Aeluri watched from the corner of her eye as Shane engaged a group of Jett’s men in battle. Such finesse couldn’t help but be admirable. He had kicked down a few of his attackers and knocked out several others with a round shield. The summoner found herself comforted in the slightest that her only ally in this situation was a competent fighter. Her attention to him was fleeting though, as she had her own enemies to deal with.
Eyeing the approaching mages, Aeluri weighed her options. The two with magic energy at their hands were the most dangerous to deal with, as they could attack from a distance. Their abilities were unknown but she could sense the magic within them. Both swordsmen possessed magic as well, but not to the degree that the mages did.
While she strategized, the mage with the blue energy in his hands let out a few bursts of magic that raced at Aeluri like bullets. She dodged the spray all fairly easily, though one managed to hit her foot. The high heel took the brunt of the damage, knocking her down a few inches in height on one side. Aeluri stumbled for a second. Damn heels! Quickly she kicked off the tall shoes. They would only hinder her in battle, moreso now that one was ruined.
The dark mage snapped her fingers. One of her rings began to glow and felt hot against her skin. Dark gray steel housed a turquoise gemstone that shined in the light. From the shadow of a nearby table, a black feline appeared. While he was taller than a standard house cat, he was significantly smaller than any of the humans in the room. Wide green eyes stared eerily without emotion as he looked around the room. Oddly enough, though the cat seemed to hold a stony expression, his eyes leaked tears. The liquid dripped down from each eye at an unusually rapid rate, creating rivulets through his fur and little puddles on the floor beneath him. This was Lamentus, one of Aeluri’s many strange feline summons.
Immediately the cat locked his intense stare on the two mages with magic-coated hands. The tears began to flow faster and faster. Each puddle on the floor seemed to come to life, weaving across the floor swiftly towards the feet of the enemy. Both stood stunned and baffled by the odd sight before them. His eerie stare was unnerving. Before they could react, the tears began to gain structure and build up around its targets. There was no escape quick enough. Within seconds, the tears had formed into bubbles that encased the waiters. They began to lift into the air, floating slowly up to the ceiling. The rafters were many meters above the dancefloor. Captured enemies collected there, their bubbles coming together to resemble a collection of weird fish eggs.
While Lamentus worked his magic, Aeluri focused her attention on her own enemies. Shane had defeated his by now and was pursuing Jett and Ivory. His footsteps echoed faintly across the balcony before disappearing down a hallway. Aeluri focused all her magic energy to her hands. Shadows from nearby began to pull towards her in wisps of darkness. The smoky looking energy swirled in and covered her fists in a cloud of magical energy. It was as if she had formed translucent gloves out of the shadows themselves.
Cockily she beckoned the two swordsmen forward. One took the bait, charging forward aggressively with a shout, baring his teeth. The blade in his hands glinted in the light. He swung it at Aeluri, who twisted out of the way and grabbed the sword. While the blade was sharp, the whisps protected her hands. Shadows raced up the metal like snakes, winding around his arm and up to his neck. They covered his throat all the way around, then began to squeeze. The swordsman dropped his blade and grabbed at his neck. However, his hands merely grasped at the shadowy smoke, unable to grab something tangible to stop the strangulation.
As the first waiter collapsed to the floor, Aeluri’s golden eyes raised to the other. His calculating gaze met her own and the two stared for a moment. The dark mage brushed off her dress, which was surprisingly unrestricting so far. Hopefully it wouldn’t get in the way of battle. Aeluri removed the red and black mask from her face and tossed it to the side. She could see much better without it in the way. Besides, there was no reason to cover her face anymore. The sword, abandoned next to the body that had ceased breathing, was grabbed up into confident hands. Shadows wove over it, extinguishing any magic that had been attached to it from the previous owner. He wouldn’t be needing it anymore.
Aeluri watched unflinchingly as the other swordsman beckoned the rest of the waiter minions forward. They surrounded her in an arc, keeping their distance and waiting for instruction. Most held weapons, only a few remained with magic power at their hands. Lamentus had made his way over to his summoner and now sat staring at the numerous enemies. Several were taken up in bubbles to the ceiling as the feline’s tears continued to flow. He was prepared to capture more at a moment’s notice.
With another snap, Aeluri summoned a second feline. This time, a golden ring shaped like a chain glowed for a moment. From the nearby shadows, another creature appeared. He was much taller than Lamentus, standing at nearly human height. Human stature accompanied entirely feline features. Purple and gold robes covered his humanoid body as well as a scarf that covered his mouth with a sharp-toothed pattern. This was Llacheu, a feline sorcerer spirit. Immediately, he launched into attack without direction. The chains from the cuffs around his wrists extended with the loud sound of rattling metal. They acted like whips, lashing out against enemies. Some of the assassins were grabbed up and used as a bludgeoning tool to knock others down.
The moment Llacheu attacked, so did Aeluri. There were many enemies that she had to get through to get to Arco and Arianne, who were still being held captive by two of Jett’s men against the opposite wall. They were her true targets. The rest were simply obstacles. Luckily for the sinister woman, a decent portion of the waiters had gone in pursuit of Shane. There was no way she could have taken on all of them by herself. Not that she wouldn’t have tried, though.
The overtaken sword in her hands locked against the swordsman’s own blade as they came together. Metal on metal rang around the space in a clear, sharp clang. For a moment, the two pressed against each other in a battle of strength. Muscles strained from both, sweat beginning to form on his brow. She appeared unfazed. Aeluri kicked a foot forward, knocking him off balance. The blade was pushed aside and she thrust her own sword right through his chest. Limply the body hit the ground as the weapon was removed. She moved on to the next enemy, the shadowy blade cutting right through his shield and arm. As she battled through them, Aeluri pictured each one with Jett’s face. Anger surged through her, increasing the aggression of her attacks. She wanted nothing more than to rip that prick’s smug little face apart for what he had done and what he knew, but she had other things to do first.
Aeluri and her summons held their own fairly well against the line of Dexter minions. The combination of all three made the battle easier. Several times she had to pour magic energy into the watch Shane had given her. It materialized into an energy shield that the enemies bounced off of like hail. As Lamentus’ bubbles began to pop, the captives fell from the roof onto the ballroom floor. Disgusting thumps of flesh and bone resounded around the room as most died on impact. Blood splashed up onto many of the remaining people. Some became so terrified that they ran away from the battle and abandoned their comrades.
As the numbers thinned, Aeluri could feel herself becoming more exhausted. Not only had she exerted magic power to summon Lamentus and Llacheu, she was undertaking a large physical toll. Muscles burned with each swing of the sword. Many times she stumbled and received stinging retribution in the form of magic or the slice of weapons. Bruises would undoubtedly spot all over her body the next day. Several large cuts laced her arms and back that rendered the tight dress ruined. She couldn’t help but be a bit disappointed. The outfit was one she had quite enjoyed.
At last, there was only one left. Aeluri braced herself, putting her left foot forward and raising the sword threateningly in front of her. The energy shield materialized on her wrist one last time. Her breath was ragged and her chest raised with each quick breath. Only one more and then she could complete her duty. Despite all that had happened, her mission had not left her mind. It drove her through battle, giving her determination. All of the waiters had to be defeated so she could make her way to the two remaining guests. If Ivory lived, Aeluri would be paid handsomely for the death of Arco. She had to see this task to its completion.
Before the last Dexter minion could charge, a large object came flying from the side of the room and decapitated him on the spot. The head fell to the floor and the body moments later. A pool of blood began to form. The item clattered to a halt several feet away. Aeluri realized it was the charcuterie tray she had been staring at earlier as she eavesdropped on Arco and Arianne. Whipped her head to the side, she noticed Llacheu holding his paws out in the air. He had used his telekinesis magic to give life to the metal tray and send it flying at the waiter in a surprise attack. “Good thinking,” she complimented the feline sorcerer between breaths. Llacheu’s tail waved excitedly.
Aeluri waved her hand at Lamentus, dismissing him. The feline stared at her for a second before turning and disappearing into the shadows. A trail of tears followed his departure. He had done well. Normally she would have scratched his head a little, but she had come to learn that the tearful feline didn’t appreciate affection.
Across the room, the little group of four people stood. Arco held Arianne close while the two waiter guards held them in place. The woman was sobbing while she hid her face in her lover’s chest. Their clothes had several blood splatters, which stained dark red against the fabric. What the two had witnessed was awful beyond anything they had seen before in their privileged lives. Bloodshed at such a high volume was something most people in Fiore wouldn’t witness in their lifetime, especially those in the upper class. Arco himself looked disturbed, but he was trying to hold it together for Arianne.
Aeluri stepped her way towards them, dodging bodies and puddles of blood. The soft sound of feed padding against marble echoed menacingly around the now silent room. Looking around as she went, the dark mage was quite proud of her gory work. It had been tedious, but she still found pride in her display of strength and malice. As she approached, the two Dexter guards became scared. One broke his resolve quickly, fleeing out of the ballroom. His weapon clattered to the ground. The other followed shortly after, leaving Arco and Arianne huddled together against the wall.
Arco stared defiantly at Aeluri as she approached. “Leave us alone!” he cried angrily, pushing his glasses up. The assassin stopped a few feet away and observed the couple. Llacheu had followed behind her, chains scraping over the floor, and halted by Aeluri’s side. It was pathetic how the couple were cuddled up, so helpless. The two looked like cowering rabbits cornered by a hungry fox. They had no defenses anymore. Their lives were in her hands. Despite it all, the man still had the gall to lash out at her. What a fool!
“Now, why would I do that?” she replied, a dangerous edge to her voice.
“Please, just let us go! We didn’t do anything!” Arianne sobbed, looking at Aeluri through teary blue eyes. Delicate hands topped with perfectly manicured nails clutched at Arco’s suit jacket. The dark mage felt her fear. The smell of it graced her senses and set her heart pumping with adrenaline. The bloodlust was building within her.
“You didn’t do anything, hmm?” Aeluri paced slowly in front of the lovers. “What was that I overheard earlier…” she mused, then raised a finger in exaggerated excitement. “Oh, right! You two were planning to have Ivory assassinated and steal the Tremaine empire for your own. How could I forget~”
The couple gave each other a startled glance. Arco opened his mouth to protest. “Don’t try to deny it, Arco,” Aeluri chastised, waggling a finger mockingly. “I know exactly what I heard. All the previous assassination attempts were from you as well. It’s really not hard to come to that conclusion. Sure, Ivory has business rivalries, but none bad enough to want her dead. You tried to be discreet, but you’ve failed.” She took a threatening step towards the floor-bound lovers.
“S-stay back!” Arco cried. “You can’t do anything to me! The Rune Knights will hunt you down! You’ll never get away with it!” His attempts at threatening her were halfhearted, though. The ex-Tremaine knew he had been discovered and that his fate was in Aeluri’s hands now. Fear caused desperation within him, so he felt the need to try to save himself.
“Oh, can’t I? Don’t worry, I already have a plan for that!” Aeluri trilled. The delicious scent of their fear had alighted her more depraved side. She craved for the two to fear her, to beg for their lives. The dark mage wanted to see them suffer before their lives slipped away. Perhaps they could die at each other’s hands. Their bodies would be discovered together, holding each other in a final act of love. A crime of love and greed, how tragic!
The dark mage pulled the slitted side of her dress back, revealing her leg. Strapped to her thigh was a knife with a thick blade. She quickly removed it from its hiding place, holding it up in the air. Light from the massive chandelier above glinted off the blade. “I sharpened my knife just for you~” Aeluri purred towards Arco, whose eyes were wide and terrified.
It wasn’t actually her knife, though. It was stolen from Arianne’s father. The blade had a decorative hilt with the insignia of that clan at the bottom. There would be no mistaking where it came from. The assassin had chosen to use a weapon that had no connection to her. Ivory had made it clear that there was to be no trace back to herself or Aeluri from Arco’s death. This plan had come to fruition long before the start of the masquerade. It would be a dramatic setup that pinned the blame on Arianne.
The young woman shrieked as Aeluri pulled the blade from its sheath. The tight grasp on Arco was released as she scrambled to her feet. Picking up her skirts, Arianne made a panicked break for the door. A sigh escaped the raven-haired assassin’s lips. “When will they ever learn?” she muttered to herself.
With a wave of her hand, the feline sorcerer Llacheu kicked into action at her side. The chains from the cuffs on his wrists whipped out, soaring across the room. Arianne didn’t make it far. The metal wrapped around her midsection, pinning her arms to her sides. Llacheu reeled her in like an unruly and vibrantly-colored fish. The young woman’s flopping about and screaming only fit the part.
“Now, now,” Aeluri tutted. Llacheu held the attempted escapee in the air before his summoner. “You would just leave Arco to his demise so easily just to save your own life? That’s not how lovers are supposed to act.” The assassin stepped up and pressed the blade to Arianne’s cheek, drawing blood in a thin line. Realization and fear filled her eyes as she recognized the knife. “Look at how hurt he is!” Llacheu turned the woman around to look at Arco. Defeat was written all over his face. He wouldn’t meet his lover’s eyes.
“Let me go!”
“I was going to do this differently, but now you’ve given me an idea Arianne.” Aeluri purred. She gave a nod towards Llacheu. The feline sorcerer removed one of his chains from around her waist. One arm was freed up, which he used the second chain to wrap around and control. Even her fingers were completely left to Llacheu’s whim.
“Llacheu, would you do the honors?” Aeluri asked her summon. A quick auditory check was made to make sure Shane was still far away from the ballroom. The distant sounds of fighting confirmed that to be true.
Without acknowledgement, the feline reached out with Arianne’s hand and grasped her father’s knife from Aeluri. The chains pushed her towards Arco despite her frantic protesting. Her voice turned into hysterical sobs as she approached.
Within seconds, it was done. The knife had been plunged into Arco’s chest, right into his heart. The Tremaine had died at the hands of his lover. His life slipped away quickly before the watchful eyes of Aeluri. Arianne sobbed. Then it was her turn. The chained hand turned the weapon on its owner. She sobbed and pleaded, her words becoming incoherent. There was no salvation for her now.
Llacheu placed the young woman’s body on the ground. The knife clattered from her hand as he released the chains. The scene portrayed a different story from the reality of the situation. To any observer, it would seem Arianne had used her family’s heirloom knife to end her lover’s life. She could have taken the opportunity created by Jett’s distraction to commit the deed. There would be no doubt the motivation: money. The Tremaine fortune was a hot topic among high class circles at the moment. Ridden with guilt, it would seem she had ended her own life because she couldn’t live with what she had done. It was a believable story.
Aeluri gave Llacheu a pat on the head, signaling that his job was done. With a bow, the feline sorcerer disappeared in a puff of shadowy smoke. The assassin gave one last glance at her handiwork. A smirk graced her face. This would definitely make the news. Should Ivory survive tonight, her mercenary would be paid handsomely.
After a moment, Aeluri turned and headed swiftly towards the staircase where she had last seen Shane take off. She had to help him ensure that Ivory wasn’t dying at the hands of Jett. Plus, maybe she would get a chance to lay her hands on that little bastard. The thought spurred her to run faster.