When dawn arrived, Monsoon
used the remaining darkness from the first light of the day to enter outskirts of Oak Town so no one would recognize or see him arrive. He wasn't sure if Shadow Heart would always have spies monitoring Ashlyn's activities in or around Frenzy Plant's headquarters. But as a precaution, he would also always create a thick mist as he entered or left the town, preferably during the nights or early mornings as he didn't want a member of Shadow Heart to see and think that he was having meetings with Ashlyn and the guild.
Once he entered the town, he walked to their usual meeting place, a tavern. As he entered, the bartender who was an elderly man was he only one inside and saw him with a disgruntled expression as he tried cleaning the entire place up. Monsoon called to the man and once they had each other's attention, they both gave a nod and Monsoon sat his his usual table in the back.
Normally, he would have chosen a different spot for these kinds of meetings. But in his younger years, Monsoon helped the owner of the tavern with some requests, but didn't accept any rewards except for a favor in the future. That being these private meetings and not revealing to anyone of who he is. His past is something that he didn't like thinking back on and preferred others to see him on the current path that he was on.
Since his arrival was early, he simply meditated as he awaited for Ashlyn and Sanders to arrive at the arranged time. Or at least one of the generals if Sanders couldn't make it.
The faint jingle of the tavern door's bell rolled through the establishment. At any other time of day, it would have been inaudible beneath the general hubbub, but this early in the morning not a single person aimed to be getting drunk. Following the signal of entry, a series of soft footfalls traced the new arrival's path across the wooden floor. Only a few seconds later, Frenzy Plant's representative came into Monsoon's view. Today, he found himself faced with none other than Indigo Afina, sporting a uniquely fetching look. By some sort of magic, no doubt, her hair color had been changed to a gradient from rich purple on top to its usual honey blond down near the ringlets. She wore a thin, dark blue-purple gown with short sleeves, an open front, and strips of cloth connecting the two sides all the way in a diagonal cross arrangement. Its tails extended all the way to the floor before curling up into spirals. Beneath the blouse, she wore an ivory-white dress that reached down to her knees, its edges hemmed with shining silver in a wave pattern. Elbow-length gloves of the same style adorned her arms, their silver on the cuffs and the palms. Around her neck hung a sizable platinum medallion with an amethyst inset; one could imagine that it had been an expensive birthday or anniversary present. Lastly, she wore a pleasant smile on her face. Everything about her seemed magical.
She gave a polite curtsy. No ordinary gesture of friendliness, it communicated how well she understood her look. "Good morning! No General today, I'm afraid. As I'm sure you've come to understand, Frenzy Plant's master is no stranger to delegating tasks. For such an important meeting, at least, he saw fit to send a commander today."
Indigo's tone was jovial, though neither playful nor silly. "Did I beat Miss Ashlyn here? I never would have guessed!"
Pulling out a chair, the sorceress made sure that her gown's tails would settle on either side of the chair before seating herself.
'Better late than never'. A popular saying that seemed to have been around since the begining of time. No one really remembers who started it nor did they care, as it would probably be around for longer than said person could even remotely think of. Ashlyn was the embodiment of that saying. She always prefered to be late than early, early was boring. Coming late spiced things up a little!
Indigo and Monsoon would hear the bell's faint jingle once more as Ashlyn finally walked through the tavern door. About twenty minutes late no less. Which was somewhat of her average time of being late, her longest was four whole days.
Unlike Indigo who had changed her look to something which Ash deemed 'super flashy' she was simply dressed as she usually was. Her white coak's singed tails trailing behind her as she strode over into view. With a loud yawn the messy redhead plopped down into a free seat and stretched her arms upwards.
If Indigo was a figure of class and pose, than Ash was the opposite. Her long crimson hair fell in a messy heap past her shoulders, looking like it hadn't been brushed in days. Which it hadn't."Argh...why did we have to meet so early?"
Ash yawned loudly again as she glanced at Indigo before looking towards Monsoon.
As the time of the meeting arrived, Monsoon could hear jingle of the tavern's bell sound and the step of someone approaching his table. Although it wasn't Sanders, he knew enough of who Indigo was because of her high rank in Frenzy Plant and assumed that Sanders trusted her enough with this mission. Seeing her stop by his table and spoke, Monsoon couldn't express a welcome or greeting because of his face being masked. He only gestured his hand for Indigo to take a seat when she finished speaking. "Your guess would be correct. For the majority of these meetings, she usually came late. But I suppose I should see that as being a normal thing with her."
About twenty minutes later, Ashlyn finally arrived in the tavern and took a seat. As she asked why they always met early, Monsoon began the meeting with an to her question. "The meeting was arranged at this time because it would be best that none of Shadow Heart's members see me interact with you or any members of Frenzy Plant. If they did, they might become suspicious and cautious when we start our mission today. As for the mission, Indigo, Sanders said that the members that will be involved with the capture would be ready by today. If so, could you please tell me more about these members because as we discussed in our previous meetings, those members won't be aware that I'm working with Frenzy Plant. That and if they are able to subdue the teleport wizard, Shiro, by themselves, I wouldn't want to disrupt their plan."
"And Ashlyn, is there anything else that you would like to say before the mission starts. Is there anything else that you think that we should expect from Manami, Shiro, or Shadow Heart in general?"
Having interlaced her fingers and adopted the manner of a helpful librarian, Indigo did not wait to give her response. "Yes, three members will be participating. The group leader is Joakim Fortinbras, whose Arctic Magic will be able to hinder your pesky troublemaker until we take her down. Afterward, he can cryo-freeze her and we can imprison her. Rune will be on hand to rob our targets of their senses, making apprehension easy. Lastly, Kumbha is present as muscle, and to further disable. Joakim and Kumbha are competent blunt-force melee fighters, of course. This team has already demonstrated itself to be exceptionally efficient when it comes to capture missions. Lower-ranked soldiers making a name for themselves make me so proud!"
The tone of the sorceress did not change one minutiae as she glossed over the violent details of the plan of action. In fact, as pleasant a smile graced her sublime features as ever.
Ash stretched her arms upward, yawning loudly as she did all the while listening to Monsoon's answer to her rhetorical, more of a complaint than anything question. While she didn't doubt that Georgie had someone with their eyes and ears on her movements, she sincerely doubted meeting earlier would be the answer to that. Unless the person keeping an eye on her was some ridiculous level of idiot of course, which she also wouldn't doubt considering the guilds usual antics.
She yawned again and now rested her chin on her arms, slumping forward in her chair as she leaned against the thick wooden table when Indigo responded. Once again she listened to the librarian talk. She wasn't overly familiar with the members she named now, but she was familiar enough to put a face to those names. As the librarian finished her explanation of the members the guild was sending and their capabilities, Ash reasoned that it was her turn to talk again."What to expect? In all honestly? Not a clue for Manami."
Ash responded bluntly as she laid he head to the side and looked towards Monsoon, yawning again before continuing."Never had much to do with her. I always considered her an annoying goody two-shoes, if such a thing could exist in a dark guild. Though my views have changed since...I still don't like her, what she sprouts is just plain hypocrisy. Though if there is any member we can talk down, it's her. What I DO know is that she is a very skilled holy and water mage, but I already know how to deal with her regardless. So I'll handle her."
Ash blew some hair that fell into her face as she took a moment to think."Shiro is a little more straight forward. We can expect her to be fiercely overprotective of Manami, to the point of not trusting Monsoon here even with me in 'chains'. She just doesn't trust people, seriously that girl has some severe trust issues. She's a very competent melee fighter who can enhance her own strength, speed and durability. But I doubt she can take on the three of them at once if they're as good as you say Indigo, especially if we can separate her from Manami. She would be too distracted trying to return to Manami's side then to be concentrated on the fight. That's when they'll be able to take her down with very little problems. I already have a vague idea on how to do just that, it'll also mess with Manami a little so that'll help."
After hearing the two speak, Monsoon nodded his head and turned to Indigo. "Those members sound suitable enough for the job. hopefully your talk isn't one of overconfidence for your guild members. But their team work skills are as good compared to those members that competed in the Magic Games, then I suppose I should feel confident in their abilities."
Although his tone might of sounded a bit abrasive, he had to show the sorceress how serious he was about this mission, which was when he turned his view to Ashlyn to address what she said."You mentioned that Manami could be talked down, but if we try that, Shiro could become more suspicious of us. Just as you said about her trust issues, she would have to be the priority target that we take down first. So the ambush has to be quick enough before she becomes too suspicious of us. I would suggest that you use that plan of yours to separate Manami and Shiro as soon as possible. Assuming that the other members are aware of Ashlyn's plan know when to spring out for the ambush." "With that, I think we should finally this mission."
As Monsoon rose from his seat, he looked at the two wizards with both arms crossed in front him. "I'll wait outside of the town until everyone is ready to leave and lead the group to the area of the ambush to occur. But as reminder, once the fight begins I have to pretend to be on Shadow Heart's side and try to help them. I'll simply try to weaken my attacks but try to make look as if I'm actually fighting back. But if any opportunity to help in the mission shows itself, I will try to give a helping hand."
With everything said, Monsoon left the table and his way out of the tavern.
Time has passed and the group have arrived in the area that was planned. Although the winter made the leaves of the trees fall, the thickness of the trees still provided enough cover for Joakim and Kumbha to hide. In a small clearing, Monsoon was with Ash "Remember, the key to the anti-magic cuffs are hanging from my left waist. Once Joakim and Kumbha surprise Manami and Shiro, push back against me so we can unlock the cuffs. Then the plan can really start. But before we can actually start, I need your help to make the area look as if there was a struggle when I tried to detain you. So, lets see if your flames can turn snow straight to steam?"
Without giving Ash enough time to say a word, he began their small fight with a small water whip from the snow slapping the back of her head.
Their short fight was over once most of the snow in the clearing gone. Ash stood cuffed beside Monsoon who had a bit of his attire with scorched marks. With their displaying appearing convincing enough, Monsoon activated Manami's card and waited for her arrival.
To call what Ashlyn was doing shivering was an understatement. Despite her loud protests about being fine in the clothing she wore, here she was now, teeth clattering loudly and arms wrapped around her shoulders as she froze her ass off in the middle of the clearing where the trap was to take place. Now, there was a very good reason as to why she had said no to extra clothing and that was because she usually didn't feel the cold thanks to her magic.
But she had completely forgot that since she had to make it seem like she was wearing anti-magic cuffs....then she couldn't use her magic. Hence that meant the usually light-clothed woman was quite cold considering the light snow that fell softly around her was an indicator that warm clothes were needed.
Oh well, she reasoned that being dressed normally might make this seem less suspicious. She just hoped that Manami and Shiro were actually coming, otherwise this was for nothing at all. She rubbed her hands together in an attempt to warm them, but it was in vain. The forest they had chosen for the meeting place was pretty much covered in snow, so much so that Ash couldn't really tell what kind of plants actually lived here. If any at all.
Ash was starting to get worried that her participation might become severely limited at this rate. Her magic required her body to be heated, and since it wasn't currently in effect and the cold around of them...oh well. Ash would deal with the problem if it occurred."Y-You sure you called them?"
Ash asked for perhaps the thousandth time since arriving at the clearing, looking up from where she sat on the cold ground towards the even colder figure of Monsoon.
The reminder of when Manami would arrive could have been ignored, but the constant reminder eventually became annoying for him and decided to cease his silence "I would expect you to know that answer since you know more about them, specifically Manami. Are they not usually late to these types of situations?"
The longer that this went, the more he wonder what they could be doing before arriving here. But whatever if it was, they had to come for the opportunity to take Ashlyn, eventually.
In a world of blues and whites, Joakim fit in perfectly. For an Arctic Wizard from the frozen north, so uncomfortable in the heat of most seasons that a corona of cold was necessary to avoid feeling ill, winter was refreshingly familiar. Bundled up only slightly more than usual, he stood apart from where Rune and Kumba, in their less-camoflauged heavy clothing, waited behind two separate snowy bushes for the ambush to begin. He, on the other hand, sat in the middle of a fork in a tree where the snow lay across him like a blanket. Not for the first time he, keeping a close eye on the two figure in the center of the clearing, bemoaned Ashlyn for not matching her garb to the weather. Even her excuse did not justify her to him; he held firm in the belief that one should never rely on their magic. Perhaps he was being too careful; then again, if his time under the command of the Ruby Knight Zander had taught him anything, a good amount of cautiousness was a very good thing. He cast his mind back to the Frenzy Fort, wondering where the healer Tsubano might be in about an hour. It seemed ludicrous that Ashlyn would come away from the experience without severe hypothermia.
After a few moments, Joakim's thoughts drifted to his companions. Kumbha, gung-ho musclehead that he was, nevertheless exhibited enough tact to stay still and motionless to take enemies by surprise. His Gel Magic would be invaluable in tripping up the opposition, making them lose first their footing, then their armaments, then their consciousness. No matter how skilled the wizard, if one's world was topsy-turvy, he or she was at a disadvantage. That was where Rune came in, as well. Despite his dazed, almost zombie-like behavior, the former Dark Wizard could leave enemies completely disabled by robbing their senses. Theoretically, someone could still inflict a lot of damage without the ability to see, hear, or feel anything but an infinite black void of pure silence, but in the Capture Team's experience few seldom did. Every mission presented a unique challenge, but Joakim felt sure that his crew's overwhelming array of debilitating status effects would ensure victory."H-how in b-blazes would I k-know?"
Ash grumbled in annoyance, her teeth clattering away loudly. Sure she had been in the same guild as Manami and Shiro, but she was pretty certain that he had already told Monsoon here that she didn't have a lot to do with the duo. Manami and her had been polar opposites, as were their magics. Why would they want much to do with one another?
Ash went silent for a moment, a gentle breeze lightly ruffling her hair and making her cold than before. But how cold she felt right now was irrelevant, they were here. Monsoon would've sensed them as well so Ash saw no reason to make mention of it, but simply get her act right for the situation.
Which was to look as pissed off and cold as she could, which wasn't too difficult.
A few moments passed before Manami stepped forth from the snow laden forest, with Shiro following suit on the water mages left side. Both mages were dressed for the climate, covering their usual clothes were heavy looking woolen coats and stockings. Shiro wore an ushanka and had her scythe strapped to her back, while Manami simply donned a large scarf and both had thick gloves. Just the sight of them made Ash's job a lot easier, being mad and cold that is."I do apologize for our tardiness Mr Monsoon, it was a little more difficult than we first thought getting here."
Manamai smiled briefly at Monsoon before walking towards him, completely unaware of the dangers that lurked waiting for her and Shiro.
Shiro on the other hand stayed a step behind, her sharp gaze surveying the woods around them as if expecting an enemy to pop out of nowhere. She hadn't trusted this Monsoon fellow the moment she had met him, she wasn't about to start now."I must thank you for allowing us to put an end to this running and hiding game."
Once Manami was only a metre or so away, she would stop and bow her head slightly towards Monsoon before directing her attention towards Ash. Her look changed to that of...sadness as she let out a heavy sigh."You've caused us a lot of trouble, you know that?"
Manami didn't expect a response from the girl who gave her a smoldering look in return. And she didn't get one as Ash sat there, not uttering a single word with her fists tightly clenched. What was this pitiable look that Manami was giving her?"Now come on, don't give me that look,"
Ash's eyes widened as she felt the air leave her lungs. Manami had lashed out with her foot, catching the fire wizard off-guard as it connected with her abdomen and lifted her off the ground "Whatever happens is a result of your actions Ashlyn."
The sadness in Manami's eyes were gone, instead replaced by a cold hardness that Ash couldn't believe was the same Manami. She landed on her back roughly, her blood begining to boil. Now Ash was mad.
Seeing the two becoming more aggressive, he leaned down to lift Ashlyn back up. As he did, Ashlyn gave Monsoon a stronger headbutt than he expected and with faint groan, both fell to the ground. While Ash pretended to struggle as Monsoon tried pushing her off, Monsoon, with a slight of hand quickly sneaked the cuff's keys into her hand right before pushing her aside.
As he got back up, he walked over to Ash from a specific angle. From there he could look at the general direction of where the hidden Frenzy Plant members were and give the faint signal to start the ambush. With a strong grip on Ash's shoulder, he took himself and Ash a few steps back to prevent anyone from being tempted to do any more actions. While the Frenzy Plant members came, Monsoon spoke in slow but frustrated voice to keep Manami and Shiro's attention on him. "Why do you both have to escalate this situation. Tell me Manami, are you going to punish her here or back at your guildhall? I'm just here to fulfill what Georgie and I agreed to. So, are you ready?"
Silence and stillness went hand in hand for Frenzy Plant's operatives as things began to happen. With a suddenness that managed to surprise Joakim, the women of Shadow Heart appeared as if from nowhere, walking straight toward Ashlyn and Monsoon. They seemed to be at ease, suspecting nothing. Good
, he thought with some relief. It wouldn't have been out of the question for members of a subversive dark guild to utilize the same sort of passive detection charms used by his own guild's higher-ups during sensitive operations. Though rare, such artifacts were invaluable, and their use made perfect sense. Not having such protective measures meant Shadow heart either didn't know they existed or couldn't acquire them, for the benefits were unquestionable. To give her credit, Manami was looking around, but it was certainly to product of natural paranoia rather than any grounds for suspicion. Seeing the enemies without their guards up spurred an instinctive desire to spring out and attack in the Arctic Mage, but he suppressed the urge with no trouble. The time had not yet come.
He and Kumbha observed from their hiding spots while Rune continued to stare into space, his back against a tree. After concluding that she was safe, Manami attacked Ashlyn with a sadistic but nonlethal kick to her stomach. Only the most empathetic of the three Frenzy Plant soldiers even flinched slightly; pain was something that all were used to seeing, and for the sake of this mission they needed to ignore it. Monsoon, playing the double operative, went to pick Ashlyn up and received a headbutt for his troubles. The exchange a moment thereafter looked, Joakim thought, a bit awkward and perhaps dubious, but after its resolution the ninja gave the signal for the ambush to begin. Nodding to himself, the Arctic Mage reached out and tapped Rune's shoulder. "Get ready. When the wind rises, take their sight."
For a moment, Rune's features remained as dull and blank as ever, but when it sank in that he'd been called to action the man cracked his empty face into a cruel, gleeful grin. Pretending not to notice, Joakim moved his hand around his staff's head, sending magic into the air.
The winter day, already bleak and breezy, shifted. Blowing a bit harder, the wind brought flurries of snow, thick enough to start obscuring the scenery. Just as Joakim intended, his attack was a perfect facsimile of a chance weather phenomenon, gradual enough to show nothing out of the ordinary. Over the course of about thirty seconds, the landscape surrounding Ashlyn, Monsoon, and the Shadow Heart members dissolved into powdery white, visibility drastically reduced. It was then that Rune reached out into the minds of Manami and Shiro. When the winter wind died down a moment later, their vision remained completely white, as though still trapped in the blinding flurry. Rune's insidious sensory magic, however, made rendered them completely blind. When the sorcerer gave his own signal, Joakim and Kumbha emerged from their cover, moving at a calm pace to surround the two enemy wizards. Both expected their foes to realize that something was amiss at any moment, and used their own magics to conjure protective shields of ice and gel before them should the women lash out. In only a few short moments, the soldiers would be in the prime position to capture Shiro and Manami, just as they rehearsed.
Ash was in no hurry to get back to her feet, more content in her aggressive stare-off with Manami for the time being. Feeling Monsoon begin to pick her back up to her feet, she did the first thing which came to her mind at that point. Rear back and slam her forehead into his.
The clash of heads was both loud and painful to look at, well at least on Monsoon's end. Ash had a pretty thick head, and she was mad. She might regret doing such a thing later with a pounding headache, but for now she engaged in Monsoon's little tussle on the ground.
Once both were back to their feet and Monsoon spoke, Manami simply smiled faintly at the ninja."I don't believe there is a need to bring judgement down on her here, I believe that Georgie wishes to hold that honor. I'm just showing her how I feel about her."
Manami frowned slightly as the wind began to pick up as she spoke. It was getting difficult to see, but it shouldn't be too much of an issue.
Ash took advantage of the situation to now quickly undo the cuffs with the key that Monsoon had just slipped to her. Ash wasn't sure if this was her guildmates, or simply the weather. But she chose to believe it was her fellow soldiers regardless as she allowed the cuffs to slip off of her wrists and onto the snow with a soft *plop*.
Feeling her magic return and her body temperature on the rise once more, Ash brought back her fist and slammed it into Monsoon's back, her fist igniting into flame the moment it did. The impact plus the added on flames would launch Monsoon straight towards the unsuspecting Manami and Shiro, hopefully to try and make her guildmates jobs easier while also keeping Monsoon's cover intact. Though she kinda felt bad for doing this to him, she still didn't like or trust him so...eh. He was a man, he could deal with it.
Shiro silently watched the exchanges between Manami, Monsoon and Ashlyn without so much as an ounce of care given. She glanced around the clearing with a sharp, perceptive gaze as she scanned the surroundings once more. Something didn't feel right, nor did any of this add up. While the clearing was clearly damaged by fighting, Shiro just couldn't understand why Ash had even been in this forest in the first place. If she had been passing through, it would've made some sense. But the way she was dressed, one wouldn't think so.
And Shiro sincerely doubted that any warmer clothes she owned would be easily destroyed, especially considering she would've had to make them more durable thanks to her magic.
But despite her protests and suspicions, Manami had decided to come anyway. 'They couldn't pass up the chance' Manami had simply responded with, and once they had contacted Georgie the choice to go or not was taken away then and there. Besides, Shiro's job was to simply follow and stay with Manami, so she would do so even if Manami chose to ignore her guidance.
As the wind picked up, Shiro could've sworn she felt a faint trace of magic and closed her eyes as she tried to trace it. Though it was difficult to pick up where it had come from, and by the time she did not only had the wind died down but she found that she could no longer see properly when she opened her eyes once more. Everything seemed clouded over by white, and it wasn't too difficult to realise what was going on from there.
Not entirely sure what was going on, Shiro heard Manami's voice but didn't quite register what she said as she detached her scythe and disappeared. Just as the ninja turned rocket Monsoon came crashing into Manami.
Reappearing beside the next moment, she brought her scythe down in a vicious arc only to feel it slice through thin air and into the snow beneath her feet.
Ash had stepped back instinctively as Shiro had appeared beside her out of the blue, narrowly avoiding a surefire killing blow and watched as the lapdog frowned in annoyance.
Yeah Ash should've known it wouldn't be that easy, huh?
Manami frowned as, despite her no longer feeling the wind on her face, her vision still remained quite hindered by white."Shiro, you were right."
Manami mumbled as a realisation hit her, just moments before both Monsoon and the leftover flame from Ash's punch did. Whether Monsoon was aware of it or not, they had been lured into a trap.
The two would tumble from the impact about four or five meters back before Manami pushed Monsoon off of her, and proceed to get back to her feet as quickly as possible. She would also use her waters healing factor to try and restore her eyesight, though she knew she couldn't do the same to Shiro till she was back by her side.
During the blizzard, Monsoon knew Rune's magic would activate. Although he was not being targeted, his magic would have been able to prevent Rune's magic from effecting him. But seeing as Manami was trying to recover her vision, he tried playing his part. "I'll cover us."
Although Ash fired him and Manami away, it did help keep Manami and Shiro away from each other. So once he was beside Manami, he slammed his hand onto the ground and summoned a thick cloud of snow to cover themselves. "I'll keeping them busy, do something."
While Manami was recovering, his arms thrust series towards the Frenzy Plant members. From there, a series of kunai shaped icicles fired from his through his sleeves. Some missed as he intended, but were close. But to make it look like he was truly trying to fight back, a few that did hit had their edges slightly dull to limit the amount of damage.
Manami's efforts to restore her own sight met resistance. Nothing about the nerves that made her eyes work had been physically damaged by Rune's magic; instead, it had straight-up robbed the sense from her. Now in the sorcerer's possession, it existed in much the same manner as a pulled spring, stretched away from its source but still primed just by its nature to pop back into place. Protected as he was, however, Rune could maintain his grasp while his allies went to work. Kumbha began by spreading his gel across the ground, coating the earth in a wide radius around both Shadow Heart members. Slippery to the touch but sticky to those immersed in it, the slime impaired movement even before Joakim struck with the second half of the one-two punch and chilled the gel into a thick layer of flexible ice.
It was during the capture process that Monsoon attacked the Frenzy Plant soldiers as part of the ongoing ploy. However, at this point the Shadow Hearters were as good as gotten, and they couldn't see whether or not Monsoon was helping them anyway. Kumbha, realizing this, grew irritated when he saw the ice slivers fly. When they bit into him, though less painful than they might have been, his anger peaked. Pointing his palm at Monsoon, he conjured a carriage-sized globule of gel and sent it flying toward him. "Buzz off!"
With that out of the way, he returned his attention to the fight at hand, and began to spray his gel over Manami and Shiro to facilitate a full-body freeze.
Upon meeting resistance with her attempts to restore her vision, Manami frowned heavily in annoyance. So this was the affect of someone's magic? Had Monsoon betrayed them? Or had they all simply been taken in by a ruse set up by Ash or one of her allies?
Ash attacking Monsoon made her think that he wasn't in on it, then when he said something about keeping their assailants busy that only reinforced that belief. So Ashlyn's allies had set this up.
How utterly annoying. Manami knew that given the time, she could break this spell which had robbed her and Shiro's sight. But that was the problem, they didn't have the time to break the spell. She would give them credit for a good plan, but also lamented her own foolishness for not thinking of such scenarios.
Feeling something slippery but also sticky begin to coat her and her surroundings, Manami quickly discarded her heavy coat just as it became quite a heavy, frozen burden on the ground as she went to step back. But she was having trouble doing seeming as her feet were semi-frozen to the ground.
But they didn't stay so for long, as Manami's body began to emit a soft, golden light. The gel which soon made contact and that of the gel frozen around of her soon also glowed with that same light before being quickly destroyed in a burst of bright golden light. It made for quite a scene as golden sparkles of light rained down around them, illuminating the entire area in it's brilliant, holy light."I see how it is Ashyln. If that's how you want this to go, I'll play your game."
As Manami thrust her hand skyward, the golden light that had sunk into the snow beneath them soon began to spread and destroy the gel which Kumbha had spread. Not only that, but it seemed to simultaneously melt the ice and began to rush back to her in the form of what almost looked like liquid gold, such was the purity of the dazzling colour the water had become.
Ash was backpedaling like her life depended on it. Mostly because it kinda did, feeling the blade of Shiro's scythe shave just a tad off the top of her head. Luckily for her, Shiro couldn't quite see her or otherwise she might have actually had to defend rather than retreat. But man, Shiro was scary good at fighting blindfolded. Even Ash was surprised by this.
Feeling some heat returned to her as the dodging and retreating warmed her body a little, she used whatever she had to blast Shiro point-blank range straight back into where Kumbha had sprayed his gel. The concentrated ball of flame impacted quite solidly into the girl's chest, making her tumble backwards and into the gel.
Feeling the gel which now coated her begin to freeze however, she like Manami before her abandoned her coat just in time. Though unfortunately for Shiro, she had also lost her scythe in the gel. At least, till it was basically defrosted by Manami.
But Shiro couldn't see where it was, let alone know where she had dropped it as began to move around the battlefield, not staying in one place for longer than a second to prevent Kumbha from spraying her with more of that gel.
What the Shadow Heart wizards needed was their sight back...then they really could commence a fightback, but they had no idea how many they were up against yet alone who had robbed them of their sense of sight.
With Shiro now no longer hassling her, Ash quickly began moving in on Manami. So long as she was using her magic, it was going to be a nusiance trying to capture them. She pointed one of her gloved hands at the Water Saint before shooting off a few fireballs, watching on as they turned to steam before they could even hit the mage."No offense, but I cannot afford to be captured or killed here. If I'm not there, who knows what that woman will do."
Ash frowned at Manami's words, not really grasping what she meant. Did she really think her presence would stop Georgie from doing whatever she wanted? Jeez this woman was vain."Like you being there will make a difference Manami. Just make it easier on us all and stay down yeah? Maybe you'll get a nice treatment too, for good behavior."
Ash shot back, accompanied by a couple more fireballs that didn't quite hit their mark either. But they weren't really meant to hurt Manami, but rather draw the water wizard's attention to her to let her guildmates go about their business.
Not that Manami wasn't onto such a plan. If any of the three Frenzy Plant wizards tried to get close, they would be met with a severe case of golden water trying to slice them in half as about a dozen or so blades of water materialized in the air around of her.
And just as another measure to keep them away, she shot off about a dozen more blades in all around her. She may have lost her last few fights, but she was still an S-Rank and she had her pride, if she went down here then there was no going back regardless.
Manami's golden water proved to be every bit as much of a problem for her assailants as he hoped. The brutal, two-pronged attack from Kumbha and Joakim met serious obstruction for the first time. Seeing this, both were driven by their well-drilled instincts to go on the defensive against their foe's blind counterattack. When they came, the Shadow Heart S-class's watery blades flew hard, fast, and unpredictable. Head-first, Kumbha jumped out of the way, but the Arctic Wizard made the mistake of trying to rely on his ice shield. The razor-sharp spell sheared straight through, and with little resistance severed the man's forearm that held his bony staff. An agonized cry tore itself from his lips, followed by an emphatic, "Not again!"
The pain did not take from him his wits, however. Just a second after the halves of his forearm parted ways in a spray of blood, the freezing air shot into the wound and filled both stumps with ice crystals. Only a simple matter of ice manipulation was required to bring both body parts together and flash-freeze the wound shut. The arm wouldn't be usable until it could be properly healed, of course, but the injury was staunched for the time being and the arm wouldn't be lost in the fight.
The episode, though only a moment long, convinced Joakim that greater measures were to be taken. Aware that his voice allowed him to be targeted, he began to run around the Shadow Heart members erratically, calling, "Stage two! Begin stage two!"
The soldier known as Rune heard and responded. His maleficent glee swelled as he reached out to his enemies once again, and this time he stole far more. In a blink, Manami and Shiro lost their ability to hear, then their ability to feel. Suddenly they felt as though they were floating in a silent white void, unable to tell anything about their surroundings whatsoever--they had fallen under the terrifying true power of the Sense Wizard, a unique ability so intense that Frenzy Plant had tortured and brainwashed its possessor to ensure this incredible advantage was at nobody's disposal but their own.
Joakim grabbed up his staff with his functioning hand, and pointed it at the Shadow Heart members. Kumba renewed his attack as well. This time, there could be no knowing where their foes' magic was coming from, even as it spread over their own bodies.
Joakim was correct in his conclusion that his voice made him a target, as Manami shot out another volley of blades towards where she heard the voice. However what she now was faced with was a rather big obstacle. One that she should've expected.
Ash had never been one to back down, so even with the blades of water that Manami had summoned to protect herself had attacked the pyromancer when she went to back up Kumbha; the almost certainly reckless battling style of the girl drove her forward and through the blades.
That wasn't to say that she had charged in unprotected, her body catching fire for just the briefest of moments to protect herself from the worst of the damage, to prevent become like Kumbha and losing a limb, but still charging through with some pretty nasty looking cuts.
Not that the cuts stuck around for long. Little white flames burst forth from the wounds and sealed them almost instantly. It wasn't a great fix, but it would do till she could afford to deal with them.
Meanwhile her charge brought her to within a meter of Manami before the Water wizard finally realised that she had broken through, the wall of water that now formed between them now causing Ash to quickly retreat before the spikes that shot out impaled her. Not wanting to have gone through such effort only to retreat, Ash simply looked to bypass Manami's defenses by shooting a rather large torrent of flames upwards before completing her retreat to prevent the blades from attacking her once more.
At that same moment Shiro came crashing down heavily into the snow as Rune's assault on the Shadow Heart wizards was now begining to increase. The luckless Shiro had simply lost balance after losing not only her sight, but also her ability to hear and feel her surroundings and was now caught inside of Kumbha's and Joakim's combo.
With Shiro now no longer an issue, not that she had proven to be the thorn that Ash thought she might, it was no offically a four v one scenario on Manami's hands.
Manami fared better than Shiro however, as while she couldn't fully prevent Rune's ability she could at least slow down the rate at which she was losing her hearing and feeling using her own holy protections. It was a losing battle, much like the scenario she found herself in, but if it wasn't for the initial link that Rune had set then Manami wouldn't be in this predicament.
Knowing that it was only a matter of time before she would lose track of her opponents entirely, Manami began to summon a vast number of blades before she could faintly feel a large heat source approaching her.
Unsure of where it was coming from, she went to coat herself in water but was too late. The fire that Ash had shot up earlier had come crashing back down atop of her with such ferocity and power that it turned the entire snowy landscape around of them into a steamy mess.
Quite literally, as the flames shot out from Manami all of the snow in the clearing was evaporated and turned to steam. Even the grass hidden beneath the snow had became badly charred and burnt. While this would also melt Joakim's and Kumbha's ice gel, it wouldn't really matter as the slightly overcooked water wizard collapsed to the ground, defeated and now could be quite easily coated in the gel and frozen.
Looking around at the now snowless clearing, Ash gave her fellow Frenzy Plant guild members, who would also find themselves slightly singed by the attack, a sheepish smile as she scratched her cheek."Whoops. My bad, should I have held back a little?"
Monsoon could see that his actions during this situation might have upset his allies, especially seeing as he was stuck in Kumbha’s gel. He thought about waiting there for a while, but once Manami started to release blades of water, Monsoon quickly liquefied the gel so he could dodge them.
Eventually this appeared to have ended as Ash sent down a storm of fire that charred the area. As soon as the flames dissipated and saw Manami collapsed on the ground, he darted his eyes around the area until finally stopping at Joakim. With a wave of his hand, he tried cooling his severed forearm and arm to an eventual cold temperature that would help preserve them. While he worked on that, he continued scaning his surrounding making sure Manami and Shiro were still incapacitated and that there was no other Shadow Heart members that decided to arrive.