So… this was the place. It would likely be the place where he would stay for the rest of his life… and he felt ready. Dies Irae, the guild that executes its own justice, was located on this island that took him two weeks to get to from Desierto. Despite the while it took, he was able to kill time pretty efficiently by reading some of the comic books that he bought back in the desert towns. However, he would have to go get some new volumes, for he was about to finish reading his last book, and what else did he have to entertain himself?
He took a deep breath and approached the domed palace that looked to be the guild’s headquarters. Why they had built such a huge and menacing monument and dome as the headquarters was questionable to him, but he let it slide. It was mainly greyish in color, and he was allowed to look in awe at things.
His jacket was brand new, too; a white, long one akin to a trench coat (or maybe it was a trench coat), accompanied by a deep-bluish shirt underneath. His white, spacey pants were held tight by two belts, and there were many strongly contrasted patterns on the belt as well as on the edges of his sleeves. His white cap had the letter ‘J’ and a heart embedded onto it, and his modest shoes were the icing. Just his ordinary set of clothes, really.
And, of course, he had another package with him. Magic. He had, magnificently, learned how to use Light Magic from a demon named Al-Kidra back in Desierto, and he was more than ready to utilize that magic. You see, hearing about Dies Irae and reading about them in the Sorceror’s Magazine, Jariel had an inner desire to join their ranks as he saw his ideals intertwining and parallel with theirs.
He prayed with a single whisper as he entered the archway to the Throne Hall… his noble soul shining a faint gold.
"Greetings. I want to join the ranks of Dies Irae."
It had been a few days since Nico had been accepted into the ranks of Dies Irae, and despite being friendly and open to everyone he's spoken to and interacted with, he hadn't really made any friends. Of course, by Nico's standards, everyone was a friend, but really they were more like friendly acquaintances. This didn't seem to bother him, but he couldn't help but notice how similar being in Dies Irae and being a vagrant on the mainland felt; like nothing had changed. It was a thought he had been wondering about for some time now, but he was far from feeling depressed or sorry for himself about it. He had been so engrossed in his training that creating real and genuine friendships with other people just seemed to fall behind all of the other things on his mind, and he was just now beginning to consider spending more time socializing in the guild than working by himself.
Alone in the Throne Hall, Nico was wandering around the place, trying to find his way around. Despite now living here for a few days, he was not completely confident in his ability to navigate the entire building or the other properties of Dies Irae, so finding himself alone and lost seemed more common nowadays. Fortunately, however, it appeared that this cheerful man was not as alone as he thought.
East Wing... East Wing... East—hm? Nico was thrown off by the sound of someone other than himself entering the Throne Hall. When he turned to look, it was a tall young man with jet black hair and a fair complexion. He had green eyes and wore a white trenchcoat, white pants, and a white cap with the letter 'J' embroidered on it. Seeing this cool man saunter inside, Nico was immediately interested.
"HEEEYY!! OVER HERE!" shouted Nico, waving his hands as he called out to the splendidly dressed man from across the hall. Both of his large, callused hands were cupped over his mouth, running over to the stranger from his side. "Hey, man! Haven't seen you around here!" Nico was panting a little, mostly from excitement, "You new or something? Me too! Name's Nico!" he extended his hand.
Nico was a tall man - only four inches shorter than the stranger in front of him - and had an athletic, refined build. His face seemed to always be smiling even when he wasn't, and his perpetual cheerfulness and effervescence was contagious. He was a straightforward and risky man, and didn't shy away from making new friends in a way like this. How the stranger would react to this was, of course, a different story.
Only a slight flicker of silence passed after Jariel’s proclamation to make things clear and state his want to join the guild and organization Dies Irae. He was met by another male near another hallway, decently clothed and with a wide smile on his face. The stranger spoke his name up and greeted the Demon Slayer joyously; Jariel widened his eyes a tiny bit in awe at the expressive energy that the young man had in him and shook his hand firmly like the customs of Desierto installed within him prescribed.
“Greetings… my name’s Jariel,” Jariel greeted back with revealing his own name, “I’m new here, yes. We both are, apparently… but you appeared to know your way around here to some degree. Do you-“ His words were cut short by the ‘thud!’ sound of his comic book falling flat on the floor, catching Jariel’s attention as he gazed down on it. “S-Sorry about that, akhi- I mean, f-fellow...” he excused the gentleman in front of him and quickly picked up the latest issue of ‘Dead Man’s Questions’. The comic book was stored back under his trench coat once more, deeper to prevent falling out again. He wasn’t done reading it just yet but he would find the time to finish it, hopefully…
“Where was I… yes, I’ve heard about Dies Irae. Both good and bad things. About its sense of justice and about its extremism… but I want to be the judge of that for myself.” He adjusted his cap, so the shadows completely covered his eyes, “So I came all the way from Desierto to join your, Nico’s, guild… and the place here certainly has the same aura as when I read about you in the Sorceror’s Magazine.”
Once the conversation continued as expected, Jariel was interrupted by the sound of his comic book falling to the floor beneath them. It was an issue of something called Dead Man's Questions, and while Nico didn't recognize its name, his marmalade eyes and white cheeks lit up like the sun.
"Is that a comic book?! NO WAY!" Nico was balling his hands together, eyeing the comic book and then Jariel once he tucked it away into his trench coat, "I used to read those all the time when I was a kid! I've never had the time to since I went to the mainland. Man, I miss those. Lend it to me sometime! Or, well, we can maybe read together!"
Before Nico could continue reminicising about comic books, Jariel moved them to a subject of greater important. When Jariel told him about his reasons for coming here, Nico seemed baffled. He was still smiling, be he looked less energized and more perlexed. "Extremism? What kind of nonsense is that? Dies Irae is the golden standard for justice, in my opinion. Actually, it is justice! Haha!" he laughed heartily, his smile bright and soft, "But I'm glad you've decided to judge it for yourself. People will say all sorts of crazy things, you know?"
There were a lot of interesting things Nico wanted to talk about once Jariel mentioned it, but his circumstances weren't any he could help with himself. The two were completely alone together in the Throne Hall, and Nico knew only a little more than Jariel as far as navigation went.
"Jariel, right?" Nico took his fist and pressed it against Jariel's chest in a playful, convivial sort of way, "Wanna walk with me? If you think the Throne Hall is awesome, just wait until you see the rest of it! Like, man! I bet Ms. Sivvy will show up somewhere! I bet you'd like her, too! She's sooooo strong! Like, she could totally nuke this place!" he praised a woman who was not there with them, his cheeks red with excitement. Just thinking about strong, powerful wizards got him all revved up!
Wouldn’t it be… uh… nevermind. Jariel just found it strange to read a comic book up for another person who looked to be near his own age, thus an adult. It appeared to be much more of an activity to bestow upon a young child, but Nico sounded so sincere in his request, so Jariel wouldn’t dismiss it. “Sure. I’m soon through with this issue, and there’s only a week until the next one comes out. It’s a very interesting comic. Not like all those comic issues back at the store who heavily focused on the concept of ‘sexual fanservice’ at the cost of plot… but yes, if you don’t mind, we can read it through together. It has its faults, but it’s good and deep.”
Huh… from Nico, the view on Dies Irae was that of strong conviction in its role as judge. It was justice, as he stated strongly. Jariel rose a small smile on his face hearing that, already feeling a bit certain on that himself despite just having arrived here. Nico was as energetic and joyous as a sun; he wondered how the other members fared… and it was true that people nowadays talked smack and shit about any topic just for the sake of it. Lack of trust was reasonable, but smearing it with empty assumptions was deemed terrible.
Looking down at the fist planted on his built chest, Jariel soon looked back up at Nico’s face and nodded softly. “Sure…” he replied calmly, his ears twitching a little hearing about a Ms Sivvy, whom he had also read about in the Sorg. Mag.
“That’s right, she’s a member here too… I remember from the magazine again,” he informed Nico, not knowing that Ms Sivvy was holding a higher position than just ‘member’, but that was mainly just the slow passing of info between countries, “S-She could? That sounds amazing… I strive to become an even more powerful mage myself.” He looked at his lifted, open palm and inspected it in deep thought.
“As a Demon Slayer, I might be of use here… but it takes more than an entitled magic to become strong, doesn’t it?” Given what he had been through learning this magic, he began questioning its value...
Jariel seemed to get a lot of his information from the Sorcerer's Magazine, but who could blame him? Without it, Nico may have never heard of Dies Irae, and he may not be on Amber Island right now either. Maybe he'd find himself on one of their features in the future if he really worked hard at it!
"Ehhhh?! Demon-slaying?! That sounds sick, man!" Nico began to laugh again, rubbing the nape of his neck, "As for me, I'm not great at wielding any of my own mana, so I have this badass battle-ax! It's really awesome, you know! Maybe we should train together sometime? I'd love to see that demon-slaying magic in action!" Nico began to go off again, fantasizing about battles that have never happened and encounters he hasn't experienced. He really was a sucker for all things powerful and mighty. He was so animated by the conversation that he was practically releasing steam from his nostrils like some excited bull, but in a way that was rather innocent.
"Oh—but—I guess finding someone to initiate you should come first, huh?" Nico stroked his chin curiously before his face set off into a grin again, giving Jariel a reassuring thumbs-up, "You probably don't even have to worry about it, though! I think the people here see things for what they really are, and it a takes more than determination and curiosity alone to take you all the way from Desierto to a place like this. Not anyone can do that, you know? I am one-billion-percent sure that you'll get in! No, no—a GAZILLION percent sure!" Nico rallied Jariel up with a flame in his eyes, his hands clenched into fists, and his feet two steps away from jumping exhuberantly into the air. After hearing Jariel share parts of his story, how could Nico not support him?
Ah, quite a delight but at the same time unnecessary in Jariel’s eyes. Nico was excited to hear about such a magic. It had been fairly sudden and not exactly the toughest of labors for Jariel to learn, so he didn’t assume such Lost Magic to be all that. However, Nico must’ve been more knowledgeable in that area than the Desiertan gentleman. “Sick… thanks,” he replied, tipping his cap in gratitude.
Oh, this was quite a surprise. Jariel figured that Minstrel was filled to the brim with wizards of all kinds, so he also assumed it to be a trait of theirs that made them special with magic power. A sort of strong affinity for the arcane arts. Nico, here, had stated that he wasn’t great with his mana, so that could mean that he wasn’t too much of an upperclassman in these terms for the capped Demon Slayer. But that was strange… Jariel could sense a lot of magic power in him. Likely, he had the potential, but he still needed to work in order to unleash it in its completion. Deep inside, Jariel wished him well.
“Hmh…” Jariel thought more about Nico’s request of them training together. It was a good start, really; he would need to learn how his future guildmates worked and handled in combat, but as a complete newbie himself, he would have to start small. If what Nico said about his lack of magical channeling was true, then he would be a good start… and maybe they would both contribute to each other’s growth.
It was true that Jariel held a lot of determination aimed towards this guild, Nico nailed that one. To see things for what they really were… such an ability would be useful to draw proper, just decisions and judgements. But Jariel had a heart that often wavered by its own emotions and by influences from others, much like the hearts of many other.
“… Thank you for your encouraging words,” he thanked the axe-wielder with a small bow. It would likely take a while for someone of higher authority in this guild to show up, so Jariel wanted to shake off some rust. “Can you… this might be too sudden, but can you show me where your training hall or room is? I haven’t practiced my… Demon Slayer Magic in a while, and I’d like to catch up nicely to those around me. Maybe you can help me with that…?”
Surely enough, Jariel’s request was sudden, catching Nico off-guard. He had never expected to be the one invited to combat or spars, much less so early in a conversation. But that's not to say that he wasn't roused by the offer.
”MAYBE?!” his face lit up, ”Dude, I’d love to! Let me go grab my stuff! Wait here!”
And like that, Nico was sprinting off without a moment's hesitation. If there was any place in Dies Irae that he knew how to find, it was his living quarters and the training grounds. They were the places he spent the most time at and a place he was eager to share with Jariel.
When he arrived, he was in and out of the door once acquiring Gelu Morsus, which was leaning against the wall next to his bed, completely out of place with all of the other ordinary items. It was a large and impossibly heavy axe that looked as if its entire structure was made of ice. It had the tip of a dragon, and its head looked like the fire it was breathing out of its open mouth. Small spikes of ice protruded from it, and lines of fur covering its shaft. But its weight was something Nico had quickly grown used to and familiar with. Although it may have been too heavy for the average person to wield, Nico seemed to carry it with comfort as he rushed back out of his door and down the same hallways with it leaning on his shoulders.
When he returned back to the Throne Hall, no longer than five minutes had passed since he left his stuttering friend—this time, with all of his power on his shoulder.
"HEEEY!! You ready?! C'mon, follow me! You're gonna love this." said Nico, taking Jariel by his wrist and leading him throughout Dies Irae's large and somewhat confusing foyers with a sort of eagerness and cheer distinct only to him.
Their final destination was an enormous, spacious area on Amber Island called the Trial Grounds. It was a place where members could come to test their strength, and Nico often found himself training alone nearby a place like this. It was empty right now, but the look on Nico's face was so bravely eager and passionate that it was hard to believe that all they were doing was sparring. He looked excited enough to take down a Joyan Bull.
Looking at Jariel, he pointed at the empty Trial Grounds. "Awesome, right?! It's not everyday you get a place like THIS to practice in! Haha!" Nico laughed, looking out into the wide, open space with light in his marmalade eyes. He grinned back at Jariel, "Ready to break a sweat?"
Nico was more than eager and okay with sparring with him… it was surprisingly ecstatic for the energetic warrior, but Jariel was also eager to test his capabilities out. He would have to be of promise if he wanted to join… or so he thought. Leaving a good first impression was important, right?
After five minutes of waiting, where Jariel even pulled up his comic book again, he was soon met by a returning Nico wielding a ridiculously huge axe on his shoulders like it was just a bo staff. It honestly made Jariel sweat a little, for he knew not the limit of what destructive strength Nico possessed in his limbs to be able to wield that thing, nor did he know how heavy it actually was. Yet Nico was fresh and unburdened enough to grab his wrist and lead Jariel over to the presumed training ground that Dies Irae possessed… which turned out to be so much larger and wider than Jariel could have ever imagined.
This place was… enormous. Was this the training grounds? Just the training grounds? The male lowered his cap and covered his eyes in its shadow out of awe as he spoke: “It’s such a large area… just how much space is needed for a wizard of Dies Irae? This is out of my world, really…” Nico had likely been here before, but even he flushed out awe from his face at the look of this place. It looked like a glorified gladiator ring.
“Yes, I’m ready… I’ll just go ten meters ahead, and we can do a few clashes,” Jariel replied, “I don’t have a hand-held weapon, but I do have some spells that may even it out.” Maybe this was the time where Jariel had to say ‘please hold back’ or something along the lines of that, but he expected Nico to be as fierce in combat as his eyes were in their conversation.
And thus, he acted by his words and moved ten meters ahead before turning around and facing Nico, the sudden atmosphere changing around the two of them as sand kicked up a little. Jariel felt oddly at home with the sandy floor under his feet and the sub-tropical climate, and the sun’s rays gilded the grounds, inspiring Jariel to unleash his first move. He breathed in deeply, almost too deeply for any human being’s average lungs to bear, and while it may have looked like he was breathing in light from the sun’s rays as a way of boosting his Demon Slayer Magic, it was mixed up with another breathing technique…
His first spell lit up on both his hands. Demon Slayer Magic was light and holy in nature, but with the extra attribute of Light that his had, the light emitting from his hands intensified. Another factor played a role in its brightness; the secret breathing technique of his, which caused the intensity of his magic to grow more until it literally hurt one’s eyes looking too much at it. His hands were lifted slowly to synchronize with his breathing, and he began separating them by taking a fighting stance with one hand in front of his forehead and another below his chest.
Hamon... كف (Kaf)... Sacred Demon's Palm!
He then dashed forward by deeming it the right time here and now, not wanting to fool Nico with the light show, but wanting him to be ready for his attack and gladly inviting any counter-attack from the other male.
Ten meters never felt so far. Jariel stood there as light gathered into his palms, burning brightly and with such intensity that Nico couldn't look at it without feeling blinded by its light. What sort of spell was this? Did it strengthen him? Was he casting some sort of barrier? Or was this an offensive attack? Whichever the case, Nico would be ready for it. He took Gelu Morsus and prepared himself for contact.
As soon as Jariel took up a fighting stance and dashed forward, Nico made a large overhand swing with Gelu Morsus into the dirt and sand below them, creating a deep, icy depression in the surface. ...Ice Rink!... he thought to himself, a large area that surrounding both of them becoming slippery and covered in ice, making movements of any kind risky for anyone except Nico himself. Its coverage was nothing to write home about and the ice itself was practically harmless, except that it was impossibly slippery and threatened a misstep or falling. After all, the goal was to keep Jariel from escaping once he came close and despite Gelu Morsus being a battle-ax, it wasn't the most damaging weapon to choose. In fact, it specialized in something far different than offense.
"It might be practice, but no holding back, Jariel!" Nico shouted, exhaling deeply with his frosty breath, "Give it all you've got!"
Jariel thought for a second that he would at least lay a touch on Nico with his spell to inflict damage, but he was wrong. Nico had thrown a spell that caused Jariel’s foothold to… almost disappear completely; the Desiertan found himself slippering, his feet bashing about for a solid second as he glided towards Nico without much control. Afraid to come any closer to Nico’s axe like this, Nico punched the icy floor with his spell instead; it allowed a small area of the ice to melt and become solid land again, but he was only able to just balance himself on one feet after taking a few seconds… or more like a moment of silence lifting himself up after almost falling on his butt. “W-Woah woah, d-don’t fall, don’t- o-okay, there… t-there we go…”
Now, on one foot, Jariel was at a disadvantage… or was he? It was true that his balance was out of wack the moment he stepped foot on the surface of Nico’s ice skating area, but he could still reach him if he didn’t attack the Demon Slayer first. But there was a hint that Nico could clearly spot by watching the light from Jariel’s hands; due to being a little overwhelmed, Jariel’s breathing was improper and exhaustive, and it reduced the intensity and brightness of his spell… if Nico was able to catch onto that, then now would be the perfect time to strike.
However, Jariel was spontaneous and simply widened his gaze at Nico as laser beams from his eyes shot out aimed for the axe wielder’s own feet. Not as bright as his previous spell, but he would have to be careful, or he could lose his balance on his one foot…
Casting Ice Rink would have been a foolish thing to do if Nico wasn't intending on using it to his advantage. What sort of mage would he be if he just let Jariel slip and slide without doing anything to him while he did? Watching his opponent melt a small patch in his Ice Rink and then attempt to balance himself on one foot, the light gathering in Jariel's palms dimmed just slightly, and slightly was all Nico needed. Now was the perfect time to strike.
Now's my chance! Nico thought to himself, sprinting forward and readying his battle-axe as he approached the stationary Jariel, but he was met with a new spell that he had no hope of dodging. They were lasers shot from his eyes, and they were coming right for Nico.
However, unlike others, Nico didn't alter his path. Instead, he reacted with a new spell. It was one of many like it and his specialty. "Hypothermic Shield!" Nico shouted, letting the lasers crash against his feet uninterrupted. The dirt and sand of the Trial Ground splashed up into the air because of the lasers' proximity to its surface, creating a small screen of dust to veil oneself in. Even so, charging through the cloud was Nico, who seemed unaffected by the attack and braved through its damaging effects like a fearless bull charging at whatever was in its path. Although there was no visible change to his body, a magical barrier was cast over him, chilling him to cool temperatures and giving him astute magical resistance for a moderate amount of time.
If Jariel hadn't moved from his safe-spot, Nico would have sprinted close enough to be in axe-range of him. "ALLLRIGHT!! Here goes nothing! Icy Bite!" Nico announced as he made another overhand swing at Jariel, except with greater force this time. If Gelu Morsus made contact with Jariel, a stream of magical ice would attempt to enter their bodies, and would likely linger for a few minutes afterwards, chilling them inside out and sucking away at their mana.
Although Nico came at Jariel rather boldly, Icy Bite was one of only two offensive moves he had. Offense, again, was not his strong-suit.
What?! His eyebeam didn’t even hit his feet, kicking up sand and creating an impact without even harming them. A defensive spell had been cast by Nico to protect himself from them, and Jariel could feel the air getting colder as Nico approached him in high speed.
Where should he move? With a spell up that rendered his long-distance attacks useless, Jariel would have to find an opening to inflict a spell upon him. There was one spell…
Reflexively, Jariel rose his arms and attempted to block the attack, but his hands simply met the ice-cold blade of the large axe that froze them up and sent Jariel down gliding backwards on his poor butt. A cough of pain escaped him, but he was surprisingly enduring… either that or the spell inherently held little finishing power. Unfortunately, his hands were frozen down a notch, and moving his fingers proved such a tough challenge. Jariel could barely feel them… it seemed as if he was on the losing end.
But Nico’s axe was anything but victorious right now. Jariel rose his face up and attempted to melt away the magical ice with his own magic. “Damn… you’re persistent,” he uttered, “And Miss Sivvy is a stronger mage and sorceress than you, right? Then I can’t stay like this for too long…” He had gotten a tough but clear image of the average level of strength expected in this guild, and he was lacking… he needed to build up strength and skill to match them.
About Nico’s axe; an invisible seal was placed on it the moment Jariel had made contact with it with his hand. While trying to melt away the magical ice by breathing on it and, hopefully, developing enough Hamon to overpower the spell, the seal on Nico’s axe detonated and released a blitz of light dense enough to knock a person several meters away and encase them in a string of demonic marks to immobilize them. Immobilizing Nico would be his green card to victory in this bout… and it would give him time to melt off Nico's ice-cold curse on his hands.
HP: 000/000 MP: 000/000 Active Spells: Ice Rink (Immobilization), Hypothermic Shield (Shield/Magic Resistance), Icy Bite (DoT/MP Drain) Cooldown: Passives/Buffs: Heart Of Snow (Counter-Stun, HP Regen) Items Used: Monsters Killed:
The moment Nico saw Jariel fall back on impact, he knew victory was near. The Ice Rink was still cast, immobilizing anyone other than Nico who made any movements on it and sucking them of their mana as long as they were on it, and Jariel would have to be suffering from Icy Bite's powerful effects by now. Not only that, sprinting toward him was Nico himself, who was preparing yet another Icy Bite for Jariel to fend against. From the looks of it, too many odds stacked against his new friend for victory not to be inevitable! Fortunately, however, Jariel seemed to have more tricks up his sleeve.
Nico looked at the head of Gelu Morsus, noticing a small beam of bright, dense light. But by the time he had even caught a glimpse of it, the spell was already detonating, and it was too late to do anything about it. When it did detonate, what might've overpowered or even immobilized someone of Jariel's caliber was inferior to Nico's brawn. The effects of Jariel's spell were only a shadow of what they would've been compared to being cast on someone weaker, and the string of demonic marks that tried to constrict him could only slow him at best.
Recovering from the minor interruption, Nico resumed sprinting at Jariel with bull-like bravery, a passionate grin plastering his face and light in his marmalade eyes. He was slower than before, be was confident that the Ice Rink would prevent Jariel from moving too far if he moved at all.
"Give one-billion-percent, Jariel!" Nico shouted, taking a jumping start at Jariel, who would've been in the same spot he fell into if he hadn't moved. But instead of casting another Icy Bite, Nico decided to make an overhand swing powered by his might and brawn alone. The spells he was already casting took enough mana alone, so he would have to trust his own strength until he could regenerate some.
H-How? Nico was able to approach him still in a fast pace and with the face of an enraged rhino, even with the fact that his Sacred Demon’s Stigmata was active on his very body right here and now! Meanwhile, Jariel had all the troubles with solid foothold on the icy plane, and his mana reserves were shrinking much faster…
… It looked like it was the end for him. Jariel’s eyes were full of anxiety, not sure enough on what to do next.
A flash almost blinded him with Nico’s axe lifted up high. A flash reflecting the sunrays from the burning orb in the sky hit Jariel’s face from a certain angle of Nico’s axe being swung. That flash didn’t just blink at him… it was… absorbed by him. He breathed in the flash of light and swallowed it like newly-baked bread and butter. His leg twitched for a moment as he lifted both hands and grabbed the sides of the axe as it was just about to chop on him.
He had found somewhat newfound strength from absorbing that light earlier. The strength was enough to replenish him enough to use the most of it again just to grab the axe that was swung down at him. Even with that, his shoulder had still gotten a bash from it, and he coughed out in pain yet standing his ground. If the flash of light was a source of power, then…
His last ounces of strength were used to slide the axe to a certain angle. To an angle that allowed the sun’s blissful, golden light to reflect from its solid, ice-like blade and focus straight into his gaping mouth. The more light that entered, the more mana he replenished, and the more vitality he recovered.
He betted on using these moments to absorb as much light and photons as possible before Nico interrupted him. The pain on his shoulder was rapidly going away, and the sprinkles of blood from his hands that grabbed the sharp sides of the ice axe were closing up their wounds…
HP: 000/000 MP: 000/000 Active Spells: Ice Rink (Immobilization), Hypothermic Shield (Shield/Magic Resistance), Icy Bite (DoT/MP Drain) Cooldown: Passives/Buffs: Heart Of Snow (Counter-Stun, HP Regen) Items Used: Monsters Killed:
Gelu Morsus slammed down into Jariel, and that much Nico was certain about. But his attack didn't hit as badly as he was intending. In fact, it hadn't hit at all! He could feel it bash his shoulder, but the axe itself was caught in Jariel's grasp. What a bold move!
Nico peeked over from the side, still pressing down on Gelu Morsus. He was smiling brightly. "Ehhh? You caught it?! That's sooo badass!! Let's—" Nico's strength suddenly increased as he briskly lifted his axe from Jariel, only to swing it back down in a powerful, diagonal crash, "—DO THAT AGAIN!"
Nico continued to send Gelu Morsus's deadly blade down upon Jariel, refusing to let up. If not for the demonic marks struggling to constrict him, he would have been faster, but his speed and agility still seemed reduced by them. Even so, there would have to be some point where Jariel would be overwhelmed by Nico's strength. With the Ice Rink surrounding them and Nico's Hypothermic Shield protecting him from overwhelming amounts of damage, it was only a matter of time before victory would present itself.
Okay, JJ… breathe. And so, he did. Nico’s shocked look met his gaze and alarmed the Demon Slayer, but he had to breathe. He had to get his breathing under control, under his full control. If he didn’t, then none of his spells would have the desired effect… yes, he was planning to cast another spell, for after having eaten the light reflected from Nico’s own axe, he felt that his mana pool had replenished. Was that the true power of Demon Slayer Magic? He had never seen Al-Kidra eat light before…
Damn it. Nico was still rapid enough to charge at him with another swing, this time more diagonally. But that also allowed JJ to lower his torso and lean to one side to avoid it, since the axe now left him with a triangular space to one side where his body could be saved from its swing. However, the balance in this stand was horrifying, and the ice below him was anything but solid. His feet were now in the air and he lost balance, open for Nico’s third swing that pushed him straight down with a red slash on his chest.
Even with the injury on his chest, his breathing was steady and harmonic. However, it was clear that the battle had to end here and now.
HP: 000/000 MP: 000/000 Active Spells: Ice Rink (Immobilization), Hypothermic Shield (Shield/Magic Resistance), Icy Bite (DoT/MP Drain) Cooldown: Passives/Buffs: Heart Of Snow (Counter-Stun, HP Regen) Items Used: Monsters Killed:
When Jariel had been tip-toeing on the brink of defeat, it was Nico's final swing that downed him. But in that same stroke, Nico had completely forgotten that this was a spar, and not all spars needed "one-billion-percent" of themselves.
"Too much, Jariel?" Nico lifted Gelu Morsus, grinning with a wild, boyish look on his face. But when he saw the sanguine fluid splatter against his blade of ice, he knew that he had gone too far. "Jariel!" Nico shouted, tossing Gelu Morsus aside to the bloody furrow in Jariel's chest. He felt the weight of his heart drop into the depths of his stomach when his marmalade eyes fixed onto the wound he inflicted.
Nico was nearly prostrating himself at this point. His large, toned hands hovered over the wound but hesitated to touch it. He couldn't. How could he? "I'm so... so sorry! I—I don't know what was going through my head! I can't believe I...." he stammered, his face no longer cheerful and now plastered with panic. "I know we have healers! Can you walk? Should I carry you?!"
Suddenly, hovering over both of them was Nico. It was Nico in the sense that he looked, dressed, and sounded identical to him—but it wasn't Nico. He was standing in between them, looking at Jariel and whistling with amazement. His name was Nabriales.
"Well, I'll be damned. You really haven't changed, Nico." said the man, crouching down and poking Jariel's wound. "There's something very wrong about you."
Nico didn't say anything, and stared at Jariel's wound, choking on his words.
Nabriales looked at him. "You really are terrible. How could you hurt him like that? You can't control yourself." he said to him, walking over behind him so that his identical hands could caress his jaw. His hands were cold and harsh like he was inching closer and closer to suffocate him. "It should've been you, and you know it. Why don't you just kill yourself? It's way overdue. You're too much of a coward to off yourself, but you decide to hurt others instead? What will your mentor think? She would be ashamed. She is ashamed. You're an embarrassment." Nabriales sighed, shaking his head. Nico began to tremble a little bit, although, to Jariel, it was because of the wound he was gazing at.
"You really are selfish."
And he was gone.
To Jariel, Nabriales was never there. He wouldn't have felt his poking and prodding, and he wouldn't have heard his venom. He would have and never will exist for anyone but Nico, and it's been that way for eight years now. But as time had passed, there were some things that couldn't be clouded with doubt or anxiety. The correct response was action, even if it wasn't as big of a deal as it might've been.
All of his spells dispelled, and the Trial Grounds returned to its original form, albeit a little more dishelved than before. Nico took a quiet, deep breath, and slapped his hand against his chest. "I promise I'll make it up to you, Jariel! You have my word!"
Even with the amount of time that Illya had been in Dies Irae, she still was not used to the arrangement of the hall. It was so different from what Fairy Tail had set-up, and especially different from what her other workplaces in Magnolia were like. The majestic throne room, the constant pressure of being surrounded by so many strong people that had so much experience in combat, it was all a foreign experience for the weak God Slayer. Nonetheless, she had promised herself that she would not shy away from the face of danger. She was going to prove that she could have her own spot in Dies Irae to help purge the world of evil, in whatever way possible.
Her daily musings on the same matter were interrupted by the faint sounds of battle. It seemed serious, and, despite her being on one of the beaches of Amber Island, she could hear the voice of one of the other newer members, Nico, she thought his name was, but there was another unfamiliar voice. A new recruit? Someone even newer than her? Of course Illya was excited to here this. But what if it was a dark wizard? Some fiend that had infiltrated Dies Irae? She could not let that stand.
"Yemaya! Quick! We need to head to the Training Grounds! Someone's in trouble!"
"Or perhaps they are training. Wild thought, I know."
"No matter, Yemaya! We gotta get there, and fast!"
At this point, Yemaya knew that it was foolish to argue with her ward, so she rose up in size to that of her full form, letting Illya ride on her back as they headed towards the Training Grounds. As they reached there, Illya had seen the two owners of the voices. Upon Yemaya landing on the ground, Illya could, in fact, confirm that the one was the guild member she thought she had seen before. The other was a new face, however. And he was wounded, badly, it seemed.
Illya shrieked, jumping off Yemaya's back. "Omigosh, are you okay? Here, let me heal you up reeeeeeally quickly!" Placing a hand on the man's slashed chest, she began to sing quietly, feeling the fabric of his torso slowly mend.
Were you not concerned if this person was a dark guild member? Yemaya asked, ensuring that her telepathy was shared only with Illya.
Illya brushed aside the valid question for a moment, continuing to sing as she healed up the big man. She was not good at much, but healing was certainly something. Even despite the wound, there was a calmness to the sound of the man's breath, as if it did not worry him, even mixed with the cool taste of the air from Nico's ax. Having healed as much as she could, she turned towards Nico. "It's Nico, right? Why'd you have to go and hurt this guy! He probably didn't do anything wrong!" A realization flickered into Illya's mind. "Wait, unless he did and that's why you were fighting him!" Just as she had reached Nico and prepared to slap him, she turned around once more towards the taller man, and delivered as strong a slap as she could to him. "You! Tell me who you are and why you were fighting a member of Dies Irae! I bet you're some sort of evildoer that's trying to defeat us! Well, it's not gonna work! Even if you beat up me or someone strong like Nico, you're not gonna be able to beat Mister von Weiss or Miss West like that!" Her eyes shifted to the side for a moment. "Wait...we have another Ambassador, right? Agh! I can't remember her name! Hey, Nico! We have another Ambassador, right? It's Mister von Weiss and someone else. Miss West isn't an Ambassador. Or is she?" She shrugged, bringing her attention once more to the tall wounded man. "Right! Anyways, the name's Illya Pegasus! State who you are! If you're here to join Dies Irae, sweet! If you're some sorta criminal who's trying to defeat us, I'm prepared to try to beat you up! I probably won't do too well, but I'm still gonna try!"
Suddenly, as if gravity on the entire planet had contracted depression, there was a terrible pressure from a powerful being uncloaking their presence nearby. It buzzed with frigid peril. Perhaps some would feel as if all the air had been sucked out of the training grounds, despite its open nature. In an instant there was a form flickering right into their midst from somewhere unseen, dazzling in the flurry of electric blue script and wispy auras swirling around and mixing with the disturbed dust under booted feet. There stood one of two Dies Irae Ambassadors, skin glittering in the sun as if made of metallic flecks. From the angle of the body compared to the sun's position, the face was cast in shadow so that glowing red hues displayed their open threats. Thin lines and cursive runes glowed pale on exposed patches of skin. One might think they were about to be obliterated off of Earthland in one vaporizing burst of sheer power and will. Judging by the person's stoic expression, not an eye would bat if all three were to suddenly stop existing.
The pinkette had been in the training grounds before the two arrived, honing her already impressive skill set obsessively, as she did up to three times a day on a slow day with minimal paperwork. She heard them coming from a far distance but decided to hang around and watch one of her two mentees in action when she wasn't there to supervise and advise him. The grounds reset itself and she had cloaked her presence, finding a nice place to hide and observe.
As she studied the stranger and ever sunny Nico fight, she couldn't help but feel the smallest tinge of... annoyance? There was this strange trend in some people where they felt the need to call their attacks out. Now, for Amalie it made sense. Some of her magic was triggered by articulation, so she had to speak it out. Sivvy knew full well that Nico's magic didn't work that way. He was just being flashy. Her mouth turned down into a small frown. She'd need to tell him to stop that. It was impractical and could be turned on him, since what he was shouting definitely betrayed exactly what each attack did. The element of surprise was invaluable. Other than that, Nico was holding his own.
But how much did that say about Nico without considering his opponent? Her eyes turned on the light mage who clearly had a lot to learn but definitely had a good base to build off of. If Nico hadn't learned the spells he had, the tide of this spar could have easily turned in several places, places she'd noted to bring up to Nico later as a teaching lesson.
As Nico usually did, his energetic nature carried him away and soon she debated stepping in. While she supported going hard on another Dies Irae member to point out weaknesses and build strength no matter the cost, this was not a member. For a moment it looked like Nico was content to sink his ax into the man in white's chest, even if he had to bash it in. Was he trying to kill this person? There was no indication this was a dark mage. No dark mage this weak would show up to Amber Island and try anything unless they sought suicide. Still, she was curious about how the smiley boy would behave, and within moments it was revealed that he hadn't meant to hurt the older man as badly as he had. Nico apologized.
To make things even more complicated, a third person was rapidly approaching, giving her more pause. This was a member, too. Sivvy recognized her smell from within the guild hall, even though she'd yet to properly meet her. As she landed and rushed right between the two, the ambassador found herself blinking. She healed the slayer. Good. Now she was scolding Nico...then she slapped the poor man in white, all while barely taking a breath. This girl talked a lot. Mister von Weiss? Miss West. Oh. This was that newer member who couldn't get titles correct that she'd heard about from her friends. Sure enough, she declared herself Illya Pegasus, confirming the rumors. A tired expression washed over the guild master's face. How was it that people in Dies Irae still hadn't grasped that this was a military and had a standard for behavior, especially toward those outside the guild? This was a circus...or what Sivvy imagined a circus might be like. She'd never actually been to a circus...
With the final addition and things getting ridiculous, it was time to step in and salvage what was left of their reputation. Perhaps they'd all rethink their frivolity once they realized what the standard truly was. Dropping her cloaking completely and ramping up her magical power for effect, the clone disappeared from her hiding spot in an instant to bare down on the guild underlings.
Sivvy looked positively magnificent, but also utterly indifferent even as the more intimidating aesthetics disappeared and left her looking her usual self. Was she angry? It wasn't apparent, even as her carmine eyes flickered from each of the three faces. While two were unfamiliar to her and initially received no special attention, her lids did narrow an incremental amount when they fell on her mentee, Nico. "Committing violence upon potential recruits isn't the level of discipline I expect from you," she said evenly, her tone no different than it was any other time. People had said her emotionlessness was actually more frightening than someone who overreacted. "Same goes for you," she added, glancing at Illya, even though the girl had merely smacked the new guy... after she healed him, which was bizarre in itself.
Stepping toward the newcomer, she extended a hand of greeting to him. "Hello, I'm Sivvy, an ambassador here. I apologize for my members' actions. Did you come here hoping to join our ranks? If so...do you still wish to?" the metal dragon slayer asked, pausing to let it sink in to the others that he could have been scared off by such careless actions. "I believe you have what it takes to become an asset here, should you wish to take part in our quest to maintain order and deliver justice. Most of our soldiers behave better than what you've just had to endure, I assure you."
Jariel coughed a couple times, not being able to uphold his Hamon for too long in the end. However, the pain on his torso was starting to dwell away, and he helped himself up on his knees thanks to Nico who was tremendously in prostration out of deep, pure regret for what he had caused him. It was nothing, really; they just got caught in the heat of battle, and for a young man like Nico, mistakes were bound to occur and Jariel could overlook that as long as Nico learned his lesson and became smarter. It wasn’t as if Nico was bent on exceeding the limits of morality in this world, so Jariel found himself very forgiving…
Feeling the sandy floor once more, Jariel realized that Nico had deactivated his spell. Grunting a little with a clenched fist in front of his mouth, Jariel tried to ease up the atmosphere by smiling a little. “I-It’s alright, Nico… the pain’s not that much,” he assured his new friend, “And I got to see your fighting capabilities. I’m satisfied…”
A sudden shriek reached his enhanced ears, and Jariel’s face jolted a little in surprise by the arrival of another figure - a much more delicate one in comparison to Nico’s appearance. It was a young, cherry-haired girl who jumped off the back of a large, feathered dragon! Its size was massive, and its white feathers could reflect the light of the sun themselves. The girl appeared to have been mortified by the look of their aftermath as she placed a hand on his wound to heal it with a spell of hers that required… singing? He could clearly hear her faint, melodic singing, and it was echoing with such a beauty… he would have never known that a human being could sing like that. It was soothing.
She then began scolding Nico for having hurt him, and Jariel was quick to try and pardon his friend: “Really, it’s alright, walaalo… look at him. I know he regrets what he’s done, so please forgive him.”
Her talking suddenly turned from feeling bad about Jariel to, in a heartbeat, antagonizing him as someone who had done something wrong to Nico. Her hand, which Jariel tried to grab just to save Nico from an unreasonable slap, suddenly turned towards him in blinding speed and left his left cheek reddened as his face suddenly turned to the right against his very will from the impact of her slap. What in the world was that about…?
His breath had gotten ill, but he very quickly regulated it again to calm himself down. She began to, like, interrogate him by asking the questions of his identity as well as the reason why he was fighting a Dies Irae member. Before Jariel could even respond, she jumped to conclusions; she began accusing him of being some sort of enemy to them, an evildoer who was trying to take them all out… he would’ve allowed himself to refute her point at that moment with a rather stern look on his face if not for her confusion afterwards.
There were two names to be remembered; Mister von Weiss and Miss West. Apparently, the young lady was confused about the titles of her assumed superiors; Jariel would assume that the title ‘Ambassador’ was the official title for them, while she - out of familiarity - probably just got used to calling them Mister and Miss. And her own name at last; Illya Pegasus… if he was an evildoer, then it would’ve been smarter to- y’know what, he would have to explain that to her here and now.
“… Okay, but calm do-“ his words came out, cut and braked itself upon the realization that suddenly, he couldn’t breathe… his breath stopped itself as if a cork had closed his vocal chords. It was nothing truly done to him, but the atmosphere simply pushed that feeling of silence with its heaviness. It was as if the air itself densified upon what looked like the manifestation of a blue, demonic entity. JJ had taken a step back, surprised by this entity’s arrival and its devastating… and I cannot express this enough, devastating aura and magical prowess that made his legs shiver despite him trying his very best to uphold his composure and totally concentrated breathing.
The sharp light reflecting from the body’s skin could have been eaten by him akin to how he ate the reflecting lights from Nico’s axe, but he didn’t have the guts to do such a thing right now. It was the body of a cherry-haired lady whom he wasn’t clear enough in his mind to put a name on despite having seen her on Sorceror’s Magazine once.
Just like Illya, the lady scolded Nico for his carelessness with a voice that didn’t sound like scolding at all. It sounded more like she couldn’t care less but, for one reason or another, had to make it clear to him. Her tone was void of emotion, and JJ had not enough time to really consider getting used to that. However, once she greeted to the Demon Slayer, his heartrate lowered and his breath began returning closer to its normal tempo. Her name was Sivvy, and she was just who he needed to speak to if he wanted to join Dies Irae.
He shook her hand gently and helped himself up on his feet, listening to her words. She was understanding of what he had gone through right now, and she assured him that not everyone would lose their tempers so quickly here, but JJ had already forgiven Nico, and Illya looked too young to hold a grudge against. His heart yearned to join a group of people who pursued justice to an unfair and unforgiving world, so with all these factors, his answer was obvious.
“Yes, Ambassador. To put it simply, I still wish to join,” he answered her, taking off his cap and pressing it onto his chest as he bowed, letting his jet-black hair feel the calm winds of the arena, “My name is Jariel Jareem... I’m ready to be under your command and meet the rest.” Jariel’s speech was only under a small influence in its accent from his Desiertan heritage, but the clearness in his words weren’t purely out of a strong sense of manners. He was still awestruck by the Ambassador in front of him.
WC: 1065 TWC: 3232 (from all previous posts made by Jariel) + 1070 = 4302
For a moment, it was just Jariel and Nico at the Trial Grounds, both still recovering from what transpired between them just seconds ago. Even though they were supposed to be alone, it wasn't surprising when other people would find themselves drawn to their scuffle. It's just that this member had a tendency to... exacerbate any situation she found herself in.
"I—Illya?" Nico stumbled over his words, surprised by his guildmate's arrival. As he turned to look at her, not even a breath had left their lungs before she went off on her usual tirade.
Illya was erratic. Her attention bounced from Nico to Jariel, her hands revitalizing him and healing his wounds, spilling her entire train of thought onto her tongue and then onto them. She went from antagonizing Nico to antagonizing Jariel, and then somehow found herself on the subject of the ambassadors. This was not unusual for Illya. In fact, this was the one thing Nico remembered most distinctly about her character. But not even he could foresee what she was about to do next.
Nico's complexion suddenly blanched as he watched Illya send her hand flying across Jariel's face in a brave slap. "Illya?!" he exclaimed, his mouth hanging open in disbelief. He almost couldn't believe what just happened, and he was close to not reacting at all. He knew that Illya was excitable and oftentimes terribly indecisive in both mind and matter, but she really knew no bounds when it comes to what her limits were. Even so, before Nico could even hope to reprimand Illya or to assist Jariel, all three of them were interrupted by something fearsome.
. . .
Eh? What's happening? What's this pressure I'm feeling right now? Nico thought to himself. It felt as if the air has been sucked away from his chest, stifling his words, and the weight of the Trial Grounds itself weighing down on his shoulders, immobilizing him. He was almost too still to move his marmalade eyes, but when he did, he realized that it was his mentor—Sivvy.
"Ms. Sivvy..." said Nico, whose voice was quieter and more sheepish than normal. On any other occasion, the effervescent young man would have been thrilled to see both his mentor and his idol join his company, but when he saw her, he felt his heart drop into his stomach. She must have been watching this entire time, and she must have seen what he did to Jariel. Nico almost couldn't look her in the eyes. He felt naked when Sivvy looked at him as if he couldn't hide anything even if he tried. Her stunning red eyes unraveled him, and he felt ashamed by whatever she was seeing.
When Sivvy approached him and briefly reprimanded him, her words might have come across as mild to outsiders looking in, but every word sunk his chest deeper and deeper into the depths of his stomach. It was just as Nabriales said—Nico dreaded the thought of disappointing her, and it seems today that it came true. Even so, he didn't shy away from the scolding. There was still a brightness in his eyes as he accepted the reprimand and a determined look on his face. "Yes ma'am! It won't happen again!" Nico replied sternly, determined to heed to words and take them to heart. He was a man who was determined to make efforts in even the mildest of circumstances, after all, even though he looked a little troubled when he did say it.
After that, Nico didn't say anything. Instead, he watched Sivvy address Jariel and Illya.
I was right. Nabriales said to him matter-of-factly. He was standing next to Sivvy, smiling.
Nico's expression didn't change as he continued to watch them. It's not going to happen again, I'm one-billion-percent certain of that.
Did you see that look in her eyes? Scary. You really are the worst. You really aren't good enough to even call yourself her ment—
I know. But still, Nico's marmalade eyes suddenly brightened again, the sun flushing his face and his usual grin plastering across his lips, she's still so cool even when she's scolding me! Gyaaaah!! I'm so lucky!
The force suddenly weighing down on Illya was, to say the least, overwhelming. She had not personally felt this kind of power much, but there was a slight sense of familiarity. It was the final Ambassador of Dies Irae, Sivvy. Illya had not personally met the last ambassador yet, but the name had been thrown around and Illya had the same taste in the air as any time from before, as well as the mildly familiar taste of the voice when she spoke to Nico and then to herself. "A-apologies, Miss Sivvy!" Illya sputtered out before the weight of the magic lifted slowly.
She coughed softly to herself as she slowly got up. Yemaya had even seem slightly weakened from the sudden force of the magic, slowly trotting over to her ward while maintaining her full size so as to ensure the slightly air of authority that Illya could possibly hold. She turned to the new recruit and bowed quickly. "Sorry about hitting you, Jariel! Sorry, even though I'm a bit new here, I'm a bit protective and I wanted to make sure you weren't here for any sort of bad purpose or anything, because that would be really bad, especially if you were a dark guild dude and then I'd honestly have no choice but to-" Yemaya poked Illya slightly in the behind with a talon. "Right! Sorry! I'm so sorry again! Didn't mean to be mean about it, just a bit of a safety measure! I just hope that my healing was of at least some help to you, Jariel! After all, if I don't heal too well, then Dies Irae might not see me as too useful and that'd just be no good." She mulled in her mind for the briefest of moments about whether or not to continue with the second half of her initial thought train, where she would state her mild desire to return to the world of music, before deciding against that, for fear of upsetting Miss Sivvy. "Anyways, glad you're here to join, Jariel! I...uh...I hope we can put this whole thing behind us!" She offered a hand and a bright smile to Jariel, hoping that he would forgive her impulsive actions.
Of course, while she still had her hand offered, she was not done speaking. "I'm guessing that you knew that he was here for good, Nico, so why'd you have to go and hurt him? I mean, that was a pretty big wound, you know! Plus, why didn't you stop me and just outright say that he didn't mean any harm!" She sighed before turning to face Miss Sivvy. "Right, Miss Sivvy! Your call as to what we should do next!"