“Why am I alive? There were so many, I couldn’t have killed them all… it doesn’t make sense.”
“You sell yourself short,” Stheno said tartly. “You are quick, and careful. And you are a Moonsword. Legends of their magic may be lost in the shadows, but I know you will find them….” A very peculiar look crossed her face. She blinked, and squinted; as if she’d invoked Scan, though no betraying glow showed through obsidian lenses. “Ah. No wonder my scrying couldn’t find you. Kirito? Look in the water.”
He’d been avoiding that for days. He didn’t want to look at his face – his avatar’s face – and see the person who’d killed his guild.
But she says she couldn’t scry me. Stheno couldn’t find me?
Pushing aside thorny vines to get to the quietest pool, Kirito looked. Trees, roses, sky….
He wasn’t there.
No! We beat the Vampire Lord, he didn’t–
Stheno was at his shoulder, unflinching. Clearly visible in rippling water, resting her hand on what seemed empty air. Only when she touched his shoulder, her hand blurred. “This magic does not come easily for me. My sorcery draws on the bright sun of divination; yours, on the moon-shadows and night of darkfire. But I have fought from the shadows before.”
Her free hand traced dark runes in air. With a whisper, her reflection vanished.
But I can still see her. She’s just… shadowy at the edges–
Gazing at the hand on his shoulder, Kirito covered it with his own.
…Like I am. “Invisibility?” he got out.
“Nothing so simple.” Stheno’s voice was brisk. “Mold your magic against mine. We will lift it…. now.”
He hadn’t realized how much his head had hurt. It was like taking a sword out of his side.
My MP’s so low, it was starting to eat into my HP. I didn’t know, that was stupid-!
“It is called the Displacer’s Shadow.” Stheno sighed. “You must have been able to break contact with your foes, if only for a moment. It must have been a terrible fight.”
Kirito blinked, taking apart the spell’s name for what it might mean. “The monsters thought I was somewhere else?”
“Blur makes you seem somewhere else,” Stheno corrected him. “Invisibility makes you seem not there. The Shadow is not truly akin to either. Invisibility tells the world, you do not see me. The Shadow is, I am not here.”
Which wasn’t specific at all, damn it. Though it sounded as if he might have been partially incorporeal. Which… would have explained a lot about how he couldn’t remember if the door had ever opened again….