"Hmmm. While I can't share why, as that is part of the investigation, I can talk about Seirin and who she is", he began. Seeing as it is something they can be privy to. People not aware of the magical side of the world though were not, and a different story would be given.
"But before that I'd like to begin with the Imperial Family of Japan. I'm sure as you know, they are this country's ruling family, although all governance is done by the Prime Minister. During World War 2 however, the Emperor of the time, Hirohito had invited several other families to become part of the Kyu-Miyake, and become extended members of the Imperial Family. Following the American Occupation of 1947, all of these families had lost Imperial membership... All but one", he raised a finger indicating that number.
"This family is the Kaganomiya, all records of it were struck and kept secret, the entire family lives in complete secret, and so sometimes the family is called the "Backside of the Throne". The Kaganomiyas are actually a talented family of onmyou, and through their skills and connections as such they have maintained the supernatural side of Japan for decades",
"Seirin herself is the young heir to the head of the Kaganomiyas, as I'm sure you could've guessed by now", at least until their policies loosen. Recent events such as these conferences were meant to help with their approval of opening up more, but this year may make it a hard sell... Though, that reasoning alone is enough.
"Hmmm... I see, sir, how about the ninjas that came afterward? Just personal guards?", Rodrick piped up, he seemed a little interested, perhaps because this was this world's nobility. There was also some concern about Seirin herself, but it seems he was purposely avoiding explaining Seirin and her spontaneous healing near the end of the earlier fight.
"Ah yes them. Simply put, they are the Yatagarasu. They're a shadow enforcer organization whose main goal is to protect the Imperial Family, what you saw was their ninja, which is actually exceedingly rare. Usually you would meet them through representatives who approach to speak with you about matters. The reality is that those representatives are only mouthpieces for them to conduct business, the true organization is hidden away", he explained.
"Now then, I think I have spent enough time here", he said, walking through and past the group.
"I'm afraid I am needed elsewhere, if you have other questions be sure to direct them to Utsumi instead. Speaking of which...", a blue ethereal bird flew by just over Kuuto.
"I'm sure he already knows what happened here too", and with that, he was gone.
Belius listened intently, well, as intently as he could as the Fantasia Festival was explained. The only take-away he got was drinking, eating, partying, and then, possible battles or fights at the end. So basically in summary, the Fantasia was just one giant party, one to his own tastes so it appeared. The idea of getting to fight not only strong members from within the guild but also possibly from others got his blood boiling. Maybe he should do some practice, learn some new tricks to unveil for a grand show, as much as he likes a hard battle, the thrill of defeating a difficult foe is the greatest rush. A trump card or two can really help him out.
"Oooh! So the Fantasia's just a huge party then?! Sounds like my kind of thing! Ya need any help you know where to find me!", he yelled over in enthusiasm.
As the crowd began to get around to doing their own thing he turned back to Brianna, who began to speak of a man known as Zachary. At first he was ready to say he wanted to get a go at him too, but as soon as he heard that he'd passed, he sobered up a little. A strange topic to suddenly bring up, but it appeared to be a source of pride for her, plus as she talked about the lightning sword he began to get some ideas... Many of his techniques relied on the properties of the elements of the sword, maybe there's more he can do with that... Well anyway,
"Heeeeh, wish I'd gotten to see that. Sounds like I could learn a thing or two about lightning from that. Ah well, at least he went out with a bang, or something right? Strong and spry to the last", he commented. He hung around and listened in on some of the people, but as soon as Brianna mentioned that the other guilds were meeting here...
"Oh right I almost forgot about that! I'd like to get a look at whoever it is, I'll bet they're pretty strong. Maybe they'll bring some of their members along too", his enthusiasm was noted. His exposure to other guilds was rather limited, mainly only whoever he's run into on jobs, or what he's heard of just maybe once or twice, but in all cases he's never really remembered. And some members he's crossed during his time as a wandering challenger.
The city of demons is an interesting, otherworldly location, existing within the pocket realm owned by Kuzunoha who rules it as a haven for all yokai to find refuge. Yokai though, are creatures of the night, and so it was natural that in this city, it would always be night, save for the lights of the market districts and houses. It's population numbered just under several hundred, and kept itself going by trading with the outside world through private networks.
Sitting atop the pinnacle of this city was Kuzunoha, perched atop the inn that she runs, the Rakkaden [落花伝], in a room with a view over her domain. She takes a puff of her pipe as she looks over the city once more, before she addresses the people seated within the room. All were seated in two neat rows, some kitsune maids were filtering out of the room, having left some meals for these unique patrons.
Sitting behind her was a selection of yokai, among them included the head of the Koujou family, Yukihara, and the Suzaku Hinoyama. There were a few others including what appeared to be a kamaitachi with a veritable amount of scars, some appearing in their human forms, and then one towards the back that appeared as if he had walked right out of a samurai film.
"So why have you called us here Lady Kuzunoha?", first spoke the kamaitachi. There was silence, she took yet another drag of her pipe, before turning just a bit to indicate her acknowledgement.
"In such a rush to get to business? Ever the diligent one aren't you Youhaku?... Very well, we all have business to attend to", she turned herself around to face the group that had gathered. Everyone here ran something within Eiseikato, the council so to speak, who answer directly to Kuzunoha.
"I have called you all here to address matters regarding the fragments of the Sessho-seki", there were some whispered murmurs. The Sessho-seki, the vaunted jewel said to house the power of one of the great evils of Japan, Tamamo no Mae, a yokai so powerful she had rivalled a god.
"It appears one of them has been been detected within Kyoto. Of course... This cannot stand", the ancient fox pulled her paper fan near her face and fanned it out, at the very same moment the scenery within the room appeared to change as she displayed her powerful illusion abilities, though not for any vanity. In the empty center of the room was a small miniature version of Kyoto.
"Now... Youhaku, you as the representative from the Yatagarasu will have to inform us what you can about the situation. What has been happening the last few days?", the kamaitachi bowed humbly, before he began to speak, the map in the center changing to match what he was saying.
"Thank you, Lady Kuzunoha. There are a few things I need to address, before I get to the Sessho-seki", he began.
"First, over the past month, members of the Kaganomiya Family have been targeted by assassins. Just yesterday an attempt was made on the last lively member, though it was thwarted through sheer dumb luck, it's not likely those affiliated will let that stand", the map lit up around the Kiyomizu-Dera to indicate the location of the attack.
"Next, there have been sightings of unaffiliated yokai in the outskirts of the city. Scouts report that some of them are not simply yokai attracted to the Sessho-Seki's power, as some of the movements seemed deliberate. We have reason to believe that they are associated with our assassin. Unfortunately I have been forbidden from revealing any details about the assassin", there were some disgruntled murmurs in response, showing some disdain for that matter. The map lit up in various spots around the map.
"Finally, the Sessho-Seki. I'm afraid while we have not managed to pinpoint it's location, some of our scouts reported it was detected near or around the sight of the attack from yesterday. Speculation tells us that we may find our stone if the assassin is captured, although... They had given us the slip yesterday, but it is a lead nonetheless", a pause followed as he bowed, signifying the end of his report.
"I see. There are also... Rather interesting players on this board, not as mentioned. Barring the Fujiwaras, and the other exorcist houses, the last lively member of the Kaganomiyas you speak of... She is the Blessed one is she not?", with reluctance, Youhaku had nodded. It appears that information was not something he was supposed to share, but it was something the Lady knew of anyways.
"Hmhm... Considering the deity that has blessed her, the presence of the Sessho-Seki is... Not unexpected then. My worry however is not it's presence. A gathering of demons is hardly something this city can't handle, no... Someone means to do something with the young lady too", Youhaku looked at Kuzunoha with an expression of surprise, or shock, some form of fear involved too.
"The assassinations leading to this month, where a conference had been held, one that required the presence of a Kaganomiya... I do believe our assassins had planned this for some time now, and they have had the Sessho-Seki for quite some time already. For what that is... Well, I can only imagine. Hopefully we will not have to imagine that. It is risky... But I suggest everyone here begin to start tapping into their Kyoto connections, my numerous fox familiars aren't able to keep track of everything, we want eyes and ears everywhere. I make myself clear?", in unison, everyone in the room bowed and gave an affirmative response.
"Very good, now then... Let us return to our own parlours", and with that, everyone had slowly filtered out of the room, one by one. Some of them chatting on the way out, and others already with their attendants giving them orders. The only one that remained was Youhaku.
"Hm, have you not business of your own, Vice Commander of the Yatagarasu?", she addressed him teasingly.
"Of course, but I have yet one question... Tamamo-no-Mae, Otakemaru, and Shuten-Douji... Do you truly believe they can return?", the question was snapped as Kuzunoha returned her fan to it's folded position, as she turned back around to face the city.
"Such an absurd question, though no less absurd than someone earlier. There are yokai that believe they can, to believe that they can be led to the golden age from centuries ago, and that belief is enough for something to return in this world of demons", Youhaku turned away a bit, then gave a bow. The answer was not satisfactory, but he knew he would not get a clear cut answer, before disappearing in a soft gust of wind.
Koyuki woke to a morning alongside others of her kind. A strangely comforting experience she had not had before, everyone seemed to have been rather nice, but strict in their running of the place. Some were even interested in how she had attained a brilliant white coat, as most foxes here had an orange one. Others kept to themselves, but did not create any trouble. She expected to have to report to Kuzunoha again, but instead she was told that all of her instruction for each working day at the inn was to be from the manager in charge at the time.
"Now then, Koyuki, today we will be going shopping", shopping? Such a simple task, but given this was an Inn... The manager had assigned a senior to her, who called herself Kohane. She was a taller kitsune, only two tails, but she's seen her work. She's really good at cleaning and doubles in the kitchen during dinner.
"We'll be meeting with suppliers today in order to make sure we'll be well-stocked for the next month. This is mainly just to let you get to know who else works with the Inn, it's pretty boring work, but since you're new to this city maybe you'll find some fun just looking around", she pointed out.
"Anyways, get ready and meet me at the front of the Inn in ten minutes, we'll be out for more than a few hours, so bring a bag. Also, don't change out of the Inn uniform, people we approach need to know where we're from", and with that she let Koyuki do her preparations.
Hinoyama was a... Laid back teacher. Icarus had woken up late... Or was it early? He could not tell with there being no sun, and thus, only an endless night. Over the last 24 hours, this little house in the shrine had become quite familiar, partly because it was kind of small. It was packed to the brim with old scriptures and books, most of these were in old Japanese, but the fellow firebird was kind enough to demonstrate them. They were... Spells...? As Hinoyama had informed him, spells were much more useful for yokai who had a large source of magic to pull from. Namely themselves. Other than that, he was told to do his training first.
Which was of course... To die. Without dying. It was an absurd concept, and how was he to reach it? There were various ways, according to Hinoyama, but in whatever case, it never seemed clear. To burn out and then return? To be a stubborn fire that refused death while treading the line? Or was it a mental thing?
It was described by Hinoyama quickly. He actually does die, but revives faster than his body and fire can deteriorate. That was even more absurd. How does one do that?
In any case... This morning, Hinoyama didn't seem to be anywhere... Perhaps he can get another peek at those scriptures? Or he can continue his training. Of course, he also had the option of just hitting town for a bit, if he felt like playing hooky.
Tsurara was put into a small apartment above a store just down the street, selling some rather nice Japanese sweets. It was run by an old lady kappa who occasionally came up to give her a pack, in fact she was waking up to the knock on her door to be given more. This time it was daifuku, black bean filling.
She can enjoy that now or later, up to her, but she had to get going for Yukihara's lessons, else she would come hunting her down with a naginata. Despite her rebellious streak as a Yuki-Onna, it was not enough to shake off the fear of death itself, though she knew she would not do such a thing, the glare and killing intent was the real deal. Did she hate Tsurara or something? Well in any case... She had to get going.
To her surprise as she arrived, so did Tsurara expecting to see her already in the parlour, but she was also accompanied by two others from her staff.
"Hm, if I had no business at the Rakkaden, I would count this as you being late, but it appears you are lucky today. Please try to arrive earlier from now on", she coldly told her as she walked in. Tsurara followed in after her.
Pretty soon, everyone was settled in the room, various female yokai sat in seiza in a grid formation in front of Yukihara. It was... Sort of like homeroom. Although, this class only consisted of maybe seven people.
"Today's lesson we shall be cooking. I will provide a shopping list for everyone, and once you all return, we shall begin the cooking. Why I have not bought them myself, well, that is because shopping and picking out the best ingredients is all part of your class. You will learn that the quality of your ingredients will be reflected in your cooking, and of course... Your skill as a cook will also be reflected. Now then, make your preparations. Be ready in front of the parlour in twenty minutes, and I will then present you with your shopping lists. Dismissed", today seemed simple enough. Cooking and buying ingredients... They were vital aspects of a housewife and her ability to provide for her husband. It made sense. Well, there was nothing else but to prepare...
Aurelius would find himself waking up, laid down in Lady's lap. As his vision returned to him, the figure of the man he had been sparring earlier was beginning to become visible as he sat across.
"Oh, so you're finally awake? Ran right into the edge of this stick here... Hahahaha! Should've seen the look on your face! Man it's been years since I've seen someone get their greenhorn cherry popped by someone way out of their weight class. Ahem, anyways...", he stood up and paced around a bit holding the stick he had used earlier.
"Fact I haven't just left you to wake up to nothing but your lady friend here - no pun intended - means I've taken an interest in you. Your stance is too rigid, even if it's correct, your grip is unsure, even if you've resolved yourself to your decisions, and most importantly...", he swung once before pointing the tip at Aurelius' face.
"You rely on those too much, I like the look but it follows me like a goddamn haunted house painting. What good are eyes if it can't see this stick that struck you?",
"I had half a mind to just leave, but turns out I'll be staying in Kyoto a little longer, that is, if you're interested in learning", he offered.
"Haha! Yeah I guess he does seem that way! Well, nothing major, just collection", collection? Like debt collection?
"All ya gotta do is watch, we'll get into practical stuff bit later, I think I know why the boss put ya with me, we both got issues with our fathers", it was not at all what he meant, and at this point JM was unsure of what this guy was even, other than assuming he was some special kind of Oni considering he had a much more human appearance if not completely human. In fact if he wasn't here among these other Oni, he probably would've been seen as a normal human.
As a pair the two walked around town, JM was even taken to a clothing store in the Yokai-run town, where he was given something like the rest of the Oni. He looked at himself in the mirror and it made him look sort of like a "really nice guy", just like these other "really nice guys". Kinrou gave him the thumbs up on whatever combination he decided to go with, and when asked about paying for it he said he'd foot the bill, and it would be a gift.
Fortunately for JM, unlike his other classmates who had come here, he actually got time to enjoy this interesting town before being put to work. In fact half this work was going around greeting some store owners and collecting their fees for the month so it was said. As a result, he mainly just walked around, but so far... It may be difficult to ascertain what Kinrou was talking about, or why he was here. It almost seemed as if he was just dragged into becoming a kind of demon mafia.
But eventually they came to a small shack in the back and darker area of Eiseikato. A slum, some would say. Their suits kind of stood out here, and in that sort of sense, there was an immediate feeling of danger, but Kinrou in his gold and black suit did not seem at all fazed as he made his way to knocking on the door.
"Yooo! Mr. Gyushi home?", there was a silence....
"Go away! I ain't payin'", Kinrou looked around for a bit.
"Now that ain't right, we did the job as promised, all that's required is you keep your side of that", there was a disgruntled voice at the other end that sounded like gibberish. For a moment, it appeared like there was an eye peeking through the hole at the top of the shack door, before suddenly it broken down. Kinrou was sent flying back as JM would instinctively get some distance from whatever it was emerging.
Whoever it was in there had transformed into what would be believed as their true form. An Ushi-Oni? They were collecting a fee from a powerful yokai like this? It's fearsome bovine head on a spider-like body, boasting a thick body and pincer-like arms and legs.
"Ahahahahaha! Did that old fart really sending a small and weak human like you to collect from me?! He must be growing soft! Ahahahahaha!"
Kinrou dusted himself off as he got up, putting his sunglasses back on slowly as he spoke.
"Oi oi oi, it appears there's been a misunderstanding", his eyes glinted a clear gold glowing even behind his shades.
"What? You're gonna apologize to me now?" the echoing inhuman voice of the Ushi-Oni known as Gyushi thundered in bemusement at the golden man.
"No, oh no. The misunderstanding... Is that the small and weak one here is you. I'll give you one last chance to pay up, or else I'll be collecting more than just your money", there was a thundering gold aura around his hands and arms, subtle, but from where JM was standing it was quite visible.
"Ahahahahahaha! HAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I will give you the honor of being my funniest snack yet! Foolish human! A town like this, is no place for the likes of you!", the jaws of the Ushi-Oni came crashing down upon Kinrou who in a cloud of dust from the impact, disappeared from sight.
There was a silence of suspense, but the first thing visible from the smoke, was a golden lightning.
"Hooooh? Was that really your best shot?", a gust of wind cleared the dust as Kinrou's golden blazer flew back, landing beside JM, also noticing that some other yokai had come out to peek from the shadows, watching the exchange going down. Mr. Gyushi was surprised, groaning and doubling back, at first in what appeared to be surprise, but a golden pulse emanated from him as Kinrou delivered a punch right to his gut.
JM would recognize this power... Well, not precisely. It was similar to when he would access his demonic form, but... Kinrou other than growing two horns, did not look at all changed from his usual appearance... And of course the cool golden aura.
A fight would ensue as the Ushi-Oni would get back up, but Kinrou's compact form made it easy for him to evade the large and clumsy attacks of the large oni, but even then he was just showing off. At the very end he proved it wasn't even necessary for him to do that as he stopped yet another attack with just his hand, before delivering a side kick right into the yokai's center, sending it flying back again.
"You...! You're not human are you?!"
"What gave that away? The horns or the fact that I kicked your sorry ass?", Kinrou cracked a cocky smile and his knuckles,
"So, feel like payin' yet? Or do you need a few more hard knocks?",
"N-no! I'll pay! H-here!", the Ushi-Oni shrunk in size, stepping forward as well... A smaller version of himself, bowing as he produced a bag of coins.
"Well, that wasn't so hard was it? Nice doin' business with ya Mr. Gyushi", and with that... Kinrou and JM departed.
Everything happened quickly, it took barely half a second for the swordswoman to bound the more than a dozen feet between her and Seirin, but in that time it appears she didn’t expect her accompaniment to be combatants either. There was a surprise in her movements as her blade met with a dagger held up by Asta who made her way to the front, already forming a shield with Solid Armaments. Rodrick and Helena didn’t delay to try and skewer the attacker, but she was faster as she quickly stepped back and did a few errant swings. In that single moment, the two students froze in midair before being repelled by a gust of wind.
Now in a stance with her blade pointed at Seirin, aiming it just over Asta’s shoulder, all who were face to face with her, Otis, Seirin, and Asta, felt her killing intent in that moment, but her foot never stepped forward.
An array of arrows made from rock would land in the place the assassin once stood as she bounded back. By the time she had resumed stance, everyone was back in front of Seirin, her hand on her chest as she was almost ready to step away, but she couldn’t.
“This is unexpected… But I’ll just have to make this quick”, muttered the assassin.
There was recognition in Lorelai’s eye as she saw the talisman, the lessons in that class having been taken to heart, though her expression turned monstrous with righteous fury to see the barrier fall and reveal her threatened classmates by a cowardly assassin. Lacking any skill with such small thrown weapons as soda cans would make, she dropped them and blitzed the assailant in a dead sprint. While she lacked a spear, Form 4 of Dieter’s Fields only required a strong advance to see her hands come together in a heavy hammer blow against the assassin.
Follow Up! Chains her hammer blow into a flurry of punches from Form 1. Follow Up x2! Steps into extreme close range and headbuts the mask in lieu of the hammerblow from Form 4.
The barrier was gone, and two more joined the fray. Were the numbers great enough now, that the difference in individual skill could be overcome? Otis let out a breath, enjoying once more the heat of the summer day even as a deathly chill emanated from the masked swordswoman. “Stay,” he said, one eye flicking in Seirin’s direction, as he dropped a Slicing Bullet onto the ground in front of her. Before it could bounce around, his foot stomped on it.
Lorelai, the most energetic and reckless of all, rushed in without even a weapon in her hands, and Otis, trusting his own speed, moved in to assist her. Another hand slipped into his ammunition pouch, pulling out another bullet. His natural magical capabilities were unable to keep up with the costs of the spells he had memorized, but when it came to what he could prepare, the Strigidae could always hit above his weight class.
With Lorelai taking the front, Otis skirted around from behind, throwing a bullet aimed squarely at the woman’s spine.
Now, it was time to see just how their enemy responded.
Seeing Otis attempt to go behind the assassin, with Lorelai at the front, Ultana created a Broadsword with Solid Armament and charged in from the side. Swinging her blade with a furious swing, she sent countless Earthen Spikes towards the enemy to ensure Otis wasn’t discovered.
The assassin found herself on the backfoot though was keeping more than pace with Lorelai’s swings in hand to hand. The footwork was wrong for bare fist even if the principles were kept, and so with a rapid assortment of strokes from the left hand and right foot, the assassin dealt a few blows to Lorelai, sending her back with a finishing kick. She had no time to rest however as she for a moment sensed an attack from behind, yet in front of her was a seemingly larger threat. If she dealt with the one behind, she would be vulnerable to a larger attack, and if she dealt with the one in front, she was in danger of being put back onto the defensive. She was choked for time given the situation, and so retreating onto the back foot was not an option.
Not to mention, in Lorelai’s place was Asta, with her shield in front formed and to prevent yet another strategy she could use. If she could just get everything into view...
The assassin executed some fast footwork that doubled her back away from her current position, in what appeared to be a blur the sword was back in it’s sheath. The stance was… Familiar, it looked a lot like what Kuuto used, with a few differences. Regardless, what was to be of note was that the sword was glowing now.
With a grunt that felt painful, she drew the blade. A single white slash went through the earth spikes, Asta’s shield, and Otis’ bullet, before an array of slashes appearing like wide cross hatching followed immediately after. Asta being the closest to this attack was sent back with various cuts along her shield arm, and some reaching her chest.
The sword stopped glowing and the assassin gave a cough, before advancing forward quickly towards Seirin. Rodrick and Helena stepped forward, however Rodrick’s snow soldiers were quickly cut down as they were summoned, while Helena’s Knight of Radiance had it’s attacks easily evaded by this agile assassin. Still with their bodies in front, they need only get in the way for long enough.
Otis’s eyes widened at the brilliance that flashed from the assassin’s sword. What an absolutely sublime cut! He had been banking on her slashing his bullet, yes, and had even hoped she’d do so: each of his bullets used impact triggers to detonate the Fire Rune at their base, and if she had done such, the particular bullet would have fired off, striking the ground twenty meters away...before the Vorpal Warp enhancement activated, forcibly relocating the assassin further away from her target while giving everyone else a chance to spawn-camp her.
But that had only been a hope, and it was a hope destroyed by the burst of slashes that accompanied the singular strike, shredding the runic etchings upon the bullet before it could discharge.
Just like that, however, the assassin broke through the vanguard, dashing towards Rodrick and Helena’s own defenses. She was swift, certainly, swift enough to trivialize what magical guardians emerged. Her senses were sharp too, enough so that she had been able to counter attacks from every direction just a moment before when they approached her.
The Strigidae, however, had not yet run out of gambits.
From a fair distance behind, Otis focused his vision, shadow-dancing with the assassin as she evaded the Knight of Radiance’s broad strokes. And as patterns developed, as habits were read and understood, he reached out with his other hand, a bullet held out…
...and threaded a slicing beam of energy diagonally upwards, from the bullet he had dropped right in front of Seirin, to the bullet he held now in his hands.
It just happened, really, that Helena’s Knight physically blocked the bullet from view, that the assassin’s body was right between those two bullets when he invoked them.
Her mad rush didn’t amount to any significant damage upon the Assassin, her stance and movements all wrong for fighting without a weapon, but it proved ample distraction to let others surround the attacker. Pity then that she released a blinding attack that seemed to part the very fabric of reality itself, cutting down the defenses and armaments between her and her targets. By a stroke of camaraderie Asta had placed herself between Lorelai and the Assassin, protecting her from the whirling blade as she rebounded from the kick.
Her fury was tempered by the ragged cough that followed the attack, a sign of infirmity she took to like a shark does spilled blood. Without any pretense for defending herself she launched herself off the ground in a flying tackle to restrain the assailant for the others to finish.
Despite the advantage of numbers, the assassin was still holding off their attacks. One single slash from her blade was enough to thwart their attacks. While not any major injuries sustained, Asta, being the closest to the attack, took the worst of it. Before the assassin charged once more towards Seirin, the sword stopped glowing and coughed. Could the attack (or sword) be taking something out of her? Either way, they couldn’t let her get to Seirin. With Lorelai making a reckless attempt to restrain her, they needed to bring her down now.
“With an unyielding will, I call upon the power of the earth to aid me in this fight.”
Activating her Earthbound circuit, she raised her broadsword and made her own reckless charge to slam her weapon into the assassin’s chest.
She was quite nimble, the assassin, having obtained a decent amount of. Perhaps something Lorelai should’ve picked up, as her tackle was a straight-forward approach that the assassin’s keen senses was able to react to as she bounded over Lorelai, leveraging herself over with her hand on her back inadvertently pushing her into the ground letting her continue to a skid behind her, and by chance, avoiding a crippling strike from the Slicing Bullet, barely grazing her shoulder as she went into a spin mid-air.
At the same time, Helena’s knight went for another swing, bringing it up in a diagonal arc while Rodrick had the time to summon White Archers. In the spinning midair jump, the assassin swung her blade twice, once to take Helena’s knight’s blade off-balance and avoid it swatting her out of the air, and the second deflecting some of the ice arrows, managing to catch Rodrick in the shoulder as he staggered back in response, leaving Seirin open in a gap between the two.
“Fujiwara Discreet Arts, White Flash of the Glaring Glass”, she muttered under her breath, bringing her focus to this technique.
In that very instant, everyone present witnessed what appeared like a glint of reflecting light against their eyes, blinding them, and as the vision settled, right next to Seirin was a line through the stone-paved floor , and a long cut going cross through her forearm and near her shoulder. The attack… Hit? Seirin yelped a little at the pain, her left sleeve was also completely cut as it fell right off.
At the very instant of the blinding flash, Ultana had managed to strike the assassin out of the air, veering the attack just off-course as she tumbled along the stone pavement. It appears they just barely managed to prevent a fatal attack.
With distance being made between the group and the assassin, she stubbornly began to take up a stance again, even knowing in the back of her head that her time was short, or even over. As soon as her hand made it to the handle of the katana, an array of throwing knives came flying at her, landing at her former position as she was forced back further. A click of her tongue as she began to start backing away further.
Emerging from the shadows was a dual arm blades wielding… Weasel person? Or at least, they had a weasel-like tail, all adorned in a black suit jacket over what looked like a bodysuit. One might be quick to assume this was a kind of beastkin similar to Otis, but they would be false.
“Lady Seirin, you’d been advised not to separate from your escort”, the voice that came from this new ninja-like figure was female.
“Ahaha… Y-yeah, I’m... so sorry for that, Fuuko, but…”, the way she apologized was like a child who had just been caught red-handed, looking away and almost slinking away.
“It’s for your own safety”, she retorted quickly before turning back to the assassin.
At this time if anyone would have rushed to Seirin’s side to check her injury, would find that it has mysteriously disappeared.
Appearing shortly after this woman was a familiar coat and blade, forcing the assassin to draw her blade to block a slash that came from what appeared to be countless yards away. Stepping in from behind the group was Kuuto. His glare sharpened as soon as he laid eyes upon the blade she was carrying.
“Hm, it appears I’ve found my thief… And culprit”, and it wasn’t just Kuuto who recognized something here. The assassin too. Those more attuned to combat would feel an immediate palpable fear coming from her, before she began to bolt off.
The weasel-like ninja lady known as Fuuko raised her hand, and on signal a few ninjas appeared beside her like phantoms on command. With one wave pointing forward, they were off to chase the assassin while she turned back to take care of the group.
“You knew you were in danger and yet you decided to sneak off from your escort”, Seirin turned away from Fuuko as her features began to melt away and become more human, revealing a girl with sharp eyes and hair tied in a ponytail. Those well-versed in yokai might recognize the features and abilities this girl held as that of a Kamaitachi, but this full human appearance on this kind of yokai meant that she was most likely a half yokai.
“Sorry? Just sorry?! We have killer on the-”,
“Ahem”, she bit her tongue as Kuuto interjected. It’s not really something people should be hearing, but at this point it was probably too late.
“A-anyway, we need to keep you safe, at least until this situation is all over. I know how much you want to go sightseeing, but please, be patient”, there was a quiet as Seirin was being scolded for her behavior, looking down and a little glum. The young lady known as Fuuko turned to the rest of the group.
“I’m sorry for having involved you unrelated children into this… Affair”, she would not openly state it, but she was surprised at how lucky Seirin had gotten, running into kids who happened to be trained combatants, at least, to some degree. She bowed in apology.
“Please, tell no one of what happened today. We’re trying to prevent any form of panic while we close this up”, she then turned to Kuuto.
“Prosecutor Kirizanto, I will be taking Seirin someplace safe, these are… Do they happen to be students of yours?”, he nodded in affirmative. She looked at that the group for a moment in pensieve, running a finger over her chin, then grabbing Seirin by her hand.
“Now, we will be on our way… Come on Seirin, you have caused enough trouble for today”, she stated. There was a pause as everyone watched them disappear from sight.
“Hm…”, Kuuto turned to the students here. He recognized some of them from the vampire incident some week or two ago…
“Interesting that I see some familiar faces. Do you kids have a habit of hunting for trouble?”, there was an awkward silence… Would one take that as rhetoric or a serious question? The hard glare in Kuuto’s eyes made that difficult to ascertain.
“Well no matter, it would be advisable to forget about today’s incident. If you have any worries to put to rest I’ll try my best to explain things, under the promise that none of you try and get involved. We can call this an impromptu lesson of sorts”, there was some historical significance to the people here today.
“For the record before you ask, questions about this investigation are off-limits”
As Carver digressed his concerns with the hires, Reynard sighed a stood up from the table, removing his hands from it as he turned to Carver. He made direct eye contact with the man and outstretched a hand waiting for a handshake, normally a professional and standard greeting if not for the cold glare of his eyes. Was that intentional? Probably not, though despite the way he spoke, he was by no means a terrible speaker if it was needed.
"Reynard Faust. Apologies for the lateness in introductions, but I'm afraid that while you were averting your eyes it was hardly suitable at that time", he began.
"Furthermore... This is apparently rather normal. We have forgotten that not all are used to her odd behaviour...", as for Reynard he didn't personally care, although... he turned his gaze away for a moment in some annoyance, sending a glare over to Gwen while he was at it, expressing his disdain, then turning back to Carver.
"She will apologize for her actions as befits an adult... Isn't that right, Gwen?" The way he invoked her name was cold, enough to cut a chill in the ice mage.
"What? It's not interesting if I'm gonna win, besides it's all about the thrill and adrenaline in the middle of it! That's the best part, and what's more thrilling than testing yourself against the best?", he responded to Brianna's comment. Personally he found her to be an interesting swordswoman, and her sword even moreso. A talking sword so it is. Pretty quickly, Damian gave his response, and Belius having been turned down didn't seem to let it bother him too much, then followed by Nolan's reprimand and the comment from Daltaon,
"What the little guy said", Belius by now was a bit further away so it was an almost comical echo in the back of their conversation.
Belius had gone to grab a drink while other things went down, still on the floor he returned to the announcement. Exhibition match got him excited, maybe a little too much. It would be between all four S class mages in two teams. Belius was almost upset he didn't qualify for that... Well actually he was rather upset, though he did not show it outwardly.
"Forget watching, I want in on that too... Ah, but I need to pass my S class tests first huh?", Belius muttered to himself as he took a swig, leaning back as he did. Even if he was deigned to watch and control himself from jumping in, maybe he can learn something watching Damian. He's had his eye on every sword user in the guild, as some might say, he's adapted some of the techniques in a rather rough fashion.
The next thing though was the Fantasia Festival... Uh, what would that be he wondered. Brianna who was close to him at the time, he leaned over and whispered.
"Hey uh, you know what the Fantasia Festival is?", he asked. He really didn't know.
The last year for Belius had been one that was... Quite different from prior to joining Phoenix Wing. He hadn't stayed in any one place for longer than a few or several months, often having to change accommodation, then towns, then cities, though never really going beyond the borders. As a result he's built up quite a few known acquaintances, just no more than that. His guildmates were at first rather eager to see a new powerhouse join their ranks, but when they soon learned of his habits to make things more "interesting", and thus, more volatile, he was suddenly no longer a favourite to ask for help. That phase only lasted maybe a month at most. These days, he's only ever relied on for missions that guarantee a difficult fight, or ones with zero fighting whatsoever.
His reputation was mixed, while he is a known force in combat, and a wild card for missions, he was a guy that was pretty open to getting things done. When he was new there were a few guildmates that had him do errands, which he did, to an extreme effect, so much so that they begged his forgiveness. He had no idea what was going on but went with it anyway. Despite the way he acts, his years of working many different jobs for money prior to becoming a mage really showed, having seemingly random knowledge in various topics.
Today however, he was completely free, open schedule, he figured he'd just relax in the guild hall for awhile with all the buzz going on, something about a meeting? He was perched up on the second floor of the hall overlooking the first floor, sat at a table with a drink and a book about agriculture. Why agriculture? He had a job he'd completed earlier where he had to help a farmer, so he had a sudden interest and picked it up from the library.
His ears caught wind of a familiar name, he turned from his seat to lean over and look down at the first floor as a familiar presence entered. So he's finally back. A lot in Phoenix Wing know the story of Belius' recruitment, he challenged them when Damian had happened to be around. After a fight that caused a great deal of collateral damage, and various debris in the shape of swords strewn about, he was eventually defeated, and shortly after his defeat, Belius signed up.
Grabbing the railing, he leapt over, doing a somersault before landing right between Damian and the other new faces in the guild in a superhero landing no less.
"I see you're back, just in time for a rematch!", he dramatically pointed his finger at Damian, some who heard this had frozen for a moment in fear, before he dropped his pose and continued.
"Is what I'd normally say! I do want that rematch though, but maybe after all of this buzz and somewhere with more room. Instead how about we get a round of drinks instead? You guys got a great selection on tap here", well, Belius was clearly settling in just right, personally at least.
Magic: Belius is a strange mage, one who has learned many different magics that were considered worthless alone.
Sword-Shape Magic - A Caster magic that allows the user to shape any amount of matter and energy into a sword shape, and specifically a sword. This magic is quite weak on it's own, limited by matter and quantity as well as quality of the things it's shaping. Belius though has become supremely skilled at this magic he learned as a child just to play swords with other kids. The feats he can pull off with it are immense, and his speed of transformation is near instant, a feat only possible through years of mastery and usage.
Lighter Hand: A magic that allows the user to hold fire, as well as generate it out of their hand. It can't be projected and fire it off like most other fire magic though. This was a fire magic that came free with the "Mages Weekly Survival".
Aerosphere: A magic that allows the user to control wind in their immediate area as well as generate it. It's great for clearing away leaves.
Miner's Friend: A magic that was made just for carrying and extracting rocks and ores. He learned this when he worked part time at a mine. It can also be used to quickly pull and gather rocks or other earthly elements.
Chilly Touch: A magic that's preferred by bartenders everyone for instantly chilling their customer's drinks. It generates ice out of the palm of the user's hand.
Torchlight: A magic that allows the user to create orbs of light as additional sources of light. It's useful for dark trips to the toilet.
Hydro Hand: Similar to lighter hand, allows the user to generate water out of their hand. It can be expelled as a short range burst with decent concussive force, or be fired as a weak stream. This was mainly a magic for firefighters.
Ink Blot: A dark magic that creates shadow in energy form, meant to be used then applied to your face as a kind of emergency face mask for sleeping.
Zap Charge: A lightning magic that allows the user to charge batteries using just magical power. This can allow them to jumpstart machinery too and light up lightbulbs. An essential for electricians.
Lethal Weapon: An advanced application where he shapes the kinetic force of his kicks and punches into swords. He can now cut by punching and kicking.
Sword Generation (Level 1/2/3): A combination spell where he uses any of his supplementaries to generate an element for him to shape into a sword. This has a Level 2 and 3 as well where he combines them with 2 and then 3 elements. A blade of water wreathed in lightning, a blade of molten rock from searing fire, among other things.
Reforge: A simple spell that layers on the current sword he's holding with itself, increasing it's solidity and power. He can do this multiple times, and other applications of it have it's own names.
Skycutter: A simple application of Sword Generation where he instantly extends the length of the sword for a single instant, allowing him to cut far-off targets. Doing so usually disperses the density of the sword during that instant though, so it may not cut as deep... Or may cut quite deep in the case of steel.
Heavy Slash: A simple application of Sword Generation where he instantly increases the size of sword for a powerful slash. A side-effect of this is that upon doing so it will disperse during the swing, for example a fire Heavy Slash will fire off a short-range wave of fire.
Swordslinger: A very simple application of Sword Generation where he makes unstable swords and throws them. Of course he can throw any full-formed sword he has on him too.
Graveyard of Swords: Placing his hand on the ground, he can cause swords to be produced in the area all around him made from whatever is in the immediate area.
Horde of Blades: Expelled from a single swing, he causes the area in front to be pelted with hundreds of tiny swords, slashing the entire area countless times. The scale of the attack is affected by how long he holds it, as well as the size and reforge value of the sword.
Tempering Edge: A complex application of Reforge where he only reforges the very edge of the sword, and constantly at a fast pace, giving it an almost laser-cutting property as it reforges and slices each time it does while at the same time getting sharper. While he does this, his sword is able to cut through almost anything, but he can't sustain it for very long.
Sword of Thieves: A spell where Belius absorbs an attack by turning it into a sword. Requires contact with the attack which makes it risky, as he will still take the larger portion of the attack. The sword generated will keep all properties of the attack he had converted, but will be limited in quantity, what he makes is what he's stuck with unless he does this again. The larger the attack, the greater the risk, but also the greater the sword he can make.
::Hi-Ougi:: Blades of Legend: The High Art that he had created for the express purpose of putting his life on the line if he needs to. He shapes his own pure magical energy into a single sword, or even more if he's pushing it. It normally appears blue, but if it appears any other colour, it's no longer using his magical energy. All of these swords aren't just shaped from the idea of a sword, but also a legend, allowing him to imbue them with properties of his own choosing based on those legends. As one might say, the ability to imbue a sword with power beyond being a sharp slab of metal is the highest skill a blacksmith can attain. These blades being made of pure magical energy also mean that they can obtain the elemental properties of elements that they are bathed in.
Muramasa: The Legend of Bloodlust, an all out attack sword that can cut anything providing little in way of defense or direct combat. It takes the form of a long katana and it appears able to create fields of slashing waves.
Excalibur: The Legend of Light, an all-round sword with the ability to fire beams of light. It's probably the safest weapon due to it's controlled energy output, but it's the one that provides the least benefits. It takes the form of a longsword with space for two hands, making it an all-round for a swordsman too.
Durandal: The Legend of the Enduring, an all-out defense sword with the ability to guard the user as well as allies with large broadswords. It has a maximum range, but anyone inside it will be under the guard of rapidly generated swords of mana. This takes the form of a broad-bladed claymore with a cross guard. Despite it's defensive nature, it's not a sword you want to accept a blow from directly anyway.
Usumidori: The Legend of Wings, an all-out speed sword with the ability to increase the user's agility and speed, leaping bounds and closing distances in an instant. The amount of strikes a user can put out with this sword is also impressive, able to make what appears like one slash become several. This takes the form of a standard katana, making it a rather mobile weapon.
Magic Level: A
Belius grew up as an orphan alongside his younger sister. The orphanage years were not so bad, he enjoyed himself and was a bright kid with a bit too much energy. He learned the magic Sword Shape from the local blacksmith because he wanted to play swords with the other kids, he learned a variety of other little magics out of interest or convenience, and as he grew older he became a more and more adept magic user. Through his early teens he often picked fights with the local kids, known back in the day as the “Sword Maniac”, swinging some wooden sword around, known for taking whole hordes of other kids, even those much older than him, yet they never seemed stronger.
No one took notice of his prodigious talent in magic, only his physical prowess, believing him to be a sword conjuring mage, and even to this day, most people he’s met still believe that. Little do they know, he’s just using multiple rudimentary or rather weak magic and combining them to make his own unique style. Never having felt the need to learn a more powerful and practical magic, though perhaps that day may come eventually.
He grew up with his sister, causing a lot of trouble for her due to the amount of trouble he would get into, yet he was always first to take jobs to support the both of them. Working various jobs from working as a miner, firefighter, a bartender, waiter, chef, host, temporary therapist (for one day), street sign holder, store clerk, and… Many more.
From the age of 16 and onward he travelled from city to city, continuing to work different jobs and dropping it a month later as he wandered to the next. Somewhere in his teens he knew what excited him most, often chasing the rumors of strong mages and challenging them to duels on the street, and before he knew it he was known as the “The Duelist Mage”. He never fought to kill, he was even almost arrested many times, and his reputation made him a divided topic, he was either a dark mage looking for someone, or an idiot. He was the latter.
Eventually he ran into Phoenix Wing. By now he’d fought many strong mages in their own right, some with their own reputation and others who did not take kindly to him and may have returned only to be beaten again even with help. However, Phoenix Wing was a different encounter, appearing at the Guild Hall and challenged them to one on one combat. At this time, Damian was back from a long time away from the Guild, and decided to humor the one who would so brazenly challenge a guild right at their hall.
The ensuing battle would appear akin to a battlefield, razing the whole square. Though the battle would go on for quite some time, after a certain time a clear winner was appearing in Damian, and soon Belius would be soundly beaten. Yet as he lay back there on his back, all he did was laugh, before sitting up, saying he’s had a lot of fun. Perhaps to someone like Damian this was strange, but he was quite genuine about it.
In the ensuing month he ended up joining Phoenix Wing along with his sister, that is of course following some of the due process and him expressing interest. Surely, with a guild full of strong people, he can also fight strong people and get even more powerful.
Belius is a contagiously jolly man, it's not uncommon to see him laughing, drinking, and eating in the guild hall. His guiding philosophy is to enjoy life and to excel in that enjoyment, and to him, there is nothing more enjoyable than a thrilling fight. It goes without saying he has chosen to excel at fighting. He's an agreeable man for the most part, and normally lets people do as they please. Due to his simplicity though, it can be easy to persuade him with the right things.
It's often easy to mistake him for someone lacking in intelligence, but truthfully he's quite smart, especially when it comes to problem solving. He may not have the expansive knowledge locked up in his head, but when it comes to dealing with situations and thinking on his feet, he's not too shabby. He has a decently creative mind, combined with a reckless spirit. As a result, he's also quite a risk taker.
At his best, he's a generous man, though he seems in a constant good mood, sometimes it's noticeable if he's actually in a good mood. Usually following when he discovers a strong opponent. At his worst though, he's a little... Edgier. He goes around picking fights and insulting everyone he beats, which on some days can be quite numerous. Fortunately he's not a man able to hide his emotions, when he has a rather foul expression with no smile, it may be best to avoid him.
Guild and guild mark location: Center of his chest. Team Members:
Three Strengths: (Not just combat)
1. The Beast - He is what one might call a beast. His physical prowess is absurd, in speed, skill, strength, and endurance. He also possesses a great deal of skill in martial pursuits such as swordsmanship and hand to hand combat.
2. Jovial Spirit - Despite his habits, he can be an uplifting presence. He's a cheerful guy who likes to crack jokes.
3. Natural Affinity - He has a huge store of magical energy and prodigious control over it, allowing him to increase the output of otherwise basic or weak spells to an incredible amount.
Three Weaknesses: (Make them Applicable)
1. Hunter of the Fight - He relishes combat, and will often hold back just so that he can enjoy the fight for a little longer. He rarely will wrap up a job without someone else urging him to. He will also support the losing side of any conflict just because it's more fun to him that way.
2. Arrogance - Despite his jolly attitude, he's actually a bit arrogant, without batting an eye he can easily talk down to his foes if they haven't proven themselves to him yet.
3. Overly Confident - Though more often than not he can back it, it can still get him into hot water if he manages to pick fights with the wrong person. He might still enjoy himself though...
Greatest Love: There are two things he loves in life. The thrill of the fight, and his family, that being his sister, and the guild to some extent. Though he’s more than willing to fight for them, he has yet to form a deeper emotional connection.
Motivation: To fight. He wants more and more interesting encounters, and will often try to take missions that seem likely to give him that.
He’s not a popular partner to take onto missions due to his habit of escalating situations just for a bit more fun.
He is more often than not mistaken for a hand to hand fighter, because he’s predominantly seen doing that. The truth is he’s fighting hand to hand because it gives him more of a challenge against weaker opponents.
He is also mistaken for a fire mage, because he predominantly makes use of that element for sword-shaping. This is actually on purpose.
Seirin was nonetheless interested in the phenomenon of social media, she had heard her maid speak of it once in awhile, and one of the younger attendants had mentioned it more frequently too. There was a soft glow to Seirin as she smiled and talked, rather eager to listen and hear about new things. For her this was a completely new feeling, she had her own problems but what mattered was she seemed to be enjoying herself in this moment right now.
When it came time to call for drinks, Seirin asked for oolong tea, Rodrick and Helena both asked for anything cold while Helena specifically wanted something that was also sweet. Asta asked for 5 bottles of water.
Soon, Lorelai and Ultana left to retrieve the meals and drinks for everyone as Seirin settled down with Rodrick, Helena, Asta, and Otis. Finally able to get a breather she sat down while the three from colder regions leaned or slumped back fanning themselves with brochures they picked up along the way, or in Helena's case a paper fan she bought.
"I had taken this chance to go out and play, I know I will get an earful when I'm back, but it will be worth it. After all I never expected to even meet people of Arcanis this way. I had thought it would be in a stuffy meeting as my first encounter when I am a little older, as part of my duties they are trying to grow me into", she opened up a little. Out of the group only Otis seemed to notice it was her at the conference, so she felt the topic was a bit more relevant here.
"But, I am glad that my first meeting was a happy one", her self-reflection as this more quiet time came to pass made everyone quite aware of how much Lorelai and Ultana talked, not for the worst of course. Seirin felt their presence was lively and made her forget about her worries...
As the minutes went on, Otis' eyes noticed strange patterns, small as they were, forming on the trees around them. Was it just a trick of the heat he may think... But soon, the area around them appeared to darken first, a white and blue haze set upon the surfaces like a thin coat of snow.
Lorelai and Ultana were not back yet, though they may soon be. Seirin within this situation seemed to be confused too... So this didn't appear to be one of her "bodyguards". Rodrick and Helena both perked up noticing this strange change in the atmosphere and Asta stood up as if the heat was no longer a problem for her. Everyone but Seirin who had known combat felt it. There was a hostile air about this boundary setup around them.
Appearing in front of them like a ghost out of the fog, was a women wearing a kitsune mask to conceal her identity, a long ponytail, and an ornate blade tucked into her shrine maiden's outfit.
"I suppose if I don't take this chance, there will not be another chance...", the maiden began to draw her sword as she walked forward. Rodrick, Helena, and Asta would begin preparing something for combat, though they were ill-equipped with their main weapons being in the hotel.
With a few breaths of anticipation, the party could feel nothing from this lady... Yet, within their bodies they felt nothing but danger. The most interesting aspect was perhaps her weapon, overly ornate for what appears to be an assassin. It didn't take more than a few moments to figure out she was here for Seirin, but within moments, she charged forward.
I do commissions, specializing in character design. Ask me for prices.
I also play FF14 and PSO2 so yeah.
<div style="white-space:pre-wrap;">I do commissions, specializing in character design. Ask me for prices.<br><br><a href="https://www.artstation.com/sq5" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank">artstation.com/sq5</a><br><br>I also play FF14 and PSO2 so yeah.</div>