Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Innue
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Selim decided in that instant to roll the dice. If she had a card to play, his response would likely for her to play it.

Rather than move to either side, or even away from them, Selim surged forward quickly towards Kiyo ready to engage her in exceptionally close range. While Kiyo was overall bigger than most women, Selim still had a fair amount of size on her, which did have its advantages in a direct on attack when there was not a difference in physical agility. He was confident at that close of range, even with her Windspeaking, he would be able to force her to reevaluate her decision. It was smarter than letting her execute on whatever she was trying to do. At Selim's behest, Soelbe, along with its light orbs moved to collapse on Kiyo with Soelbe coming in an arc from behind, the Globe of Ielle more from a direct side position, and the Globe of Indolu right next to Selim.

With all of the motions towards each other, everything would quickly erupt in complete and utter chaos.
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Though Kiyo did not expect her gambit to cause Selim to outright take the offensive, she was prepared to execute her strategy as he did so. Kiyo had many factors to consider in the moment, the most prominent of which being how Selim would choose to use his counterspell. It was common knowledge that spells whose effects were instantaneous were simply unable to be counterspelled as there wasn't time for the magic to work--and Kiyo assumed that someone advertising themselves as a bodyguard had plenty of practical knowledge in the art of magical combat--so the choice of which spell he countered was vital to both of their strategies. Kiyo did not know if Selim knew that she planned to use a Wall, but she cautiously assumed that he did. Windspeakers were known for their proclivity towards slamming foes into objects to cause damage, and a smart opponent would ensure that no surfaces were available for such an attack.

Given the sudden decrease in available time thanks to his movement, Kiyo concluded that Selim would most likely counterspell her wall. Still, it was a requirement that she placed it, and even if he did counterspell it she had ways of buying more time. With a wave of her outstretched hand Kiyo created a wall to her left (and Selim's right) in the open space where the Natrelmon were not that was seven feet away from Kiyo, and just slightly further than that from Selim. The Wall would end up approximately perpendicular to Kiyo's Mythari, though slightly below its position to account for the angle between Kiyo and Mythari as well as between Selim and Soelbe. If Selim counterspelled this Wall, Kiyo would have no choice but to slightly delay her initial strategy and would compensate accordingly if the situation arose.

Assuming that it was not, Kiyo would wait for the pair to reach their melee distance--taking maybe a second, if that--and Kiyo would execute her strategy. She would put her weight on her right leg and lean into the movement, feeling the rush of the wind energy course through her, as she felt Selim come into range. She released the magic in the form of With the Wind, moved on Selim five feet towards the wall that she had made, and immediately as she did so invoked the Soaring Gusts, which had no delay thanks to her recent successful use of the magic. She positioned the circle in such a fashion that she and Selim would both immediately be shunted an additional three feet in the direction of the wall. This combination of spells would slam Selim into the wall with considerable force, and Kiyo would follow the movement up with a Windborn Weapon directly at Selim's chest. Given the short distance between the two, Selim hypothetically being damaged by the hit, and the speed of the projectile it was very unlikely that he would be able to avoid it also.

The sheer bevy of magic performed in such a short time left Kiyo just a little out of breath, and she doubted she would be able to use more without just a little respite--magically speaking--but habitually begun the process of drawing on the Quietus deep within her in case she was required to use it in the immediate future. If the manoeuvre worked, Kiyo's momentum would not allow her to stop--she would continue towards Selim and prepare herself to engage in physical combat.

Mythari and the Nightfall shadow elected to not use any moves, but kept their horizontal position stationary and instead elected to fly up three feet, ensuring that the range of the globes would be safely distant from them. As ever, they remained dutifully vigilant and ready to react to Soelbe should Selim command it to take action.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Innue
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If Selim had the time for more conscious thought, it probably would have been filled with expletives for Windspeakers. Everyone in Atren knew about how annoying Windspeakers and physical barriers were as a general combination. The moment Kiyo's Wall was visible, Selim knew how his next few seconds would turn out. It was a classic, effective Windspeaker strategy that a Counterspell could have had the potential to preform what in essence was a combo break, but Selim was steady in his resolve.

The moment he felt the wind push him, it was confirmed. What was a bit unexpected was Kiyo's decision to essentially give chase for a follow on. However, Selim's initial plan with Soelbe was still executable. Kiyo was a quick caster, but Abjuration did have a series of advantages and disadvantages, one advantage being that spells that required motions with the hand could be chained easily with spells that did not. Selim countered the Windborn Weapon, essentially as his side impacted painfully against Kiyo's Wall with his own Wall, before whispering the short invocations for two spells: Blinding Radiance and Effulgent Burst. While blinded, the marked territory for Effulgent Burst would be slightly behind Kiyo, while Selim surged forward at her, his right arm poised to strike her, in a low recovery stance almost like a tackle, putting her directly between him and his spell.

If Kiyo's plan was to rely on the sensory perception of her Mythari, that would prove inadequate. Soelbe, who was still on a course to approach from behind Kiyo unleashed Indolu's Pride, which would narrow the visual range of the Mythari until it chose to go into the sphere, or outside the range of the Globe. The Globe of Ielle would trail along behind Soelbe at a much slower pace from the ghost's charge - if you could say ghosts could actually charge a physical being.

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Xander


"Ouch, hitting me right where it hurts I see." Xander laughed off her comment, running a hand through his silver-white locks as he let out a sigh. "Look, I'm trying to keep him in line but ever since he evolved, he can't seem to stop himself from picking fights with everyone and everything! Like, I've read that Mythari tend to be more bold and outgoing than Mythin, but I swear that Sei takes it to a whole new level."

At Mallory's mention of school, the Xanite waved her off with a 'bah' before taking a seat to enjoy the meal she'd brought him. He took a moment to give thanks to Both Seiryuu and Suzaku with a quick prayer before digging in with gusto, stopping every so often to cool his mouth.

"Ya know us-gahhothothot- us Xanite's don't have much need for that stuff. With as many Tamers and such that pass through the town looking for Natrelmon, as well as the local elders, I got all the learning I needed. Bet I can cast a spell just as good as anyone in your classes, if not better." Xander punctuated his statement by pointing a veggie at her with a rather cocky grin on his face. After he finished cleaning the bowl of every last drop of food, Xander stretched out on the ground next to Mallory, eyes closed as he let the warm food digest. When Mallory turned his question back on him, however, the boy became rather tense for a moment, but let it go with a breath as he picked himself up. "Ah, nothing much. . . except for getting 3 new partners today. Oh, Gosh, I'm such a dunce. lemme introduce you properly to my new partners."

Leaping up to his feet, Xander made his way over to the Grianos he had ridden in on, who was currently laying down with a grumpy glare directed at nowhere; though she quickly found a target for her gaze as her trainer came barreling over. "This big gal right here is Gigi. She's a bit of a grump right now, but I'm sure we'll be good friends before long. And those two over there are Buck and Lili" Xander pointed to his Bovent and Loutila, who were currently hanging out by a large fountain, relaxing and drinking water. "Buck seems to be pretty chill, though Lili's a bit more anxious. They seem to enjoy each other's company a fair bit though, so that's good. I literally just caught them all today, and with no fighting required! Though Gigi gave me a bit of a thrashing in trying to get her, the others were more chill, so all in all, I'd say that's a good omen for my first day of Rites."

"So," Xander asked after stretching out a bit, hissing in slight discomfort due to the bruises that still peppered his body. "Are you going to challenge the Arena Master yet? I thought about doing it right away, but decided to give it sometime, get a better team set-up and maybe even do some light training before I put my skills to the test, ya know? Hey, maybe we can even do a mock battle sometime soon!! I'm sure Sei is more than ready to show Gwisin that he isn't going to let something like type advantage scare him."

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Kiyo was pleased for the briefest instant physically possible as she watched her plan unfold to completion, but beyond that she did not have the capacity to do very much at all. Selim's momentum had all been converted to force when he hit the wall--and Kiyo had seen him wince in pain--but he had proven his combatative nature when he immediately turned himself towards casting spells and executing a strategy he'd been building since the beginning of the battle. Had she the time, Kiyo would have thought of this as an admirable trait in a bodyguard--and certainly something better than what some of the Lifanites settled for in order to simply look good rather than be adequately protected. Kiyo's own momentum, as well as taxing spellcraft, left her with little in the way of options as to what she could do now. Selim's counterspell and utterance of two other spells--clearly Abjuration spells, given their verbal components--left Kiyo with little choice but to use another of her precious With the Wind spells, dashing herself diagonally to the northeast as soon as she could. The blind did still manage to hit her, its searing light barely clipping her field of vision but thanks to its magical potency still being quite enough to utterly blind her. The sudden loss of vision, no matter how many times it happened, was disorienting enough to make even the most battle-hardened stumble and stumble Kiyo did.

She fell pretty spectacularly, mentally taxed from the spellcasting, and through sheer force of habit managed to tuck herself into a roll forward so that her stumble didn't end in injury. As she finished the movement, going maybe six feet, the blind had ended, and much of her momentum had gone into the roll. It was little effort to turn herself around so that she was facing Selim once again, and as his movement would have carried him forward she would have a second to gulp down a breath and steady her focus. She had escaped the worst of his gambit, but it was clear to her that he had a physical advantage purely based on his ability to weather her own stratagem with minimal disruption to his own. Soelbe's gambit with Indolu's Pride was effective, of course, at robbing the Mythari of its sight as he was not within the light of Indolu, and with Kiyo's stumble she simply did not have the capacity to give it orders. The Mythari continued on its course upwards, now at least 12 feet in the air, and prepared to aid Kiyo when she recovered.

Kiyo knew that her time was limited to close out the battle. With Selim's natural advantage in close-quarters combat and her own limited reserve of spells, Kiyo would have to end the fight extremely quickly if she wanted to have a chance. With that in mind, she begun a cautious walk towards Selim once more, knowing that her window was closing, and prepared for him to react in kind. She could further evaluate which of the forming manoeuvres in her mind would be most appropriate based on how he reacted to their next engagement. Of course, Kiyo had not forgotten about Soelbe, but simply elected to attempt to execute her strategy before it could have a real impact on the battle. As she moved towards Selim she drew Mythari into the fray also, having it charge quickly towards him. Mythari would have to contend with Soelbe, but if Kiyo's plan worked then that would not matter. A risky gamble, for sure, but one that Kiyo was willing to take to prove her own strength and test Selim.

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Sarcelle Renard
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Oz Morioka


The sound of tumblers clicking in place rang in Oz’s ears with dispassionate finality. Strangely enough though, shuttering up the workshop that he had called home for the past fourteen years was proving to be a far more anticlimactic affair than he had expected. Sure he would almost certainly return to this out of place building on the outskirts of Lifan once he had finished his Rites, but still, he had been expecting… well, more.

Raiha’s letter had been so flippant and out of nowhere that Oz couldn’t even bring himself to be all that surprised. It was just like his master to suddenly drop everything and anyone around her in order to pursue the latest object of her interest. Although in her defense, the redheaded Searsinger had never done so on quite the same scale as this before. Her letter didn’t even say whether she would be gone for only a few months or if it would be years before she would return, only that Oz shouldn’t bother waiting around for her.

Taking one last sidelong glance at the workshop, Oz did just that and started walking towards the center of town. His recluse of a master lived as far out of the way of the city proper as possible, so the sooner he started walking the better.




”One way to Toran.” Oz’s voice just barely cut above the busy din of the station’s morning traffic. While he personally wasn’t a big fan of them, the only way to get from Lifan to Toran in anything resembling a reasonable amount of time was to take a train. He handed over the necessary amount to the attendant and glanced around, losing himself in the bustle of the place.

“Just a moment,” the attendant said, completely stopping in his tracks mid transaction. The older man eyed Oz up and down, as if trying to confirm something with a rather scrutinizing look. “You’re that Morioka woman’s apprentice, aren’t ya?” he asked innocently, to which Oz could only nod his head slowly in silent confirmation, his face scrunched up quizzically. Yet the attendant said nothing while he rummaged through the drawers on his side.

“Aha! There we are,” the man finally proclaimed as he held up a letter for Oz to see. “An odd one, that master of yours,” he went on to say nonchalantly as he opened it and took out the money inside. “Said her apprentice would be coming through here and that he would probably be going to Toran, so she left enough money for your ticket.” He finished his little explanation as he produced the ticket and handed both it and the money Oz had previously tried to pay with. But when his eyes fell on the aforementioned apprentice’s face, a small, unnecessarily apologetic laugh escaped him.

“Looks like you have it rough. Try to hang in there kid.”




By the time the train finally pulled into Toran, Oz had come dangerously close to becoming completely stir-crazy. The brown haired youth was off the train before the doors had even finished opening. He could have sworn that one of the train operators muttered something along the lines of “kids these days,” but he was already too far ahead of the words to worry about it much.

Oz didn’t have a particular destination in mind as he took off, simply enjoying being free of the oversized metal box that had been his prison for the past few hours. But even at his quick pace, he couldn’t help but marvel at how different Toran was from Lifan. While he didn’t stop at any point to truly appreciate any of the art adorning the various buildings and bridges, he couldn’t help but be impressed by their sheer ambition.

It didn’t take long for his gallivanting around town to take him to the town square, where some kind of commotion was breaking out. It didn’t take much detective work to figure out who the perpetrators were, as the crowd had been polite enough to give the two trainers duking it out plenty of room. The woman was instantly recognizable to Oz as a Lifanite, a true Lifanite unlike himself, while the dark skinned man she was trading blows with was much more difficult to place.

As his footsteps finally came to a stop, he noticed he was standing right next to a short girl with blonde hair.

“Looks like I’ve missed quite a bit,” he announced good naturedly, as if the two of them were old friends. “Who do you think is coming out on top here?”

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Fallenreaper
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Time, IC Day: Late Morning, Day 1
Location: Toran, within the city



Mallory saw Xander’s explanation about Sei as more of an excuse, not a solution to his problem. She made a note to see what she could find in the library over Mythari. It might yield more help than simply laying the blame on the fact the natrelmon evolved and gotten a wild streak because of it. At this moment, she was glad she only got a ‘spooky’ natrelmon rather than a nuisance like Sei.

For most his conversation, she remained silent. His view on the magic school drew an eye roll from her, naturally. While ‘self-taught’ in magic was possible, she viewed it to be a riskier version of proper education. It was likely because she was biased, but she found it hard to believe he could cast magic as well as herself or her classmates. The fact he hadn’t set himself on fire was a miracle enough.

His excitement was palpable when it turned to his new natrelmon. Her gaze followed him while he introduced each one, from the Grianos to Loutila. The Bovent and Loutila appeared to be the more well behaved and passive of the group, enjoying each other’s company.

When he mentioned never getting into a fight, she frowned.

“Let me guess, you randomly just tossed relics until you caught them?” Her voice took on a sour tone as she exhaled, keeping her frustration in check.

She slurped up the last of her noodles leaving the bowl empty now.

Casually she reached into her bag and pulled a dishcloth from a waterproof bag, her figure rose from the seat. She made her way over to the fountain then dampened the rag. Finally, she wiped out her bowl and chopsticks, sticking them into her bag. Her free hand gestured for his, indicating he should pass it over so she could repeat the process.

“Maybe afterward, I’m heading into the wild to see what I can find. I will also need that bowl and chopsticks back... unless you want to eat from a leaf in the future?” She asked, making a note where the local trash bin.

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Atagait Denral
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As Mezhas watched the bout, she couldn't help but feel she was slightly out of her depth. She was aware that her dark gifts gave her a distinct advantage, but watching these two made it feel as though the advantages were insignificant. She wondered if this was how the battles at the arenas would be, and for a moment her rites felt like an insurmountable adventure.

Her focus was broken by a man's voice beside her, and her head snapped sideways to look at him. After composing herself with a deep breath, she took a brief moment to study the man, and frowned slightly as her eyes returned to the ongoing fight. She couldn't exactly answer him, and without thinking brought a hand to her neck, pressing her fingers to the pronounced scars on her throat without a word.

She took her hand from her throat, then pointed at the woman. While she couldn't really tell who was doing will in the situation, she figured the man wouldn't notice her shrug, and she felt pressured to give some kind of answer. She figured she chose more out of a bias favoring women than anything else, but decided not to think too hard about the whys. She wouldn't be able to give the man her opinion if he asked anyway, so she figured that point was moot.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Tuujaimaa
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Toran Arena


The Arena was the most central location in Toran for good reason. Its exterior, though much older than most of the current architecture, was extraordinarily well maintained and gave off a somehow simultaneously grandiose and humble appearance. Comprised primarily of ancient stone pillars, long-since bleached white by the sunny clime, freckles and smatterings of gold and carefully maintained metallic paints allowed the light to be caught within the ridges and catch the eye with fiery pockets of effulgent brilliance. Each pillar was slightly different, and though ostensibly simple from the perspective of the ground an aerial view when the sun grew highest in the sky gave them the impression of the body of a phoenix. Each of the columns a feather of the sovereign lord of the South, and its roof depicting a structure not unlike an aviform torso, the exterior was a truly brilliant display of modern technique applied to ancient stonework.

Within the bounds of the columns and the roof was another enclosed space made of a black, volcanic stone similar to--but not quite--obsidian. Carved into it, at the front of the initial structure, was an entryway into the interior. Though it had no doors, little could be seen beyond its bounds but the faint decline of candlelight, and it was unclear precisely what awaited would-be challengers.

Stepping into the Arena's interior, one would find a corridor--some twenty feet long--that did not seem the match the spatial dimensions of the exterior of the building. At the end of that corridor was the arena proper--a large rectangular pit, 30 feet by 70 feet, with a single road to an extended pillar around 10 feet high that clearly awaited the challenger. Opposite it, 60 feet away, was an identical pillar that bore the leader of this Arena: Anastasia Radtfield. A young, and younger looking, girl of only thirteen, her innocent and youthful appearance belied an exceptional wealth of funds, experience, and natrelmon that made her a truly terrifying opponent for the uninitiated or the unprepared. Within the arena, ten feet below the pillars, was a clear chalk boundary 60 feet by 20 feet that appeared to mark the bounds of the arena proper.

Anastasia Radtfield stood, and awaited any challengers that may arise on this day. Given that the Rites were starting again this season, she expected several wet behind the ears challengers to face up against her and fail miserably. The mere thought of it brought a sly smile to her face.

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Süne took his time to admire the structure. In a way, it was another artist's portrait, albeit, in an entirely different medium and style than his own, of a Natrelmon, in this case the legendary Suzaku. The Lord of the South certainly had vibrant coloration. Such bright and warm tones always spoke to Süne of frenetic energy and activity, the pounding stampede of an entire herd.

Yet despite that, the Toran Arena was quite lonely, Süne thought. Apart from the candles, there were no signs of human or natrelmon activity, and it could as well have been a pristine unearthed ruin. Süne glanced side to side, but was surprised to find the place looking so empty. He had thought the Arenas would be full of those seeking to test themselves.

"Mmm, perhaps it's because it's a place of reverence for the Rites, not taken lightly." Süne wondered to himself softly. He felt mild unease walking in such a place. Testing himself so idly for mere whim. But still, he pressed forward. He played over the fletching of his Sakura-re's arrow, before he finally finished making it into the challenger's pillar to face off against Anastasia.

"Thank you, honored Arena Master, for accepting my challenge." Süne place his fist in his palm, before bowing to Anastasia. She was not much younger than him in appearance, so he felt no reason to comment on her apparent youth.

Süne cast forth his arrow, as if to strike it into the sands, but halfway through, it transformed into his Sakura-Re.

"I don't expect you to win, but do your best to learn from this challenge. If you can land even a single blow against such odds as you are likely to face, I will be quite proud." Süne 'encouraged' his Sakura-Re. Honestly, being told you were probably going to fail horribly was less than stellar.
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Anastasia, or Annie for short, greeted Süne with the customary Toranese bow before speaking to him to formally address him as a challenger.

"I am Anastasia Radtfield, master of the Toran Arena, and I accept your challenge."

The introduction was short and sweet, but Anastasia did not seem to want to waste time with pleasantries when there were new things to burn in her arena. She held a small cloth doll loosely in her right hand, vaguely ursine in shape, before conjuring an extremely bright fireball in her left. She watched it for a few seconds, letting it get bigger and bigger, before it was somewhere around twice the size of her head. In the dim light of the Arena, it was easy to see the dark glint in her eyes as she played with the fireball and the pyromaniacal intent behind her actions. Then, seeming to remember precisely where she was and in what capacity she was acting, she shrunk the fireball back down to its normal size, about a foot in diameter, and sent it hurling directly towards where Sakura-Rei was.

Of course, this was Anastasia's beloved pet Tibearius using its innate ability, but she didn't know if Süne knew that. She would wait to see what happened to the fireball before telling Tibearius what to do, and in the interim begun charging her hands with fiery energy. If Süne knew much about Searsinging, he would know that she had begun charging two of its spells and was ready to unleash some havoc.

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Süne breath caught in his chest for a moment as Anastasia began summoning her fireball, which was in fact, Tibearius' method of summoning. For a moment he though she was just going to start blasting Sakura-re with Pyromancy before summoning any Natrelmon. But, fortunately for the pair, his wits returned to him a moment later as he remembered Tibearius' unusual nature.

"Orbs! One for you, one for her." Süne ordered, his intent being to move one of the Light of Ielle's to the other side of the field to attack, while keeping one on Sakura-re to power up Sakura-re's lifecharges. But then, rather unexpectedly to Süne, Tibearius was launched at Sakura-re.

"Dodge, Eclipse, Run!" Süne ordered Sakura-re, who belying her treelike appearance, was fortunately not as slow as trees generally were, and only had to get a few feet away. Tibearius was, unfortunately for him, being summoned directly on top of a Light of Ielle activating Total Eclipse, the most damaging light type move Sakura-Re yet knew, though she could only summon its power once per battle. While she would not shut down his moves, due to only one Light being present, hopefully it would deal damage. As soon as it completed activating Eclipse, it prepared to move again.

Meanwhile, Süne himself cast a blizzard directly upon the Tibearius' location, which would hopefully deal a little chip damage, while charging up a single Pyromancy spell himself.

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About five feet away from Sakura-re, before the fireball was about to hit her, Anastasia burst into a fit of giggles as the ball exploded prematurely and summoned her Tibearius at the same location. She let out of yell of "Iei, Tibearius!" as she clapped her now more severely glowing red hands together excitedly, seeming to prime the magic within them for release. Taking a second, she then shouted instructions to her pet:

"Channel a Flare Core, Tibearius! Shadow, use Echo of Rend!"

Tibearius dutifully did so, beginning to gather its energy as a small fireball appeared in front of it and begun to steadily increase in potency and size. As it did so, the Tibearius' shadow, stood just next to it, hurled a lance of shadow at the Sakura-re as it moved according to Sune's orders. Anastasia was clearly taking things easy to begin with, choosing not to have Tibearius simply chase the weaker Grass-type Natrelmon down with its immolative aura and attempt to get as much Fire-type damage on it as possible. She was confused that Sune had actually chosen to send out a Natrelmon who had such a pointed weakness to Fire in her Arena, but that just made her think that it would be an easy fight.
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"Incandescence, Collapse orbs, Fall Back!" Süne ordered. And a few things happened at once.

While Süne misjudged Tibearius' landing for aiming his blizzard, fortunately for him, he did so by less than the radius of the blizzard. As Tibearius was staying stationary and launching attacks from 5 feet away from where Süne had aimed the 8 foot radius blizzard, it would be caught in the blizzard and start taking some very minor damage, given its resistance.

The Echo of Rend would stop short before hitting Sakura-re. She had been moving directly to Süne's right, dodging to avoid Tibearius' landing which Süne assumed would be directly on top of her, and feared might have a vast radius, and also the blizzard Süne had been intending to cast there. Süne's blizzard was 8 feet in radius, and Sakura-re aimed to get at least a foot clear of that, which given Tibearius had stopped 5 feet of her initial location, gave the current distance between them to be slightly more than the 10 foot range of Echo of Rend. And this was assuming she stood still during the travel time, which she did not.

Meanwhile Sakura-re activated Incandesence, and began moving her Orbs at Tibearius. Sakura-re only had to move her LoI that was closest to her a single foot before it would start effecting Tibearius with its damage, which hopefully be easy to do with a blizzard currently sitting on top of Tibearius, and it would immediately interrupt channeled abilities, given it's 6 foot range for that. From behind Tibearius, Sakura-re recalled her other LoI to catch Tibearius if he backed away from the light moving towards him from within the blizzard.

Süne fired off a Frozen Sphere at Tibearius, cheating a little bit to the side Sakura-re was facing, but still aiming for a direct contact. With the current distance between them, the attack would land in just under a second, with a blizzard obscuring the launch from Tibearius' perspective. He continued charging whatever Searsinging spell he was charging.

And lastly for the group of things that happened simultaneously, Sakura-re started moving toward's Süne's edge of the arena wall instead of of the edge to Süne's right, so that if Tibearius did happen to want to give chase, he would either have a longer path through the blizzard, or he'd need to skirt its edge for longer. Süne didn't want Sakura to lose one of her potential dodging directions in going to the right, so currently she stayed at 6 feet away from that border of the arena.
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Selim was a bit irked that his response had yielded nothing for the amount of effort he had expended, as well as being irritated he had agreed to fight without his weapon. If he had that in his possession, he likely could have landed a blow on Kiyo in some of the organized chaos. He had specifically taken a blow in an attempt to execute on a strategy and unfortunately, Kiyo had a more repeatable attack method to finish the fight with. However, time was still something Selim intended to have work for him.

Fortunately, while Kiyo's strategy was repeatable, Selim also had methods to avoid it being repeated. He immediately moved away from the attackers - ensuring to stay out of range of Kiyo's combo. Mythari's approach was a new strategy from Kiyo who had largely kept the Natrlemon out of the fray. Such an aggressive move was not something without a strategy. Soelbe moved the orbs of light to sort of play a game of disruption to Kiyo's and Mythari's posture towards her trainer, as well as move her body into a path to serve as a disruption.

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Tuujaimaa
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The formation of the blizzard had a little delay, and so Anastasia had time to bark out an order to her Tibearius before the ineffective move would actually impair them in any way. She shouted "Release and chase!", causing Tibearius to release its Flare Core directly towards where Sakura-Re was dodging towards, angled such that its centre would reach the floor approximately six inches in a diagonal line away from the corner marking the boundaries of the Arena. Meanwhile, Tibearius and its shadow headed directly for Sakura-re, its immolating aura starting to fizzle out but not quite having died out yet, and accidentally clipped the Globe of Indolu that was heading towards it. Thanks to the inherent strength of the magic and Tibearius' innate weakness to Light-type magic, the damage was significant - but not enough to put Tibearius out of the fight. With an almighty roar it increased its speed towards Sakura-re, backing the Natrelmon further into the corner she'd gotten herself into.

Meanwhile, Anastasia unleashed the first spell that she'd been charging, a Lesser Fireball, hurtling it directly towards the same corner of the Arena that Sakura-re and Tibearius were currently occupying. Her hand begun to glow again with the same reddish light, signalling that she'd begun the charging of another spell.

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Tuujaimaa
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Selim's act of running away gave Kiyo the motivation that she needed. Soelbe might have been able to violate the relic rules thanks to the fact it was a ghost, but using an Eldritch Chain on her would do nothing to impede her movement in an effective area thanks to the fact that the active area of terrain was so small. Additionally, none of the Soelbe's light magic could actually affect Kiyo thanks to the protection of Akasha's Edicts. The only power that Soelbe held here was that over Mythari, and Kiyo's gambit left no room for Soelbe's interference. She had to execute this strategy correctly, and execute it quickly, or she would simply forfeit, recognising that the battle of attrition was not one she could win. After all, this was primarily to test Selim's strength, and Kiyo was already convinced of his tactical prowess and physical might, despite the fact that he was disarmed.

Kiyo sped up her chase, accelerating as quickly as she could, and used a single With the Wind to close the distance with her increased momentum. Being able to move the five feet that she had initially stumbled away put her much closer to Selim than before, and thanks to their earlier proximity it was, despite his head start, still just barely in melee distance--though not quite enough that Kiyo felt herself being able to forcibly move him as she had before. She also wasn't sure that she could simply out-speed him, and catch up enough to guarantee her hit. Knowing that she had such limited time and intrinsic disadvantage in a battle of attrition, Kiyo did not feel compelled to conserve her resources in the slightest--though it would be a second before she could dash again, she used Soaring Gusts four feet ahead of Selim and simultaneously had Mythari use another Soaring Gusts just to the right of that in order to disincentivise his dodging right (which would effectively leave him with no recourse and guarantee her hit).

Given that Mythari was also heading towards the pair at its maximum speed, which was not inconsiderable, Kiyo begun the process of executing her final gambit. Should Selim fall into range--and with no recourse as to where he could move, other than back towards Kiyo or southwesterly towards his Soelbe (which would leave him in range for Kiyo's gambit regardless), Kiyo used Mythari's positioning to create her last Wall directly below Mythari, around eight feet to the left of Kiyo and Selim, and would be able to use With the Wind and Soaring Gusts together to slam Selim into it, which would likely do enough damage to put him down for the count. Even if not, Kiyo could launch a barrage of Windborn Weapons at him in order to simultaneously prevent his advance and deal the finishing blows of the battle. All of this would happen within two seconds, three at the latest, which would not give Soelbe enough time to deal enough damage to Mythari or hit the Wall with enough spells to dispel it before Selim would potentially fall prey to Kiyo's stratagem.

All in all, Kiyo was quite convinced that the jaws were closing around Selim in this battle. If things did not unfold as she expected, and Selim displayed an exceptional stratagem to avoid hers, Kiyo would either forfeit on the spot or, depending on precisely what happened, choose to continue with renewed energy thanks to an exceptional display of battle acumen.

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Xander

“No I didn’t just ‘throw relics at them’,” Xander put his hands on his hips as he cast a look towards Zeke as if to say “Can you believe her?”, though the steel type only offered him a blank stare in return, crunching absently on something metallic within its mandibles.”I’ll have you know that I strategically approached the situatio- wait a minute, Zeke, what are you eating?!?!”

Any further comments from Mallory were lost as the boy attempted to catch the surprisingly slippery Doshe as it ran haphazardly over the plaza, devouring whatever he had gotten his mandibles at an increased pace. By the time Xander did catch him and force open his jaws, the object and been so thoroughly chewed up that it was impossible to tell what it had even been before. The Xanite let out a sigh as he tossed the item back to Zeke, knowing that Mallory was likely judging him from her seat.

“. . . Anyway, I think you might’ve said something about going out to look for some Natrelmon, right? Yeah, let’s. . .let’s do that.” Running a hand through his hair, Xander took out his relic and cast the line into the air, muttering a short incantation as the crystalline hook took on a dim violet glow. A similar glow emanated from all of his Natrelmon, their forms simplifying into glowing silhouettes before they were absorbed back into the relic. With his Mons recalled, Xander placed his relic back on his pack before making his way towards the gate, his bowl left on the bench near Mallory as he slunk down the street int he direction of the gates. “We should hurry before it gets too dark. I’ll talk to you about Gigi some other time.



Before long, the two were wandering around the forest the surrounded Toran, the road that most travelers stuck to being someways behind them at this point. The sun was still fairly high in the sky, casting Ielle’s light down through the thick canopy of green overhead. Xander had taken point with Lili resting on his shoulder. Of all of his mon’s, he figured Lili would be the best at supporting whatever Mallory brought to the fight, plus they both needed experience with each other if they were going to be effective partners.

“Ya see anything yet Mals?” Xander spoke up, turning back to see if she was keeping up just fine. She always had some trouble in dealing with the outdoors, though he could never quite understand why. Must just be a city thing, he often figured, I’d probably be just as bad if I spent all my life surrounded by concrete buildings. Must be dull tho.

Mallory’s eyes pried into the forest scenery. Her vision darted between the trunks, seeking out evidence or sights of anything besides the common wildlife. To say she was uncomfortable was an understatement as she pulled her jacket closer, pushing off the chill in the morning air. From her peripheral vision, she tracked Gwisin searching the underbrush and local plant life. She held doubts that Xander could see him, but she learned her friend could be resourceful and full of surprises. He proved that with his ability to catch natrelmon.

A small glow floated in the trees beyond her causing her to stiffen up. She whipped about in time to catch another glimpse, the monster disappearing into the thicket. Her index finger straightened against her lips where to Xander could visibly see it. Quietly she signaled he should follow her, Gwisin already slipped in behind her and ready for a fight.

With as much grace she could muster, Mallory began to navigate through the forest. She flinched with each time her foot misstep onto a fallen twig or the branches clawed at her jacket. Each obstruction slowing her down.

For a heart-stopping moment, she feared she had frightened the monster away. It turned the Wispy had some fight in it.

Mallory heard the crackle of electricity building from the center of the interconnected monsters. For their size, all three connected orbs of light were no larger than a human finger. That didn’t stop their attacks from packing a punch as Mallory shouted back at Xander.

“Shit! Xander, incoming!”

With that brief warning, Mallory tossed herself to the side just when the Wispy let loose a shock attack at where she once stood.

Xander's eyes narrowed as he heard a familiar tell-tale crackle, quickly turning around in time to see Mallory backway from a blast of electricity from what could only be a Wispy, the inter-connected faeries probably attempting to defend their territory from intruders.

“Well, if you’re going to start things off with hostilities, I guess we can only respond in kind, right Lili?” The Lotulia in question didn’t seem to share it’s Tamer’s enthusiasm for battle, trying to hide behind his head from the electric type, but Xander was quick to pick them up and lay them on the ground. “Hey now, don’t be scared, little guy. I know he looks scary, but with me and Mals here, it’ll be a cake walk. You’ll be fine, ya hear?”

Lili’s gaze flittered between both Xander and the Wispy, still seeming to be less than enthused about the current situation. However, it turned to face its opponent, the petals that made up its body spreading open and vibrating as it prepared itself for the coming battle. Xander grinned but quickly focused up as he got into the zone, summoning an Enhancing Celestial Curtain about 5 feet in front of him and Lili before giving his first order. Having been a bit ahead and away from Mallory, the Wispy seemed to be about 15 feet away from his position. Not only that, but with its small size, it was likely to be an evasive little set of buggers, and fast too. Lotulia wasn't ready to go head to head with such an opponent yet. . . but giving support, it could certainly handle. “Alrighty, let’s give Mals some good support! Start off with a Surge of Life to keep this sucker from getting comfortable.”

Lili body began to shimmer with green energy before launching a seed rapidly from its center, landing right before the Celestial Curtain to form a purple-red plant similar to in shape to Lili, already shimmering with similar energy as the Natrelmon before firing off 2 Gaiashocks in rapid succession. With the help of the curtain, the Wispy was well within range for the attacks to leave it little reaction time, but given how much time Xander had taken to set up, he didn’t expect this move to hit. Still, it’d at least apply pressure that Mals could follow up on.

“Gwisin, miasmic sphere!” Mallory shouted as she picked herself up from the ground.

Gwisin had been out of range of the attack when the attack attempted to hit her earlier. The hooded head turned then narrowed his blood red eyes, the darkness shrouding the snarl he wore. Gwisin raised his black fingers from under his sleeve and began to form a miasmic sphere in his palm, the monster then quickly wound up before he threw it. The target was about five feet to the Wispy’s right.

Once it impacted the ground, the gaseous ball exploded to cover a 3.5-foot radius around the impact area. If the Wispy moved into that space when it hit, it would be affected and take moderate damage.

Meanwhile, Mallory mumbled something under her breath. Her arm snapped forward then sent a shimmering bolt at the Wispy’s other side. She warily tracked the miasmic sphere’s effect to ensure she had at least 5 feet between the attack’s edge and her.

The Wispy wasn’t expecting a four on one match, its attention shifted from Mallory to Xander fairly quickly. Moving on instinct rather than logic, the Wispy flickered to the right in order to avoid Mallory’s shimmering bolt and Lotulia’s dual attack. This caused it to blunder into the area affected by Gwisin’s attack. The explosion knocked the small faeries back a bit as it was taken by surprise. The dark purple-green poison swirled about the glowing natrelmon as it moved through it quickly, still damaged from the attack.

Wispy used lightning conduit to charge up its lightning attacks, the electrical energy surged across the surface once more. It moved about to face Mallory, its next target. Then it released a multi-bolt attack at the group, four at Mallory, three at Gwisin and the last four at Xander and Lotulia.

Xander clicked his tongue as the shot went wide, cursing the little buggers evasiveness. However, the barrage succeeded in backing the trio of faeries into the swirling miasma that Gwisin had formed, knowing the potency from it would take some wind out of there combined sails. That said, he didn’t let himself get cocky. A wounded and cornered Natrelmon only became all the more dangerous to both itself and others. That was part of the reason he always tried to just catch them outright with relics first, as it tended to be a safer alternative, in his opinion anyway. Plus, it usually left less bad blood then beating them down did.

Speaking of danger, the Wispy was far from out of the fight as it unleashed a barrage of lightning at the group, though Xander was quick to block the bolts directed at him and Lili with a Wall spell, though it barely withstood the impact before breaking, allowing two bolts to sneak through and strike him and Lili. A cry escaped him as the bolt coursed through his body, the pain being nothing to scoff at as he held his shoulder. However, he managed to remain standing and a quick check on his Lotulia confirmed they were also alright if a bit shook. The Xanite couldn’t help but appreciate the electric-types feistiness. That said, that aggressive nature had also caused it to led it to send four bolts through his curtain, and in so doing causing a violet mark of shimmering energy to appear on its form as the prismatic seal took effect. A strong little guy, but none too smart. Still, if Mals hadn’t seen it first, he might’ve caught it for himself. Alas, finders-keepers, plus he’d already gotten plenty of Natrelmon today.

“Looks like we got him on the ropes, Lili! Fire off a Lifestream to his left!. . . oh, but be careful not to hit Mals!!” The Lotulia gave only a slight shuffle of its petals in response, coating itself in a brighter sheen of green energy as it’s petals spread out into full bloom before launching it out in a concentrated beam of magical force. As it did this, the plant next to the Celestial Curtain fired another two Gaishocks at the Wispy’s current position. Meanwhile, Xander began to channel his energy, preparing himself for the next exchange of blows as he cast an Innudate spell around him, causing a thick mist of violet magic to coat the area around him.

Mallory’s hand jerked up to cast wall as she bolted five feet closer to Xander’s position. The wall blocked two of the bolts before it shattered, the rest shocked right onto the spot she had been standing on moments ago. The attack licked at her heels and she was sure it burned part of her hair during the escape.

She knew she was stumbling through this battle, each hasty move resulted in her making numerous mistakes. Her heart raced from the near hit earlier. She gritted her teeth then look at Gwisin, who nodded his understanding. She was tired of this and it was time to get serious.

Mallory inhaled then mumbled a few more words. Her hands began to glow as she looked at Xander, a single wordless warning before she clapped them together. A blinding light erupted right in between her and Wispy, hoping to catch the mon off guard and distract it. Gwisin jerked up his hands as a Seeking Chain flew from his right sleeve then rushed at the Wispy, ready to alter if needed as it sought to wrap about the nearest section.

The electric Natrelmon, upon seeing the girl before it try and escape, buzzed angrily as it attempted to give but was cut off by Lili’s beam of Life energy. Asit was forced back into its previous position, the two Gaiashocks smacked into it one after the other, causing the trio of faeries to falter a bit in the air before rising back up again. The electrical buzzing from before grew even more intense as the Natrelmon seemed to finally lose its temper with the group before it. This only became more apparent as it suddenly found itself blinded and bound by Mallory and Gwisin, the lithe figures struggling to break free from it as the bolts of electrical energy started to leap from their bodies in great arcs. Without taking the time to properly register the positioning of their targets, the Wispy would let out a ear-ringing screech as they let loose a veritable barrage of attacks, expending the rest of their multi-bolt uses (and triggering multiple instances of Variable pulse as they did so) in order to send 55 blasts of electricity in the general direction of Xander, Lili, and Gwisin, as a majority of the aggression it faced seemed to be coming from that direction. Combined all together like this, the attack seemed less like separate streaks and more a gigantic bolt of lightning arcing towards the group at a rather sizable clip, as the Natrelmon had used its variable resistor skill to double their speed.

This likely would’ve taken care of one of the three in the attack’s path, at the very least, as even at half power, this attack could easily have killed one of them. However, Xander had the benefit of being very familiar with the mannerisms of electric Natrelmon. As soon as it heard the increasing volume of electrical buzzing in the air, he knew that something nasty was likely coming their way. Not only was the creature beyond agitated, but with Gwisin having caught it with his Ethereal Chain, the Wispy was likely feeling extremely desperate right now. As such, while the faeries spent time shaking of the blindness of Mallory’s spell, Xander abandoned his previous plan to set down another Celestial Curtain right in front of it, this one containing the Diminish property. Lili, having ceased the Lifestream when it sensed movement from it’s Tamer, curled in on itself as it cast its gaze on the bound Wipsy.

And then the Wispy unleashed its torrent of energy, 46 bolts crashing through the wall of violet energy in order to tear across the field towards them all. However, thanks to Xander’s caution and Natrelmon knowledge, each bolt fizzled out just before reaching any of it’s intended targets as the Celestial Curtain leeched all of the energy out of the massive assault, though they did manage to eviscerate the Surge of Life plant. Not only that but as soon as they fizzled into nothingness, the arcane sigil upon the Wispy’s body would suddenly flare up, the captured Natrelmon letting out another irritated shriek as it an iridescent violet sigil opened up underneath them, trapping them in place.

“Okay, we might want to hurry up here Mals!! It might’ve blown a lot of energy to make that escape, but I wouldn’t doubt it has something else up its sleeve, so hurry up and hit it with something else.” Xander wanted to order Lili to attack as well, but one look at the mon showed that it was terrified by the huge display of power from the Wispy, its whole body shaking as it turned away from the fighting. “Come on buddy, don’t be so nervous! I had it under control!” A bald-faced lie, as the two of them likely would’ve been toast if not for his quick thinking, but the last thing the scared grass type needed was the truth right now.

‘So much for getting serious. Is being pitiful and weak the only thing I can do?’, Mallory’s inner demons mocked her.

Her high expectations of herself catching up as her reaction slowed, her briefly lived will fizzled out a bit. These results slammed her with truths she hated to admit and suspected for a long time. The Wispy’s outburst took her by surprise as she abruptly stopped short of the attack’s target. The lightning shot forward at the other three leaving her heavily shaken.

Thankfully, Xander was on his toes.

While Gwisin was left without much guidance in his actions, it didn’t seem to faze the Natrelmon. He stepped closer to Xander’s direction, coming in behind the trainer and allowing the Diminish spell to take the brunt of the attack. He kept a firm grip on his chain while he eyed the Wispy, his shadow splitting off from his form to create a sort of doppelganger.

Mallory stood there, frozen in fear and uncertainty before Xander’s voice snapped her out of it.

“R-right..”

She focused her energy into the relic then aimed it at Wispy. Her magic coursed through the relic as it hit the mon, turning it into energy and zapping it back into the gem. As it finished, her eyes turned to Xander.

“Thanks, Xander,” she said as she looked at the gem in her hand.

“I think I’ve changed my mind. I’m not ready for this..” Mallory told him, her tone accepting her shortcomings she couldn’t ignore now. She wondered why she ever thought she was as she began to walk back into the city.

Xander gave a sigh of relief as he Mallory managed to seal the creature in her relic, but the feeling quickly turned bittersweet as he looked towards his fellow tamer. The look in her eyes was one he’d seen a few times before during his early times apprenticing on his father’s ship after a particularly bad encounter with a Natrelmon. For some people, the danger of these creatures is never fully felt until one nearly takes their life. When she spoke up, He could feel his throat constrict tightly as a rush of emotions swirled up from his depths. He wanted to rush over, grab her by the shoulders, and shake her till she got over whatever funk she had found herself in. But memories of a similar set of circumstances stayed his hand.

I. . . I can’t be her crutch right now. Because if another situation like before comes up. . . I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I let something happen to her. If she doesn’t feel she’s ready, then I’ve no right to force her. The simple truth of the matter didn’t make it any easier for the Xanite as he walked over to Mallory.

With a dry swallow, Xander merely nodded in response to her statement before reaching out a hand to pat her shoulder. “No worries. Maybe next year, ya know. Get some more of that special teachin’ under your belt and I’m sure you’ll be right as rain before ya know it!!” With a wide grin in place to hide his feelings on the matter, Xander escorted the group back to Toran, the air between the two being permeated by a somber silence.



After escorting Mals back to her family, Xander wandered the city in rather poor spirits. Every now and then he recognized a familiar face from Xaun and was quick to redirect his path down a side street or alleyway. After today, the last thing he needed was to have people from his hometown see him in such dour spirits. Somewhere along the way, without really thinking about it, he had released Sei from his Relic for the company. The Dragon-type didn’t need much time to figure what likely happened, and merely floated by his tamer to offer silent companionship.

Eventually, the two found themselves in the town square, where there seemed to be a contest going on between to Tamers, a man, and a woman. Nothing that really involved him, but at the very least, studying the fight gave him a nice distraction from his current feelings, so he sat down with sei and began to watch it go on in earnest. With his skill in Invocation and through observations of the fight, he figured that the man was a user of both Abjuration and Invocation magic, a strong mix to be certain but lacking much in offense capabilities. Though the man seemed to make up for this with his own physicality. The woman, meanwhile, was a tinge more interesting, as along with her definite skill in Kazemancy, and somewhat lesser skill n Cryomancy, there was. . . something else about her, something that he couldn’t quite place. The revelation surprised him, as he was certain he’d seen every type of magic under the sun among the Tamers that often flocked to Xaun. The prospect of encountering something new was definitely an enticing bit of info, and he stowed it away to consider later when he was in a better mood for such considerations.

Alongside the two combatants were two natrelmon, one of which Xander was mostly unfamiliar with aside from a hint of what the name could be(Soul-be, Solde. . . something with an S), and the other being one he was very familiar and was somewhat surprised to see. It wasn’t often that one saw a Mythari in a Tamer’s employ, after all, given how elusive Mythin tended to be. As such, Xander became even more interested in this strange woman and while he wasn’t feeling much like conversation now, perhaps he’d see her around the Arena? It was something to ponder as he watched the fight continue, noting that both of them to be rather skilled fighters that would likely give him a run for his money.

I wonder if either of them were part of that whole big war that happened? He wondered briefly, remembering his father discussing it a couple times before. Xaun itself wasn’t really touched by it, being an inconsequential island far away from any important battlegrounds, so it was always a hard thing to imagine ever happening, and yet, it had occurred during his lifetime. It was such a weird thing to consider, that those he might meet on his travels had been involved in such an event over a decade ago.

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by The 42nd Gecko
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"Cover, down!" Süne ordered Sakura-re, as the final stage of his plan involved Sakura-re hiding behind every defense he could muster, while causing enough destructive mayhem to hopefully defeat Tibearius. Sakura-re hid in the absolute corner of the map, crouching down and creating a plant in front of herself with Dormant Life and Lifestream to take cover behind.

Süne created a Wall in front of the plant Sakura-re was hiding behind, hoping that Anastasia would use her Counterspell upon the Wall to prevent it from deflecting the Flare Core and Lesser Fireball, hopefully only counting as two instances of damage. Then, Süne would launch his own Lesser Fireball into the path of Anastasia's, detonating them both, hopefully, in range to catch Tibearius that was chasing Sakura-re. He thankfully got to aim at a downward angle, so if Lesser Fireballs didn't interact with each other, his still had a chance of hurting Tibearius with it's absurdly vast detonation radius.

Süne didn't feel that the fight would last long enough for him to get another charged Searsinging spell off, so he began casting another Blizzard, to fill up everything but the corner Sakura-re was hiding in, in regards to that corner of the arena, to force Tibearius to stop approaching, or take some probably inconsequential ice damage.

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A few minutes after Ielle's rays were beginning to move towards the deep vermillion and orange that Toran was known for, Yugaku of the Elite Triumvirate simply reappeared in the central square of Toran in a blinding flash of light, a stark white burst against the smoky hues of the sunset backdrop currently framing the city. She took a few moments to gather herself, sending a few messages from her PDA, before pressing two fingers to her throat and calling out across the city in a magically projected voice:

"May all trainers beginning their Rites please gather outside of Toran Arena for their initiation."

A few moments later, Yugaku could be seen with a number of government officials stood outside of the Arena. Several cardboard boxes, stacked four or five units high, punctuated the stairs leading up to the entrance of the Arena, people flitting between them and taking what looked to be small electronic devices with a clear logo on the back saying "Pinehearst"--some trainers who were more tech savvy would know these as Pinehearst PDAs, but they were mostly out of the price range of most individuals thanks to their bevy of sophisticated features and inflated cost (mostly because of the success of Pinehearst as a brand). As the new trainers beginning their rites begun to make their way to the plaza, it was increasingly clear that the PDAs were going to be distributed among them, along with a number of other interesting little tidbits to make their journeys easier.

As the trainers waited expectantly, Yugaku finished making her preparations and turned towards them, a bright smile illuminating her face as she did so. Some of the trainers, if they cared about such things, may have known Yugaku by her reputation as an extremely powerful trainer or as a member of the House of Tradition, one of the four pillars of the central government over in Lifan. If they did not know Yugaku, the first thing they would notice was the thick, black blindfold tied over her eyes. It would be an easy assumption to make that she was blind, but in truth she bore an unnaturally powerful variant of the True Sight gift and the blindfold was mostly something she wore as a matter of ceremony rather than actual function. Once she had seen everyone that she had expected, silently counting them to make sure, she stepped to the edge of the top step and opened her arms wide as if to greet them all.

"Welcome, Trainers, to the beginning of your Rites! I am Yugaku of the Elite Triumvirate, and I am here to give you the information that you'll need to begin and to answer any questions that you might have about the minutiae of the journey that you're about to take. First and foremost, as most of you should know, the Rites are a ceremonial pilgrimage offering respect to the heroes of yore who saved Atren from the precipice of destruction. We ask that you undertake these Rites not only to honour our rich history, but also to allow yourselves to grow and understand your place in the world that blossomed around you.

As most of you will know, the East-West war that took place ten years ago was born of the frustrations that the West had with the East. Though those wounds have since been healed, the central government came out of the war with control over each of the Arenas that make up the path you will travel on your Rites. As a result, we can now offer you all assistance in completing the Rites:

You will each be given a weekly stipend of 500N to spend as you see fit, as well as one of the new PDAs from Pinehearst in order to effectively communicate with one another and keep track of your progress on your journey."


As Yugaku mentioned the PDAs, she waved her hands to the assistants mulling about behind her who begun distributing them, as well as a small plastic bank card emblazoned with the Pinehearst logo, to the trainers.

"This stipend will be deposited into the accounts tied to these cards each week, and will you will find that many local hotels or inns will offer you free meals and lodging. You can check precisely which establishments are offering these benefits with your PDA, which also has several other functions such as internet access, a log of the Natrelmon that you've seen, your current magical talents, and a convenient app that will allow you to access one of the many libraries in each city!

Your goal is, of course, to challenge each of the Arenas in the major cities and then report to the Triumvirate Tower in Lifan to report your findings to myself or my two companions. Beating each of the Arenas is not necessary, only visiting the cities and challenging them in some capacity. You could theoretically be done quite quickly if you like, but this is a journey first and foremost about your personal growth. It is not uncommon for the Rites to take years, and you will be well-provided for, so please take this time to explore everything the world has to offer!

I would encourage you to make friends with one another, so I am going to assign you all into groups to get to know one another before you leave Toran.

Firstly, could Mezhas Nox'vaos, Reijin, Kiyo, and Süne step over here...

Secondly, could Shea Byrne, Axel Wulf, and Cori Turner step over here...

and finally, could Selim Raess Dar, Lillian Bell, Xander of Xuan, and Oz Morioka step over here!"
Yugaku shouted, nodding towards each individual and pointing towards the location that they were supposed to stand in. The list of names continued for a good while longer, until around fourteen groups were formed, and Yugaku began speaking again.

"I would like your groups to get to know one another before you leave Toran. You will find that your details are already in each others' PDAs so you can easily contact one another wherever you may be. Additionally, try to meet other groups before you leave! Nothing is binding you together, but it is good to have people that you know before you set off on your journey proper. I shall remain right here for another hour or so in case you have any questions, and in Toran until tomorrow evening at the Ielle's Blessing Hotel. Best of luck, trainers!"

With the speech concluded, the items handed out, and the trainers set into groups they would be free to continue their journey. They could get to know one another in their groups as Yugaku had recommended, or they could choose to simply make their own way. As Ielle's rays disappeared and Indolu gazed down upon the trainers, they would likely want to head to one of the famous establishments in Toran for a bite to eat and a drink, courtesy of the government, or perhaps just find a room in an inn or a hotel to rest in for the night. As the crowd dispersed away from Yugaku's speech, however, there was a distinct feeling of malaise in the air and every so often a faint, vaguely metallic smell that nobody would quite be able to place would grace their senses before disappearing just as soon as it was noticed.

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