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This article, Back On The Road, is property of northstar1012.

Continuing from Episode 007 of the Wings of Red arc, Back On The Road finds Wings of Archadia members: Roffe Snow and Clyde Colte, making their way back to the city in the mountains, Ilmarinen, in an effort to speak with Clyde's high ranking father within the Circle of Seven in hopes of warning them about Lancaster Black and his plans. But now on the road once again, they find themselves facing obstacles that may prevent them from reaching the city in time.

The Road in Front of Them

Clyde was becoming visibly irritated at the fact that there were no trains traveling to the only airship station between Magnolia Town and Ilmarinen. This meant that he and Roffe would have to trek the dozens of miles that span between Onibus Town and the station. That meant another obstacle in Clyde's path, as well as prolonging the dreaded meeting with his dad.

Even though they spent majority of the day on the train, the two barely spoke to each other. Any attempts by Roffe to begin a conversation was met with a cold shoulder and Clyde looking away. Now they walked the flat road cutting through the town, hefting their luggage over their backs, and made their way to a small inn located some distance from Onibus Station. Onibus Town was known for being visited by mages often, even having a bar directed at clients that use magic. It wasn't difficult to find a place to stay for the evening, considering their journey the next day and the fact that it was becoming dark by the time they arrived in town.

Roffe made all the arrangements while Clyde continued being silent and moody. His hand dug in deep in the front pockets of his yellow jacket, hood pulled over his head and listening to his music through his giant green headphones. He checked them in at the inn, a small 3 story building with beige walls and blue trim around the windows and doors. The roof was also painted in the same blue color. While not as spacious as the rooms back in Magnolia, the band was used to smaller so the tiny room with two twin beds pressed against opposite walls served a fine place to rest. Clyde threw his bags down and fell back first into his bed, hands still in his pockets and music blasting through his headphones.

Roffe looked at him, but Clyde had his eyes closed and said nothing. "Guess I'll get something to eat by myself." Roffe said aloud. "Want me to bring you anything?" He asked.

Clyde remained quiet, just moving his head to the beat of the music he was listening to.

After a long pause he simply responded, "Alright then." Roffe made no other attempts at chatting with the young band member and simply grabbed the spare hotel key and made his way out the door. He locked it on his way out, leaving Clyde alone in the room as the sun set in the horizon.

Roffe was thankful for the tavern located nearby the inn, and by the time he had gotten a table for himself and ordered his food, night had fully set it. Through the window he could the street lights casting a yellow glow across the cobblestone roads. He sat quietly as he cut his steak. The food was pretty good and the beer was cold and he took turns eating, drinking and reading a small newspaper he purchased from a stand on the way over to the tavern.

With Onibus being a popular spot for mages, it wasn't long before the tavern filled with them as the night continued. It filled with colorful characters and wide ranging personality. From what he could tell, most of the mages were independent guilds seeking jobs to further their status and raise their ranks. If this were any other time, Wings of Archadia would be ecstatic to take on a few missions. But right now wasn't the time for adventures. Even so, Roffe made a mental note to stop back here once things calmed down. Regardless, he could hear the mages brag about their captures, argue over who's stronger and some drown their failed attemps at success in alcohol.

Then trouble came bursting through the door. From down the street, a low mechanical growl hummed as it approached the tavern. At first it was buried under the sounds of patrons chatting among themselves. Then it grew louder and louder. Ears perked up and people began clearing the bar area. There was a certain tension building in the room and Roffe could sense a certain dread creeping up on the back of his neck. The low growl was now almost a deafening roar from what sounded like an engine. Roffe stared out the window, waiting to see the source of the noise. Before it reached the window, there was a bright flash and after a pause there was a group of individuals talking.

The first person he saw through the window was a tall tanned man with blonde hair and Roffe immediately recognized him. "Oh crap." He whispered to himself.

With a loud and boisterous entrance, Adrien L'hereaux burst through the door, "Hello, boys and girls. The Black Dogs have returned with their spoils." He spoke loudly with a wide smile on his face as he walked towards the bar. The other mages quickly spread out to the sides and formed a divide in the room for the group to walk down. Roffe tried his best to blend in to the background and grabbed his newspaper, opening it so it block his upper body from anyone's view.

Just like his voice, Adrien wore a loud purple shirt unbuttoned to expose his muscular chest. Once he reached the bar, he placed his black gloved hands on the counter and ordered a round of beer for himself and his group. To Adrien's right was a slightly man dressed in leather and his hair styled in a massive pompadour. Jonny Rocket could use his hair at a weapon with how far it stretched past his face. He padded Adrien's back in a celebritory manner as he laughed loudly as the two spoke. There was a third member who scanned the room, drinking in the attention the group's entrance had caused. Kurosuke Raiga stared at everyone with cold, steely eyes that could dig into someone like a pair of swords. When he cast his gaze on them, they immediately withdrew into themselves and pretended to look at something else.

The bald pudgy man behind the counter wiping down a glass responded, "And do you plan on paying for the previous rounds from last week?" He was an older gentlemen with a bushy mustache that bristled when he spoke. He made no attempt at getting their drinks.

Adrien seemed angered by this as a crease formed between his eyebrows as they tensed up. "What are you talking about? You know we're good for it. We're the town's best guild. Not to mention the richest." He replied, bringing his face closer and over the counter.

Jonny rested himself on his elbows, leaning forward as well. "My man, you'll get your money after we get our beer, ya hear?" There was a slightly threatening tone in his voice as Jonny looked at the bartender through half opened eyes and a snakelike grin on his face.

Seeing the bartender make no attempts to get them their drinks, Adrien finally relented. He reached into the pocket of his black pants and fished out a few coins of various wealth and dropped them on the counter. Some spilled over the counter and to the bartender's feet while others spun in place. "There, happy?" Adrien said sarcastically. "Can we get our drinks now?"

The bartender merely let out a breath, blowing through the whiskers of his mustache and grabbed a couple of dried glasses. He poured the alcohol into each one and slid them towards the three. The older man then went to sweep the coins with his hand but was abruptly stopped when Adrien slammed his hand down over it and he looked directly into the bartender's eyes, "So that's how you treat the most successful guild in the town?"

The moment grew tense almost immediately. The bartender had a hard time holding back his fear as sweat begin to form on his brow and it trickled down the side of his face. Jonny simply turned his back on the two and pressed his back against the bar, his elbows propping him as he leaned back. Without warning, Adrien gestured a punch and, startled, the bartender jumped back instinctively and hit the back of the bar. Adrien simply extended a single finger from his fist and pointed at the man. "You should work on that attitude, old man." That's when a reflection in the giant mirror behind the bar had caught his attention. From the edges of a newspaper, Adrien could make out a person he almost instantly recognized. He turned his head to face the man in the mirror and shouted, "Well if it ain't Roffe Snow."

The Godfist

Roffe tried his best to read his paper and ignore Adrien, even though the latter was making a straight line to him. Anyone between the two quickly moved and emptied their tables.

"You know that guy?" Jonny asked Adrien from the counter as he watched his guildmate walking towards Roffe.

"Know him? Me and Mr. Rockstar over here have gotten into a few tussles in the past." Adrien grabbed a chair and turned it so that the back of it faced Roffe. He sat down reverse style on it and rested his forearms at the top. Without asking, he reached over to Roffe's plate and grabbed a piece of cut steak and threw it into his mouth. He spoke and chewed at the same time, showing signs of a not so well mannered individual. "So what brings you to my town, Snowman?" He casually chewed with his mouth open. "Looking for another fight?"

"Don't flatter yourself, Adrien." Roffe continued reading without looking at Adrien. "Just passing through. Not looking for any trouble." Roffe folded his paper and placed it on the table and leaned back on his own chair. "If you'll excuse me, I'm trying to finish my dinner and then turning in for the night."

"Didn't take you for a wuss, Snowman." Adrien formed a sinister smile on his face as his brows lifted in an antagonizing manner.

Jonny and Kurosuke sat down and occupied a nearby table. Kurosuke didn't say a word while Jonny interrupted. "Rockstar?"

"Yeah, Snowman here is a musician. Plays in some band called Wings of Archadia." Adrien looked at Jonny as he spoke, using his thumb to point towards Roffe.

"Wings of Archadia? I think I heard of them. The band from the "City in the Skies", right?" When Jonny said "City in the Skies", he used his hands to gesture quotation marks in the air.

"Yes, that would be correct." Roffe responded as he dusted his pant leg and brough one over the other and casually sat back.

"Hmm..." Jonny paused for a moment, a sort of funny expression on his face with his lower jaw sort of shifted to one side. "Your music sucks." He threw in for no reason at all. Adrien snorted, and pretended to hold back his laughter as he lowered his head.

Roffe remained composed, not allowing himself to be baited by Jonny's words. "I suppose its not for everyone."

Adrien placed a hand on the table and tapped the wooden surface with his fingers. The four remained silent, the three from Black Dogs staring at Roffe, while he stared back at them through his sunglasses. The place grew very silent, but the tension was still there as Adrien methodically tapped away. Then his fingers stopped tapping and Adrien gave Roffe a wink.

Forcefully, he grabbed the edge of the table and flipped it up towards Roffe. Roffe quickly rose to his feet, dodging the untensiles and plate of food as it flew past him. Suddenly, Adrien's fist came crashing through the table, instantly causing it to shatter into two halves while splinters sprinkled into the air. It rocketed at Roffe's head but to Adrien's surprise, it did not make contact. Instead, his fist phased through Roffe as his body turned to shadows for that moment, rendering Adrien's surprise attack ineffective.

With Adrien's midsection now exposed, Roffe reformed himself into solid mass and whipped his hand through the air, creating an arc of bright light across Adrien's abdomen. "Light Fang!" He shouted and the crescent shaped light exploded with tremendous force that it launched Adrien into the air and crashing through the tavern window. Glass splattered across the street floor as Adrien landed on his feet, sliding back a few steps from the momentum of Roffe's spell. Even with the ferocity of the attack, he appeared unphased and instead formed another devilish grin on his face.

"Alright, alright, alright." Adrien stated enthusiastically. "We got ourselves a fight." And he raised his fists in his traditional boxing stance. Jonny and Kurosuke motioned towards Roffe but were halted by Adrien shouting at them. "No! He's mine." And charged at Roffe.

Roffe immediately charged back, leaping through the broken window and spinning his body to bring up his leg in a full circle and then down on Adrien. Adrien raised his forearms to block the attack and the foot swiped down across them in a vertical line. Roffe landed on his feet and entered a similar stance to Adrien. Both hopped on their feet and Roffe gestured a punch only to witness Adrien immediately enter a defensive stance that was sure to have blocked it. Roffe did this a few more times to measure his opponent's defense but then threw a punch towards Adrien's head, which he responded by leaning it to one side and avoid it. Roffe threw another jab followed by a cross punch. Adrien blocked the first attack and then ducked under the other, positioning himself to Roffe's right side. He leaped into the air and drove his left fist down on Roffe's side. Roffe was able to bring an arm up to shield himself from the attack, but Adrien's strength was phenomenal and the force was still enough to shove Roffe back a few steps.

Adrien took this opportunity to spring into action and launched a series of quick punches aimed at Roffe's head and midsection. There speed was so great that it almost appeared as if the attacks were coming from all directions. While Roffe was able to defend them, it appeared as if it was entirely effortless for Adrien. In fact, he was still grinning as he continued.

Roffe needed to match his opponent or else he would eventually be overwhelmed. But recklessly entering into the fray without a strategy would lead to his defeat. While Adrien's attacks were more frequent, Roffe opted to attack carefully, utilizing his kicks to create some space between the two opponents. Roffe slapped one of Adrien's punches and spun on one heel while bringing it up and over in a circle. Adrien ducked under it and before he could engage in attack once again, Roffe's other leg came up right to the side Adrien's head.

Before it could connect, Adrien stopped it with his forearm and the two froze their for a moment. "Not bad, Snowman. Looks like you haven't lost your edge." Adrien forced Roffe's leg away and his opponent leaped back to a safe distance. He brough up his fist and fixed his eyes on Roffe. His hand begin to crackle with energy, arcs of yellow bounced off his skin while his fist darkened. "Let's see how you stand up against the Godfist." And a surge of power rushed passed Roffe as he could feel the intensity of Adrien's magical power building.

The bartender burst out from the tavern, shouting at the two. "Enough! Cut it out, now!" But his words fell on deaf ears. The patrons inside the tavern ducked behind cover or hiding behind their tables.

"Keep outta this, old man." Adrien responded and his magical power manifested itself as a yellow aura. The ground began to tremble from this sudden exertion.

Roffe focused on his opponent and, while in his own stance, black smoke-like energy rose up from his arms and shoulders, casting a shadowy aura around him as he rose his own magical power to match Adrien's. "It didn't have to be this way, Adrien."

"Of course it did, Snowman." With a might push, the ground underneath Adrien's feet imploded and he launched himself forward with energy gathered around his right fist as he reeled it back. Roffe mustered up what energy he could around his own fist and brought it forward. Both collided with another in a thunderous boom as the magical energies surged into each other. Bright bolts of yellow energy fused with shadows blew out all around them. The connection was solid and Roffe was overpowered by Adrien's brute force, throwing him back. Adrien used his momentum to spin his spun, channeling more of his chaotic energy into the same fist, swirling into creation, and threw another punch forward. "Exploder Magnum!" The energy was cast off of his fist with violent force, releasing a small ring of pressure as it flew towards Roffe still spinning in the air.

Roffe, seeing the energy projectile, turned his body while still in midair so he was facing it and swung his hand forward and released another arc of light. It crashed against Adrien's attack, splitting it momentarily before exploding in bright lights and splitting the cobblestone underneath it. Roffe landed on his feet, slid to a stop, and then swiped his other arm forward, sending another Light Fang at Adrien. It cut through the cloud of smoke created from the previous explosion, cleaving it in half before dispersing in a whirl.

Adrien sidestepped the attack and immediately broke out into a sprint towards Roffe. Roffe responded with additional light spells, though Adrien spun around each one using his incredible speed and reflexes. The distance between them was shortening as Adrien came closer. Roffe now within striking, Adrien leaped into the air with another charged fist shouting as he focused on his opponent.

Roffe instinctively threw his arms out to the sides, extending his magical power to gain influence of the nearby shadows. While he can conjure his own, controlling ones already existing was less taxing. "Shadow Pack." With Adrien now closing in, Roffe brought his arms in quickly, crossing them in front of his chest and the shadows were immediately pulled in in long strands, creating an artificial barrier between himself and his opponent.

Adrien's fist still struck with incredible force, causing the barrier to buckle from the attack, even causing Roffe and entire structure to shift back. Roffe was able to maintain his concentration and willpower to strengthen it. It absorbed the attack, leaving Roffe physically unharmed, but there was some mental strain associated with the impact. Using this opportunity, Roffe mustered up his power and strength and pushed forward to cast another spell while Adrien hovered in the air momentarily. The long strands of dark shadows whirled like snakes slithering in a cirlce, but instead of snake heads, the strands morphed into those of wolves growling with their teeth bared. With violent force, they dispersed with such strength that it threw Adrien through the air and smashing against one of the streetlights. The casing shattered against his back and the light dispersed into sparks that rained down on the street below. The top of the pole that the streetlight was attached to bent back from Adrien's body, making a high pitched screech when it folded and the pugilist fell to the ground with a powerful thud and then skid to a halt on his back.

Jonny and Kurosuke rushed out the tavern to see to Adrien, but Adrien was already laughing before they got to him. As he slowly rose to his feet, his yellow aura slowly appeared once again while his body seemed to darken, creating an intimidating silhouette. Roffe could see his eyes burning a vibrant yellow and his devilish grin. "Well now. The Rockstar has a serious bite to him." He stood up tall and tilted his head to crack his neck. His aura was becoming much more intense and Roffe could feel its density in the air as Adrien emitted it like a wave. "But you're facing the Black Dogs, buddy." Jonny and Kurosuke turned to face Roffe, and Jonny brought up his hands and began to crack his fists.

Roffe once again entered a defensive stance, realizing that he may be facing three opponents now, two of which he had no idea what their abilities were. Even if he were just facing Adrien, the fight wouldn't have been in his favor since he couldn't deny his opponent's skills.

Jonny seemed too eager to enter the battle and was the first person to move. He stepped forward bringing up a hand and pointing at Roffe. He was about to say something, no doubt in an attempt to sound cool, but was suddenly struck so hard on his cheek that his body spun on its feet and fell flat on his back. Neither opponent was able to discern what had just happened and they had shifted their focus to Jonny lying on the ground, sprawled out with a dumb look on his face as he murmured something.

Roffe then saw who had attacked Jonny with such speed. Standing near him, holding his fist, was Clyde looking back at Adrien and Kurosuke. "Saying cool shit is my thing." He stated unusually confident.

Making a Frenemy

The two members from Wings of Archadia stared back at the three from Black Dogs. Well it was really two as Jonny was still on the ground facing up with his mouth open, eyes staring at stars. The two groups stared at each other intently, waiting for the other to make the first move.

The tension was broken but the sudden eruption of whistles and shouting behind Adrien and Kurosuke. When they looked back, they could see more than half a dozen men dressed in matching uniforms and metal helmets. They waved batons in the air as they charged the two. The police in Onibus Town wasn't as threatening as those in Magnolia Town, and no where near the likes of the Silver Guard in Ilmarinen. But they did there best to maintain the peace in the town and its citizens showed them great respect.

Once Adrien saw the police approaching, he conciously lowered his magical power so it no longer flared out around him. They approaced them quickly and with purpose, though they couldn't hide the fact that they were coming up to powerful individuals. The leader of the group pointed his baton at the mages and appeared much more confident and relaxed than the rest of his men.

"Hands up, lads." He gestured with the end of the baton. He was an older man with bushy grey eyebrows peaking under the edge of his metal helmet and a black strap wrapped under his chin to hold the helmet in place. The uniforms were a deep blue and primarily consisted of a thick jacket and matching pants with black shoes. Around the waist was a black leather belt with a small slot where the baton slid through and held in place. The older man had a silver star buttoned to the left side of his chest, signifying him as the group's leader.

Roffe and Clyde seemed to oblige the old man and raised their hands slowly, and it wasn't until Adrien rose his that Kurosuke did so, as well.

"Adrien? Why am I not surprised to see you here. Now what's going on?" He simply asked while the other police officers remained defensive behind their captain.

"A misunderstanding, sir." Roffe responded, trying to remain passive and diffuse the situation.

The captain looked around at the damage done to the tavern and out on the street. "Seems like quite the misunderstanding." He set his sights back on the mages. "We run a very peaceful town, gentlemen. Mages are welcomed here in Onibus with the condition that magic remains outside the town walls." He spoke softly for a man of his position, but his words seemed to pacify everyone that heard him. "We take it as a great offense when outbursts like this happen. Especially with you, Adrien, and your Black Dogs. Every time you come back here, I find myself having to arrest the lot of you. Do you want me to do that again?" He spoke directly at Adrien this time.

Adrien remained quite, giving out a sigh as he looked off the side.

"So?" The captain paused. "Who started this?"

Roffe was prepared to answer but was shocked to be interrupted by Adrien, "I did." He stated quickly. "And I caused the damage." Kurosuke seemed taken back by Adrien's response since it was Roffe who had caused most of the damage around them. "These guys had nothing to do with it."

"Is that so?" The captain asked, judging Adrien by his words.

"That it is." Adrien pulled a smile after he was done, still holding his arms above his head.

"Well you have a lot of pay for then."

Adrien rested his hands on the top of his head and shrugged his shoulders. "We can afford it."

"Regardless if you can pay for it or not, you're going to have to spend the night in jail for this little outburst." The captain stated and gestured his other men to apprehend the Black Dogs. Two had to help Jonny to his feet, the latter shaking his head to regain his senses. Shackles were chained around each of their wrists, though Jonny seemed utterly confused at what had happened. The captain watched his men take away Adrien and stepped between the one group and Roffe and Clyde.

Roffe was looking at the back of Adrien's head, trying to understand why Adrien would take the full blame for what transpired, but was interrupted by the captain.

"As for you two, you seemed to have escaped punishment but remember this, I'll be watching you two while you're here. So I would suggest you finish up your business here and head out." The captain told them.

It seems like no matter where they went, trouble kept finding Wings of Archadia. Roffe finally was able to relax himself for a moment after his tense confrontation with Adrien and the Black Dogs. Clyde watched everyone leave before he turned back to Roffe.

"Who's the big dude?" He asked as the two headed back to their room.

"Adrien L'hereaux. Him and Johan used to have some sort of rivalry back when he was a part of the band. After we thought Johan had died, he started coming around looking for trouble and wanted to fight Royce. I stepped in but before our battle concluded, the Silver Guard arrived and arrested him for prior crimes."

They arrived at the entrance of the inn when Clyde stopped and asked Roffe, "Is he strong?"

Roffe paused before opening the door and looked back to Clyde. "Stronger than me, yes." And he walked through the door.


The next morning, Roffe and Clyde had finished checking out of the inn, their bags over the shoulders. When they walked outside, they could see the bar from last night had the damaged window boarded up and two town workers were repairing the streetlight. A few faces recognized Roffe as they walked out from the bar and he decided to not enter. Instead, Roffe wanted to visit something else before they left.

"Hey, I'll be right back." He tapped Clyde on the shoulder since he was listening to music.

Clyde pulled his headphones off his ears. "Where are you going? The train leaves in 30 minutes."

"I'll be back in time. Just wait on the platform for me." Roffe responded and left Clyde there on the street.

At the Onibus holding cells, the members of Black Dogs were held in the same cell section off by walls of steel bars. Kurosuke sat with one leg over the other in a rather effeminate manner and his eyes closed, while Jonny laid back on a bench with a noticeable purple bruise over his right cheek. He rubbed it with his thumb, sending light surges of pain through his body. Adrien laid against the bars near the entrance, one arm resting on a parallel bar, the other hanging outside. He stared blankly towards the hallway that led to the exit. The group had not spoken to each other since they were placed in their cell.

The door leading the holding area swung open with a creaking sound and an officer walked through. "You have a visitor." And before Adrien had a chance to respond, Roffe walked through the doorway.

Adrien raised his head, "What the hell are you doing here?"

Roffe stood in front of Adrien and at arm's length. "Why did you take the blame for the damage?" He asked instead of responding.

Adrien closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the bars. "Because." The other members of Black Dogs looked up at Adrien when he spoke. Adrien didn't offer any other words.

"That's not really an answer, Adrien." Roffe crossed his arms over his chest.

"Well, its the only answer I'm giving you."

"Why do you need to be difficult? You're the one that started the fight. Just like you did back in Ilmarinen with Johan. And then with Royce. And then with me." Roffe pointed his finger at Adrien, punctuating each period with a short thrust forward.

"Don't flatter yourself, small fry. You were simply what was left over." He opened his eyes to look at Roffe. "But I don't like leaving fights unfinished, and you and I have one."

Roffe took note of Adrien's words. "Well it looks like you're going to have to wait a little longer because we're leaving for Ilmarinen."

Adrien raised his hands and placed around adjacent bars, squeezing with his strength. His lips pressed tightly against one another and he nodded his head. Another interruption. Another unfinished battle.

Roffe looked at the clock on the wall. He had 15 minutes to get back to the train station. "Looks like my time is up, Adrien. Be seeing you around." And he turned to leave for the door.

Before he made it to the exit, Adrien gave his last words. "Sooner than you think, Snowman."


> Continued in The Desert Flower

Summary

Fights & Events

  • Roffe Snow vs Adrien L'hereaux (Interrupted)
  • Introduction to the Black Dogs

Magics, Spells & Abilities Used

Magics

  • Shadow Magic (陰魔法, Kage Mahō)
  • Neon Light (ネオンライト, Neon Raito)
  • Godfist (神拳, Shinken)
  • Ring Magic (指輪魔法 Yubiwa Mahō)

Spells

  • Silhouette (影法師, Kagebōshi)
  • Light Fangs (光牙, Hikarikiba)
  • Shadow Pack (陰悪党仲間, Kage Akutō Nakama)
  • Exploder Magnum (エクスプローダマグナム, Ekusupurōda Magunamu)
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