Can I ask you something?"
Kel secures the meat in his travel bag; "Shoot"
"I know even when I was giving it my all, I could sense you weren't using full power. Even though you SAID you'd fight me seriously" Bullet was a little hungry too, so she reaches into her waist pouch and pulled out a stick of cheese, which only made Kel cringe. Being lactose intolerant. After biting a piece of the cheese she continues;
"So how much were using then? Of your actual power. Maybe in percentage?"
Kel pauses for a moment, no one's ever asked him that before. He's literally never had to calculate his power in percentage before. People who fight at the level he does, don't concern themselves with such a meaningless thing. Interesting.
"Ugh…if I had to put a number on it…I'd say maybe…" He raises his hand and raises only three fingers.
Bullet gasps; "What the hell?! Only thirty percent! Damn, that's not even half! Shit, I've got a lot of training left to do!"
Kel sighs; "No. Not thirty…three"
"Thirty-three?! That's oddly specific I thought you'd round down or something"
"No! Three! Three percent, ya little asshole"
"WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?! DA FUG!?"
Kel tips his sunglasses up onto the bridge of his nose; "Yeah. Just three percent. If I'd have gone as high as five I probably would have killed you"
Bullet comically falls over then jumps back up; "How?! Y-you had to have lifted the limit some when I transformed!"
Kel pauses. "No. That technique you used, raised your fighting power and spell-casting speed significantly. But it wasn't anything I couldn't handle at three percent already."
"This doesn't make any sense!"
It made perfect sense to the Badass though, no one goes to the third world and comes back to this one normal…or as far as you can get to normal in Fundament.
"I'm an S-class adventurer! My combat level is over a hundred fifty! I fought myself to the highest rank in the Adventurer's Guild Commission. And I'm this year's Champion of the Roman Budokai! I trained my ass off to win those titles! And basically a fly on your face?!"
Kel stands up and puts on his travel bag; "Just keep training. You'll get there…but I have a suggestion for you. That technique you used…Hakkei mode was it?"
"Oh yeah! Remember I told you I got kicked out of school for practicing forbidden magic? That was it…" She excitedly begins to spiel; "It's really kinda genius, you basically combine your spirit energy and your arcane energy and store it in your dan tian. The dan tian becomes supercharged and sends explosive power to all my chakra points, I can think faster, and my body moves before I can even tell it…it's super powerful and it's helped me end fights pretty quickly in some cases…but it leaves me super exhausted afterward. The technique was invented by a guy named…"
Kel raises his hand to shut this shit down; "...Y-Yeah yeah, I know the guy Yuan Bang. Really old wizard from the Sun Dynasty out in the east. Look, you're not using the technique properly…there's a third step to the transformation that you're leaving out, and every time you use Hakkei mode without that extra step, you run the risk of rupturing your dan tian and ending your career was a spell caster wholesale."
Kel turns his back on her; "Arcane energy isn't like the spiritual energy that comes from our bodies, Arcane energy is energy from another dimension. It's pure chaos and when you combine it with your spirit, you invite that chaos into your body. It doesn't matter how strong you are, your organs are soft and can't take that kinda strain for too long. How long have you been using that?"
Bullet leers down at her palm, a little shaken. She'd stumbled upon the technique by looking into the forbidden archives in the College. "As I said, it's my ace in the hole. I don't use it unless I have to…since I learned it, I may have used it five or six times before"
"Every time you use that technique you run the risk of destroying yourself. Learn the missing piece before you use it again" With that Kel was just about to jump when suddenly Bullet drops to the floor and buries her forehead into the floorboards!
Kel narrows his eyes beneath his sunglasses; "What is it now?"
"Make me your disciple"
"Hakkei Mode is an ultra-rare and super well-hidden technique. The only way you could know about it is if you know the real technique! Teach it to me!"
Or, he could have seen someone else use it. Or perhaps he read the literature on it. There are lots of ways he could know about the technique but she was right. The explosive form of Hakkei is a well-hidden technique and seldom spoken of even in most martial arts dojos despite it being more martial in nature. She was also right about him knowing the truth of Hakkei mode.
The Badass simply responds; "Ok…"
"COME ON! LET ME BE YOUR DIS—wait did you just say Ok?"
"Yeah" he responded.
"No fuckin' way are you SERIOUS?!"
"I said yeah. I told you before, I think you have what it takes to be the next Badass Mage. But you gotta do what I say…got it?"
Bullet nods; "Yeah yeah I got it!"
"Good….now, here. Put these on" He hands her a pair of sunglasses.
"If you're gonna be a disciple of the Badass Mage Kel, you gotta look the part. Never take these off…not even at night. And also…never use Hakkei mode without my permission"
The Incredible Adventures of Badass Mage Kel and his new disciple Bullet McCrickleberry begins, why is the Badass seeking the fountain of youth? What dangers lie in waiting in the waste? It all starts here, on the Sands of Oblivion!