Dia was no pushover when it came down to physical combat, but against Mael, she was outgunned. As they clashed weapons, it became more and more evident that, while she was probably more trained in the art of trading blows, his speed, strength and ferocity more than made up for her advantage. She was almost at her limit, struggling to keep those rods of his from connecting with her flesh. And she had learned from experience that getting hit put her in a greater disadvantage. The rods seemed to vibrate a lot, and the frequencies at which they vibrated caused different effects. There was the magic canceling one. There was another, which he was currently using, where, on contact, the rod would release a powerful burst of vibration, which made blocking it feel like that jarring effect one experienced when they struck an unyielding object too hard with a tool. And at the few times he had scored a hit, she had experienced a powerful jolt that always almost made her drop her weapons. She would have found it safer to revert back to her old stance: wielding the spear with both hands, while she allowed the shield to float around her and defend in such a manner. At least, if Mael struck the shield, she wouldn't suffer from the vibrations. However, the still buzzing rods were effectively canceling out the magic around them, and that included Pegasus' levitating powers.
Mael was obviously enjoying himself, but Dia couldn't afford to let him know that if this kept up, she would soon lose her cool. Hex was nowhere to be found, though she had reasoned that he might not be able to do much, what with those magic canceling staves. She was going to have to rely on a Deus ex Machina event, or think hard and fast, and outwit him. She quickly chose the latter. Relying on an unexpected event to save one could only be carried out with the utmost assurance by those protagonists in all those action vids. Dia began to give ground, allowing Mael to beat her backwards. She dodged as much as she could, and blocked whatever she could not dodge, but it was a very painful thing to do. Still, she knew that getting a direct hit would be even more agonizing, so she gritted her teeth together and continued playing on the defensive."What's the matter, bimbo? You don't look so calm, now. Don't worry, you'll be spared. After Gael is done killing that short brat, we'll hunt down your boyfriend and rip him apart. You, however, we'll save for Edger. He should like to know who hired you. But you might actually end up wished we killed you, when...""I know all about Edger and his inventive torture techniques, so you can save yourself the trouble,"
she snapped, ducking under a blow and jumping backwards immediately after, so as to put some space between them. Mael was not interested in letting her off so easily, and he rushed forward, aiming a blow at her face. Her shield came up to block the attack, but with a powerful blow, he knocked it clean out of her hands, then swung next for her knees. The spear came down to deflect it, and she hissed in pain as she felt the shock rush through her body. She staggered away, but he came forward, this time bringing a rod down towards her shoulder. This time, Dia did not dodge.
As the blow descended, she thrust forward with her spear as viciously as she could, aiming right for the center of his chest. Belatedly, he realized the dangerous plan she had carried out, and tried to knock aside the spearhead with his other hand. Judging from the fact that he had had to react to a pointblank attack, and the second fact that the spear did not run him through, one could say that his defense was somewhat successful. It did rip his shirt apart, though, and cut a gash across his chest. Mael screamed as his blood flew, a cry more induced by rage than pain, while Dia stumbled backwards and fell to the ground, her arm hugging her broken shoulder. Mael looked down at his chest, then at the fallen woman. "I will make you regret that, bitch!"
he snarled, as he stormed forward, raising a rod above his head.
But it was far enough.
The shield of Pegasus flew all by itself to intercept the powerful blow, and as Mael struck it, the "eyes" of the horse shield glowed brightly and fired off a beam of blue light. Unable to dodge in time, Mael tried to block it with his staff. But that was exactly what Dia wanted, and her plan had been successfully hatched. Normally, if she had given this fight her all, and attacked as much as she could, she might have given Mael a bit of a run for his money. But she had chosen to allow herself to be forced back, and in so doing, had slowly and subtly lured him out of the range of his magic canceling metal sticks. Once out, she tried to force him to make a powerful attack, which he had done, but now, she could use her mind to guide the shield into protecting her. And she had activated Pegasus' "Hard Head" ability. Mael would now discover that the beam of light was not supposed to be touched at all. His expression was one of shock and helpless rage, as his body refused to move. Then the rage turned to fear and panic, as the rods he wielded slipped out of his hands.
Slowly, Mael rose into the air, as his body contorted in very unhealthy ways, and then Hexter revealed himself, floating up from somewhere beneath to hover a few feet above the top floor. "Sorry for putting you through all that,"
he said, as he gestured sharply, and Mael crashed through the wall and went outside, rocketing off into the night to goodness knew where. Hex looked down at Dia and reached out a hand, his expression softening slightly, but Dia pushed his hand away. "You can coddle me later. Find Edger. He mustn't escape. And watch out for traps."
Hex nodded, then bolted towards the room that the interrogated cook had directed them to. Dia activated the healing technique of Pegasus as Killua came within range. A fountain burst out of the shield, healing both their injuries and restoring them. Once Dia felt the numbness leave her shoulder, she got to her feet and hurried after Hex, the spear and shield trailing after her. Ahead, she could hear shouts and gunfire, but as she approached, she saw that Hexter had it all under control. The last of the guards that protected Edger went through a window, while the target of their assassination squirmed as hard as he could, caught in an invisible grip. She had wanted to try abducting Edger, but perhaps a quick, thorough interrogation would suffice here and now."Had himself holed up here with a bunch of guards,"
he said over his shoulder. "He's all yours, Dia."
Dia walked into the room, her spear hovering at her shoulder. It was a surveillance room, filled with monitors that had been smashed apart by the bodies of guards. No doubt this was the place Gael and Mael had monitored their progress through the mansion. Seemed like Edger had been cocksure of their abilities, and that pride had cost him. "Let's make this quick. I'm not here to kill you, Edger. I only want information. And don't waste my time lying, or giving me that overused 'no, they'll kill me', because I already loathe you immensely, and wouldn't mind harming you severely."
Hexter, at Dia's gesture, dropped Edger into a chair, but held him from getting up. The politician's face was pale, and he licked his dry lips. "Uh... you must have mistaken me with someone else. I swear I don't know who..."
he began, but she cut him off. "Remember the Hand of Doom?"
Edger blanched even further. "Glad you do. Hex, break his thumb for wasting my time and reminding me of some gall I'd rather forget."
Edger screamed, as a crack was heard, but he couldn't move his other arm around to hild his injured hand. "Fortunately, Edger, humans have a lot of bones. I used to clean up a lot after you and La Trompe, if you can remember, and I learned a thing or two. Heck, you even practiced a thing or two on me, so trust me when I say that you'd be wise not to offend me further."
Edger stared at her, terror and wonder written all over his face. "Who are you?"
Dia kicked him in the face. "I'm the one asking the questions. Don't you ever listen? Hex, instead of breaking his index finger, why not slowly pull...""I'll talk! I'll talk!"
Dia nodded at Hex, and he released his telekinetic grip on Edger's finger. "It's just a few simple questions. Answer me straight, and I'll turn round and walk away, instead of burying this spear in your face. Don't answer me, and I'll make sure the Rune Knights won't find enough of you to be identified with. Are we in agreement?"
Edger nodded. "Good. And remember, I can tell if you're lying. You remember what I did with the cooks."
Again, he nodded.
She asked him about a dozen questions, most of them being questions about the Hand of Doom which she already knew the answers to. She hid the real questions she was interested in, sandwiching them among seemingly important but unnecessary inquiries on the trivia of his pirating days. Once she had obtained the information she was after, which were the location of an artifact the Fingers of Doom had handled, and the whereabouts of the Ring Finger of Doom, she nodded."Alright. That will be all. As I'm a woman of my word, I won't kill you."
She turned to go. "I didn't say anything about my friend here, though. You can try to strike a bargain with him if you want. The lad is very reasonable. He's all yours, Killua."
She gave Killua a wink. "I think it's best we split in different directions, yeah? We'll be harder to track that way. So, guess I'll be seeing you around, yeah?"
By now, the Rune Knights would have been alerted to the fighting, and would have been headed for the mansion, so the sooner and more surreptitiously they escaped, the better. Hex picked Dia up with his telekinesis, as she deactivated Pegasus into a harmless feather once again, and they floated out of a broken window and into the darkness, their black clothes helping them to blend in with the night.