Antiva Chronus Online

Chapter 5 - Stolen and united

a part of Antiva Chronus Online, by Ageha.

What will finally unite all characters together?

Ageha holds sovereignty over Chapter 5 - Stolen and united, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
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Setting

A mysterious man kidnaps one of main characters? How will other save her and will they finally unite to work together?

Chapter 5 - Stolen and united

What will finally unite all characters together?

Minimap

Chapter 5 - Stolen and united is a part of Antiva Chronus Online.

4 Characters Here

Yoshitsune Shineda(AtoobuuO) [20] "I will keep my promises...I will get everyone out of here."
Canon [18] "I am Kanna Suzaku, a person with her own feelings, her own strength, and her own ideals! ... My counterattack begins now!"
Asher Damons (a.k.a. The Voice of Treason) [17] "Tenkou mitsuru tokoro ni ware wa ari, yomi no mon hiraku tokoro ni nanji ari..."
Refa [13] "When the right time comes, I will fight..."

Start Character Here »


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Refa

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#, as written by Ageha
Annoyed and irritated Refa listened to all the noise happening many floors below her. Still locked in chains and in pretty revealing clothing (just short black dress and long white stockings) Refa had no other choice but to talk with her kidnapper Nariam.

"Those friends of yours sure are slow to progress through tower," Nariam said also bored and bit irritated from all the noise and waiting.

"For once I actually agree with you. Maybe you'll just let me off these chains and we'll call it a day," red-head said hoping that Nariam would be bored enough to accept her offer.

"No way. Once I let you go, first thing you'll try to do is kill me and I don't want raise my sword against my future wife!" He said with a confident smirk on his face. Refa wanted to remind the guy that she will never marry him, but knowing that it would be useless at this situation anyway, she simply dropped it.

"Then find us some kind of entertainment! Didn't you expect that it'll take a while for them to get up the tower?" Refa asked him with irritated expression.

"No, not really. I thought either they will defeat them fast or die fast," Nariam answered rather casually.

"Oh, come on! There must be something to do in this bloody tower!" Refa angrily exclaimed along the way rattling the chains that were binding her to the tower wall.

"How about you give in to me and we have some fun together?!" Nariam asked with wide grin, but Refa instantly hissed at idea thus denying it. Boy just laughed at that and looked around tower as if trying to find something useful.

"Oh wait, I forgot that I've got cameras all over the place. We can watch them fight!" He suddenly exclaimed and with swift finger movement brought up two screens across the wall of tower.

"Why the hell didn't you think of that earlier!" Refa asked angry and irritated.

"I forgot," Nariam admitted and Refa had no other choice but to sigh. She decided that for now it's best to watch how where others doing. At first screen she saw Atoubu, Tatsu, Kahlan and of course Refa's loyal pet Kyuu-chan. But why was Kahlan there? Red-head decided that she must have somehow seen the injured Kyuu-chan and tried to help him, who on the other hand lead Kahlan and most likely Atoubu and Tatsu to tower as well. They seemed to have somehow convinced the guards to fight one on one on each floor thus making the way up faster. Although it didn't seem faster from Refa's point of view.

Then girl looked at the other screen and saw a blue-haired boy against guards few floors below Atoubu and the others. At first she had no idea who he was, but then he drew out his sword. And it wasn't just any sword. It was "Hope's Edge" - the best possible weapon in whole ACO. Refa herself had tried to obtain it, but she was too late as this player had obtained it first. She couldn't remember his name, but she did remember that he was called "Warrior of Light".

"Why is '"Warrior of Light" here as well?" Refa asked to herself confused.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Asher Damons (a.k.a. The Voice of Treason) Character Portrait: Canon

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"Actually, about that... I meant to say... I don't really mind you fighting the PKs all that much," Kanna said, smiling sheepishly. "I... I think it's admirable that you go out of your way to protect people from them. It's the right thing to do. Although, I admit, I do worry sometimes... Actually, if it would be alright, maybe I should go with you from now on? It would be easier on both of us if we worked together. E-er... that is, though, if you don't want to keep doing that, I'll understand, too, so don't worry about it." Hastily correcting herself, not wanting to force him into something he didn't wish to do, Kanna at least managed to keep her composure, a feat which, alone, told a great deal about how far she'd come. However, even with all of her improvement in speaking to others, there was simply no way she could keep calm in the face of Asher's next comment.

"E-eh...?!" She exclaimed quietly, a look of overwhelming surprise crossing her face, although whether this was because she was astonished upon realizing the hidden meaning behind Asher's words, because she hadn't expected him to say something like that, or because she was afraid she'd done something to solicit this rather immodest invitation - or perhaps because of some combination of the three - was something known only to herself. In any case, what was obvious was that the innuendo wasn't something she was very comfortable thinking about, considering the fact that her abrupt change in emotions caused the system to redden her simulated cheeks so quickly and to such an extent that it looked more like Asher had thrown a vat of red paint in her face than casually delivered such an embarrassing remark. "W-w-what... Y-you... are... I'm.... I don't... I..." She stammered, staring at the ground and pressing her hands tightly together, beginning to fidget quite tremendously.

To be entirely honest, Kanna had no idea how to react to this sudden comment. She was bad enough at reading people without getting such intimate subjects involved, and, consequently, when Asher, someone she loved and felt quite close to both physically and emotionally, spoke of such things, things which she herself would be far too nervous to speak about so brazenly, she hadn't the slightest idea if she should interpret his words as some sort of joke, or as an honest request. Considering Asher's usual polite, cordial, and respectful attitude, she had no precedent to work from, making it impossible for her to even venture a guess at his meaning. But, she didn't want to insult him, so then, not knowing how to act, what was she supposed to do?

I-if it's Asher, it should be alright, but... T-that is, if he really wants me to, then... but, isn't that...? I don't want to be rude to him, but, that's really strange, asking something like that... Aren't you only supposed to do that if you're married? A-and, I d-don't think I'm ready for something like that... B-but, if Asher thinks I can... W-wait, can you even do that in ACO? Th-this game... it doesn't actually have some sort of mechanic for that, does it...? But, then, it had that system for getting drunk... And... Asher wouldn't suggest something like that if it wasn't possible, would he? Then... does that mean... Is he serious? I mean, I guess, it would be kind of hard to get away with something like that in the real world. What happens here stays in here... is that what he was thinking? Maybe he... Does he really want me to go that far with him...? But, to ask so suddenly... And he didn't even seem overly concerned by it... is that really something you should say so casually? I don't understand... How am I supposed to... What do I do? I think... the right thing is to say no... But if he really meant that, then what then? If I put it so bluntly, then I might hurt his feelings, or make him feel like I don't love him enough... but even if it's just simulated, something like that... it's supposed to be significant, not just some sort of measuring stick for one's affections, isn't it? And, even if Asher really means it... is this something I want? I suppose, if it's with Asher, it wouldn't be too bad... And, I suppose, indirectly, it's something I've... hoped for? What I want is to be with Asher, no matter what. He's someone I want to remain beside for the rest of my life. So, I guess, what I want is to... to... t-to be his wife...? I guess... what he's asking now... is a part of that, but I don't think... I think that this isn't something that I should do. I don't want to insult him by saying that, but I know that Asher will understand. It was kind of inspiring and disappointing at the same time, when she thought about it. Ever since she'd met Asher, she had really changed. Once she'd first fallen for him, she probably would have done anything he asked without hesitation, no matter how demeaning, just to ensure that he wouldn't leave her. Her response back then probably would have been something along the lines of "When, and how, do you want me to do it?" no matter how humiliating it would be for her to say that so shamelessly. That was one of the things Canon had been right about. She really was willing, back then, to do anything, even sell herself, to ensure Asher's companionship. Now, she liked to think she had changed, had overcome that, had learned to trust Asher and to believe in and stand up for herself. And yet, there was still a part of her that was afraid that she might be going against Asher, a subservient half of her heart that wanted to force the timid yet independent identity she was developing for herself to go back to groveling in fear. If she had really managed to overcome that fear, then why had she tried to rationalize the possibility of sleeping with Asher to herself before she had tried to find reasons not to? She wanted to think that it had been to maintain her dignified image of Asher as someone who wouldn't do something so rash, but, to tell the truth... She'd just been scared that he'd be disappointed in her if she wasn't willing to trust her whole self to him, her body as well as her heart. She knew he wouldn't be, and yet, she couldn't fully stop herself from feeling nervous. Still, things were most certainly different. This time, that fear did not force her into taking a course of action she would otherwise avoid. Rather, it instead drove her to fight against it, and to decide based on her own feelings in spite of her own nervousness.

Fortunately, it seemed such a decision was unnecessary, which took a great load off of Kanna's conscience, for, in the next instant, Asher proceeded to slap his palm into his face, a standard gesture of his for whenever one of his jokes went too far, and he knew it. Kanna breathed a small sigh of relief, and gave a very tremulous, nervous smile. "Oh... Y-you really shouldn't... say things like that," She murmured quietly. "I a-almost thought you were serious."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Asher Damons (a.k.a. The Voice of Treason) Character Portrait: Canon

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"E-eh...? W-w-what... Y-you... are... I'm.... I don't... I..." Kanna stammered and fidgeted uncontrollably at Asher's intentional- then unintentional- comment about him having to carry her. It's also one of the rare times that Asher would expected to be slapped right across the fact. Normally, Asher would. However, considering how Kanna Suzaku is, Asher didn't expect anything more than her blush and stutter. Of course, she didn't slap him, but Asher did slap himself for atonement. Twice. One was the facepalm, the other was an actual slap. Hard.

"Oh... Y-you really shouldn't... say things like that," She murmured quietly. "I a-almost thought you were serious." It seemed that Kanna had caught on once Asher slapped himself, at least on the first time. "Sorry..." Asher muttered. Even he knew he went a bit over the edge. After all, Kanna may have changed, but she isn't THAT mentally... adapted to jokes like that. "Anyhow..." Asher said. "Let's just go on with the plan, shall we?"

Kanna nodded, and Asher backed up as he opened a window. After applying a few settings, Asher tapped <<Challenge>> with <<Canon>> in it's name. Kanna tapped <<Accept>> right after she got the window. In a flash of light, a ring of light had appeared around the two. Asher nodded, and Kanna replied with the planned spell. "Fly, Sylphae Step!" She chanted, and with that, Asher noticed her speed changing, and then proceeded to block as Kanna had charged at him to attack. The eye of Asher's <<Devil's Eye Blade>> opened, revealing a not-so-surprisingly demonic eye. A window silently popped up near Asher, saying "Skill Copied". With a smile, Asher opened another window, and canceled the match.

"Well?" Kanna asked, smiling as she took a step back as she examined the result of the experiment. Asher nodded, then chanted his partner's words. "Fly... Sylphae Step!" <<Devil's Eye: Plagiarism - Sy;phae Step>> Asher felt the air move around him, and decided to test out the ability while it lasted. He swung his sword at an empty space, then gave Kanna a thumbs up. "Well, then." Asher said. "Time to go in, right?"

"Yes." She said, and then let out a soft "Eep!" as The Voice of Treason lifted her up in a bridal-style position without warning. "Next up, Bloody Assassins." Asher said before activating the skill once again. "Fly, Sylphae Step!"

Thus, Asher felt the air once again condense around him. Moving with the wind's speed, Asher made every second of the buff count as he ran. When Asher jumped, he felt the air condense around his feet and push him off to make the jump higher and longer. "So should I start singing 'I Believe I Can Fly' right now?" Asher asked as the air helped him fly towards the window.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yoshitsune Shineda(AtoobuuO) Character Portrait: Kahlan Yuzuriha

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The trio continued walking up the stairs, once almost falling down the stairs when the half sliced apart building(courtesy of Shineda's sudden <<Sword Skill>>) shifted from the weight. Other than that, no resistance met them from then on upon reaching the next floor and one floor closer to saving Reena.

Shineda and Tatsu were busy with Shineda's health. Being a rather offensive, physically built <<Player>>, Shineda had no healing capabilities of his own. The usage of his high-level health crystals would've been a waste, hence Tatsu healed Shineda with a minor healing spell. This was effective as it was, coupled with Shineda's innate: <<Desperate Survivor>> instantly brought his <<HP>> skyrocketing back to 100%. He rolled his shoulders a few times at the relief.

"Thanks Tatsu."

"You should be more careful now big bro."

"Yea. You too Kahlan. They're getting stronger..." Shineda warned, brooding about his battle with the <<Crushing Beauty>>. That woman was a monster... Such strength to pin down his strength. But other than that, it seemed that her defensive stats and agility speeds were weak and unbalanced compared to her strength. A glass cannon... which had been VERY effective against Shineda.

Next was...?

The remaining group stood on the far end of the room, once again blocking the way to the next floor. The team of three walked forward, ready to challenge the next 'guardian' of this floor.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Asher Damons (a.k.a. The Voice of Treason) Character Portrait: Canon Character Portrait: Yoshitsune Shineda(AtoobuuO) Character Portrait: Kahlan Yuzuriha

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Kanna held on tightly to the one who was carrying her, allowing her eyes to pan slowly across the vast, blazing landscape beneath the two white-haired warriors as they flew before finally letting them come to rest on the window before them. Even as they neared the opening, the young Blademaster was already selecting a few choice weapons to use on whatever was on the other side. But, interestingly enough, as they grew close to the aperture, Kanna overheard several words spoken loudly by a voice on the other side...

.....

The next floor was somewhat odd, consisting of a circular room with tapestries hung all across the walls, complete with countless arcane glyphs and gleaming symbols, all of which faced inwards toward a small, stonehenge-esque ring within a depression at the center of the room. At each juncture in the stairs down into this druidic circle, there were large braziers, burning with a dark blue flame, the dim azure light of which clashed with the scarlet beams of radiance piercing into the dark, misty room from the high windows, one in the center of each wall. As the party of three entered, these braziers flared up far brighter than they had been before, and, from amidst the ring of deep cerulean light, their enemy appeared. A tall, thin man, he was clad in robes of black and scarlet, matching the red hue of his skin quite well. His hair was surprisingly long and straight for a male, and was colored a pale blue-white. His weapon, a large, circular-headed staff with countless different rings and crystals adorning its end, clanked loudly with each step he took towards the group. At last, he came to be standing at the center of the ring, facing off with the party at the brim of the stairs.

"I am known as Reneus, the Red Priest. Tell me, which one of you will be my opponent?" He asked, his voice resounding throughout the chamber. All around him, the azure firelight began to gather, spiraling inward to form a towering humanoid shape behind his back, slowly coalescing into the shape of an armored figure of pure flames. The Familiar's name appeared, reading as Phoenix Knight, and several health bars filled out over its head, to the probable surprise of Kahlan, Tatsu, and Shineda. For, despite its status as a mere Familiar, this creature had stats on the level of a Major Boss. But, that wasn't the only thing that was surprising. More astonishing still was the fact that the Familiar was, in fact, a perfect copy of a rather infamous boss that the three of them likely remembered all too well. With its tremendous speed, strength, and magic power, and its ability to continuously switch weapons and battle styles as it saw fit, the Phoenix Knight had been one of the most difficult bosses in recent memory. And the one who had defeated it... Was none other than the mage who stood before them now, who, in exchange for the Last Hit Bonus, had managed to gain a skill to summon that terrible being to serve as his Familiar. However, the three of them needn't have worried about which one of them would face the creature, for, in the next moment, something even more unexpected occurred.

"I will!" A voice suddenly resounded through the hollow chamber, coming from outside the room. The Red Priest only had just enough time to turn in surprise to look for the source of those words before he found his answer, in the form of a sudden flashing of steel as countless large projectiles streaked in through the window, a piercing whistle ringing through the air as several dozen swords rained down upon him. Reacting quickly, he directed his Familiar into the path of the attacks, and then leaped back. The mighty knight of flames crossed its arms before its head, causing its fiery gauntlets to expand outward, forming a single vast shield of blue luminescence against which the incoming tide of blades broke in vain, scattering across the room and stabbing into the walls and floor, creating several large cracks in the stone, and sending a part of the Red Priest's druidic ring of standing rocks crumbling down to the floor. The very tower itself shook as the heavy objects were dislodged, tumbling down the stairs and coming to a stop.

"Who in the world...?" Reneus murmured in astonishment, only to have his words cut off in his throat as the flames cleared, his Familiar stepping back to his side largely unharmed, and exposing the duo who had just landed. The white haired girl gave a somewhat uncharacteristic grin as she gently slipped her legs down, standing up and stepping out of Asher's arms in one smooth motion. Smiling cheerfully, she didn't bother to draw a weapon, instead walking purposefully up to the edge of the ring and hopping down onto one of the fallen stones. The Red Priest dropped into a defensive stance, his Familiar taking up a position in front of him as he came to realize exactly who the new arrival was. "What are you doing here, Sparrow?" Reneus asked calmly and coldly.

"Well, it's a bit of a long story," Kanna said quietly. "You see, I heard something strange was going on here, and I found that two acquaintances of mine were right in the middle of it. I'm not sure what exactly the BA is doing, but if you've made enemies of my friends, then I'm afraid that I'm your enemy, too."

"That's... somewhat unexpected. From what I'd heard of you, I didn't think you the type to trust so blindly in others. Or, if you'll pardon my rudeness, to have acquainted yourself with these two." Kanna gave a slight laugh at this, smiling wryly and nodding.

"Yes, that's true. I'm not very good at trusting other people, and, if I'd had my way back then, I probably wouldn't even remember them. But, what can I say? I guess I've changed since then. Even I don't really know what to expect in my own actions."

"I see. Having heard a few of your proposed strategies at frontline meetings, I never had pegged you as the reckless type. Still, I suppose I understand your sentiments, and your reason for being here. Alright, then. Although you're not part of the original deal, out of respect for your bravery and your devotion to these friends of yours, I'll acknowledge you as my opponent. Besides, I must admit... fighting such a unique opponent is probably a chance I'll only get this once, and I'd hate to miss out on it!"

"Agreed!" Kanna said, grinning. "It should be interesting, taking on a boss and a powerful mage at the same time! Don't hold back now, alright? I want to see exactly what that Stand of yours can do!"

"My what now?" The mage asked, raising an eyebrow. However, his question remained unanswered, for in the next instant, a deluge of swords abruptly took shape, already raining down upon him. Instantly, he raised his staff, and chanting a spell in a language that sounded like German, he released a truly staggering barrage of lightning which, coalescing itself into countless different lances, streaked towards the incoming barrage of blades. As the magically augmented swords and the overwhelming torrent of power collided, a tremendous explosion shook the building, a sudden surge of white light filling the room as swords and wayward magic were sent flying in every direction by the struggle of power. However, in another moment, the light cleared, only to find Kanna already streaking towards the mage. Reneus reacted quickly, raising his staff just in time to intercept the blade that flashed out of the sheath on the young warrior's back. Vermillion Talon screamed as the air surged around it, slamming into the mage even despite his attempt to block the attack, and sending him skidding back several feet. He grimaced, hastily chanting another spell as the girl once again came at him, blade raised to strike. In an instant, the fire on one of the nearby braziers changed colors, turning to an amethyst hue and ripping towards the girl from the side, forcing Kanna to leap backward to attempt to dodge it. To her surprise, however, she found herself suddenly cornered as a shadow suddenly fell across her vision. She heard the hissing of flames and the whining of a blade cutting through the air only just in time to twist in mid-air, spinning out of the way as a gigantic sword of azure fire came carving down from above, slamming into the ground she'd just occupied. Hastily, Kanna leaped back, landing across the arena from both the spellcaster and his familiar as the Phoenix Knight raised a gigantic zweihander constructed from the same flames as itself.

It was this ability that had made the boss so dangerous: its power to create any type of weapon, and to wield it with ease. With its battle style constantly changing, it had been nigh impossible to predict, and even harder to counterattack. But, worse than that was one more fact: it, being made of pure magic, was immune to most forms of damage, both physical and arcane, save for water spells. Kanna realized that her wind abilities might be able to scratch its surface, but she also knew all too well that her enemy would be able to heal it much faster than she could damage it. In short, unless she could take out Reneus, or else somehow sabotage his ability to control his Familiar...

Her thoughts were cut off, however, as the giant braced itself to leap forward. Kanna grimaced. One thing she couldn't allow Reneus to do was push her into a corner. If she didn't keep him occupied with controlling and healing his Familiar, he'd be free to rain spells down upon her as he saw fit, inevitably overwhelming her through sheer power and numbers. On the other hand, if she continuously damaged the Phoenix Knight, keeping it on the defensive, she could at least buy herself time until an opportunity presented itself. And, besides... Kanna was fairly sure that a fight like this had definitely happened before in an anime somewhere. A nimble but weak opponent versus a powerful, seemingly impervious giant and its cunning master... There could be only one outcome to this situation! The laws of Shonen Anime dictated that she was sure to win! She had the unstoppable twin powers of friendship and love on her side! Or... something like that. Anyway, the point was that she needed to attack the invincible thing even though it was pointless, and it was going to be awesome.

Leveling the narrow, long blade of Vermillion Talon before her, Kanna darted forward, activating a single hit Linear skill to close the gap between herself and the giant enemy almost instantly. With a loud clang and a surge of pressure, followed by a flash of blue light, the Sparrow's blade slammed into the giant's leveled Zweihander, only to be deflected easily. The backlash was more than enough to pick Kanna up and send her flying to the side. However, to the surprise of the magus who was already directing his Familiar to move in and finish her off before she could recover, the young warrior actually used this force, deftly flipping over mid-flight, spinning around, and landing in a battle stance, her sword already raised before her. As the knight's Zweihander came crashing down upon her, she suddenly accelerated, moving so quickly that she was but a mere blur as she spun out of the way of the descending sword, raising her own weapon and swiping it across the back of the Phoenix Knight's leg. The creature momentarily lost its balance, staggering forward as the solidified flames that made up its body flickered around the area of the cut. And yet, its health bar barely reduced at all. Well, that was fine, Kanna supposed. If hitting it once didn't really accomplish much, she'd just hit it a dozen more times and see what happened then! Leveling her blade as the knight dropped to one knee, unable to support its own bulk on only one leg, Kanna activated yet another skill: Diamond-Dust Hurricane. It was a comparatively old ability by this point, but it still remained one of her mainstay attacks, as with the tremendous speed granted by the System Assist combined with her own ridiculous stats and the buffs from her weapons and armor, she could dish out over a dozen hits in a matter of two or so seconds. Spinning around and around, she attacked again and again, raining blows on the back of the stumbling Familiar. A stab towards the center of its back was turned aside by its sheer defense, but, undeterred, she turned this attack into a horizontal slash that spun about into a second cut, which in turn continued its rotation into a third, diagonal uppercut, which then reversed into a diagonal cut in the opposite direction. Sparks flew as her blade rebounded upward, turned aside again by the howling giant's thick armor, only to descend even faster than before, a vertical strike connecting as the knight tried to rise, sending it staggering forward from the impact even if its health bar still had yet to be majorly reduced. The mage stopped chanting in the middle of a spell, and began to divert his full attention to trying to shake off the girl as Kanna moved like lightning, continuing her furious attack. A stab, a slash, a stab, a slash, and then three more piercing lunges all connected as the beast at last braced itself against the stone framework of the druidic ring, hauling itself to its feet and whirling to attack the girl, but yet again, it failed to catch the Sparrow, who instantly chained on another quick skill, Sword of Cycles, turning her last slash into an upward cut that collided with enough force to launch her into the air, at the same time causing her to spin around, allowing her to deal out an even stronger upward cut. The air screamed and exploded outward in a tremendous shockwave, and yet, the knight merely grounded itself, refusing to either fall or recoil as it spun about, wielding its gigantic sword one-handed as it dealt a staggering horizontal sweep towards Kanna, forcing her to block directly. The force of the impact hurled her backward, sending her streaking like a bullet through the air and then across the ground as she landed, skidding backwards until she finally came to a stop.

"Great. A giant knight with a huge sword, massive strength, and almost impenetrable defenses. Why does this all seem familiar?" Kanna muttered, grimacing as the huge enemy leaped with astonishing agility, raising its enormous sword over its head and bringing it down upon her, forcing her to roll to the side as the tower once again shook with the tremendous impact of the knight's blade colliding with the ground. "Well, at least I have both my arms this time," She sighed, jumping back and flipping head-over-heels as, with a groan of earth and crackling of flames, the huge weapon swept back up again, carving through where she had just been. To her surprise, however, the enemy abruptly accelerated, reversing the momentum of this strike and sweeping its blade back at her as she landed. She grimaced with realization as the huge weapon came in much too fast for her to dodge, forcing her to block it head on. A tremendous crash resounded through the chamber as the giant's Zweihander impacted with her own sword. Even despite the air around her absorbing part of the force of the blow, Kanna found her body wracked by a sudden surge of pain as she was sent flying backwards, rolling for several feet across the ground before she at last regained herself, rising shakily to a kneeling posture as she struggled to regain her breath, the sudden blow having knocked all the wind out of her. Her body screamed in protest, a sudden surge of pain filling her perceptions as her health bar decreased significantly. The knight roared in triumph, and braced itself to continue its attack as its target slowly rose, grimacing as she realized the full extent of the perilous situation she was now in. With no way to damage her enemy or his Familiar, how exactly was she supposed to win this duel...? She needed a plan. She had to find some weakness, and exploit it! She needed to take out the Familiar, and then corner the Red Priest, all in one fell swoop.

She knew exactly what she needed to do. The question was... how was she supposed to do it?

(Alright. This was dragging out a bit, so I decided that I'd cut the post off here for a few reasons. First, since we're suddenly showing up out of nowhere, it gives Kahlan and Shineda a chance to react to Kanna and Asher's appearance. Secondly, it gives Asher a chance to actually intro himself, instead of just saying "He showed up, he watched the fight, he left." Thirdly, it gives Licht time to actually get to us and meet up with the others, so it allows us to actually get our party together. And, since Refa now has something to watch on the viewscreen, she should be able to do stuff again too. Besides, I also wanted to show that the opponents were getting more powerful, so a tough, uphill battle seemed like the best way to do that. And, finally, because I have to go soon and I don't want to delay you guys, and because this was just getting too freaking long.

Sorry. X.X I'll be sure to finish the fight either tonight or tomorrow, once some people have had time to observe what's going on and react to it, if they choose to do so.)

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Asher Damons (a.k.a. The Voice of Treason) Character Portrait: Canon Character Portrait: Yoshitsune Shineda(AtoobuuO) Character Portrait: Kahlan Yuzuriha Character Portrait: Licht

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Things were not looking up for Licht as he continued into the tower. It was not that there was an overwhelming amount of BA lackies waiting for him, or an insanely strong foe ready to defeat him – no, that would have made his day, since he likes challenge. But what the problem was, was that there was nothing, zip, nada waiting for him except signs of prior conflict and the sounds of moaning. Licht had found himself at the scene where the blue-haired quickster had been defeated. Licht continued over to him.

“I see I’m not the only one with blue hair. Saddening, really.” He spoke as he approached the kneeling man. “So I take it someone
beat you? Or are you always at low-health?”

He received no response. The man seemed to be thinking or caught on something, and didn’t really notice Licht’s presence.
Shock, maybe?

“Hello~?” Licht called again in a sing-song voice just to see if it’d do something. Of course, it really didn’t. The man remained silent and continued paying the same amount of attention that he was before to Licht. Giving up on conversating with the man, Light started off to the next floor, a bit disappointed.

More steps awaited him, with absolutely no conflict whatsoever. He wondered if those guards from before were lying about him not making it too far up. Unless boredom was what might prevent someone from doing so, he couldn’t vouch for their claim. After all, he got to see some person who didn’t speak, and stairs. Also this giant cut in the wall…..

…wait, what?

As he made it to the next floor, he noticed a line, an abnormal line cut into the wall of the tower, as if it had been cut. Another thing he had noticed was some woman lying unconscious on the floor with a couple of maces laying nearby, presumably her weapons.

“Son of a bitch! I’ve missed everything, I’m sure!” he complained to himself, ignoring the girl almost entirely, save for a small glance back as he passed her. She wasn’t an opponent and she wasn’t conscious or dying, so he had no interest. “I swear, if Refa is knocked out too, I’m going to have a fit.”

*Rumble, rumble*

The tower started moving a bit, almost as if to fall, but it soon stopped. “Woah…” Licht gripped onto the side of the tower to keep himself balanced. “I hope this doesn’t give way and ruin anything….” And as he said that, he moved out of the way of multiple weapons flying down the stairs, crashing straight into the ground where he had once been. The occurance both scared and excited him, since he knew that this meant there had to be a duel happening right now! Oh, the joy! He would most certainly duel the victory, probably! Well, unless they were too injured. It’s no fun to beat someone who isn’t at their strongest.

Licht made like a bolt and shot up the stairs lightning-quick, arriving in an odd room filled with items and decorations he would only expect a mage to keep. And as it turns out, he witnessed an epic confrontation between some woman who he did not recognize as Refa, and both an obvious mage and his summon, which appeared to be a towering inferno of a humanoid figure, named Phoenix Knight, as he could read. His blood started racing quickly, and the itch to fight was most certainly prominent in him, but it really sucked that this wasn’t his fight! He would have to wait….more! Guh, it was so annoying that he nearly missed the others in the room. He spoke just loud enough for them to hear him, but not enough to feasibly disturb the contenders. After all, distractions would only cause unfair advantages.

“Someone else have dibs on winner, or can I?” he simply asked. While to the others, this may have been a fight that decided if they would get to save their friend, to Licht, it was a fight. A fight only, and a fight he wanted to soon be a part of. Until there was an announced threat to his goal foe – Refa – he would not rush anything.

(Short, but we needed him to get there ASAP, and I'm tired XD)

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Asher Damons (a.k.a. The Voice of Treason) Character Portrait: Canon Character Portrait: Yoshitsune Shineda(AtoobuuO) Character Portrait: Kahlan Yuzuriha Character Portrait: Licht

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Just as he was about to fight against the mage, Shineda heard a loud "I WILL!" before being showered by broken glass as the familiar fight of a girl with white hair charged in, together with her army of swords. Quickly leaping back, he returned to the safety of his group, watching as the <<Vermilion Sparrow>> and the <<Red Priest>> trade some words before fighting.

"If the <<Vermilion Sparrow>> is here...then the <<Black Raven>>...?" Shineda wondered out loud through the din of the battle. Tatsu, as usual, was once again admiring another's skills, particularly the <<Vermilion Sparrow's>> this time.

"SO COOL!!" he yelled, acting like a child watching some superhero movie. Shineda bonked his head to tease him, causing Tatsu to glare up at him.

It seemed that everything was moving very fast, and people were coming together from various places. Even now, a random <<Player>> had somehow ventured forward and jumped in, yelling about having dibs on the winner. Whoever he was, Shineda paid the loud-mouth no heed.

'Odd stranger...weirdo.' Shineda thought to himself as he wrapped his cloak tighter around himself, keeping it from being blown away from the sheer force of the battle before him. They weren't kidding... they're getting stronger.

And with 16 more floors above them... Shineda couldn't help but sweat at the thought. Could they make it to Reena at all?Then Shineda realized what the heck he was thinking and threw it out the window in his mind.

'Idiot...Reena's waiting...I have to get up there no matter what!' Shineda furiously reprimanded himself.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Asher Damons (a.k.a. The Voice of Treason) Character Portrait: Canon Character Portrait: Yoshitsune Shineda(AtoobuuO) Character Portrait: Kahlan Yuzuriha Character Portrait: Licht

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Someone known as the <<Red Priest>> was challenging some people. Kanna had thrown some of her weapons mid-flight to grab the challenger's attention. It did, and the Voice of Treason flew in through the window, making a nice landing on his own two feet. As he neared the window, he heard sounds coming from inside the room. In one motion, Kanna dropped from his arms (Asher mentally let out a sigh; he liked her in his arms) and smiled cheerfully. Before, she wouldn't have done such a thing in the face of something such as this, but Kanna had changed and became more confident. In turn, Asher grew confident that she would make it- not that he thought she would let herself die before.

As the two conversed, Asher looked for the stairs upward. He needed to get to the next floor and clear out the enemies there. Kanna here can take care of herself; after all, it's only one boss. Finally he found it. Looking around for his allies, Asher found that Kahlan and Shineda are in the same room, as well as a newcomer (whose last statement annoyed Asher). Asher proceeded to send them a message, telling them that he's going to the next floor. If they wanted to join him, they are welcome to. After Asher pressed send, he looked at the fight once again. Kanna was down, trying to regain her breath. Her opponent and his Familiar were now charging at her. Asher clenched his fist, and silently chanted a few words he knew. "Rest in a merciless embrace, and freeze in a hell colder than the devil himself... Absolute." He didn't even look at the result, as his face was now towards the next floor. However, by the sounds of the spell being cast, he knew an iceberg showed up somewhere. "Kanna! I'll go on to the next floor.I'll meet you there once you're done, got it? Fly strong." And then The Voice of Treason went up the steps and into the next floor.

The next floor consisted of three players, all ready for the party that was supposed to come. Asher smirked. "Well, well, look what we have here." Greeted one of them, specifically the middle one. "The Black Raven has come to join our guild! Or maybe he wants a little duel."

Asher just smiled. The three players were a girl with twin blades, a boy with a scythe, and another one with a sword and shield. "Hm... As much as I would love to join a guild as well trained as yours, I am here for the latter." Asher replied, drawing his <<Devil's Eye Blade>> and its sheathe. "I saw one of my friends up at the top. I figured you guys are in some kind of clash with them? If you say yes, then I'm afraid that you're facing against the Winged Duo as well."

"Then where is the other wing of the bird?"

"Entrusted to clear the last floor." Asher pointed his sword at the three. His mind raced as he looked for any advantages among the three. First, the twin blades. Because dual-wielding is mainly for offense, defense would be low. Most likely, his scythe would do the trick. Next would be the one with the sword and shield. A sword and sheathe combination would give him the advantage. Then the scythe-wielder. The boy's scythe was extremely large, even for his size. Asher might be able to dodge any attacks from afar, but up close, the boy doesn't stand a chance. The size of the weapon didn't cover what's directly near him. Asher would come in using <<Charging Strike>> and use <<Close Combat>> skills on him. "Well, then." Asher called out. "En garde!" He charged at the one with the sword and shield, the one named <<FlLFFl>>.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Asher Damons (a.k.a. The Voice of Treason) Character Portrait: Canon Character Portrait: Yoshitsune Shineda(AtoobuuO) Character Portrait: Kahlan Yuzuriha

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This isn't working. Sure, I can keep him from just blasting me while I'm busy defending myself, but that Familiar is invincible! I need some way to actually hurt it... But how? To do that, I'd need some way to extinguish its outer layer so I could actually deal criticals beneath its armor. A water spell would do the trick, but I don't have any of those, and even if I did, the Red Priest would just be able to counter them before I could actually hit with them. Then... maybe a weapon with the water attribute? I think I have a few of those, but those are all old. They're nowhere near powerful enough...! And there wouldn't be much time to strike it, regardless. The moment he sees his Familiar's armor breaking, he'll try and either cover it or have it retreat until its defenses can reform. I'll need to take him by surprise, immobilize the beast, and force him to spend all of his mana defending himself. Then, I'll have to weaken its fire armor with a water-type hit, then scatter the flames before they can reform by using a wind-based spell. And finally... I'll need to eliminate the target in a single combo. No matter how much health it has, if I can just hit the core with all my best weapons simultaneously, all those critical hits and enchantment effects should be able to tear it apart completely. But, in order to do that, I'll first need to get closer to Reneus so that I can attack him directly and force him to defend himself. That'll buy me time to take out the Knight. But, with that thing in between us, and no way for me to break its armor... I guess my only option for now is to keep on fighting it and driving it back until I can finally make my move. It was with these thoughts that the white haired warrior rose, leveling her blade once more as she stared down her opponent. The Knight gave a mighty roar and began to rush forward, but Kanna merely smiled, glancing over her shoulder at the group behind her.

"You know, I've always wanted to say this," She said, grinning as she spoke with sudden, unprecedented enthusiasm and courage, speaking in the commanding tones of an experienced fighter, and with a self-confidence that belied her usual timidity. "Alright, everyone! All of you go on ahead without me! I'll deal with this guy for sure, and be right behind you!" With those words she turned to face the enemy knight, raising her sword as she braced herself and launched forward. The Phoenix Knight howled, bringing its giant sword high overhead and then sweeping it downward with its full might. To the surprise of both Master and Familiar, however, at the last second, the young warrior abruptly blurred past the giant knight, accelerating tremendously as she brought her full speed stat to bear. In a single bound, she whirled past the titan's leg, planted her foot, and spun about, sweeping Vermillion Talon up into the creature's back. The Knight gave an angry bellow, whirling about and sweeping its gigantic blade across the ground, aiming to clothesline its target, only to one again find its stroke evaded as the girl leaped into the air, flipping clear over the huge summon's head and slashing across the base of its helmet as she did so. The creature staggered with the force of both its own missed attack and the girl's counter, stumbling back towards its master even as it continued its blind sweep, trying to spin around and strike Kanna from below as she fell. But, the Vermillion Sparrow had expected as much, and had already prepared her own countermeasure.

"Fly, Sylphae Step!" She chanted, a bright light suddenly whirling around her as she felt gravity's hold on her fading. In an instant, she had changed her course, launching herself forward even as the enemy came around. Like a scarlet blur, she darted beneath the creature's sweeping arm, slashing her sword into the joint between its arm and chestplate. This time, unlike her previous hits, a flash of crimson appeared, and the creature's health decreased noticeably. Whereas all of her previous attacks combined had done little more than graze off about a sixth of one of the beast's ten health bars, this strike managed to entirely eliminate its first health bar. Kanna grinned. So, she could damage it after all, just by cutting in at its vitals underneath its armor. It seemed her theory about killing the beast by striking its core hadn't been wrong.

Using the blade she now had planted inside the enemy as leverage, she vaulted herself past the Knight as it tried to crush her against itself, slipping under its enclosing arms and escaping behind it, only to be spun directly around by the force with which she'd ripped her sword out of the enemy. Using this to her advantage, she came about with overwhelming velocity, slashing across the enemy's back and once more knocking it off balance. The Phoenix Knight cried out as it toppled forward, only to suddenly find its path intercepted by several of the swords planted in the ground, which rose up in its path and launched themselves forward.

"Rain coldly across the battlefield, dance brightly across the sky!" Kanna chanted, grinning as she swept up her free hand to direct the swords. "Sylphae Barrage!" Several loud impacts resounded as the falling giant was hit several times from below with overwhelming, magically augmented force, knocking it up into the air and sending it literally flying backward, right into the path of Kanna's own blade as she swept it upward. An immense golden ripple pulsed outward from the blade of Vermillion Talon as it cut through the very air, creating a simulated vacuum that in turn caused an overwhelming collapse of air, compressing the air displaced by the initial slash into a literal blade of wind that could have best been compared to a monomolecular edged vibro-weapon. It was this overwhelming slash of wind that actually managed to keep the giant aloft in mid-air despite its massive size, flipping it head over heels once again and carrying it almost into the room's vaulted ceiling. Reneus gaped from below, evidently never having before seen his gargantuan familiar literally juggled by his enemy's attacks. But Kanna had no intention of letting up just yet, in any case. Continuing her second spell, she lifted two heavy greatswords from the ground as she struck, and, as the enemy was thrown backward, it suddenly found its course intercepted by these two flying swords, arcing up one from either side and colliding abruptly with the beast's waist. The air magic surrounding the swords mingled with the almost tangible canopy of wind that had carried the giant, and, for a moment, immobilized it in an overwhelming field of pressure, forming an orb in the center of the room where the air was almost solid. This area rippled and shimmered, as though the giant was encased in a sphere of some translucent liquid. And yet, in the next instant, it was gone, dispersed by another sword attack that released a wave of compressed air even stronger than the first as Kanna blurred past the giant, moving too quickly to be seen and blinking back into visibility behind it just in time for those on the ground to catch a glimpse of the final blow of her Triple Stab combo, which had been executed with such speed that the three hits registered as almost simultaneous. The giant screamed as it was sent hurtling backward with overwhelming concussive force, only to have its roar cut off as Kanna used the last few seconds of her Sylphae Barrage's duration to lift up every single one of the dozens of swords now littering the battlefield, raining them down relentlessly upon her fallen enemy. Dust flew into the air as an explosion of force from the combined magical impacts rang throughout the tower, shaking it to its very foundations.

Kanna was just about to land and prepare to continue her attack, when abruptly, the unexpected occurred. From amidst the dust cloud, the Knight's gigantic sword suddenly emerged, rising towards her with tremendous speed. She only had just enough time to dodge to the side before it swept through the space she'd just occupied, moving so quickly that it actually managed to disrupt her control over the air carrying her, just by its passing. In the moment that her Sylphae Step faltered, Kanna realized that she had been trapped, for in the next instant, a giant, fiery fist emerged from the dust as the knight rose, putting all of its strength behind an overwhelming punch. Frantically, she raised her sword in the path of the blow, intercepting it at the last second. Yet, even despite this attempt to block, airborne as she was, with no means of bracing herself, dispersing the force of the blow was completely impossible. Kanna flew back as though she'd been fired from a cannon, instantly crossing the entire room, then slamming through one of the arches of the druidic circle and into the far wall before she finally came to a stop. The standing stone literally shattered with the force of her passing, while the wall cracked and buckled for several feet around where she'd crashed into it. A weak cry escaped her lips as she felt the air rushing out of her as pain filled her entire body. Slipping down from the wall, she collapsed on the ground, momentarily stunned. Her health bar rapidly decreased, fading down from about 75% almost to the red zone. She grimaced. If she was pushed below 25%, then the duel would be called in the mage's favor. One more hit, and she'd surely lose the match. That... wasn't something she could allow...!

Quiet applause resounded through the chamber as Kanna slowly stood, coughing violently and gasping for breath. The mage smiled slightly from where he stood closeby, his staff planted next to him as he clapped approvingly. "I must admit," He said, grinning. "I'm astonished by your skill. I don't think anybody's ever managed to hold out against my Phoenix Knight for so long. You had me on the ropes there for quite some time." With those words, however, the gigantic azure beast rose to its full height, leveling its enormous blade at the fragile girl. The sheer force of its sword as it descended was enough to scatter the dust that had surrounded the creature outward in all directions, revealing it in full. Swords were planted randomly in the ground all around it, and yet, the monster itself was almost entirely unharmed. Even with that many blades hitting it at once, its armor hadn't even been weakened.

"However," The wizard continued, taking up his own staff and looking grimly at his enemy. "Even you must understand that continuing this duel is pointless. If I hit you one more time, even indirectly... I can't guarantee you'll survive. I don't want to kill you, young lady. I ask that you give this up, and that you and your friends leave this tower at once before you get involved in something you can't handle. I don't want to see any of you kids dying here today. Surrender now, and I will ensure that you are allowed to leave with all your possessions, and unharmed." Kanna bit her lip as the man spoke. He was right. Another hit could probably finish her off, even if Reneus held back. With her almost total lack of direct defense and low hitpoints, it would be difficult for her to survive another blow like that last one. And, with her only means of damaging the giant being either getting close to it, or simply wearing it down over an incredible length of time, she realized that she'd be killed long before her opponent ran out of mana to cast familiar healing spells with. In the meantime, she herself was already running out of power. Since they were in a duel, neither could use crystals to regenerate those stats, either. And yet, with the mage's vastly superior casting abilities, his energy would regenerate long before hers did. In short, once she ran out of mana, she'd also have lost her only real means of directly countering her enemy's spells, while he could attack her with impunity. Then... was it really hopeless? The way things looked now, she couldn't possibly overcome that creature. And yet, there was one thing that rendered all of those fears meaningless. A shout from behind the mage attracted her attention, and she found her eyes meeting Asher's for a split second as he cast a spell, and then ran upstairs.

"I'll meet you there once you're done," he said. Asher was waiting for her. He was trusting in her to win this fight. In that case, even if it meant risking her life a little... No, even if it had meant walking through hell itself, she wasn't ever going to give up or back down! Even had this not been the case, she no longer had a reason to be afraid, or even worried. For, as a giant shard of ice rose next to her, Kanna realized that she had found her answer.

She had a way to win this fight for sure.

"Alright!" She shouted after him. "I'll be done here soon!" Reneus raised an eyebrow. For a moment, the Red Priest stayed his hand, holding off on continuing his attack.

"Are you sure you want to do this, young lady?" He asked sternly. "Your life isn't something you should take so lightly."

"I am," Kanna replied firmly, sliding Vermillion Talon into its sheath as she activated a throwing weapon slot, swapping out her old longsword for an ornate, old-looking bronze dao. Resolutely, she stepped forward, and then, with a mighty stroke, carved clean through the ice her beloved comrade her just created for her. With a flash of cold blue light, the magic icicle vanished into the sword, causing the blade to change colors to a matching shade of blue white as Kanna leveled it purposefully at her opponent, taking a deep breath and bracing herself for combat. "Don't get me wrong. I'm not taking my life for granted, or being reckless. I know exactly what's at stake here. It's just... my friends are important enough to me that I'm willing to take that risk. I don't know why, but they're fighting with all their strength to get past you. I may not know them very well, or be very strong... but, knowing that they have to get through, I'm willing to open a path for them, no matter what it takes!" She gave a wry smile. "Maybe it is foolish of me. Maybe I'm being naive, or overly trusting. But, I've decided that I don't want to give up on the people I care about ever again. Hiding away and just trying to protect myself will only leave me broken in the end. I've learned that lesson all too well. That's why, if it means being able to look myself in the mirror at the end of the day and say 'You are not alone!' then I'm willing to put everything on the line, even my life!"

"I think I understand," Reneus said, smiling sadly. "Your devotion to your friends is admirable. I wish that I could be half as courageous and loyal as you are. But, unfortunately, I, too, have comrades who are relying on me to keep you from entering this tower. It's regrettable, but it seems neither of us has any other option but to fight this battle with everything we have. I only pray that both of us survive this encounter. I do not wish that either myself or someone so young as you should have their hands stained with blood. Very well, then, young lady. Prepare yourself. Phoenix Knight... Try not to kill her."

"I'm ready, Red Priest. Try not to get hurt yourself, and let me worry about my own life!" With those words, Kanna raised her new sword, and grimly rushed towards her enemy. There was no reason for her to be afraid anymore, she realized. Asher was counting on her. Therefore, she could not allow herself to be afraid. She had no option but to succeed, so she would win this fight, and go on to help Asher and the others! And, with the spell Asher had given her, victory was now easily within her grasp, even if her enemy did not know it. Her weapon now was the Sword of Enchantment, a blade with the special property of absorbing spells it cut through and dealing damage based on their element. By destroying Asher's ice spell, she had now gained its power through her sword. And, using that ability, she would easily be able to break through her enemy's armor. Her plan now had only to be implemented in its final stage. She would attack Reneus, distract him... and then eliminate his familiar. Then, she would defeat him, and win this fight!

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Asher Damons (a.k.a. The Voice of Treason) Character Portrait: Canon Character Portrait: Yoshitsune Shineda(AtoobuuO) Character Portrait: Kahlan Yuzuriha

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#, as written by Mat_z6
"Tch..... There's just no end to these guys....."

The exhausted Paladin of Light huffed. Again, around a dozen or so enemy players had surrounded her in the large hall that she had found herself in. Being separated from the group was not something Kahlan had planned but for them to advance further she had offered to distract some of the enemies by racing off to a different part of the tower. The force she had encountered was overwhelming and she found herself fleeing the large groups often to heal herself which she rarely had to do on normal missions. But this was no simple PVE mission. This was fast brutal PVP where each move dictated victory or defeat. She had to be more careful. These players fought to kill.

"Heh.... You've done well to get this far, princess. But this is the end of the line for you." One of the enemy sneered at her and he flung his long spear around his hand bringing the blade pointed at Kahlan.

His comrades smirked and nodded in agreement as they too readied their weapons for the kill. This wasn't good. She needed to heal somewhere safe. Her passive healing skill wasn't doing so well and she was running low on HP potions. She had two decisions: Rely on her tanking skills and face the horde or use the remaining of her mana to break free and get somewhere safe. She made no hesitation and chose the latter.

"May the light guide my path. May the light clear my path. Burst Through!!!"

Her blue mana bar instantly depleted itself as the skill activated. Light began to surround Kahlan's feet and she sprung forward with all her might towards the wall of cocky thugs. Caught off guard, the players scrambled to get out of the way of the Paladin now speeding towards them with blinding speed. Light began to focus around her as her speed intensified and she became a human bullet crashing into the unfortunate souls that were to slow to move out of the way. She was through. Now she just needed to find a place to recover. But as the girl looked about, she realized something. She was still moving. 'Wha?? I can't stop?!' The skill she had just used was intended to take out large enemies and large obstacles, not small individual players and would not stop unless she hit something.... BIG...... And the wall just ahead was nearing fast.

"Sh*T!!!!" Kahlan braced herself for impact and with a rocking blow, she hit the wall. The marble gave in to the powerful light energy that surrounded her and the high speed Paladin went rocketing into one of the towers large rooms. The wall seemed to have knocked out her momentum and she went tumbling to the ground rolling over and over and over again until she rammed straight into a large stone pillar at the end of the room.

"Owwww....... That's gonna hurt in the morning." Glancing at her health bar, she found that it was only 1/4 full. The impact took a lot out of but it was better than being stabbed to death by those lowlifes. Kahlan slowly stumbled to her feet and upon regaining her senses she suddenly realized that she had stumbled right into the middle of an intense battle. A small white haired girl and a mage in red. Wait... That was... Canon?? What was she doing here? And Asher too! An all too familiar cloaked player was standing nearby as well. Was this where everyone was? Asher, who was obviously on his way to the next floor disappeared above.

Something blue caught her eye. Someone else was with the group. A newcomer? Wait...... The boy with blue hair..... Kahlan clenched her fists. He had some nerve showing up here. Why was he here? Her blood boiled at the sight of him. Licht.... The Warrior of Light, as he was called. Long time rival and former guild mate to Kahlan. The two, both being skilled with the light element always worked to 1up each other in the past when Kahlan was still known as the Azure Paladin. They were more rivals than friends until an incident that would forever haunt Kahlan happened that led to her burning hatred to spark. It was so long ago but she would never forget. It was quite childish of her but she couldn't help it. And now there he was standing there.

Kahlan finally made her presence known to the others as she shouted out. "YOU!!!! I TOLD YOU TO NEVER SHOW YOUR FACE TO ME AGAIN!!!" Without caring that an actual fight was still taking place, Kahlan drew her sword and a sick smile spread across her face. He was really going to get it this time......

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Giving a mighty roar, the Phoenix Knight drew back its free hand, and complied with its master's orders. In an instant, blue flames from within its armor coalesced into the shape of a gigantic javelin, and then, bracing itself, it hurled this enormous weapon straight for its target. Kanna, however, was already moving. Leaping forward, she flipped head-over-heels over the incoming projectile, bringing down her own free hand as she countered the enemy's summoned spear with a summoned sword of her own. Ruby Fang, its scarlet blade gleaming brightly with the fires of its active enchantment, flashed in the light of the flames as it connected with the haft of the flying spear. Then, in the next instant, a tremendous explosion rocked the tower as the spear was abruptly pierced by a pinpoint blast of energy from the destructive rapier, shattering it into pieces while at the same time sending Kanna flying high into the air with the backlash of the detonation.

Righting herself high above the room, Kanna watched as she flipped fully upside down, even as the roof came nearer and nearer above her. As she was positioned now... She grinned triumphantly. The enemy's familiar was overextended from his charge, and, blinded for a split second by the explosion, Reneus and the Phoenix Knight had both lost sight of her. But best of all, she was now hanging right over the Red Priest's head, in the perfect position to make her move at last. Kanna checked the status of her mana and active spells. Her energy bar was still about half full, but it seemed she wouldn't need to use much of it quite yet. Sylphae Step still had 16 seconds remaining. That would be all the time she needed. Chanting Sylphae Barrage under her breath, she made the final necessary preparation.

Just then, her feet met the ceiling of the room. Raising both Ruby Fang and the Sword of Enchantment before her, she braced herself, and then kicked off, launching herself downward with tremendous force, angling her descent right towards the back of the Phoenix Knight. She was a mere blur of scarlet light, a ripple in the wind, a bird of prey diving to claim its victim. And best of all, there was no longer anything her opponent could do to stop her.

In an instant, countless blades flashed in the darkness of the room. The swords rose from everywhere they had fallen, rising up to form an almost solid wall of blades all around the magician. He only had enough time to hastily chant a defensive spell before this wall collapsed upon him, countless projectiles raining down upon him and beginning to batter his shield into nothingness. Frantically, he erected one ward after another, and yet, as fast as he could bring barriers up to save himself, they collapsed again as swords struck, were deflected, then arced back in and began to pour down upon him with renewed force.

The familiar, seeing the danger its master was in, had just turned to assist him when it was forced to raise its giant sword to defend itself, only barely fast enough to avoid the rapier that impacted against its blade. With a tremendous blast of flames, several chunks of the giant knight's greatsword were blown apart, scattered by the destructive power of the blade-breaking sword of scarlet that the Vermillion Sparrow now wielded. The Phoenix Knight staggered backwards, knocked off balance by the blast, and found itself cut off from its master. As Kanna flipped backwards, landing on her feet and bracing herself, Reneus realized only too late what her plan was. Frantically, he directed the giant swordsman to attack her before she could make her own move, but this, too, was futile.

The Phoenix Knight gave a roar, raising its cracked and fractured sword overhead and lunging towards its target. With both hands, it brought down the blade with enough force to have sundered the entire room, collapsing it upon the floor beneath it, and perhaps even toppling the tower itself. And yet, Kanna merely smiled, raising a single hand before her as the rapier within it glowed with crimson light. As the enemy's blade was about to connect with the Sparrow's rapier, it found itself once again suddenly deflected by an explosion of magic, red light scattering along the blade of the zweihander and breaking off the weapon's point in its entirety. Once more, the knight found itself staggering backward, this time very nearly falling. However, before it could collapse from the redirected force of its own blow, it found itself abruptly struck once again.

Twirling her back hand, Kanna flicked the Sword of Enchantment backhanded, its blade flashing with blue-white light as she plunged it into the floor. In an instant, the loud snap-hiss of crackling ice filled the room as, with a sudden surge of cold radiance, the entire floor between Kanna and the giant was split in two by a rising line of ice as the sword cast the same spell Asher had countless times over. There could be no escape for the staggering giant, which found the ice rising all around it, freezing its legs in their entirely and slamming into its chest with tremendous force. This time, the beast screamed as its health bars were vastly depleted by the nested ice spells, erasing two of its remaining nine completely. Its armor suddenly began to crack and shiver, countless fractures spreading across the creature's entire surface. The Red Priest opened his mouth to chant a protective spell to save his creature, but it was far too late for that. His own barrier collapsed in the moment of neglect, and he only barely managed to raise his staff in time to save himself from certain death at the hands of the blades that showered his position. He was unable to escape, either to defend his familiar or to save himself.

Kanna, meanwhile, wasted not a single second. Letting go of the spellcasting sword, she left it planted in the ground to sustain the ice spell immobilizing and weakening the enemy for as long as possible. Leaping forward, she leveled her gleaming rapier, and, bounding across the chain of ice connecting her position to that of the enemy, she braced herself to attack the weakened familiar while its armor was damaged. Frantic, now, the injured giant lashed out with its nearly broken sword, sweeping it at the oncoming girl, only to find that its target was not struck by the blade, but rather, actually managed to land securely on it, planting her own rapier in the edge of the greatsword even as it swept beneath her.

With a sundering crash, the blade of the familiar's zweihander was entirely destroyed as Ruby Fang once again exploded in light, shattering the weapon into which it had been plunged even as its wielder released it, rolling down the surface of the crumbling sword, then bracing herself upon the enemy's shoulder and leaping away as the explosion of its own fiery weapon was wrecked directly upon its own body, causing the cracks within the giant's armor to spread and expand even further. Once more, the beast screamed as its armor began to flicker in and out of existence, fading between physical mail and mere flames even as another of its health bars vanished completely.

Pivoting as she landed, Kanna purposefully raised her now empty hands. And yet, instead of calling either of her dropped swords back to herself, she merely chanted a simple, low-level spell. But there could be no mistaking her intent. Even with such a weak attack as Sylphae Arrow, the wind of the shots would surely, if she struck in precisely the right place and time, be able to shatter the enemy's armor completely. And so, taking aim, she spoke the words, and fired.

"Pierce through without fail... SYLPHAE... ARROW!" With this mighty shout, Kanna gathered her power, and released it. In an instant, twenty vermillion lances of condensed air and mana took form in her palm, and burst outward. The staggering giant had no time to free itself before it was struck simultaneously by all of these shots at the exact instant as its armor reverted momentarily to the form of flames. An arrow impaled each wrist, elbow, and shoulder, and another went straight through its visor. Two more pierced its hauberk on either side of its chest, while another went through the very center of its torso. Taking the remaining arrows to its thighs, ankles, feet, and knees, the giant gave a final pathetic cry as the cracks covering its armor at last connected, and, to the magician's shock and horror, its defenses shattered completely, leaving only its core: a humanoid body of fire, left weaponless and uncovered as pieces of its armor and weapon fell broken all around it. And yet, at the same instant, the Sword of Enchantment ran out of power, and the ice holding the creature in place shattered, too. But, before Reneus could give his beast any last orders, Kanna dealt her coup de grace.

Pulling on all of the projectiles impaled through the beast's body, she raised it into the air, drawing its arms helplessly out to its sides like a puppet, while its legs were held together by the arrows that had been run through them. The giant knight hung as though crucified even as Kanna spread her empty hands to her sides. In a flash, two more weapons appeared within her grasp, the old, familiar shapes of her original throwing daos, freshly rebuilt after their destruction at Canon's hands. Their black and white edges flashed in the azure light of the chamber as, the ying-yang symbols embossing their hilts gleaming, Kanna drew them back and began to chant her very strongest sword buff skill.

"The mind bores through the mountain..." With those words, she crossed her arms, releasing both swords towards the roof. Yet, in a flash, a matching pair had appeared, within her grasp: the daos owned by Canon, which she had inherited from her old self. "The sword cuts through the river!" This louder shout was punctuated as she once more cast the blades, uncrossing her arms and casting them towards the sides of the room. And yet, the enchantment on each set of twin weapons would ensure that they reached their target, for those blades were always bound to return once thrown. Kanna didn't even need to look to know that the swords thrown to the roof were arcing out overhead, circling down to strike the immobile knight from behind. Meanwhile, the second pair were curving in from either side, and would strike it at the exact same moment. Now, all she had to do was complete her victory with ACO's strongest pair of sister swords! Reaching to her sides, she laid hold of Tempest and Gale in their sheathes, and, drawing them forth, began to rush towards her immobilized target.

"The power of light and darkness is within my two hands...!" Her voice building to a crescendo, Kanna's words began to resound throughout the chamber as she spread the blades to either side of herself like a pair of wings. Radiant light and blue energy began to whirl furiously around Gale, while crimson lightning and black flames danced around the dark edge of Tempest. "Black..." Kanna continued, the color punctuated by the onyx aura of Tempest coalescing into the shape of a jet black wing. At the same time, both black daos already in the air gained the same spectral silhouette. "Or WHITE?!" Kanna leaped into the air, raising both swords over her head as both white daos, and finally the blade of gale, gained a pure, celestial wing-aura, standing in direct contrast to the malevolent silhouettes of their counterparts. Then, bracing herself, Kanna used the last second of Sylphae Step to hurl herself straight down towards her target. Then, with a mighty roar, she completed her spell at the exact instant as her daos and falchions all struck at once.

"Finishing Move: ENMA'S... JUDGEMENT... CUT!"

Those three words drowned out all other sound, even the beast's frantic roaring, as the wings of darkness and the wings of light all expanded to tremendous size. The entire room was consumed by clashing auras of absolute void and blinding radiance, which, spiraling throughout the circular chamber, took on the shape of a Taijitu: a gigantic ying yang orb, within the black spot of which stood Reneus, and within the white point of which stood Kanna, sheathing her swords. At the very center, along the border between light and darkness, hung the giant, immobilized, as several cuts appeared across its body, forming an X-shaped cut from each shoulder to each hip, and a cross shaped slash through the center of its head down to its waist, and across the center of its torso. For a moment, all was silent save for the quiet scraping of Kanna's swords as they slipped into their sheathes, and the silent shattering of two daos as they faded into light.

"Verdict... Guilty. Be consumed by the light and disappear into darkness," Kanna said quietly, punctuating her words by snapping both blades the rest of the way into their scabbards.

Then... with overwhelming force, the power flooding the entire room collapsed upon the giant, which, simultaneously, was ripped apart from inside out along the lines of the four slashes. A deafening roar resounded throughout the whole of the tower as it was shaken to its foundations, light flooding out of the forth floor as the air screamed in all directions. The giant gave a final, pathetic cry, and then exploded, before then imploding as the Taijitu faded to a single pinprick of whirling luminescence and shadows, crushing down the familiar to the size of a needle's tip before at last fading entirely. For a moment, a lingering rain of shattering blue pixels filled the air. Then, the room was still.

Kanna smiled confidently, turning to face the figure slowly rising from the opposite side of the room. Although several glancing wounds were still flashing red across the edges of his body, and although countless swords were planted in the broken ground all around him... Reneus the Red Priest still stood, his staff raised before himself. He grimaced as he watched the last traces of his familiar fading away into radiant light, and as his opponent slowly braced herself, calling all of her swords back to her inventory even as she reached behind her to draw the mighty blade hung on her back. Yet, in the middle of her movement, she suddenly froze, and abruptly, it was Kanna whose eyes were wide with surprise, and Reneus who was grinning with triumph as magic began to suddenly spring to life all around him. For a moment, one might not understand what was happening. And yet, Kanna immediately realized what had just occurred. For, beneath her health bar, a status effect had just appeared, even as a corresponding magical rune was revealed on the ground beneath her feet.

She couldn't move.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Asher Damons (a.k.a. The Voice of Treason) Character Portrait: Yoshitsune Shineda(AtoobuuO)

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Shineda and Tatsu made of to the next floor, with Tatsu dashing off to the next. The child must've been very impatient to save his big sis. Shineda, on the other hand, scoured the area, noticing the <<Unconscious>> player on the floor and Asher with rather low HP. Fishing his inventory, he pulled out a pile of his unused health crystals before settling them next to Asher.

"Keep these. Thank you. See you upstairs." he said to him before dashing off himself to witness a fight between Tatsu and a twin-sword user. Tatsu was having a tough time and was even flung back to Shineda, who caught the currently downed <<Mystic Fencer>>.

"Tatsu?" Shineda sounded worried but Tatsu stood up on his own.

"I can do this big bro." Tatsu walked forward, his armor beginning to flicker with accordance to its user's will. "Leave this guy to me and go up. Big sis is waiting for us."

"Alright Tatsu. I'll see you upstairs." Shineda proceeded upstairs, before stopping and seemed to have an internal struggle before he called out. "PLEASE BE CAREFUL!"

"I will big bro." Tatsu smiled at him.

On the seventh floor, a lone player with blonde hair stood in the middle of a lighted circle in the otherwise dark room, dressed in a silvery light armor that seemed to have no specified linkages between the armors. Normally, armors would be piece-by-piece, but this guy's armor seemed to be a single flexible yet solid piece. Almost as if the armor itself was solid, but at certain times seemed way to flexible to be solid. It defied all logic... but this was a game. So screw logic.

"Welcome. You'll be fighting against me. I go by a title <<Untouched Crescent>>. Perhaps you have heard of me." the player spoke, producing an overly large scythe and swung it around with pro-efficiency before resting the staff end against the ground, causing light to burst out from the circle and illuminated the room in a very beautiful manner. "While I do not necessarily fight for Nightingale...I do very much enjoy a good fight with a worthy opponent. And I saw what you did in the third floor against <<Crushing Beauty>>. Most impressive."

A swing of his scythe before he angled it behind his back. "Although the wielder of 「Hope's Edge」is here, for some strange reason... I think that you're stronger than he is. I'm glad you're my opponent. Come. Let us duel!"

<<Will you accept the duel? ->Yes/No>>

Shineda selected <<Yes>> and drew his katana with it's signature ringing sound. A long drawn out waiting contest ensued between the two, each waiting for the next to make the move. <<Untouched Crescent>> seemed to wait patiently, expecting Shineda to come to him, and indeed he did. Charging forward, Shineda swung at the scythe-user with gusto, only to be easily parried by his adversary's precise swings, despite the magnificent size of his weapon.

"Do you think you can go to the next floor that way? You should do better than that." <<Untouched Crescent>> advised him, before extending his reach and swinging the scythe in a wide arc.

Shineda jumped, dodging the blow, only to find the scythe shooting directly at him. In the air, without a way to dodge, Shineda resorted to his <<Sword Skill>>, using the <<Piercing Stab>> attack to give himself enough momentum to reach the ground before attacking with <<Shockwave>>, sending a tendril of energy towards the <<Untouched>>. With surprising dexterity, <<Untouched>> recovered from his position and brought the glowing scythe down, making large arcs in the air before ultimately throwing his own <<Shockwave>> back to counter. The two attacks collided, but only one managed to overcome the other, causing Shineda to be thrown back by the <<Sword Skill>>, dropping his <<HP>> down a notch. With a battle cry, Shineda pounced again, katana aglow, swinging and dealing out an insane amount of <<Sword Skills>> at his immovable opponent. Without as much as breaking a sweat, <<Untouched>> matched Shineda's speed again and again, like two dancers entangled in a dangerous tango of doom.

"You need to do better if you're going to save her, you know." <<Untouched>> stated simply without any trace of mockery. He seemed genuinely concerned.

Shineda pulled his greatest arsenal, the <<Break Drive>>, dashing forward and clashing with <<Untouched>> before dealing out 13 attacks and ending it with a resounding stab that clashed against the flat of the scythe. Shineda felt himself flung away before being dealt a multitude of slashes in midair before being pulled back by the scythe and slammed against the ground, then tossed aside to a wall. His <<HP>> was 50% down and <<Untouched>> retained the remaining 100% of his.

"Why do you care so much?!" Shineda spat angrily, getting onto his feet and taking hold of his weapon.

There was silence before <<Untouch>> spoke, resting his scythe against the ground.

"...Because I'm not an official member of the <<Bloody Assassins>>. Which is why you had to face me before the final floor." he replied. "I am the strongest <<Player>> within the current location, <<Shadow>>. You'd do well to heed that and fight with all your might."

"What do you mean not a member of the <<Assassins>>?" Shineda said curiously, to which <<Untouched>> held up a hand.

"Have you heard of <<The Guild of New Beginnings>>?" he asked. When Shineda looked blank, <<Untouched>> sighed, before beginning to explain.

"<<The Guild of New Beginnings>> were formed in Dulre Town, aptly named <<Town of New Beginnings>> after some idiot forged a gigantic replica of the <<First Boss's>> weapon." <<Untouched>> smiled, "The inscriptions on the sword gave many of us hope, it gave us knowledge that there were people that were willing to fight for our cause..."

He turned his back to Shineda, lifting up his hands as if to embrace something.

"That sword became Dulre's symbol, it became our hope." he looked back at Shineda. "We did alot of research about who those <<Players>> mentioned in the story were. And they were the <<Blur>>, <<Blue Paladin>>, and of course..."

He pointed above at the ceiling, before lowering his hand and breathing out, closing his eyes as if in deep thought.

"However, there seemed to be a missing piece. How could someone know this? How could someone be able to forge such a powerful replica out of the <<Boss's>> items? From all 3 of them, no one had such a capability, no ordinary <<Blacksmith>> could. Only a <<Weaponsmith>>." <<Untouched>> seemed to peer at Shineda. "I had a feeling that there was a fourth participant."

"<<Shadow>>, I don't know why, but you are the one I believe to be the fourth 'Phantom' participant." <<Untouched>> rose his weapon and pointed it at Shineda. "You are <<The Guild of New Beginning's>> hero and the bringer of hope to all <<Players>> in ACO."

Shineda took a step back at the sudden claim.

"You forged the <<Sword of Hope>>, you gave Dulre a new name, you were what formed <<The Guild of New Beginning>>, you were why the <<10 Commanders>> were formed. To be led by you." <<Untouched>> continued. "And the other 3 are just as important."

<<Untouched>> looked sad for a moment. "...We failed to save one. The <<Blur>>."

"What?!" Shineda exclaimed, stepping forward, hoping he misheard.

"We failed to secure <<Blur>> safe and sound. He led the charge of <<The Guild of New Beginning's>> against a <<Boss>>... We couldn't locate him after the end of the fight. Hopefully... he's alright, but I doubt it." <<Untouched>> admitted.

"No..." Shineda collapsed onto his knees, flashbacks of his promise that he had so confidently said to Marius before. He felt the sharp edge of the scythe cut his cheek, bringing him back to the task at hand.

"<<Shadow>>! Concentrate." <<Untouched>> reprimanded him. "To prevent that from happening again, we need to get <<Flaming Spirit>> back! The remaining of you should not fall, or our hope falls with you! Now STAND AND BEAT ME!"

He swung the scythe at Shineda, who reacted with just as much emotion, sending the two into a power struggle as sparks flew between their grinding weapons. Once again, Shineda was the one forced backwards. <<Untouched>> swung his scythe around gracefully before settling low.

"Much better, but be prepared <<Shadow>>...I do not intend to make this easy for you. <<Razor Wind>>."

Swinging his scythe this side and there, <<Untouched>> produced a powerful circular storm around him that spread outwards, not allowing Shineda any way to run. The stray trails of wind that were separated from the storm seemed to leave sharp gashes in the wall around them.

"This particular floor is safeguarded with powerful materials, just for my use. Or else the entire tower would've collapsed by now. <<Shadow>>, your move. You can survive this. I know." <<Untouched>> coaxed him.

In response, Shineda's look was replaced by a brooding, but determined face as he examined the incoming storm. Changing his stance into a low one, Shineda swung his katana in reminiscence of the <<Crescent>> <<Sword Skill>>, then making a reversal, then a counter-reversal to the <<Sword Skill>>. <<Untouched>> was surprised and narrowed his eyes as he watched the cloaked <<Player>> make his move. In a final stretch, Shineda swung his katana a full 360, sending a SIMILAR storm rushing forward. Without hesitation, Shineda charged. Where the storm met, they cancelled each other out.

"THERE! GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU?!" Shineda yelled before attacking <<Untouched>>, who narrowly blocked the katana, still surprised.

"What did you just...impossible!" <<Untouched>> sputtered, watching the last of his <<Razor Wind>> dissipate.

"Keep your eyes on me now, you're open and the show's just getting started!" Shineda dove into close range, attacking <<Untouched>>, his katana flashing in the air.

"Tch!"

A sudden burst of light and Shineda was yet again thrown back onto his back, his hood falling off as he recovered from his rolling fall. He glared at the light as it receded and <<Untouched>> stood there, one foot out of the middle circle. Noticing this, <<Untouched>> was surprised, then smiled.

"Ah darn. I stepped out from the circle." he mumbled, then walked out of it towards Shineda. At first Shineda was cautious, but he noticed a notification.

<<Duel Ended. You Win>>

"Congratulations <<Shadow>>. You're the first person to have made me step out from my limitation circle." <<Untouched>> pulled him onto his feet. "I've always prided myself for being able to stay in a single spot without moving and never receiving damage of any kind."

"But today, you've done both. Well... almost." <<Untouched>> winked, tapping at the location Shineda might've hit. It was clean.

"「God Plate」. A one-of-a-kind armor that has a 5% chance of blocking an attack that would otherwise have harm the user." he explained. "I guess I was lucky."

Speechless, Shineda sheathed his sword before feeling himself pushed to the stairs. He looked back at <<Untouched>>, who smiled and nodded.

"Go, you've beaten me. Save her." then a dark look flickered across his face. "Careful though...Nightingale is powerful, and he also resorts to underhand tactics if you manage to best him."

"Noted." Shineda nodded, before dashing up.

Silence fell the 7th floor as <<Untouched>> examined the gashes in the wall, trailing a rather deep one with his fingers.

"...Stronger than mine... I had not expected that. If I did not have the 「God Plate」, I would've been at his whim when he got through my defenses..." he muttered to himself, then smiled. "As I expected... he was meant to lead us... I bet he didn't realize who he just defeated."

A rumor, a myth, it is told that within the <<10 Commanders>> of <<The Guild of New Beginnings>>, there was a hidden leader amongst them. A phantom member of the <<10 Commanders>>. But he never participated in the frontlines, for whatever reason it was that people came up with. Some said he was chicken, some said he preferred to live in ACO, others say he doesn't exist. But of course... the truth was that he was searching for something...or to be precise, someone.

"<<Phantom Commander>>, mission accomplished."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Refa

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#, as written by Ageha
It seemed like hours have passed and all Refa could do is stare at screen and worry about the people that were trying to save her now. Everyone was going through some really tough fights, opponents that were set up by Nariam were really powerful. However even despite high health loses, in the end all of them succeeded. Although, the "Warrior of Light" still brought out red-heads curiosity. Somehow it was highly improbable that he actually came here to save Refa, but then what was his motive? And this other man who was fighting Atoubu, what was his purpose here? Because cameras were only meant to watch over the place, they didn't produce any sound so Refa couldn't hear what two were talking about, but somehow this character instantly gave red-head a bad feeling.

"Seems like they are coming closer, finally I get to move around a little!" Nariam grinned and clutched "Burning Heart" in his hand ready to fight Atoubu. However, Atoubu was not the first one to reach Refa. Suddenly a giant blast of fire turned doors into pile of ashes. At first girl expected her travel companion to show up.

"Atoubu?!" Refa called, trying to see the silhouette through the thick smoke. However as smoke started to clear it took a rather unusual and unexpected form.

"NYUUU!" A loud scream resounded from smoke and four fireballs came out of smoke right onto chains that bound Refa thus instantly breaking them and freeing the girl.

"What the hell is that?!" Nariam called in surprise as he too had expected Atoubu to appear.

"Kyuu-chan!" Red-head exclaimed recognizing her beloved pet who swiftly jumped out of smoke and landed between Nariam and Refa, thus protecting her from any possible harm. Nariam was even so shocked that all he could do is facepalm himself.

"Seriously?! I expect to fight a warrior who would come to save the princess locked in tower, but instead she is saved by a fox! This situation is so silly and pathetic that I won't even fight you two. Tell you what, Refa. For now you just sit back, enjoy me beating the hell out of your boyfriend and later we discuss our marriage. Okay?" He offered, obviously tired of all this situation. Who would have known that even "Bloody Assassins" leader could be so fed up with the situation he himself created.

"He is not my boyfriend, but okay, let's not fight for now," Refa agreed, but only because she didn't have any armor and weapons now. It would be crazy to take on strongest player in game without any equipment. She would have to wait for some kind of distraction to appear, so red-head at least could get her armor back.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Canon

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BGM: Destiny Awaits

"This battle is over."

The Red Priest spoke calmly, yet definitively as he stepped forward from amidst the rubble, the azure fires that yet burned within the room slowly coalescing around him in a whirlwind of power as he drew them to himself, shaping them slowly into a single, gleaming circle around him, one that was criss-crossed and marked by countless runes and emblems of power. His words were not a taunting, gloating proclamation of victory. Rather, they were a warning: a simple statement of fact, that to continue past this point would be useless, and would only serve to result in his opponent's death. As the magic around him shaped itself into a spell, forming a gleaming wall of charging magic that awaited only his command to rain death upon his immobile target, however, Kanna did not flinch.

"Will you surrender now? I have you at my mercy. I'm afraid that if you don't give up now, your defense and hit points will be insufficient when it comes to withstanding even a single one of my attacks. I don't want to kill you, young miss, but if you don't forfeit, you leave me with no choice," Reneus said sadly.

"I won't surrender. I couldn't do that in good conscience. Not while my comrades are relying on me. Not while Asher is relying on me. That's right... I guess you could say that I have something that I fear more than death."

"Admirable, but regrettable," The Red Priest sighed. "Very well, then. I'm sorry, young miss. Do you have any final words, or requests, for me to deliver to the friends that you hold in such esteem?"

"I do. Just one." Kanna suddenly smiled with mingled triumph and anxiety, and Reneus stopped in his tracks. Something was wrong. As his seemingly defeated opponent spoke, the wizard's eyes went wide with realization and disbelief. Because... Reneus could hear the sound of spinning blades cutting through the air, whirling down from the darkness of the roof above, aimed straight towards him!

"Would you please move?" Kanna asked cheerfully. "I'm afraid that your own spell there will explode if my attacks hit it, and, if that happens, your HP probably won't hold out. I don't want to kill you, Mr. Red Priest, but if you don't get out of the way, I can't really stop my swords once I've thrown them." Reneus had only just enough time upon hearing these words and understanding their meaning to hurl himself to the side. It was fortunate that he was very quick to react, for, had he been a second slower, he would surely have been ripped apart by the two dao swords, the black and white auras of which still shone with the light of Kanna's last spell. Hastily converting his offensive barrage into a defensive barrier, Reneus delayed the unstoppable force of the Vermillion Sparrow's most powerful reinforcement spell only just long enough to fling himself out of the way as another overwhelming explosion of darkness and light shook the tower. Dust rained down from the ceiling, disappearing into blue pixels as soon as it settled on the floor, and Reneus only barely managed to retain his footing as the entire building shivered beneath him.

Unbelievable... The Red Priest thought. She used the explosion of her four other active swords to knock those two out of the way at the last moment, causing them to circle around and attack me! I was so preoccupied with the blades attacking me and the loss of my Familiar that I didn't even realize the Knight had only been cut four times! Then... does that mean she expected me to immobilize her as my opening move? She anticipated my entire plan and then countered it right from the very start! But... how did she manage to redirect those swords after they were enchanted? Their speed should have caused them to strike at the exact same time as the other weapons. She was already in the middle of an attack, wasn't she? Then... how did she manage to deflect the two incoming swords without breaking her own enchantments? She couldn't have... Did she attack once, sheathe her blades, catch the flying swords, and throw them in the opposite direction, all too fast to be seen?! And on top of that, she then re-appeared behind the Knight, drew her swords again, only to sheathe them theatrically to keep me from noticing the time difference in her attacks?! But... how?! To do that, she'd need to be doing multiple things simultaneously! It's not possible to attack at that speed without literally stopping time! Just who is this girl, anyway? Watching in disbelief as the smoke of the explosion cleared, Reneus' surprise only mounted, for in the next instant, he saw something even more astonishing.

Wait a minute... Those two swords were low level weapons. Even with their enchantment, the attack was still a physical-type assault. To have cut through my spells before I could have reacted and either fired or dismissed them would have been impossible! Even if I hadn't moved, I still would have blocked the attack, or at the very least, survived it. Then... she was bluffing me?! But then, what was she aiming f- No. That can't be. She was never aiming at me at all! Her real goal was to use those two swords property of always returning to her to cut apart the rune I used to immobilize her! She only warned me about the attack to get me to panic and move out of the way so that she'd be able to free herself! She not only saw right through me, but she played me for a fool on top of that!

"You..." Reneus murmured, rising from amidst the rubble and staring in shock at his enemy, who calmly stood at the center of the room, dusting herself off as the two dao swords faded once more into her inventory, along with all of the other swords stuck in the floor from her previous storms of attacks. "You've been toying with me this entire time, haven't you? You made it look like I had you on the ropes so that you could close with me and keep me busy while you destroyed my familiar, but then you purposefully stepped into my concealed trap rune just to make me waste my mana, distracting me and then taking me by surprise to destroy my spells!" He wasn't sure why he felt the need to shout this. Perhaps he was hoping that she'd deny his claims, that she would say that things just happened to go her way. But, deep down, he knew that this was not the case. He, who prided himself on his unbeatable battle strategy, had been thoroughly outdone by a true master of planning.

"That's right," Kanna said, smiling with an uncanny serenity and cheerfulness. "Everything that has happened up until this point has done so according to my plan."

"Everything...? No, not everything. Because now I understand what you're trying to do! You plan on beating me at a war of attrition. You used that last spell of yours to regenerate your mana bar to full, and, using that new advantage, you intend to press me until I don't have enough power left to cast spells anymore. Once I'm not able to defend myself, I'll have no choice but to forfeit. That's what you were planning, wasn't it?"

Silence filled the room for a moment, and then, to the astonishment of the flabbergasted priest, Kanna shook her head.

"No," She said quietly. "If you think I didn't expect you to realize what I was doing, then you're wrong. I was well aware of the clues I was leaving for you this whole time." Casually, the Vermillion Sparrow picked up one of her swords, holding it up to the light and inspecting its edge while her enemy watched in disbelief. "I guess you could say... I planned for you to catch on, too."

"What do you mean?" Reneus asked.

"I mean that, even though you know what I've been doing, it's not going to help you win this battle. No, that's wrong. What I mean is that you've already lost. You see, your entire prediction hinges upon an assumption that I'm sad to say is completely false. You thought that your spells would be able to keep me at bay, when that's just not true. Although they'd certainly be more than a match for a normal swordsman, your entire strategy revolves around keeping the enemy from reaching you and fighting you in close quarters, which I don't really need to do. Furthermore, your magic attacks are based on the faulty assumption that only another mage can block them, and that you can overwhelm even such defenses through sheer numbers, like you're a boss in some kind of scrolling shooter game, where the player can only fire bullets along a line, but you can rain elaborate patterns of millions upon millions of bullets across the entire screen. In short, you surpass all other mages by trapping them in a maze of attacks from which they can neither protect themselves nor escape, because you simply have too many spells for one person to deal with. But, an enchanted sword, used as a projectile, is just as good at intercepting magic as another spell is. And, as you know..." Kanna smiled wryly. "I have even more of those than you do spells."

"True. You do surpass me in sheer quantity, but you fail to take into account that you're limited by the inventory system! You can still only fire a certain number of swords at once, while I can cast my spells far faster! If it's a contest of firing speed, then I'm the-"

"That's another wrong assumption you've made," Kanna interjected. "Because now you're failing to take into account that you're not the only one with magic."

"Wait... You can't be serious..." Reneus murmured, his eyes widening as he realized exactly what his enemy meant.

"I'm perfectly serious. I've already planned the course this battle will take, from beginning to end, and I'm sorry to say that you're the one who's going to lose in the end."

"No, that's where you are wrong, Sparrow! See, there's one hole I've already seen in your strategy. All I have to do... Is get the first shot!" With those words, Reneus raised his staff and began to chant. "Rage that sears the heavens, wrath that scars the sky, gather your power within my hands, then spread your wings and FLY! Mjolnir!"

"Nice incantation," Kanna said, smirking as a blast of lightning came searing down from the ceiling, flooding the room with a brilliant light. As the shower of energy came on, however, Kanna simply flicked her sword around backhanded, and then stepped back. She raised the weapon... and then she let go, allowing it to fall and plant itself within the ground. The Red Priest's eyes went wider still as he realized what she was doing far too late to take control of his spell and redirect it. Like a lightning rod, the sword attracted his spell, and, being struck by it, channeled it harmlessly into the stone floor as the blade slipped slowly into the cracks within the stone. And yet, to the astonishment of the Priest, the sword did not stop as it fell into the ground. Rather, as though it had been dropped into a pool of water, it continued slowly sinking, its blade disappearing into the floor as golden ripples began to spread across the stones, a radiant light like that of the sun suddenly shining out from the cracks in the stone.

"Let's see how you like mine." Raising her extended hand to the sky, Kanna now began to chant, the golden pool of light that seemed to have entirely replaced the ground expanding to crawl up the walls of the chamber with each word she spoke, until a towering wall of brilliant golden light had encased them, forming a rippling pillar of energy from the yawning midst of which began to rise countless shapes. Swords of every make and calibur, of every shape and size, slowly rose up from the floor, forming a corridor on either side of the two combatants before expanding upward into a single gleaming golden tower of row after row of slowly rotating swords.

"Guided by experience and driven by iron will, these hands of mine will forever forge blades," Kanna said quietly as the hilt of her sword was eaten up by the golden pool of light, vanishing entirely from view as a single ripple spread across the surface of the entire whirling vortex beneath them, and the innumerable collection of all of the Sparrow's legendary weapons, both present and past, began to emerge. It was impossible to count or identify all of the wondrous swords she had now brought to bear, many so valuable that they could rightly have been called treasures. This arsenal, seemingly endless, was a stock of weapons truly fit for a king, against which the Red Priest's conjurer's tricks could not hope to stand.

"Connection established. Limits removed. Firing without restraint. Continuous Summoning." Those words rang out like a proclamation of doom, silencing even Reneus' next chant as he found his breath taken away by the awesome and terrifying sight of the weapons that now surrounded him. The golden dome encasing them slowly faded from view, and the room around them once more took form, and yet, it had changed a great deal in the wake of Kanna's spell. From every inch of the floor and the walls, swords now stood at the ready, a waiting legion that would engulf its target the moment its master gave it the command to do so. All around them, blades whirled in rings through the air, spiraling back and forth in countless concentric rotating rings from the floor to the ceiling.

BGM: Eiyuu Ou

"You told me you expected a war of attrition. That means that, in this situation, my attempting to fight you through that means would be most advantageous to yourself, yes?" Kanna asked quietly. "Very well then. This spell, Continuous Summoning, allows me to manifest and perfectly control any weapon that is registered as being in my possession, no matter where it may be, for a total of one minute, starting from when I draw any of my swords. If your mana can last that long, then once that time limit is up and I can no longer deploy my weapons freely, you are sure to win this fight. If your assumption is right, then, and you can keep me at bay, then I'll have no choice but to admit that you are stronger than I, and to admit my defeat. But, if my forecast is correct, then even knowing every detail of my plan, your attacks will be unable to prevent my victory. Are you willing to take that gamble to see which of us is right, or will you concede your defeat now?"

"Sorry, but I can't just surrender here, either," Reneus said quietly. "See, I guess you could say I have a bit of a competitive streak, and now you've got me curious. A direct challenge like that... is something I just can't pass up!" With those words, Reneus abruptly raised his staff, releasing a sudden blast of energy straight towards Kanna. Yet, the young white-haired warrior did not so much as move, save to bring down her extended and, and to point at Reneus, even as he began to chant once again, creating several large stone spikes from the floor and then hurling them, also, at his target. In an instant, two blades flashed from the mass of swords hanging all around them, and like lightning, streaked down from the heavens, the Sword of Enchantment slashing apart the incoming beam of magic, absorbing its power and negating it from existence, while Ruby Fang pierced straight through all of the incoming slabs of stone, shattering them all with a tremendous detonation. Frantic now, Reneus hastily created another blast of azure fire, his trademark spell, and hurled it straight for his adversary, but Kanna simply caught the rebounding Sword of Enchantment, sweeping it upward and releasing the mage's own spell right back at him, overwhelming his hastily constructed fireball and forcing him to create another barrier, only to overpower that as well, blasting him backward and slamming him into the wall. Giving a mighty roar, however, he rose immediately, firing off a wave of lightning laced with violet fire, which slammed directly into Kanna, only to part around her as six flashing blades streaked down from the air around her, planting themselves in the ground and scattering the lightning, while Kanna hurled the Sword of Enchantment directly into the oncoming storm of fire, absorbing it and streaking towards Reneus, who only barely managed to bat the sword aside with his staff as it erupted in his own fire, nearly engulfing him with his own spell. Raising his hand once again, Reneus tried to chant another spell, only to realize, to his horror, that in so recklessly attacking his target, he had engineered his own defeat through the outcome he himself had predicted.

He was out of mana.

BGM: Contractor

Flashing with red and blue light, the sheathed twin swords at Kanna's waist began to glow as she activated a skill. The mage's eyes narrowed, and he planted himself firmly, bracing for the attack to come as his enemy at last prepared to move. Kanna, meanwhile, eyed her mana bar, which was still at nearly 75% capacity. Now was her chance. Before Reneus had a chance to recover his energy, she would eliminate him with her very best attack. Checking the half dozen blades planted in front of her, she smiled as her eyes fell upon the most important one of them all: The Sword of Mercy, a blade that would, if used even once in any attack chain, inevitably return the target to 1 HP should it be killed during the combo. That would ensure her enemy's survival, which in turn meant she could go all out without any hesitation!

And so, the Vermillion Sparrow prepared herself... and used the most powerful of all Sword Skills she possessed: Judgement Phantasm.

"Fly, Sylphae Step," Kanna chanted, snapping her fingers. At the same time, all six swords in front of her rose into the air around her, and them, aiming directly in towards Reneus, fired straight towards him. The mage, seeing the incoming barrage of attacks, raised his staff and began a basic defensive skill, twirling it ever faster and faster in front of him as the half-dozen blades came on. One after another, they impacted his whirling weapon, and were set spiraling harmlessly up into the air. However, just as Kanna had predicted, he was momentarily overbalanced by this, taking a step back as he was nearly knocked over by the force of the six impacts. Now was her chance. Bracing herself, she leaped forward, laying hold of the two sheathed swords at her sides. Sliding a finger beneath the crossguard of Tempest, she flicked it from its sheath, using her momentum as she suddenly launched towards her enemy as a lever to catapult the weapon into the air. "Sever and Transcend..." Kanna continued, drawing Gale and sweeping it at her target in a low strike. The moment the blue falchion left its sheathe, however, its enchantment attracted its airborne sister sword, causing Tempest to abruptly point itself downward, its blade angling straight at Reneus. As the wizard leveled his staff to intercept the one incoming blade, he found the second abruptly striking the very center of his weapon's haft, releasing a sudden, piercing burst of compressed air just as Gale released a violent concussive force into the head of his staff. With a loud crack, the weapon was suddenly shattered in his hands, sending him staggering backwards from the force that was thus redirected into his own body. Before he could fall, however, Kanna had already caught Tempest back-handed, and continued her assault.

"Sylphae Blade!" She finished, as, flicking Gale into a reverse grip as well using the force of its own impact, she swept it upward, slamming it into the remaining lower half of Reneus' staff. The wizard had no time to brace himself for this second, much stronger release of concussive force into his body, and, augmented as it was by the two enchantments Kanna had just cast, he found himself literally picked up off the ground by the force of the impact, while at the same time, the remains of his staff were completely destroyed, vanishing into blue pixels within his grasp. But, he had no time to worry about his broken weapon, for to his horror, he found that, even in mid air, he was not safe from attack, for the six swords he had already deflected were just reaching the apex of their flight and, instead of falling, had angled themselves inward, forming a ring of swords all around him.

Kanna, meanwhile, never stopped moving for an instant. In the moment that she dealt her slash with Gale, she released it, allowing it to fly underneath Reneus and off towards the far wall. At the same time, spinning with the momentum of her own slash, she did a full rotation, lowering herself to one knee as she did so. Then, turning herself upward, she swept Tempest up as she stood once again, releasing this sword as well and sending it flying up like a javelin straight towards her airborne enemy. As Reneus at last stopped rising, he only had enough time to cry out in horror before all six swords around him collapsed inward, impaling him a half-dozen times over just as Tempest stabbed directly through his chest, releasing a piercing explosion of wind inside his body as a spurt of red pixels exploded into the air. In an instant, Reneus' health bar had dropped from almost full to near half, but Kanna was far from done.

"The mind bores through the mountain," She chanted as now it was Gale's turn to be attracted by Tempest, spiraling back around from its initial flight outward, circling up over Reneus as he once more began to fly into the air, and spinning down to drive itself straight into his back. One explosion of pure concussive force ripped through the Red Priest's body, followed by another as the blades of Tempest and Gale met, producing a veritable hurricane inside the wizard's torso and scattering countless scarlet slashes all across his digital form as his hitpoints depleted into the red. Like a star falling to the earth, the wizard was sent hurtling downward towards the ground, only to find Kanna sweeping up yet another sword, the Sword of Enchantment, to meet him, releasing an overwhelming explosion of azure flames from its edge as she plunged it clear through his body along with the other eight swords impaling him, releasing his own spell yet again and sending him flying backward. Yet, abruptly, his flight towards the far wall was suddenly stopped, and he found himself suspended as though crucified, hanging in the air just as his Familiar had done while Kanna spawned her throwing daos once again.

"The sword divides the river!" She chanted, hurling both daos at her immobilized target as she began to rush forward, naught more than a blur as she streaked like a bullet towards her target, spawning her second pair and continuing the chant. "The power of light and darkness is within my two hands!" From within all of the swords embedded in her enemy's body, and all around the weapons in her hands, a familiar black and white aura began to take shape as Kanna cast the second set of daos. The first pair swept up across Reneus' shoulders, slashing across his body before arcing up towards the ceiling, aiming to angle themselves back towards their wielder, yet instead finding themselves called right back towards their target once more from behind as the Vermillion Sparrow closed the gap. "Black or white?!" She continued. At the same time, the second set of thrown swords carved across his sides before spiraling out to the left and right and coming back around as Kanna called Ruby Fang to her hand, and, with a mighty stab, plunged it, as well, through the Red Priest's body, then slashed it out of his side and spinning out of the way just as both sets of thrown swords carved across their target yet again, spiraling around once more for a final pass. At this point, the large part of the textures on her enemy had been torn away by either the "cut" animation, or the countless gleaming wings erupting from within his body, causing him to resemble a pincushion of glowing red, black, and white pixels more than he did a Human being. His health bar, too, had been completely depleted by this point, reducing him to zero and beyond as he was kept from disappearing by the continued hits he sustained. A shower of crimson scattered into the air as Kanna bisected her target, then spun around behind him, pivoting with the force of her own slash and leveling her rapier, coming around behind her foe in a two-handed stabbing stance as she completed the chant.

"FINISHING MOVE: ENMA'S JUDGEMENT CUT!"

Roaring those words, Kanna drove Ruby Fang clear through her enemy's body just as all four thrown swords collided with him from the front and the sides, impaling him as well. The blades of Ruby Fang, Tempest, Gale, The Sword of Enchantment, and all of the matching daos met at once inside Reneus' chest... and, releasing all of their enchantments at once, exploded with the force of a particularly large bomb as the entire room was consumed by a brilliant spiral of black and white as a Taijitu took form with the defeated wizard at its center, crushing down upon him with overhwelming force even as all 14 swords impaling his body tore out of him, scattering in all directions as he was flung into the air... only to find Kanna already there waiting for him, holding Vermillion Talon - encased in not one, but two wings, the one black and the other white - in one hand, and a brightly glowing stopwatch in the other.

"It's useless," She said quietly, leveling her sword. Reneus only had time to give a final gasp of dismay before the spinning symbol of ying and yang suddenly froze, and the world itself stood still for an instant.

When time began to move once again, Kanna stood holding her sword on the opposite side of Reneus, and a gleaming network of nine crimson slashes was spread across the wizard's body. The first slash severed his arm, then twisted into a second cut through his collarbone, which in turn cut back through his windpipe, before carving up into his temple, down through his head and through his diaphragm, before splitting his entire torso from his ribcage to his waist. Turning this into a slash across what was left of both of his legs, Kanna had at last, while time was still frozen, cut Vermillion Talon straight through his heart as she flew past him, completing her ninth and final slash. For a instant, in the wake of all nine simultaneous cuts, a brief vacuum was created as Kanna and her sword, existing along all points of the nine-pronged attack and the space it and she had traversed during the time stop, displaced the simulated air around them. For a moment in time, the room was entirely silent as Reneus' eyes widened, his mind finally grasping that he'd been cut.

Then, Kanna sheathed her sword and slipped the watch into her pocket. The swords filling the room all vanished into ripples of golden light... and the Red Priest exploded into crimson light, his body entirely torn apart into its component pixels, before being crushed down into non-existence. A victory screen appeared into the empty, devastated room, and Kanna turned, smiling as the Taijitu blinked out of existence... and Reneus reformed on the floor, surrounded by the destroyed wreckage of his staff, his familiar, and his chamber, gasping for breath as his body spontaneously reconstituted itself at one HP and 0 mana.

"It's my victory, Reneus," Kanna said quietly.

"So it is," He said quietly, smiling wryly as he slowly fell back into a seated position. "You were right, young miss. That attack of yours... there was no possible way I could have survived it if you hadn't wanted me to. I know when I'm beaten. Go on, then. Take your victory, and go help those friends of yours. I won't stand in your way any longer."

"Thank you, Mr. Red Priest. Until we meet next," Kanna replied, smiling and bowing as she gave an overly polite and formal farewell, then turned to head for the stairs, leaving Reneus in darkness as the last of his flames finally died out.

"Ah... what an unusual person. She seemed so timid and polite, and yet she was far stronger than even me... I never... had a chance... That... clever... girl." Sighing, Reneus shut his eyes, and slumped where he sat, too tired to even stand.

=Fourth Floor Guardian: Defeated.=

(This really should have been two posts. Sorry for the wall of text, everyone! I wanted to finish this without delaying you all. XD)

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Character Portrait: Refa Character Portrait: Yoshitsune Shineda(AtoobuuO)

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