For now they didn't have the luxury for that. The enemy was coming their way and while Pergrande might be adamantly opposed to magic they had their own way of being a realistic thread. Instead Itori just looked at Luna and calmly stated "We shall talk about this at a later occasion." The tenko would rather not interfere with Luna's attempts at raising Mai properly but she couldn't just ignore the possibility that Imai would act as a scapegoat for both Luna and Mai.
But now, for the enemy...
Nenet was holding on, her flesh reforming as quickly as it was torn apart, but she couldn't do much in this position other than hope the soldiers would run out of bullets sooner rather than later. Her own regenerative abilities combined with Itori's spirit shrine meant that she wasn't in life-threatening danger, but she couldn't keep this up forever. Eventually the damage would build to the point that she couldn't just walk it off...
Fortunately Luna intervened before it came to that point. Erecting a barrier that effectively blocked the bullets Nenet took a deep breath as her flesh began to knit itself back together. "Phoey. Thanks for that." She gave Luna a grin even as blood covered most of her front. "A bit too much for me to just shrug off, eh?" For someone who'd just been getting shredded she was in remarkably good shape. Her expression went from a pained grin to a confused look when Luna said something about making Itori hate her, followed by a giant dragon appearing from the clouds above to start recklessly attacking the enemy ranks. "...Does Ito know him?" She couldn't immediately see why Itori would have objections to that dragon's presence as long as he was on their side. It wasn't like the tenko was known to have an irrational hatred for dragons or anything.
She took the offered fruit without question and immediately ate it, swallowing it quickly. "Thanks. Could use more salt though." The quip was followed by a rather disbelieving stare as apparently the fairy wanted to use some sort of spirit beetle to remove the bullets embedded into the phoenix's flesh. "Ho-kay...." Truthfully Nenet was pretty sure that she would have regenerated without the help, but she just took a breath and grinned again. "Good thing you're not using this on any of the others. They might be a bit more squeamish about it." Sitting still she resisted the urge to scratch herself as the beetles wriggled around in her flesh, pulling out the bullets and then merging with the phoenix's body. She shifted her weight, grimacing and squirming. Unpleasant wasn't the right word... Uncomfortable? Well, it wasn't like you often had the opportunity to feel beetles burrowing inside your flesh when they weren't eating you alive.
"Right." Standing up Nenet stretched, her wounds closing the rest of the way as she looked at Luna. "Time for me to get back to work beating some guys up. You'll probably want to hang back, since you're-" She didn't get the opportunity to finish, as at that point the barrier that Luna had put up was destroyed by a barrage of projectiles. Not bullets, but flying swords, knives and firearms. Nenet was thrown backwards, barely catching herself before planting against the ground with her face. Spreading her wings to keep her balance she looked at the paladin who strode through the destroyed barrier, a whirlwind of weapons surrounding him. "Hey! Asshole! I wasn't finished!"
The paladin didn't bother to reply to that, instead sending a stream of knives flying at Luna before charging Nenet with such speed that the phoenix could barely roll out of the way. What she couldn't dodge was several swords ripping through her wings, keeping her from escaping into the skies even as she snarled in anger and pain. "Argh!"
Her latest adversary didn't give her time to recover, coming to a stop and retrieving the swords used to destroy Nenet's wings to surround the phoenix with them. Nenet gritted her teeth as she took the small time window she had to observe the man. She could only see the lower half of his face but he looked serious, if maybe a bit bored. Was he expecting more fight from her? She'd like to give it, but she could feel something... This man was bad news.
The swords all struck at once, Nenet diving forward and rolling underneath them. She could feel the metal grazing her but thankfully none of them managed to actually injure her. Her wings, on the other hand, wouldn't heal so easily. The paladin wasn't going to give her the opportunity to rest and restore them either. "Nothing for it then!" Nenet's entire body burst into flames, a multi-coloured flare that bathed her surroundings in a lightshow even as she charged the paladin and swiped at him with both hands, one after the other. The paladin dodged the first strike and caught the second, the flames surrounding Nenet's hand disappearing upon coming into contact with the soldier's armour.
"Bastard!" Nenet snarled as she didn't wait to see what the paladin would do next. He wasn't letting go of her hand and he'd probably use his telekinesis or whatever to attack her with the weapons he'd accumulated. Did these guys hang back so they'd be able to use the weapons left behind by their fallen allies?
Spinning Nenet lashed out with her clawed feet, kicking the paladin's legs out from under him. At least, that's what she'd been planning, but the paladin jumped up and avoided her sweeping kick. For a moment it looked like Nenet would get skewered before she could do anything else, but the phoenix let out a roar as she grabbed the paladin's arm, the one which was keeping a firm grip on her hand, and turned the momentum of her kick into an over the shoulder throw which smashed the paladin's front against the ground. The impact was enough for him to let go, Nenet quickly jumping backwards while the flames covering her body crept down her arms to envelop her hands once more.
"This... isn't good." Nenet panted. Even as she spoke the paladin pushed himself up using his psychic abilities, his entire body leaving the ground before he landed on his feet. The dust and dirt that was stuck to his outfit also fell off all on its own, and before the female phoenix could charge in he was once again surrounded by a spinning mass of weapons.
Itori listened to the world around her, keeping track of everything that had happened so far. Bellum's forces hadn't fared so well in the beginning, but her shrine had helped keep them from immediately succumbing to Pergrande's assault. Some of them were fighting back as well, so she and her companions from Sabertooth weren't taking care of this all alone. Although they were struggling with the anti-magic equipment that the higher ranked Pergrande soldiers were using... It took far too many soldiers from Bellum to keep up with the ones who had managed to unlock their psychokinetic powers. Curious, but also very troubling: such abilities weren't easily developed. For Pergrande to have integrated them into their military they must have developed some grueling training methods.
But what wasn't the highest priority. The safety of Sabertooth's members came first. Mai, despite Luna's best wishes, was joining the fight and doing a pretty good job even if her true potential was still limited by her immaturity. She seemed more angry than actually serious, which was... both good and bad. Imai was also doing his part, even using his crossbow to deal with those soldiers who had a high resistance to magical attacks. But there wasn't something wrong... He hadn't managed to avoid being hit entirely, but rather than being healed by her spirit shrine his body was becoming... translucent. A malfunction? She didn't know, and honestly she didn't have the time to find out. Danger was quickly approaching and she couldn't afford to act as a bystander.
"Seiki o Kiyomeru"
A soft silver light with a blue tint would envelop Imai, washing over his wounds and at the same time seeping into him. Itori's Purify Spirit spell was meant to remove any irregularities in both body and soul, leaving the target in a cleansed state. However she wasn't entirely sure how this would interact with whatever was going on with Imai. The only thing she was certain of was that it was almost impossible for this to do any harm to Imai: at worst it should do nothing at all.
She would have been a bit more thoughtful about this act, but she didn't have the time. Even as she casted the spell someone was quickly approaching her position, and in the process striking down Bellum soldiers left and right. Breaking her steady walk Itori entered a sprint instead, dashing over the battlefield at surprising speed as she closed in on one of the six paladins who were wreaking havoc now that the infantry had been almost completely decimated. Unfortunately, their supernatural abilities made these paladins more of a threat than all of those gun-wielding soldiers combined.
Itori didn't like violence. In fact she'd rather avoid it at every opportunity. If she were any younger she'd most likely have been like Gaia, tearing apart on the inside because of what she was forced to do here. But she had lived a long times and seen many things: she'd been forced to accept violence as a part of reality long ago, even if to this day she truly disliked it. Truthfully she hoped that Gaia would never learn to accept it like she did, since that would mean the younger mage was never exposed to as much violence and bloodshed as the ancient tenko had.
But right now the nine-tailed spirit fox would have to cut down those who threatened to harm innocents and her companions. Cut them down, and then move on with her life. Not that she had much choice in the latter.
The paladin locked onto Itori once the armoured fox came into the woman's line of sight. Around the elite warrior from Pergrande many soldiers from Bellum were strewn about. From the looks of it this woman aimed to kill. Itori would have to deal with this quickly before the souls of the slain went out of her reach. Retrieving departed souls was more of a hassle than it was worth, especially since it came with some risks and downsides...
Drawing her sword Itori delivered a diagonal slash at the paladin, in one step closing the distance as her blade left behind a white arc. The paladin blocked the strike with one of the swords she had stolen from a Bellum knight, sparks flying before Itori was pushed backwards. While Itori was healthy, fit and swift, her opponent's psychokinetic abilities were stronger than the tenko's physical strength. She'd have to avoid direct hits, because even if her sword didn't break Itori herself would have trouble withstanding the blow.
Keeping her sword drawn Itori halted for a moment, studying the paladin. She was completely covered in a metal that was making the magic around her behave... oddly. Or perhaps disturbingly was the better word: any mana that touched those metal plates and the metal cloth warped and was almost completely destroyed, even the background mana that filled the world of Earthland. Magic would be useless against that: all Itori had was her sword and her armour. It was probably a good thing she was the one standing here, and not someone like Gaia who was more of a traditional spellcaster when it came to combat. But that didn't mean this would be easy for Itori either.
A rain of bullets came down upon Itori, fired from guns the paladin had lifted from Pergrande infantry who no longer needed them. She did so with alarming precision, aiming all those guns without line of sight and even reloading them with high speed and efficiency. Whoever this woman was, she'd been thoroughly trained in maximizing the usefulness of whatever she could find on the battlefield. Itori responded by stabbing the ground with her sword, an ethereal barrier forming around her that blocked the bullets while Itori ran towards the paladin once more. The paladin in turn lashed out with a sword she was wielding with her hands. Sensing that same disturbance Itori brought up her sword rather than relying on her barrier, one hand supporting the back of the blade. The paladin's sword tore through the tenko's barrier without resistance: that must have belonged to one of the higher tiered Pergrande soldiers. Itori narrowed her eyes and gritted her teeth as the paladin's sword threatened to knock her off balance. Angling her own sword she deflected the strike rather than receiving the full brunt. The paladin recovered too quickly for Itori to use the opening.
The female paladin stepped back, using the airborne guns to keep Itori from advancing. With her barrier destroyed the nine-tailed swordswoman had to spend her time evading, swerving to the side and circling around the paladin. Now that Itori was no longer in melee range the paladin's aim improved. Itori now also had to deal with several guns shooting where her adversary anticipated that she would move next. Worse, aside from the bullet four swords were now also dancing around her. They lashed out alone or two at once. They forced Itori towards where the bullets came to meet her. She used her own white sword to knock them out of the way. She rolled under the hailed of bullets. The paladin had both hands raised, fully focused on trapping Itori in a closing web of flying steel and oblivium.
A flash. A sound of metal meeting metal. The paladin who had been bombarding Itori looked around. Behind her another paladin was blocking Itori's blade. The red-armoured fox had used an illusion to make her opponent think she was trapped. Unfortunately just as she was about to impale the woman from behind another paladin had noticed the trick and stepped in. Now Itori was back where she started. Except now there were two paladins.
The second paladin pushed forward, wielding two swords which each would require a normal man to use two hands to wield them. Itori moved back, deflecting the strikes carefully. However she didn't have much time to act with care. The first paladin was resuming her barrage. One paladin engaging her from up close, the other attacking her from all sides with whatever weapons and objects were available. She had to break out of this situation fast. She'd already received several hits at this point, wounds that refused to heal as the cursed oblivium these Pergrande soldiers wielded interfered with healing magic. Only her armour, which was almost completely physical in nature, had prevented worse wounds. But even that couldn't hold up forever.
A low slash forced her to jump back. A burst of bullets made her roll to the side. The male paladin's second overhand strike made her scramble to block. Her sword came up in time but the force behind the attack knocked it aside as the paladin's blade went through her arm. A sharp gasp escaped Itori's throat even as several more flying blades dug into her back. For a moment she stood there hunched over, motionless. Then she disappeared into a burst of silver light. The female paladin turned around. The male paladin kept his swords up, wary for any surprise attacks. Itori appeared behind the female paladin, sword at the ready. Before she could strike she was riddled with bullets. Her body dropped lifelessly to the ground.
Turning around the female paladin saw Itori's body... and her male counterpart, headless. He stood there with weapon extended, striking at something behind him but hitting nothing but air even as his own head had been severed from his shoulders. The female paladin looked around for their enemy, ready to unleash a full barrage at the first sign of Itori's reappearance.
Instead Itori's body suddenly jumped up, still filled with holes and with her arm missing as she drove her white blade through the paladin's chest, impaling her heart. The elite warrior from Pergrande gasped, shuddered, tried to focus on Itori, but before she could do anything else her life left her body, pulled into Itori's sword. Those cut by the tenko's blade would have the fate of their very being decided by her.
Standing up straight Itori breathed slowly, her cut off arm still bleeding as she looked around. No other enemies were paying attention to her: the other paladins most likely had trusted their two fellow elite soldiers to be up to the task. And, truth be told, they very much had been if Itori hadn't been just a bit trickier than they expected in the end. Healing her wounds would take some time, and along with her helmet good chunks of her armour had been ripped off. And the chest piece now had a lot of holes in the back.
What had happened was that immediately after her arm had been cut off Itori had used her magic to disappear and reappear several meters further back, in the process weaving an illusion. This illusion would both turn her invisible and create the Itori which had tried to strike the female paladin before being perforated by a hail of bullets. The real Itori, meanwhile, had used her spirit fox magic to give her real body some ghostly attributes, such as a tendency to ignore the bounds of gravity. Jumping up into the air she'd sailed over the male paladin's head and then sliced his head off from behind. While the paladin had been cautious enough to notice that she was behind him he had thought of her as being on ground level instead of floating in the air, and by the time he realized his mistake Itori's blade had already found its mark.
After that she'd rolled into the position where her fake body had lain, dispelling the illusion and turning her roll into an upwards strike that successfully killed the female paladin. By first creating a fake version of herself and then matching her position with that of her fake self she'd completely confused her final adversary, unable to tell where the real Itori was.
The plan had worked, but it had been a gamble, reliant on the ignorance of Pergrande. They relied on psychokinesis and advanced technology to compensate for their lack of magic abilities and knowledge, but that didn't mean the lack of magic wasn't still there. They might be heavily resistant towards direct magical attacks, but magical trickery... That wasn't something they could easily counter.
Itori would have liked to take a break, but she had one more thing to do. Within her blade dwelled the essence of the two paladins, powerful individuals whose spirits contained a lot of power. Even more power than expected, augmented by their psychokinetic abilities. Holding her sword vertically in front of her Itori focused, draining the energy from those two souls and using that energy to reach out to the fallen Bellum soldiers around her. The fight had lasted longer than Itori had hoped due to the interference of the second paladin, but the bonds that tied body and soul together were still there. Strengthening those bonds with the power she'd siphoned from the paladins' souls she pulled the souls back, reintegrating them with their bodies even as those bodies were healed of fatal injuries.
Standing there silently Itori would be surrounded by an eerie glow as all around her Bellum soldiers would slowly begin to stir, life returning to their cold bodies as one by one they groaned and slowly pushed themselves up, either sitting or weakly standing as they looked around in confusion.
When Itori said that she wouldn't let anyone die on this mission, she was being serious.
Imperial Army Recruit (weak) 0/30
Imperial Army Officer (normal) 0/48
Imperial Guard (strong) 2/10
Imperial Paladin - Private (boss) 4/6
@Imai-chi @Gaia @Luceam @Mai Stormschild