The Magic Council was currently in session, Guran Doma seated at the head of the table. "Has there been any word from the Rune Knights we sent out?"
"None. I think it's safe to assume they're dead. Either by the dark mages we assume are out there or by those hooligans who live there" replied one of the council members, a woman with black hair streaked with gray.
"I doubt it was the people living there. They all aren't battle hungry warriors like you assume Tilda" replied a heavy set man.
"The more likely outcome is they were killed. Get in touch with Celestial Dawn and our other contacts over in Bellum and inform them on the possible situation" Doma replied.
"And give Blue Phoenix a warning that they may have to partner up with other guilds. I don't want any problems from them in the future when they're needed" Guran Doma added before ending the meeting.
In Celestial Dawn's guild hall, several of it's members could be seen arguing amongst themselves.
"Yep. He was still married when I showed up but from what I heard they barely got along" Kain replied taking ahold of his glass and taking a drink.
"Don't sugarcoat it Kain. Annabeth was a high class bitch. Sid must've been drunk to even agree to marry her in the first place" Meredith insisted. "Though I'll never understand how a woman like her has such great kids"
"What?! Kids?" Gunz was at a loss for words. Finding out that his guildmaster, Sid Hiroshi, the man who dressed more like he was going on vacation had not only been married but he also had kids at that.
"Don't look too surprised kid. The boss isn't the only one with a past you don't expect" Kain said noticing the look on Gunz's face. "Example, bet you didn't know Freya was actually trained to think before she acted. Too bad Clay could never get her to do that" Kain laughed.
"Who's Clay? Her father?" "Former member of ours" Meredith replied a mixed look of sadness and anger on her face.
"So what happened to-" "Save the history lesson for another time junior" Shou called from the railing of the stairs above them, his trademark black jacket draped over his shoulders. "We just got a call from the Council. They want us to be on the lookout for some Dark Mages over in the Costel."
"Meredith, Gunz, you're with me. We're heading to Salim" Ryian said coming down the stairs while putting his jacket on.
"Where's Salim at?" Gunz asked. "Just west of Marx. Pretty big city" Meredith answered. "You ready to go?".
"What right now? Don't we have to get to the airship?" Gunz asked in a confused tone.
"Haha not this time" Meredith laughed. "Alright before I go anybody else going somewhere far?".
"Me and Freya got a job over in Fiore. What was it, Magnolia Town?" Kain asked.
"No it was Bosco. Handful of kids we gotta find over there" Freya corrected.
"You guys might wanna check over in Dyse then. Sex-slave trades are usually around there" Shou added.
"You guys ready?" Meredith asked as her magic began to swell up. Freya and Kain nodded as they were outlined in a faint yellowish-white light. "Remember, give yourselves a couple minutes to adjust before doing anything" Meredith said before the three disappeared in the blink of an eye. "Alright us next" Meredith said placing a hand on Gunz and Ryian's shoulders and the three disappeared as well. A moment later, they reappeared on top of a three-story building in a somewhat crowded city district. Gunz wobbled slightly, the long distance quick travel taking a toll on him.
"Is it always like that?" Gunz asked. "You get used to it after a while" Ryian said leaning over the ledge and looking down. Though Bellum was the center of majority of Earthland's wars, it still held a large number of people living in it, in a somewhat peaceful environment. "So what are we looking for?" Meredith asked stepping up beside him.
"The council sent out a troop of Rune Knights that never reported back in. They were looking into a large number of Dark Mages that were gathering around here" Ryian explained. "We sure it isn't the Oracion Seis? I heard they've been making a ruckus lately" Meredith questioned. "Wouldn't mind taking a crack at them myself but the council says it's not them this time. They've already been taken care of it seems" Ryian replied. Gunz soon joined the two near the ledge over his nausea and asked, "So what's the move?".
"Ask around, discreetly, about anything related to Dark Mages showing up. We don't know if they're in the city or not so try and ask some vague questions that relate to either Dark Mages or Rune Knights. Gunz, you stick with Meredith for a bit then branch off but stay within sight of each other" Ryian said. Digging into his jacket pocket, Ryian handed the two separate magic earpieces. "Use these to stay in contact if you happen to get separated or if something happens. "Got it" the two said as the three split off, Meredith and Gunz heading down into streets while Ryian headed in the opposite direction.
An half hour later, Gunz grabbed Ryian and Meredith's attention. "I think I'm being followed". "Where are you at?" Ryian said quickening his pace through the now thinning crowd. The sun was setting quickly, almost eager to take a break from hovering over Salim. Gunz relayed where he was at, Meredith teleporting to a nearby building and Ryian heading there. "I don't see anybody Gunz? Are you sure?" Meredith asked. "Yeah. It's two guys. One big guy in a black shirt with one eye and the other is red-headed woman with a knife strapped across the nape of her back. They were watching me while I asked one of the shop vendors some questions" Gunz said, eagerness in his voice.
One eye? Meredith thought as she looked in the crowd before she spotted Gunz's pursuers. "Shit. Ryian, it's Clay" she said. "Gunz, first chance you get, cause a distraction and get to the center of the city. Meredith get down there and back him up. I'll be right behind you guys" Ryian commanded. Gunz requipped his handguns into his open hands, and lightly turned the safety off. Seeing Meredith teleport to an alleyway up ahead, Gunz checked to make sure he was still being followed before turning around and firing off a round of shots. The crowd split surprisingly fast at the sound of gunshots, as the two stalkers split off from each other. Gunz broke into a run only to be stopped by a fist appearing out of thin air and smashing into his head.
Catching himself, Gunz aimed his handgun and fired only for the man to once more disappear and reappear behind him, his fist coming down once more. A bluish-white portal opened in front of the fist as a second one appeared behind his own head. The man's fist hit him in the head as Meredith appeared. "Still letting little kids into the guild I see Meredith?" the man known as Clay said, not phased by his own fist hitting him.
"Still being a dick I see Clay" Meredith said as she helped Gunz stand up. Gunz still had his gun aimed at Clay. "So what are you and your girlfriend doing in Salim? Apartment shopping?" Meredith said.
"Eh don't worry about it sweetie" Clay said. "You know I hated it when you called me sweetie" Meredith rushed Clay, throwing a right hook only for Clay to bat it aside. Meredith went into a side kick aimed at Clay's side. The foot connected only for Clay to trap it there with his large right arm, his left arm coming around for a swing. Using her smaller size to her advantage, Meredith easily ducked under the blow and twisted her body sideways, loosening Clay's hold on her leg. Gunz jumped forward, swinging the barrel of his gun toward Clay's head. Clay leaned to the right only to meet Meredith's open palm that smashed into the side of his head, a light ringing noise starting up in his head.
Gunz brought his handgun forward and started to squeeze the trigger when Clay suddenly disappeared again. "How does he keep doing that?" Gunz asked Meredith. "Air Magic, he's turning himself into air" Meredith said looking around them. Several portals opened up around the duo. The air around them began vibrating slightly, as out of the corner of Gunz's eye he spotted a faint ripple forming. "Duck!" he shouted, but a portal appeared before Gunz could move, as a ball of condensed air blasted out of another one blowing a hole into the ground.
"Ohh, pretty good eyes you got there kid" said the floating head of Clay before it dissipated.
"And Airspace as well"
Gunz began feeding magic into his handguns, waiting for Clay to reappear. Clay reappeared behind Gunz, his arms outstretched in an attempt to wrap around him. Gunz ducked low, kicking his legs upward blocking Clay's arms from closing while balancing himself on one hand while the other aimed his handgun into Clay's face and fired, a large tornado blasting Clay backwards into one of Meredith's portals.
"Not bad Gunz" Meredith said behind him. Clay reappeared falling onto one of the empty concession stands. "Really Clay? You're being schooled by the rookie? You should've stayed in the guild longer" said Ryian, floating above Clay.
"And you still never check your surroundings Ryian" Clay said. The red-headed woman leapt up behind Ryian, her short sword drawn as she lashed it out. Ryian held a hand out, stopping the woman in mid-air. A smirk played across her face as she broke free of Ryian's hold over her and landed beside the rising Clay with ease.
"Took you long enough Xyla. You find what we're looking for?" Clay asked seemingly unaffected by Gunz's tornado bullet.
"Yeah, we can go now" she replied sheathing her blade. The ground trembled as the duo stooped low slightly as Ryian descended. "I never said you could leave now did I?" Ryian said. Clay bucked under the pressure as Ryian increased it, the man grunting as it did. Xyla however didn't seem bothered by the increased gravity actually smiling as the ground beneath them cracked. "Don't tell me this is all the great Ryian of Celestial Dawn can muster up?" she asked. Ryian noticed the ground beneath Meredith and Gunz crack and shatter as a blast of fire roared upward. Focusing on the flames, Ryian increased the gravity, managing to smother the fire down into the ground.
"You disappoint me Ryian. Let's hope we can play some more next time we meet" Xyla said as she took off into the air in a burst of speed, a sonic boom accompanying her departure.
"Until next time, Celestial Dawn" Clay said as he began dissipating. Before he completely disappeared Clay added, "Oh and tell Sid that Geron sends his regards". A portal opened up beside Ryian, Meredith and Gunz stepping out unharmed from the flames. "Well that was interesting" Gunz said laughing nervously. "Judging by you guys look you know who Geron is and it can't be good".
"No Gunz, it isn't" Ryian solemnly said.
Back at Celestial Dawn's guild house, Ryian explained to the rest of the guild what happened in Salim. "I think it's safe to assume then that Nicolai and Anna are involved in this as well. They're never far behind Geron" Shou said lighting a cigarette with his finger, propping his feet up on the table in front of him.
"So what were they looking for?" Hanz asked from his seat beside Judith. "Don't know, they never went into detail on what it was though I'm assuming it was something small allowing them to carry it without us noticing it on them" Meredith replied. "Unless there was somebody else with them that left already" Madeline said holding her pipe up towards Shou, a small flame flickering on the end of his index finger. "We know they've grouped up with others so I think it's safe to assume it wasn't just them there".
"Anybody ever heard of a Xyla? She sounds like trouble" Seiji exclaimed while tinkering with Gunz's handgun. "I have. She's a nasty one and powerful at that" Judith answered from her seat beside Shou. "I think she's an elemental mage or close to it. From what I remember of her, she's a for hire gun though only to those who afford her since she's pretty pricey but that doesn't seem to be a problem".
"So what's in Salim that could be worth looking for? Anything expensive? Powerful? Ancient?" Cruz asked from his seat at the bar.
"I've still got a contact in the Rune Knights I can talk to. I've got a few questions myself" Ryian said getting up and heading to the third floor communications room.
"I've got some books I can look in to for some information" Judith said as well heading towards her room.
"So anybody heard from the boss yet?" Meredith asked bringing up a new topic.
"Yeah he called in not too long ago. Said he'd be heading back soon" Seiji replied holding his hand up to catch the bottle Cruz tossed to him.
"Wonder if he managed to not destroy the employers town this time" Cruz exclaimed. A moment of silence before he replied to himself with "Naw he probably did".
"Almost finished" Sid called back, gripping a man by the front of his shirt and flinging him across the table. The man crashed into the ground, spilling the remaining drinks to the floor. "Now then" Sid looked around to see if anyone else was going to make a move though majority of the men were sprawled out in various places in the bar. "I think we can take our leave now".
Sighing in contempt, Delphine got up from the bar stool and headed towards the door before reaching into the inside of her father's jacket, pulled out a handful of rubies and handed it all to the bartender.
"Delphine what're you doing? That was almost all the money I made from the job" Sid protested as his daughter dragged him from the bar out into the street. The outside of the bar, and majority of the buildings in the area, was a mess. Some buildings were on the verge of collapsing in on themselves while some were just completely demolished beyond repair.
"You had to pay for trashing the bar" she replied. "And the rest of the town".
"Wait a minute this time it wasn't my fault. They neglected to mention it wasn't just a fragment of a demon but the whole damn demon itself" Sid replied.
"Doesn't matter dad. You could've ended it any time you wanted to but nooo you just had to show off for the mayor's wife" Delphine retorted walking ahead. Sid kept pace with his daughter as the two headed towards the city exit. Towering in the background of city stood the towering demon of Baze, frozen in a crystal clear cocoon of ice.