Mashyuu and Rocky ran up to the others, far behind by the time his battle with the mole creature was over. Well after Itori had made her comment about sensing something taking souls Mashyuu ran up behind the others and took a moment to catch his breath. He wasn't sure why everyone had stopped but the Slayer didn't really care. In all honesty he needed to catch his breath. Mashyuu leaned against the wall and started to chomp down on the wall, eating chunks of it while swiftly swallowing. He continued to do this while the siblings spoke about the bodies in the room, something Mashyuu wasn't too keen on but his nose could smell the blood in the room. Once he was full and back to full power Mashyuu pushed past the others as they entered the room, not being rude but gently slipping in so he could get a lay of the land. "Someone had a wild party..." Mashyuu scanned the area and almost attacked the large mole creature until he realized that the thing hadn't attacked and was actually leaving the group in peace. Mashyuu half grinned and was about to say something off handed when he heard the siblings ask the others to go on ahead. Softly Mashyuu shrugged his shoulders and started for the stairs. "It can't be helped I guess. It's a soldiers job to bury their own. Come on Itori lets give these guys some peace. Try not to fall to far behind guys." Mashyuu stated while he moved up the steps and into the darkness of the hall. Rocky trotted along next to Mashyuu and stood up on its hind legs, striding just behind Mashyuu, glancing around at everything the hall had to offer. In retro spec. it wasn't much.
Mashyuu could hear Itori behind him and the Slayer smiled at the thought of her coming with him. Not because he had some crazy crush on her or something but because she was a good fighter and the last time the two had been paired up they made a very effective team. "...Hey Itori, when did you learn how to talk? Or rather when did you find your voice? Was it soon after our encounter on that strange island? By the way I owe you an apology for that. I wasn't trying to offend you. Or anything like that. I was just really trying to use each of our skills to the best of my knowledge. I won't underestimate you again. So I'm sorry." Mashyuu explained.
Off in the distance Mashyuu heard the sound of men all shouting about killing something and the Slayer stopped in his tracks. "Did either of the siblings say anything to you about others being hired to kill that guy? Because I hear at least twenty men shouting about killing something off in the distance. I'm sure you hear it too right?" Mashyuu asked, his sharp ears twitching while Rocky started to whimper at the obvious confusion in his friends voice.
Without warning Mashyuu rushed forward and slammed his shoulder into the door ahead of him. The Slayer smashed a pair of thick wooden doors inward to reveal a large room that looked almost like an old school gladiators arena, complete with sand on the ground and doors in seemingly every direction. In the arena were thirty treasure hunters all beating up one of the mole creatures. While Mashyuu didn't particularly care for the creatures he didn't like seeing a bunch of people gang up on the animal.
"Itori can you take the fifteen on the left? I want the ones on the right." Mashyuu asked while his slited blue eyes narrowed on the bandits. Mashyuu extended his right hand and from the palm of his glove a large clump of stone started to drop to the floor then floated up to his palm and formed a large one handed war hammer.
The thirty men, all armed with various weapons started to group up, fifteen to each side and to both Mashyuu and Itori. Rocky dropped to his hands and feet and started to growl while his wings beat hard, blowing sand out of the way of his wings. "Alright bitches... Lets see you gang up on me." Mashyuu ran forward and lifted his war hammer up in the air. He let go of the hammer and swang his right arm forward while his left arm went to catch the weapon by the handle. The man in front of Mashyuu recoiled, thinking the hammer would smash him. Nothing happened but a loud thwack smashed into the man on Mashyuu's left as the Slayer slammed his hammer into the Mercenary on his left. The man went flying through the air as Mashyuu's dragon ring Ux increased the power of his Dragons War Hammer.
As that same thug was flying up into the air Mashyuu raised his arm up and smashed the hammer into the thugs jaw, breaking it but not killing the man as he crashed into a friend of his. The other thirteen men rushed Mashyuu and surrounded the Slayer. "Earth Dragons Blasting Stomp!" He shouted and slammed his left foot forward. The sand shot up in thick chunks around Mashyuu, hitting everyone around him and hung in the air for a moment then shot out in a circular blast, hitting everyone yet again. In rage four men screamed and stabbed at the Earth Wizard. Mashyuu saw the attacks coming thinks to his ring and simply stepped forward into a man that was trying to clean out his eyes from a ball of sand. The man fell backwards as Mashyuu avoided a series of stabs. The Slayer twisted around and raised his palm out. "Earth Dragons Stone Fist!" He called out. The sand below him changed into a fist the size of a large man and rushed out fifteen meters, smashing into everyone in it's path. Half of the fifteen men went down with the simple spell.
Rocky rushed forward to help his friend, wings splaying open as it took to the air and inhaled. From it's mouth it released a spray of sharp stones into the face of the man Mashyuu had bowled over, knocking him out cold in the process. Six men remained Standing as Mashyuu took a step back to put some distance on the thugs and keep himself from getting surrounded again. Rocky landed at his side and the two took up fighting stances. A club lashed out for Mashyuu's head. The Slayer whipped his hammer about and knocked the club away from him while Mashyuu kicked out and knocked the man back a pace. As another man charged Mashyuu to try to knock him over, the Slayer jabbed the head of his hammer into the mans nose. The thug recoiled while Rocky slashed his claws up and froze the man in a stone statue form.
Just as the Slayer was about to cast another spell, two dark tendrils ripped up from the ground and grasped some of the men, tossing them through the air and knocking them out cold. "Oh I'm so done with this. Earth Dragons Secret Art: Exploding Spike!" He shouted out and between the four men a spike launched up and stuck into one mans leg, then exploded sending stone shrapnel into everyone aside from Mashyuu and Rocky knocking them out cold....
A look of annoyance travelled across Itori's face before it was hidden behind her default gentle expression as Kaede asked Miyuki's opinion on whether Itori was speaking the truth or not. While she did feel the annoyance at being doubted she could not really claim that she didn't deserve a certain level of distrust. After all she hadn't really given Kaede a lot of reason to trust her, and it wasn't like she was the kind of saint who never lied. In fact for a Kumiho such as her lying was a pretty usual tactic, since deception was one of her major talents and you could hardly deceive people if you weren't willing to provide information which wasn't true. Well, that wasn't completely the case, since you could also achieve a lot simply by omitting facts but otherwise not saying anything which wasn't true. However that did limit your arsenal a bit, and honestly Itori couldn't imagine why she'd hold herself to some kind of strange code which would allow her to deceive people but didn't approve of lying. That sounded like the kind of thing people could only ever think of for reasons such as honour and pride, and while Itori had pride in who she was she wasn't going to create a contradiction purely out of pride. As for honour, as mentioned before a Kumiho usually specialized in deception. That didn't sound like the kind of creature which thought very highly of such concepts as honour.
And then there was the fact that it was strange that something would be devouring souls without using any form of magic. Spirits could eat each other, but Itori assumed that her allies weren't used to the idea of spirits actually moving about and eating each other. Usually if you wanted to interact with a spirit you would have to use magic, and destroying or devouring a spirit definitely counted as interacting with it, even if that interaction was rather final. The only reason that she knew about these things was because she had lived a different lives from humans, and had an innate talent for finding and interacting with spirits. Although even then to encounter something which would devour that many spirits at once, in what seemed to be nearly an instant, was worrying even for her. Or possibly especially worrying for her, since she was used to dealing with spirits, and if that many spirits were either eaten or destroyed it could only mean that there was something really bad in this dungeon. Bad enough that the fox girl was seriously wishing that they had reconsidered taking up this contract. Dying would already be bad enough, but at least that would come down to her leaving this world and heading for whatever fate had in store for her. Her soul was too valuable for her to risk it just because some immortal knight wanted to die with honour instead of just letting something big eat him. It was truly unfortunate that she wasn't in a position where she could afford to turn tail and flee, leaving the others to deal with this job by themselves. Especially since she would prefer it if Miyuki didn't die. Well, she guessed that Kaede and Mashyuu were also better off alive, but unlike Miyuki she didn't owe those two big time. Itori sighed internally as she listened to Kaede and Miyuki discussing her trustworthiness. Mingling with humans always was the cause of trouble for her. Well, at least it looked like they were willing to be on guard.
As they continued walking Itori suddenly frowned as she smelled something. A very distinct scent, a scent which almost any predatory creature would immediately recognize no matter what other scents might be present. The smell of blood, and it was very thick. This strong a scent could only come from a lot of blood being spilled. The Kumiho made a face of disgust. She actually wasn't too fond of the smell of blood. She did have some predatory tendencies as a Kumiho but blood usually smelled too much like savagery for her tastes. She sniffed again, her brow furrowing as she noted that it smelled like human blood. And if her memory wasn't deceiving her (which was a very unlikely thing) they were heading straight towards the area in which the souls disappeared. The Kumiho brought one hand down to her sheathed sword, ready to bring it out while also tensing her muscles. Whatever was ahead of them she wasn't going to get caught. She wouldn't give anything the chance to take her soul and devour it.
When Kaede came to an abrupt halt and Miyuki complained about him blocking the way Itori shook her head. She was significantly taller than Miyuki and only slighter shorter than Kaede, which meant that he couldn't properly hide the scene ahead of them from her eyes. That and his body wouldn't block the scent of blood, which was so thick in the air that they might as well be swimming in it. It would have made Itori's eyes water if it wasn't for the fact that she had learned to suppress reactions like that. She doubted that Miyuki had, and she was at this point pretty much waiting for the girl to regret her curiosity. And just as she had expected, the moment that Miyuki managed to push Kaede out of the way and got herself a look the girl looked like she was going to empty the contents of her stomach, even going so far as to fall to her knees and clutch her stomach while looking rather green in the face. The Kumiho reached out and patted Miyuki on the shoulder, trying to provide a small measure of comfort as she studied the room they had just reached. Her expression was one of strong distaste, even disgust, but unlike Miyuki she managed to keep her stomach from rebelling. It wasn't the first time that she had encountered a scene like this. In fact the girl kneeling next to her knew of another time when Itori had seen such a slaughter, and that time had been much worse for the fox girl than what was in front of her, for obvious reasons.
The fox nodded silently when Kaede stated that whatever Itori had sensed it was dangerous. She had rather that they didn't need the reminder, but she would take it as a silver lining in this case. A rather small silver lining on a giant dark cloud which consisted of senseless cannibalistic slaughter and something which would consume souls. The bad outweighed the good by a pretty big margin. Although she was somewhat surprised when Mashyuu wasn't too intimidated by the sight. Then again he had a good nose, so he probably could smell it just like she had and had been able to prepare himself mentally. Still, most humans couldn't stomach something like this unless they had faced it before, which either meant that Mashyuu was made of surprisingly stern stuff or something interesting had happened in his past that Itori wasn't aware of.
Itori raised an eyebrow when one of those mole creatures appeared, but instead of attacking them it began to stack the bodies as if trying to clean up the place. That was actually rather surprising. Either the moles were more sympathetic than she thought or they preferred not having their home get defiled by the bodies of the slain. Well, if it meant that they didn't have to fight the thing she wasn't going to point out the surprising behaviour. The mole might hear and decide to correct itself to behave more like the ones the four mages had encountered before. When Kaede and Miyuki stated that they would help the mole take care of the bodies Itori nodded and followed Mashyuu. She herself thought it better to leave the bodies to the creatures that lived in this place, but if the siblings needed to honour the slain to find peace of mind she wouldn't get in their way.
Following Mashyuu Itori kept a wary eye out. This job was very quickly becoming a lot more dangerous than it had looked like when they started out. Even tentacles were preferable over having your soul destroyed, and coming from Itori that was saying something. And then there was the fact that there was something in here which could get so many people to rip each other apart in a manic frenzy. Most likely that was related to the devouring of souls, although that would mean that whatever it was it had one of the most savage feeding methods that Itori had ever encountered. And she didn't approve of savagery. However in this scenario the fact that something could behave like that and be unknown to her was worrying. She usually paid attention to what was going on in the world (a habit she had picked up as she tried to find her sisters. They could be anywhere but if she heard a rumour of a strange vulpine creature she would have a strong clue for what she should be investigating) and something like this should have drawn the attention of many. For it to be an unknown meant it was either managing to avoid being detected or simply killed anybody and anything which could possibly act as a witness. Neither option was very reassuring.
Itori's attention was drawn when Mashyuu suddenly began to talk, asking her about how she had suddenly learned how to talk and apologizing for his behaviour on the floating island. The Kumiho tilted her head to the side, her ears twitching as she listened to Mashyuu's voice. Tone, pitch, volume, method of speaking... Her expression was unreadable, a carefully constructed neutral expression, before she suddenly spoke. Or at least, she opened her mouth and Mashyuu's voice was thrown back at him.
"I accept your apology Mashyuu. But I have pride in my illusions, understand? I have practised with them for a long time. I'm confident that those thugs could never see through them. As for how I found my voice, that is a secret. Not that I'm trying to keep you out of the loop. It's just that it's personal. You understand, right? Maybe I'll tell you some other time. Right now I think we should focus on the mission."
Itori's expression stayed perfectly neutral as she spoke. However when Mashyuu asked his next couple of questions he would hear the Kumiho's own voice reply to him, which most likely was preferable for him. For one thing, Itori's voice was the kind of voice which she actively had to suppress so its beauty didn't enchant the people around her. For the other, hearing your own voice come from the mouth of another person, an imitation so good it couldn't be distinguished from the original, would unnerve most people.
"If our client has hired multiple parties to help him find the end he seeks the siblings did not inform me of the fact. Given the personalities of our companions it is most likely that if they did not inform us they are not aware of it, which would indicate that either the knight decided against informing those who would help him that they would not be alone in the endeavour, or the people you are hearing in the distance are here on business unrelated to ours. Nevertheless we should prepare ourselves. Given the way they are yelling and shouting I suspect they will react with hostilities regardless of whether we behave peacefully or not."
When they reached the next cavernous room (courtesy of Mashyuu breaking the door in) Itori glanced around, taking in the details. This place looked like the kind of arena humans would make so they could watch people fight each other and beasts to the death. A place very closely tied to their barbaric nature. And as if to drive the point home there were thirty humans in the room, busy beating up a mole who was clearly in no state to fight back. Violence for the sake of violence. Itori didn't know who these humans were, but she was pretty sure that their identities were of little importance. The only behaviour they displayed that was in favour of them was that they realized that Mashyuu and herself were more pressing concerns than the already defeated mole. Itori only nodded when Mashyuu told her to take down the fifteen humans on her side while he would take care of the other halves. The Kumiho had some time to watch Mashyuu and his elemental pet engage in their trademark brawling before focusing on the humans in front of herself, who were approaching her rather quickly. Apparently they found her less fearsome than Mashyuu. That or they were of the type who got the wrong idea when they saw a Kumiho like herself. It was unfortunate that she wasn't in the mood or the position to simply kill them. Well, she would just have to settle for disabling them.
Itori kept her sword in its hilt as she appeared to be simply waiting for her opponents to reach her. The humans, naturally, were somewhat wary of how the fox girl in front of her seemed to be content doing nothing even as they charged her. As a result they slowed down their approach, although they didn't stop. While they weren't of the intelligent type they did realize that if somebody like Itori showed up together with somebody like Mashyuu, and she acted completely unconcerned about the enemies in front of her, it wasn't because she was unaware of the danger she was in. However just because Itori wasn't showing fear didn't mean they would just leave her alone. For one thing she was in the way. For the other, Itori was still a Kumiho, which meant that her form was a rather enticing one. And seeing how these humans were dominantly male, that meant that their ability to make decisions was partially clouded by their libido.
The Kumiho meanwhile just stood there, still looking rather expectant rather than wary or afraid. It was only when the first human was only a yard or so away from her that she suddenly moved. However when she moved she moved fast. Very fast, in fact. The humans had little time to react before their leader fell to the ground as if a puppet with his strings cut. The fox girl they had been charging had apparently turned into a streak of white and red, avoiding weapons as she danced circles around them, still not having drawn her sword. The only sign that she was doing something aside from avoiding her opponents was that her hands were glowing faintly, which was only visible when she stood still for a moment before she once again began to evade attacks. While she danced amongst them the humans would find that she would occasionally touch them with both her right hand, which glowed faintly, and prayer beads which were wrapped around her left hand. However none of them could figure out what it was for until the first of them lost consciousness and collapsed. After that the humans became a lot more wary, but it was too late for them to defend themselves. The prayer beads had upon contact slowed them down, planted seeds of doubt in their head that combined with the drain on their spirit and energy meant their movements were sluggish and without any real sharpness to them. Which meant that it was rather easy for Itori to sent the remaining thirteen to sleep, one by one, until she was standing amidst a group of unconscious humans rather than a hostile horde.
Looking towards Mashyuu her fur bristled when she noticed that two of those despicable tendrils had appeared on his end. Well, at least it wasn't she who had to deal with them. However it was probably better if she helped him out, so she summoned for a bunch of kitsunebi and launched them towards the tentacles. Only to hiss when the tentacles were completely unaffected. Finally drawing her sword she slowly headed towards the tentacles, staying out of their reach as she prepared to turn them into fresh materials for sashimi.
he woman and her group of men had passed several other hunters as she followed Niyol like a lost puppy with tits. Each time they passed another hunter, the woman gestured for them to stop what they were doing and follow her, each one of them were males, each one of them had turned slightly jealous that Rosanne was following a man that wasn't him, each one of them increasing Niyol's level of annoyance. Before long, Niyol had entered an enormous chamber with a unit of twenty nine men, and one Rosanne behind him. In the center of the room was a massive rock formation that caused Niyol to raise an eyebrow, as he figured something like that was a bit out of place in a labyrinth... Rosanne looked at it and grabbed a pick axe from one of them men, walking towards the rock formation to check for something along the lines of valuable shit... Something in Niyol's gut made him feel uneasy about it, and he instantly switched his eyes to Soul Sight, allowing him to see the souls of all living creatures. That's when he noticed it... four legs, massive wings covered in stone... it wasn't a rock formation at all. "Don't touch that!" Niyol shouted as Rosanne slammed her pick into the rock, a confused expression on her face.
An arm... or... leg covered in rock swung out, slamming the spiked stones into Rosanne's stomach and impaling her before being ripped out while sending her clear across the way, slamming into the wall behind Niyol and the group of men. Suddenly, all the doors in the chamber were sealed with a slab of stone and the men all began huddling together. Niyol, a natural born leader that was forged by pain, hammered out by suffering, beveled by trials, and tempered by everything else life had thrown at him immediately turned to the men. "All of you fan out, you'll die together like that." and immediately the men scattered, causing the gargantuan beast to begin looking around and trying to pick which meat snack to take on first. "N- now wha- whadda we do!?" one of them closer men asked. "Do any of you use magic?" "Jimbo over there's a wind mage." Niyol turned his gaze quickly to see a rather large, brawny looking fat guy with his finger up his nose and the name "Jim-bo" tattooed on his arm. "Does anyone else know magic!?" he hollered back. Niyol honestly didn't want to put any faith in the inbred, half wit, meat head and his possible unstable magic but it seemed that he'd have no choice.
A blast of fire came his direction, the large beast smart enough to see who their leader was. Niyol, while not nearly as chummy with any of these people as some of the others were, he was instantly placed in the position of leader as he was the one who expressed not only the intelligence to fight something of this size, but balls big enough to do it too... that said, some of the men wondered if he stored his nuts in a separate dimension, cause his pants were obviously too small to contain them. "Who are you to come and face me flesh toys!?" the beast spoke, something that Niyol hadn't expected. He studied its size, the shape of its wings... Niyol stepped forward, his left hand at the grab of the blade on his left side. While this normally was a bad way to hold a weapon, or at least draw it, Niyol had several tricks that made drawing it this way no less effective than drawing it proper. "I am Niyol, the Guardian of Souls. Who are you large beast?" "I am a being of greater power than all of you piles of meat combined!" Niyol scoffed at the answer received, knowing that kind of arrogance from lore, this had to be a dragon. "We humbly apologize to you, greater being, and if you would let us pass you'll not hear nor see of us again." "Or I can kill you and remove your vile stench from this world entirely..." "Then will you allow us time to form a vain plan by which to combat you?"
The creature sat down on its hind legs and let out a grunt. "Fine then human, I will permit you five minutes to converse." Niyol gave it a bow before turning back and addressing the men, calling them all to come closer. "You got a plan shirtless guy?" Niyol glared at the man, causing a small tingle to fly down his spine. "First off, I am Niyol. Second, you are all now united with me under a single banner. We shall all fight in unison, and achieve victory as such. Should we die, we shall die as comrades, and not strangers." the men had changed their glares to be slightly less strong as they accepted those words. "Jimbo, I'd imagine this creature to be a dragon... use your wind magic to subdue its flames if you can." the large man nodded, making Niyol feel rather shitty for placing him in a position of importance. "The rest of you surround it, and try to find weak spots to hit it. The creature seems to have no armour under its stomach so that may be your best bet." "And what'll you do?" "I will keep it distracted by taking it on from the front." The men all paused, the idea of someone willingly facing a dragon head on... it was suicide even if you were a dragon slayer. "If we make it through this... I'm givin' ya a portion of my loot." one of the men said in reverence to Niyol's massive cojones.
"Hey guy... you got some crazy power right? I mean... you gotta be strong to face that thing, or.. or crazy." Niyol turned to look at the man through the corner of an eye, a slight grin on his face. "Why must you be one... why can I not be both?" Niyol's spiritual pressure began increasing as his magic was starting to be released. A dark blue and black aura took over his being, the scars on his body glowing black with tendrils rising from the floor. The dragon let off an interested grunt and began standing up as he saw the humans fanning out with Niyol turning to face it, drawing his sword with a large grin on his face. The other soul mage in the ruins might be able to sense the gravity changing more than the non-soul mages, but more so she would feel a demonic energy filling the ruins and rushing in Niyol's direction... "Alright Dragon..." the sound of a hundred voices came from Niyol's being. "Let's get this started." Niyol lunged forward at an immense speed and the battle began. Somewhere in Hargeon, a certain grey haired wizard would sneeze for no apparent reason...
he siblings were walking casually while their comrades were beginning the fight a good ways ahead. Miyuki paused with a rather distressed expression on her face as she awkwardly turned to look in the direction they'd come from. "K- Kaede..." her voice was shaky. Kaede turned around and raised an eyebrow, questioning what had made her so flustered. "I.. forgot my swords back there..." Miyuki gave an awkward smile as she said it, trying not to freak out too heavily. Kaede gave a rather unsympathetic look before turning back around and walking in the direction Itori and Mashyuu had headed. She felt her head flop down in a disheartened position, knowing that she couldn't 'just make another' since there was no way to cover it up... well, not without killing the one person she would never be able to kill.
After several minutes of walking, Miyuki spotted an armoured skeleton laying in the corner and got an idea. "Kaede hold up!" she shouted while running to the corpse. "Any weapon that thing's got would have to be either destroyed, or one hit until it is." he replied but made no attempts to stop her. Miyuki shifted the dirt around, acting as though she'd found something and stuck her hand in the hole, pulling out a rather old looking spear. She grimaced at it saying "If it breaks I guess I'll just adapt... but it probably will break after one stab..." with a slightly unhappy tone. She really did hate lying to Kaede, knowing that if anyone, he was the one she could trust the most with the secrets of her magic. One of the better aspects of the pendant Eone gave her was that it almost nullified her magical presence. All humans, even those unable to use magic had magical presence, and the pendant reduced Miyuki's down to exactly that level. Even when she used magic for something, like her having made the spear just now, while wearing the pendant her presence didn't spike in the slightest. It was the best camouflage she could ask for... As for why Kaede had to stay in the dark, Miyuki didn't want someone without magic to know about her abilities since he was easier to capture than she was. What's more, he would die before spilling the beans which in turn meant Miyuki would have to make many heads roll, or at least, the heads of whoever hurt her dear little brother.
Suddenly the badger mole thing from not so long ago came out the ground. Not knowing it was that exact one, Kaede and Miyuki both readied themselves for a fight only to be surprised when it walked up to Miyuki and used its nose things to push the spear aside. It approached Miyuki and sniffed her, then gave her a quick lick that made her giggle. It let out a strange sound and leaned to a side, warranting Miyuki to put on a big smile. "Wh- what in the hell are you doing!?" Kaede hollered. "I'm gonna ride a badger thing... duuuh. Now get on so we can catch up to the others faster." Kaede released a defeated groan and slowly made his way to the... thing... and scrambled to get on, sitting behind Miyuki. Niinii jumped on and sat on its head, waving her tail with excitement.
Ten minutes later, back with Mashyuu and Itori, a door had opened allowing another horde of men to charge in. At the same time, Miyuki, Kaede, and the badger mole flew out the door Mashyuu knocked down with Kaede jumping off the thing, rolling to the side and tossing his buckler shield to slam one of them in the face. Miyuki's mount felt her standing on it and made an abrupt halt, sending her flying towards the group of prey where she slammed down with her spear fully impaling one of their legs. She rolled forwards, taking advantage of her small stature and headbutted one of them in the junk. Naturally he fell back with his hands on his balls, allowing Miyuki to slam her foot on said hand and jump, grabbing the one behind him by the arm as he tried lunging to stab her with a dagger. The arm was pulled and easily snapped, the weapon seized and used to stab the man in the back of the knee.
Kaede had charged in as well, picking his buckler up just before bashing a man in the face with his tower shield. He ran up and ripped the spear from the one guy's leg, the poor bastard letting out a howl of pain as Kaede spun around slamming it into the back of his leg and tripping him. Using only one hand to work the spear, the same one with a buckler on the wrist, Kaede smacked a man in the face with it and spun around to slam another with his tower shield. A knife came from the side only to be blocked by his buckler shield and the wielder be stabbed in the spine by Miyuki. Some men had encircled the siblings, only five or six and all charged at once. Miyuki and Kaede looked at each other before Miyuki performed a back flip, Kaede turning and pressing his buckler to his sister's feet and letting her spring off it. He himself charged one of the men and jumped, leaving his tower shield behind and flipping over the man with the shield itself bouncing and flipping over. The man Kaede jumped over in turn, tripped over the shield by means of the bladed end hitting his balls and permanently ending his ability to have children as well as removing his legs. The other men all turned to look at their friend, Miyuki taking the time to quickly ram her borrowed weapon into their knees long before they could remember that there was a second sibling. With that lot taken care of, Kaede walked over and grabbed his tower shield, looking at the spear and saying "How come this thing hasn't broken yet?" with a truly curious expression. "Evidently it has a metal core, I only notice when I stabbed that first guy." Miyuki replied informatively. She took the spear from her brother and the badger thing came up and nudged her back with its nose. Looking across the way, the siblings noticed Itori and Mashyuu dealing with a pair of tendrils but not having enough room to help them, the siblings decided to help them by staying out of their way.
Standing still with Rocky at his side, Mashyuu had his back to the tendrils and was taking heavy breaths of air while looking at the men on the ground who were all either out cold or groaning in pain. His nostrils flared up with a new scent appearing behind him and the man took a deep breath of annoyed air. The brown haired man was about to turn when Itori launched a strange spell at the things behind Mashyuu. The spirits raced past the Slayer and moved his perfectly spiked hair for just a moment.
His eyes grew wide while she drew her blade and rushed towards the Slayer. Mashyuu took a series of steps to the side as Itori launched past Mashyuu. Rocky let lose it's claws and raced to join the woman in a joint attack. Rocky dove down at one tendril and cut at the thick root of the lashing tendril before it batted Rocky away like a fly, sending the Gargoyle bouncing along the stone ground.
"Rocky!" Mashyuu shouted with anger. The Slayer didn't know what he could do against the creature that seemed to be impervious to all but slashing strikes. He let his eyes fall on Rocky as the creature started to pull itself up and Itori doing battle with the monster furiously. If nothing else he could support her.
A single Tendril lashed for Itori's side and Mashyuu threw his arm up sharply, a stone wall shot up between the Tendril and the beautiful Itori, protecting her from a smashing strike. "Tell ya what! I'll keep you safe from that thing if you don't speak using my voice again. That was truly terrifying to hear." Mashyuu shouted.
He wished that he had a way to help her in some other way. Suddenly more men poured into the room and the siblings joined them, defending both Mashyuu and Itori from coming under any more attacks. The Wizard grinned and put his attention back on Itori, swinging his stone wall around to keep the woman safe while she did her work...
Itori's ears twitched as she heard more adversaries enter the room, more humans who were here for some reason she couldn't fathom. The only reason she was still in this underground complex was because she was pretty sure that even if she suggested it Mashyuu and the siblings would be unwilling to leave, and she didn't think leaving Miyuki alone here would be a good idea. Well, the males as well, but the Kumiho didn't really place their lives in the same category of importance as Miyuki's. Miyuki was the one who had actually helped Itori find the solution to a problem which had plagued her for literally as long as she had lived. That and for some reason Miyuki seemed to care a lot about her, and had shown her a lot of things she really didn't have to show unless she wanted to trust Itori completely. As a Kumiho deception and betrayal weren't that unnatural for Itori, but she still would feel better if she didn't do it unless it was necessary to ensure her own survival. And as dangerous as this place was becoming, it hadn't quite come down to that yet (although Itori was getting worried that she might be holding off from running away until it was too late. It wasn't too uncommon that somebody who believed themselves completely willing to do anything to survive found themselves in a situation where for some reason they kept putting off doing the more nasty things until it was too late). So Itori had little choice but to try her best to find a way to ensure their combined survival, although she put her own and Miyuki's lives above Kaede's and Mashyuu's. Kaede may be Miyuki's brother but he had been acting rather hostile for a while before finally showing himself willing to try again, and while Itori was curious to see how he would change his opinion of her she wasn't going to risk her life saving his just so she could see it. As for Mashyuu...well, honestly with him it was more a case that he was a human who had given her no special reason to find his survival more important than that of most humans. Sure, he was a fellow mage of Sabertooth, and one who was willing to cooperate, but Itori didn't bond that easily.
As for these humans, maybe they were lured in by the promises of treasure. Underground places like these tended to have hidden treasures, after all. Of course the main reason why those treasures counted as hidden was that nobody had been able to find them yet, and one of the reasons why people couldn't find those treasures was because the ones that tried to find them tended to die. With how long humanity had existed, combined with their curiosity and adventurous spirit (and their greed), any treasure which hadn't already been taken was either really well hidden or protected by something which didn't want it taken and wasn't against making sure nobody lived to speak of the treasure. Given what she had already noticed in this place Itori was pretty sure that if there was some kind of treasure to be found here other than some old knight who wanted to die it was the kind of treasure which was protected by something. Which made it all the more likely that even if these humans weren't taken down by herself and her companions they would die anyway. Still, for now she'd have to avoid killing humans if she could. And other animals, although she wasn't entirely sure if Miyuki's aversion to killing extended to creatures other than humans and if she minded if others killed. Well, better to play it safe.
Although naturally the tentacles that seemed to grow out of nowhere in this place were an exception. They were an exception because there existed nobody in this world or any other who would be able to reduce Itori's hatred towards tentacles to an extent where she could even contemplate the uses of leaving a tentacle alive. Tentacle=kill. Miyuki's aversion to killing was of no concern here, and even if Miyuki were to ask her to not kill the tentacles the fox would point out that this wasn't even some creature she was killing, just one of the most horrible types of appendage to ever have been created that happened to be sticking from the ground, walls, or ceiling. Most likely it wasn't even a completely biological tentacle, since normal tentacles didn't sprout from solid rock and earth and flailed about wildly like that. Not alive, thus Miyuki couldn't complain if Itori did her utmost best to utterly erase it from existence. Although for some reason the tentacles were unresponsive to any type of magic that had been thrown at them so far, so complete erasure would be difficult. It was truly sorrowful that she had to resort to merely cutting them up, since that still left them as...well...tentacles. There wasn't really anything Itori could think of in the spur of the moment that was worse than a tentacle which she couldn't annihilate. It was one of those things which could give you nightmares. Nightmares you might not even be able to wake from.
With all this said, Itori's fur bristled as she once again turned into a blur of white and red, her slender white sword swirling around her as she began to very quickly slice the tentacles into small, small, really small pieces. Any part of the tentacles which came too close to the hateful Kumiho would immediately become the next target of the fox's fury, Shitenka lashing out again and again until the tentacle which dared get too close practically fell apart into those miniscule pieces. Itori didn't even bother to acknowledge Mashyuu's actions or words, especially since even if he hadn't used the earth to protect her the tentacle which had tried to strike at her would have found itself suddenly disintegrating. Itori was a thousands years old Kumiho who during that time had done basically everything to survive, including practising and mastering the use of the type of sword she was currently using. Even if these tentacles didn't care about magic they still didn't stand a chance against the Vulpine Siren, especially since their mere existence angered her to such an extent that she was incapable of holding back. Only all-out annihilation was an acceptable approach to dealing with tentacles. The only reason that Itori didn't travel the world to destroy all tentacles was because she would rather spend her entire life never, ever getting close to one.
Her ears twitched again when Miyuki and Kaede arrived riding one of those mole creatures, but the fox didn't bother to acknowledge their presence as she was still busy with these stains upon reality. She had already inflicted quite a bit of damage but the tentacles, being such awful and horrible things, didn't know when to just die and stop existing. Under other circumstances Itori would have asked why the siblings were riding the mole, but that would have to wait until she was done fighting her own opponents. Which wouldn't take much longer, as there was simply only so much tentacle and Itori was turning them into sashimi at a very rapid pace. Soon she would reach the base of both tentacles and separate them from the ground, after which she'd slice up everything that still remained. At least she had the minor advantage that the tentacles seemed to keep aiming for her, which meant that she didn't have to worry about chasing them down as she sliced them into such small pieces that even the great sages of the heavens would not be able to find all of them.
iyol unfolded a pair of feathered wings, clad in black and coated with a gently glowing crimson aura. The wings flapped a single time, sending forth a blast of wind that Launched Niyol straight up and over top the dragon. "What's this!?" it exclaimed having been taken surprise by the fact that, that lowly human, the one whom he'd be picking his teeth with its bones soon had actually displayed some form of magic. Like most, the dragon had initially sensed very, very limited amounts of magic in the room besides its own. Among those with magic, Niyol was not present in its eyes. The sudden aura, the sudden tendrils, the sudden application of wings and the display of and uncaring nature was something he hadn't seen coming. However, this was only a momentary surprise and was immediately taken over by a sense of glee as it opened its mouth and fired a blast of fire at Niyol.
Wind, a gratuitous amount of it had shot out and cut the flame in half. A quick glance at the source had shown a rather large, dopey fellow smiling as he shot the wind from his mouth with both hands cupped over it. The scythe filled with Niyol's aura and he slammed it down releasing a massive shock wave as it came down. The beast slammed its foot on the ground, rocks flying up and smashing the men closest to the dragon and sending them flying back. Those who were unfortunate enough to be wearing armour found themselves impaled on said rocks, permanently removing them from the fight. It then swung its head, flinging Niyol across the way with his weapon still stick in its nose. Niyol dug his feet into the ground, sliding across with only his magic armour preventing his bare, exposed feet from being flayed by the rocky floor. A wide grin grew across his face, seeing the creature taking in a deep breath. Niyol had heard of this attack, it was an attack used by dragon slayers but he knew it would be on a weaker scale by those failures. "All units, clear a path!" he hollered immediately followed by all the men in the middle moving aside.
"Earth Dragon Roar!" the beast cried out, unleashing a hellish blast of rock dust at Niyol. Grinning from ear to ear, the soul mage stood in place allowing the attack to hit him and trying to absorb it into his aura. "Pulse!" he replied, sending a blast back through the roar and hitting the dragon in the mouth. The dragon reeled back, coughing and snarling as it tasted its own medicine. The dust settled from the attack around Niyol, revealing his skull was visible along with chunks of his arms and legs being shredded from the hit. Niyol's purple eyes were alive, his grin revealed a pair of fangs where incisors should be. The bits of destroyed flesh and removed head pieces began healing over, earning the official fear of the common humans who had accompanied him. "So that's what a dragon's roar feels like!" he exclaimed with a rather joyous tone. "Are you impressed human!?" the dragon replied, equally glad to fight such a target, even if it was a lowly human. "Of course greater being! That attack was simply spectacular! What do you say we finish this with a final clash!? Your best against mine!"
The dragon put on a grin, the men still staring at Niyol like he was a freak of nature as the bits of flesh continued healing itself at disgusting speeds.
aede and Miyuki both watched as Mashyuu and Itori, well... just Itori, shredded through the two tentacles. There was a part of Miyuki that wanted to run up and compliment Itori for taking them both out herself, and tell her how cool she looked. There was a part of Kaede that wanted to question why it was that all the slimy things in this place seemed to be targeting the Kumiho with a burning passion. The same side also noticed Itori coming at them with a vengeance, and wanted to question what it was about the tentacles that made her abandon her semi-pacifistic ways. While back in that strange planet the three had performed their last mission on she completely demolished a tree with a single hit, the tree was rather large and had already disposed of Mashyuu. Then she had, on the same mission, annihilated quite a few men; but she was extremely angry for a reason that completely escaped Kaede.
The mole... badger... mix... thing... had vanished from sight, a hole in the ground being the only thing left, letting them know it had gone off to do mole badger mix thing, things. The siblings made their way to Itori and Mashyuu, both suppressing their questions or comments for Itori. Miyuki looked to Mashyuu with a stern expression and said "You might wanna jack a blade from one of those guys." She used her thumb to point behind her to the plethora of downed men and women moaning from the recent ass kicking they'd received. "Them tentacles seem to only be effected by stabbing and slashing." Kaede said, finishing Miyuki's sentence as the pair normally did.
A loud squeal was let from Miyuki as something large... larger than her (which isn't that hard to be)... had came up from under her legs and lifted her off the floor. She had toppled over, her body landing on a fuzzy, white head and gripped the hair while her eyes were shut. Kaede had turned and readied his shields, only to find it was the badger mole. The mole nudged its head upward, as though trying to nudge Miyuki herself, and the woman sat up on its neck. Some hair had slid to the front of her face, only to be pushed back to reveal Miyuki with a semi-confused expression. "What the hell is with you and that thing?" Kaede asked as he slowly lowered his shields. "Beats me... guess I'm gonna have to switch my class to a Beast Tamer." she said with a rather relaxed voice. Niinii had ran over and jumped up on its head, turning to face the ground as she sat in front Miyuki. "I'm not getting on that thing... That IS a wild animal you know... it'll probably tear you in half when you're not looking or something." "Oh come on, where's your sense of adventure?" Miyuki was smiling from ear to ear, already showing signs of being slightly childish ad playful. "We're not here to ride rodents..." "Hey, it's only part rodent! I think... And it's super cute..."
Kaede tapped his head on the top of his tower shield, seeing as his hands were preoccupied at the moment with carrying the shields, otherwise he would have face palmed properly. He then turned around and slowly began walking towards the only open door in the room that wasn't already opened, figuring it was probably the route that none of the hunters, or the group themself, hadn't gone through. "Oh come on Kai, have some energy! Give a us ROAR!" she said while smiling about her new mount. Kaede let out a half assed groan, not too thrilled about adding a wild animal to the group. Suddenly, Niinii let off a high pitched howl, closing her eyes and seeming to strain to make it as butch as possible, though it was still heartmeltingly adorable. Once finished, the foxesque creature straightened up and began waving its tail. Miyuki began giggling, unable to contain herself when something so cute tried being hardcore. She stopped soon enough, though the smile stayed on her face from her current situation. Kaede had realized he'd never actually released the spear in his hand and tossed it to Miyuki, her catching it flawlessly.
Like a hot knife through butter and jam, Itori made more than quick work of the tendrils in front of her, so much so that Mashyuu barley had to block the strikes of those lethal creatures. Rocky sat at Mashyuu's side looking around at the group with wide stone eyes. The Earth Slayer sniffed the blood in the air and felt his body grow sick with worry. He wanted to thank Itori for the help but found himself unable to move for a long period of time. The Dragon was close and Mashyuu could sense it. Smell it... He could taste it in a way. This place has made a monstrosity of my old body! Ux shouted at Mashyuu, causing him to jump in place and snap back to the world at hand.
The Wizard flashed a less than toothy grin at the Wizard Itori and the soldier siblings. "Yeah... A bladed weapon. Heh. I'll do that. Say Itori, thanks for the save there. I really owe you one. Umm can I talk to you over here for a second? It's nothing major but I just wanted to get your opinion on something and if your thinking what I'm thinking then I'll share my thoughts with the rest of you. But I don't want to worry anyone if it's not needed." Mashyuu motioned for Itori to follow him while he stalked over and picked up a long blade made for slashing as opposed to stabbing. He looked the weapon over and gave it a few swings. It wasn't a hammer or staff and the fact that Mashyuu hadn't used a sword before was clear by the way he was swinging the weapon around. With any luck one of the sword users in the group would have helped to show him what to do. He glanced at Itori and pointed to his nose then his ears. "Do you sense it? That terrible earthy smell. It's worse than mine. The blood that runs through it is... tainted. It's an Earth Dragon. But it doesn't unleash Earth magic from it's mouth. I can't place it. We need to be worried. I don't think I can eat it's magic. And I think there are more of these guys in here. Maybe they were hired to kill this beast. Maybe it's a test before we fight that Knight. I don't know but if you don't sense it maybe I'm just going crazy..." Mashyuu explained and waited for Itori to reply.
A moment later he stalked back towards the others as they all moved towards the only door left open. "So that Dragon you warned us about... I can sense it. If you want that mole, badger thing to survive and fight another day I suggest sending it back the way we came. Otherwise it might not make it through the rest of thi- I can hear echos down the hall... A lot of them. You guys ready for whatever is in the next room? I get the feeling the rest of those soldiers are up there." Mashyuu stated.
The Wizard pointed to a closed door made of solid stone and could hear the muffled sound of panic in the next room some forty feet away. The Wizard steeled himself and kept the sword he picked up on his left hip. By extending his right arm back a bright light erupted from his hand and the Oni Gauntlet he had gotten just a few short days ago sprouted on his hand with the Thunder Orb glowing in his left palm. He still wasn't sure what it did but didn't want to risk it. Closing his left palm the orb vanished and the Slayer charged the stone door. In a thunderous burst the door caved in and a massive wave of heat hit the Slayer. He raised a palm in front of his hand to shield his face.
"Ah shit..." Mashyuu whispered as Rocky ran to his side and started to bark loudly. The room the door led to was made of a thick solid stone that was stained red with dry blood. Roughly one hundred men stood fighting more of those moles and while they seemed to be dwindling the creatures down to the last two Mashyuu was much more interested in what surrounded the large platform of stone. Hot lava bubbled up and exposed heat all over the room while magma ran down three of the walls, leaving only one exposed for a way out. "Well gang. Try not to kill anyone eh?" Mashyuu warned then snapped his fingers. Rocky grabbed the Wizard by the shoulders and lifted him up high in the sky as he joined the battle to help the moles out.
Rocky dropped down and swept over the crowd, firing a spew of stones into a line of twenty five men, harming them each. The Wizard grinned as Rocky dropped Mashyuu down in the middle of a group of swordsmen while it took off high above once again and flew over to offer the same service to any of the other members of Sacred Gaia.
Golden energy flowed through Mashyuu's right arm while he pulled it back, elbowing a man in the face. A moment later he threw his hand forward and shouted: "Thunder Flash!" From his palm a streak of launched forward, slamming into the men that Rocky had just smashed with stones. The electricity stopped just before it would have hit the others in Sacred Gaia and knocked twenty five men out cold in a single combo attack before Mashyuu found himself surrounded by fighters. "Alright guys. If you wanna fight lets do it. I would rather fight me as opposed to my friends too. They are really just insane and I bet that they will indeed rip you apart." Mashyuu warned the grunts while sizing up how many men were around at the moment.
One of the thugs rushed Mashyuu after he recovered from being elbowed in the face. Mashyuu's ring warned of the incoming attack and the Slayer spun around and drove his black booted foot straight into the gut of one of the thug. Mashyuu dropped down low and sprang up smashing his elbow into the jaw of the thug, knocking the man down for a long moment.
When the tentacles finally stopped twitching, having been completely sliced up to such an extent that finding a piece large enough to slice it again would take some serious dedication, Itori finally returned her sword to its sheath, panting slightly as her bristling fur slowly lost the bristling part and returned to its usual smooth and silky appearance. She knew that she should be disappointed in herself for losing control like that and letting her sheer hatred for tentacles consume her and only release her when the tentacles were already dealt with, but quite honestly she couldn't make herself believe that it was the wrong thing to do. There were tentacles. She had a sword. The only sensible solution was to use the sword to keep attacking the tentacles until the tentacles could no longer be considered tentacles. As much as she told herself that she needed to stay calm and collected the two thoughts of staying calm and killing all tentacles remained in conflict. She might have to see if she could do something about that after she returned to the guild, although honestly she doubted it. She had this hatred for tentacles for as long as she could remember, and if all earlier attempts at keeping it from controlling her had ended in miserable failure why would this time be any different? Although Miyuki had been able to help her find the solution to another problem which had plagued her for her entire life... But that was a different situation. That was a problem she had tried to find the solution to but had simply not been able to do so until Miyuki had given her the final key she needed. It wasn't a conflict within herself. Her reaction to tentacles was a part of her personality. She reacted to tentacles the way she did because she legitimately, to the very core of her being, loathed tentacles. It wasn't some kind of compulsion placed upon her, it wasn't an effect she possessed that she had to learn to control like with her voice. She. Hated. Tentacles.
How was she supposed to learn to remain calm in the face of so much raw hatred, especially since there didn't seem to be any argument in existence which would make that hatred irrational? If your absolute loathing and hatred were completely and utterly justified how were you supposed to get rid of those emotions?
Well, that was a question for another time. The tentacles no longer existed as tentacles but instead just chunks of slimy meat (still disgusting, but at least no longer tentacles. Everything was better than tentacles) and if more appeared she would just do what she had done to these tentacles all over again. Itori looked at the other three mages who she was accompanying into this underground complex. It looked like all of them had dealt with their respective targets, with the siblings mentioning to Mashyuu that he should pick up something sharp to help cut down the tentacles next time they appeared. The Kumiho nodded her agreement to this. The more people to help destroy all tentacles the better, although she was pretty sure that the siblings only meant the tentacles that they encountered in this dungeon. She'd have to make sure they were in agreement regarding how to treat tentacles at a later date.
She tilted her head to the side but followed Mashyuu when the Earth Dragon Slayer asked her to follow him so he could talk about something. She wondered what he wanted from her specifically. From the way that he was acting the subject was something which could be worrisome, which is why he didn't just talk about it in front of the siblings, but apparently he wasn't sure if it was really something to worry about...? Maybe he wanted to talk about her reaction to tentacles. Well, that would be a bit strange. Why would he be worried about her doing everything she could to slice all tentacles she encountered into small specks of useless meat? More likely that he had thought of something worrisome and wanted her opinion on whether it was a valid concern before talking about it with the siblings. Which made sense, since Itori was pretty sure that out of the four people who were part of this little team she was the smartest. Which might sound insulting to the rest, but Itori mostly thought this because she herself was really, really smart. That and humans tended to just have a low average, so being smarter than a smart human still wasn't very difficult.
However instead of her guess Mashyuu apparently wanted to know if she had also noticed the presence of some kind of earth dragon, which made the fox's eyebrows rise. She actually hadn't been paying attention to such a thing. Now that Mashyuu mentioned it she would of course do her best to ascertain whether such a thing actually was present or not, but until now she had been more focused on the fact that there were tentacles, that there was something in this place which was destroying souls, and everything which happened directly around them. Earth dragons weren't part of that list. Unless... The Kumiho's eyebrows lowered and her eyes narrowed. Mashyuu was talking about how this earth dragon felt tainted. Tainted how? Could an earth dragon be turned into the kind of creature which would devour or destroy souls?
The Kumiho closed her eyes as she focused, her ears twitching as she picked up a large amount of sounds from every direction, zoning out the background music which was always present in her mind. Now that Mashyuu mentioned it she could sense something...something large. Something large and very, very earthy. Something old and powerful, but as Mashyuu mentioned it wasn't...normal. Twisted. Revolting. Something was strange about it, strange in a wrong way. She could see why the Earth Dragon Slayer wasn't too happy about what he was sensing. She herself wasn't too happy knowing that there was such a thing around either. She nodded, opening her vermilion eyes and looking at Mashyuu.
"I am sensing it as well. I would suggest that we do our best to avoid an encounter. The humans which have found their way here are of no issue, but the earth dragon present in the area gives the impression that encountering it would be quite unpleasant."
After that she followed Mashyuu back to the siblings, who in the meantime had been busy with that mole-badger creature that had formed an attachment to Miyuki. The Kumiho observed the scene for a while before shrugging. She herself didn't trust the creature completely either, but she didn't agree with Kaede about it betraying them the moment their back was turned. So far as she could tell these mole-badgers were as mundane as you could ask for even when you considered their size. Animals which formed an attachment to a certain object or person could get very possessive and protective, but they did not have the tendency of pretending to like a certain somebody just to eat them later on. Added to that was the fact that Itori wasn't even sure whether this mole-badger creature would eat meat. She wasn't usually concerned with the behaviour of such creatures which spent most of their life underground, where the Kumiho herself had no business. Well, they probably did eat worms, come to think of it. After all, the only other thing you could find underground which could be considered food was the roots of plants, and she didn't think she'd ever heard of farmers being angry about moles eating their harvest. Moles were a nuisance because they uprooted the earth endlessly, but that was different from eating the plants.
With that business out of the way (Itori resisted the urge to pick the little fox-like creature up and snuggle it when it suddenly emitted that cute sound. Stoic as she was she did have to admit that Niinii was adorably cute, and hard to resist to boot) the four of them headed to the next room, or at least to the last unopened door which Mashyuu opened with the help of some kind of magic gauntlet that Itori hadn't seen before. The next room was quite the sight, however. It looked like somebody had decided to build a chamber right in a volcano, with magma filling most of the edges and covering most of the walls and a large plateau of safe ground in the middle of it all. Where another group of those humans were apparently once again fighting the mole-badgers. Itori clacked her tongue in irritation at the sight. Seriously, she understood fighting off monsters and hunting creatures for food, but she was getting the impression that these human hunters were just attacking the mole-badgers on sight for no other reason other than that they were huge and didn't speak any language the humans would be able to understand. Mashyuu's suggestion of not killing them was only met with a half-hearted nod. The Kumiho would try not to kill them, but honestly she didn't think that the lives of these humans was worth much. Although she got annoyed when her sharp ears picked up on the fact that Mashyuu had just called her insane. She was not insane. She just used a different set of values for humans, a result of her not being a human.
Ignoring the rock dragon's offer to carry her towards the plateau Itori entered a low stance several yards away from the edge of their current safe ground, Grabbing the scabbard with one hand and the hilt with another. Gathering her energy Itori began to look rather ghostly, her already pale appearance becoming even paler and even slightly translucent as wisps of ethereal flames surrounded her. Closing her eyes the spirit fox concentrated, then opened her eyes in a flash as she suddenly dashed forwards, turning into a ghostly white streak which upon reaching the edge launched itself, forming a smooth curve in the air before she landed on the plateau, where instead of coming to a halt she just kept running. Still in her spirit form Itori dashed towards the first group of humans before suddenly returning to her material form and drawing her sword, making a wide white arc with it. She had used the back of Shitenka to avoid actually killing anybody, but with such a fast attack which had all the force of Itori's charge behind it most of the humans were knocked back, with the others having been forced to take a fully defensive stance. Itori's three white tails swirled around it, trailing the last ethereal flames before returning to normal, after which the fox girl rapidly retreated while filling her surroundings with white smoke, clouding the vision of everybody else and forcing the human hunters to stumble around in their attempts to find her.
iyol and the dragon both let out a small huff of air before they both began inhaling. A light blue stream began forming through out the ruin's labyrinth, extending for a large distance of the tunnel system as the residual soul energy from souls decaying manifested into a single stream and began flowing towards him.
"Earth Dragon..." "Soul Guardian..."
The two entities began their attacks, preparing to fire as the energy.
A blast of dark blue energy shot from a magic circle that materialized in front his mouth, firing at an immense speed at the earth dragon. Likewise, from the dragon's side a blast of what could only be assumed as rock powder shot from its mouth, barreling towards Niyol at incredible speeds. The two forces collided, releasing a wave of energy that shuddered the room while they seemed to spiral into each other. Soon, the energy erupted outward in a massive explosion of rock dust and soul particles, releasing more energy and kicking up an intense gale. Dust rose to the air, concealing Niyol and a good portion of the dragon along with most of the miscellaneous humans on the ground, only those furthest away left to wait anxiously for the dust to settle.
The bellowing sound of the dragon's laughter filled the room as he saw Niyol still standing tall, stoic and confident looking. Niyol wanted to scoff at the dragon, but he didn't want to press his luck. What none of them, the dragon included, had noticed was that the dragon's roar actually caused Niyol's attack to erupt. The sand that was thrown about was only the absolute tip of the roar attack, and the rest of the attack actually shot straight through... Had Niyol not sensed his Soul Guardian's Flare faltering, and at the last second switching his form to an ethereal version the roar would have torn Niyol apart. A purple magic circle appeared under Niyol, rising up and reversing a small amount of the damage he had taken. It reversed the time around him, reversing the external damage. "Tell me dragon, are you impressed?" Niyol said with a rather arrogant voice. "Hrrrmmm.... I'm very sure that should have killed you..." the dragon's eyes narrowed on Niyol, seeing him reversing the damage it just dealt to him. The dragon let out a yawn and laid back down. "I'm too lazy for this... take your human friends and get out my site." Niyol bowed and began looking around for a door, other than the way he came in. The dragon let loose a blast of flames that melted a hole in the wall, revealing on the other side what looked to be a badger with a mole's nose, and a pair of large tentacles wrapped around it were burnt to a crisp.
The dragon lifted its head looking to some of the other humans. "Follow your leader before I get in the mood for a snack." it ordered, causing all the humans to begin hauling ass after Niyol.
iyuki stared blankly at the field of lava that had slid in front them and their brand new mount. Kaede clicked his tongue, rather pissed that he and his sister, as far as he knew, had no magic abilities that made them more useful. The young man stepped back, allowing Mashyuu and Itori to use their magic to get across and into the fray without a single problem. It had happened multiple times already where he was proven at a disadvantage, and a liability to this motley crew of a team. A sigh escaped his lips preceding the question "Hey Yuki... why do we actually do this?" His tone was rather sad, as though he truly felt like the weakest member of the team. "What do you mean?" "Well... look at them, and then look at us. That guy's strong, he's able to do more than he seems able to. She's smart, fast, able to fight, and has magic." "Oh... you mean how the two of us can't use magic, but we're in a wizard's guild." Kaede nodded at Miyuki's guess.
Miyuki let out a sigh, deciding to take a moment to let the others do what they were doing, seeing as they wouldn't need help for common rabble. "We each have our place here Kai. Mash is good at brawling, but he's a bit of a dumbass in every other aspect. Itori's smart, and great at fighting and singing too, but she doesn't like fighting. You and I are a show of what proper teamwork can do. We're both stronger than many mages in terms of physical ability, and we come up with plans at the drop of a hat. When it comes down to it, where we lack magic, we make up for in every other aspect and that's why we're here... it's why we stick around with those two." Kaede wanted to scoff at the answer he got, but he did find some truth in her words. Where Itori lacked in aggressiveness most the time, the siblings made up for. Where Mashyuu lacked in stealth, Miyuki excelled beyond reason. And while Itori was easily smarter than Kaede, her and Miyuki both seemed to be equal in intelligence but opposing in tactics.
Kaede straightened himself up, looking around for something they could use to get across the bit of lava in front them. Miyuki slid off the mole thing, gently rubbing its head and thanking it with softly spoken, kind words that it seemed to acknowledge. "Miyuki... there's quite a bit of still solid rock you could use to get across. I'm far too heavy, even without my shields, so I'll have our furry friend here try and find us a way to catch up that doesn't result in us being turned extra crispy." Miyuki nodded, knowing that he wasn't wrong about his weight being an issue. "See you on the other side." she said while taking a few steps back, ready to charge through.
Like a shot, Miyuki was off keeping her spear in hand. She used the tip by slamming it into the ground before it would touch lava to pole vault herself over to the first rock where she used quick footwork to leap from rock to rock with only fractions of a second before the rocks dipped into the lava. Landing on the other side in a commando roll, Miyuki turned her head to look behind and see her brother leading the mole back the way they came with Niinii in tow. Upon reaching the other side, she charged at one of the nearby men and dropped to the ground while keeping the spear in line with her body to allow herself to slide between his legs and rise behind him. From there she spun the spear, slamming the pole into a poor fellow's balls before spinning it further to slam the head of the man she'd just slid under with it. She had ignored just about everything around her as she appeared to dance from enemy to enemy, hitting them in places to debilitate but not kill them.
The thug Mashyuu dropped started to sit up only to have the air driven from his lungs while Mashyuu slammed his foot down into the mans gut. A woman chopped air towards Mashyuu's face but the Wizard managed to draw his own sword up and blocked the slash with his left arm. His blue eyes narrowed in annoyance while his right arm tensed up. In a swift motion he drove an open palm straight into the woman's chest, driving the air from her chest while Mashyuu's leg came up and off the thug on the ground, only to spin around and catch the woman in the arm hard, knocking the sword she carried out of her hand and barreling her over. By that time Itori and Miyuki had joined the fray while Kaede and the mole creature vanished back down the hall again. "Hey where is he going? He really shouldn't be alone right now!" Mashyuu shouted while looking over his shoulder at the shield users sister. The ring on his finger warned the Wizard and allowed him to jump up, evading the swing of a club for his legs. Mashyuu came down and smashed his gauntlet covered right forearm into the woman's face then ribs, doubling her over just as she was recovering from his last set of strikes. To finish her off Mashyuu whipped around and drove the back of his left hand into her eye, not only blinding her but taking her down next to her friend.
"Okay, time to give me some space guys. Hail of Stones!" Mashyuu called out and the ground around him started to rumble as chunks of earth ripped up and whipped about Mashyuu in an eight meter spread and ten feet high, taking out everyone around him. As the Wizard looked about he noticed it was roughly fifteen men who were down on the ground, writhing in pain or completely knocked out. Mashyuu cracked a smile as stones continued to whip about and pelt the bodies of men who were knocked out cold. Mashyuu placed two fingers in his mouth and whistled sharply, calling Rocky's attention. The Stone Gargoyle lifted its head up high and took to the sky, twisting in a corkscrew until it hit the height of the room and howled loudly. Spikes jutted all around it's body as it's wings retracted and Rocky fell down hard atop two men who were charging in at Itori.
Mashyuu couldn't help it, he laughed at the blight that the thugs were going through. The Wizard drew a sharp breath as the hail of stones fell down and the man started to count who was left. Things were looking good for the group but Mashyuu wasn't so sure. There was something in the lava, something that was waiting until the numbers dwindled down and it would be easier to kill whoever was left. "Okay Ux... So you used to be here? Alive or whatever? Then tell me, what kind of Dragon were you? Should we be worried about this at all or are we in the clear?" Mashyuu asked the ring on his finger while he had a few moments to rest. Without realizing what he was doing the man dropped to a knee and took a large bite out of the ground, slowly replenishing his spent magical power. Ux's voice rumbled low in Mashyuu's mind, giving him just a bit of information on the foe the team faced. I was an Earth Dragon, but sometimes when a dragon dies, it's body is brought back with extra power. You could be facing something that uses more than one kind of magical power and you should be very careful. It surely knows your here. The thought made Mashyuu's blood run cold, how could he even start to fight this thing? Sure it was possible to do it but there was a good chance that the Wizard would die trying. "I'm not gonna die here... I'm not gonna die here." Mashyuu muttered to himself.
That fear crept through him, keeping the Sabertooth Wizard locked in place for a long moment until something grabbed him up by the shoulders and yanked him high into the air. An angry curse filled the room when two thugs with spears tried to stab the Earth Wizard only to stab themselves because Rocky had grabbed Mashyuu and pulled him to safety. When Mashyuu realized what was happening he patted Rocky on the claw and pointed down to the rest of the group. "Come on boy, lets take the rest of these guys out before we fight ourselves a real Dragon." He ordered the Gargoyle.
Together the pair swept down over both Itori and Miyuki as they did battle with other thugs, Rocky slashed it's talons at various thugs, changing them into stone in the process. "The Dragon! It's in the lava... I can sense it in there. We need to be on our guard so that when it strikes we can be ready for it." Mashyuu warned the team while looking out for Kaede. Each member of the team brought something to the mix that would be needed for the battle at hand.
Rocky flew by a thug while Mashyuu lifted him high into the sky and dropped him down, knocking the man out in a single blow. Below Mashyuu spotted the lava bubbling as it churned. Thugs fell one by one and with each fallen foe the lava swirled in a circle around the large brick of stone that everyone was currently fighting on. It wasn't very deep that the Dragon swam, committing the scent of everyone fighting to memory so it knew what it was going to eat first.
Suddenly it's head sprang up from the lava, snaking out and grabbing a mole like creature at the edge of the platform with it's mouth and ripping it into the lava while swallowing it hole. Mashyuu's eyes went wide while he watched the terrible Dragon take the life of a gentle creature. "Oh shit..." He muttered under his breath while swallowing hard and letting his eyes bounce around to everyone left on the platform. "Get away from the edges!" Mashyuu warned anyone who would listen.
In the distance Itori could tell that the souls that inhabited this place were moving, either through restlessness or because they were forced to move. Either way it was a bad sign, and once they were done with this fight she'd have to figure out if she'd continue to do her utmost best to avoid whoever or whatever had devoured those souls previously or head for the disturbed area and help the spirits calm down. She might be a Kumiho and a trickster but she did take the job of helping the spirits a bit more seriously. After all she was a lot more affected than others if the spirits and souls went hectic, so it was a lot more important for her to ensure that they were happy.
However she couldn't do that right now, because she had to take care of these humans who seemed to be fighting the mole-badgers for no other reason than sport. More importantly her team wanted to deal with them, which left the fox with little choice but to assist in their rather noble endeavour. Luckily these human hunters weren't that strong, so it wasn't like helping out was that big of a problem anyway. Granted Itori wasn't a fan of fighting, but with opponents of this level at least she didn't have to exert herself that much. She just had to display a superior skill in fighting and look for opportunities to knock them unconscious. Normally Itori wouldn't be that adamant about leaving them alive but she had to follow Miyuki's example for once. Besides, being able to disable all your opponents without either you or them receiving any serious harm could be seen as a display of vastly superior skill, and this Kumiho did appreciate the opportunity to make it clear to these greedy and selfish humans that they were inferior to her and should feel shame for acting so arrogant. They came to this place with seemingly no other motivation than to hunt the mole-badgers and kill them for sport. As a big eater Itori didn't care about hunting, but usually she refrained from playing too much with her food. Although even worse than that she was pretty sure that none of these humans were actually planning to eat the mole-badgers after they were done. Which was honestly quite awful.
One of the humans stumbled out of the white smoke that was filling the area slowly and saw Itori, quickly raising his sword to slash at her. However when he slashed his sword down in a powerful overhead strike Itori raised her own sword with both hands as well, but instead of meeting his strike with power she caught it at an angle and diverted the blow, forcing the man to stumble after his strike as all the force behind his blow was now suddenly moving much farther and in the wrong direction than he had been anticipating. Itori sidestepped the man, then when he was at the right distance quickly struck him on the back of the head with the pommel of her Shitenka, the man dropping like a stone after she had rather condescendingly knocked him unconscious. Moving further into the smoke Itori suddenly swayed backwards as an axe whistled just above her head, once the weapon had passed her she suddenly snapped back, reaching out with her hand and catching the woman holding the axe by the forehead. A ghostly glow emitted from her hand and the woman's eyes dimmed before she slowly folded inwards, Itori having told her mind to go to sleep for now. She was barely done with this when she jumped sidewards to evade a rather enthusiastic thrust with a sword. Landing on one foot Itori spun, lashing out with Shitenka to strike the next assailant on the temple with the blunt side of her sword. That was followed by her catching the arms of a man wielding two daggers using two of her three tails, after which she used the third tail to deliver a brain-rattling blow to his chin which left the man reeling and dazed before she released him and swept his legs out from underneath him, leaving him free to attempt to regain control over his body while his body weakly moved aimlessly.
The fight continued like this, with the white smoke making it somewhat difficult to see but sometimes offering glimpses of Itori practically dancing amidst her opponents as she kept deftly diverting their attacks, evading strikes, or even bringing the next opponent to a halt before they could even notice her amidst the smoke. She wasn't as strong a straightforward brawler as Mashyuu, and didn't possess as much raw power as Kaede, but she did have some impressive skills that she didn't mind displaying in this case, combined with the fact that she was just as blindingly fast as Miyuki and still strong in her own right (she wasn't as strong as Kaede and Mashyuu, but that was because those two both possessed superhuman levels of strength. As a Kumiho raw power wasn't exactly Itori's forte, so while she could be strong as an athletic swordwoman she didn't really have a way to compete with those two). Her fighting style was focused on utilizing the fact that she was faster and more skilled, both in mind and in body, than her opponent to bring them down. Granted this was somewhat different when dealing with tentacles, who only deserved utter annihilation, but everybody had their exceptional circumstances.
Still, subduing the humans by both beating them and simply showing them that they weren't in her league would only work as long as the humans were the only threat. And Mashyuu was warning them of an Earth Dragon apparently hiding in the magma that was covering the edges of the room and the walls. Which was rather curious. Itori could imagine that an Earth Dragon would be a lot tougher than them humanoids or the mole-badgers, but for it to hide in the magma it had to be notably resistant towards heat as well. Which meant that Itori's Kitsunebi weren't going to be very useful either. They were spirit flames, but just because they weren't actual flames didn't mean that they would fare any better against something which would willingly swim in magma and come out unscathed. Although Itori wasn't planning to fight the Earth Dragon anyway... She was dealing with these hunters because they were in the way and because they were easy targets which nevertheless were behaving overly arrogant, but an Earth Dragon was of a whole different level.
The fox frowned when the dragon suddenly lashed out, grabbing one of the remaining mole-badgers and abruptly pulling it back into the magma. At least it had swallowed it before actually submerging itself, because being scorched alive by the molten stone didn't sound like a pleasant kind of fate. Then again, death was usually not pleasant. Regardless this Kumiho wasn't planning to just be a sitting duck for the Earth Dragon to snap up, and she didn't want something like that to happen to her team either. Even if she might not find them without fault she still preferred them alive over dead. Quickly disposing of the last human hunter near her by jumping up and spinning to kick him scarily in the head (sending him flying for about a yard or so before he crashed into the ground and remained motionless) Itori landed, then raised one hand and gathered a pretty impressive amount of energy in it.
Slamming her open palm flat against the ground another burst of white smoke erupted from it, although this smoke was different. It was denser and rather than filling the air it expanded into a large dome, which kept expanding until it covered the entirety of the plateau. Those who were touched by it would for a moment feel completely empty before the feeling disappeared, which could be considered a rather disconcerting experience.
Itori was breathing slightly heavier now that she had expended such a large amount of magic to create the dome of smoke. However it should have its intended effect: the people inside the dome would have no trouble finding each other or anybody outside the dome, but as the white smoke faded away anybody outside the dome would only see empty space inside. Kuuhaku -also known as 'blank space'- was an illusion created by Itori where she made it appear as if there was absolutely nothing within the spherical area she covered with it. It only worked for anything trying to observe the designated area from the outside, but it was pretty good at that and the only real danger right now (the Earth Dragon) was inside the magma outside of the area. And because Itori's a Kumiho she most certainly is aware of the fact that she should not only block sight but also all other senses, including smell.
ne dragon against twenty nine.... twenty eight men, one wind mage who looked as derpy as a dodo, and then Niyol who many would agree has far too much power for his well being. Just that one dragon had enough power to nearly kill Niyol, and successfully kill all but six of the others. Whether or not it was fortunate that Jimbo wasn't part of the death count was a moot point, meaning it was up for debate. (Many people think 'moot' means it's an invalid statement, but the actual definition of it is 'subject to debate, dispute, or uncertainty, and typically not admitting of a final decision.') "Uhhh... hey um... guy.... that spell you used... what was it? Or.. why can't we sense magic from you?" one of the men asked. "My magic is fueled by the remnants of decayed souls. Average humans are unable to sense them, you can tell when you're being watched, or when they're present, but you can never fully sense them, or interact with them. This is why my magic isn't obvious to you. The attack I used was called 'Soul Guardian's Flare' I consume a portion of the soul energy in an area and condense it into a single blast." "So if we can't interact with souls how do-" "When my magic is used I condense the souls into a more physical form, the exact details would be too technical for those who are unfamiliar with souls or spirits, and there is a difference mind you." "R-right..."
They came across another room like the first that contained two more of the rock like structures... and then all of the available exits, including the way they came in, was sealed shut by slabs of rock...
he world turned smokey and Miyuki had an empty sensation for a moment before the feeling disappeared. It was then that the ground near Miyuki poked up, then a claw shot out followed by the rest of a large mole. Grabbing the hair of its backside was Kaede who was dragged out like a cat holding a dead rodent. "Sorry... it took so long... what'd I miss?" he asked while getting himself off the floor. The badger thing went back down the hole and came up with Kaede's tower shield that he took gently, still wary of the creature. Miyuki pointed to the lave where a large dragon's head was looming over, looking around as it tried to home in on the prey it knew for a fact was there. "That." Miyuki said. Kaede looked up and his eyes narrowed, not a word was said as he remembered the reason his sister and him were even in Sabertooth.
The mole let off a cry and the other badger moles converged on its position, going down the hole. "I say we follow." Miyuki said while making her way to it, but before she cloud the hole collapsed in and a crater was formed around it. She had fallen as well as Kaede, both staggering while trying to get up. Miyuki turned, looking around for what might be the cause of it, when she heard on he other end the sound of something massive breathing. They crawled out of the hole as quickly as they could and faced their backs to Itori and Mashyuu. "Guys... we've got two problems... and they're both in the lava." she said with a shaky voice. Suddenly, a blast of inferno erupted from the crater, scorched mole badgers being strewn about with Miyuki screaming bloody murder for the loss of her new friend. Kaede held her back as she tried to run to the corpse, an action that immediately stopped when lava slowly began pooling up through the hole. "Okay... now we have three problems..." Kaede said while letting his sister go.
The ground shook below them as the dragon's feet slammed down on it from below the magma. "Your magic is fruitless. We can feel your bodies touching the ground, the vibrations tell us your very location... did you not think before you acted?" one of them said while staring directly at Miyuki and Kaede. Kaede nudged Miyuki, staring a bit under its neck. "H- hey Mashyuu... m-miss Itori..." he said while trying not to shit his pants. "I'd like to suggest a plan..." he said. "If you two can keep the other one busy... Miyuki and I can get to whatever's on that dragon's neck..." "It's a teleportation lacrima, don't ask how I know, just know that I know." Miyuki said calmly. If Itori were to remember back to when she learned to speak without death resulting, she would remember the medium through which Miyuki shared her memories. She would know that Miyuki had a great deal of experience in lacrima use, enough that she would be able to distinguish between them. "We don't know where it'd take us." "But it sure as hell'd be better than here."
One of the hunters grabbed Kaede's shield by the top and began pulling himself up. "If... you're gettin' out... I'm with ya..." he said in a strained voice. "Ditto!" a voice called as the arm of the owner was raised in the air, the individual soon turning over to get himself up. One by one, the people Itori, Mashyuu, and Miyuki beat down but didn't kill began recovering to their feet and agreeing to fight alongside them in the hopes that they'd get to live. The dragon with the teleportation lacrima reeled back before firing a massive wave of flames that extended all the way to the group. Kaede slammed his shield down on the ground with Miyuki behind him, causing the flames to split into two streams, the hunters that could move fast enough got in the safe zone. Unfortunately, it widdled the number of them down to seven. "Looks like there's not much choice!" Kaede said, the front of his shield glowing red. As soon as the flames had stopped, Miyuki and Kaede would both begin charging at the one dragon they'd designated as their own.
Just as the Dragon Emerged from the lava fear rushed through Mashyuu among the others. Were they really even ready for a fight against a Dragon? Mashyuu wouldn't say so but then again he had been in a lot of fights he didn't think he was ready for. Ux sent a wave of anger and need for revenge through Mashyuu, causing the Wizard to question weather or not the ring was of the right mind. Mashyuu patted Rocky on the head and the animal landed on the ground near the others in the team when suddenly Itori cast a spell that masked them from the Dragon. At this point Mashyuu had learned to trust the beauty and her magic. At one point she might not have been on the same level as far as spell damaging power was concerned but she had illusions that Mashyuu had never seen before and was happy to place his trust in her.
Instead of letting the fear of fighting a dragon rock through Mashyuu he decided something needed to be done. Dropping down Mashyuu started to munch on the ground below him, eating massive chunks of stone to increase his magical power. For a long moment Mashyuu couldn't hear the world around him over the sound of his teeth crunching stones. Near by Kaede had at last joined the rest of the team as a second Dragon emerged from the lava. The Earthen Slayer could hear the sound of others recovering and begging to be allowed to fight for their lives. Who were the Wizards of Sabertooth to tell anyone they shouldn't be allowed to fight for their lives?
Without warning one of the Dragons Spewed a lava like breath weapon at the group of men and women on the ground, Some of them dying but luckily Mashyuu was just behind Kaede and his shield, keeping him safe from the flames as they washed past the Wizard. Through Kaede's shout of a plan Mashyuu finished eating and stood up, he lit up with a sudden power as scales started to grow from his body and his teeth jutted out of his mouth in fang like fashion. Dragon Force had been achieved and he felt he could do some real damage now to the Dragons at hand. "I'll take one. Just make sure to get me the hell out with the rest of you guys. Get that amulet so we can finish this job." Mashyuu ordered while dropping into a low stance and sniffing hard to find the Dragons. Rocky swept down and scooped Mashyuu up, headed for the undead Dragon to engage in combat...
Mashyuu flew from the White mist like spell towards the Dragon with two heads that was clearly watching for any signs of movement. Mashyuu had assumed the two headed beast was flying but when he came out of the white mist and saw the dragon was simply standing up out of the lava the Slayer swallowed hard to keep his fear from making him vomit. The Dragon's left head spewed a gout of flames straight at Mashyuu and rocky but thanks to the Wizards Ring and foresight he was able to avoid the fifty meter burst of fire that rushed over the others before fizzling out. To be honest Mashyuu would have been very happy if someone else aided him but getting the teleporation amulet was more important.
Mashyuu curled his fingers and slashed out in a wide arch, sending a shock wave of magical power rippling through the air. "Earth Dragons Talons!" He called out. The shock wave slammed into one of the Dragons heads, knocking it down and causing it to fall into the lava for a moment, making Mashyuu wonder how big the Dragon Really was and how deep the molten lava went. Mashyuu made a pass around the Dragon and opened his palms, allowing dirt to pour from his hands and fall towards the beast. "Earth Dragons Secret art: Exploding Spike!" He shouted and the dirt formed a massive spike that drove into the monsters eye and exploded a moment later.
The Dragon roared with anger as its second head came from the lava and both twisted together and combined a dragon's roar, melting the roof above Mashyuu and pelting him with stones that did almost nothing to the Slayer.
Itori frowned as she tried to calm down her breathing, realizing that creating such a large Blank Space might have been a bit too ambitious for her. Ever since she had gained her second and third tail she had a lot more magic power, but it was quite the large plateau and Kuuhaku wasn't an easy spell. It sounded very easy on paper: 'make this space appear not to exist'. However one had to consider the fact that they would have to try and block or mask all outgoing information on every possible line. Not only sight, but also smell, sound, touch, magic sense... There were countless ways of gaining information about a location and for Kuuhaku to work Itori had to figure out each and every one and create a masking layer which blocked the information that an observer might otherwise pick up. If the Blank Space was complete it was quite powerful since most creatures would simply assume that the space had indeed stopped existing. However if she forgot about even one line of outgoing information someone might pick up on it and realize that rather than having disappeared the area had simply been masked. A very thorough attempt at masking it, but not good enough.
It looked like that was the case this time, as Itori was still busy recovering from the feeling of losing quite a large amount of her mana at the same time, when Miyuki and Kaede announced that the troubles were only increasing, followed by yet another dragon erupting from the magma, yelling something about how apparently the Kumiho hadn't thought ahead when she created the Blank Space. That made the fox frown, since that was pretty much a direct insult to both her intelligence and her skill in illusions. As Mashyuu had already learned she didn't take too kindly to people who badmouthed those things. Well, he mostly knew about the illusion part, but the fox didn't react much better to being called an idiot, especially by some random dragon who didn't realize that he was but a minor nuisance and hardly worthy of being called a dragon. Still, Itori had to admit that she had messed up. Kuuhaku, the Blank Space, was supposed to block all forms of information that might exit the affected area. That included touch and weight. For the dragon to be able to sense them standing on the ground she must have overlooked that particular sense. Which was strange, since it was a pretty obvious one. Well, she didn't have much of a choice but to accept that she had made the mistake and do her best to avoid doing it again in the future.
More importantly they would have to figure out the way to deal with the current circumstances. To summarize they were standing on a large platform which was surrounded by magma on nearly every side, with two earth dragons in the magma who didn't have any friendly intentions. Listening to Kaede and Miyuki Itori nodded when Miyuki claimed that the crystal attached to the neck of one of the dragons was a teleportation lachrima. She herself also had some experience with lachrima, although mostly because she had encountered many people who used them throughout her life, and she was the one who Miyuki had shown her own lachrima. Although she wasn't sure if she agreed with the idea that their top priority was taking that lachrima. However she had to admit that right now they didn't have a lot of options, and beyond that there was the fact that they didn't have the time to discuss and come to an agreement. The other three mages had already come to the agreement to try and keep both dragons busy while taking that amulet, and Itori didn't have the time to argue with them and try to find a better way to deal with the situation. Especially since all the hunters they had fought before were now asking to be brought along as well, which meant even more people to argue with. The Kumiho sighed, jumping behind Kaede when she saw that one of the dragons was preparing a breath attack, and Kaede was holding up his shield to block it.
However instead of a breath attack related to the element of earth (which could be a lot of things, really. Lots of dirt? Shockwave? What would an earth dragon breathe?) it was a column of fire which threatened to roast everybody on the platform. If it wasn't for Kaede's shield it most likely would have done so. Why would an earth dragon breathe fire? Itori shook her head while being all the way in the back, where she grabbed the Kitsune Mask she had been carrying around and put it in front of her face, feeling its magic take effect.
Mashyuu had volunteered to take care of the dragon without the amulet, which meant that the only problem was the one with the amulet. Luckily Itori already had a plan for getting her hands on that amulet, and it was a plan which she was pretty sure was better than anything the other people here could pull off. This wasn't because she felt that she was superior to everybody here (well, she somewhat did...) but simply because her skillset was more suited for this. Mashyuu was the brawler. Kaede had immense physical strength. Miyuki was fast and cunning. However none of those things necessarily would help with getting that amulet. Well, maybe Miyuki's cunning, but still. They were facing two dragons, and even if those dragons were not as strong as true dragons they still were a lot more dangerous than what most humans could hope to handle, even if they formed large groups. Even more so because these dragons were swimming/moving through the magma like it was nothing, which meant that most of their body was not even accessible. A contest of strength, speed or fighting ability would have a low chance of success: dragons were particularly blessed in all three those aspects, even these weak versions. Kaede and Miyuki could most likely pull it off if they used Kaede as a distraction while Miyuki used her speed. However Itori was pretty sure that it would be a lot easier if a bit of deception was included. Which was her field of expertise.
Kaede and Miyuki would see a flash of white go right past time, moving fast enough to surprise even the dragon with the amulet. Before the monster could react the white (and partially red) flash had already reached its neck, grabbed the amulet, and retreated back to the plateau. Once there it slowed down enough for its features to become visible: a woman wearing a custom set of shrine maiden's clothes, with three white fox tails and a pair of fox ears. The figure was also wearing a mask which had the stylistic depiction of a fox on it, which suited the rest of the foxy shrine maiden appearance quite well. However no matter how much she stood out, nobody would be able to remember who she was or where she had come from.
Of course the dragon didn't care about that kind of thing. This insolent creature had just charged in with no apparent fear and grabbed the dragon's amulet right from under his nose. Roaring the large monster moved forward, raising a claw in an attempt to smash the impudent fox which had stolen the amulet. The Blank Space that Itori had created (with Itori herself being mysteriously absent for the moment) had already dispersed. If the earth dragons could sense their location through touch then a failed Kuuhaku would do nothing. Meanwhile the stranger held up the amulet as if to taunt the dragon, dancing back at the same time and forcing the dragon to reach out further to grab the stranger.
When the dragon's claw came down to smash the fox the large monster was utterly surprised: rather than flattening its target its mighty claw only gouged the earth, cracking the ground around it and damaging the plateau. Where had the stranger gone who had taken its amulet? The dragon would get his answer as suddenly another white flash appeared close to its neck, grabbing the amulet which hung there. Wait, what amulet? That amulet had already been taken by the masked fox?! The dragon growled in confusion, but because it was completely caught off guard by this turn of events the white and red form had already retreated to the safety of the plateau, where it promptly became invisible together with the amulet it had taken. The dragon looked uncertain at this point, looking down at the small crater it had formed with its mighty claw, then back at where the other thief had disappeared. Just what had just happened?
Meanwhile Itori removed the Kitsune Mask once again allowing people to acknowledge her person as she created an illusion in the form of a bright flash, which served to disorient the confused dragon even further while also draw the attention of Miyuki, Mashyuu and Kaede (although she was pretty sure that the trick she had just pulled, stealing the amulet they had been aiming for, would have drawn their attention anyway) so they could see that she had grabbed the amulet. Dropping the illusion she held up the amulet for them to see, waiting for them to return to her so they, along with the hunters that were still alive and willing to cooperate, could see where the teleportation lachrima would lead them.
aking place after the rest of the mages, whom Niyol only sensed one of, had been whisked away to another placed in this hellish labyrinth... The ground caved in below Niyol and the two massive 'rock formations' all went plumeting to the ground, leaving the lot that was following the shirtless soul mage standing on the edge, looking down at a volcanic hell hole. Had it not been for the part demon's angelic root, allowing him to unfurl a pair of black feathered wings with a dark crimson aura about them that served to keep him from smashing into the ground, Niyol would have well... smashed into the ground.
Gently placing his feet down on warm earth, Niyol looked around at the burnt corpses of various creatures that had the physique of those badger looking mile like things he'd passed before. The two boulders that fell down with him had disappeared, something that even Niyol had to admit was completely expected. A sigh escaped his lips at the situation, him questioning why his luck was honestly that shitty.
The lava stirred and the rocks moved far too fast to be naturally flowing bits of cooled lava, causing Niyol to shift his sight to Soul Vision. Like that, he saw the remnants of the other team's battle with the dragons, with multiple creatures staring straight at him. "Well... shit."
tori had grabbed the lacrima from the dragon using a strange tactic that Kaede couldn't keep up with. What's more, he had no idea she was even with the group. Well... he knew she was there... but he didn't know she was her. It was a phenomenon that Kaede couldn't begin trying to dissect, as though the memory of the woman had vanished entirely from his memory. Miyuki was impressed by the trick, but she too was effected by the mask's magic. The effect of said mask vanished instantly, replacing her memories as though Miyuki actually did know Itori while she was wearing it. The lacrima began glowing and a pulse of energy shot out, changing the surroundings from the magma pit to that of a large room that was easily the size of two football fields.
A man wearing a black cloak approached. A blade was in its sheath at his side, and the siblings watched to ensure he didn't try grabbing for it. "Will the lot of you be my next battle?" he asked in a calm, soft, gentle voice. The siblings stepped forward with their weapons down, Miyuki sticking her spear in the dirt to show she wasn't going to attack just yet. "No." She said calmly. "I see, so just the two of you." "Uhhh... we kinda just wanna leave this place..." one of the hunters said from a small distance away. "There is a teleportation lacrima on the far end of this chamber. It won't respond to me, but you may use it to return to any city you wish." the man said while gesturing towards a silver pillar with an orb on top. The hunters all began making haste to get to it, and one by one all vanished.
"When the first magic council was formed, the humans were coming to the end of a long and bloody history of war. I had been watched in battle, using magic as a weapon, and they had deemed me far too dangerous to allow to walk freely. It wasn't because magic being weaponized was such a foreign concept, but because my magic made it so I was extremely difficult to kill. So, they sealed me in this room." he gestured to the walls around him, which were coated in the same rune markings as the walls of the labyrinth outside that made them indestructible. "The lacrima that sent you in was a one-way teleport that reacts to mages. It was how the council sent members to ensure I hadn't found some way to escape. The lacrima over there is another one-way teleport, only usable by those who aren't me." he gestured to the one the hunters had used to exit.
"You said we were your 'next' opponents, what happened with the others?" Kaede asked, having realized the wording the knight had used. He used a hand to gesture to the other end of the arena, which was littered with twenty or so dirt mounds that were obviously graves. "Their bodies were burned and I pray over them daily. Sometimes, when I'm bored, I pray over them once more." He informed the two knights. "Has anyone ever tried escaping?" "Those who have conceded defeat were shown mercy, unless they request otherwise. I have no need to kill mercilessly, so I do not."
"Mashyuu, Itori. This one's our fight, knights fighting knights." Kaede said, giving the other two a firm gaze. "Do either of you require a weapon, or are you fine with what you have?" "If you have any, I'll take a pair of bastard swords. Kai's got all he needs." The knight stretched out his hand, a pair of weapons made entirely of metal appeared in front Miyuki. They were generic looking, not at all like the ones she normally used, but they would be functional. She gave it a few twirls, and several slashes at the air to check the balance of the weapons and then nodded with a blank expression. "They're not flawless, but they're plenty good to fight with. The balance is good, the weight is a bit lighter than normal; I'll assume you used magic to alter that?" "Indeed. You seem adept with sword craft, have you experience?" "Our old man was a blacksmith among other trades. Miyuki was always helping him make sword, even when she was a kid. He trained her to use them too, trained me to use shields." "I see, so you are siblings." "Don't show us any mercy. I don't like killing people, so if we do give you a proper death I'd rather know you weren't going easy." "And if one of you were to die?" "The other continues fighting."
The knight took a few steps back, turning to face the siblings while drawing his weapon. His stance was strange, it seemed to utilize a mix of defense and offense with one hand in front to block, and the sword behind him for when he was ready to strike. Miyuki kicked the spear down so it wasn't obstructing her view, and then the siblings too a few steps back. Kaede stood in front Miyuki with his tower shield held up, Miyuki behind him ready to advance. "We'll begin on your advance!" he shouted across the distance so the siblings could hear. They looked to see if Mashyuu and Itori were standing clear of the fight, then, once they were sure there was enough distance, Kaede began rushing forward with Miyuki behind him.
The gap was closed by the two men rather quickly, the knight making a slash and Kaede using his shield to block it. Miyuki had quickly shot around the knight and made an attack at his back that he reacted to with a quick turn, using his sword to block her strikes. She used an alternating set of slashes before spinning, each blade sideways and acting like a bladed top. Kaede seized the opportunity and slammed the knight in the back of the knees with the tower shield before making a swipe at his neck with the buckler. A pair of metal pillars shot out, hitting Kaede's shield and Miyuki's stomach and sending them both into the air. The two siblings recovered flawlessly, each landing on their feet and charging in for another attack.
A large golem made of steel entirely rose from the ground in Kaede's direction with the knight charging at Miyuki. It was a genius tactic, sending the titan after the guy with the shields since he doesn't have a weapon to attack with. However, the golem had met a surprise when it found that Kaede was adept at fighting much larger creatures with his much higher levels of strength. He slammed the tower shield into the metallic mass's leg where a rather oldschool joint was used, instead of pure magic energy like modern ones had. The result was the monster's weight causing it t collapse to the side entirely and make it so it wasn't a threat to anyone. Miyuki had intercepted the knight's sword with just one of her own, matching him in strength. A push back would reveal she exceeded his own, and a quick slash would prove that she was much faster than he thought. Miyuki quickly leapt back as soon as she saw a distinct lack of blood in the cut, and anticipated his retaliation.
He stopped his attacking and stood in place, and gentle smile on his face. "The two of you are skilled, I suppose I should apologize. I sensed no magic from you both, so I've been going easier on you. But I see I'm not dealing with two fools with sticks, I'm dealing with two knights capable to matching a mage. I'll be going at you both with all I've got this time." he said before a set of spikes began launching in both directions, threatening to impale the siblings. Kaede had blocked his with his tower shields and Miyuki had jumped upwards, moving along the tips of each spike. The black knight had noticed it, figuring she had placed metal in her shoes to prevent nails from puncturing them to be the most likely reason she was so confident. She came from above, being swatted away as a pillar of steel intercepted her and sent her back down to the ground.
The spikes that hit Kaede's shield didn't even put a scratch in it, but did send Kaede flying back to the metal golem that was still unable to move. The spikes continued coming at him, something Miyuki wasn't willing to let happen. She threw one of her swords, angling it so it would curve. Kaede caught the weapon in his buckler hand and used it to stop the only spike that would have hit him from hitting his heart. The metal spikes all shattered, turning into a fine powder that began spinning around the knight. Kaede let go of the sword long enough to take off his buckler and throw it in an arc towards Miyuki. The swarm of metal shot at them both, just as Kaede had anticipated. Miyuki quickly got to her feet and jumped in the air, letting the one foot radius shield slip onto her wrist. Upon landing she curled up and hid behind it, placing her sword on the ground with the broad side acting as protection for her lower half.
Kaede used his tower shield, and both siblings felt the blast of metal as it hit the shields and parted, flying in all directions. Things were bad... he had the two of them split up, and he had the range advantage. Miyuki began charging at the knight, quickly dodging shots of metal dust while Kaede examined the fight. A pillar of metal rose up below her, sending her all the way to the ceiling, which gave Miyuki a visual on a one meter radius around the knight that was completely devoid of the powder he was surrounding himself in. Kaede saw where she was focusing on, and immediately began running at the man. Having seen Kaede through the corner of his eye, the knight turned and sent the metal swarm after him. Miyuki pushed off the ceiling and began spinning rapidly, slamming down on the knight with debilitating force.
His focus broken, the shards of metal hit the floor and all vanished from reality, returning to particles of magic. Miyuki gave him no time to recover as she went in rapidly, constantly swinging at him and seeming to attack faster with each set of hits. His ability to block was astounding, but he was staggering with each hit, finding the level of strength she possessed to be far more than he could get used to. Kaede had closed in and the fight began turning in the sibling's favor, Kaede's attacks with his shield keeping the knight from giving too much focus on Miyuki while at the same time he was forced to focus on her to avoid being slashed. They two of them had pressure on him, preventing him from using his magic for fear of the momentary distraction costing him everything.
This ended abruptly when he instantly sent out a set of metal spikes all around him instead of focusing on one of the siblings. Miyuki had formed a metal plate under her clothes, even in the heat of battle she was careful to keep her magic concealed. Like all actions before, this little task gave off no magical signature anyone could use to identify it by. She was knocked to the ground however, the force from the impact rather harsh when balanced with her lack of weight. When she looked towards her brother, she saw that he hadn't been quick enough to raise his shield to block this time... Several spikes were inside him, two in each lung at the minimum, one in the heart, several littered his torso. The spikes retracted and the knight moved aside to let Miyuki rush to his side, leaving her sword and Kaede's shield behind. She hugged her brother, crying and screaming his name. The knight lowered his weapon, taking a knee in respect for his fallen brother as he had come to respect a shieldsman who put him on edge the way Kaede had.
"When.... when one door closes..." Kaede said weakly. "No, YOU'RE NOT GONNA DIE YOU ASSHOLE! YOU PROMISED!" she shouted at him. He held up a hand, smiling as the blood trailed from his mouth. "You... you have to finish it... When one door closes..." Miyuki took his hand. "DAMN IT YOU BASTARD YOU SAID YOU'D NEVER LEAVE ME ALONE!" "Don't be... such a pessimist." he said before his hand went limp, a wide smile on his face for the first time in forever. "Do you wish to leave? You have suffered the worst, there is no shame-" "No. I won't quit." she said, her voice sounded raspy. "Why?" "Because... when one door opens, I'll force open the rest." "Very well." the knight said before launching a stream of metallic spikes at Miyuki. The sound of something cracking, like glass getting a chip in it was heard as Miyuki quickly stood and turned around. From her, her magical presence exploded, kicking up an immense wind that obliterated the incoming spikes as well as her body emitting a glow that was so bright the black knight had to shield his eyes for fear of going blind.
When the glowing ceased, Miyuki would be seen with her hair flowing as though she were submerged under water, a silver glow overtaking her entire being as she floated above a platform. Around her was a world that seemed to stretch for miles upon miles across, varying terrains inside mimicking that of a real world. Miyuki would be at the center of it, the starting point for all who enter her world. The plane of existence was one of few places no man, woman, or child would ever be able to enter using magic or technology. This world that Miyuki had created was one specifically her own, and quite literally was a gateway to her very mind. It had been years since she last visited this place, the air was as clean as always and just the right temperature. This portion of her mind was the most tranquil zone, spanning only two miles in all directions it was a perfectly flat, level piece of land. In the absolute center was a pure white, two meter radius pillar that stuck up six inches from the water's surface. Around it was a one mile radius perfectly circular lake with water as clear as glass, shimmering blue and teaming with life. The water, unlike the lakes of the real world, was completely devoid of anything harmful to the human body. It contained nothing but the richest minerals, and had a slightly sweet taste to it. Drinking the water here, from this one lake, would be the equivilant of having a high class mage pour a blessing of life over you. In this world, nothing stayed dead for long. Anything killed would be replaced in minutes, making it so this lake would always have fish in it. The fish, not all but some, were massive, so large that three men could sit on their heads and ride them. Strangely, these fish would be seen within schools of considerably smaller fish, ones that it should be eating but instead was passively moving with. Most surprising of this lake was that you didn't need a boat to cross it, simply moving off the platform would reveal that one could stand on the water's surface as though it were a solid floor. But if one stuck their finger down, poking this 'floor' they would feel it get wet. Strange that one couldn't drown in the lake, but easily draw water from it to drink... thankfully logic wasn't part of this world. Around the lake for two miles was a large grassy plain where a gentle breeze swept over, making the grass seem to have gentle highlights flowing about it as the wind passed. The air was a good temperature, not too hot, but not frigid ether. It had very little humidity, but wasn't so dry that it irritated the skin.
Itori and Mashyuu would be standing on top the water itself, small white circles below their feet. Before them, Miyuki stood wearing a kimono instead of her previous get up with fury in her eyes accompanied by the Guild's Crest making itself known in the form of a greenish-white emblem within those angry orbs of her's... Around them, the three would be able to feel Miyuki's magical presence. It was harsh, it would feel as though they were standing directly next to 2 X Rank wizards, but soon it would subside and stop where it should be.
While Mashyuu did terrible battle with the massive Earth Dragon, barely evading some strikes while being swatted just above the lava by other blows Itori had enacted a great plan. Using a mask and some fantastic speed she simply stole the Lacrima needed to get free from the fight with two Dragons. Rocky flew Mashyuu up and over to the others just in time to vanish with them and reappear in a room that was clearly intended to be used as a prison.
Annoyed by the fact that he was asked to come and help due to the dragons and being dragged away from the fight rather swiftly Mashyuu started to stalk the knight, wanting to sink his clawed fingers into a worthy opponent, even if he didn't plan on killing the man. However before he could even start the fight the siblings asked for Mashyuu to not get involved. He glanced his blue eyes at Itori and shrugged his shoulders. If spending time with the team taught him anything it was to have faith with the team. "Sure... If that's what you want. Just be sure to bring back the reward. Good luck and I'll see you back at the guild hall." Mashyuu muttered under his breath and snapped his fingers twice, prompting Rocky to follow Mashyuu to the teleportation dais. A moment later he was enveloped in white light and found himself standing atop the Sabertooth guild hall....
With her plan to get the amulet successful Itori allowed herself to release a deep breath, relieved that she managed to pull it off as smoothly as she did without harm befalling either herself or any of the others. She might not appreciate it when others put into question her skill with illusions, but that didn't mean that she was some kind of fool blinded by pride who could never even imagine the possibility of failure. Granted, sometimes she did feel like it was impossible for her to make a mistake, but she always told herself that everybody had moments of overconfidence. Somehow the fact that she was facing an actual dragon, even if it was a weaker version of the usual deal, had helped her avoid that mistake this time around. She had been fearing that the dragon might once again manage to figure out her actual location using the tremors that her footsteps caused, but it looked like this time around she had actually managed to remember to hide those as well, and create fake tremors for the illusion she had used to lure the dragon. The mask had also helped a great deal, since outside of the fact that it made people forget who she was its enchantment also served to mask her presence in other ways, with as primary examples the fact that her footsteps didn't make a sound and that she didn't leave a scent behind while wearing it. Which was a good thing, since dragons tended to have sensitive senses all around, although Itori was pretty sure that their nose was always the most accurate.
If she hadn't been able to trick the dragon like that and steal the lachrima on its neck she wasn't sure whether all of them would have been able to get out of that room alive. Regardless of the fact that these creatures weren't as strong as what could be considered True Dragons, they were still a type of dragon and thus deserved a great deal of caution and respect when fighting them. Itori was pretty sure that her skill set wasn't enough to ensure victory against such a creature, even if she had plenty of backup like she had here, with the siblings, Mashyuu and those hunters who had decided that rather than continuing the hunt they preferred to try their best to get out of there while they still had the chance. Yes, she could deceive the dragon and avoid getting harmed, but with a dragon's toughness combined with the fact that it could apparently survive inside magma without issue she wasn't sure she had any way of dealing enough damage to the creature. She might be able to control spirits, use illusions and use a bunch of trickery but she wasn't really that blessed in the more offensive category. And if you wanted to inflict real harm to a dragon you needed to be good at inflicting damage. The damn beasts were ridiculously resistant to pretty much anything you threw at them, so you needed a whole lot of firepower just to compensate for that resilience. Which was why Mashyuu as a Dragon Slayer would be vital in this fight, but while Itori acknowledged Mashyuu as a good fighter she didn't think he was at the level where he could face a real dragon just yet. And even if you ignored the problem caused by her non-offensive nature there was still the issue that the dragon could just get tired of trying to hit a trickster and start turning the entire room into a danger zone, and unfortunately Itori's skills couldn't save her from that kind of attack either. Pinpoint attacks could be evaded by making the enemy think you were in another location, but if someone just began to throw random attacks deceiving them didn't do much.
Anyway, in the end her strategy had worked and she had grabbed the amulet, which she used to teleport out of this deadtrap of a room as soon as everybody was close enough to be teleported with her. They had already managed to get what they needed to escape, there was no reason for them to stick around any longer. Looking around at their new surroundings Itori raised her eyebrows. She might not be an expert on the subject of mining or excavating, but she was pretty sure that any underground place of this size needed some very serious reinforcement of the beams, either through strong materials or magic (or even both), if you didn't want the roof to fall down. After all, if you made an open area underground that meant that the ground above you was only being supported on the sides, and the bigger you made the space the less support there was for more weight. Of course this wasn't just some random cave that happened to be formed by water or shifts in the earth, so if the roof hadn't collapsed already it wasn't going to...unless somebody or something decided to give it a big push. Itori hoped her allies realized that they would have to be very careful in not using any ability which might affect their surroundings too much in the terms of raw force. Cave-ins were always a danger underground, but this large cave made it even more risky than usual. At least it didn't look like they were in danger of being immediately attacked by something. Aside from the hunters they had brought with them to safety. Miyuki had been the one to get them to help them out and in return promise their safety, but the fox wasn't sure if the hunters would actually be so reasonable as to not turn on them the moment they were no longer in danger of being wiped out by the dragons. After all these were people who had travelled into the bowels of the earth for the sake of hunting down animals and possibly the knight that was buried down here as well. There was no telling whether they would act honourably or if they would take advantage of any opportunity they found.
Aside from the group which had just arrived inside this humongous cavern there was one other person present, and that person quickly drew Itori's attention once she was done wondering how much force it would take before the roof would collapse on their heads. Well, that and worrying about the people they had brought with them, although she was still doing that. This man had no trouble making it clear that he was dangerous, even though the only thing he did was walk up to them and ask them if they would be his next opponent. She could tell it from the way that he walked, the way that he talked, the way that he smelled, the way his magic power emanated from him. Every part of him combined into one prime example of a dangerous specimen. One who may have been stuck in one room for a long period of time, but whose skills had not dulled in the slightest and which possibly had only become sharper as he was stuck here with nothing to do but think and train. He knew how to wield that sword which was sheathed on his hip, he knew how to fight, he knew how to handle himself. He might have lived for a very long time but he still looked like he was in his prime, which was a bad thing since they were supposed to face him. Itori had no trouble understanding why the Magic Council of the past may have felt threatened by him and had decided to seal him away when the opportunity presented itself. Although she wondered what had kept them from killing him. Being stuck down here was a fate worse than death in some ways, and from what she had been told by the others the Magic Council had only locked him up because they feared what he could do, not because they actually hated or detested him. Regardless, the fox knew that this was the one they were supposed to take down, and she also knew that doing so would not be easy.
As a small stroke of fortune all the hunters which had survived and which had managed to accompany them into this room decided that rather than trying something they would prefer the certainty of getting away from this entire ordeal alive and used the lachrima the target pointed at to leave this underground complex, leaving only Miyuki, Kaede, Mashyuu and Itori herself. Miyuki was making it clear that she didn't want the others to interrupt so the Kumiho carefully inspected their surroundings, keeping one eye aimed at the knight and Miyuki as they talked. She glanced over at the graves, quickly counting them. Either this man had been down here even longer than she had thought or the humans of the past had been quite eager to try and take down this forgotten legend. Either way, the fact that there were this many graves and that the man looked like he might as well have never been in a fight so far as scars and wounds were concerned was another sign of this man's expertise and power. He was behaving quite politely and showing plenty of patience, which was most likely at least partially a side effect of being stuck here all alone for so long, but in the end this man was still a monster who the original Magic Council had simply not trusted to not become a threat in the future if they allowed him to walk free. When the siblings claimed that they would be the only ones to face him Itori did not object, although she was fairly certain that their desire to face this man as knights would only result in them joining those mounds. Itori was not easily impressed, but this man was giving her the very clear and undeniable impression that it would require a lot to take him down and make sure that he would stay down. She glanced back at Mashyuu when he looked at her, nodding slightly before she turned around and walked over to the edge of the room (which took some time, thanks to the sheer size of the room), where she once again turned around so she could watch the fight. She was not going to interfere with the fight, but she would observe. And she had one requirement for not interfering, one which she had not voiced but which she would definitely follow up on should it become necessary: Miyuki and Kaede wanted it to become a fight to the death for both sides because they wanted to be sure that they would kill the knight as a worthy enemy who had given his all, and not just some poor soul that they had been forced to strike down. Itori could understand that, as it was a very sympathetic point of view. However that did not mean that she would only observe them should they actually find themselves to be the ones to fall. This man was strong. There was no denying that. To claim there was no chance of dying while facing him would be foolish. And this Kumiho wasn't quite willing to allow her two companions to leave this world just yet. Granted, Miyuki was of greater importance than Kaede, but still.
As the fight began Itori slowly approached the three combatants, staying out of their range so she wouldn't accidentally be caught up in the fight but positioning herself so she would be able to act should it become necessary. At first they only used their weapons and their bodies (Itori noted that Miyuki was using weapons she hadn't been using before, and they didn't look like the kind of weapon Miyuki usually created), but then the knight revealed his magic for all to see: aside from his own skills he also forced the siblings to retreat with pillars and spikes made of solid and hard metal, which he could apparently create without any sort of materials other than his magic. At least, it didn't look like he was turning the earth itself into metal: he simply had his spikes and pillars erupt from underground, and after he was done using them they faded away as if they had never existed. The only limitation that Itori could see was that all the metal he had formed needed some kind of basis to sprout from, with as primary basis the ground itself. Still, the ability to form such large amounts of metal using nothing but magic would explain why he had been considered such a threat. Considering the fact that he didn't have to touch the area from which the metal would be formed, and the fact that the metal seemed to be the real deal in terms of strength and toughness, he could combine an excellent defence with a very lethal and threatening offence. Spikes which erupted from the ground with little to no warning, and metal barriers to block any attack, be they physical or magical. Itori just hoped that her two companions would find a way around that metal which wouldn't get them killed. The knight was proving his worth quite well, seeing how he was managing to keep both Kaede and Miyuki busy, which was no easy feat. From the way that his blade collided with Miyuki's the girl was actually both stronger and faster, but the knight was no slouch either, and other than sheer physical prowess he also had finely honed skill, and the ability to sprout metal obstacles and objects to support his sword-fighting.
Beyond simple objects it seemed he was also capable of creating more complex structures out of metal, and not only that he could animate them. It seemed like everything that this knight did made him more dangerous, as he could even create a golem made out of metal and send it to fight on his behalf. Kaede managed to dispatch the contraption rather handily, taking advantage of the fact that the knight was using rather old-fashioned magic which had some exploitable weaknesses, but still. Who is to say that the knight could only create one golem? He could make spikes and pillars sprout from surfaces, he could create a metal golem and have it act semi-independent, and even as Itori pondered this he showed yet another real threat: he could make his metal objects turn into dust, only to control that metal dust, from the looks of it being able to lift a large amount at the same time and have it move through the air at high speed, with the added bonus of turning the metal dust back into solid objects when it suited him. Itori didn't blink as she observed the fight, thinking of the best way to deal with this opponent and the best way for her to prevent the final fate of her allies. For all of his qualities it looked like the knight was solely focused on actual combat abilities, and didn't have any special observation skills other than those you gained from surviving fights where you risked your life and danced on the edge of the abyss that would take you if you made one wrong step. Using her illusions she should be able to get close, but after that she wasn't sure what she could do if it looked like either Kaede or Miyuki was close to meeting his demise. Kaede and the knight were not as fast as her, but that wasn't the same as them being slow. This knight had managed to create a very nasty and powerful combination of offence and defence, and it didn't leave a lot of openings. Kaede and Miyuki were pressuring the knight at the moment, but it looked like doing so was taking a lot of effort, and Itori was getting a bad feeling...
Her bad feeling turned out to be justified as the knight, after having been pressured quite a bit by the siblings, suddenly unleashed a barrage of spikes all around him, forcing his two opponents to retreat or otherwise been impaled. Kaede might be able to block the spikes, but even blocking them would cause him to be pushed back, and more importantly it looked like he had been caught by surprise. To be fair, so had Itori. She had been getting a rather ominous feeling, but even she hadn't been able to predict that sudden burst of deadliness. If she had been in Kaede's position she might have been able to avoid it using pure speed and instinct, but as it was she could only watch, just as Miyuki could only watch, as Kaede got struck by the metal spears, the cruel weapons ground straight through clothes and flesh to rend apart his precious organs, only to then erupt from his back. The knight had told them that he wouldn't be holding back, and it had certainly not been a lie. That kind of attack was not something you would ever use if you weren't fully aware of the fact that it might have fatal results. Itori didn't move forward as Miyuki rushed to her brother's side, the fox only observing silently as the siblings shared their final moments. Miyuki cried and screamed, telling Kaede not to die. Kaede seemed to be at peace, the one who was dying somehow being the one to comfort the one who would live. Itori had lived too long to be easily moved, but she had to admit that watching this scene gave birth to strong feelings, remorse and sadness. She had been planning to save either of the siblings should they be about to die, but the knight had managed to strike so fast that Itori had not been able to react in time. Neither of the siblings had asked for Itori's help, and would most likely have been insulted if they realized that she had been planning to interrupt the fight if it meant saving their lives, but that did not remove the fact that she had been planning to save them, and now saw the results of her inability to do so. It was not a pleasant feeling. However even her remorse, regret and sadness could not be anything but a candle compared to the sun that was Miyuki's agony at seeing her brother die. The fox slowly shook her head. She found herself unable to tolerate this turn of events. And if she was unable to tolerate it, that meant she would have to change it.
She started out softly. Softly enough that neither Miyuki nor the knight, the two exchanging words following Kaede's death, heard her. However there were others who would hear. Those who Itori was singing to were the ones who heard, and they responded. As she knew that they would. Itori had been called the Vulpine Siren in the past. She was the one with the voice that could enthral everything that lived. Using her voice she could make someone believe that the sky was red, that earth tasted like a royal banquet. A curse and a blessing, a voice which seemed to be more than just a voice. It enthralled everything that lived. And even those that didn't live. Itori was called the Vulpine Siren. However there was another variant of that name. Known by almost nobody, even fewer than the ones who knew of the name Vulpine Siren. She was the Vulpine Siren. But she was also the Siren of Spirits. The Songstress of Souls.
When Miyuki finally released all her magic power, within a matter of seconds drawing herself and everybody in the room into her own world, Itori felt it all wash over her. Miyuki's anger. Miyuki's sorrow. Miyuki's determination. Miyuki's magic. However while Miyuki had still been busy with Kaede and the knight responsible for Kaede's death Itori had already begun her own technique, and while she might not be able to compete against Miyuki in terms of strength that was only the case if she directly opposed Miyuki. And if she were so foolish as to only use her own strength. Inside her world Miyuki would have no trouble dealing with the knight. She did not need Itori. However there was something that had to be done that only Itori could do, as she was the only one present with the required mindset and motivation, not to mention ability.
As Itori's song grew in strength the spirits that inhabited this place began to swirl around her, drawn to the Songstress of Souls. Her song was not a happy one. It was sorrowful, it was a song of mourning. However even as sad as it was it still carried a beauty that could only be called divine or transcendental. The spirits, both those formed from nature itself and those who lingered after their corporeal form had already faded away, were drawn to this elegy. A song which expressed the feelings of sadness that all things that lived would one day die. The tragedy that was life, because no matter how beautiful it might be, in the end all lives shared the final destiny, that they would end. A song to mourn the man who had just fallen. As the spirits were drawn to her and swirled around her they formed a protective sphere, a barrier which allowed Itori to allow Miyuki's magic to wash over her rather than assault her directly and pull her in.
The fox's song continued to grow in strength, her voice filling the endless cavern which now only contained herself, the spirits, the mounds of the previously slain, and the cooling body of Kaede. She had closed her eyes as to focus, pouring all of her sadness and remorse into the song to make its effects as strong as possible. She could feel the spirits and souls around her, their desire to listen to the song which reminded those who had died of their lives, and how all of them had to say farewell to this world. The Songstress of Souls was like a beacon in a world of darkness, and all the souls of the departed were like moths, drawn to this one beautiful flame, at the same time the only light in the world and yet also merely a promise of the endless darkness. After all, all flames eventually run out of fuel, and then they slowly die out. No matter how bright or large the flame, eventually all flames would turn into embers, and all embers would fade away. But as long as the flame remained the souls would be drawn to it, and Itori would keep singing until one particular soul made itself known.
When she caught notice of the soul she was seeking for Itori didn't stop singing. She kept going, unperturbed, even though she felt relief in her heart. Now that she had found the soul the most problematic part was done. Now she just had to draw the soul's attention. Altering her song slightly she now added the sorrow not of dying, but of losing a lost one, someone who you loved dearly and who you wished would never leave you. The greatest sorrow of all, not to die, not to suffer, but to know that that which you cared for more than anything else was leaving, fading away, and that there was nothing you could do to stop it. You were reaching the ending of a book you had loved, you had completed the quest which you had dedicated your life to, the house which you had grown up in had been consumed by nature. The feeling of loss, far greater than losing your own life, the feeling of losing that which mattered most to you, and the knowledge that you had no choice but to bear that burden. The feeling of losing your sibling, the one person in this world which you could trust unconditionally and who would always be there for you.
By adding that sorrow to her song Itori lured the soul towards her. That soul definitely would find the call of her song irresistible, as she was now singing of what had happened not even five minutes ago. Even as she kept her eyes closed and kept singing Itori stretched out her hands, cradled them around the single soul, bringing it close to her chest as even through her closed eyelids she could sense the soul. A human soul, so brave and eager, but in the end still so small and frail. In this world humans were always the ones to improve, to progress, to become important. But in the end they were still human, and part of being human was to be one small being in the grand scheme of things. So small, so frail, so tragic, yet they would still struggle to shine and grow. The desire of humans to keep living, to keep improving, to be remembered, to exist, even though they were such small creatures, was truly beautiful, the kind of beauty which could make you smile and cry at the same time.
Cradling the soul Itori sung gently to it, calming it down, telling it that it was all right, to trust her. The other souls were still there, surrounding her as she kept the flame that was her voice ignited for a while longer, but they could sense that it would not last much longer. Itori had turned herself into a beacon for all the deceased and all the unknown souls, but she had found the one soul she had been looking for. Once her song ended they would all fade away again. The souls of nature itself would simply return to where they came from, whereas the souls of the deceased who were unable to pass on, or who had been close enough to the surface of the world of spirits that they had been able to hear her song and decided to turn back, would linger and remember, not longer drawn to Itori but remembering the memories and feelings that she had given to them. The last part of the song was only for this soul, and while the others would be allowed to listen they knew it was no longer theirs, and that it wouldn't lost.
Comforting and soothing Kaede's soul Itori slowly drew him inside herself, letting him rest inside her bosom, where he would sleep. Instead of either lingering as a lost spirit or departing for the realm of spirits she would have him sleep silently there, unaware of the world around him and at peace. In her current state she couldn't revive him. She could possibly return his soul to his body, but she did not have what was required to restore his body and bind his soul to it in a way that would return him to being alive, and not merely a corpse controlled by a soul. However she would be able to do so in the future, and until that time had come she would keep Kaede's soul safe. Unaware of the passing of time, adrift in the peaceful and comforting world of dreams she would look after him, make sure his identity and memories remained and didn't get scrambled, all while she looked for the opportunity to revive him. Honestly she still didn't care that much for Kaede, but after seeing him and Miyuki share their last words she had realized that she did not care for a world where that was the last time Miyuki ever was able to hear her brother's voice, listen to his words, experience being in his presence, something which could not be imitated by anybody. For Miyuki's sake she called out to Kaede's soul, and for Miyuki's sake she would keep Kaede safe until it was time for him to return to this world.
As her voice trailed off and her song ended the souls slowly began to depart or fade away, the beacon having disappeared. Itori was breathing a bit heavier than usual, feeling drained from the experience. To expose your own soul like that in an attempt to draw the attention of other souls was a truly unusual experience, and it was taxing as well. However she had accomplished what she set out to do: she could feel Kaede's soul inside herself, safe and sound, calm and stable. As long as she looked after it she should be able to keep him like this for years to come. Looking around Itori decided to sit down, crossing her legs as she waited for Miyuki to return. Miyuki would return, after she had defeated the knight, and after that she would need Itori's help to recover from the death of her brother. Some might have considered getting rid of the body, but Itori felt that doing so would be a false mercy. To be able to gaze upon the body of your beloved and look away once you had gained your closure, once you yourself chose to look away, was highly preferable over realizing that the physical remains of the one that mattered so much to you had disappeared while you weren't looking.
When Miyuki returned Itori would do her best to comfort her. She wasn't used to this task, as she rarely got close enough to someone that she could take on such an intimate position, but for Miyuki she would try her best. Miyuki was the one who had granted her release from the curse that had plagued her for so long, and the amount of gratitude that Itori felt for that was far beyond what Miyuki might be aware of. And it was not only gratitude. Being drawn into Miyuki's world that one time Itori had learned a lot about the rather short girl. She had learned that Miyuki was a lot more complex a person that she normally would allow others to realize. She carried her own memories, her own responsibilities, her own burdens and while she did carry them without complaining it was clear that they had weight, and that the weight was significant. When the two of them joined in song they had experienced something Itori had never experienced before, and because Miyuki had been there, and had been partially the cause of it, had caused the fox to find the girl important in a way that very few humans had ever managed. Itori didn't want to see Miyuki sad, heartbroken, traumatized. She would do her best to help Miyuki grieve properly, but to also overcome that grief. It might be cruel, to force someone to go through such an experience even though at the same time you were planning to nullify the event that caused such sorrow, but there was no guarantee that it would succeed, or how long it would take. It would be better if Miyuki developed in such a way that she could accept Kaede's death, than that she trapped the girl in a state where her only hope was that eventually Kaede would be revived. It was at the same time cruel and a mercy, as was often the case with difficult matters such as these. Itori wasn't used to these situations, or at least not this position that she took in it, but she would do her utmost best. From her perspective she had no choice but to try.
Kumiho might be fickle and tricky, but once they begun to care for someone they had a tendency to develop a level of loyalty and dedication that few others could equal.
aking a moment to think as he faced four gaping mouths, filled to the brim with razor sharp fangs; a purple magic circle formed over him and healed a little bit more damage by reversing the time around him. The four of them began charging at Niyol, his reaction was to stand perfectly still and let them come at him. He began charging up dark energy in his palm, the attack that would be fired when he was done would be enhanced by his Guidance Spell, as well as further enhanced by the amount of death energy he was building up. One dragon went and slammed its head down on Niyol, swallowing him whole without bothering to chew. Landing in the acidic pool that was the dragon's stomach dealt a substantial amount of damage to Niyol, but not enough to kill him before a blast of death magic fired from its stomach, hurdling itself at the other three dragons and consuming them. The three other dragons fell dead as their bodies turned to dust, decomposing in seconds. The one who's stomach had been blow open was still alive, which was fixed when Niyol touched it and consumed the creatures soul and dealt a significant amount of damage to it. With that, the final dragon was dead and Niyol had decided it was time to leave. Turning ethereal, Niyol floated out of the area by means of literally phasing through the ceiling and leaving.
HP: 300/300 ƧƧ: 234/330 Death Charges: 0
Proof the dragons are dead:
Hits to Kill Each Dragon: 30 -50% (lineage) = 15 -50% (Reaper's Blessing) = 7.5 7.5 x 4 = 30 30 x 60 = 1,800 for all 4